Top three in January (here)
Runaway favourite: Vince Torley: A world-famous chemist tells the truth: there’s no scientist alive today who understands macroevolution:
Professor James M. Tour is one of the ten most cited chemists in the world. … On Professor Tour’s Website, there’s a very revealing article on evolution and creation, in which Tour bluntly states that he does not understand how macroevolution could have happened, from a chemical standpoint (all bold emphases below are mine – VJT) …
Unlike chromosome doubling, jumping genes, or horizontal gene transfer (for all of which we have evidence) Darwinian macroevolution is something we take on faith. Through the magic of survival of the fittest (natural selection), it turns cows into whales just like the fairy godmother does.
Vince Torley: Macroevolution, microevolution and chemistry: the devil is in the details:
I’d now like to address the central point of contention between Professor Tour and biologist Nick Matzke. Matzke recently contended that Professor James Tour was making a huge category mistake in his demand for a chemical explanation of how macroevolution works. Matzke argued that Tour was trying to explain evolution at the wrong level, and lambasted Tour for “the entire bizarre, naive, and confused idea that explaining macroevolution is a matter of ‘chemistry’, when it is much more closely connected to ecology, biogeography, environmental change, natural selection, etc.” and then added,
“Now, if what he meant wasn’t ‘macroevolution’, but specifically the evolution of developmental systems, i.e. evo-devo – which is what those articles are about – then the request for ‘chemical details’ would make a tiny bit more sense, but it’s still bizarre.”
“What any serious student of the question would look at would be the homologies, genetics, mutations, selection pressures, and functional shifts involved in the origin of a particular structure. Pretending that it’s just ‘chemistry’ that is important, and chemistry only, is just weird. It’s some old-fashioned tidbit of reductionism adopted by someone who apparently can’t be bothered to learn the basics about a field before proclaiming it fallacious.”
Matzke is putting words into Professor Tour’s mouth here: nowhere does he claim that “it’s just ‘chemistry’ that is important, and chemistry only.” Nor has Tour ever espoused reductionism. Rather, what he insists is that macroevolutionary processes have to be describable at a chemical level. This certainly seems to be a reasonable request, and if Matzke thinks it isn’t, he should tell us why.
Why? Because Darwin. That’s why.
Vince Torley: Professor James Tour accepts Nick Matzke’s offer to explain macroevolution:
Professor Tour added that he would do his very best to listen attentively to Mr. Matzke’s description without interjecting, and that he would only question Mr. Matzke when he did not understand what he said. Professor Tour also expressed his deep appreciation to Mr. Matzke, saying that it was very kind of him to propose such an offer.
… on one condition!
There’s just one condition that Professor Tour attached to the meeting, however. In his email to me, he stated: “It shall not be recorded or extend beyond the three of us as this is not for show but for my edification.”
So February was dominated by a lunch. Did it ever happen? Can’t remember.
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