Maggie Gallagher
At Texas Tech, professor Michael Dini, an associate professor of biology, faces Justice Department scrutiny and a lawsuit for his public refusal to write letters of recommendation for any student who fails to "truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer" to the question of the origins of human beings. By which he means a student must not only be able to describe the evidence for evolution and the current scientific consensus in its favor, but he must also affirm an inner emotional attitude toward the theory.

Let us leave aside, for the moment, other important questions, be they religious discrimination, the liberty of the professorate, or the overreaching arm of Justice to zero-in lazerlike on a single, neglected query: Is this the behavior of a scientist?

Professor Dini evidently thinks so. "The policy is not meant in any way to be discriminatory toward anyone's religious beliefs, but instead to ensure that people who I recommend to a medical school or a professional school or a graduate school in the biomedical sciences are scientists," he told The New York Times.

In other words, he will not recommend students based on his observed knowledge of their competence, intelligence or commitment. He will instead require them to have reached certain substantive conclusions about an event which, because it happened in the past, is in some sense beyond the reach of the most powerful tools of science.

One of his students, Greg Lubbock, a 36-year-old pre-med student, agrees: "I believe in God and evolution. I believe that evolution was the tool that brought us about. To deny the theory of evolution is, to me, like denying the law of gravity."

Well, not quite. The authority of science, which is impressive, is based on its ability to build a consensus among the educated through a process of repeated (and repeatable) experiments. As a Catholic, I have no personal beef with evolution. Indeed, I would go further and say that Genesis itself refutes the assertion that the text is intended as an account of the mechanics of creation (e.g., What the heck can a day mean before God separates light and dark?).

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.