UK Columnist Spots Dawkins' Arrogance in Argument against Intelligent Design
This month saw two very different takes on intelligent design in the UK press. As we reported earlier, the Guardian ran a story which set up a false dichotomy of ID as a personal opinion and Darwinism as scientific fact. Standing in contrast to this view is Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips, who wrote a penetrating piece on how the rationality of science is threatened by the new atheists, such as Richard Dawkins:
The most conspicuous example of this is provided by Dawkins himself, who breaks the rules of scientific evidence by seeking to claim that Darwin's theory of evolution - which sought to explain how complex organisms evolved through random natural selection - also accounts for the origin of life itself.
There is no evidence for this whatever and no logic to it. After all, if people say God could not have created the universe because this gives rise to the question "Who created God?", it follows that if scientists say the universe started with a big bang, this prompts the further question "What created the bang?"
Phillips sees that science is not threatened but strengthened by entertaining the possibility of design -- and that restricting the freedom of scientists to pursue this possibility is the real throwback to the Dark Ages.
Moreover, since science essentially takes us wherever the evidence leads, the findings of more than 50 years of DNA research - which have revealed the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life - have thrown into doubt the theory that life emerged spontaneously in a random universe.
These findings have given rise to a school of scientists promoting the theory of Intelligent Design, which suggests that some force embodying purpose and foresight lay behind the origin of the universe.
While this theory is, of course, open to vigorous counter-argument, people such as Prof Dawkins and others have gone to great lengths to stop it being advanced at all, on the grounds that it denies scientific evidence such as the fossil record and is therefore worthless.
Yet distinguished scientists have been hounded and their careers jeopardised for arguing that the fossil record has got a giant hole in it. Some 570 million years ago, in a period known as the Cambrian Explosion, most forms of complex animal life emerged seemingly without any evolutionary trail.
These scientists argue that only 'rational agents' could have possessed the ability to design and organise such complex systems.
Whether or not they are right (and I don't know), their scientific argument about the absence of evidence to support the claim that life spontaneously created itself is being stifled - on the totally perverse grounds that this argument does not conform to the rules of science which require evidence to support a theory.
As a result of such arrogance, the West - the crucible of reason - is turning the clock back to a pre-modern age of obscurantism, dogma and secular witch-hunts.