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Week of: February 11, 2001

Evolution Theory Faces Extinction

by F.R. Duplantier

Scientific theories are just that: speculative explanations for the way things are. They should be viewed with skepticism, not faith.

Evolutionists get into scrapes
And elicit all manner of japes:
We'll allow that these loons
Harken back to baboons,
But our own family trees have no apes.

"No scientific theory withstands revision for long," declares William Dembski of the Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor University, "and many are eventually superseded by ideas that flatly contradict their predecessors. Scientific revolutions are common, painful, and real," he asserts. "New theories regularly overturn old ones, and no scientific theory is ever the final word."

In a recent issue of American Outlook, published bimonthly by the Hudson Institute, William Dembski emphasizes that, though science itself may be tentative, scientists are not. "No scientist with a career invested in a scientific theory is going to relinquish it easily," he affirms. "By itself, a scientist's lack of tentativeness poses no danger to science," Dembski concedes. "It only becomes a danger," he contends, "when it turn to dogmatism," when the scientist refuses to admit even the possibility that his theory may be wrong.

Dembski charges that many of the defenders of evolutionary theory exhibit just such a dogmatic attitude, ridiculing their opponents instead of responding to their legitimate objections. "A growing movement of scientists known as 'design theorists' is advocating a theory known as 'intelligent design,'" he observes. "Intelligent design argues that complex, information-rich biological structures cannot arise by undirected natural forces but instead require a guiding intelligence," Dembski explains. "Whether intelligent design will ultimately overturn Darwinism is not the issue," he insists. "The issue is whether the scientific community is willing to set aside dogmatism and admit as a live possibility that even its most cherished views might be wrong."

Dembski urges Darwinian evolutionists to forsake dogmatism in favor of tentativeness. "Scientists have been wrong in the past," he remarks, "and will continue to be wrong, both in the niggling details and in broad conceptual matters. Darwinism is one scientific theory that attempts to account for the history of life," Dembski acknowledges, "but it is not the only scientific theory that could possibly account for it. It is, in fact, just a theory like any other one, and indeed a widely disputed hypothesis, one that is facing increasingly trenchant criticisms. Scientists should take a cue from the public in this matter," he advises, "and discard their defensive dogmatism. Only then will their work be truly scientific."

Did this limerick just appear?
Was this limerick always here?
Surely you know it
Bespeaks a poet
Like Duplantier, Nash, or Lear.


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