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We are blessed you are still with us Allen MacNeill

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Allen teaches biology at Cornell, one of the world’s finest academic institutions. He accepts and defends evolutionary biology, but he has also defended the rights, reputation and treatment of ID-sympathetic students. He has done so even at peril to his own standing and reputation. In 2005 the president of Cornell Condemned the Teaching of ID as science. In 2006, Allen dared to at least raise the question and at least attempt to properly argue ID is not science by putting together a class devoted to exploring the question fairly in his infamous “Evolution and Design” class, perhaps the only class of its kind to ever be hosted on an Ivy League campus.

Students confided to me that they felt Allen really stuck his neck out for them, and I myself could see that as ID-haters came out in swarms because of Allen’s fair treatment of his students. Even though Allen’s goal was to simply raise the question and invite arguments from both sides, many anti-IDists objected vigorously that Allen would even grant the question a fair hearing.

Seeing all of Allen’s courageous and gentlemanly behavior often put me to shame for my often combative and uncivil style, but more importantly, Allen’s class of 2006 inspired me to go back to school part-time and study more science. The process of studying science has led me to reconsider and even retract ideas even if it meant I lost face in the process. What Allen inspired me to do was to explore and study science more, and in one case it led me to publicly admit significant errors in my understanding of physics and make a retraction regarding an idea I had once vigorously defended.

Allen is one of the few evolutionary biologists to receive such praises as this one at UD: MacNeill is on a Roll.

Many of my science professors disbelieve ID and actively campaigned against it, but they were instrumental to inspiring me to love science. I view Allen as a mentor and example of how scientific questions should be examined by considering both sides fairly.

I wish to point all this out especially now because Allen informed us here

I am now working on a monograph with the title On purpose: The evolution of design by means of natural selection, or the proliferation of intentional agents in the struggle for existence and another entitled The metaphysical foundations of biological science. I thought last year that I would be unable to finish them, as I had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. However, it turned out to be sclerosing autoimmune pancreatitis (a treatable condition),

We are blessed you are still with us, Allen, and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

9 Replies to “We are blessed you are still with us Allen MacNeill

  1. 1
    PaV says:

    I want to apologize to Allen if I have been guilty of any vituperation in the past. It is easy here at UD to simply assume that “if they are not for you, then they are against you,” since this is so true most of the time; Allen, OTOH, given what scordova has pointed out, is certainly an objective and open-minded scientific observer, and, in this regard, should be welcomed with open arms because we need people to prod our thinking along. And, hopefully, we might prod Allen’s thinking along as well. In the meantime, everyone benefits from this kind of give-and-take.

  2. 2
    Dionisio says:

    Agree that serious discussions should be without personal attacks. All arguments should be tested for validity. We may consider an argument nonsense, but still should respect the person presenting such senseless argument.

  3. 3
    Upright BiPed says:

    I too have been unnecessarily combative with Allen. I could certainly attempt to position my previous actions, but since I am regretful of them, so I will simply apologize instead. My apologies Allen, and best wishes for your recovered health.

  4. 4
    johnnyb says:

    Yes! Yes! I also participated from the outside in the ID and Evolution class, and found that to be one of the best discussions of ID and Darwin that ever took place.

    I also have to say that I remember the “Allen is on a roll” blog post, and actually was greatly influenced by it. I believe I was just finishing up seminary at the time, and was amazed that he gave a better description of ethical justification, especially deontological ethics, than what I had read or been taught in my seminary years. The seminary I had attended had largely disregarded deontological ethics, and I had presumed that deontological ethics could not be the foundation of societal ethics, until I read Allen’s post. A lot of what I believe and understand about social moral justification has been heavily influenced from that one post.

  5. 5

    Thank you all for your kind wishes.

  6. 6
    jerry says:

    Allen,

    If you are still reading this and are interested in having a dialogue about certain aspects of evolution, specifically your engines of variation (47 or 48 or whatever the number is now) and how these processes hace worked over time, some here would be interested. At least I would be interested because it is this topic which will settle most of the disputes that the ID and the naturalistic evolution adherents have with each other.

    Your thesis generates testable hypothesis, which the failure to confirm or evidence to supports will essentially settle the disputes.

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    And, Allen, as for those 47 or 48 engines of variation, have you determined which are blind watchmaker processes and which are not by chance? Have you even read “Not By Chance” to see what the opposition says about genetic change?

  8. 8

    Sorry I haven’t been around to comment much. Spring break started this afternoon and I have been scrambling to fly out to Montana with my 89 year old mother. We’re going out to visit her sister’s family, including my 80 year old uncle, who is in a nursing home and in failing health. I’ll be back next Thursday, ready and rarin’ to go!

  9. 9

    As for testable hypotheses, V. J. Torley suggested a very interesting one using “orphan” genes. I’ll be following up on his hypothesis when I get back.

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