Yesterday UD News reported on Kevin Laland’s comments about the controversies currently roiling in the materialist evolutionist community. See The Royal Society Meeting: Keeping the lid on for now. Larry Moran, prominent professor of biochemistry at the University of Toronto and inveterate defender of materialist evolution, dropped by and commented:
The problem with Kevin Laland and his colleagues is not that there’s no debate … it’s that there IS a furious debate and they’ve missed it entirely. The real ongoing debate is between adaptationists and those pluralists who accept Neutral Theory and the importance of random genetic drift.
Dr. Moran is certainly correct. There is a furious debate between old-school “adaptationists” and those, like Moran, who reject the “gene-centric neo-darwinist paradigm.” But my purpose in this post is not to take sides in that debate. Instead, Moran’s observation put me in mind of a post I put up almost exactly two years ago: Berlinski’s Question Remains Unanswered
In a preceding post to that one I had asked evolutionists the following question:
I have a question for non-ID proponents only and it is very simple: Is there even one tenet of modern evolutionary theory that is universally agreed upon by the proponents of modern evolutionary theory?
I suspected that evolutionists would not be able to agree on any such tenant and sat back and waited for the responses to come in. Responses did come in, and my suspicion was confirmed. I reported on the conclusion of my little experiment as follows:
What I was really trying to get at was this: Is there any “core” proposition on which all proponents of modern evolutionary theory agree. By “core” proposition, I do not mean basic facts of biology that pretty much everyone from YECs to Richard Dawkins agrees are true. I mean a proposition upon which the theory stands or falls and  sets it apart from other theories and accounts for its unique purported explanatory power.
I have in mind a proposition that would answer David Berlinski’s famous question:
“I disagree [with Paul R. Gross’ assertion] that Darwin’s theory is as “solid as any explanation in science.” Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?”
Indeed. What does modern evolutionary theory offer in comparison? How can the theory ever hope to be as “solid as any explanation in science” when its proponents cannot seem to agree on a single tenet, the falsification of which would, in Berlinski’s words, shatter the theory?
Dr. Moran’s comments today confirm that Berlinski is still waiting for an answer to his question.
The 1940s version of evolutionary theory (“Modern Synthesis”) is no longer sufficient to explain what we know in the 21st century. For many biologists, the most important extensions to evolutionary theory took place in the 1970s with the incorporation of Neutral Theory (actually Nearly-Neutral Theory) and recognition of the importance of random genetic drift, especially in molecular evolution. Most people also realized that there was more to macroevolution than just lots of microevolution.
This is, of course, a corollary to my conclusion. When the new school, as represented by Moran, and the old school (which Moran often uses Richard Dawkins to exemplify) cannot even agree on the relative importance of Darwin’s proposed mechanism for evolution (i.e., natural selection), we can be sure there is no universally agreed upon tenant of materialist evolution.
All of which brings me to a series of questions for Dr. Moran:
- Will he admit that Berlinski’s question remains unanswered?
- For decades Darwinists such as Dawkins got red in the face, stamped their feet, and shouted that their adaptationist theory of evolution was not just a theory but a fact fact fact! Will Moran admit that they were wrong wrong wrong?
- And if the adapationist view – which was a rigid monolithic orthodoxy for decades – turned out to be wrong, shouldn’t we be skeptical when someone else comes along with their pet theory, gets red in the face, stamps their feet and shouts that it is fact fact fact?