Really?Evolutionist Matt Ridley rightly pointed out last week that the scientific consensus does not exactly have a stellar track record:
There was once widespread agreement about phlogiston (a nonexistent element said to be a crucial part of combustion), eugenics, the impossibility of continental drift, the idea that genes were made of protein (not DNA) and stomach ulcers were caused by stress, and so forth—all of which proved false. Science, Richard Feynman once said, is “the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
So why is Ridley an evolutionist? “I agree with the majority view on evolution,” explains the British scientist and author, “not because it is a majority view but because I have looked at evidence. It’s the data that convince me, not the existence of a consensus.”
Looked at evidence? This reminds us of Thomas Huxley’s sentiment that one ought to “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads.”
Every preconceived notion? Well not exactly. Not the preconceived notion that evolution must be true. Other than that, one can follow the evidence.
As for Ridley, here is how he “Looked at evidence”:
We can read in the genes exactly the whole history of life. And we’re gradually understanding all of that, and it absolutely confirms there’s descent with modification with natural selection, and all these things that Darwin said. There’s plenty of room for disagreement about the details. It’s not one dogmatic theory, there’s a whole bunch of theories.
The first thing they should do when they see a consensus is try and shoot it down. But there is no question that all creatures on this planet are [evolutionarily] related. We can see that in the genes. They all share the same genetic code—it looks like a frozen accident. There’s no rhyme or reason why we have the particular genetic code we do. But bacteria have it, we have it, plants have it—it’s all connected.
Exactly the whole history of life? no question?
Of course there are questions. And no, the genes do not reveal the whole history of life. Not if you don’t presuppose evolution to begin with. Yet Ridley is absolutely sure of himself. With evolution, the deviation from the evidence is exceeded only the certainty with which the theory is held.