Re: "Heretics in the Laboratory"--Newsweek (9/16/96)

Steven Schimmrich (
Tue, 24 Sep 1996 12:39:45 -0500 (CDT)

Richard L. Bowman (rbowman@Bridgewater.EDU) wrote, in part, that:

> Sharon Begley writes in "Heretics in the Laboratory" (Sept. 16), "...a
> powerful ideology, be it creationism or capitalism or anything else, can
> shape some scientists' conclusions as strongly as any empirical evidence."
> I would add evolution to the list of ideologies, too. Too often we
> confuse laboratory evidence with the model arising from that evidence.
> The evidence in astronomy, geology and biology is such that a scientist
> can create a model allowing for long and slow processes to have brought
> the universe to where it is today. But a scientist can also use this
> evidence to support a model in which there was and is an intelligent
> supernatural being using these processes for his purpose. Whether we
> include God in the model or not is not based on the evidence but on our
> philosophical assumptions.

I found the comment about "...a powerful ideology..." interesting. The
well-known founder of sociobiology (a field of study which believes that
social behavior can be explained by evolutionary processes) E.O. Wilson
wrote a book called "Naturalist" (1994, Island Pres) which was an
autobiography of sorts. In it, he recalls how Stephen Jay Gould, his
colleague at Harvard, was vehemently opposed to sociobiology when Wilson
first proposed it because of Gould's Marxist ideology (Marxism believes
in the perfectibility of man while sociobiology implies that we're all
genetically constrained). Rather ironic when one considers what Gould
thinks of those who uncomfortable with evolutionary theory for religious/
philosophical reasons.

- Steve.

      Steven H. Schimmrich           KB9LCG  
      Department of Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
         245 Natural History Building, Urbana, IL 61801  (217) 244-1246     Fides quaerens intellectum