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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Darwinism and popular culture: Taking the fun out of fundamentalism - no hope for the one who does not accept ...

Here is - on display - an example of the fundamentalist streak in Darwin fans ( already clearly demonstrated in the Michael Reiss affair).

American Darwin fan Jerry Coyne, promoting Richard Dawkins's book, The Blind Watchmaker issues a fatwa in Nature:
If a presidential candidate doesn't accept evolution after reading this book, there is no hope.
I see. And what if an American fundamentalist leader had said:
If a presidential candidate doesn't accept Jesus as his personal savior after reading the New Testament, there is no hope.
Or perchance we hear from another quarter,
“If a presidential candidate doesn't accept Islam after reading the Koran, there is no hope.
Well then, I guess there is no hope for the free society because at any given time a huge number of people - in the hundreds of millions - express varying degrees of belief and disbelief in these and a great many other explanations of our origin and destiny.

You wouldn’t think a free society would be as popular as it is in that case … so many people trying to get in, and not many trying to get out ...

As a matter of fact, in the late 1980s, American constitutional lawyer Phillip E. Johnson did read Dawkins's Watchmaker. But he also read Michael Denton's Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. So he knew why Dawkins's (and Coyne's) large claims do not add up.

I guess there is no hope for him either then. Here is what I wrote about that in By Design or by Chance?:
Johnson did not begin to think seriously about design issues until 1987–1988, while on sabbatical in England. There he read Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker (1986) and Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1985).43 Denton argued, contra Dawkins, that Darwinism was simply not answering the questions that many scientists were asking about evolution. Unlike most writers on Darwinism, Denton did not soft-pedal the problems with Darwinism. He said:

"While most evolutionary biologists who have written recently about evolution concede that the problems are serious, nearly all take an ultimately conservative stand, believing that they can be explained away by making only minor adjustments to the Darwinian framework. In this book I have adopted the radical approach. By presenting a systematic critique of the current Darwinian model, ranging from paleontology to molecular biology, I have tried to show why I believe that the problems are too severe and too intractable to offer any hope of resolution in terms of the orthodox Darwinian framework, and that consequently the conservative view is no longer tenable."

... Johnson decided that Denton was either “very, very wrong, or very, very important.” But he did not make up his mind right away.
He did later though, after talking to a number of other straight-goods people. He became, of course, the "godfather" of the intelligent design community in the United States, with the publication of his own Darwin on Trial, loudly deplored by Darwin grantsmen and box wallahs ever since, around the world.

Note: Coyne also notes his own forthcoming work, Why Evolution Is True (Viking 2009).

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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