Here’s an interesting contrast. Yesterday I wrote about a fine column by science journalist George Johnson in the New York Times in which he seemed very open to thinking new thoughts about evolution, along the lines of those suggested by atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel. I suggested that the article might give a preview of the kind of very gradual progress in liberating minds that the theory of intelligent design will, I think, someday enjoy.
Johnson tweeted back:
.@d_klinghoffer No. Intelligent Design is creationist superstition. Nothing more.
— George Johnson (@byGeorgeJohnson) July 23, 2014
— David Klinghoffer (@d_klinghoffer) July 23, 2014
To which I received no reply. So ID is merely creationist superstition, is it? Watch this video that’s just been released, the latest in a series of conversations with Stephen Meyer about his book Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design.
How can Johnson’s dismissal be supported in light of the fact that ID is debated — yes, criticized but still debated — in no less an august venue than the pages of Science, by a top Cambrian paleontologist, Charles Marshall at UC Berkeley, in a review that itself massively begs the question of the mysterious origin of biological information?
As Dr. Meyer explains, Marshall tries to wave away that mystery by presupposing three distinct sources of preexisting information. How can any reasonable person think there’s nothing to discuss here, that ID is "nothing more" more than credulous Bible-thumping?
I admit to being credulous enough, perhaps, to think the New York Times is still a great newspaper. When I was a young editor at National Review there was a standing joke among the staff that "No editor at NR ever believed anything until he read it in the New York Times" — which was not entirely untrue, despite the fact that we spent so much time complaining about how that newspaper reported the news.
Coming from a journalist who covers science and ought at least to be familiar with the arguments about evolution that he rejects, a comment like that by George Johnson, who obviously isn’t familiar with what ID advocates say, is mystifying.