It’s a Theory That’s Out There

Darwin Facepalm.

In an op-ed in the ‘On Faith’ section of WaPo, Richard Dawkins lays into Rick Perry and every other politician who uses their ignorance of facts as a tool to court the scared and uneducated Republican base.

Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well.

And this:

Darwin’s idea is arguably the most powerful ever to occur to a human mind. The power of a scientific theory may be measured as a ratio: the number of facts that it explains divided by the number of assumptions it needs to postulate in order to do the explaining. A theory that assumes most of what it is trying to explain is a bad theory. That is why the creationist or ‘intelligent design’ theory is such a rotten theory.

I love that he focuses on the elegant simplicity of Darwin’s theory (using the word theory correctly, of course) and how implausible and complex intelligent design actually is.  I tend to think people who accept intelligent design as possible have switched these distinction in their minds – they think evolution requires complexity where God is simple.  He isn’t, but his followers are.

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