Re: Letter to the Editor

Ed Brayton (
Thu, 04 Jun 1998 14:59:41 -0400

Moorad Alexanian wrote:
> Letter which appeared 6/4/98 in the Raleigh News and Observer
> Letter: Bork has it right
> Stephen Gould, in his May 31 Op-ed article "It's only science: Darwin can't
> evolve into a politician," quoted Robert Bork simply to attack his
> conservative political views. Bork says that "science has left atheism as
> the only respectable intellectual stance." This is a truism since by
> "science" Bork means the philosophical position that the totality of the
> human experience can be accounted for by means of matter/energy at the
> exclusion of the supernatural.

Though I don't care much for Gould's politics, I certainly don't have a
problem with Gould attacking Bork's politics. Bork is a frightening man,
and it appalls me that he was so close to being on the Supreme Court. I
have never understood why even his opponents always described him as a
"brilliant constitutional scholar"; even a cursory look at his law
journal writings makes it clear that his legal reasoning is at about a
3rd grade level (evidenced by the fact that my 4th grade son figured out
the flaw in one of his more absurd legal ideas).

> Unlike physics, paleontology is a science in the sense of forensic science.
> The evidence for evolutionary transition of humans from apelike ancestors is
> not abundant enough to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it has
> occurred. The overwhelming numbers of Americans still believe in a Creator.

Is "beyond a reasonable doubt" the correct standard by which to judge a
scientific theory? Should we apply legal standards to science?

> Evolutionary theory is not a theory in the same sense as Einstein's
> gravitational theory where there is an underlying mathematical model with
> predicative power.

Nor does the Germ Theory of Disease have an "underlying mathematical
model". And the theory itself has predictive power with evolution.