Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The real issues in the Dover case

Australians and other furriners may not know this, but Intelligent Design is presently being tested in a US court, in Dover, Pennsylvania. Usually, when journalists report on these issues, they seem to think it is all some kind of Scopes Trial rerun, or that it is a rather cute drama. However, the seriousness of the attack upon science in the US has become apparent to an increasing number of journalists and they are beginning to stop the "balanced reporting" garbage (you don't need to report it evenly if one side is crap, as Bill Maher noted). This piece, from the new bureau Knight Ridder's Washington correspondent, Robert Boyd, has some interesting quotes. Here's a sample:
The vast majority of working scientists contend that biological evolution is an established fact supported by overwhelming evidence. They say that evolution's mechanism is well explained by the process of random mutation and natural selection that Charles Darwin described 147 years ago. Darwin's theory - updated and confirmed by recent genetic discoveries - eventually will answer all or most questions about the origin and history of life, they say.

To buttress its case, the Discovery Institute has collected about 400 signatures on a statement labeled "Scientific Dissent from Darwinism." About 80 of the signers are biologists; the rest are mostly philosophers, mathematicians, chemists, computer scientists, historians and lawyers.

The statement of dissent, however, doesn't even mention intelligent design. Instead, it simply raises doubts about the present state of evolutionary theory. In its entirety, the statement reads:

"We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

"That statement is one that most scientists can or should be able to sign," said Martin Poenie, a cell biologist at the University of Texas in Austin, one of the signers.

Some who signed the statement of dissent said that doesn't mean they support intelligent design.