Skip to comments.KU prof's e-mail irks fundamentalists (Christian Bashing OK)
Posted on 11/25/2005 8:34:07 AM PST by Exton1
KU prof's e-mail irks fundamentalists
LAWRENCE - Critics of a new course that equates creationism and intelligent design with mythology say an e-mail sent by the chairman of the University of Kansas religious studies department proves the course is designed to mock fundamentalist Christians.
In a recent message on a Yahoo listserv, Paul Mirecki said of the course "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationisms and Other Religious Mythologies":
"The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category mythology."
He signed the note "Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P."
Kansas Provost David Shulenburger said Wednesday that he regretted the words Mirecki used but that he supported the professor and thought the course would be taught in a professional manner.
"My understanding was that was a private e-mail communication that somehow was moved out of those channels and has become a public document," Shulenburger said.
The course was added to next semester's curriculum after the Kansas State Board of Education adopted new school science standards that question evolution.
The course will explore intelligent design, which contends that life is too complex to have evolved without a "designer." It also will cover the origins of creationism, why creationism is an American phenomenon and creationism's role in politics and education.
State Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, said she was concerned by Mirecki's comments in the e-mail.
"His intent to make a mockery of Christian beliefs is inappropriate," she said.
Mirecki said the private e-mail was accessed by an outsider.
"They had been reading my e-mails all along," he said. "Where are the ethics in that, I ask."
When asked about conservative anger directed at him and the new course, Mirecki said: "A lot of people are mad about what's going on in Kansas, and I'm one of them."
Mirecki has been taking criticism since the course was announced.
"This man is a hateful man," said state Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe. "Are we supposed to be using tax dollars to promote hatred?"
But others support Mirecki.
Tim Miller, a fellow professor in the department of religious studies, said intelligent design proponents are showing that they don't like having their beliefs scrutinized.
"They want their religion taught as fact," Miller said. "That's simply something you can't do in a state university."
Hume Feldman, associate professor of physics and astronomy, said he planned to be a guest lecturer in the course. He said the department of religious studies was a good place for intelligent design.
"I think that is exactly the appropriate place to put these kinds of ideas," he said.
John Altevogt, a conservative columnist and activist in Kansas City, said the latest controversy was sparked by the e-mail.
"He says he's trying to offend us," Altevogt said. "The entire tenor of this thing just reeks of religious bigotry."
Brownlee said she was watching to see how the university responded to the e-mail.
"We have to set a standard that it's not culturally acceptable to mock Christianity in America," she said.
University Senate Executive Committee Governance Office - 33 Strong Hall, 4-5169
Joe Heppert, email@example.com , Chemistry, 864-2270 Ruth Ann Atchley, firstname.lastname@example.org , Psychology, 864-9816 Richard Hale, email@example.com ,Aerospace Engineering, 864-2949 Bob Basow, firstname.lastname@example.org , Journalism, 864-7633 Susan Craig, email@example.com , Art & Architecture, 864-3020 Margaret Severson, mseverson@Ku.edu , Social Welfare, 864-8952
University Council President Jim Carothers, firstname.lastname@example.org , English 864-3426 (Ex-officio on SenEx)
Paul Mirecki, Chair The Department of Religious Studies, 1300 Oread Avenue, 102 Smith Hall, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Kansas,Lawrence, KS 66045-7615 (785) 864-4663 Voice (785) 864-5205 FAX email@example.com
They will offer a boatload of excuses, the editorital pages of the state will defend them, and ultimately KU will do whatever they want as taxpayers are forced to fund it. It is fine if they offend and bash religion, just as long as they never say anything positive. That's KU for you. Never send your kid there unless you want him/her to get an education in pornography along with the anti-Christian everything else.
Typical response of the Left. Dont address the real issue; instead get mad that someone called you on it.
I don't thibk we have all the facts here.
Aren't we missing a rather large point here?
The guy who sent the email mocking religion wasn't just any old liberal prof. He is . . . the chairman of the religious studies department!
This is the equivalent of appointing David Duke chairman of the African-American Studies department!
Ah, I see. So Christianity is to be above criticism.
Somebody email Senator Brownlee a copy of the First Amendment.
No. But we have enough.
>"This man is a hateful man," said state Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe. "Are we supposed to be using tax dollars to promote hatred?"
"He says he's trying to offend us," Altevogt said. "The entire tenor of this thing just reeks of religious bigotry."
Huh. I thought I was reading DU there for a second, what with these being the sort of whines you get from the Left. Sad to see them coming from those supposedly on the Right.
Hey, where are all those guys who are always saying on the evolution threads that nobody in academia thinks or acts like this?
> So Christianity is to be above criticism.
So it seems. Remember, many equate Young Earth Creationist Fundie-ism with being the only *real* Christians... those peopel who profess to be Christian and yet who understand what science has shown, why, they're not *real* Christians.
You miss the fact that he is paid with taxes. I suppose you also support that loathsome Churchill guy also. Your screen name maybe should be "Somewhat Right Wing by Comparison, Professor"
Thinks or acts like what? Poking fun at religious fundies? I know of no-one who thinks that rational people don't find that amusing.
Now be honest. What would your reaction be to finding the chairman of a Unversity African-American Studies department had mocked Louis Farrakan?
In a sane world, that would be mandatory.
CONSERVATIVE AND PROLIFE PROFESSOR AWARDED PROFESSOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Posted on 11/25/2005 8:42:57 AM CST by Lawrence Roberge
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: November 17, 2005 Jill Minette, CASE, 202-478-5666 Professor Lawrence Roberge, 413-547-8448
NATIONAL HONORS FOR TOP PROFESSOR IN CONNECTICUT
(Washington, DC)-The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education have named Lawrence F. Roberge at Goodwin College the 2005 Connecticut Professor of the Year. Professor Roberge was selected from among nearly 400 top professors in the United States.
He asks us to support and encourage the teachers and professors who are conservative..
"Poking fun at religious fundies? I know of no-one who thinks that rational people don't find that amusing."
And Barbara Streisand knows of no one who thinks that rational people aren't rabid leftists.
He's a religious studies prof. I have no idea what motivates one to be such a thing, and he's certainly not a scientist.
I have no problem with the course. However, the prof. seems to be an immature a$$hole - I share his frustration with fundamentalists, but why would you act it out in such a manner on a listserv? In response to fundamentalist encroachments, I too taught a seminar course a couple of years back. It was called The chemical basis of evolution, and it was a serious science course, where students learned to do molecular cladistics and verify for themselves the common descent of organisms, as well as examine various theories of abiogenesis. Half the class dropped after the first meeting, when they found they'd actually have to learn some science.
In other words, I have no problem with teaching a course in response to current events, even a course with a strong point of view. I have no problem with the guy expressing his view of fundamentalists on an internet listserv. But I take my teaching way too seriously to brag about how my course was an effort, in effect, to 'stick it to the fundies'.
That removes his first amendment rights?
I suppose you also support that loathsome Churchill guy also.
You suppose wrong.
Your screen name maybe should be "Somewhat Right Wing by Comparison, Professor"
Maybe should should learn to argue the issue, rather than attack your adversary.
It isn't about the First Amendment. It's about being rude and antagonistic simply for the sake of being rude and antagonistic.
Very trendy in acedemia nowadays, it seems. I guess it lets these professors sit at the "cool table".
But of course, being rude and antagonistic is only suitable for safe targets-- the right, the religious, and sometimes the Jews. Those guys will never sit at the "cool table" so it is safe to knock their books from their hands as pals point and laugh.
Ah, but that is the nature of acedemic thought... the depth of a dime but the width of an ocean.
Christian bashing? Creationism and ID are primarily Muslim, Moonie and Scientologist positions; most Christians are evolutionists.
Another cockroach complaining that someone turned on the light.
Quit spouting crap. Use your brain for thinking instead of emoting. That's what it was designed for.
I'm right here. But no one claimed that "nobody" acts like this. All we claim is that if they do, they're not operating within the bounds of science. Science cannot operate in the world of faith, so no claims in favor or against faith can be considered "science"
But you should not that this guy was not a scientist, he's in the religious studies department. And those people can have any faith they want.
Thanks for the argument to eliminate the "Religious Studies" department. A waste of money, no doubt.
This guy has a great sense of humor.
Right. It's probably his faith that prompts him to oppose ID the way he does.
Ah, the typical nonsense from a creationist. OK, we can play too. ID may not be incompatible with evolution. But ID is not science by any reasonable definition.
Please try to stop demonstrating that you have no more than an 8th grade education.
"I'm right here. But no one claimed that "nobody" acts like this. All we claim is that if they do, they're not operating within the bounds of science. "
I'll take your word for it that you haven't said that, but others have made equivalent statements.
The fact that he signed something "Evil Dr. P", tells me that this was part of a longer discussion and a bit tounge in cheek. I'm sure that someone could make me look like an a$$hole if they had full access to my e-mail account.
All of us do things in private that would be a$$hole in public. F@rt, for instance.
As many of us on these threads who are 1) conservative, 2) Christian, and 3) educated have pointed out, this creationism / ID nonsense is the semantic equivalent of handing your enemy the ammunition to shoot you with. So great, now everyone can denigrate conservatives because we are associated with either ID or creationism.
Thank you so much. /sarc
ID can be compatible with anything. That's why it's nothing.
Have you ever said "Christians would'nt do evil things"? Or something like that? If so, you were entirely wrong, as there are a great number of "evil" Christians, even if they are small as a percentage.
Yes, some scientists have used evolution as a baseball bat against religion. But they are a minority, and they're out of bounds.
"So Christianity is to be above criticism. "
As it should be. Christianity is the world's ONLY perfect religion. Absolutely nothing "wrong" or "evil" has ever been done in the name of Christianity! Christianity, as is practiced by the fundies, is perfect!
"But I take my teaching way too seriously to brag about how my course was an effort, in effect, to 'stick it to the fundies'."
You miss the point. Just *wanting* to 'stick it to the fundies' is indicative of severe corruption of the worldview, whether one acts out or not.
You can look at young-earth creationists and think them fools, but this country treasures its freedom of religion. That includes freedom from having it "stuck to you" in public places.
Suppose this guy wanted to "stick it to the Jews." What does the picture look like in that case?
This particular religious bigot may be in arts and parties rather than hard sciences, but there are equally bigoted instructors in departments such as physics, chemistry, and biology on campuses across the country. And many of them also use their classrooms to try and "stick it" not just to the fundies, but to anyone who believes in anything.
The entire "mention ID in the classroom" movement arose in reaction to this.
"Slap in the face" for the "fundies" is not "criticism."
Slaps in the face are more than criticism and more than mocking: they are intentional insults.
The churches in the cities ought to sponsor their best and brightest to enroll in the class.
I'm a Christian and I believe Genesis. So do lots of others.
"ID can be compatible with anything."
Not so. It must, and can only be, compatible with (1) the fossil record and (2) Divine intervention in the processes that laid down the fossil record.
"Have you ever said "Christians would'nt do evil things"? Or something like that?"
Of course not. That's so contrary to the tenets of Christianity as to be ridiculous. We are all sinners. We all fall short.
"Yes, some scientists have used evolution as a baseball bat against religion. But they are a minority,"
That number depends on one's definition of "use like a baseball bat." And then, we could talk about "use like a garotte," or "use like a stiletto in the back."
"and they're out of bounds."
Yes, they are. But they're not going to stop, and that's why we need explicit statements, even in science classes, that belief is not the exclusive province of the stupid and the ignorant.
Yes, evolution is the preferred dogma of lefties everywhere.
Their low level of tolerance ranks right down there with Islamofacists, with whom they share a hostility to both God and America.
Devotees of scientism have always sought to rule out challenges to their faith in strictly materialist metaphysics.
Sometimes their monopolistic claims are not vindicated, and they throw a hissy fit, like this KU professor. They insist on the right to use Other People's Money to promote their faith, masquerading as science, and to filter out all competing views, or evidence that fails to butress their claims.
A useful example of how to combat such pretensions is provided by the following rhetoric-laden retreat from a statement that was too blatantly scientistic, as opposed to scientific, to stand up to serious scrutiny:
NABT Statement on Evolution Evolves
by Eugenie C. Scott
In 1995 the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) issued a "Statement on the Teaching of Evolution" which was reprinted in Reports of NCSE (17(1):31-32). In a list of "tenets of science, evolution and biology education," the first item read:
The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.
After the statement was published, anti-evolutionists criticized the use of the terms "unsupervised" and "impersonal." UC Berkeley lawyer Phillip Johnson (author of Darwin on Trial) and other anti-evolutionists have claimed that the NABT statement is "proof" that evolution is inherently an ideological system, rather than simply a well-supported scientific explanation. Criticisms of the statement have appeared in newspaper letters to the editor, in newsletters and other publications. It appears that when most Americans other than scientists hear evolution described in blanket fashion as "unsupervised", they hear, "God had nothing to do with it" -- a statement which is outside of what science can tell us.
In September of 1997, two distinguished scholars, Alvin Plantinga, John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame University, and Huston Smith, Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion at Syracuse University, wrote to NABT Executive Director Wayne W. Carley, suggesting that the words "impersonal" and "unsupervised" were inappropriate because, "Science presumably doesn't address such theological questions, and isn't equipped to deal with them. How could an empirical inquiry possibly show that God was not guiding and directing evolution?"
The inclusion of those two words, Smith and Plantinga said, "...gives aid and comfort to extremists in the religious right for whom it provides a legitimate target. And, because of its logical vulnerability, it lowers Americans' respect for scientists and their place in our culture. If the words 'impersonal' and 'unsupervised' were dropped from your opening sentence [sic] it would help defuse tensions which, as things stand, are causing unnecessary problems in our collective life."
The NABT annual meeting was held in Minneapolis October 8-11, and the letter and its request were considered by the Board of Directors on Wednesday, October 8. The Board initially voted to retain the extant wording, focusing on Plantinga's and Smith's comment that the statement "contradicts the beliefs of the majority of the American people, 90% of whom (according to opinion polls) believe that a personal agent -- God -- supervised in some way our arrival on this planet." Board members considered the comment irrelevant because scientific definitions are independent of the percentages of individuals holding opinions on religion. Carley's October 8 statement to the press underscored this view.
Reflecting upon that decision, Executive Director Carley commented, "We were at the end of a 9 hour meeting, we were tired, and we didn't give the subject enough time." During the next few days of the meeting, however, Board members consulted with other NABT members, and reconsidered the underlying message of the Plantinga-Smith letter. The letter exemplified how describing evolution as "impersonal" and "unsupervised" was being interpreted by individuals outside of science as anti-religious and unscientific.
NABT Board members realized that they had a communication problem on their hands: they had not intended the statement on evolution to include theological positions! President-elect Dr. Richard Storey, one of the drafters of the statement, and other members of the Board called for a reconsideration of the decision, and the Board met on Saturday, October 11, the last day of the conference. After a more extensive discussion than had been possible on Wednesday, the Board considered that:
1) The extant wording which included "unsupervised" and "impersonal" apparently was miscommunicating both the nature of science and NABT's intent;
2) The deletion of those two words would not affect the statement's accurate characterization of evolution, and affirmation of evolution's importance in science education.
Evolution is still described as a "natural process" (the only phenomena science can study), and a later bullet states that natural selection "has no specific direction or goal, including survival of a species." The strong position of evolution in biology and other sciences was not compromised by removing two adjectives that miscommunicated NABT's meaning.
As the leading association of biology teachers in the United States, the NABT speaks with authority on issues affecting science teachers. Joseph McInerney, a former NABT president and a drafter of the Statement has said, "...teachers are at the front, dealing with direct challenges to their teaching from real students and real parents who have immediate questions and immediate demands." One such question is, "Are you a Christian, or do you believe in evolution?" (Reports of NCSE, 17(1):30.) Plantinga's and Smith's letter underscored a very real problem: many people perceive that they have to make a choice between their religious beliefs and evolution. As a science education organization, the NABT needs to avoid giving the impression that they are taking sides in theological issues -- an impression given by the original text of their statement.
As McInerney pointed out, one of the goals of the NABT's statement on evolution was to "provide support for biology teachers when they are confronted with challenges to the teaching of evolution." By eliminating two nonessential words, the NABT Board of Directors made a statesmanlike decision that better fulfilled this goal by reducing a potential source of conflict in the classroom.
May 21, 1998
Yup, that sounds like ID, all right.
Typical Leftist bullcrap. As seen here, the idiot in question (Mirecki) doesn't deny his wrongdoing. Instead, he just makes up a bogus "bigger wrong" done to him so he (the aggressor) can claim to be the victim in all this!
It is confirmed. Leftists have no shame because they have no soul.
ID has not sought to eliminate the discussion of evolution, just to have it included. What's the big deal?
Why not? One cannot criticize Islam in any public court without official and unofficial reprisals.
Spoken like a true secular fundamentalist zealot, still fervently committed to that "Old Time (Darwinist) Religion".
Evolution and Evolutionism
by Huston Smith
Dr. Smith is professor of religion at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. This article is adapted from his new book, Beyond the Post-Modern Mind (Crossroad).This article appeared in the Christian Century July 7-14, 1982, p.755. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation and used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at www.christiancentury.org. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.
Not since the days of Clarence Darrow and the monkey trial has America been so caught up in the debate over human origins. Now as then the issue has polarized our nation. It did so conspicuously this past winter, when spokespersons for mainline churches, the scientific establishment and the universities lined up behind the American Civil Liberties Union. Together they knocked out of Arkansass statutes the bill that would have required creationism to be taught alongside evolution in the public schools.
I rooted for the ACLU during that trial, but my rejoicing over its victory was more subdued than that of most of my friends. Because the issues are important and unresolved, I wish to explain my response.
Between the creationists claims concerning human origins and those of neo-Darwinists, truth is more evenly divided than our nation realizes. The creationist notion that our planet is no more than 10,000 years old is so strained that I have difficulty taking it seriously; on this point I side solidly with the liberals. But what the liberals do not see is that the neo-Darwinist account of how we got here is not much stronger.
In addition to being logically flawed, neo-Darwinism has unfortunate psychological consequences. Yet it is being taught as gospel truth; the lip service being paid to sciences fallibility does little to lessen neo-Darwinisms impact. The upshot is that the civil liberties of those who disagree with the theory are being compromised. Of this situation the ACLU and its backers seem to have little inkling.
Before I proceed to the central issue, three short quotations will set out the psychological consequences of teaching neo-Darwinism.
First, If anything characterizes modernity, it is loss of faith in transcendence (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 9, 1978).
Second, There is no doubt that in developed societies education has contributed to the decline of religious belief (Edward Norman, in Christianity and the World Order [Oxford University Press, 1976]).
Third, one reason education undoes belief is its teaching of evolution; Darwins own drift from orthodoxy to agnosticism was symptomatic. Martin Lings is probably right in saying that more cases of loss of religious faith are to be traced to the theory of evolution . . . than to anything else (Studies in Comparative Religion, Winter 1970).
The Civil Liberties Unions handling of the creationist case abets the historical drift these quotations point to with logic that runs roughly as follows:
Major premise: Creationism is religion rather than science; therefore, according to the principle of separation of church and state, creationism may not be taught in public schools.
Minor premise: The science which is and should be taught our children must be explanatory [and] rely exclusively upon the workings of natural law (ACLUs witness Michael Ruse, a Canadian philosopher of science, as quoted in Civil Liberties, February 1982).
Unspoken conclusion: The only explanation for human existence that public schools may teach is a natural-law theory which precludes in principle, as we shall see, even the possibility of (a) purpose and (b) intervention in the workings of the observable universe.
Restated to bring out its practical import, the ACLU position is that it is sciences responsibility to explain things by natural laws. The alternative to such natural explanations is supernatural ones. Thus, insofar as religion involves the supernatural, church-state separation requires that only irreligious explanations of human origins may be taught our children. Already we may be wondering if this is what our forebears intended by the First Amendment. The irony is that evolutionists have no plausible theory to pit against religious accounts of human origins. Their discoveries show a history of evolutionary advance but do not explain how or why that advance occurred.
This brings me to my central point. The notion of evolution harbors an ambiguity which moderns have finessed rather than faced. On the one hand, the word evolution describes lifes advance; on the other, it claims to explain that advance. If these two meanings part company, with which should the word side?
As description -- of the fossil record and of the age, continuities and discontinuities in life forms that the record discloses -- evolution is true and creationism mistaken. But as an explanation (lets call this evolutionism), neo-Darwinism is largely a failure, and one that has the important psychological consequences noted above. This crucial distinction is not being drawn today. As a result we witness a standoff, a shouting match between the scientific establishment and the fundamentalists, each of which has hold of a half-truth and a partial error.
Neo-Darwinisms proponents do not present it as a mere description of lifes journey on this planet; they claim that it is a theory explaining that journey. Specifically, neo-Darwinists claim that natural selection working on chance mutations accounts for what has occurred. But natural selection turns out to be a tautology, while the word chance denotes an occurrence that is inexplicable. A theory that claims to explain while standing with one foot on a tautology and the other in an explanatory void is in trouble.
Take natural selection first. The phrase encapsulates the argument that the pressure of populations on environments results in the survival of the fittest. But as no criterion for fittest has been found to be workable other than the ones who survive, the theory is circular. As the late C. H. Waddington wrote, Survival . . . denotes nothing more than leaving most offspring. The general principle of natural selection . . merely amounts to the statement that the individuals which leave most offspring are those which leave most offspring. It is a tautology (The Strategy of the Genes [Allen & Unwin, 1957]). E. 0. Wilsons Sociobiology (1975) reiterates this point and updates the support for it.
As for chance mutations, chance is the opposite of having a cause; something that happens by chance admits of no reason or purpose for its occurrence. A scientist would be happy to discover a reason that would replace chance, but he or she is debarred by the rules of the scientific enterprise from introducing one that is intelligently purposive. For, in the words of Jacques Monod in Chance and Necessity, The cornerstone of scientific method is . . . the systematic denial that true knowledge can be got at by interpreting phenomena in terms of. . . purpose. The determination with which evolutionists insist that chance be read as the opposite of purpose can be seen in the way they speak of blind and pure chance, when there are no such things in science itself. In science, chance is a number.
If we step out of the strictures of science, however, there is an alternative to this nonpurposive view of chance: it could be an occurrence whose cause lies outside the world of discourse in which the event is considered. If a bird found birdseed sprinkled on the snow only when a forest ranger passed its way and the ranger came only at night while the bird was asleep, the bird would doubtless attribute the seeds appearance as due to chance. (Note the way due to seems to produce a cause where none is offered.) According to this second reading, the combination of chance and necessity -- that is, of random mutations joined to natural selection -- is precisely just the necessary and sufficient condition required for any who would wish to assert that the evolutionary process is . . . purposive, as physicist and Episcopal priest William Pollard pointed out in his Critique of Jacques Monods Chance and Necessity (Soundings, Winter 1973).
The introduction of probability [as the specification of chances perimeters] into scientific description constitutes the one case in which science expressly renounces an explanation in terms of natural causes, Pollard went on to say. But evolutionary theory then faces the statistical improbabilities that pepper lifes ascent. It used to be argued that geological ages are so interminable that they allow time for anything and everything to happen. That notion required getting used to, but as long as it was thought of in single numbers (analogous to the number 26, say, turning up on a roulette wheel exactly when it was needed in a given evolutionary thrust), it could be accepted.
But we now see that significant organic changes require that innumerable component developments occur simultaneously and independently in bones, nerves, muscles, arteries and the like. These requirements escalate the demand on probability theory astronomically. It would be like having 26 come up simultaneously on ten or 15 tables in the same casino, followed by all the tables reporting 27, 28 and 29 in lockstep progression; more time than the earth has existed would be needed to account for the sequences that have occurred. Moreover, the number of generations through which a large number of immediately disadvantageous variations would have had to persist in order to turn reptiles into birds, say -- scales into feathers, solid bones into hollow tubes, the dispersion of air sacs to various parts of the body, the development of shoulder muscles and bones to athletic proportions, to say nothing of conversion to a totally different biochemistry of elimination and the changeover from coldblooded to warm -- makes the notion of chance working alone preposterous. As Professor Pierre Grasse, who for 30 years held the chair in evolution at the Sorbonne, has written:
The probability of dust carried by the wind reproducing Dürers Melancholia is less infinitesimal than the probability of copy errors in the DNA molecules leading to the formation of the eye; besides, these errors had no relationship whatsoever with the function that the eye would have to perform or was starting to perform. There is no law against daydreaming, but science must not indulge in it [Evolution of Living Organisms (Academic Press, 1977)].
Professor Wickramasinghe of the department of applied mathematics and astronomy at Cardiff, Wales, did not take the stand for the creationists in Arkansas out of sympathy for their alternative scenario. A non-Christian from Sri Lanka, the professor said that it was for him not a question of the Bibles inerrancy; he didnt believe in the Bible at all. He testified for the creationists solely because he felt it was important to puncture neo-Darwinisms pretenses. Some 2,000 or so enzymes are known to be crucial for life, he reported, and continued:
At a conservative estimate, say 15 Sites per enzyme must be fixed to be filled by particular amino acids for proper biological function. . . [T]he probability of discovering this set by random shuffling is one in 1040,000, a number that exceeds by many powers of 10 the number of all atoms in the entire observable universe [Science News, Vol. 121 (January 16, 1982)].
If we want to retain our belief in chance, obviously something is going to have to intervene to reduce it to conceivable bounds. This area is where the search goes on today. Vocabularies proliferate as repressor genes, corepressors and aporepressors, modifier and switch genes, operator genes that activate other genes, cistrons and operons that constitute subsystems of interacting genes -- even genes that regulate the rate of mutation in other genes -- are invoked. Anything to narrow unlimited chance to chance within conceivable proportions. On a different front, with the displacement of Darwins gradualism by the punctuational model, it is now conceded that the missing links between most species will not be found. It all happened too fast. Most change has taken place so rapidly and in such confined geographic areas that it is simply not documented by our imperfect fossil record, according to Steven Stanley (Darwin Done Over, the Sciences, October 1981).
From The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, which can be taken to summarize intellectual orthodoxy at the time of its publication in 1979, one would gather that neo-Darwinian theory is as settled as Newtonian theory. The Britannica tells us that evolution is accepted by all biologists and natural selection is recognized as its cause. . . . Objections . . . have come from theological and, for a time, from political standpoints (Vol. 7). Who would suspect from this statement that biologists of the stature of Ludwig von Bertalanffy had been writing: I think the fact that a theory so vague, so insufficiently verifiable and so far from the criteria otherwise applied in hard science has become a dogma can only be explained on sociological grounds? Or that Arthur Koestlers investigation into the subject led him to conclude that neo-Darwinism is a citadel in ruins (Janus: A Summing Up [Random House, 1978])? Koestler compares Jacques Monods Chance and Necessity to Custers Last Stand. Even Harvards spokesman for evolution, Stephen Jay Gould, concedes in the April 23 issue of Science that neither of Darwinisms two central themes will survive in their strict formulation.
As the creationists continue to press differently nuanced bills in 20 or so state legislatures, we can expect social pressure to continue to bear on the evolutionism issue. The pressure buttresses certain errors, but in doing so forces others into the open. The civil libertarians have not recognized the problem: by their lights, the liberties of the creationists and others who hold other-than-naturalistic views of human origins are not being infringed upon because only scientific truth is arrayed against them.
The creationists, with all their literalist excesses, are performing a public service for us. It is as though an excess on the science front -- scientism, that over-extrapolation from the findings of science which Nobel laureate Elias Canetti says has grabbed our century by the throat -- has given political leverage to an opposite excess on the religious front: fundamentalism.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica article cited above tells us that Darwin did two things; he showed that evolution was in fact contradicting scriptural legends of creation and that its cause, natural selection, was automatic, with no room for divine guidance or design. Do biologists really want to take on issues like creation, divine guidance and divine design? It is time that the negative theological conclusions implicit in the neo-Darwinism I have here called evolutionism -- and the shaky status of that theory itself -- be brought into the open and separated from what the fossil record actually shows: that in the course of millions of years on earth, life has indeed advanced.
"Tim Miller, a fellow professor in the department of religious studies, said intelligent design proponents are showing that they don't like having their beliefs scrutinized."
I think the proper word would be "ridiculed", not "scrutinized".
It's a good thing he isn't the English professor.
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