Re: Dembski and Nelson at MIT and Tufts

Kevin O'Brien (
Mon, 5 Apr 1999 12:21:51 -0600

I find it singularly amazing how people can refuse to grasp another person's
point, not matter how it is explained to them.

>More seriously: it's ironic that, if such compartmentalization were valid,
>it would be impossible for philosophers, mathematicians, et al. to be
>justified in *either* believing or denying Neo-Darwinism, since,
>presumably, they are all incompetent to evaluate it rationally.

I am not saying that, as any reasonable person can determine. I do not
begrudge the freedom of anyone to accept, deny, believe or disbelieve
anything; neither do I begrudge the freedom of anyone to criticize any idea,
concept or belief. And I believe that anyone, no matter how limited their
knowledge or experience, can accept or reject any idea, concept or belief
using their own rationality.

What I object to is people who have little or no formal training or
experience in biology saying to biologists, "You have it all wrong and we
are here to set you straight." That is not rational skepticism or even
rational disbelief; that is irrational arrogance based on ignorance.

>If one
>wants these folks to believe Neo-Darwinism, then one can't deny that at
>least some of them are qualified to doubt it.

I deny no one that privelage; what I deny them is the ability to claim that
their ignorance about a subject is better than other people's knowledge.

>One might prefer that they
>just take it on faith or authority, but that's another matter.

I have never claimed that anyone should blindly accept what anyone claims is
true; what I have stated is that people who don't know a subject should be
willing to listen to what the experts of that subject have to say with an
open mind and the realization that they know it better than you do, then
investigate it for yourself by reading the scientific literature. Just as
bad as accepting authority blindly is to accept your own ignorance blindly.

Kevin L. O'Brien