There is a good interview here with Conor Cunningham regarding his new book, Darwin’s Pious Idea: Why the Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists Both Get it Wrong.
To the assertion by Daniel Dennett that evolution acts as a “universal acid” to our traditional concepts, Cunningham notes: “Lastly, if there were such a thing as universal acid, how would one “Daniel Dennett” know? Is he wearing a special acid-resistant outfit?”
Dennett suffers from the same need of all fundamentalist however and that is the need to show they are exempt, they are special, they have some insight lost on the uninitiated. It is here where we see some parallels between ultra-Darwinists and Gnostics. The flip side though is the need to share this secret. In other words, Dennett was “lost” until he heard the “good news” of Evolution and was “saved” from the fires of hell or the “universal acid.” He now is an evangelist telling how we too can be saved.
Only, this news is not so good. The news is basically that everything we ever thought or were taught about free-will, good, evil, and the soul, was all wrong (even our experience of those qualities!). Of course, someone will say, but if it’s true then we must face it regardless. It would appear we are not saved; we are damned it turns out.
However, how a theory of physical changes over-time could ever touch upon the validity of free-will, good, evil, the soul and such is lost somehow on believers like Dennett. The irony I guess is that Dennett would tell us that he “freely” believes and “chooses” this view and thinks it “good” that we know this and adopt his view and “bad” if we did not. That he has just told us in the same breath that the “acid” has destroyed those traditional concepts is why we can still note the positive aspects of ultra-Darwinism and that is its entertainment value.