Of Pandas and People - A Note To Teachers (S. C. Meyer)
Of Pandas and People
A Note To Teachers
Stephen C. Meyer
Since its first edition ran off the press in 1989,
Of Pandas and People, has been an extremely controversial book due to the significant
challenge to Darwinism it presents, as well as its presentation of intelligent
design. And by the sales rank at Amazon.com (#749 today) it seems that the book
and the controversy are as popular now as ever.
Once again Pandas is under attack, this time in
a court of law. Reading some of the false criticisms aimed at the book by the
ACLU it seems a good time to present the book's afterword written by myself
and Dr. Mark Hartwig. Here then is the first part of that forward, originally
titled "A Note to Teachers."
Biological origins can be one of the most captivating subjects in the curriculum.
As a biology teacher, you have probably already seen how the topic excites your
students. The allure of dinosaurs, trilobites, fossilized plants and ancient
human remains is virtually irresistible to many students. Indeed, many prominent
scientists owe their interest in science to an early exposure to this topic.
The subject of origins, however, is not only captivating--it
is also controversial. Because it touches on questions of enduring significance,
this topic has long been a focal point for vigorous debate--legal and political,
as well as intellectual. Teachers often find themselves walking a tightrope,
trying to teach good science, while avoiding the censure of parents and administrators.
To complicate things, the cultural conflict has
been compounded by controversies within the scientific community itself. Since
the 1970's, for example, scientific criticisms of the long-dominant neo-Darwinian
theory of evolution (which combines classical Darwinism with Mendelian genetics)
have surfaced with increasing regularity.1 In fact, the situation is such that
paleontologist Niles Eldredge was driven to remark:
If it is true that an influx of doubt and uncertainty
actually marks periods of healthy growth in science, then evolutionary biology
is flourishing today as it seldom has in the past. For biologists are collectively
less agreed upon the details of evolutionary mechanics than they were a scant
Moreover, many scientists have advocated fundamental
revisions of orthodox evolutionary theory.3
Similarly, the standard models explaining chemical
evolution--the origin of the first living cell--have taken severe criticism.4
These criticisms have sparked calls for a radically different approach to explaining
the origin of life on earth.
Though many defenders of the orthodox theories
remain, some observers now describe these theories as having entered paradigm
breakdown5--a state where a once-dominant theory encounters conceptual problems
or can no longer explain many important data. Science historians Earthy and
Collingwood, for example, have described neo-Darwinism as a paradigm that has
lost its capacity to solve important scientific problems.6 They note that both
defenders and critics find it hard to agree even about what data are relevant
to deciding scientific disagreements. Putting it more bluntly, in 1980 Harvard
paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould pronounced the "neo-Darwinian synthesis"
to be "effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy."7
In this intellectual and cultural climate, knowing
how to teach biological origins can be exceedingly difficult. When respected
scientists disagree about which theories are correct, teachers may be forgiven
for not knowing which ones to teach.
Controversy is not all bad, however. For it gives
teachers the opportunity to engage their students as a deeper level. Instead
of filling young minds with discrete facts and vocabulary lists, teachers can
show their students the rough-and-tumble of genuine scientific debate. In this
way, students begin to understand how science really works. When they see scientists
of equal stature disagreeing over the interpretation of the same data, students
learn something about the human dimension of science. They also learn about
the distinction between fact and inference--and how background assumptions influence
It is against this backdrop of challenge and opportunity
that the publisher offers this supplementary text, Of Pandas and People: The
Central Question of Biological Origins. The purpose of this text is to expose
your students to the captivating and the controversial in the origins debate--to
take them beyond the pat scenarios offered in most basal texts and encourage
them to grapple with ideas in a scientific manner.
Pandas does this in two ways. First, it offers
a clear, cogent discussion of the latest data relevant to biological origins.
In the process is rectifies many serious errors found in several basal biology
Second, Pandas offers a different interpretation
of current biological evidence. As opposed to most textbooks, which present
the more-or-less orthodox evolutionary accounts of how life originated and diversified,
Pandas also presents a clear alternative, which the authors call "intelligent
design." Throughout, the text evaluates how well different views can accommodate
anomalous data within their respective interpretive frameworks. Pandas also
makes the task of organizing your lessons and researching the scientific issues
much easier. Pandas provides the scientific information you need in such a way
that it coordinates well with your basal text.
In the spirit of good, honest science, Pandas
makes no bones about being a text with a point of view. Because it was intended
to be a supplemental text, the authors saw no value in simply rehashing the
orthodox accounts covered by basal textbooks. Rather, its presentation of a
non-Darwinian perspective, in addition to the standard view, is intended to
stimulate discussion and encourage students to evaluate the explanatory power
of different theories--which, after all, is what science is all about.
By using this text in conjunction with your standard
basal text, you will help your students learn to grapple with multiple competing
hypotheses and to maintain an open but critical posture toward scientific knowledge.
As students learn to weigh and sort competing views and become active participants
in the clash of ideas, you may be surprised at the level of motivation and achievement
displayed by your students.
The Status of Evolution as a Fact
Despite the great value of presenting opposing
viewpoints, the popular debate over origins has fostered several misconceptions
about evolution, design and science itself. To get the most benefit from this
supplement, teachers should understand these misconceptions and be prepared
to face them in an open and fair-minded manner when they arise.
One misconception concerns the status of evolution
as a fact. In the origins debate it is common to hear the assertion that evolution
is not merely a theory but an indisputable fact.8 Educators who take this view
argue that it is futile and misleading to present non-Darwinian views as serious
alternatives to Darwinian evolution.
The factual status of evolution, however, depends
critically on what the word "evolution" means. Yale biologist Keith
Stewart Thomson points out that scientists have used the term in at least three
The first meaning he identifies is "change
over time." In this sense, to say that evolution has taken place is to
say that change has occurred and that things are different now from what they
were in the past. The fossil evidence, for example, reveals different organisms
from one geological period to the next.
When the word is used in this sense, it is hard
to disagree that "evolution" is a fact. The authors of this volume
certainly have no dispute with that notion. Pandas clearly teaches that life
has a history and that the kinds of organisms present on earth have changed
The second meaning that Thomson identifies is
descent with modification--the idea that all organisms are "related by
common ancestry."10 Evolution in this sense is a theory about the history
of life. In Darwin's view, that history can best be depicted as a single branching
tree--a genealogical tree--in which life diversifies over time.
Many people assert that evolution in this second
sense is a fact, just as gravity is a fact. But the two situations are hardly
analogous. The fact of gravity can be verified simply by dropping a pencil--an
experiment anyone can perform. Common ancestry, however, cannot be directly
verified by such an experiment. We can no more "see evolution in the fossil
record than paleontologists of Darwin's day could "see" creation events.
The best we can do is infer what might have happened in the past by piecing
together circumstantial evidence from many different fields.
Darwin, for example, sought to establish common
descent by examining evidence from several different areas: paleontology, biogeography,
comparative anatomy and embryology. Others have relied additionally on evidence
from genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry.
The problem with this kind of historical detective
work, however, is that it seldom produces a conclusion that forecloses other
alternatives. As philosopher of biology Elliot Sober points out, there may be
any number of plausible explanations--or "past histories"--that can
account for the same evidence.11 Sober's observation recalls the insightful
warning of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. "Circumstantial evidence
is a very tricky thing!" said Holmes. "It may seem to point very straight
to one thing, but if you shift your point of view a little, you may find it
pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something different."12
The point is, unless we can eliminate all competing
explanations,, it's presumptuous to call descent with modification a fact. As
most people understand the term, a fact "is supposed to be distinguished
from transient theories as something definite, permanent and independent of
any subjective interpretation by the scientist."13 By this definition,
descent with modification simply doesn't warrant the status of a fact. Far from
compelling a single conclusion, the evidence may legitimately be interpreted
in different ways, leading to several possible conclusions. None of those conclusions
warrants the status of "fact." As zoologist Thomas Kemp warns:
All attempts to understand the diversity of organisms
rely upon empirically untestable assumptions either about evolution or about
natural patterns. There is nothing wrong with making assumptions or seeking
to justify them, of course. It is the very stuff of science. What is unforgivable
is to forget that they are assumptions and behave as if they were known certainties
when they are no such things.14
Indeed, calling common descent a fact only closes
off debate and blurs the distinction between fact and inference. That, in turn,
makes us particularly vulnerable to the illusion that we know more than we really
do. In the preface to his best selling volume, The Discoverers, Daniel Boorstin
tells the reader:
The obstacles of discovery--the illusions of knowledge--are
also part of our story. Only against the forgotten backdrop of the received
common sense and myths of their time can we begin to sense the courage, the
rashness, the heroic and imaginative thrusts of the great discoverers. They
had to battle against the current "facts" and dogmas of the learned.15
This is precisely why a book that questions the
Darwinian notion of common descent is so necessary. By presenting a reasonable
alternative to evolution in the second sense (i.e., common ancestry), Pandas
helps students learn to work with multiple perspectives from facts and to guard
themselves again the illusion of knowledge.
The final meaning of evolution that Thomson identifies
concerns the mechanism of biological change-- the particular explanation of
how evolution in the first two senses occurred. Here the term "evolution"
refers to random variation and natural selection. In Thomson's words:
Although many biologists act as though [the mechanism]
were the whole meaning of evolution, it obviously is not. The first and second
meanings could be explained by several different theories, and both had a serious
intellectual history before 1859, while the third meaning is currently confined
to a particular explanatory hypothesis, Darwinism.16
Evolution in this third sense asserts that the
cause of mechanism of biological change is purposeless, non-intelligent and
completely naturalistic.17 Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins defended this view
in his best-selling book, The Blind Watchmaker.18 Like Darwin himself, Dawkins
acknowledges that biological organisms appear to exhibit remarkable design.
Yet both men claim that this appearance is an illusion, produced entirely by
random variation and natural selection. Blind nature mimics intelligent design.
This "blind watchmaker" thesis is often
touted as a fact, but it is not. For one thing, Darwinists have never demonstrated
empirically that natural processes can create the complex structure that characterize
living organisms. Like common descent, the blind watchmaker thesis is based
on indirect evidence. It accounts for hypothetical transformations by extrapolating
small observed changes over immense periods of time. Thus, the blind watchmaker
thesis is not a fact, but an inference.19
What's more, the blind watchmaker thesis--at least
in its neo-Darwinian form--may not be a warranted inference. As we mentioned
at the beginning of this essay, neo-Darwinism has come under growing attack
from scientists and philosophers alike. Scientists have increasingly questioned
the ability of mutation and natural selection to generate new organs, limbs
of body plans.20 A host of other problems have led biologists Mae-Wan Ho and
Peter Saunders to say:
Until only a few years ago, the 'synthetic' or
'neo-Darwinist' theory of evolution stood virtually unchallenged as the basis
of our understanding of the organic world ... Today, however, the picture is
entirely different. More and more workers are showing signs of dissatisfaction
with the synthetic theory. Some are attacking its philosophical foundations
... Others have deliberately set out to work in just those areas in which neo-Darwinism
is least comfortable, like the problem of gaps in the fossil record or the mechanisms
of non-Mendelian inheritance ... Perhaps most significantly of all, there is
now appearing a stream of articles and books defending the synthetic theory.
It is not so long ago that hardly anyone thought this was necessary.21
Pandas gives students a much-needed opportunity
to explore the evidence and arguments that have caused some scientists to doubt
contemporary Darwinism. It examines evidence from such fields as biochemistry,
genetics and paleontology--evidence that casts doubt on the sufficiency of purposeless
processes to explain the appearance of new biological forms.
Going a step further, Pandas helps students understand
the positive case for intelligent design. Following a growing number of scientists
and philosophers, the authors argue that life not only appears to have been
intelligently designed, but that it actually was. Drawing on recent developments
in molecular biology, the authors show that even simple organisms bear all the
earmarks of designed systems.
The authors will also discuss what scientists
have learned by applying mathematics and information science to biology. The
disciplines suggest the possibility of distinguishing natural systems from intelligently
designed ones--and have led some scientists to conclude that the "coded
genetic information" (or sequence specificity) of DNA, proteins and the
like, reflects the activity of a pre-existent intelligence.22 While that conclusion
is still controversial, a growing minority of scientists see it as a plausible
alternative to the blind watchmaker thesis.23
By presenting the case for intelligent design
the authors demonstrate that there are indeed alternatives to the blind watchmaker
thesis--and that evolution as a purposeless process is neither an indisputable
fact nor the only inference supported by biological data.
In sum, then, only in the most trivial sense--change
over time--can evolution be considered a fact. Far from being a legitimate reason
for avoiding alternative views, the alleged "fact of evolution" underscores
precisely why a book like Pandas is so necessary. If students are to achieve
true scientific literacy, they must learn to distinguish fact from supposition.
A curriculum that blurs this distinction serves neither the students nor society.
Science and the Laws of Nature
A second misconception revolves around the question
of what makes a concept or explanation "scientific." In particular,
some scientists and philosophers assert that the concept of intelligent design
in inherently unscientific. According to this view, science must explain things
by using natural laws--not by invoking an act of God or some other intelligent
agent. Thus, we no longer explain the orbit of a planet by saying that an angel
pushes it through the heavens. We explain it with Newton's law of universal
In the same way, design is ruled out-of-court
because it invokes an intelligent agent rather than natural laws. Philosopher
of science Michael Ruse, for example, has said:
Science attempts to understand this world. What
is the basis for this understanding? Surveying science and the history of science
today, one thing stands out: Science involves the search for order. More specifically,
science looks for unbroken, blind, natural regularities (laws). Things in the
world do not happen in just any old way. They follow set paths, and science
tries to capture this fact.24
There are serious problems with this view, however.
One problem is that it ignores areas of scientific investigation where intelligent
design is a necessary explanatory concept. The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence
(SETI) is one example. At the time of this writing, radio telescopes are scanning
the heavens, looking for artificial radio signals that differ from the random
signals generated by natural objects in space. If we were to limit science to
the search for "unbroken, blind, natural regularities (laws)," we
would have to say that SETI is unscientific--by definition.
Archaeology would meet the same fate. Archaeologists
routinely distinguish manufactured objects (e.g., arrowheads, potsherds) from
natural ones (e.g., stones), even when the differences between them are very
subtle. These manufactured objects then become important clues in reconstructing
past ways of life. But if we arbitrarily assert that science explains solely
by reference to natural laws, if archaeologists are prohibited from invoking
an intelligent manufacturer, the whole archeological enterprise comes to a grinding
A second problem with limiting science to blind,
natural regularities is that it confuses laws with explanations--an error that
philosopher of science William Alston calls "a 'category mistake' of the
most flagrant sort."25 Laws and explanations are often two different things.
Scientific explanations often invoke not only
laws but causal events and actions. For example, consider the field of modern
cosmology. Most cosmologists explain the features of our universe not only by
reference to the laws of physics, but by reference to a single event: the Big
Bang. The Big Bang explains why galaxies throughout the universe seem to be
receding from each other. It also explains the presence of low-level radiation
that seems to permeate space.26 These phenomena cannot be explained solely by
reference to physical laws or natural regularities. Rather, the critical explanatory
feature of (Big Bang) is a one-time event that established the conditions responsible
for the phenomena that we now witness.
Moreover, sometimes it seems that scientific laws
are hardly relevant to our explanations at all--such as when we try to explain
why things turned out one way rather than another. For instance, Newton's law
of universal gravitation may tell us why the earth has a Newtonian orbit rather
than a non-Newtonian one. But it doesn't explain why the earth follows its present
orbit, instead of some other orbit that is equally compatible with Newton's
law. That kind of explanation requires something else--namely, information about
how the earth attained its present position and velocity.27
A similar example can be drawn from the field
of historical geology. If a historical geologist wanted to explain the unusual
height of the Himalayas, invoking natural laws would be of little use. Natural
laws alone cannot tell us why the Himalayas are higher than, say the Rocky Mountains.
That would require discovering antecedent factors that were present in building
the Himalayas but not in other mountain-building episodes.
Thus, scientific explanation not only involves
laws but may also involve past causal events. If scientists could never invoke
past events and causes, they could never explain many important phenomena.
Why is this important? Because ignoring the role
of causal events in scientific explanation has created a false dichotomy between
agency--or intelligent design--and the laws of nature. The fact that scientific
explanations may invoke laws doesn't mean that agency is somehow ruled out.
Rather, intelligent agents can alter causal events and introduce other contributing
factors. Although intervention may alter the course of subsequent events--sometimes
in novel and unexpected ways--it does not violate natural laws.
Indeed, the actions of intelligent agents are
themselves causal events. Therefore, citing the action of agents may be necessary
to explain many present phenomena. Imagine trying to explain Mt. Rushmore without
reference to sculptors. Law-like explanations involving only natural processes
would completely miss the critical explanatory factor. That is why archaeologists,
forensic scientists and historians often find it impossible to avoid postulating
The notion that science explains solely by reference
to natural laws suffers from yet a third problem. In addition to confusing laws
with explanations, it assumes a cookie-cutter view of science, in which all
disciplines ask similar questions and use the same "scientific method."
This belies the rich diversity of methods that scientists use to understand
the natural world.
Several philosophers, for instance, have argued
that a clear distinction exists between the "inductive sciences" and
the "historical sciences."28 These two broad categories ask different
kinds of questions and use different kinds of methods. The inductive (or nomological)
sciences, on the one hand, ask questions about how the natural world generally
operates. Hence, a virologist may try to discover how a particular enzyme helps
a virus infect its host. Or a crystallographer may try to determine the effects
of weightlessness on crystal growth. In each case, scientists seek to uncover
the regularities that characterize natural phenomena.
The historical sciences, on the other hand, ask
different kinds of questions. Rather than trying to understand how the natural
world operates, the historical sciences seek to understand how things came to
be. One example, of course, would be the historical geologist who was seeking
to explain the unusual elevation of the Himalayas. Another would be an evolutionary
biologist seeking to explain the origin of giraffes. Still another would be
the archaeologist seeking to reconstruct an ancient culture. Note that in each
case the goal is not to find new laws or regularities but to reconstruct past
conditions and events.
The importance of this distinction to our present
discussion is that although postulating intelligent intervention is completely
inappropriate in the inductive sciences, the same is not true in the historical
sciences. In the inductive sciences the whole point is to discover how the natural
world normally operates on its own, i.e., in the absence of intelligent intervention.
Postulating an intelligent agent would thus contradict the implicit goal of
research in the inductive sciences.
In the historical sciences, however, the goal
is to reconstruct past events and conditions. Thus, there is no need to impose
such restrictions. Quite the reverse. As we have seen, the explanation of certain
artifacts or features may require reference to intelligence. Intelligent agents
may have left traces of their activity in the natural world. The historical
scientist need not turn a blind eye to them.
Hence, when investigating the origin of the living
world, it may be perfectly acceptable--depending on the evidence--to hypothesize
an intelligent designer.
A third misunderstanding concerns the scientific
status of unobservable objects and events. Some philosophers and scientists
claim that intelligent design is not scientific because it invokes an unobservable
intelligent designer. To be scientific, they claim, a concept or idea must be
testable. Because an intelligent designer is unobservable, theories of intelligent
design are not testable--and hence not scientific.
Missed earlier posts in this series? Read Part
1, Part 2, Part 3.
It is by no means clear, however, that something
is untestable--and hence unscientific--simply because it is unobservable. If
this were the case, many accepted theories and concepts would have to be declared
unscientific as well. Chemist J.C. Walton observes:
The postulation of ... external intervention (into
nature by a designer) undoubtedly restores order, harmony and simplification
to the data of physics and biology. (Yet) at present there is no unambiguous
evidence ... for the existence of the external entity, but this should not be
regarded as a drawback.
Many key scientific postulates such as atomic theory, kinetic theory of the
applicability of wave functions to describing molecular properties were, and
still are, equally conjectural. Their acceptance depended, and still depends,
on the comparison of their predictions with observables.29
Also falling in this category are almost all theories
in the historical sciences--theories that postulate conditions and events that
occurred in the unobservable past. The Big Bang is one such theory.
Another, ironically, is neo-Darwinism. Although
neo-Darwinism explains many observable features in the living world, it postulates
unobservable objects and events. For example, the mutational events that allegedly
produced reptiles, birds, mammals and even humans have never been observed--nor
will they ever be observed. Similarly, the transitional life forms that occupy
the branching-points on Darwin's tree of life are also unobservable. Transitional
forms exist now only as theoretical entities that make possible a coherent Darwinian
account of how present-day species originated.
The unobservable character of Darwinism becomes
especially plain when proponents try to reconcile the fossil evidence with their
theory. As paleontologists now admit, the fossil evidence looks a great deal
less "Darwinian" than they had previously acknowledged.30 Indeed,
as Harvard paleontologist Stephen Gould points out, the two outstanding features
of the fossil record are "sudden appearance" and "stasis."
At any given location species tend to appear "suddenly," fully formed,
and exhibit no directional change during their stay on earth.31
The standard neo-Darwinian explanation for these
features is the imperfection of the fossil record; because fossilization occurs
only under special circumstances, fossils give us only a rough sketch of evolutionary
history. More recently, some have proposed that evolutionary change occurs rapidly
and in small, isolated populations of organisms. Both explanations, however,
invoke unobserved circumstances to explain unobserved fossil organisms. How
can one observe a non-fossilization event that happened 100 million years ago?
Darwin himself realized that much of the evidence
for his theory was indirect. Indeed, he spent long hours defending his practice
of inferring the unobservable from the observable.
I am actually weary of telling people that I do
not pretend to adduce direct evidence of one species changing into another,
but that I believe that this view in the main is correct because so many phenomena
can be thus grouped and explained.32
If we accepted the principle that unobservable entities are inadmissible in
science, we would have to reject not only Darwin's theory but his entire approach
to scientific investigation.33
To be fair, some opponents of intelligent design
would argue that the real problem is not unobservability but flexibility. The
concept of an Intelligent Designer is simply too much of a "wild card;"
it can explain anything. Put another way, the concept of an Intelligent Designer
cannot be falsified.
Intelligent design is not unique in its flexibility,
however. We have already seen how Darwinists handle the problem of the fossil
record; they account for unobserved fossil forms by invoking unobserved geological
processes. Indeed, the history of science shows that scientists have often offered
ad hoc explanations to save a cherished theory. This problem is particularly
pronounced in the historical sciences, where investigators must draw conclusions
from incomplete or sketchy evidence.
Nevertheless, intelligent design is not so flexible
that it cannot be falsified. The concept of intelligent design entails a strong
prediction that is readily falsifiable.34 In particular, the concept of intelligent
design predicts that complex information, such as that encoded in a functioning
genome, never arises from purely chemical or physical antecedents. Experience
will show that only intelligent agency gives rise to functional information.
All that is necessary to falsify the hypothesis of intelligent design is to
show confirmed instances of purely physical or chemical antecedents producing
Religion and Intelligent Design
A final misconception you may encounter is that
intelligent design is simply a sectarian religion. According to this view, intelligent
design is merely fundamentalism with anew twist; teaching it in public schools
allegedly violates the separation of church and state.
This view is wide of the mark. The idea that life
had an intelligent source is hardly unique to Christian fundamentalism. Advocates
of design have included not only Christians and other religious theists, but
pantheists, Greek and Enlightenment philosophers and now included many modern
scientists who describe themselves as religious agnostic.35 Moreover, the concept
of design implies absolutely nothing about beliefs normally associated with
Christian fundamentalism, such as young earth, a global flood or even the existence
of a Christian God. All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.
In any case, sectarianism is more a matter of
form than content.36 It is marked by a certain narrowness and exclusivity that
entertains no debate and tolerates no opposing viewpoints. Given the broad appeal
of intelligent design (even Richard Dawkins, a staunch Darwinist and author
of the Blind Watchmaker, acknowledges "the appearance of design" in
the living world),37 it is perhaps more accurate to conclude that the real sectarians
are those who vilify design as "fundamentalist religion." Such name-calling
is merely another way to avoid debate and keep the real issues out of view.38
Even if the design hypothesis were religious,
however, criticizing it on that basis begs the question of whether it is scientifically
warranted. In science, the origin of an idea is supposed to be irrelevant to
its validity. What matters is not the source but whether the idea is logically
consistent and empirically supportable. If it is, what justification is there
for excluding it from the classroom?
In its landmark ruling on the Louisiana Balanced
Treatment Act, the United States Supreme Court did not try to shield the classroom
from dissenting viewpoints. Indeed, it affirmed that teachers already had the
flexibility to teach non-evolutionary views and present scientific evidence
bearing on the question of origins:
The Act does not grant teachers a flexibility
that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum
with the presentation of theories besides evolution, about the origin of life.
Indeed, the Court of Appeals found that no law prohibited Louisiana public schoolteachers
fro teaching any scientific theory.39
Neither did the Supreme Court choose to limit
Teaching a variety of scientific theories about
the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear
secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.40
This is not only consistent with good science,
it is consistent with the highest ideals of a democratic society. As John Scopes,
who was tried in the 1920s for teaching evolution, said at his own trial, "Education,
you know, means broadening, advancing, and if you limit a teacher to only one
side of anything the whole country will eventually have only one thought, be
one individual. I believe in teaching every aspect of every problem or theory."41
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(1990). Science under Stress: Crisis in Neo-Darwinism. History and Philosophy
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Theory. Doctoral dissertation, Oxford University. Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe,
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Falsifiable?--And Does it Matter?" Nature and System 4: 179-191. Tetry,
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(See section on evolution, esp. p.466.) Webster, G. (1984). Beyond New Darwinism.
London: Academic Press. Gould, S.J. (1980). "Is a New Theory of Evolution
Emerging?" Paleobiology 6: 119-130.
2. Eldredge, N. (1985). Time Frames: The Evolution
of Punctuated Equilibria. Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.14.
3. Gould, S. J. (1980). "Is a New Theory
of Evolution Emerging?" Paleobiology 6: 119-130.
4. Bradley, W. (1988). "Thermodynamics and
the Origin of Life," Perspectives, 40(2): 72-83. Dose, K. (1988). "The
Origin of Life: More Questions Than Answers," Interdiscipl. Sci. Rev. 13:348-356.
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8. See for example the 1990 California Science
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M. (1982). Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversy. London:
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Quoted in Capretti, G.P. (1983). Pierce, Homes, Popper. In U. Eco & T. Sebok
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13. Fleck, L. (1979). Genesis and Development
of a Scientific Fact. Trans. by Thomas Merton. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, p. xxvii. Actually, Fleck argues that there is really no such thing as
a "fact" in this sense. All "facts" involve a certain amount
of subjective interpretation. If this is so, it strengthens the case against
the "fact" of evolution (in the sense of common descent). Nevertheless,
we still believe that the fact/inference distinction is a useful one, underscoring
as it does the difference between ideas in which we have great confidence and
those that seem less sure.
14. Kemp, T. (1985). Models of Diversity and Phylogenetic
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& M. Ridley, eds.), 153.
15. Boorstin, D.J. (1985). The Discoverers. New
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16. Thomson, 1982, p. 531.
17. Thomson, 1982, pp. 530-31.
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19. See for example Ridley (1985), pp. 3-8.
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G. Miklos, 1988, The Eukaryote Genome in Development. London: Allen & Unwin.
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Denton (1986); Walton (1977).
23. See, for example, W.H. Thorpe (1978). Purpose
in a World of Chance: A Biologist's View. New York: Oxford University Press.
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and Unique MNRAs and Cytoplasmic Factors from Brain Tissue of Wild Timber Wolves
of Northern Euroasia," Clethrionomys Glareolus, Clethrionomys Frater and
Clethrionomys Gapperi: A New Criticism to a Modern Molecular-Genetic Concept
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H. (1989). The Mathematical Foundations of Molecular Biology. New York: Cambridge
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of Life's Origin. Dallas: Lewis and Stanley. Ambrose, E.J. (1982). The Nature
and Origin of the Biological World. New York: Halsted Press. Bolin, R. and Lester,
L. (1984). The Natural Limits to Biological Change.
24. Ruse, M. (1982). Creation Science is Not Science.
Science, Technology, and Human Values, 7 (40): 72-73.
25. Alston, W. P. (1971). "The Place of the
Explanation of Particular Facts in Science." Philosophy of Science, 38:
26. For a readable and engaging discussion of
the Big Bang, and the controversy this concept engendered, see Jastrow, R. (1978).
God and Astronomers. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
27. See Lipton, P. (1991). Inference to the Best
Explanation. London: Routledge. See page 52.
28. Philosophers have adopted many different means
to distinguish between these two kinds of science. They have adopted the terms
"inductive science" and "historical science" because they
seem less cumbersome than some of the other terms we could have used. For a
fuller discussion of the distinction between these two classes of science, see
Mayer, S. (1990). Of Clues and Causes: A Methodological Interpretation of Origin
of Life Studies. Doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge.
29. Walton, J.C. (1977).
30. "So, here's a bit of a dilemma. When
we finally find some evolutionary change, however slight it may seem, the "typostrophic"
sort of affair the Phacops rana lineage seems to show in the Midwest poses a
choice between two unappetizing alternatives: either you stick to conventional
theory despite a rather poor fit of the fossils, or you focus on the empirics
and say that saltation looks like a reasonable model of the evolutionary process--in
which case you must embrace a set of rather dubious biological propositions.
Paleontologists are rather well known for taking that latter course--adopting
ad hoc, outmoded and sometimes downright mystical ideas about biological processes
just because they fancy these ideas fit what they think they see in the fossil
record. I had every desire to avoid that well-trodden path. Besides, I was (and
remain) too much of a conventional neo-Darwinian ever to subscribe to the saltationist
heresy." From Eldredge, 1985, p. 75.
32. F. Darwin, 1903. More Letters of Charles Darwin,
Vol. 1, New York: Appleton, p. 184.
33. This is exactly what Darwin's critics did.
Many of them rejected his theory precisely because it was based on "non-scientific"
reasoning. The Darwinian revolution was at least partly a revolution in what
people considered to be "scientific." See N. Gillespie, 1979. Charles
Darwin and the Problem of Creation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; and
D. Hull, 1973. Darwin and His Critics. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
34. This kind of prediction is called a proscriptive
generalization. Proscriptive generalizations make strong statements about what
will not happen if a scientifc theory is true. They describe phenomena that
the theory proscribes. Thus, the laws of thermodynamics predict that we will
never witness any instance of perpetual motion. That's a proscriptive generalization.
Because proscriptive generalizations make such strong statements, they are readily
35. M. Denton, 1986. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.
Bethesda, MD. Adler and Adler; J.D. Barrow and F.J. Tipler, 1986. The Anthropic
Cosmological Principle. Oxford Clarnedon.
36. J.D. Hunter, 1992. Origins Research 14, 1-14.
See also J.D. Hunter, 1991. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New
York: Basic Books.
37. "Natural selection is the blind watchmaker,
blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose
in view. Yet the living results of natural selection ovewhelmingly impress us
with the appearance of design, as if by a master watchmaker, with the illusion
of design and planning. The purpose of this book is to resolve this paradox
to the satisfaction of the reader, and the purpose of this chapter is further
impress the reader with the power of the illusion of design. We shall look at
a particular example and shall conclude that when it comes to complexity and
beauty of design, Paley hardly even began to state the case." from R. Dawkins,
1986. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: W.W. Norton.
38. For a good discussion of this exclusivism,
see P.E. Johnson, 1991. Darwin on Trial. Washington D.C.: 1987.
39. Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. (June 19, 1987).
40. Edwards V. Aguillard, p. 14.
41. Cited in P. Davis, and E. Solomon, 1973. The
World of Biology. New York: McGraw Hill, p. 610.