Richard Dawkins makes the mistake of claiming he’s going to prove evolution is a fact:
Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust…. Evolution is an inescapable fact, and we should celebrate its astonishing power, simplicity and beauty. Evolution is within us, around us, between us, and its workings are embedded in the rocks of aeons past. Given that, in most cases, we don’t live long enough to watch evolution happening before our eyes, we shall revisit the metaphor of the detective coming upon the scene of a crime after the event and making inferences. The aids to inference that lead scientists to the fact of evolution are far more numerous, more convincing, more incontrovertible, than any eyewitness reports that have ever been used, in any court of law, in any century, to establish guilt in any crime. Proof beyond reasonable doubt? Reasonable doubt? That is the understatement of all time.
Richard Dawkins has barely begun making his initial claims and already he’s talking about bishops and fudging his case. Evolution is an inescapable fact… that is inferred after the fact. As I said, the ex-scientist has lost his fastball; I suspect he’s made a huge blunder in writing this book because the primary defense of modern evolutionary theory relies upon the ability of its adherents to hide behind its mutable nature. One cannot take down the constantly morphing tautologies due to their dynamic nature, but one will at least theoretically be able to take down Richard Dawkins’s best case for evolution due to its static nature, which for the purposes of public discourse will arguably be even more effective.
I can’t be certain on the basis of this excerpt alone, but I suspect that Dawkins may have also made a very amusing mistake in selecting the metaphor of the detective. If Dawkins is actually operating under the popular notion of detectives making inferences to lead them the responsible culprit, the metaphor is going to blow up in his face. Anyone who knows much about the way the police actually catch criminals understands what I mean by that.
And yes, I’m desperately hoping that the magical replication fairies from The Selfish Gene make another appearance.