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Nonexperts in evolutionary biology criticizing nonexperts in evolutionary biology for criticizing evolutionary biology

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Consider the following quote:

Like Behe, William Dembski, and the wedge-pedigreed scientists of the Discovery Institute, Coulter never really takes on evolutionary biology, presumably because she is unwilling or unable to read recent, peer-reviewed research by actual biologists.

Here is who wrote it:

Jennie Lightweis-Goff is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Rochester. Her forthcoming single-authored publications include “Sins of Commitment” in Senses of Cinema (July 2006). Phillip Lightweis-Goff is a self-employed artist, an activist for social change, and an avid student of history and anthropology. They live together in Rochester, New York.

Here is the full article:



Two problems:

1) First off, I think "expertise" should probably not be the be-all and end-all of claims against darwinism, since there are plenty of so-called experts who espouse evolution in the universities.

2) Physical anthropologists study science. Some even count as experts.

I generally enjoy reading this blog, and would like to see a stronger argument made against the article in question.

Why would a biologist be considered an expert in design, digital information systems, and factory automation? Sorting out where different critters belong in the phloygenetic tree is really little more than stamp collecting. All the action is in reverse engineering the machinery of life at the molecular scale. Engineers are the experts at reverse engineering. Who cares what happened in the distant past? That's water under the bridge. Everything important is in living tissue and we don't need to guess about how it works when we can reverse engineer it. -ds onemorething1979
Bob, Lightweis-Goff takes issue with the use of these words, but her distaste of them does not make them any less accurately descriptive of the materialist's empirical economy. Tippy-toeing around word usage does not make the concepts any less relevant. crandaddy
Words like “random”, “accident”, and “mistake” accurately portray the way non-IDists view the world–if not ontologically, then epistemically. If the universe (or anything in it) is epistemically non-purposive, then it is epistemically random,...
I think you've demonstrated Lightweis-Goff's point pretty well. Even if the universe is non-purposive, it can still be deterministic, and we can treat it that way, as indeed a lot of people do. The converse is also possible: a purposive universe could also be stochastic. All it needs is for the stochasticity to have a direction. As an example, you can have diffusion with drift, that tends to move in one direction. Bob Bob OH

(Sigh) Jennie is just another casualty of the opposition's propaganda tactics. I especially like this part:

Consider her three-pronged definition of evolution, that "random mutations of desirable attributes [and] natural selection weed… out the 'less fit' animals… [and] lead… to the creation of new species." Like most creationists, she relies heavily on the strategic deployment of words like "random," "accident," and "mistake" to construct an ideology that challenges Christian definitions of soul, purpose, and free will. Creationists swallow this manipulation uncritically, failing to notice that all of those terms are morally loaded.

Um, no. I don't think so. Words like "random", "accident", and "mistake" accurately portray the way non-IDists view the world--if not ontologically, then epistemically. If the universe (or anything in it) is epistemically non-purposive, then it is epistemically random, and any appearance of purpose is epistemically accidental and a mistake. The ID detractors after whom she blindly follows want to shove this universal epistemic nonpurposiveness down our throats without any scientific warrant being possible or any philosophical justification upholding under critical scrutiny.


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