Science by Decree

I've never known truth to be settled by a vote. But at San Francisco State University, the question of scientific truth was recently put to a vote. With a flourish of "whereases," the biology department voted 27 to 5 that naturalistic evolution is the only theory admissible in biology—and that reference to an intelligent cause at the origin of life is strictly unscientific. What a caricature of real science. With this resolution, quips science writer Paul Nelson, we have witnessed nothing less than the birth of a new method in science. Why run costly experiments? To do science today, all we need is a pen and a sheet of paper. Bring out the ballot box! The farce began when a prominent biologist named Dean Kenyon was called on the carpet for letting his introductory students in on biology's trade secret: that the standard Darwinian model of evolution is riddled with problems. Kenyon himself was once a True Believer in evolution, and even co-authored a best-selling advanced textbook on the theory that life originated from a soup of chemicals. But over the years Kenyon detected weaknesses in the theory. Experiments designed to simulate the origin of life have yielded discouraging results: mostly a tarry sludge with only traces of the simple building blocks of life, such as amino acids. When it comes to more complex molecules such as protein or DNA, no experiment gives the slightest evidence that they can form spontaneously under realistic natural conditions. And speaking of DNA, it has raised a host of additional problems for evolutionary theory. The existence of DNA means that the core of life is a code, a message—analogous to a book or a computer program. Where did the message come from? There are no natural causes known to science that can create messages. The messages you and I read come from the hand of intelligent beings—from book authors and computer programmers. The existence of the DNA code is powerful evidence that life itself came from the hand of an intelligent Being. These are the ideas Dean Kenyon was teaching his biology students—not religion per se, just the scientific evidence. But his colleagues at San Francisco State were unimpressed. They accused him of teaching religion and yanked him out of his classes. Fortunately, the action was protested by the university's Academic Freedom Committee and other professional groups. Yielding to pressure, the university reinstated Dr. Kenyon. But now the faculty is trying to muzzle him by decree—by voting his ideas unscientific. Well, if anything qualifies as unscientific, it is putting theories to a vote. The textbooks tell us science relies on evidence from experiments, not on pronouncements by authorities. Dean Kenyon is like a modern Galileo, and the secular faculty members are like the church officials who refused to look through Galileo's telescope. So when you read yet another book or see another science program on television promoting evolution as biological truth, remember how "truth" is established in science. It may not always be as blatant as a vote, but the general pattern is often the same: Anyone who disagrees is simply muzzled.


Chuck Colson


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