Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Two Poles of Evolution Debate

Philosophy of Biology (HT: Examined Life) has posted an interesting dual book review from the New York Review of Books which contains the following:

The development of evolutionary biology has induced two opposite reactions, both of which threaten its legitimacy as a natural scientific explana-tion. One, based on religious convictions, rejects the science of evolution in a fit of hostility, attempting to destroy it by challenging its sufficiency as the mechanism that explains the history of life in general and of the material nature of human beings in particular. One demand of those who hold such views is that their competing theories be taught in the schools.

The other reaction, from academics in search of a universal theory of human society and history, embraces Darwinism in a fit of enthusiasm, threatening its status as a natural science by forcing its explanatory scheme to account not simply for the shape of brains but for the shape of ideas.

One of the thing that many evolution opponents may not realize, when complaining that the scientific community is overly harsh and derisive in dismissing Intelligent Design as a supposed scientific theory, is that scientists are often harsh and dismissive towards one another as well. Stephen Jay Gould famously dismissed "evolutionary psychology" as pseudoscience and accused evolutionary graudalists of clinging to a favored thoery in clear controversion to the evidence.


Steven said...

Dear Sir

Indeed. It has long been part of the traditin in acquring a degree in Science in Germany that you must not only prove your own thesis, but you must trash someone else's.

And Mr. Gould was relatively gentle in this field of trashing the thought, the lives, the family heritage, and the person of the scientist with opposing ideas.

I remember back in my heyday a debate between two major proponets of different interpretations of the life and lineage of a group of animals called carpoids. Much of this analysis had to do with the interpretation of subtle lines on the insides of preserved specimens. But both proponents clung tenaciously to their own interpretations and spent much of their time talking about the "fancifcul reconstuctions" (on one side) and the "hide-bound misrepresentations" on the other.

This was one reason that my Professor was such an advocate of evolution. "Don't you think," he said, "that if after all this time someone COULD DISPROVE evolution they would not already have done so and made a reputation for themselves?"

Perhaps there is not a little of this desire for fame in the work of some proponents of ID? Although, they really aren't out to disprove evolution--merely to inject what is properly the realm of philosophy into the conduct of science.



P.S. Neat aside--the code word for this post (to post it) was houey--not quite hooey, but close.

Darwin said...

One of my father's favorite anecdotes about scientists getting passionate about their theories comes from an astronomical conference he attended some years ago. A researcher got up to read his paper, and a rival of his stood up in the front row, faced the audience, and shouted: "Everything you are about to hear is either a lie or untrue!"