Academicians in the West have always boasted of an intellectual climate free of government coercion and ideological bias. The review of a scholar’s work by his peers is the generally accepted method for maintaining high standards of quality in any academic discipline. A scholar with a new theory or an innovative explanation of things already known generally commits his ideas to writing in a paper for publication by one of the learned societies of his branch of learning, The editor of the society’s journal turns the paper over to a few other scholars with credentials and experience in the area of study. This is called “double blind peer review,” as the author of the paper has no idea who will review it, and the reviewers have no idea who wrote it. The review is no guarantee that the thesis of the paper is “true,” but it does keep the journal from publishing the obviously false. Additionally, a responsible journal will published well reasoned letters from its readers who find a paper to contain errors of fact, methodology, or logic. However, in liberal academia, some ideas are “more equal” than others.
Steven C. Meyer, the holder of a Cambridge Ph.D. in the philosophy of biology, submitted a paper to the Biological Society of Washington which makes its home at the Smithsonian Institute. The (now former) managing editor of the Society’s journal, Richard Sternberg, who holds two PhDs in biology, after sending out the paper for peer review and receiving favorable response, published it in the Society’s journal: “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” in the August 2004 (volume 117, no. 2 p. 213-239) Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. [i]
The paper, although scholarly, is written in comprehensible English, and will be of interest to readers who don’t mind an occasional dictionary look-up. Dr. Meyer rather clearly accepts the concept of evolution—he will disappoint fundamentalists who insist that in six days of twenty-four hours God created the world and populated it with all of the species it has ever known. Meyer seems to accept the idea that the fossil record and the similarity of species point to the evolution of one species from another. His article presents a survey of the current theories of what guided this evolution, along with comments on the shortcomings of each theory.
Dr. Meyer points to at least two particular difficulties. He cites, first of all, what scientists call the “Cambrian Explosion”—the emergence of a very large number of species during the relatively limited time of the Cambrian period—five or ten million years is but a brief span, considering that the fossil record seems to indicate that half or more of all the known phyla appeared during that period. Meyer also suggests that modern Information Theory requires a reconsideration of the idea that random events could cause beneficial mutations in any large numbers. Information reduces uncertainty—and information is found in complexity and not in randomness. Biological information is passed from mother cell to daughter cell in a number of ways, none of which is enhanced by randomness—random damage to cell structures or DNA molecules are most likely to be just that: damage producing useless structures or molecules.
In any event, Meyer’s article does not question the theory of evolution, but only the means by which such evolution may have been guided. It was subject to and passed the muster of peer review. Dr. Sternberg, the Journal’s editor, acted accordingly and published it. But, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2005 “The Branding of a Heretic: Are religious scientists unwelcome at the Smithsonian?” by David Klinghoffer:[ii]
The scandal at the Smithsonian raises a number of interesting questions. The most obvious being why the scientists of the prestigious Institute did not address Steven Meyers’ article, refute it, present the current theory of evolution, and explain why it is more believable than Intelligent Design. Presumably, they did not because they could not, and therefore had to resort to what the late C.S. Lewis called “Bulverism”--judging the truth of an argument based on the perceived motives of the speaker, rather than on objective facts—trying to determine why he is wrong, before determining that he is wrong:
Perhaps the Evolution crowd recognizes that “the dynamics of the world might tack them to the wall” if they got into an honest discussion of the science issues rather than labeling religious beliefs as “culturally tainted at the source.”
Next arises the question of why the evolution crowd is so vehement. Is there something in it for them—or do they hold to secularism and left wing politics with “religious” zeal; and, if so, why?
The possibility of personal gain is not far fetched. The globalist agenda, backed by the wealthy and powerful, seeks to significantly cut back the world population—something made much more difficult as long as the lower classes cling to ideas like God and family. Abortion, euthanasia, and birth control would be much more palatable to humans who thought of themselves as nothing but an accident in the DNA pool shared by all life on earth. Scientists and others who shape public opinion are (and will be for the foreseeable future) rewarded by global elite—contrarians will be denied any reward, and may, like Dr. Sternberg, be punished.
Then too, there do seem to be evolutionists who speak with the zeal and conviction we associate with religious belief—you can sometimes see the fire lighting up behind their eyes. David Klinghoffer’s idea that the Smithsonian Institute might be operating as a church of an established religion might not be far off.
“Surely, the Führer must not know that such things are happenink or he would....” or in this case the Administration or the Supreme Court:
[iii] Thanks to Glen J Dufek for the CS Lewis quote, calling our attention to “Bulverism,” and the Smithsonian scandal (and the Title X expenditures below).