Why do two diametrically opposed ideas like Darwinism and Intelligent Design have such vociferous and vitriolic combatants on both sides of the divide? How can otherwise reasonable and rational people be so entrenched in an ideology that they are willing to mount the battlements and fight to the ideological death for their point of view? I don’t have answers I’m fully content with, but I would like to see some comment on the issue.
To be clear, I’m not looking for comment on the ID/Evolution debate. What I’m trying to understand is how people in general can become so enslaved to the psychology of the crowd they run with, that they develop a kind of acute blindness to opposing viewpoints.
The most famous mass delusion, of course, is the belief that the Sun revolved around the moon. When Copernicus, and later Galileo said otherwise, both came close to losing their lives over it. Copernicus died before they could get around to killing him (although they did kill his assistant, if memory serves), and Galileo was forced to recant.
I suspect the phenomenon owes its existence to the fact that we invest so heavily in an ideology that the pain of adopting a competing ideology is just too great.
Michael Behe is a good example. He dared to tall his colleagues in the biochemistry world that he no longer believed that Darwinian evolution could explain the complexity that exists in even the simplest of cells. He said that in Darwin’s day, the cell was thought of as a simple gelatinous glob, whereas today we know that it is so extraordinarily complex that id defies the laws of probability to attribute it to chance. A single strand of DNA, unknown to Darwin, is now thought to contain code (think computer code) that’s so complex that it could not have as much as a one chance in trillions of occurring without some guidance from an outside agent.
He was blasted by his colleagues in the scientific community, and today, more than 10 years later, still generates hate-filled yelling, breast-beating angry condemnation from scientists in his own field. Yet the arguments themselves do not address the questions he asked: If it looks like it was designed, and if the odds of it happening by any other means than design, why are we not pursuing the possibility of design?
Other biochemists, witnessing what happened to Behe, for the most part have been unable to summon the courage to take sides against the prevailing view. They would rather die with their friends and colleagues, were Darwinian evolution to be widely discredited, than to die on their own, without the succor and sympathy they would provide. So they defend the lie, and in so doing perpetuate its wide acceptance.
So, weigh in! Tell me what you think the reasons are. Why can’t we discuss and debate such contentious issues without yelling and screaming?
And before you yell at me, remember the all the yelling in the world will not change the validity of your arguments. So think about the question, decide what position you’d like to defend, state it clearly, along with well-reasoned arguments, and let the rest of us try to find chinks in your armor. If we can’t, maybe you solve a puzzle that’s stumped many people for many years.
Maybe you change the world!