In closing remarks to an annual conference of around 300 scientific civil servants on 3 February, in London, Beddington said that selective use of science ought to be treated in the same way as racism and homophobia. “We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of racism. We are grossly intolerant, and properly so, of people who [are] anti-homosexuality...We are not—and I genuinely think we should think about how we do this—grossly intolerant of pseudo-science, the building up of what purports to be science by the cherry-picking of the facts and the failure to use scientific evidence and the failure to use scientific method,” he said.
Beddington said he intends to take this agenda forward with his fellow chief scientists and also with the research councils. “I really believe that … we need to recognise that this is a pernicious influence, it is an increasingly pernicious influence and we need to be thinking about how we can actually deal with it.
“I really would urge you to be grossly intolerant … We should not tolerate what is potentially something that can seriously undermine our ability to address important problems.
“There are enough difficult and important problems out there without having to … deal with what is politically or morally or religiously motivated nonsense.”
It is refreshing to see strong words against “religiously motivated nonsense,” but I am afraid this may be a sign of dangerous overreactions to come. Yes, evolution is every bit as dangerous as Beddington suggests. In fact it is arguably far more dangerous than racism and homophobia.
But evolutionists are not guilty of hatred as are racists. Yes evolutionists bring us “religiously motivated nonsense” as Beddington puts it. Yes they cherry-pick the facts, misrepresent science and have a pernicious influence. It is difficult not to be a little bit angry with them. But we must not overreact. Rather than speak of intolerance we must speak of forgiveness. We must exchange our anger for love. I do not urge you to be grossly intolerant.