July 07, 2005

Conservatives Opine on Evolution

The New Republic Online reports on interviews with 15 "conservative pundits" on how they feel about evolution and intelligent design. None of them is a biologists. Nor does it seem that any of them rise to the level of informed amateur in biology. The most interesting outcome is that their opinions range from the superb to the ridiculous and therefore map quite will with the opinions of the general population.

The superb, on how evolution should be taught in public schools:

The idea that [intelligent design] should be taught as a competing theory to evolution is ridiculous. ... The entire structure of modern biology, and every branch of it [is] built around evolution and to teach anything but evolution would be a tremendous disservice to scientific education. If you wanna have one lecture at the end of your year on evolutionary biology, on intelligent design as a way to understand evolution, that's fine. But the idea that there are these two competing scientific schools is ridiculous. [From Charles Krauthammer, of The Washington Post]

The ridiculous: on how evolution should be taught in public schools:

I don't believe that anything that offends nine-tenths of the American public should be taught in public schools. ... Christianity is the faith of nine-tenths of the American public. ... I don't believe that public schools should embark on teaching anything that offends Christian principle. [David Frum of American Enterprise Institute and National Review]

And Frum claims to believe in evolution! Well, sort of.

Others may have their own candidates for my two categories. PZ Myers proposes an interesting chart in which he assigns their responses to the following categories:

Perhaps a little harsh but not far from the mark. Go to Pharyngula to get the details.

Actually quite a few people have commented on this survey.

Ed Brayton comments on, among other things, a very strange thing that Pat Buchanan said,

Buchanan, "Do I believe in absolute evolution? No. I don't believe that evolution can explain the creation of matter."

Ed, "I like that - absolute evolution...whatever that means. I've got news for you, Pat. Evolution doesn't explain the creation of matter because it doesn't attempt to. Evolution deals with biodiversity on earth, not the origin of everything."

Steve Reuland observes on The Panda's Thumb,

My quick poll has 7 of them taking the pro-science side (or at least close enough), 5 of them giving a “don’t know” or otherwise wishy-washy answer, and only 3 of them taking the ID position outright.

Kevin Drum has a good summary on the Political Animal and he addresses that ridiculous Frum quote directly.

Chris Mooney observes;

And while there are certainly some bright spots, the big picture is fairly dismal. I'm impressed with Charles Krauthammer and some of the guys from National Review.

The bottom line: On this issue, the conservative voices reflect the opinions of the general U. S. population with considerable fidelity. There is a lot of work to do.

Posted by DuaneSmith at July 7, 2005 04:43 PM | Read more on Evolution |

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As far as I am concerned the only things that should be taught (in high school) about evolution is that it DID occur and that chance had absolutely nothing to do with it. Anything beyond that is unfounded but those two features are undeniable.

Posted by: John A. Davison at July 8, 2005 01:06 PM

P.Z. Meyers has banned me from Pharyngula after characterizing me with "your stench has preceeded you." Isn't that precious? I now refer to him as M.P. Zeyers, right along with Esley Welsberry and Dilliam Wembski who have also banned me from their blogs. For some unknown reason John Rennie still lets me present my heresies at SciAm Perspectives. EvC, ISCID's "brainstorms" (what a misnomer, Panda's Thumb, Fringe Sciences, The Austringer, Uncommon Descent, ARN (I can't even view them), Pharyngula, all have denied me particpation in any form, apparently for life. Other blogs just delete me after posting. You have no idea what this all means to me. I also have been honored with the title "The Crankiest" I understand. I must be doing something right when I can no longer even provide amusement for the faithful.

"Evolution is in a great measure an unfolding of pre-existing rudiments."
Leo Berg, Nomogenesis page 406

I just wish he had said WAS instead of is. It is finished you know.

Posted by: John A. Davison at July 8, 2005 01:27 PM

Well John, PZ is a professional educator and he may have a much lower tolerance level for expressions like,

. . . the only things that should be taught (in high school) about evolution is that it DID occur and that chance had absolutely nothing to do with it,

than I do.

Posted by: Duane at July 8, 2005 06:19 PM

Well I too am a professional educator, earning my Ph.D. in 1954 and having taught as a member of the faculty at the following institutions in chronological order - Washington University (in St Louis), Florida State University, Louisiana State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and most recently the University of Vermont from which I resigned on December 1, 2000. The experience I gained from those several institutions has proven invaluable in helping me to recognize the complete failure of the Darwinian model.

Posted by: John A. Davison at July 9, 2005 07:37 AM

Note to my readers and to John Davison: I should have done a little homework before my last comment. John Davison was indeed an educator. His PHD is in Biology and he taught biology at several universities. He was at the University of Vermont from 1967 until he resigned in 2000 as an Associate Professor. He is the author of 25 or so publications. John also holds an extremely heterodox view of the "development" of life called the "Semi-Meiotic Hypothesis".

Had I known this before my latest comment, I would have phrased it quite differently. My concern was with the logic of the statement rather than with pedagogy.

You can read John's C.V. here and he has a web site here. You can read a rather harsh assessment of his work here.

Posted by: Duane at July 9, 2005 08:35 AM

Thank you especially for the references to the "harsh assessments." I still await any kind of assessment of either my papers or the contributions of my several sources in hard copy. We all collectively simply do not exist in a Darwinian dominated literature. Such has always been the way. Don't take my word for it. Read the books by Dawkins, Mayr, Provine, Ayala and Gould and see who do not appear in the texts, some of the finest biological minds of two centuries. If we were all so terribly wrong shouldn't some mention of it have been made? It constitutes a scandal and, in my opinion even worse, a deliberate "vast left-wing conspiracy" to borrow a phrase. I honestly can offer no other explanation.

In any event thank you for calling attention to my papers and the reactions they have been able to evoke from the amateurs. I eagerly await the responses of the professionals.

Posted by: John A. Davison at July 10, 2005 03:57 AM

Duane, I just returned from your reference to the "harsh assessment" and am thoroughly delighted with it. I hope others will read it too. Any publicity is good publicity don't you know.

What was it Thomas Henry Huxley said about Bishop Wilberforce? Wasn't it - "God has delivered him into my hands."

Thanks again.

Posted by: John A. Davison at July 10, 2005 04:07 AM

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