History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Why does Darwin debate persist?

January 16th, 2007 · No Comments

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has an opinion piece: Why Can’t We Discuss Intelligent Design?. Since the article is by subscription, Recursivity has posted some excerpts, below.


I’d never had a heckler before. Usually, when I’m asked to give a talk, I discuss my research on termites and the remarkable structures they build. Usually, I’m glad just to have an audience. x But what I’d learned from termites had got me thinking about broader issues, among them the question of design in biology: Why are living things built so well for the functions they perform? So I wrote a book called The Tinkerer’s Accomplice, which was my topic that day.

The trouble started almost as soon as I stepped up to the podium: intrusive “questions” and demands for “clarifications,” really intended not to illuminate but to disrupt and distract. In exasperation, I finally had to ask the heckler to give me a chance to make my argument and my audience a chance to hear it, after which he could ask all the questions he wished.

From Recursivity:

Also amusing is the spectacle of independent-minded scientists’ running to college administrators or the courts for help in defining what is science and what is permissible discourse in their classroom.


Faced with all that hue and cry, I almost want to say: “Friends, intelligent design is just an idea.”


The strain’s very persistence invites the obvious question: If Darwin settled the issue once and for all, why does it keep coming back? Perhaps the fault lies with Darwin’s supporters. Rather than debate the strain on its merits, we scramble to the courts or the political ramparts to expel it from our classrooms and our students’ minds.

Tags: Evolution

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