In a piece at Time Online, More Spin from the Anti-Evolutionists, senior writer Michael Lemonick attacks ID, the Discovery Institute, the signatories of the Dissent From Darwin list, and Michael Egnor in particular.
Dr. Michael Egnor (a professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, and an award-winning brain surgeon named one of New York’s best doctors by New York Magazine) is quoted: “Darwinism is a trivial idea that has been elevated to the status of the scientific theory that governs modern biology.” You can imagine the ire this comment would provoke from a Time science journalist.
The comments section is very illuminating as Dr. Egnor replies to and challenges Lemonick.
Can random heritable variation and natural selection generate a code, a language, with letters (nucleotide bases), words (codons), punctuation (stop codons), and syntax? There is even new evidence that DNA can encode parallel information, readable in different reading frames.
I ask this question as a scientific question, not a theological or philosophical question. The only codes or languages we observe in the natural world, aside from biology, are codes generated by minds. In 150 years, Darwinists have failed to provide even rudimentary evidence that significant new information, such as a code or language, can emerge without intelligent agency.
I am asking a simple question: show me the evidence (journal, date, page) that new information, measured in bits or any appropriate units, can emerge from random variation and natural selection, without intelligent agency.
Egnor repeats this request for evidence several times in his comments. Incredibly, Lemonick not only never provides an answer, he retorts: “[One possibility is that] your question isn’t a legitimate one in the first place, and thus doesn’t even interest actual scientists.”
Lemonick goes on to comment: “Invoking a mysterious ‘intelligent designer’ is tantamount to saying ‘it’s magic.'”
Your assertion that ID is “magic,” however, is ironic. You are asserting that life, in its astonishing complexity, arose spontaneously from the mud, by chance. Even the UFO nuts would balk at that.
It gets worse. Your assertion that the question, “How much biological information can natural selection actually generate?” might not be of interest to Darwinists staggers me. The question is the heart of Darwinism’s central claim: the claim that, to paraphrase Richard Dawkins, “biology is the study of complex things that appear to be designed, but aren’t.” It’s the hinge on which the argument about Darwinism turns. And you tell me that the reason that Darwinists have no answer is that they don’t care about the question (!).
More comments from Egnor:
There are two reasons that people you trust might not find arguments like mine very persuasive:
They’re right about the science, and they understand that I’m wrong.
They’re wrong about the science, and they’re evading questions that would reveal that they’re wrong.
My “argument” is just a question: How much new information can Darwinian mechanisms generate? It’s a quantitative question, and it needs more than an <i>ad hominem</a> answer. If I ask a physicist, “How much energy can fission of uranium generate?” he can tell me the answer, without much difficulty, in ergs/ mass of uranium/unit time. He can provide references in scientific journals (journal, issue, page) detailing the experiments that generated the number. Valid scientific theories are transparent, in this sense.
So if “people you trust” are right about the science, they should have no difficulty answering my question, with checkable references and reproducible experiments, which would get to the heart of Darwinists’ claims: that the appearance of design in living things is illusory.
One of the things that has flipped me to the ID side, besides the science, is the incivility of the Darwinists. Their collective behavior is a scandal to science. Look at what happened to Richard Sternberg at the Smithsonian, or at the sneering denunciations of ID folks who ask fairly obvious questions that Darwinists can’t answer.
The most distressing thing about Darwinists’ behavior has been their almost unanimous support for censorship of criticism of Darwinism in public schools. It’s sobering to reflect on this: this very discussion we’re having now, were it to be presented to school children in a Dover, Pennsylvania public school, would violate a federal court order and thus be a federal crime.
There’s lots more interesting stuff in the comments section referenced above. I encourage you to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of commentaters who stood up for ID and challenged Darwinian theory along with Dr. Egnor.
[HT: Evolution News & Views]