Joined: Nov. 2005
|Darwinism has had it all its own way for too long, Warwick's controversial sociologist tells ZoŽ Corbyn|
Tuesday January 31, 2006
In 1981, in a courtroom in Little Rock, Arkansas, Michael Ruse testified that "creation science", the faith-based explanation of life's beginnings, was not science at all. "In my opinion," Ruse told the court, "creation science is religion." It was the first time in America's fraught struggle over evolution that a philosopher of science had taken the stand and his words made a big impression on Steve Fuller, then a 22-year-old PhD student. "It set a precedent because, up to that point, the only people allowed to testify on the nature of science were professional scientists," Fuller recalls.
These days, Fuller is a professor of sociology at Warwick University. Last October, in Dover, Pennsylvania, he too found himself giving evidence in court. But unlike Ruse, a champion of Darwinian evolution, Fuller took the stand as an expert witness in support of intelligent design. Fuller argued that ID - the idea that some systems are so complex they must have been designed by an intelligent agent - should be added to the science curriculum. He lost. The Dover judgment concluded ID was the progeny of creationism and couldn't be taught as science. "The judge in the Dover case went back to the old standard of what the experts say," says Fuller.
Fuller claims he doesn't personally favour ID, but feels that it should have a "fair run for its money". His view on evolutionary theory is that the jury is out, though he acknowledges that Darwinism does have the most evidence on its side. He describes himself as "very sympathetic to Christian ideas", although he doesn't go to church or belong to any particular denomination. "I don't see that there is a point at which one needs to make some radical decision between being a Christian or a secularist," he says.
When pushed, he labels himself a "secular humanist", admitting he does so partly to provoke a response. "Typically, people who call themselves secular humanists think of themselves as Darwinists," he says. His own version puts "human beings at the centre of reality, creating God in their image and likeness" and "taking control of evolution".
He criticises Richard Dawkins, professor of public understanding of science at Oxford University, who recently made two films for Channel 4 attacking religious belief. "My guess is that Dawkins just doesn't know enough about the history of secular humanism to realise that Darwin killed off man at the same time as he killed off God," says Fuller, who featured in a BBC2 documentary, The War on Science, last Thursday.
Read it here.