What comes out from some of the comments from readers is a kind of anger that Acts is not "history" as we know it. It does not meet our standards, and therefore cannot be trusted. We don't know exactly who the author is, we don't know how much, if any, of the events he narrates he actually witnessed, we don't know who he expected to read it, and we don't know how he did what research he did. … This is not meant to be special pleading for the historicity of all of the New Testament. Just general pleading for a willingness to judge it by more appropriate standards.The problem is that she doesn’t give any reason why we should apply a different “more appropriate” standard in this particular case as compared to others. Jane Williams seems to think that the early Christians were extremely careful to ensure that “Material was received, believed and transmitted only if the authority for it seemed weighty” but offers no suggestion as to what criteria of weightiness were applied.
Then we have Mark Vernon peddling the unreliable assertions of Sheldrake. He is also trying to paint sceptics as being angry.
Such prejudice condemns itself. "In my opinion, many of the attacks on Sheldrake's work have been unfair and uninformed," says Professor Christopher French, of Goldsmiths College, London, a sceptic but a moderate. So why is the book not simply dismissed? Wherein lies its durability? And why the extreme, emotional reactions?In the comments to that article, Adam Rutherford has already pointed out that a bit of quote mining has been going on. It would also appear that Mark Vernon wouldn’t recognise a scientific experiment if it hit him over the head, when he says “it should be said that Sheldrake is totally committed to the scientific method”. Sheldrake is nothing of the sort, otherwise he would publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals where both his results and his methods can be subject to scrutiny, and where there would have to be a sufficiently detailed description of the methods to enable others to repeat his experiments and see if they get the same results. But Sheldrake prefers instead to publish popular books which have not gone through that kind of review. He is no more scientific than those who set up the Durham fish-oil “trials”.
Then we have Nick Spencer and his Rescuing Darwinism article. He is following the time-honoured route to publicity of the pseudo-scientific survey, where figures are bandied about suggesting that evolution is not widely accepted among the public, with the subtext “that evolution has killed God and ideas of design, purpose, morality and humanity” and people should rightly be wary of it. But only his “initial findings” have been published today. According to Theos “The full data analysis will be available in a report written by ComRes, who conducted the research, and published by Theos in early March.” But that doesn’t prevent Nick Spencer from using the survey as a peg on which to hang a thesis that evolution has come to be regarded as “an outlook on life that has become inextricably linked, through the purple prose of its most eloquent modern proponents, with reductionism, nihilism, atheism, and amorality.”
There is a common thread to all of these articles. They are all written by people who to a lesser or greater extent appear to think that scientists think the way that they themselves do. They perceive scientists as engaging in religious warfare, with Darwin as their God and On The Origin of Species as their revealed text. They assume that scientists do what they themselves do, cherry-pick the bits of evidence that best support their ideas, and keep very quiet about the contrary evidence and hope that nobody notices. It simply doesn’t occur to them that scientists don’t think that way, that scientists try very hard to make their ideas fit the evidence rather than pick the evidence that fits their ideas.