Anti-Darwinism as “dead science”

“According to a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted this year, more than half of Americans believe God created the first human beings less than 10,000 years ago. Why should they pay for schools that teach the opposite? These people have a definite and distinct idea in mind. Most of the other half of the population would be hard-pressed to say anything clear or coherent about the idea of evolution that they support, but they do want children to learn what biologists have found out about life on earth. Both sides want children to learn the truth, as best as it is known today.

The debate about who decides what gets taught is fascinating, albeit excruciating for those who have to defend the schools against bunkum. Democracy, as Plato keenly observed, is a pain for those who know better. The public debate about evolution itself, as opposed to whether to teach it, is something else. It is boring, demeaning and insufferably dull.

The arguments that Darwin painstakingly presented in On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) were revolutionary in their day. They continue to astonish and perplex; never take them for granted. Unfortunately, anti-Darwinism keeps playing minor variations on the same negative themes and adds nothing to our understanding of life. Many scientists who are upset by the ongoing lobbying insist that it is bad science or pseudo-science. Living With Darwin, Philip Kitcher's brief and cogent manifesto, very rightly disagrees. Anti-Darwinism is, he says, dead science, recapitulating old stuff long abandoned. I prefer to call it degenerating.”

—Ian Hacking, The Nation

Comments

WTM said…
I always find it interesting to remember that both Charles Hodge and B.B. Warfield had no problem with Darwinian science - even though some of the metaphysical conclusions drawn from that science didn't excite them.
Brian said…
Just curious, where do you stand on this issue? I do understand it is a complex one, outside of the limits of both theologian and scientist alike.

I'm afraid that, along with those molders of Princetonian orthodox Presbyterians mentioned above, I cannot stomach much of the metaphysical presuppositions and conclusions of Darwinian science - in both its academic and pop manifestations. I also refuse to be intellectually immobilized by the theological and philosophical naivety of much conservative evangelical anti-Darwinism.

I'd much prefer that the whole lot of them go away and box it out amongst themselves! :)