August 13, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Evolution vs. ID: This Means War

President Bush’s mild off-the-cuff remarks about students needing to hear alternatives to evolution (see 08/02/2005) set off a firestorm of reaction pro and con in the media.  Get your ringside seat here for the war of the words:

  • Mad Scientists:  Nature, as reported this week (08/10/2005), expressed outrage at the President’s remarks – a reaction fairly uniform across the leadership of scientific institutions thus far (e.g., AAAS, 07/11/2005, NAS, 03/24/2005).  Mark Bergin in World Magazine calls them Mad Scientists.  In an editorial in the same issue of World, Joel Belz portrays them as unhappy warriors and grumpy spoilsports, ruining the experience of enjoying a snowflake or a flower with their stubbornness against considering the possibility of design.  He contrasts their attitude with the President’s generosity and openness over the issue.
  • Catholic Counter-Reformation:  Alarmed at the possibility that the Roman Catholic Church might be backpedaling on its tacit acceptance of evolution because of a statement by a Viennese cardinal that the church does not accept neo-Darwinism, Constance Holden in Science (309:5737, 12 Aug 2005, pp. 996-996) highlighted the remarks of the Vatican Astronomer who defended evolution.  But as she points out, it is not at all clear where the new Pope stands on the issue.  “Meanwhile,” she ends, “defenders of evolution are still lamenting a comment last week by a vacationing President George W. Bush, in response to a reporter’s question, suggesting that public schools should teach students about intelligent design (Science, 5 August, p. 861).  Groups representing biologists, astronomers, and science teachers, among others, have shot off letters to the White House expressing their dismay.” (Emphasis added in all quotes.)
  • Jewish Lethargy:  David Klinghoffer, writing for Discovery Institute News, can’t figure out why his fellow Jews are not rising to the occasion.  They are remaining “curiously abstracted and irrelevant” over the conflict between evolution and intelligent design, behavior that is “a departure from our own tradition of engagement with scientific and theological questions of just this kind.”  He admonishes them with the words of 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides who, in his day, had to deal with the implications of compromise in a different intellectual battle over Aristotelian philosophy.  Both Aristotle and Darwin, Klinghoffer argues, threatened Judaism at its root and soul by denying a divine creation.
  • Utah Raptor:  According to Science Daily and Deseret News, Utah Senator Chris Buttars wants ID in his state, and if the evolutionists won’t give in, he is going to write legislation to force a compromise, even if it means ID will be taught in philosophy instead of biology.  He has been besieged by calls and emails from parents complaining that their children are being taught as fact that they evolved from apes.
  • Back in Kansas Again:  John Calvert is optimistic about the new science standards that were voted in last week (08/10/2005).  He brushed off an accusation by his nemesis Piedro Irigonegaray that he had led the ID hearings without a license to practice law in Kansas.  Calvert considered it a technicality that did not matter, because the school board hearings were not a court of law.  He believes the new standards will liberate teachers who are afraid to talk about evolution because of the controversy.
  • Everybody’s Right:  Peter Wood, writing in National Review Online, gave “thumbs up” to President Bush, but is trying to see the good on both sides.  “This battle is unnecessary and intellectually irresponsible,” he claims, calling for modesty and restraint, because both sides have something to contribute.  The problem with doctrinaire evolution is its insistence on randomness, he says; with a little ID in the mix, we can all get along.  As to civility, he finds that “Ironically, the Creationists have come out of this recent round of controversy sounding far more open-minded than some of the scientists and the hard-core secularist advocates of Evolution-and-Nothing-But.”
  • Sloppy Reporting:  The EvolutionNews blog of the Discovery Institute had a lot to complain about this week.  Reuters, Nightline and CNN all got it wrong, they argue.  “Rather than cover the substance of the intellectual debate over design, all Nightline could do was act as the mouthpiece for ID-bashers like Barbara Forrest,” EvolutionNews complained, so Discovery Institute published the complete transcript of the pre-recorded interview with ID spokesman Dr. Stephen Meyer, including all the parts Nightline left out. 
  • Hardball:  Chris Mathews had Bruce Chapman (ID) vs. Eugenie Scott (evolution) face off, Jim Lehrer had Michael Behe vs. Lawrence Krauss with John Calvert, Steven Case and other principals in the Kansas debate, and newspapers around the country carried stories about ID, evolution, and education.
  • Turncoats in the Ranks:  A recent poll, reported by LiveScience.com and EurekAlert, showed that belief in God among scientists varies starkly by discipline.  Contrary to expectations, the poll of 1,646 faculty members revealed that social scientists were more likely to practice religion than natural scientists.  Follow-up interviews may be needed to interpret the findings, but neither class was predominantly atheistic: only 38% of natural scientists and 31% of social scientists.  Even among biologists, only 41% denied belief in God, compared to 27% among political scientists.
  • Foul Retreat:  Discovery Institute called chicken on Richard Dawkins for his ducking out of an NPR debate against ID senior fellow George Gilder at the last minute, but criticized NPR for giving the last word to another Darwinist instead of demanding accountability from Dawkins.
  • No Compromise:  Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was highlighted by Religion Journal for his appearance in Time with its cover story on the “Evolution Wars” (08/02/2005).  He explained why “Evangelical Christianity and evolution are incompatible beliefs that cannot be held together logically within a distinctly Christian worldview.”

These are just a few samples from the news media in the past week.  Probably at no time since the Scopes trial has the nation been so riveted on the E word, and who will determine what students are taught about human origins: the chance wanderings of apes, or a purposeful life.

We are living in momentous times.  No, not because of war, the cost of gasoline or the debate over climate change, but over the heart and soul of science.  The party that rules science (i.e., knowledge) rules the world.  Is this the verge of the collapse of the Age of Darwin?  Or will Big Science succeed in forcing a naturalistic imprimatur on all scientific endeavor?  Will Darwinism remain immune from criticism, or has the crack opened for the wedge?  Will the ID challenge succeed, or will its leaders tire and retreat into oblivion because of the relentless attacks by the scientific elites?  Not long ago – for over a century – Big Science ignored creation arguments, sloughing them off as irrelevant and irrational, merely religiously motivated pseudoscientific nonsense (not that they were, but Darwinists had amassed enough power to coast on bravado).  Its power never seriously threatened, it sufficed to wave the challengers off, like pesky mosquitos, with a few memorized vituperations, which were duly broadcast by the lapdog media.  No longer.  The Darwin Party’s champion is roused, and he is angry.  ID’s stone has hit its mark, but did it hit it hard enough?  And will the army rally if he falls, or be satisfied to cut and run with a peace treaty?
    It is essential that each citizen get the information straight.  Some reporters are fair; some try hard to accurately characterize each side’s position.  Many, though, fail to do their job as journalists with a nose for news.  They fail to fight past power and prestige to get to the heart of the matter.  The same reporters who will mercilessly pepper a President with hard-hitting questions become sloppy and lazy when sitting at the feet of Scientists, acting like toadies before the Establishment, reproducing verbatim the talking points and slogans of the Darwin Party.  With so many biases flying around, it is essential to learn the art of baloney detecting.  You must train yourself in the art of sifting out the salient points from the mass of verbiage on both sides.  Here at Creation-Evolution Headlines, there is color commentary to be sure, but you also have the chance to hear extended quotes from the top spokespersons, and you can always follow the links to the original sources and read them yourself if you disagree or have doubts about the validity of the reporting or commentary.  There is no excuse not to be informed.  (Take note, though, of the people who want you to hear both sides, and the ones who don’t.)
    But why bother?  Simply, because of everything in the world.  The world and all it contains was either designed for a purpose, or it evolved on its own.  You are either a product of intelligent design, and you have a purpose and a destiny for being here, or you are the end result of a long chain of accidents.  Get enough people believing either position and the ramifications for society are enormous.  Think about abortion, the definition of marriage, sexual promiscuity, crime, the arts, law, judicial philosophy, the Supreme Court, the Constitution, medical ethics, end-of-life decisions, economic philosophy, the war on terror and all the other facets of life in 2005 that affect everything from the integrity of our political leaders to how the neighbors behave at the soccer field.  Now, think about how Darwinism vs. ID weighs in on these subjects.  Nothing could be more black and white.  The Darwinists teach that altruism, unselfishness, music, artistic expression, family ties, sexual fidelity, love and the very mental processes of the brain are illusions, mere emergent properties of matter in motion, without essential meaning.  Worse, they routinely explain away murder, rape, war, terrorism and other behaviors as evolved strategies honed by natural and sexual selection.  As such, they are not evil, just useful to one or the other players, whoever is “fittest,” whatever that means.
    Do you want to live in a world that really believes that in its heart of hearts?  Does the scientific evidence support that view?  Are you prepared to believe that what you are thinking right now has no validity, and that all the complexity and beauty of nature is the end result of an explosion of particles?  Take a good look in the mirror and decide what you are looking at, because we are at a crossroads.  Pick your future world: planet of the apes, or God’s green Earth.  Let’s choose a path for which our children will bless us, and will thank us for our insight, integrity, and – indeed – our courage.

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