Dobzhansky, T. 1973. Nothing in Biology Makes Sense
Except in the Light of Evolution.
The American Biology
As recently as 1966, sheik Abd el Aziz bin Baz asked the king
of Saudi Arabia to suppress a heresy that was spreading in his
land. Wrote the sheik:
"The Holy Koran, the Prophet’s teachings, the majority of
Islamic scientists, and the actual facts all prove that the sun is
running in its orbit . . . and that the earth is fixed and stable,
spread out by God for his mankind. . . . Anyone who professed
otherwise would utter a charge of falsehood toward God, the
Koran, and the Prophet."
The good sheik evidently holds the Copernican theory to be a
"mere theory," not a "fact." In this he is technically correct. A
theory can be verified by a mass of facts, but it becomes a
proven theory, not a fact. The sheik was perhaps unaware that
the Space Age had begun before he asked the king to
suppress the Copernican heresy. The sphericity of the earth
has been seen by astronauts, and even by many earth-bound
people on their television screens. Perhaps the sheik could
retort that those who venture beyond the confines of God’s
earth suffer hallucinations, and that the earth is really flat.
Parts of the Copernican world model, such as the contention
that the earth rotates around the sun, and not vice versa, have
not been verified by direct observations even to the extent the
sphericity of the earth has been. Yet scientists accept the
model as an accurate representation of reality. Why? Because
it makes sense of a multitude of facts which are otherwise
meaningless or extravagant. To nonspecialists most of these
facts are unfamiliar. Why then do we accept the "mere theory"
that the earth is a sphere revolving around a spherical sun?
Are we simply submitting to authority? Not quite: we know that
those who took the time to study the evidence found it
The good sheik is probably ignorant of the evidence. Even
more likely, he is so hopelessly biased that no amount of
evidence would impress him. Anyway, it would be sheer waste
of time to attempt to convince him. The Koran and the Bible do
not contradict Copernicus, nor does Copernicus contradict
them. It is ludicrous to mistake the Bible and the Koran for
primers of natural science. They treat of matters even more
important: the meaning of man and his relations to God. They
are written in poetic symbols that were understandable to
people of the age when they were written, as well as to
peoples of all other ages. The king of Arabia did not comply
with the sheik’s demand. He knew that some people fear
enlightenment, because enlightenment threatens their vested
interests. Education is not to be used to promote obscurantism.
The earth is not the geometric center of the universe, although