[2005/01/31] Editorials Lukewarm to ID, but Not as Hot to Darwin
Editorials Lukewarm to ID, but Not as Hot to Darwin 01/31/2005 A subtle
shift seems to be taking place in media coverage of intelligent-design
controversies in school boards across the country. Darwinists used
to be the unchallenged kings of the hill. Alternatives, whether
creationism or intelligent design, were disqualified before they reached
the starting gate. It also used to be “open season” on
anti-Darwinists. No vituperative rhetoric or impugning of motives
was too strong for reporters in their treatment of the villains of
creationism. Several recent articles, however, show some cooling of
the jets, and a little more attempt at balanced coverage by spokespersons
from both sides:
article by Jerry Adler began by asking, “How did life, in its infinite
complexity, come to be? A controversial new theory called
‘intelligent design’ asserts a supernatural agent was at work.” In
“Doubting Darwin,” Adler gives good coverage to both sides, though
ending with the suggestion that theistic evolution would result in fewer
Diane Carroll in the Kansas
City Star was certainly not partial to the intelligent-design side,
but gave its spokespersons substantial coverage. The main
Darwinist objections she cited were in the “hidden agenda” category.
David Klinghoffer, writing an op-ed in the Wall Street
Journal, decried the branding of Stephen Meyer as a heretic after
his ID paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal. He characterized the uproar not as science vs. religion,
but “an instance of one religion persecuting a rival, demanding loyalty
from anyone who enters one of its churches--like the National Museum of
Josh Kelley in The
Arizona Republic actually gave most of his coverage to the
intelligent design side, including Walt Brown, a young-earth creationist
with a Ph.D. involved in rewriting the state science standards.
Biochemist Michael Behe, who coined the phrase “irreducible complexity,”
actually got the last word for a change.
There are, naturally,
plenty of the usual rabid anti-creationist articles out there still, like
this editorial at the Boston
Globe that calls evolution “the bedrock of biology” and warns against
those who want to “sneak Genesis into the teaching of science,” and
Magazine’s hit piece against ID called “Stealth Attack on
Evolution.” But that’s not news.
Big ships turn slowly. While none
of these articles endorses ID or gives Darwinism the interrogation it
deserves, it does hint at a slight temperature change that can have big
El Nino consequences later. At least more and more reporters are
listening to ID arguments and not dismissing them out of hand.
Here are some suggestions reporters should consider for their next
Design science has an illustrious history. Most of the great
scientists of history were religious people, like Newton, Boyle and
Maxwell, who believed the universe was created. Their religious
beliefs didn’t hinder science, but, on the contrary, advanced it.
The pure atheistic, naturalistic brand of science is relatively
new. The trend to discount Genesis dates primarily from the 18th
century, but the overtly anti-religious, materialistic brand of
science was championed by the likes of Huxley and Haeckel in the late
19th century to early 20th century. These Darwin bulldogs knew
nothing of modern genetics and biochemistry.
Design is already an accepted part of several sciences,
including archaeology, cryptography, information theory, criminology
and SETI, yet is not dismissed there as being religiously
motivated. These examples prove that design detection can
legitimately be part of scientific investigation, and that design
explanations can be valid, without knowing the designer or his/her/its
motives (especially in the case of SETI). They also demonstrate
that a design conclusion is not a cop-out, but can be a valid
inference based on evidence.
The controversies within Darwinism are deep and profound; they
cannot merely be characterized as nitpicking about the mechanism while
accepting the “fact” of evolution. Is a fact without a mechanism
really a fact at all?
The evidence from microbiology has been trending steadily toward a
design inference and away from a Darwinian inference. We know
things about genetics that Darwin and all the early evolutionists
could not possibly have known. These and other evidences, like
the Cambrian explosion and the anthropic principle, pose new and
severe challenges to the belief that life arose without a Designer.
The points above are rarely mentioned in secular news
reports about the intelligent design vs. Darwinism controversy.
It’s time to give them more prominence.