Thursday, September 08, 2005

One Side Can Be Wrong

In this op-ed in the Guardian, Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne explain why there is no "controversy" between evolution and intelligent design to teach. They also present several real controversies in the field of evolutionary theory.
The argument the ID advocates put, such as it is, is always of the same character. Never do they offer positive evidence in favour of intelligent design. All we ever get is a list of alleged deficiencies in evolution. We are told of "gaps" in the fossil record. Or organs are stated, by fiat and without supporting evidence, to be "irreducibly complex": too complex to have evolved by natural selection.

In all cases there is a hidden (actually they scarcely even bother to hide it) "default" assumption that if Theory A has some difficulty in explaining Phenomenon X, we must automatically prefer Theory B without even asking whether Theory B (creationism in this case) is any better at explaining it. Note how unbalanced this is, and how it gives the lie to the apparent reasonableness of "let's teach both sides". One side is required to produce evidence, every step of the way. The other side is never required to produce one iota of evidence, but is deemed to have won automatically, the moment the first side encounters a difficulty - the sort of difficulty that all sciences encounter every day, and go to work to solve, with relish.

There have been some excellent commentaries on this op-ed, including:

Janus Doesn't Live Here Any More (Scrivener's Error)
• Jason at The Panda's Thumb rebuts the ID'rs commentary on the article.

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