Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thought Police

Many of you would have heard of the "Intelligent Design" movement. This is made up of a group of scientists and academics who have become convinced through their research that our universe had to have come as a result of design. Intelligent design is the assertion that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."

This movement has grown to include a number of high profile scientists and experts in their fields but has been the source of a great deal of controversy. Many of these academics have been surprised by the negative reaction that they have received from others in the scientific and academic community. The obvious message is that no theory other than evolution is allowed. Sound crazy? Look at the evidence.

There are many examples - here are just a few. Biologist Carolyn Crocker was banned from teaching evolution at George Mason University after mentioning intelligent design. We also saw evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg demoted by the Smithsonian Institute after he approved an article that supported intelligent design.

One of the latest was Guillermo Gonzalez. Last month, Gonzalez, assistant professor of astronomy and physics at Iowa State University, was denied tenure. Apparently his crime was that he believed something other than Darwinism.

His credentials are impeccable. Iowa State requires its faculty to publish fifteen peer-reviewed articles in order to qualify for tenure. Gonzalez has submitted sixty-eight. On top of that, Gonzalez's ground-breaking research in astronomy has led to the discovery of two new planets.

However, on his own time he has written a book and produced a DVD called Privileged Planet in which he gives evidence to demonstrate that the Earth is uniquely situated to sustain life. As Charles Colson summarizes: "Random chance cannot explain the alignment of all of these conditions, such as the optimal distance from the right kind of star, plate tectonics, the size of a moon that can stabilize itself on its axis, the shielding presence of larger planets nearby, the right amount of oxygen and water . . . just to name a few."

Since the release of his documentary over 400 faculty members of Universities across Iowa have signed a petition opposed to the teaching of Intelligent Design as science. It doesn't seem to matter that Gonzalez has never taught on Intelligent Design in the classroom. His crime is simply believing it - and this was enough to cost him his tenure at the University. So much for academic freedom.

It makes me even more convinced that Phillip Johnson of Berkeley University is right. The rules of science have changed in such a way as to automatically reject any theory other than the prevailing theory of evolution, despite the lack of evidence. The reasoning goes like this: Darwinists assume that the history of the universe and life itself must have a purely naturalistic explanation, which they call science; because God is supernatural, any reference to a Deity's role in creating is religious, and therefore not scientific. Add to this the fact that science never discards a theory until a more plausible one is found and we understand why evolution is still being taught in spite of evidence to the contrary.

As Johnson wrote in his book Objection Sustained: "If science has exclusive authority to tell us how life was created, and if science is committed to naturalism, and if science never discards a paradigm until it is presented with an acceptable naturalistic alternative, then Darwin's position is impregnable within science."

There's a new name for this - it's called scientism, and it means the religion of science. It is no longer solely about the evidence. It begins with the statement that all life has evolved from non-life through purely naturalistic means. This is as much a faith statement as the Christian's belief that all life was created by God. Only one of these faith claims is allowed on University campuses so, if you're not a Darwinist, look out for the thought police!
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