Dr. Dawkins, Mr. Milton’s skeptical thesisrnis akin to the letters he routineUrnreceives “from flat-carthers and otherrnharmless fruitcakes.” Writing in NewrnStatesman & Society, he accused Mr.rnMilton of having an undisclosed Creationistrnmotive—without, however,rnhimself disclosing that the book containsrna lengthy critique of his book I’hernBlind Watchmaker. But what shouldrnmost arouse the suspicions of the uncommittedrnlayman is Dawkins’ lengthvrnrail at the irresponsibility of the Londonrnpublishers Fourth Est. for publishingrnMilton’s book at all. At great length, hernmarvels that it was not blocked by anrneditor or referee with the kind of credentialsrnthat, presumablv, would insurernhis agreement with Dr. Dawkins.rnOf course it is not only professionalsrnwho might find it unlikely that the ver’rnfoundations of scientific learning couldrnbe challenged by an amateur enthusiast,rnan outsider without formal training orrnimpressive credentials working on thernbasis of little more than common sensernand observation. Respect for expertisernand accreditation, so widespread in ourrnsocietv, is difficult to reconcile in practicernwith the rather more idealistic beliefrnthat true progress and scientific discoervrnarc more often than not the products ofrnindividualism and iconoelasm. And therncurrent dispute over Darwinism may wellrnprove impossible for the nonscientist tornadjudicate. Perhaps the inconsistencies,rn’ested interests, and circular reasoningrnare not as all-pervasive as Mr. Milton’srnaccount of recent findings makes themrnout to be. The main defense employedrnby the many who are rubbishing thernbook without reading it is that only thernscientists themselves can decide. However,rnthis time it is not I, the layman,rnwho is encroaching on the scientists’ territory,rnbut the scientists who are encroachingrnon mine. Dr. Dawkins writesrnin a layman’s magazine, not a specializedrnjournal, that there .should be a foolproofrnbureaucratic mechanism to prevent arnlayman’s ideas from being circulatedrnamong the general readership. lie arguesrnthat although Mr. Milton concealsrnit behind a seerninglv rational argumentrnbased on respected scientific research,rnand may not even realize it himself, hernis no more than a Creationist apologist.rnActually, Mr. Milton accuses Darwinistsrnof intellectual authoritarianism inrntheir approach to science. If anvthing.rnDr. Dawkins justifies this accusationrnwith his arguments directed at the generalrnreader. According to Dr. Dawkins, itrnis an attack on rationalism for this bookrnto be available. Perhaps, having beenrnchallenged in the past only b Creationists,rnwhose argument is not based on reasonrnand so cannot be defeated bv reason,rnDarwinists like Dr. Dawkins have lostrntheir rational edge through lack of arncredible adversary. Moreover, we arerntold, it is not just because our most eminentrnscientists think this book is rubbi,shrnthat we should also think it is rubbish.rnWe are asked to consult our own commonrnsense. How could Darwin’s theoryrnof evolution not be true? If evolution didrnnot happen, what did?rnBut if nco-Darninist theory does indeedrnrely on such appeals to commonrnsense, mavbe it is not so strange for Mr.rnMilton to be attacking it on that basis. IfrnDr. Dawkins himself is inviting us to putrnthe theorv to the test of common sense.rnLIBERAL ARTSrnAMERICAN ‘INTELIJGENCE’rn”… CIA officers arc not all that fjrilliant They make up for it by working hard andrnbeing thorough. … I thought it amazing that a minor power like Britain should notrntrust a major one like America. But when I got to America, I found that Americansrndidn’t necessarily trust the CIA either. One FBI agent said to me, “I’lie CIA? Theyrnspy for the other side. We’re here to catch them doing it.'”rn—from Oleg Gordievsky’s “Aklrick Ames, My Wbuld-Be Killer,”rnin the March 5, ]994, issue of the Spectator.rnthen perhaps the layman is not so out ofrnplace as a judge. After all, mathematiciansrndo not appeal to our commonrnsense when they tell us that parallel linesrndo meet, and I have heard enough of recentrnresearch into chaos theorv and fractilerngeometry to know that it is best tornstay out of it. Darwinism, however, basksrnin the glory of being comprehensible andrnsomehow obvious. (Charles Darwinrnhimself, after all, was not a professionalrnscientist but was trained as a priest.)rnCompared to him, Mr. Milton, who is anrnamateur geologist, an engineer by training,rnand for 20 years a science journalist,rnis brimming with credentials. Darwin’srnideas, which gained acceptance becausernto rational thinkers they seemed reasonable,rnwere published despite entrenchedrnopposition and the centuries of receivedrnwisdom they contradicted. To say that itrnis the Darwinists of today who have inheritedrnthe characteristic bigotry, closemindedness,rnand cjuasi-religious zeal ofrntheir erstwhile opponents does not beginrnto do justice to the full scale of the irony.rnWhen an Oxford debating society triedrnto organize a replay of the famousrnWilberforcc-Huxley confrontation ofrn130 years ago. Dr. Dawkins withdrewrnafter he heard Mr. Milton was to takernpart.rnWhat makes Darwinism so contentiousrna doctrine is that it is notrnconfined to science. It underlies thernfundamental political, economic, moral,rnand religious assumptions of everyone.rnWould it not seem in post-ThatcheriternBritain, after years of science fundingrncuts and dwindling research resources,rnthat scientists would be among the firstrnto question the reductio ad absurdum ofrn”the survival of the fittest”? Do they believernthat if subsidies are cut, the “best”rnscience will survive by natural selection?rnIt is, after all, professional scientists likernDr. Dawkins the Darwinist, not renegadernjournalists like Mr. Milton thernanti-Darwinist, whom the svstem protectsrnfrom the ravages of market forces.rnAs for us ordinary, tax-paying ignoramuses,rnwhy should our questions andrndoubts, even when thev are in bookrnform, not be tolerated with courtesy andrnpatience? John Stuart Mill, Darwin’srngreat contemporary, believed that nornorthodoxy is ever right. Only a doctrinernwhich can defend itself against thatrnradical claim is fit to survive.rnRobin Lee is an editorial writerrnwith the Daily Telegraph in London.rn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn