Arthur Scopenhauer observed that, "All truth passes through three stages; First, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self-evident." Intelligent Design has moved from stage one to deep into stage two. An illustration can be found in the strange tale of the scientific establishment's reaction to Richard Sternberg. First a little background.
One of the criticisms levelled at ID theorists is that they don't publish in peer-reviewed journals. ID theorists respond to the charge by pointing out how hard it is to get journals to accept anything critical of Darwinian orthodoxy. Darwinians typically scoff at the implausibility of this reply.
Well, about a year ago Cambridge-educated philosopher of science Stephen Meyer managed to get a paper published in an obscure little journal that called into question the ability of purely Darwinian processes to account for the Cambrian explosion of phyla 530 million years ago. The roof then quickly caved in on the publisher for having the temerity to carry a paper skeptical of the received wisdom of the Darwinians. It was as if one of the Vatican's minions had permitted an article on Satan worship into an official publication of the Church.
The Inquisition of the scientific establishment was thrown into high gear and the editor, a man named Richard Sternberg who possesses not just one, but two PH.Ds in evolutionary biology, was all but burned at the stake for the crime of open-mindedness. His critics argued at the time that he was not in any way mistreated, evidently thinking that professional persecution is appropriate punishment for facilitating free and open debate, but a subsequent investigation by the Office of the Special Counsel has shown that, as ID advocates and Creationists have been saying for years, there are no people less tolerant of contrary opinion than the talibanic members of the church of Darwin. The OSC's findings are reprised in a letter to Sternberg which can be read here. It's a disillusioning eye-opener for anyone who thinks scientists are fair-minded and tolerant folk willing to allow a diversity of hypotheses to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
The Washington Post has a summary of the most recent developments. Here are some excerpts:
We particularly like Eugenie Scott's claim. In her world if you're sympathetic to the notion that other points of view deserve a hearing then you're a "zealot." That pretty much says everything that needs to be said about the modern scientific mindset.