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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"Who Lost Science?"

After 1949 when China went Communist, American anti-Communists in their anguish turned on fellow Americans, seeking to pin the blame somewhere and prompting the famous "Who Lost China?" debate. Evolutionists lately have been following this same path, bewailing the public's continued discontent with Darwinism and support for academic-freedom legislation, and looking for someone to blame, even if that someone is on the Darwinists' own side.

Since on their own (extremely silly) terms, rejecting Darwinian theory means rejecting all of science, you could call it the "Who Lost Science?" debate.

Robert Wright (in the Atlantic) and Michael Zimmerman (of the Clergy Letter Project) put much of the blame on the New Atheists. According to this view, Dawkins & Co. alienated members of the religious community and helped turn them against "science." Wright puts it this way:

If the only thing this Darwinian assault did was amp up resistance to teaching evolution in public schools, the damage, though regrettable, would be limited. My fear is that the damage is broader -- that fundamentalist Christians, upon being maligned by know-it-all Darwinians, are starting to see secular scientists more broadly as the enemy; Darwinians, climate scientists, and stem cell researchers start to seem like a single, menacing blur.
Others, like braying atheist Jerry Coyne, will accept no responsibility for any undesirable outcome and instead blame religion. After all, that's the only possible reason anyone would fail to embrace evolution.

The details of the "Who Lost Science?" debate aren't important. At best the positions staked out are speculative, at their worst they are simplistic, self-serving, or couched in vulgarity. There is the usual confusion about fundamentalism and creationism, which get haphazardly conflated with intelligent design and the scientific case for doubting Darwin. What else is new?

The most likely answer to the question as stated is the one that nobody in the Darwin camp is prepared to consider. A major reason that evolutionary science can't seem to seal its deal with the public is that the science on the other side continues to grow and deepen.

In the science-education context, this is particularly clear. "Teaching the controversy" is an increasingly realistic and reasonable pedagogic objective because there's so much mainstream evidence -- from scientific journals, not Biblical "creationist" ones -- that's out there and available to which you can now expose students, alongside the traditional Darwinist view, to their intellectual profit. This is the material, as we cover it here at ENV, from which our Darwinist friends resolutely turn away, preferring to spend their time mocking young earth creationists and posting photographs of cute cats.

The New Atheists are particularly pathetic in this regard. A guy like PZ Myers hardly ever writes about science at all. I can't imagine anyone feeling genuinely challenged by him. Why would they?

It's not, in short, the New Atheists who are to blame for losing "science," nor is it religion. Wright and Coyne are both wrong. Gentlemen, please, it's the science itself!