There are intelligent true believers, deluded as they are, but there also a few of them out there who will simply take your breath away with statements of such pretentious stupidity that you wonder how they manage to tie their shoes in the morning. Case in point: David Klinghoffer. If you’re already familiar with him, you won’t be surprised at this. He’s written an essay in which he takes to task the concept of convergent evolution, as espoused by Ken Miller and Simon Conway Morris. I don’t care much for the way Miller and Conway Morris use the idea myself, but Klinghoffer’s argument…man. You’d think it was a parody if you didn’t know Klinghoffer.
His argument against convergence is that if it were true, then evolution could have led to something truly repulsive, like Cthulhu.
Literally Cthulhu. He quotes a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, “Darwinism’s visionary storyteller,” and cites me linking to the “Unholy Bible”, and claims that “Darwinists love him”. Apparently, we aren’t just unbelievers, or even merely Satan-worshippers anymore — we’ve moved on to worshipping inimical alien beings beyond space and time that intend to remorselessly destroy us. Ken Miller (!) is naively promoting the adoration of monsters when he suggests that maybe his god wasn’t so specific in his mechanisms as to demand mammalian bipeds as the recipients of ensoulment.
Ken Miller hasn’t publicly expressed any known fondness for Lovecraft, and I don’t think his idea of evolution as a natural process undetectably adjusted by a benign deity would accommodate itself well to a Cthulhu-dominated universe. As for the rest of us, and me personally, H.P. Lovecraft’s stories are clearly fiction: we don’t see them as a portrayal of our universe at all. I find them entertaining because the descriptions are so flamboyantly over the top, and because, well, tentacles. There’s also the factor that, as an atheist, I find the similarities between a hostile anti-human monster and the Christian religion’s petty, cosmic tyrant amusing. Really, my shrine to the Elder Gods is very tiny, only taking up one of the smaller wings of my mansion. (Uh-oh, it’s Klinghoffer—he might think I mean that for real.)
Besides, if we rewound the tape of life and ran it forward again, and evolution led to intelligent cephalopods, an anthropocentric bigot like Klinghoffer might well regard them as “grotesque, obnoxious, loathsome, abhorrent, ghastly”, but I’d think them pretty cool…and most importantly, these beings would consider their own forms beautiful, and us strangely twisted chordates as hideous.
Oh, by the way: nobody should tell him how Pharyngula appears in some dusty corners of Cthulhu lore.
I’m just going to have to get this shirt, to make Klinghoffer tremble.