Volume 15, Number 1

An OR Excerpt
A Note to Teachers

In 1989 the first edition of Of Pandas and People was published as a supplementary high school text on biological origins. It was written to identify documented problems with the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution that is presented in most textbooks and to present alternate scientific theories.

A new edition was recently released that features, among other things, an expanded section on "The Scientific Case for Intelligent Design."

The book also features a new "Note to Teachers," written by OR managing editor Mark Hartwig and Whitworth College philosophy professor Stephen Meyer. In their chapter Hartwig and Meyer explain how teachers can use the intelligent design hypothesis to engage students and enhance their learning. The chapter also dispels several common misconceptions about intelligent design.

Orders for the new edition have been shipped to 46 states. The two major city school boards approached thus far have voted unanimously in favor of the book.

Teachers/administrators have declared plans to adopt the book in five Florida counties. Plans are under way in several of these counties to use Pandas as a resource book or in pilot programs as a text for every student. This is also being done in schools in Texas, California, Illinois, South Carolina, Alabama, Idaho and several others.

The new edition has been adopted as a course text for non-science major courses in seven universities, including Southern Methodist University (SMU), and a course taught by the same SMU faculty at Oxford University, although the book has not been advertised on a university level.

The recent response of one public school superintendent was typical of many educators. After reviewing the original edition for possible use, he liked it but still had reservations. Upon examination of the Second Edition, he said all his concerns about the original were now gone. His school has ordered a supply of the books, which they will use this fall.

What follows is a reprint of the chapter by Hartwig and Meyer. If you like what you read, maybe you should consider getting your own copy of Pandas, available through ARN on this web site.

Mark D. Hartwig, Ph. D. and Stephen C. Meyer, Ph. D.

Biological origins can be one of the most captivating subjects in the curriculum. As a biology teacher, you have probably already seen how the topic excites your students. The allure of dinosaurs, trilobites, fossilized plants and ancient human remains is virtually irresistible to many students. Indeed, many prominent scientists owe their interest in science to an early exposure to this topic.

The subject of origins, however, is not only captivating--it is also controversial. Because it touches on questions of enduring significance, this topic has long been a focal point for vigorous debate--legal and political, as well as intellectual. Teachers often find themselves walking a tightrope, trying to teach good science, while avoiding the censure of parents and administrators.

To complicate things, the cultural conflict has been compounded by controversies within the scientific community itself. Since the 1970's, for example, scientific criticisms of the long-dominant neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (which combines classical Darwinism with Mendelian genetics) have surfaced with increasing regularity.1 In fact, the situation is such that paleontologist Niles Eldredge was driven to remark:

If it is true that an influx of doubt and uncertainty actually marks periods of healthy growth in science, then evolutionary biology is flourishing today as it seldom has in the past. For biologists are collectively less agreed upon the details of evolutionary mechanics than they were a scant decade ago.2

Moreover, many scientists have advocated fundamental revisions of orthodox evolutionary theory.3

Similarly, the standard models explaining chemical evolution--the origin of the first living cell--have taken severe criticism.4 These criticisms have sparked calls for a radically different approach to explaining the origin of life on earth.

Though many defenders of the orthodox theories remain, some observers now describe these theories as having entered paradigm breakdown5--a state where a once-dominant theory encounters conceptual problems or can no longer explain many important data. Science historians Earthy and Collingwood, for example, have described neo-Darwinism as a paradigm that has lost its capacity to solve important scientific problems.6 They note that both defenders and critics find it hard to agree even about what data are relevant to deciding scientific disagreements. Putting it more bluntly, in 1980 Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould pronounced the "neo-Darwinian synthesis" to be "effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy."7

In this intellectual and cultural climate, knowing how to teach biological origins can be exceedingly difficult. When respected scientists disagree about which theories are correct, teachers may be forgiven for not knowing which ones to teach.

An Opportunity

Controversy is not all bad, however. For it gives teachers the opportunity to engage their students as a deeper level. Instead of filling young minds with discrete facts and vocabulary lists, teachers can show their students the rough-and-tumble of genuine scientific debate. In this way, students begin to understand how science really works. When they see scientists of equal stature disagreeing over the interpretation of the same data, students learn something about the human dimension of science. They also learn about the distinction between fact and inference--and how background assumptions influence scientific judgment.

It is against this backdrop of challenge and opportunity that the publisher offers this supplementary text, Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins. The purpose of this text is to expose your students to the captivating and the controversial in the origins debate--to take them beyond the pat scenarios offered in most basal texts and encourage them to grapple with ideas in a scientific manner.

Pandas does this in two ways. First, it offers a clear, cogent discussion of the latest data relevant to biological origins. In the process is rectifies many serious errors found in several basal biology texts.

Second, Pandas offers a different interpretation of current biological evidence. As opposed to most textbooks, which present the more-or-less orthodox evolutionary accounts of how life originated and diversified, Pandas also presents a clear alternative, which the authors call "intelligent design." Throughout, the text evaluates how well different views can accommodate anomalous data within their respective interpretive frameworks. Pandas also makes the task of organizing your lessons and researching the scientific issues much easier. Pandas provides the scientific information you need in such a way that it coordinates well with your basal text.

In the spirit of good, honest science, Pandas makes no bones about being a text with a point of view. Because it was intended to be a supplemental text, the authors saw no value in simply rehashing the orthodox accounts covered by basal textbooks. Rather, its presentation of a non-Darwinian perspective, in addition to the standard view, is intended to stimulate discussion and encourage students to evaluate the explanatory power of different theories--which, after all, is what science is all about.

By using this text in conjunction with your standard basal text, you will help your students learn to grapple with multiple competing hypotheses and to maintain an open but critical posture toward scientific knowledge. As students learn to weigh and sort competing views and become active participants in the clash of ideas, you may be surprised at the level of motivation and achievement displayed by your students.

The Status of Evolution as a Fact

Despite the great value of presenting opposing viewpoints, the popular debate over origins has fostered several misconceptions about evolution, design and science itself. To get the most benefit from this supplement, teachers should understand these misconceptions and be prepared to face them in an open and fair-minded manner when they arise.

One misconception concerns the status of evolution as a fact. In the origins debate it is common to hear the assertion that evolution is not merely a theory but an indisputable fact.8 Educators who take this view argue that it is futile and misleading to present non-Darwinian views as serious alternatives to Darwinian evolution.

The factual status of evolution, however, depends critically on what the word "evolution" means. Yale biologist Keith Stewart Thomson points out that scientists have used the term in at least three different ways.9

The first meaning he identifies is "change over time." In this sense, to say that evolution has taken place is to say that change has occurred and that things are different now from what they were in the past. The fossil evidence, for example, reveals different organisms from one geological period to the next.

When the word is used in this sense, it is hard to disagree that "evolution" is a fact. The authors of this volume certainly have no dispute with that notion. Pandas clearly teaches that life has a history and that the kinds of organisms present on earth have changed over time.

The second meaning that Thomson identifies is descent with modification--the idea that all organisms are "related by common ancestry."10 Evolution in this sense is a theory about the history of life. In Darwin's view, that history can best be depicted as a single branching tree--a genealogical tree--in which life diversifies over time.

Many people assert that evolution in this second sense is a fact, just as gravity is a fact. But the two situations are hardly analogous. The fact of gravity can be verified simply by dropping a pencil--an experiment anyone can perform. Common ancestry, however, cannot be directly verified by such an experiment. We can no more "see evolution in the fossil record than paleontologists of Darwin's day could "see" creation events. The best we can do is infer what might have happened in the past by piecing together circumstantial evidence from many different fields.

Darwin, for example, sought to establish common descent by examining evidence from several different areas: paleontology, biogeography, comparative anatomy and embryology. Others have relied additionally on evidence from genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry.

The problem with this kind of historical detective work, however, is that it seldom produces a conclusion that forecloses other alternatives. As philosopher of biology Elliot Sober points out, there may be any number of plausible explanations--or "past histories"--that can account for the same evidence.11 Sober's observation recalls the insightful warning of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. "Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing!" said Holmes. "It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something different."12

The point is, unless we can eliminate all competing explanations,, it's presumptuous to call descent with modification a fact. As most people understand the term, a fact "is supposed to be distinguished from transient theories as something definite, permanent and independent of any subjective interpretation by the scientist."13 By this definition, descent with modification simply doesn't warrant the status of a fact. Far from compelling a single conclusion, the evidence may legitimately be interpreted in different ways, leading to several possible conclusions. None of those conclusions warrants the status of "fact." As zoologist Thomas Kemp warns:

All attempts to understand the diversity of organisms rely upon empirically untestable assumptions either about evolution or about natural patterns. There is nothing wrong with making assumptions or seeking to justify them, of course. It is the very stuff of science. What is unforgivable is to forget that they are assumptions and behave as if they were known certainties when they are no such things.14

Indeed, calling common descent a fact only closes off debate and blurs the distinction between fact and inference. That, in turn, makes us particularly vulnerable to the illusion that we know more than we really do. In the preface to his best selling volume, The Discoverers, Daniel Boorstin tells the reader:

The obstacles of discovery--the illusions of knowledge--are also part of our story. Only against the forgotten backdrop of the received common sense and myths of their time can we begin to sense the courage, the rashness, the heroic and imaginative thrusts of the great discoverers. They had to battle against the current "facts" and dogmas of the learned.15

This is precisely why a book that questions the Darwinian notion of common descent is so necessary. By presenting a reasonable alternative to evolution in the second sense (i.e., common ancestry), Pandas helps students learn to work with multiple perspectives from facts and to guard themselves again the illusion of knowledge.

The final meaning of evolution that Thomson identifies concerns the mechanism of biological change-- the particular explanation of how evolution in the first two senses occurred. Here the term "evolution" refers to random variation and natural selection. In Thomson's words:

Although many biologists act as though [the mechanism] were the whole meaning of evolution, it obviously is not. The first and second meanings could be explained by several different theories, and both had a serious intellectual history before 1859, while the third meaning is currently confined to a particular explanatory hypothesis, Darwinism.16

Evolution in this third sense asserts that the cause of mechanism of biological change is purposeless, non-intelligent and completely naturalistic.17 Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins defended this view in his best-selling book, The Blind Watchmaker.18 Like Darwin himself, Dawkins acknowledges that biological organisms appear to exhibit remarkable design. Yet both men claim that this appearance is an illusion, produced entirely by random variation and natural selection. Blind nature mimics intelligent design.

This "blind watchmaker" thesis is often touted as a fact, but it is not. For one thing, Darwinists have never demonstrated empirically that natural processes can create the complex structure that characterize living organisms. Like common descent, the blind watchmaker thesis is based on indirect evidence. It accounts for hypothetical transformations by extrapolating small observed changes over immense periods of time. Thus, the blind watchmaker thesis is not a fact, but an inference.19

What's more, the blind watchmaker thesis--at least in its neo-Darwinian form--may not be a warranted inference. As we mentioned at the beginning of this essay, neo-Darwinism has come under growing attack from scientists and philosophers alike. Scientists have increasingly questioned the ability of mutation and natural selection to generate new organs, limbs of body plans.20 A host of other problems have led biologists Mae-Wan Ho and Peter Saunders to say:

Until only a few years ago, the 'synthetic' or 'neo-Darwinist' theory of evolution stood virtually unchallenged as the basis of our understanding of the organic world ... Today, however, the picture is entirely different. More and more workers are showing signs of dissatisfaction with the synthetic theory. Some are attacking its philosophical foundations ... Others have deliberately set out to work in just those areas in which neo-Darwinism is least comfortable, like the problem of gaps in the fossil record or the mechanisms of non-Mendelian inheritance ... Perhaps most significantly of all, there is now appearing a stream of articles and books defending the synthetic theory. It is not so long ago that hardly anyone thought this was necessary.21

Pandas gives students a much-needed opportunity to explore the evidence and arguments that have caused some scientists to doubt contemporary Darwinism. It examines evidence from such fields as biochemistry, genetics and paleontology--evidence that casts doubt on the sufficiency of purposeless processes to explain the appearance of new biological forms.

Going a step further, Pandas helps students understand the positive case for intelligent design. Following a growing number of scientists and philosophers, the authors argue that life not only appears to have been intelligently designed, but that it actually was. Drawing on recent developments in molecular biology, the authors show that even simple organisms bear all the earmarks of designed systems.

The authors will also discuss what scientists have learned by applying mathematics and information science to biology. The disciplines suggest the possibility of distinguishing natural systems from intelligently designed ones--and have led some scientists to conclude that the "coded genetic information" (or sequence specificity) of DNA, proteins and the like, reflects the activity of a pre-existent intelligence.22 While that conclusion is still controversial, a growing minority of scientists see it as a plausible alternative to the blind watchmaker thesis.23

By presenting the case for intelligent design the authors demonstrate that there are indeed alternatives to the blind watchmaker thesis--and that evolution as a purposeless process is neither an indisputable fact nor the only inference supported by biological data.

In sum, then, only in the most trivial sense--change over time--can evolution be considered a fact. Far from being a legitimate reason for avoiding alternative views, the alleged "fact of evolution" underscores precisely why a book like Pandas is so necessary. If students are to achieve true scientific literacy, they must learn to distinguish fact from supposition. A curriculum that blurs this distinction serves neither the students nor society.

Science and the Laws of Nature

A second misconception revolves around the question of what makes a concept or explanation "scientific." In particular, some scientists and philosophers assert that the concept of intelligent design in inherently unscientific. According to this view, science must explain things by using natural laws--not by invoking an act of God or some other intelligent agent. Thus, we no longer explain the orbit of a planet by saying that an angel pushes it through the heavens. We explain it with Newton's law of universal gravitation.

In the same way, design is ruled out-of-court because it invokes an intelligent agent rather than natural laws. Philosopher of science Michael Ruse, for example, has said:

Science attempts to understand this world. What is the basis for this understanding? Surveying science and the history of science today, one thing stands out: Science involves the search for order. More specifically, science looks for unbroken, blind, natural regularities (laws). Things in the world do not happen in just any old way. They follow set paths, and science tries to capture this fact.24

There are serious problems with this view, however. One problem is that it ignores areas of scientific investigation where intelligent design is a necessary explanatory concept. The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is one example. At the time of this writing, radio telescopes are scanning the heavens, looking for artificial radio signals that differ from the random signals generated by natural objects in space. If we were to limit science to the search for "unbroken, blind, natural regularities (laws)," we would have to say that SETI is unscientific--by definition.

Archaeology would meet the same fate. Archaeologists routinely distinguish manufactured objects (e.g., arrowheads, potsherds) from natural ones (e.g., stones), even when the differences between them are very subtle. These manufactured objects then become important clues in reconstructing past ways of life. But if we arbitrarily assert that science explains solely by reference to natural laws, if archaeologists are prohibited from invoking an intelligent manufacturer, the whole archeological enterprise comes to a grinding halt.

A second problem with limiting science to blind, natural regularities is that it confuses laws with explanations--an error that philosopher of science William Alston calls "a 'category mistake' of the most flagrant sort."25 Laws and explanations are often two different things.

Scientific explanations often invoke not only laws but causal events and actions. For example, consider the field of modern cosmology. Most cosmologists explain the features of our universe not only by reference to the laws of physics, but by reference to a single event: the Big Bang. The Big Bang explains why galaxies throughout the universe seem to be receding from each other. It also explains the presence of low-level radiation that seems to permeate space.26 These phenomena cannot be explained solely by reference to physical laws or natural regularities. Rather, the critical explanatory feature of (Big Bang) is a one-time event that established the conditions responsible for the phenomena that we now witness.

Moreover, sometimes it seems that scientific laws are hardly relevant to our explanations at all--such as when we try to explain why things turned out one way rather than another. For instance, Newton's law of universal gravitation may tell us why the earth has a Newtonian orbit rather than a non-Newtonian one. But it doesn't explain why the earth follows its present orbit, instead of some other orbit that is equally compatible with Newton's law. That kind of explanation requires something else--namely, information about how the earth attained its present position and velocity.27

A similar example can be drawn from the field of historical geology. If a historical geologist wanted to explain the unusual height of the Himalayas, invoking natural laws would be of little use. Natural laws alone cannot tell us why the Himalayas are higher than, say the Rocky Mountains. That would require discovering antecedent factors that were present in building the Himalayas but not in other mountain-building episodes.

Thus, scientific explanation not only involves laws but may also involve past causal events. If scientists could never invoke past events and causes, they could never explain many important phenomena.

Why is this important? Because ignoring the role of causal events in scientific explanation has created a false dichotomy between agency--or intelligent design--and the laws of nature. The fact that scientific explanations may invoke laws doesn't mean that agency is somehow ruled out. Rather, intelligent agents can alter causal events and introduce other contributing factors. Although intervention may alter the course of subsequent events--sometimes in novel and unexpected ways--it does not violate natural laws.

Indeed, the actions of intelligent agents are themselves causal events. Therefore, citing the action of agents may be necessary to explain many present phenomena. Imagine trying to explain Mt. Rushmore without reference to sculptors. Law-like explanations involving only natural processes would completely miss the critical explanatory factor. That is why archaeologists, forensic scientists and historians often find it impossible to avoid postulating intelligent agency.

The notion that science explains solely by reference to natural laws suffers from yet a third problem. In addition to confusing laws with explanations, it assumes a cookie-cutter view of science, in which all disciplines ask similar questions and use the same "scientific method." This belies the rich diversity of methods that scientists use to understand the natural world.

Several philosophers, for instance, have argued that a clear distinction exists between the "inductive sciences" and the "historical sciences."28 These two broad categories ask different kinds of questions and use different kinds of methods. The inductive (or nomological) sciences, on the one hand, ask questions about how the natural world generally operates. Hence, a virologist may try to discover how a particular enzyme helps a virus infect its host. Or a crystallographer may try to determine the effects of weightlessness on crystal growth. In each case, scientists seek to uncover the regularities that characterize natural phenomena.

The historical sciences, on the other hand, ask different kinds of questions. Rather than trying to understand how the natural world operates, the historical sciences seek to understand how things came to be. One example, of course, would be the historical geologist who was seeking to explain the unusual elevation of the Himalayas. Another would be an evolutionary biologist seeking to explain the origin of giraffes. Still another would be the archaeologist seeking to reconstruct an ancient culture. Note that in each case the goal is not to find new laws or regularities but to reconstruct past conditions and events.

The importance of this distinction to our present discussion is that although postulating intelligent intervention is completely inappropriate in the inductive sciences, the same is not true in the historical sciences. In the inductive sciences the whole point is to discover how the natural world normally operates on its own, i.e., in the absence of intelligent intervention. Postulating an intelligent agent would thus contradict the implicit goal of research in the inductive sciences.

In the historical sciences, however, the goal is to reconstruct past events and conditions. Thus, there is no need to impose such restrictions. Quite the reverse. As we have seen, the explanation of certain artifacts or features may require reference to intelligence. Intelligent agents may have left traces of their activity in the natural world. The historical scientist need not turn a blind eye to them.

Hence, when investigating the origin of the living world, it may be perfectly acceptable--depending on the evidence--to hypothesize an intelligent designer.


A third misunderstanding concerns the scientific status of unobservable objects and events. Some philosophers and scientists claim that intelligent design is not scientific because it invokes an unobservable intelligent designer. To be scientific, they claim, a concept or idea must be testable. Because an intelligent designer is unobservable, theories of intelligent design are not testable--and hence not scientific.

It is by no means clear, however, that something is untestable--and hence unscientific--simply because it is unobservable. If this were the case, many accepted theories and concepts would have to be declared unscientific as well. Chemist J.C. Walton observes:

The postulation of ... external intervention (into nature by a designer) undoubtedly restores order, harmony and simplification to the data of physics and biology. (Yet) at present there is no unambiguous evidence ... for the existence of the external entity, but this should not be regarded as a drawback.

Many key scientific postulates such as atomic theory, kinetic theory of the applicability of wave functions to describing molecular properties were, and still are, equally conjectural. Their acceptance depended, and still depends, on the comparison of their predictions with observables.29

Also falling in this category are almost all theories in the historical sciences--theories that postulate conditions and events that occurred in the unobservable past. The Big Bang is one such theory.

Another, ironically, is neo-Darwinism. Although neo-Darwinism explains many observable features in the living world, it postulates unobservable objects and events. For example, the mutational events that allegedly produced reptiles, birds, mammals and even humans have never been observed--nor will they ever be observed. Similarly, the transitional life forms that occupy the branching-points on Darwin's tree of life are also unobservable. Transitional forms exist now only as theoretical entities that make possible a coherent Darwinian account of how present-day species originated.

The unobservable character of Darwinism becomes especially plain when proponents try to reconcile the fossil evidence with their theory. As paleontologists now admit, the fossil evidence looks a great deal less "Darwinian" than they had previously acknowledged.30 Indeed, as Harvard paleontologist Stephen Gould points out, the two outstanding features of the fossil record are "sudden appearance" and "stasis." At any given location species tend to appear "suddenly," fully formed, and exhibit no directional change during their stay on earth.31

The standard neo-Darwinian explanation for these features is the imperfection of the fossil record; because fossilization occurs only under special circumstances, fossils give us only a rough sketch of evolutionary history. More recently, some have proposed that evolutionary change occurs rapidly and in small, isolated populations of organisms. Both explanations, however, invoke unobserved circumstances to explain unobserved fossil organisms. How can one observe a non-fossilization event that happened 100 million years ago?

Darwin himself realized that much of the evidence for his theory was indirect. Indeed, he spent long hours defending his practice of inferring the unobservable from the observable.

I am actually weary of telling people that I do not pretend to adduce direct evidence of one species changing into another, but that I believe that this view in the main is correct because so many phenomena can be thus grouped and explained.32

If we accepted the principle that unobservable entities are inadmissible in science, we would have to reject not only Darwin's theory but his entire approach to scientific investigation.33

To be fair, some opponents of intelligent design would argue that the real problem is not unobservability but flexibility. The concept of an Intelligent Designer is simply too much of a "wild card;" it can explain anything. Put another way, the concept of an Intelligent Designer cannot be falsified.

Intelligent design is not unique in its flexibility, however. We have already seen how Darwinists handle the problem of the fossil record; they account for unobserved fossil forms by invoking unobserved geological processes. Indeed, the history of science shows that scientists have often offered ad hoc explanations to save a cherished theory. This problem is particularly pronounced in the historical sciences, where investigators must draw conclusions from incomplete or sketchy evidence.

Nevertheless, intelligent design is not so flexible that it cannot be falsified. The concept of intelligent design entails a strong prediction that is readily falsifiable.34 In particular, the concept of intelligent design predicts that complex information, such as that encoded in a functioning genome, never arises from purely chemical or physical antecedents. Experience will show that only intelligent agency gives rise to functional information. All that is necessary to falsify the hypothesis of intelligent design is to show confirmed instances of purely physical or chemical antecedents producing such information.

Religion and Intelligent Design

A final misconception you may encounter is that intelligent design is simply a sectarian religion. According to this view, intelligent design is merely fundamentalism with anew twist; teaching it in public schools allegedly violates the separation of church and state.

This view is wide of the mark. The idea that life had an intelligent source is hardly unique to Christian fundamentalism. Advocates of design have included not only Christians and other religious theists, but pantheists, Greek and Enlightenment philosophers and now included many modern scientists who describe themselves as religious agnostic.35 Moreover, the concept of design implies absolutely nothing about beliefs normally associated with Christian fundamentalism, such as young earth, a global flood or even the existence of a Christian God. All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.

In any case, sectarianism is more a matter of form than content.36 It is marked by a certain narrowness and exclusivity that entertains no debate and tolerates no opposing viewpoints. Given the broad appeal of intelligent design (even Richard Dawkins, a staunch Darwinist and author of the Blind Watchmaker, acknowledges "the appearance of design" in the living world),37 it is perhaps more accurate to conclude that the real sectarians are those who vilify design as "fundamentalist religion." Such name-calling is merely another way to avoid debate and keep the real issues out of view.38

Even if the design hypothesis were religious, however, criticizing it on that basis begs the question of whether it is scientifically warranted. In science, the origin of an idea is supposed to be irrelevant to its validity. What matters is not the source but whether the idea is logically consistent and empirically supportable. If it is, what justification is there for excluding it from the classroom?

In its landmark ruling on the Louisiana Balanced Treatment Act, the United States Supreme Court did not try to shield the classroom from dissenting viewpoints. Indeed, it affirmed that teachers already had the flexibility to teach non-evolutionary views and present scientific evidence bearing on the question of origins:

The Act does not grant teachers a flexibility that they did not already possess to supplant the present science curriculum with the presentation of theories besides evolution, about the origin of life. Indeed, the Court of Appeals found that no law prohibited Louisiana public schoolteachers fro teaching any scientific theory.39

Neither did the Supreme Court choose to limit that flexibility:

Teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.40

This is not only consistent with good science, it is consistent with the highest ideals of a democratic society. As John Scopes, who was tried in the 1920s for teaching evolution, said at his own trial, "Education, you know, means broadening, advancing, and if you limit a teacher to only one side of anything the whole country will eventually have only one thought, be one individual. I believe in teaching every aspect of every problem or theory."41


1. Brady, R.H. (1982). Dogma and Doubt, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 17: 79-96. Collingridge, D. & Earthy, M. (1990). Science under Stress: Crisis in Neo-Darwinism. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 12: 3-26. de Beer, G. (1971). Homology: An Unsolved Problem. London: Oxford University Press. Denton, M. (1986). Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. London: Adler and Adler. Grasse, P.P., (1977) Evolution of Living Organisms. New York: Academic Press. Ho, Wing Meng (1965). Methodological Issues in Evolutionary Theory. Doctoral dissertation, Oxford University. Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, S. (1981). Evolution from Space. London: J.M. Dent. Johnson, P., (1991) Darwin on Trial. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway. Lovtrup, S. (1987). Darwinism: The Refutation of Myth. Beckingham, Kent: Croom Helm Ltd. Raup, D. (1979). Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology. Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin. 50 (1). Lewin, R. (1980). Evolutionary Theory under Fire, Science 210: 883. Lewin, Roger, (1988). Science 241: 291. Lewin, R. (1987). Bones of Contention. New York: Simon and Schuster. Mann, C. (1991). Lynn Margulis: Science's Unruly Earth Mother. Science 252: 378-381, esp.379. Moorhead, P.S. & Kaplan, M.M., (1967). Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution. Philadelphia: Wistar Institute Press. See especially papers and coments from M. Eden, M. Schutzenberger, S. M. Ulam and P. Gavaudan. Saunders, P.T. & Ho, M.W. (1982). "Is Neo-Darwinism Falsifiable?--And Does it Matter?" Nature and System 4: 179-191. Tetry, A. (1996). A General History of the Sciences, Volume 4. London: Thames and Hudson. (See section on evolution, esp. p.466.) Webster, G. (1984). Beyond New Darwinism. London: Academic Press. Gould, S.J. (1980). "Is a New Theory of Evolution Emerging?" Paleobiology 6: 119-130. return to text

2. Eldredge, N. (1985). Time Frames: The Evolution of Punctuated Equilibria. Princeton: Princeton University Press, p.14. return to text

3. Gould, S. J. (1980). "Is a New Theory of Evolution Emerging?" Paleobiology 6: 119-130. return to text

4. Bradley, W. (1988). "Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life," Perspectives, 40(2): 72-83. Dose, K. (1988). "The Origin of Life: More Questions Than Answers," Interdiscipl. Sci. Rev. 13:348-356. Kok, R.A., Taylor, J.A., and Bradley, W.L. (1988). "A Statistical Examination of Self-Ordering of Amino Acids in Proteins." Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere 18: 135-42. Mora, P.T. (1963). "Urge and Molecular Biology." Nature 199:212-19. Mora, P.T. (1965). " The Folly of Probability." In S.W. Fox (ed.) The Origins of Prebiological Systems and of Their Molecular Matrices, pp. 39-64, 310-15. New York. Moore, J.N. (1978). "Paleontological Evidence and the Organic Evolution," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation Special Edition on Evolution. Morowitz, H.J. (1966). The Minimum Size of the Cell. In Wostenholme, O.Connor and Churchhill (eds), Principles of Biomolecular Organisation, pp. 446-59. London. Morowitz, H.J. (1968). Energy Flow in Biology. New York. Pattee, H.H., (1970) "The Problem of Biological Hierarchy." In C.H. Waddington (ed.) Towards a Theoretical Biology 3: 117-36. Edinburgh. Scott, A. (1986). The Creation of Life. Oxford. Shapiro, R. (1986). Origins. London. Smith, J. Maynard (1979). "Hypercycles and the Origin of Life." Nature 280: 445-46. Margulis, L., Walker, J.C. and Rambler, M. (1976). "Reassessment of Roles of Oxygen and Ultraviolet Light in Precambrian Evolution." Nature 264: 620-24. Miller, S. and Bada, J. (1988). "Submarine Hotsprings and the Origin of Life." Nature 334:609-10. Thaxton, C., Bradley, W. and Olsen, R. (1984). The Mystery of Life's Origin. Dallas: Lewis and Stanley. Walton J.C. (1977). "Organization and the Origin of Life." Origins, 4:16-35. Wigner, E. (1961). "The Probability of the Existence of a Self-Replicating Unit." In The Logic of Personal Knowledge, pp. 231ff. Essays presented to Michael Polanyi. London. Yockey, H.P. (1977). "A Calculation of the Probability of Spontaneous Biogenesis by Information Theory." J. Theor. Biol. 67: 377-98. Yockey, H.P. (1981). "Self Organization Origin of Life Scenarios and Information Theory." J. Theor. Biol. 91: 13-31. return to text

5. Collingridge, D. and Earthy, M. (1990). "Science Under Stress: Crisis in Neo-Darwinism," History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 12:3-26. See Quotation from Carl Woese in Shapiro, R. (1986) p. 114. Dose, K. (1988) 348. return to text

6. Collingridge, D. and Earthy, M. (1990). "Science Under Stress: Crisis in Neo-Darwinism," History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 12:3-26. return to text

7. Gould, S.J. (1980). "Is a New Theory of Evolution Emerging?" return to text

8. See for example the 1990 California Science Framework, published by the California Department of Education. See also Ruse, M. (1982). Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversy. London: Addison-Wesley, p.58. return to text

9. Thomson, K.S. (1982). "Marginalia: The Meanings of Evolution." American Scientist, 70:529-531. return to text

10. Ibid. return to text

11. Sober, E. (1988), Reconstructing the Past. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 4-5. See also Campbell, D.T., and Stanley, J.C. (1963). Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research. New York: Houghton Mifflin. return to text

12. Doyle, Sir A.C. The Boscome Valley Mystery. Quoted in Capretti, G.P. (1983). Pierce, Homes, Popper. In U. Eco & T. Sebok (eds.), The Sign of Three, Bloomington, p. 145. return to text

13. Fleck, L. (1979). Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Trans. by Thomas Merton. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. xxvii. Actually, Fleck argues that there is really no such thing as a "fact" in this sense. All "facts" involve a certain amount of subjective interpretation. If this is so, it strengthens the case against the "fact" of evolution (in the sense of common descent). Nevertheless, we still believe that the fact/inference distinction is a useful one, underscoring as it does the difference between ideas in which we have great confidence and those that seem less sure. return to text

14. Kemp, T. (1985). Models of Diversity and Phylogenetic Reconstruction. In Oxford Surveys of Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 2 (R. Dawkins & M. Ridley, eds.), 153. return to text

15. Boorstin, D.J. (1985). The Discoverers. New York: Vintage Books, p. xv. return to text

16. Thomson, 1982, p. 531. return to text

17. Thomson, 1982, pp. 530-31. return to text

18. Dawkins, R. (1986). The Blind Watchmaker. London: Longman. return to text

19. See for example Ridley (1985), pp. 3-8. return to text

20. J. Webster and B. Goodwin, 1982, Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 5, 15-47; D.B. Wake and G. Roth, eds. 1989. Complex Organismal Functions. New York: John Wiley; K. Padian, 1989. Paleobiology1, 73-78; R.A. Raff and E.C. Raff, eds. 1987. Development as an Evolutionary Process. New York, Alan R. Liss, p. 8, S. Kaufman, 1985. Cladistics 1, 247-265; K.S. Thomson, 1988. Morpho Genesis and Evolution. New York: Oxford University Press; M.W. Ho and P.T. Saunders, 1979. J. Theoret. Biol. 78, 573-591; B. John and G. Miklos, 1988, The Eukaryote Genome in Development. London: Allen & Unwin. return to text

21.Ho, M.W., & Saunders, P.T. (Eds.) (1984). Beyond Neo-Darwinism. London: Academic Press, p.ix. return to text

22. See especially Thaxton, et. al, (1984); Ambrose, E.J. (1982). The Nature and Origin of the Biological World. New York: Wiley; Denton (1986); Walton (1977). return to text

23. See, for example, W.H. Thorpe (1978). Purpose in a World of Chance: A Biologist's View. New York: Oxford University Press. Hoyle, F. (1983). The Intelligent Universe. New York: Holt, Reinhart & Winston. Kuznetsov, D.A. (1989). "Invitro Studies of Interaction between Frequent and Unique MNRAs and Cytoplasmic Factors from Brain Tissue of Wild Timber Wolves of Northern Euroasia," Clethrionomys Glareolus, Clethrionomys Frater and Clethrionomys Gapperi: A New Criticism to a Modern Molecular-Genetic Concept of Biological Evolution, International Journal of Neuroscience, 49: 43-59. Yockey, H. (1989). The Mathematical Foundations of Molecular Biology. New York: Cambridge University Press. Thaxton, C., Bradley, W. and Olsen, R. (1984). The Mystery of Life's Origin. Dallas: Lewis and Stanley. Ambrose, E.J. (1982). The Nature and Origin of the Biological World. New York: Halsted Press. Bolin, R. and Lester, L. (1984). The Natural Limits to Biological Change. return to text

24. Ruse, M. (1982). Creation Science is Not Science. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 7 (40): 72-73. return to text

25. Alston, W. P. (1971). "The Place of the Explanation of Particular Facts in Science." Philosophy of Science, 38: 13-34. return to text

26. For a readable and engaging discussion of the Big Bang, and the controversy this concept engendered, see Jastrow, R. (1978). God and Astronomers. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. return to text

27. See Lipton, P. (1991). Inference to the Best Explanation. London: Routledge. See page 52. return to text

28. Philosophers have adopted many different means to distinguish between these two kinds of science. They have adopted the terms "inductive science" and "historical science" because they seem less cumbersome than some of the other terms we could have used. For a fuller discussion of the distinction between these two classes of science, see Mayer, S. (1990). Of Clues and Causes: A Methodological Interpretation of Origin of Life Studies. Doctoral dissertation, University of Cambridge. return to text

29. Walton, J.C. (1977). return to text

30. "So, here's a bit of a dilemma. When we finally find some evolutionary change, however slight it may seem, the "typostrophic" sort of affair the Phacops rana lineage seems to show in the Midwest poses a choice between two unappetizing alternatives: either you stick to conventional theory despite a rather poor fit of the fossils, or you focus on the empirics and say that saltation looks like a reasonable model of the evolutionary process--in which case you must embrace a set of rather dubious biological propositions. Paleontologists are rather well known for taking that latter course--adopting ad hoc, outmoded and sometimes downright mystical ideas about biological processes just because they fancy these ideas fit what they think they see in the fossil record. I had every desire to avoid that well-trodden path. Besides, I was (and remain) too much of a conventional neo-Darwinian ever to subscribe to the saltationist heresy." From Eldredge, 1985, p. 75. return to text

31. Gould, S.J., (1979). "Evolution's Erratic Pace." Natural History, 86(5). return to text

32. F. Darwin, 1903. More Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. 1, New York: Appleton, p. 184. return to text

33. This is exactly what Darwin's critics did. Many of them rejected his theory precisely because it was based on "non-scientific" reasoning. The Darwinian revolution was at least partly a revolution in what people considered to be "scientific." See N. Gillespie, 1979. Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; and D. Hull, 1973. Darwin and His Critics. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. return to text

34. This kind of prediction is called a proscriptive generalization. Proscriptive generalizations make strong statements about what will not happen if a scientifc theory is true. They describe phenomena that the theory proscribes. Thus, the laws of thermodynamics predict that we will never witness any instance of perpetual motion. That's a proscriptive generalization. Because proscriptive generalizations make such strong statements, they are readily falsifiable. return to text

35. M. Denton, 1986. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Bethesda, MD. Adler and Adler; J.D. Barrow and F.J. Tipler, 1986. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Oxford Clarnedon. return to text

36. J.D. Hunter, 1992. Origins Research 14, 1-14. See also J.D. Hunter, 1991. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Basic Books. return to text

37. "Natural selection is the blind watchmaker, blind because it does not see ahead, does not plan consequences, has no purpose in view. Yet the living results of natural selection ovewhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design, as if by a master watchmaker, with the illusion of design and planning. The purpose of this book is to resolve this paradox to the satisfaction of the reader, and the purpose of this chapter is further impress the reader with the power of the illusion of design. We shall look at a particular example and shall conclude that when it comes to complexity and beauty of design, Paley hardly even began to state the case." from R. Dawkins, 1986. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: W.W. Norton. return to text

38. For a good discussion of this exclusivism, see P.E. Johnson, 1991. Darwin on Trial. Washington D.C.: 1987. return to text

39. Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. (June 19, 1987). return to text

40. Edwards V. Aguillard, p. 14. return to text

41. Cited in P. Davis, and E. Solomon, 1973. The World of Biology. New York: McGraw Hill, p. 610. return to text

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