Joel, a former student, sends along his thoughts on a review in the New York Times of Richard Dawkins' latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth. I thought it worth putting on our Main page rather than the Feedback page. Here's what he says:
The recent book review published by New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade on Richard Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth has received an unusual flood of attention. The basic premise of Wade's review is not to discredit evolution or even call the authority of its claims into question. Rather, a generous portion of the article affirms Dawkins' claims in an energetic and robust manner.
Wade's introductory comments place him squarely on Dawkins' side of the Evolution/Creationism debate saying, "It is a source of amazement and embarrassment that many Americans repudiate Darwin's theory and that some even espouse counter theories like creationism or intelligent design." He then goes on to praise Dawkins as a prolific writer who has devoted his latest book to demonstrating the explanatory power of evolutionary ideas while hammering the creationists at every turn.
So, where does the flood of criticism that the New York Times received in the past several weeks come from? Unfortunately for his own popularity, Wade went on to critique Dawkins' statement that evolution is fact and not simply a theory. This simple statement has brought philosophy professors, scientists, and even Daniel Dennett himself up in arms. In all reality Wade has barely ruffled the feathers of the contemporary biological claims of Darwinism.
If evolution really is such a bulletproof logical fact then why does it require such a determined defense? If Dennett is correct in proposing that such articles no more deserve space in the Times than the opinions of flat-earthers could not history reveal to us that they will bite the dust on their own?JM