Most scientists--including me--hold to the idea that there is a "real world" out there and that experimental and observational science, objectively interpreted, is gradually unveiling a true picture of it. Impressed by the power of modern research tools and by superbly trained leaders of research, one is tempted to perceive the rapid advance of the natural sciences as smooth paths, ever more closely approximating a complete and correct understanding of the natural world.

Fortunately, the actual picture has been less predictable--and more interesting. Newton's universe was deconstructed and reconstructed by Einstein; Einstein's picture of the universe, in turn, is being extended by black holes, pulsars, and cosmic strings.

Darwin's world has been deconstructed and reconstructed by the neo-Darwinists, but their authority is now being called into question by neutral evolution, the selfish gene, punctuated equilibria, saltation, and horizontal gene flow. The path to truth is beset by partial truths. Scientists...

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