Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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Darwin's Cowards


Allow me to offer an addendum to what ENV said on Friday about paleontologist Russell Garwood's column in Nature ("Reach out to defend evolution"). Garwood called on Darwin-loyal scientists to defend their beliefs from "creationist" abuses of the evidence. Garwood -- and Jerry Coyne, who elaborates on Garwood at Why Evolution Is True -- are "peeved" at Darwin critics for making hay of material in the mainstream scientific literature that seems to cast doubt on Darwinian theory.

But notice how Garwood and Coyne alike cite only Bible-based (or Koran-based) creationist sources: "Turkish creationist Harun Yahya," the "national biology curriculum of Pakistan," a "blog on the Lutheran Science website," "the influential creationist organization Answers in Genesis." The new Tennessee academic-freedom law, which has nothing to do with creationism and explicitly does not protect the teaching of such religious doctrines, is characterized by Garwood as "a creationist bill."

In Coyne and Garwood's presentation, all criticisms of Darwinian theory are "creationism." Any genuinely scientific alternative to Darwinism that is emphatically not creationism, such as intelligent design, they still misrepresent as "creationism."

There is something deeply dishonest about this. Can their readers and their students really be so foolish as to fail to understand that they are being hoodwinked? Let Garwood or Coyne forthrightly acknowledge the existence of ID and confront its arguments head on, tell us why we are wrong, with all the daring they display in opposing the national biology curriculum of Pakistan. Stop beating the drum against Harun Yahya, and pick on someone capable of taking you on and replying in kind.

Tell us what you find wanting in the evidence for design on offer from Stephen Meyer, Doug Axe, Richard Sternberg, Ann Gauger, Jonathan Wells, Robert Marks, Michael Behe, and others. Stop trawling the Internet for silly stuff from Pakistan or Turkey, when you've got a very different and serious intellectual and scientific challenge waiting outside your front door.

We've talked about academic bullies lately in the context of the Ben Carson episode at Emory, the David Coppedge affair at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, and many other cases. This is the other face of bullying for Darwin: the refusal to pick on someone your own size even as you go around beating up on "creationists" who, you know, will never offer an effective counterargument or any at all.

I never quite pictured the context in which I'd get to say it, but Charles Darwin, a brave and honest man even if he was wrong, deserves better.

Photo credit: Josh More/Flickr.