How much would you pay to listen in on a conversation among computer scientist David Gelernter, philosopher of science Stephen Meyer, and mathematician David Berlinski, hosted by Peter Robinson from Stanford’s Hoover Institution? As it happens, and I didn’t see this coming, the four were together in Florence and they took the opportunity to have a fascinating exchange about the recent essay in which Gelernter, the Yale polymath, explained his reasons for rejecting Darwinian theory. See the whole thing here:
Gelernter’s intellectual confession, “Giving Up Darwin,” was published in The Claremont Review of Books. As you can imagine, it caused a stir. Dr. Gelernter attributed his departure from evolutionary orthodoxy to having read books by Meyer (Darwin’s Doubt) and Berlinski (The Deniable Darwin), as well as one that I edited (Debating Darwini’s Doubt).
I had thought that Berlinski’s conversation with Robinson alone, noted here, was about the most interesting thing you could ask to watch. But this beats it. That is because of the remarkable diversity of views on display, from three thinkers who are all Darwin skeptics of one stripe or another.
A Beautiful Theory — But True?
They ask about whether Darwin’s theory is beautiful, about challenges to Darwin from mathematics and biology, whether there is any real difference between saying Darwin’s theory is “unlikely or impossible” in accounting for spectacular biological innovations, whether intelligent design is a sufficient substitute, and much else not strictly on topic. For example, has Sigmund Freud, like Marx and Darwin, been “taken down” as a pillar of Western thinking? Berlinski and Gelernter emphatically think not.
David Gelernter laments, from his own knowledge of American academia, that there is “nothing approaching free speech” when it comes to Darwinism. This wonderful conversation gives you a sense of what a really free exchange of views would be like, the beauty and interest of it, were such a thing permitted on university campuses. Thank you very much to the indispensable Peter Robinson and his program, Uncommon Knowledge, for making it possible!