I used to have a great deal of respect for John McCain, but he seems to be lurching ever more heavily to the right these days; and now giving the keynote speech for the Discovery Institute? Why, John, why?
Scientifically, there is nothing at all questionable about evolution. To be sure, there are some scientists who quibble over how some taxonomies evolve, or how specific anatomical features showed up, or why some species have features that seem to serve no purpose; but this isn’t the same as questioning whether evolution actually happened. Most scientists, even the ones who quibble over specifics and mechanics, accept evolution as having actually happened.
I have heard some scientists who question the entire process of evolution, but these have, without exception, been scientists who do not work in the fields where evolution would be relevant. A geologist doesn’t really have much to say about organism evolution, and people who think he does are committing the fallacy of false authority. It’s like a bicycle mechanic who denies the existence of internal combustion engines. He has no authority over the issue.
The debate between evolution and creationism is not a scientific one. Nor is it, really, a religious one; most mainstream branches of the Christian church — the Roman Catholics, for example, as well as the Episcopalians, the Anglicans, the Lutherans, the Methodists, and so on — as well as most non-Christians religions have all made their peace with the idea of evolution and gone on to find that the idea is not at all at odds with their faith. The debate is a political one. It’s a conflict between the proponents of an extremist form of Christianity who want to impose their theology, and ultimately their morality, on our nation and the world, and those who would prefer that science and intellectual inquiry be allowed to carry forward without hindrance by dogmatic authorities.
Yes, that’s a gross oversimplification of the issue. Deal.
Anyway, the fact that McCain has agreed to do this keynote speech for the Discovery Institute makes me suspicious. Granted, I have no idea what he plans on saying, but I’m not optimistic that he’s going to come down on the side of free scientific inquiry and the teaching of science only in our nation’s schools.