Na Universidade Cambridge manda a política do "don't ask, don't tell" sobre Darwin

segunda-feira, novembro 15, 2010

What DNA Has to Tell Us About the Origins of Life 

October 2010By Terry Scambray 

Terry Scambray teaches English at Fresno City College in California. 

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. By Stephen C. Meyer. Harper One. 508 pages. $28.95.

In a scene that could be straight out of a Henry James novel, Stephen Meyer, at the time an American grad u ate student at Cambridge, made an apparent faux pas. When an esteemed visiting lecturer was taking questions after a speech, Meyer asked for some sources on the subject at hand. The lecturer responded politely enough, but Meyer had a vague sense that he himself had said something wrong. Afterwards Meyer was pulled aside by one of the Cambridge dons. And in his high Oxbridge accent, the kindly don advised Meyer that admitting ignorance might be O.K. in America, but it was bad form at Cambridge. As the don put it, "Everyone here is bluffing, and if you’re to succeed, you must learn to bluff too." 

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design is a testament to the fact that, fortunately, such advice never sank in with Meyer. After abandoning his life as a geophysicist in search of oil for Atlantic Richfield, and then earning a Cambridge doctorate, he continued to ask questions as he humbly but resolutely began his new quest: the search to understand the origins and basis of life. 

This is, of course, an ancient quest. From then to now, most people have believed that the sublime order that we see in nature must have been designed. But Charles Darwin argued that design was an illusion: Nature alone, by a process of accidental trial and error over eons of time, had produced this ineffable harmony.

Despite the fact that Darwin’s theory of natural selection was accepted by most educated people, the theory itself was weakly supported from the beginning. It gained acceptance mainly for cultural rather than scientific reasons. Progressive ideas had gained dominance by the nineteenth century; correspondingly traditional institutions — mainly religion — were taking their lumps. Against this background, criticisms of Darwin were castigated as regressive and religiously motivated, despite their scientific objectivity and rigor. Such polemical treachery continues to this day.

In this sense, Meyer’s sweeping compendium provides a final, annihilating assault on the Darwinian Po temkin village. That his remarkable treatise should be published in 2009, which is both the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of The Origin of Species, adds a rounded finality to this destructive Darwinian episode in Western history.

Traveling to strange, exotic places profoundly influenced the visions of both Darwin and Meyer — Darwin to South America, Meyer to the interior of the organic cell. Though in his adventures Darwin saw the great prolixity of life, he had no idea of the microscopic complexity within each cell, of which we have trillions in our bodies. To him, cells were mere blobs of protoplasm, blunt instruments like building blocks. But for Meyer and modern science, cells are dauntingly complicated and provide the basis for life. 

Meyer began his journey when circumstances drew him to a conference on origin-of-life issues. The conference made him realize how baffled science is about how life started. Meyer next realized that Darwin’s theory had a gaping hole when it failed to provide an explanation for the transition from dead matter to life.

Read more here/Leia mais aqui: New Oxford Review