Science & Human Origins

Evidence for a purely Darwinian account of human origins is supposed to be overwhelming. But is it? In this provocative book, three scientists challenge the claim that undirected natural selection is capable of building a human being, critically assess fossil and genetic evidence that human beings share a common ancestor with apes, and debunk recent claims that the human race could not have started from an original couple.

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Public Education, Religious Establishment, and the Challenge of Intelligent Design

In 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, the United States Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a Louisiana statute (the Balanced-Treatment Act) that required the state’s public schools to teach Creationism if evolution was taught and to teach evolution if Creationism was taught.’ That decision was the culmination of a series of court battles and cultural conflicts that can be traced back to the famous Scopes Trial of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee.2 Although many thought, and continue to think, that Edwards Read More ›

The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution

“There are no weaknesses in the theory of evolution” said Eugenie Scott, the de facto head of the Darwin lobby. She was speaking to the media in response to the Texas State Board of Education’s 2009 vote to require students to learn about both the scientific evidence for and against neo-Darwinian evolution. For those who follow the debate over origins, Dr. Scott’s words are as unsurprising as they are familiar. But is it true that there are “no weaknesses” in evolutionary theory? Are those who express doubts about Darwinism displaying courage, or are they fools that want to take us back to the dark ages and era of the flat Earth? Thankfully, it’s very easy to test these questions: all one must do is examine the technical scientific literature and inquire whether there are legitimate scientific challenges to chemical and biological evolution.

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Even Dilbert Has to Do His Homework

This bonus chapter addresses the Dover Trial of 2005— a time when the idea of Intelligent Design (or ID) was at the center of a media and political frenzy. The glimpse the chapter provides of the intense feelings that ID can generate makes clear why everyone has to do their own homework on controversial issues and make up their own mind.

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Whether Intelligent Design is Science

On December 20, 2005 Judge John Jones issued his opinion in the matter of Kitzmiller, in which I was the lead witness for the defense. There are many statements of the Court scattered throughout the opinion with which I disagree. However, here I will remark only on section E-4, “Whether ID is Science.”

The Court finds that intelligent design (ID) is not science. In its legal analysis, the Court takes what I would call a restricted sociological view of science: “science” is what the consensus of the community of practicing scientists declares it to be. The word “science” belongs to that community and to no one else. Thus, in the Court’s reasoning, since prominent science organizations have declared intelligent design to not be science, it is not science. Although at first blush that may seem reasonable, the restricted sociological view of science risks conflating the presumptions and prejudices of the current group of practitioners with the way physical reality must be understood.

On the other hand, like myself most of the public takes a broader view: “science” is an unrestricted search for the truth about nature based on reasoning from physical evidence. By those lights, intelligent design is indeed science. Thus there is a disconnect between the two views of what “science” is. Although the two views rarely conflict at all, the dissonance grows acute when the topic turns to the most fundamental matters, such as the origins of the universe, life, and mind.

Below I proceed sequentially through section E-4. Statements from the opinion are in italics, followed by my comments.

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