One of my favorite over-the-top quotes about the power of natural selection comes from novelist Barbara Kingsolver. According to her, natural selection is Ã¢â‚¬Å“the greatest, simplest, most elegant logical construct ever to dawn across our curiosity about the workings of natural life. It is inarguable, and it explains everything.Ã¢â‚¬Â (Small Wonder, 2002). Another Kingsolver, however, is not so sanguine about the power of natural selection. According to J. G. Kingsolver et al. in a meta-analytic statistical study titled “The Strength of Phenotypic Selection in Natural Populations,” published in the March 2001 issue of The American Naturalist, Ã¢â‚¬Å“important issues about selection remain unresolved,” which ends up being a euphemistic way of saying that natural selection was found to have virtually no Read More ›
What follows is a story from Science on the controversy in Kansas over the teaching of evolution. Notice how the story is framed in terms of “Science” versus “Intelligent Design.” One thing it might interest you to know is that the meeting in question took place at a church (it was held at the Plymouth Congregational Church — Diane Carroll writes about it here in the Kansas City Star). I’m presently an expert witness in an ID case where one of the charges made by the opposing expert witnesses is that ID is religion-based because its proponents have been seen to speak about ID in churches. The other side is just as happy to press their cause in churches. By the way, check out the staff directory of the National Center for Selling Evolution (NCSE): http://www.ncseweb.org/ourstaff.asp. The first photo you’ll see is of Josephine Bergson in a white clerical collar. In the caption we are told that “audiences appreciate her ability to demonstrate the compatibility of neo-Darwinism and Christianity.” The point to appreciate is that this debate is anything but religion-neutral for the other side.
Interesting paper on randomness and information theory:
Using Information Theory Approach to Randomness Testing
B. Ya. Ryabko and V.A. Monarev
Hubert Yockey attended the 1996 Mere Creation conference at Biola University. At that conference he and I discussed his role in the ID movement. He described himself as an outsider who could do more good for ID by maintaining his intellectual independence and directing his energies at refuting the evolutionary reductionists than by explicitly making common cause with us. He has a new book with Cambridge University Press scheduled for release this summer that will need to be on the reading list of everyone with an interest in ID: Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life. Of especial interest will be chapter 12, titled “Does Evolution Need an Intelligent Designer?” Although I expect Yockey will be critical of ID in this chapter, I expect his objections will be answerable and help move our program forward.
YesterdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Nature has, on page 24 of the advertisement section, an announcement requesting grant proposals for the John Templeton FoundationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s “Purpose in the living world” research programme, titled “The Emergence of Biological Complexity” (for more go here and here). Purpose? Biological complexity? Evidence of fine-tuning in biological complexity? All in one breath? This may not be full-fledged ID, but it certainly isn’t “the literal interpretation of Darwin.”
In a previous post, I remarked that John Paul II “seemed to sign off on conventional evolutionary theory save for the divine infusion of souls at the origin of humanity.” This is not quite accurate. As a friend and colleague who knows the Catholic world much better than I do noted to me by email:
The National Center for Selling Evolution (NCSE) has a widely publicized, in their words, “tongue-in-cheek parody of a long-standing creationist tradition of amassing lists of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœscientists who doubt evolution’ or Ã¢â‚¬Ëœscientists who dissent from Darwinism’.” They call it “Project Steve.” (Go here for a description of the project and here for the list; go here for the list of dissenters from Darwinism that prompted Project Steve.)
Here are three letters from the New Scientist, the first and the last tacitly supporting ID. The last letter raises the interesting question to what degree throwing time at a problem can make up for deficiencies in intelligence. There is a research question here that needs cashing out.
I started blogging end of March 2005, beginning at www.idthefuture.com and now with my blog, Uncommon Descent (I intend to do a lot of cross-posting). Since I’d like Uncommon Descent to provide a complete record of my blogging activity, I include here my prior posts at IDthefuture that have thus far not been cited here: