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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Science writer: Let 'intelligent design' and science rumble

Human evolution writer for Science, Michael Balter, thinks that acceptance of Darwinism in the United States has been weakened by the Darwinists' attempts to suppress any questioning:

In large part, Americans' skepticism toward evolutionary theory reflects the continuing influence of religion. Yet it also implies that scientists have not been persuasive enough, even when buttressed by strong scientific evidence that natural selection alone can account for life's complexity.

Could it be that the theory of evolution's judicially sanctioned monopoly in the classroom has backfired?

For one thing, the monopoly strengthens claims by intelligent-design proponents that scientists don't want to be challenged. More important, it shields Darwinian theory from challenges that, when properly refuted, might win over adherents to evolutionary views.

Might, or might not. Obviously, Darwinists don't think that open discussion would be any help to their cause. That was what first alerted me, years ago, to the problems with Darwinism (a theory that I had managed to live for nearly fifty prior years without ever thinking much about), and eventually led to my writing By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg, 2004), to try to understand and explain why the uproar could only continue to grow.

Like most science writers, Balter is a virtuous Darwinist who is quite sure that there can be no legitimate doubts about Darwinism, only misunderstandings that a less fascistic attitude on the part of Darwinists would quickly set right. Even so, a caution appears in the teaser for his commentary, immediately following the byline, "The views expressed above are his own."*

"Huh? You don't say! Amazing. Fella done wrote a opinion piece and it's really and truly his own opinion! What the world coming to?"

Seriously, that artful little touch typefies the problem beautifully. Even Balter, whose loyalty to Darwinism is transparent, can't be too sure. Or else his loyal editor can't.

[* Strictly, it should have read "below", not "above", so presumably whoever wrote the tag wasn't sure where it would be placed.]

Of course, it won't be nearly as easy for Darwinism to succeed as that. Remember that, in its present incarnation, it promises not only to tell you how the giraffe got its long neck, but - in the guise of evolutionary psychology - why kids don't eat their greens and why some guys cheat on their wives AND why your next-door neighbor had a born-again experience and quit drinking. I think the Darwinists should have stuck with giraffes. When's the last time you heard a giraffe complain about theories about necks?

Academic freedom watch: Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that "intelligent design isn’t science."

Baylor University: "Twenty-nine members of the J.M. Dawson family have called on Baylor University to remove the associate director of the institute that bears Dawson's name. Beckwith topped the list of candidates for the Dawson Institute during a national search, Jeffrey said. Among Beckwith's credentials, Jeffrey cited his academic accomplishments, including a doctorate from Fordham University and a master's degree in juridical studies from Washington University, as well as publication of articles in numerous scholarly periodicals, including the Dawson Institute's own Journal of Church and State. He has been a research fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and he is a fellow in the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute. He has held full-time faculty appointments at Trinity International University, Whittier College and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas." Beckwith's sin was that he is associated with the intelligent design hypothesis.

George Mason University Carolyn Crocker of George Mason University was barred from teaching both Darwinian evolution and intelligent design. What blows me away is the belief that students will not soon realize that this is all happening because the Darwinists have not made a good case, and are therefore enforcing their philosophy of origins by authority alone.

Iowa State University: Dr. Gonzalez, a senior fellow of Discovery Institute, is internationally known among astronomers and cosmologists as an expert on the astrophysical requirements for habitability and on habitable zones. He is a co-founder of the concept of Galactic Habitable Zones (GHZ). He and his colleagues captured the cover of Scientific American for their foundational and defining work on the very idea of GHZs. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed science papers, the latest being “Habitable Zones in the Universe” forthcoming in the journal Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres.

He is also a leading scientist who has put forward a testable argument for intelligent design--drawing on research from cosmology, astronomy, chemistry, and physics--and it is this that has spurred attempts to stifle scientific inquiry and academic freedom.

The Des Moines Register reports that faculty members have "accused Gonzalez of having a hidden religious agenda" and "fingering him as an academic fraud." Gonzalez has commented that the incident has made his work environment less than collegial.

"A small group of narrow-minded and intolerant faculty members have started a petition to rule out intelligent design as inherently unscientific; and are seeking to essentially ban it from being researched, taught, even discussed, at ISU," said Chapman. "In so doing they have targeted the only person on the campus who publicly is known to defend intelligent design in his work."

(Note: I will be blogging on Gonzalez in more detail later. I think that the Darwinists have really blown it this time. To get the picture, consider the Patterson campaign at Iowa State. What's this guy wasting his time in the United States for? The Glorious People's Republic of Dungeon beckons.)

Mississippi University for Women: During a recent honors forum at Mississippi University for Women (MUW), Dr. Nancy Bryson gave a presentation titled "Critical Thinking on Evolution" -- which covered alternate views to evolution such as intelligent design. Bryson said that following the presentation, a senior professor of biology told her she was unqualified and not a professional biologist, and said her presentation was "religion masquerading as science.
The next day, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Vagn Hansen asked Bryson to resign from her position as head of the school's Division of Science and Mathematics. "The academy is all about free thought and academic freedom. He hadn't even heard my talk," Bryson told American Family Radio News. "[W]ithout knowing anything about my talk, he makes that decision. I think it's just really an outrage."

Ohio State University: "Discovery Institute has filed a public records request with the Ohio State University (OSU) seeking all documents related to Darwinist attacks on OSU doctoral candidate Bryan Leonard. The request was submitted under the Ohio Public Records Act.

"In June, Leonard's dissertation defense in the area of science education was suddenly postponed after three Darwinist professors at OSU attacked Leonard's dissertation research because it analyzed how teaching students evidence for and against macroevolution impacted student beliefs. According to a news report in The Columbus Dispatch, the professors admitted at the time that they had not read Leonard's dissertation.

"We are concerned that Leonard is being targeted for unfair and possibly illegal treatment because of his viewpoint about evolution, in violation of his First Amendment rights," said Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.

"We are further concerned that university officials may have been improperly influenced in their actions by outside Darwinist pressure groups who are trying to destroy Leonard's career because of his support for teaching scientific criticisms of Darwin's theory."

San Francisco State University: "That a man of Mr. Kenyon's stature should now be forced to lobby for the right to teach introductory biology, whatever his current view of origins, is absurdly comic. Mr. Kenyon knows perhaps as much as anyone in the world about a problem that has stymied an entire generation of research scientists. Yet he now finds that he may not report the negative results of research or give students his candid assessment of it."

University of Idaho "The University of Idaho's statement does not simply ban discussions of evolution that are unrelated to the subjects of courses being taught,” explained DeWolf. “Nor does it merely forbid religious-based views of evolution from being taught in science classes. The statement offers a blanket prohibition on any 'views that differ from evolution,' no matter how scientific, and no matter how related to the courses under study."

All these situations have one common factor: Put simply, accumulating or disseminating evidence against Darwinism, the creation story of materialism - or against materialism itself - is an offense. By definition, no amount or type of information can be evidence. So these people have no business being in possession of it.

Years ago, I predicted that the intelligent design controversy was going to explode, principally because the intolerance of any criticism whatever of Darwinism would come ot a head, drawing more and more people in, and eventually drawing the government in.

All of these people need an organization like The Fire (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), an academic freedom movement.

Intelligent design and popular culture: The Onion’s unique and incomparable take

Just back from the book launch of a fellow Toronto hack. I don’t know how I would manage without the Onion. How about kids' Letters to Jesus vs. Letters to Darwin? Enjoy.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.
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