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Structuralists Who Diss Darwin

I see that a couple of fascinating new websites have "evolved" on the Internet (and if you think sites really do evolve, there are some web "designers" I'd like you to meet). For reporters and others who imagine that only the likes of Discovery Institute fellows believe that Darwin's theory is in the process of imploding, go to the new Stephen J. Gould Initiative for Non-Darwinian Evolution site and its companion, Biological Self Organization: Evolution by Mechanical Causation.
There is much to read there. It's a curiosity, to say the least.

For its first few days, the site was rather tendentious and even cribbed our Dissent from Darwin list, but then it settled down and also started adding interesting and original content.

You know what? These structuralists, first of all, may have something worthwhile to examine. Let's find out.

Second, many of them, according to the sites' organizer, Stuart Pivar, a noted art collector and science author in New York, are almost as peeved with the intimidation tactics of the Darwinistas as we are.

Indeed, the site indicates that there may be far more scientists who are in sympathy with the Dissent List statement--simple as it is--than the brave number who have lent their names so far. We know of some. But the stephenjgould.org site may know of more.

And why not? The Dissent from Darwin is not a statement for intelligent design, no matter how the Darwinists try to misrepresent it. Nor are the signers themselves necessarily supporters of ID. Some simply don't have an alternative. A few call themselves--yes, it's true--structuralists.

What may be dawning on people--though not the major media yet--is that we have always been clear about our position that we do NOT want to mandate the teaching of ID and that the key thing, instead, is for students to know the scientific evidence for and against Darwin's theory, period. Not only is there no interest here in sneaking religion into the science classroom, there is no desire to impose ID at any level. Since some structuralists apparently are completely prepared to chuck Darwin's theory (natural selection working on mutations) as an explanation for evolution, and others are prepared to demolish at least some of the Darwinian icons, we would seem to be--to that point--and however odd and uncomfortable that may make some feel--somewhat in agreement.

There is another issue of possible accord, and that is the matter of free speech. No fair minded individual can ignore the reality that attacks on academic freedom are being organized by Darwinists to punish scientists who will not follow the Darwinist party line. Professors who teach about ID or do research on it or even merely provide arguments against Darwin's theory have lost their university positions in what looks like a national campaign, and others are in peril as this is written. (Soon after the attacks go public on a given campus, Eugenie Scott of the NCSE just happens to show up on campus for a speech.)

Now it turns out that some structuralists also are afraid to speak out in criticism of Darwin's theory. The stephenjgould.org site notes with sincere concern the plight of Richard Sternberg (with two doctorates in evolutionary biology) at the Smithsonian, and even praises the Meyer paper that got Sternberg in trouble when he published it. (The site doesn't say so, but the NCSE was involved in that hit job, too.)

So, what don't we agree on? Actually, we don't know. It is possible that anti-Darwinians who are pro-ID or pro-structuralism or neither are really quite different in many ways. Or maybe there are some points of intersection. A little more research and maybe some interaction may be in order. As a start, it might be helpful to commit to a policy of academic civility, something that the militant Darwinists do not embrace. Let's call it the spirit of science.