Thursday, April 05, 2007


College Crusade

There has been some little flap over the scheduling of the Discovery Institute's Canis lupus familiaris and Equus caballus show on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The science faculty of SMU has spoken out strongly against abetting the masquerade of Intelligent Design as science and the Discovery Institute has predictably whined about "Darwinists" who "accuse the backers of academic freedom of wanting to insert religion into the science curriculum." As always with the DI, when it starts talking about "academic freedom" is when you should tighten your grip the most on your wallet and other valuables.

Dr. John Wise from SMU's biological sciences department, Dr. Ronald Wetherington from the anthropology department and Dr. Robert T. Gregory, chair of the geological sciences department, have written a reply to the DI that has been signed by more than 20 additional faculty members, scientists and chairpersons in the departments of anthropology, biological sciences, chemistry, geological sciences and physics. The full text can be found in The Dallas Morning News but here is the nitty gritty:

Some scientists at Southern Methodist University have been labeled "intolerant, close-minded and bigoted" because we have spoken out against the misrepresentation of religious belief as science in our protests of the upcoming intelligent design event scheduled at SMU.

The organization behind the event, the Discovery Institute, is clear in its agenda: It states that what the SMU science faculty believes to be so useful (science) is a danger to conservative Christianity and should be replaced by its mystical world view.

We do not argue against the basic right to believe, worship and express oneself as one desires.

We are, however, vehemently opposed to the deliberate deception of presenting politically motivated religious viewpoints as science. It is destructive and antithetical to the usefulness of science, and history has shown that similar politicizations of science have been incredibly destructive to our moral, ethical and material progress.

We have a duty as practitioners of science to speak out against such deceptions, and we have done so.

And I say good for them! There is no more scientific debate over Intelligent Design than there is over geocentrism. Simply because certain elements in our society don't like the results of science does not mean there is a scientific debate. Science is not a democracy where free speech is mandated and it certainly has no duty to give a hearing to every fringe group with an ax to grind.

Allowing organizations with the clear intent of dissembling about the nature of science and lying about the work of real scientists a forum on an academic campus is of dubious warrant. To allow such an event to go unchallenged would be a serious abrogation of the duty of educators.

Congratulations to the SMU faculty for not failing in their duty!

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