Among the Intellectualoids

The Monkey Wrench

Darwinists are suppressing free inquiry in the name of their scientific dogmatism, becoming the silencers of science they once opposed.

By 7.29.05

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Darwinists this month are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Scopes trial. But critics of evolution note an irony lost on the Darwinists in the midst of their celebrations, namely, that they now behave exactly like the silencers of science they once reviled.

Desperate to shut down debate that exposes their evolutionary theory as unsustainable conjecture, the Darwinists are using the incantations of an ideology they call science and the power of law to prevent the teaching of any concepts besides random variation and natural selection. While Darwinists still pose as champions of free inquiry, they actively suppress it in the name of their scientific dogmatism.

Treat critics of evolution no more seriously than segregationists, Darwinists urge the media and school boards. Just as segregationists, whose views are manifestly irrational, don't deserve "equal time" in discussions, the critics of evolution don't deserve equal time either, Darwinists plead.

In a media forum aired on C-SPAN a while back, Slate's Jacob Weisberg in effect said this to New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, upbraiding him for running stories about a school board controversy in Kansas that had quoted critics of evolution. Why did you give them equal time? Weisberg asked Keller. Would you give segregationists their say? Keller found Weisberg's criticism too radical and unfair, but assured him that anybody who read the Times's Science section would know that the paper was in the tank for Darwin.

Ed Brayton of Michigan Citizens for Science, commenting on another school board tussle over evolution, recently said no critic of evolution even belongs in the classroom. "They haven't done anything scientifically to warrant being in the classroom," he told the Michigan press. "Evolution is beyond a doubt one of the most well-supported theories as a result of a century and a half of painstaking research by literally thousands and thousands of scientists. Yet they are demanding equal time."

In June, the Washington Post published an editorial blasting the Smithsonian Institution for merely allowing a group of intelligent design scientists to use its auditorium to show a documentary called "The Privileged Planet." Critics of evolution should not receive a spot on the stage, the Post editorialized, lest Americans take them seriously. Letting them on to scientific turf threatens the "scientific consensus about the origins of life and the universe" and gives "a patina of scientific credibility to the idea of an intelligent creator," it said. "This is precisely how the intelligent design movement has gotten as far as it has: by advocating outwardly inoffensive ideas in ever-more prestigious places, thereby giving the movement scientific validity."

John West of the Discovery Institute has reported the ongoing harassment of scientists who dissent from Darwinism. He writes that at "the Smithsonian Institution, biologist Richard Sternberg, the former editor of a respected biology journal, says he faced discrimination and retaliation after accepting for publication a peer-reviewed article supportive of intelligent design last year."

At the Mississippi University for Women, West writes, "chemistry professor Nancy Bryson was removed as head of the division of natural sciences in 2003 after presenting scientific criticisms of biological and chemical evolution to a seminar of honors students."

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn is receiving flak from scientists for arguing in a recent New York Times op-ed that evolutionary theory is not science but ideology. The piece was a commendable effort to correct the erroneous claim, fostered by dissenters inside the Church and opportunists outside it, that Pope John Paul II endorsed Darwinian theory. He didn't. What happened, according to an account from a well-informed Church intellectual I've heard, was a theologian wrote a half-baked letter that appeared to endorse Darwinian theory and Pope John Paul II signed the letter without reading it.

Scientists who have been exploiting this gaffe for propagandistic purposes are very upset that Schonborn has clarified the Church's rejection of evolutionary theory and are trying to dismiss his op-ed as the irrelevant musings of a theologian. But Schonborn's point -- and this is what really unnerves them -- is that evolutionary theory is bad science, a misreading of nature, and that those who build theories on the basis of it are engaged in an ideological project.

"Now at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human reason by proclaiming that the immanent design evident in nature is real," he wrote. "Scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of 'chance and necessity' are not scientific at all, but, as John Paul put it, an abdication of human intelligence."

Faced with straightforward critiques like this, sputtering evolutionary scientists can only respond by pulling rank. Naturally, Catholic organs dedicated to overthrowing official Church teaching and putting irrational liberalism in its place are helping them. The National Catholic Reporter ran a story chiding Schonborn titled "Catholic Experts Urge Caution In Evolution Debate" that quoted scientists who were "disappointed" with his op-ed. Who were these so-called experts? Just scientists who are enamored with evolutionary theory and who dissent from the Church's philosophy of being that has always held, on the basis of a rational examination of nature alone, that God is the necessary ground of all creation.

While the evolutionists continue their tired celebrations of the Scopes trial, they glance anxiously over their shoulders. They are running scared, and as the list of scientists and thinkers who dissent from Darwinism grows -- the Discovery Institute lists hundreds of scientists who now regard it as an intellectually bankrupt theory -- the evolutionists will increasingly mirror the intolerance they used to bemoan.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.