The Corner

Derb Joins Aclu

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

Unreason.

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.

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