The following exchange is from the newsletter CCNet 66/2007 – 27 March 2007:
Christopher Morbey: Dear Professor Dyson: Thanks for taking time to answer questions! I’m wondering if you have an opinion regarding the new interest in “intelligent design” as an independent mode of explaining an event. Typically, pervading opinion demands that events occur only by chance and/or necessity.
What strikes me as strange is that many scientists are so willing to discard ideas that may offer help to overcome significant difficulties in evolution hypotheses. Instead, they tend to make alarmist comments that ID is merely a creationist ploy, that Darwinian claims should be assumptions, not conclusions.
Global warming skeptics point to fundamental temperature and CO2 data, then ask pertinent questions. In a similar way, ID proponents look at fundamental, complex biological and cosmological data, then ask pertinent questions. As you might point out, asking questions could be perceived as rebellion.
But it would appear that most scientists these days are not rebels at all; each is but one case of an emotional-contagion pandemic. It is interesting that war and peace and religion all require a certain discipline of obedience rather than too many questions. Each would offer the chance for freedom yet each would demand necessity for devotion.
Freeman Dyson: My opinion is that most people believe in intelligent design as a reasonable explanation of the universe, and this belief is entirely compatible with science. So it is unwise for scientists to make a big fight against the idea of intelligent design. The fight should be only for the freedom of teachers to teach science as they see fit, independent of political or religious control. It should be a fight for intellectual freedom, not a fight for science against religion.