Monday, November 14, 2005

Rennie gives the pope some directions!

Having mentioned the new blog at, it should also be noted that John Rennie, the editor of Scientific American, writes a regular blog worth surfing by from time to time. In the most recent post (dated November 13), as I'm writing this, Rennie scolds the pope's embarrasing endorsement of Intelligent Design. According to the Associated Press the pope

...quoted St. Basil the Great, a 4th-century saint, as saying some people, "fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance."

But, as Rennie remarks,

...I don't think most scientists would say that the universe is directionless or chaotic. Randomness is a fact of nature in many physical processes (e.g., radioactive decay and mutation), but there are also organizing principles at work (e.g., the laws of thermodynamics) that do impose a direction as well. For instance, creationists like to say that it's impossible for random evolution to produce order, but evolution isn't random: natural selection is an orderly directional process that acts on the randomness introduced by mutation. Thus it's not clear whom the Pope is really rebuking with this comment.

Rennie, in older posts, does a great job of rebuking the spectre of ID. It is very gratifying to see the editor of one of the major vehicles for the popularization of science take a stand against this concerted effort to suspend the scientific inquiry into the nature of homo sapiens.


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