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The Gould standard

Science | Darwinism's unofficial spokesman dies

Issue: "Will Kurds stand alone?," June 1, 2002

Stephen Jay Gould met his Creator last week. The writer who spent much of his career as Darwinism's unofficial spokesman died of cancer at his home in New York City. Mr. Gould, 60, was one of the most popular science writers of his time, writing hundreds of articles and winning lavish praise from some fellow Darwinists.

His Harvard colleague Andrew Knoll dubbed him "paleontology's public intellectual." Nobel-winning biologist David Baltimore said Mr. Gould "brought a nobility to science because of his great veneration for it." The San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers used his death as an opportunity to slam creationists.

Mr. Gould called human evolution "a fortuitous cosmic afterthought" and dismissed creationism as "a local, indigenous, American bizarity." He condescendingly claimed that many Americans dispute Darwinism simply because they are ignorant of basic science-"which is our fault, not theirs."

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Along with Niles Eldredge, Mr. Gould developed the concept of "punctuated equilibrium," a creative way to deal with the fossil record's stubborn refusal to conform to Darwinism. Darwin predicted that the fossil record would eventually show small, gradual changes leading to the development of species. Mr. Gould noted that the evidence doesn't show this pattern and argued instead that evolution occurred in short bursts.

Mr. Gould's thinking, though, started from the presupposition of a materialistic universe; he interpreted data based upon that belief and insisted that critics were attacking science itself. He said, in essence, that we should render unto science what is science's and render unto God what is His; but, not understanding that every millimeter of the universe is God's, he shrunk the role of religion and claimed that any who disagreed were know-nothings.

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