Today I attended the release of the third edition of the NAS’s book Science, Evolution, and Creationism–by which, of course, they mean any way of thought which doubts the materialist mechanism of natural selection to account for the full complexity of life.
The entire event was a transparent attempt to label any doubters “creationists.”
Most ironic was that,
while the whole room fumed with animosity toward religious people and, one sensed, the “religious right,” the NAS panelists sought to promote the view of the new booklet that science and religion do not conflict because the two ways of knowing do not overlap.
As Richard Dawkins has noted, this is a blatant political and rhetorical strategy, believed by very few who advance this proposition. For instance, while panelist Gilbert Omenn argued this “no conflict” thesis, he also remarked that no one would have designed certain features of human anatomy the way they are. Hmmm, so science can legitimately make claims about whether there biological features are designed? Sounds like they are asking for a one-sided armistice.
Of course what they mean to say is that “reasonable” religion has no problem with materialistic Darwinian evolution. Thus the NAS book quotes a host of liberal religious leaders to prove their point.
In a similar contradictory moment, Francisco Ayala claimed that there is “no contradiction between evolution and religious faith.” Then later, when mentioning the liberal religious leaders quoted in the NAS booklet, he slipped on a Freudian banana peal, saying: “I used religious authorities”…ahem…he went on to claim that he meant to say that he “cited” those religious authorities.
I won’t belabor my report, but the panelists–who also included former NABT President Toby Horn and former NAS President Bruce Alberts–further strained credulity by actually claiming that medicine and agriculture depend upon evolutionary theory. If they mean micro-evolution, this is obviously true; but of course no one doubts micro-evolution.
In truth, the book release event was one platitude after another. Perhaps reporters writing on this event will have the courage to ask the NAS which intelligent design proponents they interviewed or consulted to ensure the accuracy of their statements about intelligent design. From looking through the booklet, one suspects they consulted only their own prejudices.
In the end, the NAS should know that their efforts will fail. For in addition to the many religious concerns with Darwinian theory in the public, there are a host of academics who harbor serious scientific doubts as to the adequacy of the Darwinian mechanism to account for life’s complexity.