Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Nicholas Kristof is a tool (remix)

...Because of this column from last Saturday. (I'd summarize it, but I'm still not sure what the point is.) But don't let me tell you why. Let the Revealer do the heavy lifting:

"Modern science," reports Nicholas Kristof (be ware of any claim that begins with "modern science") "is turning up a possible reason why the religious right is flourishing and secular liberals aren't: instinct. It turns out that our DNA may predispose humans toward religious faith." There's more, but we recommend instead this response from Adam H. Becker, an occasional Revealer contributor and assistant professor of religious studies here at NYU: "One should perhaps be wary of Dean Hamer's arguments about the 'God Gene.' They are reductionist and fail to take into account religion as an essentially social phenomenon. They define religion as a private, subjective experience, which then only plays itself out in the social sphere. It is not a coincidence that Hamer's privileging of the experiential corresponds to certain notions of religion that have been put forward since Friedrich Schleiermacher's Speeches on Religion of 1798. This internalization of the locus of religiosity was in part a direct response to the rise of science and the subsequent so-called disenchantment that occurred. Considering that many scholars of religion nowadays refuse even to define religion but rather see it as a term that is part of the intellectual and social history of the West with a very particular genealogy, I think Hamer's 'science' threatens to limit our perspective on an extremely complex phenomenon. Furthermore, he is also the author of Science of Desire: The Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior (1995), another book with problematic assumptions about human nature -- especially since our notions of homosexuality and heterosexuality seem to be modern concepts developed from the late 19th century onwards. Hamer's work tends to naturalize the culturally specific and thus reduces all human beings to a Western model."


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