Friday, April 22, 2005
Armor at the Perimeter
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium and co-author of the book "Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution," reflects the difference between the public acceptance of Darwin's theories on the origin of species, and Einstein's theories on relativity during a recent interview at the University of Washington conducted by Alan Boyle, Science editor at MSNBC.
So, when we speak of the theory of relativity, and the theory of evolution, they are each extremely important ways of understanding the world. But the tool kit that comes with the relativity theory, that comes with any physics theory, has a level of precision that puts it just in another category. It’s not simply an organizing principle.
When you predict that the sun is going to rise at 7:22 tomorrow morning, and someone wants to debate you … you’re going to be wasting your time having that conversation. Just walk away from it, because you know in advance what’s going to happen.
For that reason, Darwin’s theory of evolution, because it’s a theory of biology, because biology is a different kind of science from physics, it looks to the outsider as if you can just jump in and claim that things are just not what the biologist sees them to be. Now of course that’s false, but I’m just submitting to you that when you have your tool kit of predictive powers, that’s kind of like an armor at the perimeter. You’re not going to get past that to say that somehow that equation is wrong. The equation is demonstrably correct, so go home.