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Derbyshire Provides a Turkey of an Argument Against Intelligent Design

John Derbyshire continues to insult social conservatives (and skeptics of Darwinism both liberal and conservative) at NRO's The Corner. He uses the high rate of skepticism toward Darwinism in Turkey to demonstrate that intelligent design represents a dangerous attack on modern biology. Since it's a fallacious guilt by association argument, and one that flies in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, he leaves out key parts of his argument. Let's coax a few of his connecting links into the clear light of day.

Premise: People from Turkey aren't hip like people from England and Europe.
Premise: The Turkish people don't like Darwinism
Conclusion: Unhip people dislike Darwinism

Premise: Unhip people don't like Darwinism
Premise: Most Americans don't like Darwinism
Conclusion: Americans are in danger of being unhip.

Premise: Turkey doesn't like Darwinism
Premise: Turkey isn't very advanced technologically
Conclusion: Disliking Darwinism could plunge America into the Dark Ages.

Derbyshire has become an embarrassment to NRO because his arguments against intelligent design never grow, they never take into account the counterarguments of the design theorists, and they repeatedly employ precisely the sort of clubby, sneering, fallacious reasoning found in his newest piece on the subject.

Here are some facts worth grappling with if he intends to see his arguments mature.

1. The United States is the world's leader in science. United States citizens are also much more likely to doubt Darwin and have for decades. Is there a connection? Perhaps and perhaps not, but any Darwinist breezily suggesting a causal link between Darwin skepticism and scientific mediocrity needs to take these twin facts into account.

2. The five science Nobel Laureates this year were all Americans. They may all be card carrying neo-Darwinists who see no evidence for intelligent design anywhere in the biological realm. Nevertheless, apparently none of their research programs made any use of Darwinism. It's not surprising that the two physicists' research program didn't, but the other two prizes went to biochemistry researchers. If nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of Darwinism (as Darwinists are fond of telling us), why did these outstanding examples of experimental biology do so well without Darwinism?

As National Academy of Sciences member Philip Skell has pointed out in the pages of The Scientist, the research program for every Nobel Prize winner in medicine since its inception made no use of Darwinian evolution. Darwinism provides an after-the-fact narrative gloss, but not a foundation for modern experimental biology. Skell's essay is here, and his response to the letters to the editor is here.

Berkeley trained biologist Jonathan Wells also considers Darwinism's relationship to modern experimental biology. In chapter seven of his excellent new book, he shows that when Darwinists claim responsibility for a breakthrough in experimental biology, they are claiming credit for someone else's work, and in many cases the discoverer even rejected Darwinism (e.g., Gregor Mendel, who pioneered modern genetics).