From Forbes.com, “The Dangers Of Overselling Evolution” by Philip S. Skell:
I have queried biologists working in areas where one might have thought the Darwinian paradigm could guide research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I learned that evolutionary theory provides no guidance when it comes to choosing the experimental designs. Rather, after the breakthrough discoveries, it is brought in as a narrative gloss.
Skell is writing in response to University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne’s criticism of Forbes, which had the audacity to include views skeptical of evolutionary theory in it’s forum on Chuck Darwin’s birthday. He states,
I don’t think science has anything to fear from a free exchange of ideas between thoughtful proponents of different views. Moreover, there are a number of us in the scientific community who, while we appreciate Darwin’s contributions, think that the rhetorical approach of scientists such as Coyne unnecessarily polarizes public discussions and–even more seriously–overstates both the evidence for Darwin’s theory of historical biology and the benefits of Darwin’s theory to the actual practice of experimental science.
His point has nothing to do with whether or not evolution is true. His point is that it really doesn’t matter; the failure to teach evolution will not have a negative impact on either science or humanity in general. The true practical advancements in biology or any other field of science do not depend on any theory of how any organism got to where it is today:
Yet many popularizers of Darwin’s theory now claim that without the study of ancient biological history, our students will not be prepared to engage in the great variety of modern experimental activities expected of them. The public should view with profound alarm this unnecessary and misguided reintroduction of speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas into the realms of experimental science.
If Skell is correct, then the true impact of evolutionary study is not for any other reason than the theory itself. There’s nothing wrong with that; it is not unlike trying to unravel some mathematical puzzle, or climbing a mountain “because it’s there.” However, it does call into question the push by evolutionary scientists to shout down any challenge to evolutionary theory. There’s hardly any other area of science – aside, perhaps, from global warming – known for its belligerence. Why, then, are evolutionary scientists working so hard to quell any opposition?