Wednesday, 1 October 2008

View From the Pulpit - Well a letter in the Independent actually

Darwin's Laws of Evolution are no mere 'theory'

The different interpretations of the word "theory" (to a scientist, the fundamental principles behind phenomena, and to a non-scientist, one hunch out of possibly many) shows that we scientists made a mistake in continuing to refer to Darwinism as a theory. May I suggest that we should refer in future to Darwin's Laws of Evolution?

There is no real conflict between science and the major religions over creation as such. Genesis starts with "In the beginning . . . the earth was without form and void". In Haydn's oratorio The Creation, the first movement is entitled "Introduction: Representation of Chaos" - does not that evoke "The Big Bang"? There is of course an error in the order of events, in that plant life is created in Genesis before the sun. After that, though, the waters correctly bring forth every living creature, followed by animals and man. God then saw that all was very good - a moral imperative that we have a duty of care for the planet and all our fellow beings.

As for "intelligent design", we can but marvel at the efficiency and complexity of living systems, but we need to be aware of many aspects that are undoubtedly unintelligent. No structural engineer worth his salt would think that a skeleton designed for quadrupedal motion, with internal organs hanging down from a horizontal spine, would serve properly for an upright posture, with the widely-suffered consequences of back pain and joint problems. Nor would any competent technical designer construct an eye with the blood vessels in front of the retina and a hole in the middle, where the nerve connections are made. (Interestingly, the independently evolved eyes in a number of families of "lower" organisms have much more logical designs.) There must be countless other examples.

Science teachers clearly need to be equipped to put forward the clear evidence against "creationism" (including strict adherence to the idea that all was created about 6,000 years ago in seven present-length days) and "intelligent design". How wise was the Royal Society in appointing Professor Michael Reiss, with his wide perspective, and how stupid the Society to dispense with his services in a panic reaction to the misrepresentation of his speech.

Professor Anthony C T North

Leeds

From here.

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