Tim: This is a VERY peculiar week. First I line up with Teddy Kennedy on
Iraq, now I have to defend the (gulp) ACLU. Wonder if they’re hiring over
at the NY Times?
You write: “……they discuss how groups like the ACLU sue school districts
for daring to consider alternative theories of evolution. I find this
amusing for people who sell those ‘Question Authority’ buttons. How dare
anyone question our Darwinist orthodoxy with alternatives!”
So far as the origin of species is concerned, there is no other theory than
Darwin’s natural selection. Not if “theory” is to be understood in the
sense in which sceince understands it. You can, of course, cook up
alternative explanations like
—A race of super-aliens is playing craps with the DNA
—God made it happen
—Satan made it happen
…but these are not scientific theories, arrived at in a spirit of
open-minded inquiry. ID in particular is not a scientific theory, At its
best, it is a metaphysical critique; at its worst, a cohort in the armies of
If you want to assert that scientists, having got themselves a theory, will
defend it dogmatically in the last ditch against all comers, I can only
suggest that you read some history of science. An excellent start would be
Simon Singh’s fine book THE BIG BANG, which I review in the issue of NRODT
just going to press.
Scientists at large simply aren’t like that. Some individual scientists may
be — they come in all human types. The generality of scientists, however,
will not cling to a failed theory when the evidence has swung against it.
You simply cannot cite any such thing in the history of modern science.
That is not how science proceeds. I defy you to cite an instance of this
happening in modern (last 200 yrs) science.
On the other side, I think it is indeed the case, as Ramesh has pointed out
somewhere, that some biologists who are dogmatic atheists, like Dawkins,
have supplied fuel to the notion that, well, scientists are all dogmatic
atheists, by pretending that their inquiries prove the truth of atheism.
Again, this is not a general opinion among scientists. (That Chinese
geneticist I told the anecdote about yesterday, for example, is devoutly
religious. He is in fact an adherent of the Falun Gong sect of Buddhism,
currently much persecuted in China.)
You won’t prove the existence of God with science, Mr. Behe. And you won’t
prove His non-existence either, Mr. Dawkins.
In the matter of science and science teaching, however, the ACLU is
perfectly correct: There is currently no alternative to Natural Selection
as a scientific theory for the explanation of the origin of species. “God
did it” is, alas, not a scientific theory.