On Contemporary Anti-evolutionism

Old-time readers will remember I spent a lot of time and energy writing about contemporary anti-evolutionism, whether young earth creationism or its bastard offspring, intelligent design. Since 2010, I’ve largely lost interest in tilting at these particular windmills, primarily because life is too short and I realized that the tilting was futile in that the creationists were impervious to any reasonable argument. So, other than posting a few old book reviews, the topic of anti-evolutionism will be largely non-existent here (unless there is some egregious handling of the history of biology that I need to deal with!). Sorry to disappoint.


Three views of ID

Christianity Today has three pieces on ID (and where it may be going) from Karl Giberson (theistic evolutionist), Steve Meyer (old earth creationist) and Marcus Ross (young earther). Highlights:


ID is not a comprehensive theory of Earth and the history of life.


[T]o keep building a scientific research community, we ID advocates must expose the prejudicial rules of reasoning that preclude consideration of our theory, and keep explaining ID’s strong foundation in evidence.


Stop trying to prove that Darwin caused the Holocaust or that evolution is ruining Western civilization. Agree among yourselves that the earth is old, since science has proven that. Do not call world-class scientists “cranks,” as Meyer implies in Signature in the Cell. Do not claim that evolution is collapsing, when everyone in the field knows it isn’t. Stop claiming that you cannot get your work published in conventional journals when you aren’t submitting papers to these journals.

Instead, roll up your sleeves and get to work on the big idea. Develop it to the point where it starts spinning off new insights into nature so that we know more because of your work. Then the academy will welcome you with open arms. Science loves rebels.

Giberson is channeling me.

Signature in the Cell

SITC+cover.jpg I’ve a copy of Meyer’s Signature in the Cell that I keep picking up and putting down. Steve Matheson has been more persistent and has been reading the book on and off over the past few months and has blogged his reaction (intro, chapter 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 [more], 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10). Unfortunately for Steve, he still has a further 10 chapters to get through!

Steve has also begun a short series on his experience, along with Art Hunt, in offering some counterpoints to Meyer’s position at a recent ID love-fest at Biola. Part I is up, and two others will follow. As you can imagine, the DI’s spin on this is probably very different from what happened.

Lastly, the Discovery Institute has produced a new (downloadable) book, Signature of Controversy, which they claim rebuts criticism of Meyer’s masterpiece. It’s largely a collection of posts from various ID-friendly blogs.

Update: Art Hunt’s recollections of the Biola event are here.

Update (5/27): Part II of Steve & Art at Biola is here.

Update (5/31): Part III is online.

Footprints of nonsentient design

John Avise has a paper upcoming in PNAS. Here’s part of the abstract:

Here, I highlight several outlandish features of the human genome that defy notions of ID by a caring cognitive agent. These range from de novo mutational glitches that collectively kill or maim countless individuals (including embryos and fetuses) to pervasive architectural flaws (including pseudogenes, parasitic mobile elements, and needlessly baroque regulatory pathways) that are endogenous in every human genome. Gross imperfection at the molecular level presents a conundrum for the traditional paradigms of natural theology as well as for recent assertions of ID, but it is consistent with the notion of nonsentient contrivance by evolutionary forces.  

Article is here. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914609107  

A new ID journal.

Looks like the DI-funded Biologic Institute (see here and here) has come up with its ownID-friendly” journal, BIO-Complexity with the usual suspects on the editorial team. The DI chimes in that the “editorial board is composed of an international group of scientists with differing views about the merits of ID. But all are committed to a fair and honest assessment of the question.” I’m willing to guess that most (all?) Twenty-two of the 29 have signed the Dissent from Darwin list. Of course, this isn’t the first time that Dembski and buddies attempted to start their own journal – and that first attempt didn’t exactly end in glory.

The good news is that maybe the promised Nelson & Dembski paper could be submitted to the new venue as it is surely the “best peer-reviewed biology journal we can find” ?

Update: I’ve just remembered that there is another ID-friendly, peer-reviewed journal out there, one that is a “professional, peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research”.

Origins: Is There A Theory of Design?

This week we’re examining Behe‘s claims regarding “irreducible complexity” and Dembski‘s “explanatory filter” and “complex specified information“. If there’s a theory to ID, surely we will find it in these ideas. Am I right?