The new Galileo

November 5, 2007

A few months ago, I wrote a column entitled "The case against science," which sparked many angry responses from scientists and science fetishists who were offended at the idea that science could possibly be held responsible for anything negative. Interestingly enough, none of these defenders of science bothered to present any empirical evidence, instead they resorted to the very logic and faith-based thinking which some optimistic individuals believe science will one day replace.

But there can no longer be any doubt that scientism has become a dogmatic article of faith, and ironically, one that is even more narrow-minded and authoritarian than the medieval Catholic church. For centuries, the primary basis for the secularist belief that science and religion are inherently opposed has been Pope Urban VIII's "persecution" of Galileo for the crime of arguing that the Earth revolved around the sun; as Dinesh D'Souza noted in last week's interview, this myth has persisted primarily because it serves the interests of the anti-religious narrative that remains popular despite its fictional nature.

Ironically, Pope Urban VIII was correct in the end, as there is not an astronomer or physicist in the world today who would disagree with the material basis for the church's condemnation of Galileo's heretical notion: "The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd. "

The infamous pope was far more open-minded than the scientists currently attacking James Watson for his belief in human inequality. Not only did he grant Galileo the right to write a book on heliocentrism, but actually asked the father of modern physics to provide arguments for and against the matter, demonstrating a devotion to reason that was wholly lacking in the rush to lynch the father of the double-helix's sin against modern secular orthodoxy.

It is absurd to imagine that there is absolutely no link between race and intelligence. DNA is already being used to predict race with a 99 percent level of accuracy by forensic crime labs, and there is not a single shred of evidence, empirical, historical, anecdotal or documentary, that suggests intelligence is the sole human attribute which is distributed equally throughout humanity. While the relationship between race and intelligence has not yet been fully understood, there is far more reliable evidence for the existence of such a relationship than there is for many widely-accepted scientific theories, including the theory of evolution, string theory, multiple universes and so forth.

There are many reasons to be gloomy about the future of Africa, and Watson was right to question the wisdom of the West's social policies towards that continent, even if it later turns out that he is incorrect and science finds a way of demonstrating that every human being of every race possesses precisely the same amount of intelligence. But it is not racist to investigate the obvious differences between human groups; the hysterical overreaction of the dogmatic equalitarians demonstrates what must be a common and intrinsic belief in the inferiority of the less intelligent, otherwise Watson's comment would have engendered no more controversy than one noting that the Dutch are taller than the Chinese.

We don't believe that being taller makes one an inherently superior human being, so why should we believe that being less intelligent makes one inherently inferior? Richard Dawkins, a man for whom I have little intellectual regard, showed courage and uncharacteristic insight when he spoke up for Watson last month:

What is ethically wrong is the hounding, by what can only be described as an illiberal and intolerant "thought police," of one of the most distinguished scientists of our time, out of the Science Museum, and maybe out of the laboratory that he has devoted much of his life to, building up a world-class reputation.

This shameful Watson episode, which has seen one of the modern scientific greats brought low in the name of secular orthodoxy, should serve as a serious warning to scientists everywhere. Science, the profession, is increasingly at war with the evidence presented by science, the method. It is not religion that poses a dire threat to science, but rather the dogmatic pseudo-science of academia and the media, which is more authoritarian, more close-minded, more sensitive and more dangerous than any religious leader, past or present.

Like his great forebear, James Watson publicly recanted, and yet I have little doubt that time will eventually justify Watson and other heretics who continue to stand for science and empirical evidence in the face of the intolerant secular pseudo-scientific consensus.