The September/October issue of Books & Culture has a review by CSC senior fellow Jonathan Wells of The Plausibility of Life by Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart, two eminent biologists. The book has been acclaimed since its arrival earlier this year for providing answers for the last remaining “gap” in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Wells –an eminent biologist himself– is, not surprsingly, skeptical of the claim. (He knows a thing or two about the gaps in Darwin’s theory.)
I find myself in yet another odd alliance. I guess NRO‘s John Derbyshire would side with me over Leon Kass (whom, once again, I greatly respect for the solid anti-reductionist arguments he has made). Scientific observation can and should affect one’s view of what it is to be human. (Derbyshire and I simply disagree about the strength of Darwinian claims.) He lists “Biology” as one of the major things shaping his view of “the human condition.” He writes:
We notice a trend on the left to denounce scientists who disagree with a social policy objective of the left as “anti-science.” It’s a major theme on the evolution issue. Now it is true, too, on the issue of whether global warming is as big a danger as the Al Gore sorts say and what contribution human activity makes to the problem. And as a Washington Post article shows, the materialist left have decided that medical professors who promote reproductive medicine that doesn’t include abortion or test tube fertilization because of moral scruples are being denounced as “anti-science,” too. At the same time we hear, a la Stephen Jay Gould, that science and religion are properly “non-overlapping magisteria,” that one Read More ›
This past Thursday, October 26, Dr. Leon Kass, learned intellectual and former Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, presented a paper before an excellent group of intellectuals at the American Enterprise Institute (Stephen Barr, Eric Cohen, Joseph Bottum, Charles Murray, and Marcello Pera, among others). Dr. Kass had many good things to say about the false nature of scientific reductionism and how it goes against everything we know about reality from everyday life. He also denied that random mutations and natural selection were the whole story to life’s evolution. That said, I took umbrage with one major point Kass made.