Academic Freedom Loses Again
Regis Nicoll Regis Nicoll's weblog
- 2008 Apr 17
For those who think that the object of science is to follow the truth wherever it leads, there’s this in from the AP: “Some scientists are urging Florida's Legislature to reject a bill that would protect teachers from being fired if they present information challenging evolution.”
If you’re wondering why any scientific theory should be immune from criticism in institutions which are supposedly training young people for critical thinking, it’s because the stalwarts of science orthodoxy have proclaimed, ex academia, that evolution is “a scientific fact” and that its alternative, Intelligent Design, is “religion posing as science.” Neither is true.
ID is a research program to discover, scientifically, whether the design in nature, universally acknowledged in the scientific community, is actual or merely apparent. ID does not deny the validity of evolutionary processes—only that naturalistic mechanisms alone are unable to account for the complexity of life. ID is based on scientific criteria and empirical data, similar to that used in fields like archaeology, to determine the authenticity of human artifacts; forensics, to distinguish death by natural causes from murder; and cryptography, to decide whether a collection of symbols is a random string of characters or a message of human origin. ID does not attempt to answer or address whether the designer is divine or extraterrestrial, mortal or immortal, or of natural or supernatural origin. The only attribute ID is concerned with is intelligence. Hence, contrary to all the fear-mongering since Dover, there is no religion being smuggled in with ID.
Darwinian evolution is another story. Despite the exercised assertions of the evolutionary establishment, Darwinian evolution is not a fact; it's a theory, and not a particularly scientific one at that, for several reasons:
1. The evidence trotted out in its support is fraught with holes (the fossil record), frauds (Haeckel’s embryology, fake fossils, staged peppered moths), intelligently designed and controlled experiments (Urey-Miller) or just-so stories to explain how a frog could turn into a prince after eons of random variation, adaptation and natural selection.
2. Everything it foists as a product of common descent—e.g., similarities in morphology and genomes—is better explained as a product of common design.
3. Its essential feature, macro-evolution, has never been observed or reproduced even in micro-organisms whose explosive rates of replication should virtually guarantee its validity. Thus, it has no predictive power and, consequently, has not contributed to a single technological or medical advance since it was conjectured 150 years ago.
4. In fact, Darwinian evolution has a tendency to be a science-stopper, as evidenced by the establishment’s readiness to label apparent inert portions of DNA (expected by the theory) as “junk.” As it turns out, those “inert” regions of DNA are increasingly being found essential in direct or indirect gene expression.
5. It is not dictated by the evidence or the science, or by reason of its technological usefulness, but by…theology. That’s right!
For those whose theology makes no room for God or the supernatural, naturalistic evolution promises to answer those BIG metaphysical questions of “How did I get here?” “And who am I?”
For others who desire a moral universe, but want to exonerate the Law-Giver from any culpability for the existence of evil, theistic evolution gives them a not-so-omnipotent or sovereign God who set things in motion, but has nary a clue as to how they’ll turn out or how to set the course straight. And since he’s not in total control, it turns out that he’s not too particular about those morals either.
If you doubt the religious underpinnings of Darwinism consider its . . .
Patron saint: Charles Darwin
Founding text: On the Origin of Species
Magisterium: The National Academy of Science
Holy day: Darwin Day
Sacred relics: humanoid fossils
Evangelists: Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Kenneth Miller
Religious symbol: the Darwin fish plaque, available in assorted styles and colors
And--as this news item exposes, yet again--its unpardonable sin: “Putting other theories before Darwin.”