Evolutionists, Darwinism and Crackpot Theories

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Evolutionists, Darwinism and Crackpot Theories

Unread postby Kai » Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:09 am

Evolutionists, Darwinism and Crackpot Theories

This is another excellent entry from McGrath, and I was spurred to post it after a short little seminar on Tuesday entitled "Thank God for Evolution." The focus of that meeting was explaining that science and religion are not necessarily fundamentally opposed, but that meeting isn't the topic here.

I wanted to share this because one big tactic of people who are more interested in promoting ideology than science is to treat the two approaches as equal. They do this by reducing evolution to an unproven viewpoint like theirs using terms like "Darwinism" or "Evolutionism." Little linguistic tricks to reduce it to an "ism" and not anything based on empirical evidence.

Another tactic is to create controversy where it doesn't exist. Even stating "this is something under debate among scientists" is patently untrue and gives creationism far too much credit. Scientists are actually not ambivalent about evolution, and people who are ambivalent abut evolution (or further, who utterly deny it) are not scientists. As McGrath states, they're crackpots.

<blockquote>Webster's Dictionary defines "crackpot" as "an eccentric person". Eccentric literally means "not having the same center", but more figuratively means deviation from an established norm, usually in one's behavior. I have no interest in discussing which scientists may or may not be crackpots as far as their behavior is concerned. But one that is clear is that it is those who call evolution a "crackpot theory" who are themselves the eccentrics, the crackpots. There is no mistaking it. Evolution is central to the mainstream understanding of biology, genetics, anatomy and paleontology (and one might perhaps add other fields). Young-earth creationism and intelligent design are on the fringe - indeed, it is debatable whether they are even in the same circle, but for now suffice it to say that they do not have the same center.

Of course, some people who have been labelled "crackpots" have had their views vindicated. But let us not make any mistake about how eccentric views move from the periphery to the center. It is always through investigation using the appropriate disciplinary methods.

No one is going to overturn a prevailing scientific theory by getting widespread support from churches or multiplying web pages. If you are reading this and think that the majority of scientists are wrong and you (perhaps together with a small minority) are right, then I congratulate you: you are a crackpot! But let us not assume that you cannot persuade the scientific community. Let me therefore explain to you how to do it: Get relevant degrees, including a PhD, in a relevant scientific discipline. Understand the basic data and relevant approaches used in that scientific field. Do careful scientific research. Scientists who have had unusual and unconventional ideas and have done these things have at times provided evidence for their hypotheses that won the assent of the scientific community. Because that is how science works. It isn't a popularity contest, it isn't about popular opinion, it is about data, and about making the best possible sense of all the relevant data which scientists know in greater detail than anyone else.

So the choice is yours, crackpot! You can do serious scholarship and provide the evidence that can persuade the experts that you are right. Or you can stand on your soapbox like a sore loser and denounce the hard-working scientists and researchers whose hard-won conclusions do not match up your presuppositions. You are free to choose either path. But if you choose the latter, be aware that you will remain a crackpot forever. Because in science, history and other such areas of human knowledge, what determines crackpot status is not your views, but your willingness to subject them to critical analysis and test them against the relevant evidence.</blockquote>

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