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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Is Newsweek's June 27 Dinosaur Feature Based on Science or Science Fiction?

Imagine that instead of dinosaurs a Newsweek feature focused on President Abraham Lincoln and, based on nothing more than one solitary passage written by old Abe to explain why he considered Blacks naturally inferior to Whites, constructed an entire biography of the man?

Based on such thin evidence, we would not be surprised if this hypothetical Newsweek article described a fictional Lincoln who opposed emancipation, refused to lift a finger to prevent the secession of the South and died without completing his first term as a result of stumbling into a low-hanging door beam that cracked his skull.

Lest you think me lost in fantasyland or in the clutches of Jack Daniels, consider that Newsweek reporter Jerry Adler's June 27 portrait of the dinosaurs necessarily is based on just about as much actual physical evidence.

Even Adler alludes to the paucity of concrete evidence to support the suppositions and speculations that make up the conventional wisdom's portrait of the dinosaurs and all that came before and after them. For instance, he calls palentology as a "field in which entire life histories are routinely inferred from a tooth."

That statement alone makes Adler more knowledgeable and intellectually honest than the vast majority of journalists who typically cover the Design versus Evolution debate in our public schools, on college campuses and in the halls of government. Most journalists just assume there are vast vaults of concrete evidence to support the accuracy of familiar vignettes like Adler's opening anecdote about a Hadrosaur lying down to die near a vast inland sea that once dominated North America.

Now I have no claim to any more scientific expertise than that possessed by any other journalist and so I don't claim to know the truth about many of the issues that separate those who believe the design evident in the universe is impossible without a designer from those who contend the material world is eternal and thus uncreated.

I do know this - Newsweek would be laughed out of business if it published a cover feature on Abe Lincoln based on the same amount of hard evidence as is available to support the "science" underlying Adler's dinosaur feature. Is Evolution exempt from the sort of systematic and critical examination as evolutionists in the media and elsewhere claim disqualifieis Design Theory from even being considered?

Journalists are supposed to deal in verified fact. Newsweek's dinosaur cover feature deals extensively in unverified speculation presented as authoritative proof. For those with a mind sufficiently open to consider alternatives based on the available evidence, check out Dr. Brad Harrub's analysis of the Newsweek piece here. His links are well worth pursuing, too.

I don't know that Harrub is right about everything in his case, but I do know with certainty that his opponents are likely to dismiss his case without giving it a serious examination. Every journalist who takes the same attitude ought to be ashamed.

And if your mind is still open after going through Harrub's observations, your next step towards liberation could be giving consideration to this post by mathmetician/philosopher William Dembski on possible explanations for why evolutionists so often come across to him as mere salesmen.