The Editors of Nature give three cheers for the newly published NAS booklet that defends evolutionary theory against ID and Creationism.
Spreading the word - the NAS booklet
In their opinion, the document demonstrates:
"it is possible to summarize the reasons why evolution is in effect as much a scientific fact as the existence of atoms or the orbiting of Earth round the Sun, even though there are plenty of refinements to be explored."
Not only is evolution a fact, they say, "Evolution is of profound importance to modern biology and medicine." Consequently, it behoves everyone to promote evolution!
"Accordingly, anyone who has the ability to explain the evidence behind this fact to their students, their friends and relatives should be given the ammunition to do so. Between now and the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth on 12 February 2009, every science academy and society with a stake in the credibility of evolution should summarize evidence for it on their website and take every opportunity to promote it."
Here are just a few constructive responses to this missionary fervour.
1. It is important to distinguish between empirical science and historical science. One involves the repeatability of controlled experimentation; the other adopts the 'smoking gun' methodology appropriate for unique past events. The distinction is important, because all parties in these debates about evolution share a commitment to empirical data. The differences emerge when we move from present-day processes to reconstruct the past. This is why claims that evolution is just as much a "fact" as "the existence of atoms or the orbiting of Earth round the Sun" are philosophically defective.
2. The Editorial and the NAS booklet perpetuate the polarised 'science vs religion' template for the debate. Both overlook the fact that much of the evidence for "evolution" is perfectly compatible with ID or creationist thinking. The debate is about what these evidences actually mean. The debate is a scientific one, yet the Editorial and the NAS booklet imply that science is only being advanced by the evolution side.
3. It is not true that evolution is of profound importance to modern biology and medicine. Biological research, in the main, proceeds using design principles: the presumption of functionality, etc. The 2005 survey by Professor Philip Skell refutes the Editorial's claim:
"Darwinian evolution, whatever its other virtues, does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology. This becomes especially clear when we compare it with a heuristic framework such as the atomic model, which opens up structural chemistry and leads to advances in the synthesis of a multitude of new molecules of practical benefit.
None of this demonstrates that Darwinism is false. It does, however, mean that the claim that it is the cornerstone of modern experimental biology will be met with quiet skepticism from a growing number of scientists in fields where theories actually do serve as cornerstones for tangible breakthroughs."
Similarly with medicine. Traditional medicine is based on the premise that the human body is designed in an intelligent way. Attempts to launch "Darwinian medicine" are a recent phenomenon.
4. The exhortation to promote the theory of evolution misses the pulse of the debate. What is needed is engagement with the science and the underpinning philosophical issues. It is not a case of shouting louder, but of interacting in a meaningful way. Resistance to dialogue is a conspicuous feature of our age, but dialogue is what we need to do justice to these challenges to evolutionary theory.
Spread the word (Editorial)
Nature 451, 108 (10 January 2008) | doi:10.1038/451108b
Abstract : Evolution is a scientific fact, and every organization whose research depends on it should explain why.
Holden, C. Evolution: Read All About It! ScienceNOW Daily News, 4 January 2008.
Skell, P.S., Why do we invoke Darwin? The Scientist, Aug. 29, 2005, 19(16), 10.
Critique of NAS Report on Evolution - Part 1. Hail Darwin! by Cornelius Hunter, ID Report, ARN, 10 January 2008
Critique of NAS Report on Evolution -- Part 2. The Facts about Intelligent Design, ID Report, ARN, 13 January 2008
|<< <||> >>|
Evolution has become a favorite topic of the news media recently, but for some reason, they never seem to get the story straight. The staff at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture started this Blog to set the record straight and make sure you knew "the rest of the story".
A blogger from New England offers his intelligent reasoning.
We are a group of individuals, coming from diverse backgrounds and not speaking for any organization, who have found common ground around teleological concepts, including intelligent design. We think these concepts have real potential to generate insights about our reality that are being drowned out by political advocacy from both sides. We hope this blog will provide a small voice that helps rectify this situation.
Website dedicated to comparing scenes from the "Inherit the Wind" movie with factual information from actual Scopes Trial. View 37 clips from the movie and decide for yourself if this movie is more fact or fiction.
Don Cicchetti blogs on: Culture, Music, Faith, Intelligent Design, Guitar, Audio
Australian biologist Stephen E. Jones maintains one of the best origins "quote" databases around. He is meticulous about accuracy and working from original sources.
Most guys going through midlife crisis buy a convertible. Austrialian Stephen E. Jones went back to college to get a biology degree and is now a proponent of ID and common ancestry.
Complete zipped downloadable pdf copy of David Stove's devastating, and yet hard-to-find, critique of neo-Darwinism entitled "Darwinian Fairytales"
Intelligent Design The Future is a multiple contributor weblog whose participants include the nation's leading design scientists and theorists: biochemist Michael Behe, mathematician William Dembski, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, philosophers of science Stephen Meyer, and Jay Richards, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson, molecular biologist Jonathan Wells, and science writer Jonathan Witt. Posts will focus primarily on the intellectual issues at stake in the debate over intelligent design, rather than its implications for education or public policy.
A Philosopher's Journey: Political and cultural reflections of John Mark N. Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds is Director of the Torrey Honors Institute at