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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yet another journalist skeptical of Darwin lobby

I am rapidly developing a guest list for a Hacks' Pub Nite!

Here's a recent piece (May 5, 2008) from Lew by veteran journalist Charley Reese who is agnostic about evolution, creation, or intelligent design:
True science means simply the search for truth, but a search conducted with an open mind and tolerance for dissent. There is nothing wrong with a person believing that a dinosaur evolved into a canary, but there is also nothing wrong with someone believing that God created the first man and woman. I've never seen any physical evidence to support either belief, and one is no more improbable than the other. The only fact is that some beliefs have to be accepted on the basis of faith, and that goes for evolution as well as creationism.

He adds, and I almost agree,
The trouble is that both science and religion provide a person with a worldview, and unconsciously the person begins to evaluate everything he or she sees or hears or thinks up in accordance with the worldview. I see no reason to include any discussion of evolution or creationism in secondary schools. There is a large volume of facts biology students need to learn without wasting their time on theories that have no practical value. It's like teaching molecular physics to students studying auto mechanics.

Almost agree? Well, like Reese, I have been struck by the way in which textbooks suddenly diverge into ideology when discussing evolution. No one gets ideological when discussing the fact that legless lizards have ears or that the sex of baby alligators hinges on the ambient temperature.

But - for example - in a discussion of the difficulty of providing a useful account of the origin of life or the Cambrian explosion, many textbook authors resort to blatant propaganda like "science has solved other difficult problems."

Yes, indeed - when information is available. But so many pieces are missing from the origin of life puzzle or the Cambrian explosion puzzle that we actually have no idea what the picture would even look like, just a variety of interesting speculations.

Personally, I enjoy OoL and Cambrian speculations and have read a number of books on the topics with interest. But I don't confuse them with books on facts, like "Do legless lizards have ears?" or "How do alligators reproduce?"

If only honest admission that we don't know some of these things would replace ideological blowharding in science texts, maybe these interesting topics could be kept. On the other hand, maybe Reese is right: The ideologists will never leave them alone so just dump them.


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