Friday, August 5, 2005
science n. the intellectual and practical activity encompassing
the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the
physical and natural world through observation and
experiment. (Oxford English Dictionary, eleventh edition)
Conservative Christian supporters are gloating. On Tuesday, in
an interview with Texas reporters, the President of the United
States came down on the side of equal time for intelligent
design. Referring back to his time as Governor of Texas, Mr.
Bush said, "I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught."
Which two sides are those Mr. President? I don't think we can
teach the Genesis story in science class, even after you pack the
Court. Surely you're not talking about the "intelligent design"
thing? Can someone tell us who or what is doing the designing?
I think that will tell us whether it's science or religion.
The Washington Post on Saturday had a little-noticed letter from
Bruce Chapman, founder and President of the Discovery Institute.
Director of the White House Office of Planning and Evaluation
under Ronald Reagan, Chapman learned from the master. Facts are
not important, what matters is conviction. "The only religious
believers in all this," he writes, "are the Darwinists, who are
out to punish scholars who see the weakness of Darwin's theory."
And who are these scholars? This brings up another alarming
trend, conservative think tanks manned by "scholars" who do no
research, but spew out books laden with conviction. Chapman
perfected this by recruiting bright young believers to the cause
and assigning them the task of becoming biology PhDs.
Asked by the New York Times to comment, John Marburger responded,
"Evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology .... intelligent
design is not a scientific concept." Good response. It would be
nice if the President's science advisor advised the President.
A cardinal close to the pope has ties to the Discovery Institute
(WN 15 Jul 05), but in today's
issue of The Tablet, Britain's Catholic Weekly, Father George
Coyne, an American Jesuit priest and a distinguished astronomer,
directly attacked Cardinal Schoenborn's position on evolution.
Tormented by fears of nanorobots turning the planet into "grey
goo," and poisoning by genetically modified foods, Prince Charles
fights science by embracing homeopathy, coffee enemas, organic
farming, and now "biodynamics," which involves planting according
to cycles of the moon and signs of the Zodiac. In a monarchy you
are stuck with what you get, while in a democracy we can pick the
best qualified among us to lead. But it's only a theory.