Downsizing Darwin

Francis Maloney (
Tue, 19 May 1998 08:52:39 -0400

This is a reply to Sunday's editorial, Downsizing Darwin.

Michael Behe, in his book Darwin's Black Box, lays out a simple and
clearly presented challenge to orthodox evolutionary theory. Dr. Gross is
right in that there are no new ideas in the book; Behe is working from the
same argument used by William Paley two hundred years ago, but from the new
perspective of biochemistry. He does not reject common descent or the
standard geologic time frame. In a non-political scientific environment,
his ideas would be challenged and debated. His specific challenges have
not been answered in any open forum I know about and certainly not
demolished, except, perhaps, within a narrow-minded circle of thinkers who
consider their own evolutionary understanding a kind of enlightenment.
The political and cultural impulse to deny the existence of God gives
rise to material ideology, with consequenses not to be taken lightly.
Christianity is the full acceptance of God, with consequenses also. The
conflict between these two incompatible ideologies crystalizes squarely on
the head of the creation-evolution question. Christianity and science are
not anathema to each other provided that each respects the otber's place of
authority. Objective analysis certainly does not preclude faith in God or
vise versa. However, materialism, which is fundamentally at odds with
Christianity, has claimed the authority of science as its own and it has
done so principally through the dogma of evolution.
The realm of the scientist should be that of demonstrable,
reproducible evidence. And when the scientist starts to slip into areas of
the spirit, he is out of the realm of his authority. One scientist has
said that the amount of conjecture and supposition in a field is inversely
proportional to its nearness to the truth. There are few fields that are
as full of conjecture and supposition as evolutionary biology. Much of the
popular literature on the subject is pure speculation far removed from real
science; "this must have happened like this", "this trait must have arisen
because of that", perhaps this was the reason". The meat on the bone is
scarcely there.
Science has assumed the place of ultimate authority in our society. As
a result, it has become a political, ideological battleground and a pawn to
be manipulated by special interests. Our culture today is naturalistic and
commercial; many scientific claims made in the popular media are products
of public relations departments of corporations or publicly funded
institutions. Much of the research reported has, at its source, an agenda
to push a product or a philosophy. The rule of thumb has become, like the
life on Mars story, ten percent debatable evidence and ninety percent hype.
The Mars rock story was troubling to me, not because the scientists were
stupid, although they were more than likely wrong, but because they were
using their authority to manipulate the public imagination.
A case can be made for Darwinian evolution as the creative mechanism
for all life. But can it stand up to objective scrutiny? There are more
and more intelligent people who believe that it cannot, and if Dr. Gross
does not do more than dismiss the challenges out of hand, he is less of a
scientist himself and more of a politician.

Francis J. Maloney