Monday, March 01, 2004

Creationists Endorse Darwin! Former Watergate conspirator and current right-wing lunatic Charles Colson has unveiled the latest Creationist talking point: Darwin was on their side! In this editorial at his "Breakpoint" web site he writes:

Hard as it may be to believe, prominent scientists want to censor what high school students can read and discuss. It’s a story that is upside-down, and it’s outrageous. Organizations like the National Academy of Sciences and others that are supposed to advance science are doing their best to suppress scientific information and stop discussion.

Debates about whether natural selection can generate fundamentally new forms of life, or whether the fossil record supports Darwin’s picture of the history of life, would be off-limits. It’s a bizarre case of scientists against “critical analysis.”

And the irony of all of this is that this was not Charles Darwin’s approach. He stated his belief in the Origin of Species: “A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.” Darwin knew that objective science demands free and open inquiry, and while I disagree with Darwin on many things, on this he was absolutely right. And I say what’s good enough for scientists themselves, as they debate how we got here, is good enough for high school students.

I suppose it is comforting that Creationists are now, at least, using words that Darwin actually said. They used to content themselves with repeating the old, and totally debunked, canard about Darwin having a deathbed conversion to Christianity.

Of course, Darwin did not say that high school freshman should be the ones "balancing the facts." More importantly, Darwin meant actual facts and legitimate arguments. He did not envision science having to do battle with an elaborate propaganda machine.

The specific claims of Creationists do not become true simply for having been repeated over and over again. All of the standard rhetorical tricks are on display in Colson's piece. It's not hard to see how people lacking any scientific training (like Colson himself, come to think of it) would find them convincing.


Post a Comment

<< Home