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07 July 2009

Some Scientists Are Allowed to Question Darwin

Surprisingly as it may be, there are some scientists who are allowed to question the theory of evolution and remain within the mianstream scientific circles. Of course, the scientists who do attack Darwin have to be careful enough to broadcast their materialistic faith nonetheless.

A good article concerning the "free pass" some materialistas have concerning the theory of evolution has been posted in "Evolution News".
Here is a snap:

We're often told that the evidence for neo-Darwinian evolution -- where unguided natural selection acting on random mutations is the driving force generating the complexity and diversity of life -- is "overwhelming." But hints of dissent from this position can be found throughout the mainstream scientific literature. One article in Trends in Ecology and Evolution last year acknowledged that there exists a "healthy debate concerning the sufficiency of neo-Darwinian theory to explain macroevolution".[1] Likewise, Günter Theißen of the Department of Genetics at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany recently wrote earlier this year in the journal Theory in Biosciences:

while we already have a quite good understanding of how organisms adapt to the environment, much less is known about the mechanisms behind the origin of evolutionary novelties, a process that is arguably different from adaptation (Wagner 2000). Despite Darwin’s undeniable merits, explaining how the enormous complexity and diversity of living beings on our planet originated remains one of the greatest challenges of biology.[2]

Even more striking criticism of what he called the "dogmatic science" of neo-Darwinian thinking can be found in a 2006 paper by Theißen, also in Theory in Biosciences:

Explaining exactly how the great complexity and diversity of life on earth originated is still an enormous scientific challenge. ... There is the widespread attitude in the scientific community that, despite some problems in detail, textbook accounts on evolution have essentially solved the problem already. In my view, this is not quite correct.[3]

What is most interesting is how these hints of dissent are often accompanied by statements disclaiming any support for intelligent design (ID), seemingly intended to help deflect attacks upon the dissenter. Theißen's 2009 article is quick to protest that "'anti-Darwinians' should not be confused with people, such as creationists, that see Darwin as their opponent,"[2] and his 2006 paper expressly disclaims any support for ID (where Theißen again inappropriately lumps with "creationism"):

There is the opposite view gaining ground mainly outside of scientific circles that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by an external intelligence – a novel version of creationism known as "Intelligent Design" (ID). A philosophical analysis of whether ID is a scientific hypothesis at all is beyond the scope of this review. In any case, its ability to develop fruitful research programs has remained negligible so far (Raff, 2005). With few exceptions (e.g., see Lönnig, 2004, and references cited therein) biologists do not consider ID helpful in our endeavour to explain life’s complexity and diversity. This does not mean, however, that we already have a complete and satisfactory theory which explains how the complexity and diversity of life originated. Thus the rejection of ID or other varieties of creationism is not based on the comprehensive explanatory power of any existing evolutionary theory, but has to be considered as an epistemological presupposition and heuristic basis of biology as a natural science.[3]

Significantly, Theißen's disclaimer admits that his rejection of ID is "not based on the comprehensive explanatory power of any existing evolutionary theory" but due to an "epistemological presupposition," namely materialism. This calls to mind Scott C. Todd's statement in Nature in 1999 that "[e]ven if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic."[4]

Theißen apparently feels it necessary to announce his rejection of ID and his commitment to material explanations in order for his "anti-Darwinian" ideas to have any hope of gaining traction. Yet his 2006 paper contains a stark lamentation admitting the opposition faced by even materialists who dissent from neo-Darwinism:

It is dangerous to raise attention to the fact that there is no satisfying explanation for macroevolution. One easily becomes a target of orthodox evolutionary biology and a false friend of proponents of non-scientific concepts. According to the former we already know all the relevant principles that explain the complexity and diversity of life on earth; for the latter science and research will never be able to provide a conclusive explanation, simply because complex life does not have a natural origin.[3]

Theißen's admission is telling in that it not only recognizes it is politically "dangerous" for a materialist to question predominant evolutionary thinking (what scientist wants to "becom[e] a target of orthodox evolutionary biology"?), but also that there is even more intense opposition awaiting "friend[s] of proponents of non-scientific concepts" who believe that "complex life does not have a natural origin." If materialists face such dangers, imagine the opposition facing non-materialists seeking to have their views taken seriously in scientific journals.

Read the rest...

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