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Academic Freedom Under Fire -- Again!

A news article published yesterday on haaretz.com reported that the Israeli Education Minister has dismissed their chief scientist, Dr Gavriel Avital, over -- wait for it -- questioning particular elements of two theories, specifically those pertaining to Darwinian evolution and global warming.

The article reports,

Dr. Gavriel Avital has generated controversy in the past for his statements questioning the validity of Darwin's theory of evolution. He has also challenged conventional theory on pollution's effects on global warming. "Someone who holds the opinions of Avital cannot serve as chief scientist of the Education Ministry," said a ministry official. [emphasis mine]

What was Dr Avital's crime? Let's hear it straight from the horse's mouth:

"If textbooks state explicitly that human beings' origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions. There are many people who don't believe the evolutionary account is correct."

All Dr. Avital wanted to do was expose students to some of the weaknesses inherent in Darwin's theory. Surely there's no harm in that -- or so one would think. But, of course, to the Darwinian faithful, such weaknesses apparently do not exist. To them, Neo-Darwinism explains all features of biodiversity with absolutely no challenge. Never mind the fact that evolutionary biologists are still trying to piece together a theory which adequately explains the origination of body plans. Never mind the prohibitive improbabilities of attaining fundamentally new protein structural domains and functions. Never mind Darwinism's impotence in the production of irreducibly complex biochemical systems. Never mind the sheer lack of empirical demonstration of the creative powers of the modern synthesis. Evolution is a fact -- fact -- fact!! Who are they trying to convince? In best case scenario, we may not even know enough to be able to definitively say one way or the other whether neo-Darwinism is a sufficent causal explanation for all features of biodiversity. As things stand at present, however, the evidence seems to point quite the opposite way. To state that neo-Darwinism has all the questions answered and faces absolutely no challenge from mainstream scientists is to bury one's head in the sand. But when one feels the need to resort to jeopardizing the careers of those who disagree with your own point of view, or targeting websites which are critical of your point of view with cyberattacks, are we talking science or religious dogmatism?

The following quotation comes from Richard Dawkins' most recent book, The Greatest Show on Earth. Judge for yourselves whether these are the words of a man trying to persuade an informed intellectual audience on the basis of empirical evidence or a man more concerned with reassuring himself and bluffing to a largely uninitiated audience of his faithful followers:

Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips...continue the list as long as desired. That didn't have to be true. It is not self-evidently, tautologically, obviously true, and there was a time when most people, even educated people, thought it wasn't. It didn't have to be true, but it is. We know this because a rising flood of evidence supports it. Evolution is a fact, and this book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.