[2006/02/24] Darwinists Rattle Sabers Against I.D.
Darwinists Rattle Sabers Against I.D. 02/24/2006 Has there ever been a controversy among scientists more acrimonious than the current one over intelligent design? It seems all the big science Goliaths are determined to eradicate intelligent design from the earth, yet the I.D. Davids are standing their ground. “History is written by the victors,” wrote Henry Gee in Nature this week (see 02/23/2006 story); though stated in an unrelated context, his proverb fits here as well: “This is as true for our account of evolution as it is for purely human affairs.” Here are some examples of the bellicose rhetoric emanating from scientific institutions:
Support our troops: Nigel Williams in Current Biology this week1 said, “Evolutionary biologists in the US got a little early seasonal cheer in December with a detailed and comprehensive attack on the increasingly widespread notion of intelligent design.” Though he repeated the caution that it is far from over, he called Judge Jones’ decision “a coruscating attack on the intelligent design case.” Calling Darwin’s ideas of evolution “rock solid,” Williams was surprised that so many British disbelieved his views, as shown by a recent poll (01/26/2006). Williams repeated common criticisms about ID, that it is religiously motivated, a right-wing American phenomenon, and if successful, would bring science to a halt.
Political science: Nature2 praised Al Gore’s new global-warming documentary, and took note of Randy Olson’s advice in Flock of Dodos that the evolutionists need to beef up their public relations (see 02/17/2006).
Medical emergency: Donald Kennedy in Science,3 accompanied by some evolutionary friends, called doctors to the fray. “Medicine needs evolution,” he said. Stressing the positive, they said, “training in evolutionary thinking can help both biomedical researchers and clinicians ask useful questions that they might not otherwise pose.” On the negative, evolutionary training can help biomedical researchers “understand that both the human body and its pathogens are not perfectly designed machines but evolving biological systems shaped by selection under the constraints of tradeoffs that produce specific compromises and vulnerabilities.” Examples: lower back pain in humans, wisdom teeth, narrowness of the birth canal, etc. “There is growing recognition that cough, fever, and diarrhea are useful responses shaped by natural selection,” he claimed.
Das Boot: Constance Holden reported with an air of triumph in Science4 that Ohio “booted out” ID. She quoted evolution supporters who called the decision to remove a “creationist-inspired” sentence allowing for criticism of evolution a “stunning victory.” The article included a political cartoon of a Trojan Horse in the shape of a Panda, referencing the suggested alternative textbook, Of Pandas and People. She discounted the surveys that show strong public support for ID, quoting a professor who touted, “anyone can play the survey game” because another poll found 84% of respondents had never heard of ID (although the poll noted by the Discovery Institute was not about ID, but about whether criticisms of evolutionary theory should be allowed; see 02/15/2006). In an editorial in the Cincinnati Inquirer, Roddy Bullock regretted that Ohio had “turned back the clock” on intelligent design, thus granting Darwinism state protection as a dogma to be believed, not merely learned.
All the Bias That’s Fit to Print: Evolution News has had several entries this week criticizing the New York Times for continuing to misrepresent ID even when they have been repeatedly corrected by the Discovery Institute.
Sunday School for Anti-ID Warriors: Science Daily reported on the recent AAAS Sunday conference for educators on how to deal with creationism and intelligent design (see 02/20/2006). “Evolution on the Front Line” also produced a strong statement on the teaching of evolution and opposition to intelligent design (see AAAS website, PDF) taking its cue from Judge John Jones’ ruling that ID is religion, not science. It stressed that there is “no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution.” The soldiers are all in uniform and lined up in straight ranks. The AAAS also posted a press release about the event, showing Animal Planet star Jeff Corwin at the podium and giving prominent place to Vatican astronomer George Coyne who called creationists “a plague in our midst.” The release has a link to audio and powerpoint files from the meetings.
Not Backing Down: The Discovery Institute, despite all this criticism, announced that its list of scientists encouraging criticisms of Darwinism has swelled to over 500. It has opened a new website to post the names: www.dissentfromdarwin.org. Given the climate, each signatory has taken somewhat of a career risk to become associated with the statement, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”
1Nigel Williams, “Growing challenge of Darwin’s detractors,” Current Biology, Volume 16, Issue 4, 21 February 2006, Pages R107-R108, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.02.015. 2News, “Grizzlies, dodos and Gore put science on film,” Nature 439, 902 (23 February 2006) | doi:10.1038/439902a. 3Randolph M. Nesse, Stephen C. Stearns and Donald Kennedy, “Editorial: Medicine Needs Evolution,” Science, 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, p. 1071, DOI: 10.1126/science.1125956. 4Constance Holden, “Ohio School Board Boots Out ID,” Science, 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, p. 1083, DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5764.1083.
What if they held a war, and nobody came? The elitist science institutions are increasingly out of touch with reality, let alone American culture. A huge undercurrent of American sentiment finds Darwinism unconvincing and wants it to be open to critical examination. They also find arguments for ID compelling. Nevertheless, mirroring the coastal blue states that surround a vast red-state middle America, you will notice that the same journals that trash ID praise political liberals (Al Gore), and never have anything good to say about political conservatives (George W. Bush). They love religious liberals who capitulate 100% to Darwinism (see 02/11/2006) but hate religious conservatives who think the Bible might actually have something worthwhile to say. These scientific elitists tend to congregate in government-funded institutions rather than for-profit businesses. They occupy the campuses where Democrats outnumber Republicans 20 to 1, where Political Correctness rules allow Marxist radicals to gain tenure and a platform to trash America with reckless abandon while conservatives (or even moderates) must guard their every word, like Larry Summers who was finally ousted from the presidency of Harvard this week (see Ben Shapiro epitaph). As shown many times here, this is not a battle of science vs. faith. We all have the same scientific evidence. It is understandable that religious conservatives would be attracted to intelligent design, because they already believe in a Designer. But the pro-Darwinians project themselves as unbiased, religiously-neutral, scholarly lovers of truth who were led to their position merely by the preponderance of evidence (but compare the next two entries). Why, then, are they almost uniformly political liberals and far leftists? (see Michael Fumento column). The same battle went on in the 19th century in Britain. At about the time a consensus on “science” was firming up, and the word “scientist” became a new title taken up by what had been “natural philosophers,” similar political forces opposed one another. The battle lines became drawn between younger, anti-establishment types in the British Association and the older, more conservative natural theologians in the universities. The BAAS tended toward mechanical philosophy that viewed the universe as a machine governed by laws, as opposed to the romantic science championed by Schelling and Goethe that viewed nature as an organism of which humans were intertwined. Ironically, the mechanists viewed man as an evolved animal, but tended to discuss science as if objective, outside observers. The human dynamics of the 19th century battles are instructive. At about the same time, science became a career, and large institutions took shape. In many respects, the ones who gained control of the institutions and journals were the liberal, radical followers of the likes of Darwin, Tyndall and Huxley. It was not that their science was better than that of Maxwell, Faraday, Sedgwick, Agassiz, Pasteur and other “people of faith” (whatever that vapid phrase means). Darwin’s “people of froth” managed to steer a movement that had the presumptive authority of “science” toward the acquisition of power for those who were predominantly liberal and anti-establishment. This complex history should not be oversimplified, but it underscores the fact that science is inescapably a human enterprise. It is not purely an objective process of gathering facts toward unbiased conclusions. Philosophy and politics are inextricably involved, and the more removed from the observable and testable, the more the worldview of the practitioner matters. Nothing in science could be more worldview-laden than the origin and meaning of life. Should the mechanists and materialists have the final word on such important subjects? What if one party were to gain control of the centers of power and manage to ostracize the competition? Is that not what has happened? “History is written by the victors,” Henry Gee reminded us. It is the duty of all fair-minded and knowledgeable observers to ensure that the Darwin Party, which usurped power in the late 19th and 20th centuries, does not succeed in their ongoing efforts to write their critics out of the history books and shut off all accountability for their claims.