Friday, April 07, 2006
What Was It That Forrest Gump Said?
Janet Halliwell, vice-president of the Research Council, and Larry Felt, a sociology professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland and one of the panellists who examined Alters' application, are now saying that the letter was badly worded and, therefore, misleading. Halliwell said that the Federal agency did not intend to cast doubt on the survival-of-the-fittest theories advanced in the 1800s by British biologist Charles Darwin. Felt said he also regretted the "misintended and misphrased'' wording.
On the other hand, Halliwell also claimed there is a growing belief among scientists that certain phenomena in the natural world "may not be easily explained by current theories of evolution." After bestowing rather faint praise on the theory of evolution as a "powerful interpretive tool not without some difficulties, but nothing that renders it obsolete," Felt went on to say that there are features of the natural world including the rapid development of complex organs that "evolution has some trouble accounting for."
So what is going on here? This part of the article near the end is enlightening:
Felt also echoed Halliwell's assertion that intelligent design cannot be easily dismissed as mere "religious dogma"' or "theocratic garbage" being foisted upon the world by conservative Christians in the U.S."
Credible people are trying to see areas where they (evolution and intelligent design) might come together and not necessarily be in conflict,'' he said. There is a "possibility of synthesis,'' he added, that compels scholars to keep an open mind.
Though reluctant to discuss details of the committee's deliberations about Alters's proposal, Felt recalled there was a general consensus on the panel that the McGill professor's research framework was flawed and would have yielded predictable results that "dump on the religious right."
He described Alters' planned study as being framed in "good guy versus bad guy" language that rejected intelligent design out of hand.
So what it boils down to is Halliwell and Felt defending themselves against charges of ignorance by pleading stupidity. That works.