Supernatural selection

From The Boston Globe:

Dennett_3 WHEN THE philosopher Daniel Dennett was a teenager, he played the backwoods holy man Elijah in his prep school’s production of ”Inherit the Wind.” ”Bearded, wild-haired, dressed in a tattered burlap smock,” Elijah comes down from the hills, on the eve of Bert Cates’s trial for teaching evolution, to sell Bibles out of an old vegetable crate. ”Are you an evolutionist? An infidel? A sinner?” Elijah asks an out-of-town newspaperman.

Until he went to graduate school, Dennett claims, the play, famously based on the 1925 Scopes ”monkey trial,” was the source of most of what he knew about evolution and natural selection. Today Dennett has a prophet’s beard, one corner of which he will sometimes fold into his mouth for a ruminative chew, and he is one of Darwinian theory’s foremost promoters. He sees it not just as an explanation for the origin of species, but for the fundamental whys and hows of human habits, beliefs, thinking, and desires. The logic of evolution, Dennett wrote in his 1995 book ”Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,” is a ”universal acid,” it ”eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized worldview.”

Religion, Dennett says, is human behavior, and there are branches of science to study human behavior. ”Whether or not [Gould] was right,” Dennett told me in his office at Tufts University, where he is director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, ”and I don’t think he was, I’m not making a claim that he would disagree with. I’m not saying that science should do what religion does. I’m saying science should study what religion does.”

More here.