Dizikes on Galileo Groupies
Check out this excellent article from Slate:
In a column late last month in the Catholic Church's official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Italian biologist Fiorenzo Facchini scolded intelligent design advocates for "pretending to do science." It was the Vatican's signal that the church had jumped ship on ID. That will no doubt rankle creationists who hoped for a potential ally in Rome. But there's a bright side for them: The church's rejection could help the ID-ers identify with their favorite scientist, Galileo Galilei.
Yes, that Galileo. In opinion pieces, speeches, and interviews, ID advocates commonly cite the 17th-century Italian astronomer and physicist as a forebear. It's not his views on biology they want a piece of, but rather his plight as a man before his time. “In my opinion, we must train students in the 21st century to do exactly as Galileo did … think outside the box,” says William Harris, one of the key players in Kansas' rebellion against evolution last year. In his 1996 book Darwin's Black Box, leading ID-er Michael Behe calls the idea of a heliocentric universe, proposed by Copernicus and backed by Galileo, a prescient “assault on the senses.” So, too, Behe says, will his own work be vindicated. Last fall, an interviewer for the British newspaper the Guardian asked Behe if the criticism of ID he faces brings Galileo to mind. The self-appointed science rebel had a simple answer: “Yeah. In a way it's flattery.”
Welcome to creationism's absurdist history of science. During the inquisition, the Catholic Church put Galileo on trial in 1633 and forced him under threat of torture to recant his belief, presented unapologetically in the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, that the earth revolved around the sun. Galileo's story has nuances—Pope Urban VIII tolerated his ideas more than hard-line cardinals—but it is unquestionably a tale of science squelched by organized religion. That is not exactly a problem today's ID backers face.
Think Dizikes is exaggerating? Check out this blog entry from William Dembski, posted today:
[From a colleague:] I understand the importance of the political struggle—not because the truth of neo-Darwinism or ID (or a “third way”) can be settled by the courts, but because Darwinian metaphysics is doing real moral and political mischief in our society, and therefore must be opposed in whatever manner is practicable. From that point of view, Dover was indeed unfortunate.
However, let us not lose sight of the fact that a scientific theory that requires a judge to enforce its teaching cannot be said to be in good INTELLECTUAL health. By proclaiming it illegal to “disparage or denigrate” neo-Darwinism, Judge Jones adopted the principle of the Inquisition, and in so doing rendered both himself and that state-enforced theory ridiculous. Taking a longer view, I think Dover will come eventually to be be seen as a moral victory, in the same way that Galileo’s condemnation is now viewed as a moral victory.
There is only one thing to say to Judge Jones—eppure, si muove!
A more accurate description of what happened in Dover is that a Judge, in possession of all the relevant facts, prevented a scientifically ignorant school board from lying to school children in the service of an especially mypoic religious agenda.