Peter J. Leithart on Media & the Nature of Science
If there were conclusive, undeniable proof for Darwinism, one would have expected Public Television’s week-long special, Evolution, to allude to it. It didn’t. Instead, the program contented itself with providing often-fascinating evidence of comparatively minor variations, and let computer graphics fill in the gaps left by the evidence. Scientists were shown explaining how they could manipulate genes to create fruit flies with legs coming out of their heads, how they could combine the genetic material of insects and mice, and how natural selection enables viruses to combat the drugs designed to kill them. Meanwhile, the graphics showed fish sprouting legs and turning into salamanders, small rodents morphing into giraffes and tigers, ape-men wandering the plains.
As presented by the program, the argument for evolution turns largely on an equivocation on the word species. When the word is defined technically as a group of living things that share certain characteristics, especially an inability to interbreed with members of other groups, it is true that new species do develop. Plants have been crossed to produce offspring that cannot be crossed with their parents.
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Peter J. Leithart is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and the president of Trinity House Institute for Biblical, Liturgical & Cultural Studies in Birmingham, Alabama. His many books include Defending Constantine (InterVarsity), Between Babel and Beast (Cascade), and, most recently, Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor University Press). His weblog can be found at www.leithart.com. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.
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