Saturday, April 08, 2006


Galileo Envy

I have already posted a couple of times about the denial of a research grant to Brian Alters to study how the rising popularity in the United States of Intelligent Design might be eroding acceptance of evolutionary science in Canada. Now the Righteous Right is out to compare Janet Halliwell, vice-president of Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, to Galileo because of her attempt to justify the Council’s action. Supposedly her defense was:

There are phenomena, she said, "that may not be easily explained by current theories of evolution." After all, the scientific understanding of life "is not static. There's an evolution in the theory of evolution."

Now, of course, if that was meant in the prosaic sense of "there is more to learn about how evolution occurred," it is not wrong. But stating the obvious is no reason to be compared to Galileo. If she meant that there is some significant feature of life on Earth that cannot be explained by evolutionary theory, which is certainly the sense ID advocates want to convey, she is seriously wrong and probably suffers, as I already suggested, from post-modernitis.

This is all an example of the public relations that the ID movement substitutes for actual science. Attempts to wrap themselves in Galileo’s cloak are ludicrous, since he was, at the time of his problem with the Church, a firm member of the scientific mainstream who ran afoul of a completely different "establishment," much more in line with the ID advocates, than with some alleged "Darwinian" Mafia.

Besides, as Stephen Jay Gould said once: "A man does not attain the status of Galileo merely because he is persecuted; he must also be right."
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