August 31, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Darwin Debates Attract Rhetoricians, Some Pro, Some Not

Nothing like a controversy to get people talking.  Some understand the issues and speak with skill and style; some just like to be part of the excitement.  Here are samples from the war of the words over evolution:

  • Connect the Dots:  Having just read Richard Weikart’s From Darwin to Hitler (02/03/2005), Chuck Colson on BreakPoint drew parallels to the Terry Schiavo incident.
  • The Skill of Skell:  Dr. Philip S. Skell again showed the power of a cogent editorial as he asked “Why Do We Invoke Darwin?” in The Scientist.  He claimed that Darwinian evolution is essentially useless as a heuristic in experimental biology.  The subscription-only article has been reprinted by Discovery Institute.
  • Sports ID:  Sally Jenkins, sports writer in the Washington Post, gave surprisingly good press to ID.  Her point is not that ID is good science, but a little philosophical adventurism can be helpful.  She seems to have a point here and there, but mostly engages in name-dropping and complaining that the human body isn’t perfect.  Rob Crowther at Evolution News liked it.  He thought she hit a home run – at least for getting the definition of ID straight. 
  • Larsony:  Edward J. Larson, professor of science history (U of Georgia), told the LA Times what he thought the country needs to do about ID: not replace Darwinism, which he feels has been useful to science, but use it as a teachable moment: “good biology teachers could use issues raised by the intelligent design movement to help their classes better understand Darwinism.”  Larson delivered the lectures “The Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy” in 2002 for The Teaching Company Great Courses Series.  He recognized then and now that most people do not accept doctrinaire evolution and that their values need to be taken into consideration by scientists and educators.  Nevertheless, he agrees with the scientific establishment that science must operate by methodological naturalism.  Tom Magnuson at Access Research Network considers Larson a brilliant man with blinders on.
  • [A]theistic Science:  Cornelia Dean in the New York Times wrote about varying views on God among scientists, focusing on the theistic-evolution views of Dr. Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project.
  • Highlander Games:  No Bobby Burns is he; guest columnist for The Scotsman, Robin Dunbar, called ID a “dangerous folly” and let President Bush have a piece of his mind.

When the rhetoric flies, exercise sense, not sensationalism.  Some get it right, some have no context.  This debate has deep roots in history.  Perpetuating buzzwords or labels is not going to make the debate over naturalism vs. design disappear.  Caution: read news articles and editorials on this issue only with Baloney Detector engaged and in good working order – but do read.

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Categories: Intelligent Design

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