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Kingdom of Priests

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My post from Monday “Slouching Toward Columbine: Darwin’s Tree of Death” continues to get comments, many poignantly indignant expressions of faith in “science”:

What matters is the evidence for evolution and that evidence is massive and extremely powerful. The facts of evolution are the strongest facts of science.

Why poignant? From my own post at Evolution News & Views on James Le Fanu’s new book:

Anyone who raises doubts about evolution in public discussions with non-scientists knows the automatic response you always get from the Three Monkeys crowd. Hands wrapped tightly over eyes, ears, and mouth, they chant: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — about Darwin!

That’s not exactly how it comes out. People will say things more like: But science has spoken! Scientists say! Science wins! Which sounds reasonable at first, until you reflect that it’s a little like a Roman Catholic fending off some challenge to his faith by pointing out that 98 percent of Catholic priests agree with Catholic doctrine, and who knows more about Catholicism than Catholic priests? So it must be true. (Or substitute rabbis and Jewish doctrine, pastors and Protestant belief, etc.) As James Le Fanu smartly notes in his new book Why Us? How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves (Pantheon), there is a similar circularity to the “Scientists say!” case for Darwinian dogma:

“The commitment to Darwin’s materialist explanation of the living world would, in time, become a qualification requirement for all who aspired to pursue a career in biology — where to express doubt (at least publicly) was tantamount to confessing to being of unsound (or at least unscientific) mind.”

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