You’ve probably already seen a few reviews of Michael Behe ‘s new book, The Edge of Evolution. I’ve barely cracked open my review copy yet, but I already know that one example that features prominently throughout the book is malaria (hence my interest in it, moreso than any more “irreducible complexity” or bad math). However, Nick’s already managed to take away some of my interest even in the malaria angle, dang him. More below…
Back when I used to discuss evolution directly with creationists more frequently, I’d often cite Answers in Genesis’ page of Arguments we think creationists should not use” page. I hadn’t checked this out in awhile, and forgot they have on there as an argument that is “doubtful, hence, inadvisable to use:” “Natural selection is a tautology.” Yet that was just the argument given by Egnor in several posts, starting here–so even the young-earthers think Egnor has something to learn.
Typical me. I’m the one who always thinks of the snappy comeback hours after a comment is made too….
I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the posts here at Scienceblogs or Panda’s Thumb about the Discovery Institute’s newest protÃ©gÃ©, Dr. Michael Egnor. A professor of neurosurgery at SUNY-Stony Brook, Dr. Egnor has been pontificating on how “Darwinism” has nothing to offer to medicine; and indeed, that evolutionary biology has “hijacked” other fields of study. Mike has already aptly pointed out many of Egnor’s strawmen and intellectual dishonesties, so I won’t review them all. I’ve stayed out of the fray until now because I’ve had limited time and others have been handling it quite ably, but he keeps treading into (and butchering) my territory, so I just wanted to point out a few other things Egnor is waving away when he makes statements like this:
Preventing the emergence of resistant strains of bacteria is important work, but the insight that Darwinism brings to the problem — the unkilled ones eventually outnumber the killed ones — is of no help. We can figure that out ourselves. The tough work on preventing the emergence of resistant bacteria is done by microbiologists, epidemiologists, molecular geneticists, pharmacologists, and physicians who are infectious disease specialists. Darwinism, understood as the view that “chance and necessity” explains all biological complexity, plays no role.
Others have already addressed the blatant ignorance of this statement (spouted following a paragraph wherein he claims that the evolution of antibiotic resistance is just a tautology), so I’m actually going to leave the antibiotic resistance stuff alone for the time being. What I want to address instead are other areas where evolution is critical for insights into many of those fields Egnor mentions, especially since my own research is at the convergence of the first three he lists: microbiology, epidemiology, and molecular genetics.
Continue reading “Egnor just doesn’t know when to quit”
Just a reminder that there will be a symposium this weekend discussing evolution and intelligent design at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. The event is geared toward those interested in matters of faith or science; teachers; principals; college students majoring in education, science and religion/philosophy; clergy; and parish educators. Scholarships are available for the first 200 K-12 educators, board of education members, school administrators, etc. who apply–still plenty of those left, so if you know anyone who’d be interested, point them in our direction. I’m including the text of one press release below the jump; all the information (including registration and hotel) can be found at the symposium website.
Continue reading “Nothing to do this weekend?”
In addition, there are a few other posts I’ve been meaning to plug:
Burt at Panda’s Thumb on Why you should care if cattle get fourth-generation cephalosporins and why doctors need to know about evolution (a takedown of this Discovery Institute essay).
And a nice follow-up to those: Mike on why antibiotic resistance matters.
Our local “Dissenter from Darwinism,” Fred Skiff, gave a talk last Friday. Prior to the talk, I predicted:
One, that Skiff will provide a strawman version of evolutionary theory (heck, and science itself) as he did last time I saw him speak… Two, that Skiff will assert or imply that evolution implies atheism, and that if one accepts methodological naturalism, one therefore must also accept philosophical naturalism, and choose between evolutionary theory and their religious beliefs. Three, that he will assert that “intelligent design” is the sensible alternative to “orthodox” science, but its study is being repressed by “Darwinists” or something of that nature.
All I gotta say is: damn, I’m good. In a bit of what I assume was unintended irony, Skiff was introduced with a comment noting that discussions about intelligent design frequently generated “heat” but not a lot of “light,” after which Skiff spent much of his time railing against “Darwinists” and “Darwinism,” creating a strawman presentation of evolutionary biology, misinforming about the Richard Sternberg case, claiming that supporters of evolution were out to make it “illegal to question Darwinism” and that the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has said to “destroy intelligent design by ruining reputations.” Is it any wonder Skiff receives a lot of heat after inflammatory rhetoric such as that? A summary of the rest of the talk is after the jump.
Continue reading “Skiff: long on rhetoric, short on light”
At the next “Finding God at Iowa” Lunch Forum, Fred Skiff, University of Iowa professor of physics and astronomy, will speak on the theory of intelligent design. The forum will be held from noon to 1 p.m. March 2, in the Ohio State Room (Room 343) on the third floor of the Iowa Memorial Union.
Skiff will offer “A ‘Fireside Chat’ on Intelligent Design.” He will discuss some of the questions underlying the debate over intelligent design in nature, such as: What are the appropriate assumptions, methods, and limits of science? Can the intelligent design argument be properly made within the realm of science?
Why am I so dismayed (well, besides the obvious)? More after the jump.
Continue reading “Iowa professor again poised to defend “intelligent design””
As I mentioned, I spent the latter part of last week and the weekend in San Francisco at the annual AAAS meeting. Unlike most meetings I attend, this one wasn’t a research-heavy meeting, so instead I went to hear more about science education (and of course, how to improve it), as well as to find out the latest in anti-science circles from those on the front lines. My old friend Professor Steve Steve tagged along as well, meeting new friends and old and discussing evolution and challenges to its teaching. Much more after the jump.
Continue reading “Evolution (and Professor Steve Steve) at AAAS”
I suppose everyone has someone who they consider an embarrassment to their alma mater. I can probably think of a dozen just off the top of my head regarding my undergraduate institution (including a number of politicians who shall remain nameless). However, one who really sticks in my craw is the infamous Jonathan Wells of the Discovery Institute, who also happens to be a Yale alum (Divinity school–small comfort that it wasn’t Yale College, at least).
So, Wells has been back polluting Yale lately, via the Opinion pages of the student newspaper, the Yale Daily News. Predictably, Wells mischaracterizes evolution, but he also uses his “authority” as a theologian to rail against the upcoming Evolution Sunday sermons, following a previous editorial by Jonathan Dudley describing Evolution Sunday as “not entirely benign.” Dudley is a student at the Divinity school where Wells received his degree, and according to the YDN, is also a molecular oncology researcher at the Yale School of Medicine–so he dislikes the perceived conflict between science and religion. As such, he’s in favor of events like Evolution Sunday that seek to counter this idea, but he’s worried that one argument from authority is being traded for another:
Continue reading “Whereby Jon Wells is smacked down by an undergrad in the Yale Daily News”