No sooner had the Darwinists ended their 80th anniversary celebrations of the Scopes trial than they turned their attention to conducting censorship trials of their own. The ACLU has gone from defending teachers to prosecuting them. In a federal courtroom this week, the ACLU argued that science teachers in the school district of Dover, Pennyslvania, are not free under the Constitution to question evolutionary theory. That the Dover school board has to defend the constitutionality of its science curriculum before a federal judge is one more illustration of the insane First Amendment jurisprudence of the last 50 years.
The elite, sensing a chance to score a victory against critics of Darwinism, are watching the trial breathlessly. Slate has assigned famed correspondent Hanna Rosin to cover the trial; the New York Times dispatched Laurie Goodstein -- note that she is a religion (not science) reporter -- to cover it. There is an all-hands-on-deck feel to the reporting, which has been made even more critical by the presence of the Dover school board's star witness, Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe. A dreaded scientist who perversely refuses to accept the overwhelming and obvious "consensus" in favor of Darwinism.
While neither Rosin nor Goodstein are up to the task of explaining evolutionary theory convincingly, they do realize the sacred duty of stopping this scientist. He's wandered much too far on to the Darwinists' turf.
Garbling the elite's dogmatic schema, Goodstein, in the Wednesday edition of the Times, had Behe challenging the "Darwinian theory of random natural selection." Random natural selection? No, no, Ms. Goodstein, nature selects not randomly but necessarily, choosing random mutations that happen to prove useful, under Darwin's theory. What is nature? And how does it choose with such incredible precision and marvelous efficiency? Well, that's not important and certainly not within the province of science, even if Aristotle, who probably believed in the gods and went to temple, did consider these questions in The Physics and concluded that nature requires an intelligent cause.
Goodstein doesn't have the Darwinian terminology down, but she is keenly aware of the elite's favorite argument for evolutionary theory: the scientific establishment says it is so and no reasonable person would question these omniscient scientists. Here's how she presents that point: "Scientific critics of intelligent design -- and there are many -- have said for years that its proponents never propose any positive arguments or proofs of their theory, but rest entirely on finding flaws in evolution." What delightful casualness.
Never mind that through history scientists -- and there are many -- have considered it "science" to examine a theory and find it inadequate if it couldn't explain the facts they did know, such as that beings in nature contain awe-inspiring intricacy, beings they couldn't replicate with their own intelligence. But then what do they know next to the scientific experts at the ACLU?
Aristotle was one of those creationists in a cheap toga who concluded that the abundant design in nature points to an intelligent cause even if that cause isn't visible. "For teeth and all other natural things either invariably or normally come about in a given way; but of not one of the results of chance or spontaneity is this true," he wrote in The Physics, a book that the ACLU would argue violates the separation between church and state.
Though Darwinism resembles an astonishing fable of chance -- the Greek mythmaker Empedocles, not Darwin, deserves credit for launching the idea that nature is undesigned and the product of genetic happenstance -- Goodstein feels confident enough to lampoon Intelligent Design as no more scientific than "astrology." She provides no proof in her story, but leads with the claim that Behe "acknowledged that under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would fit as neatly as intelligent design." Doesn't Goodstein know that astrology is one of her secularist audience's favorite hobbies?
The problem with Behe's testimony for Hanna Rosin was not too little scientific explanation but too much. She found it all very taxing.
"The courtroom, it turns out, is a poor place to conduct a science class. Behe runs through specific examples of 'irreducible complexity' -- his idea that certain biochemical structures are too complex to have evolved in parts: blood clotting cascades, the immune system, cells," she writes. "He claims his critics have misread crucial bits of data. To a nonscientist such as myself (and presumably the judge), this is like Chinese: I recognize the language, but I have no idea whether the speaker is faking it. I have no context, no deeper knowledge of the relevant literature. The reporter seated next to me has written only four lines of notes for three hours of testimony. The mere fact that the trial is being conducted in such highly technical language means, for the moment, ID is winning."
Nevertheless, she is sure Behe's wrong, and adduces herself as evidence that intelligent design is impossible, "I need look no further than myself for counter-evidence: weak ankles, diabetes, high probability of future death. If there is a designer, she doesn't seem so intelligent."
Scientists who stood alone used to inspire a little more deference in the left. But Michael Behe is one nonconformist they won't defend. The silencers of unpopular science once feared ACLU lawyers. Now they retain them.