I was a visiting assistant professor (math/CS) at Purdue University in 1978-79, when I responded to a letter in the Purdue student newspaper (the Exponent), which compared those who doubt Darwin to “flat earthers”, as follows:
“Last year I surveyed the literature on evolution in the biology library of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and found Olan Hyndman’s The Origin of Life and the Evolution of Living Things in which he calls the neo-Darwinian theory of random mutation and natural selection `the most irrational and illogical explanation of natural phenomenon extant’ and proposes an alternative theory; Rene Dubos’ The Torch of Life in which he says `[The neo-Darwinian theory’s] real strength is that however implausible it may appear to its opponents they do not have a more plausible one to offer in its place’; and Jean Rostand’s A Biologist’s View in which he says that the variations which made up evolution must have been `creative and not random.’ Rostand, who elsewhere has called the neo-Darwinian theory a `fairy tale for adults,’ attributes this creativeness to the genes themselves, and says `quite a number of biologists do, in fact, fall back on these hypothetical variations to explain the major steps of evolution.’…I was not, however, able to find any books which suggested that this creativeness originated outside the chromosomes—these are restricted to theological libraries, because they deal with religion and not science, and their authors are compared to flat earthers in Exponent letters.”
To those who dismiss intelligent design as “not science”, I would like to pose the same question again, 30 years later: why is it science to attribute the major steps of evolution to creativeness in the genes themselves, but not science to attribute them to creativeness originating outside the genes? That is the only difference between Jean Rostand’s theory and the theory of intelligent design. Most ID critics today would probably respond that Rostand’s theory should also be considered “not science”, in fact, it could be easily argued that Rostand—though an atheist–was himself an ID proponent. But we all agree that the human brain is capable of creativeness, so I would then respond: why is it science to attribute creativeness to one part of an organism and “not science” to attribute creativeness to another part?
PostScript—in light of some comments below, let me make it clear that the issue being discussed is NOT whether or not the evidence supports any of these ideas, but whether they can be dismissed a priori as “not science”, before looking at the evidence. Darwinism is obviously a scientific theory, whether it is good science is another question. If Rostand’s theory is accepted as scientific, and housed in the biology library of a National Lab, there seems to be no reason to reject ID as “not science”, before looking at the evidence, as most scientists today still do. And if it is scientific to attribute creativity to the brain, how can it be “unscientific” to attribute creativity to the genes, as Rostand does? Whether the evidence supports Rostand’s theory is a completely separate issue.