Faith, Science and the Persecution of Richard SternbergBENJAMIN D. WIKER
A fellow Catholic is now being persecuted, in no small part, because of his religion. You haven’t heard about it — nor are you likely to — precisely because it is just the kind of story the reigning media assiduously ignore.
Before we turn to Sternberg’s interesting case, we should recall the recent clarifying words about evolutionary theory by Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Schönborn in his now-famous New York Times op-ed, “Finding Design in Nature.”
“The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reas on the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things. Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense — an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection — is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.” (emphasis added)
Sternberg is being driven out of his job as a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History by ideologues.
A little background: Rick Sternberg is extremely well qualified for his position. He has two Ph.D.s in evolutionary biology — one in molecular evolution and the other in systems theory and theoretical biology. He has published more than 30 very technical articles in respected biological journals.
Everyone was quite happy with his work, both as staff scientist with the National Center for Biotechnology Information and as a research associate at the Smithsonian.
All was well until Sternberg, as managing editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, allowed a technical paper critical of neo-Darwinism to be published: “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” written by Steven Meyer.
Meyer’s Ph.D. is in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University. He is an advocate of Intelligent Design.
First, Smithsonian officials tried to remove him directly, charging that as managing editor he had violated the publication process. But Sternberg followed the procedure perfectly. He discussed publication with a fellow scientist at the Smithsonian, and before publication he had the article peer-reviewed by three molecular and evolutionary biologists — all with doctoral degrees.
Unable to trump up any legitimate charges, Smithsonian officials went after him indirectly, creating an intolerable work environment, smearing him with false allegations, pressuring the National Center for Biotechnology Information to fire him, and worst of all, investigating his personal religious and political beliefs behind the scenes.
The interesting thing in regard to this last skullduggery of prying into
his religion is that Sternberg is not an advocate of Intelligent Design, but of
the structuralist approach to biology. But the assumption of those “digging
for dirt” was that, if he believed in God, then his skull was obviously
soft enough to admit Meyer’s paper rather than reject it outright.
Benjamin D. Wiker. "Faith, Science and the Persecution of Richard Sternberg." National Catholic Register (October 2-8, 2005).
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