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Monday, December 24, 2007

Who actually believes in science?

In an interesting opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Joseph Bottum, editor of First Things, asks "Will the secular left soon attack the religious right for being pro-science?". He is referring to the recent advance that eliminated the need for human embryonic stem cells in research. He observes,
I have long suspected that science, in the context of the editorial page of the New York Times, was simply a stalking-horse for something else. In fact, for two something-elses: a chance to discredit America's religious believers, and an opportunity to put yet another hedge around the legalization of abortion. After all, if our very health depends on the death of embryos, and we live in a culture that routinely destroys early human life in the laboratory, no grounds could exist for objecting to abortion.

But just about everything that the editorialists fanatically maintained was counterfactual:
Shake loose from the narrative of antiscience fundamentalists and pro-science liberals, however, and a different story starts to be visible. Abortion skewed the political discussion of all this, pinning the left to a defense of science it doesn't actually hold. The more natural line is agitation against Frankenfoods and all genetic modification, particularly given the environmentalism to which the campaign against global warming is tying the left.

An interesting thesis, and one with parallels in the intelligent design controversy. For example, there is overwhelming evidence for actual design in the universe (the usual term is fine tuning), which means that it would be strange indeed if life forms showed no evidence of design. Yet, you would never guess any of this if you listen only to the hysterics of editorialists and do not consider the evidence.

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