September 17, 2004
A pro-Darwin lobbying group is being accused of trying to censor a published and peer-reviewed scientific article that deals favorably with the theory of intelligent design.
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) claims the article by Dr. Stephen Meyer is "substandard science" and should not have been published by the peer-reviewed biology journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.
But Dr. John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture (CSC), says the NCSE has flip-flopped just like a politician. "The refrain of Darwinists up till this point has been intelligent design isn't science because its proponents don't publish peer-reviewed articles," West says. "That has always been false; in fact, scientists have been publishing peer-reviewed articles about their ideas on intelligent design."
Now, however, he says the scientists who want to exclude intelligent design and promote Darwinist science cannot ignore West's paper, because it has appeared in "a very standard, peer-reviewed biology journal." In the article, titled "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories," Meyer argues that the theory of intelligent design explains the origin of the genetic information in early animal forms better than current materialistic theories of evolution.
But when his work appeared in Proceedings, the executive director of the NCSE claimed it was "too bad" the biology journal saw fit to publish Meyer's paper, since it was scientifically substandard.
However, the editor of Proceedings, which is published at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, confirmed that the article was put through the standard peer-review process and that the three reviewers were eminently qualified. However, since the article appeared, the journal's editor (Richard Sternberg) and the publication itself have been attacked from several quarters.
The Biological Society of Washington has distanced itself from the article and from Sternberg, accusing him of bad judgment. Meanwhile, a recent report in Nature describes Proceedings as a "low-impact journal" and quotes a Brown University biologist as saying "peer review isn't a guarantee of accuracy."
Dr. Meyer himself has noted the double standard being applied to his article. "Until a few days ago," he says, "Darwinists have argued that intelligent design isn't science because it hasn't been published in peer-reviewed journals. But now that an increasing number of scientists are making their case for design in scientific publications, Darwinists are ready to disown peer review -- temporarily, I'm sure."
Although most scientists claim to espouse objectivity in the interest of truth, the CSC's Dr. West says this controversy over Meyer's article exposes the basic "intolerance of Darwinian fundamentalists who want to stop the discussion in science even before it starts," and he is forced to wonder, "What are they afraid of?"
According to the CSC spokesman, pro-Darwin groups like the NCSE want to squelch scientific debate because Meyer's article flies in the face of their entrenched evolutionary thinking. "These groups typically say that the evidence is so overwhelming for Darwin's theory of evolution that there can't be any serious question about it," West says, "but then, apparently, they're afraid of even allowing one article that would be critical of it, even if it passes peer review. It's so dangerous they can't even allow it."
The Center's associate director finds it ironic that the NCSE has criticized pro-intelligent design scientists ad nauseum for failing to publish in respected and peer-evaluated scientific journals. Now, when that condition has been met, West says the pro-Darwin group wants to argue that the article should have been censored, simply because the NCSE cannot spin it out of existence.
National Center for Science Education (http://www.ncseweb.org) Discovery Institute (http://www.discovery.org)