In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics.
Allen Orr in Darwin v Intelligent Design (again)
there’s a striking asymmetry in molecular versus evolutionary education in American universities. Although many science, and all biology, students are required to endure molecular courses, evolutionÃ¢â‚¬â€even introductory evolutionÃ¢â‚¬â€is often an elective. The reason is simple: biochemistry and cell biology get Junior into med school, evolution doesn’t. Consequently, many professional scientists know surprisingly little about evolution.
And here’s why evolution doesn’t get Junior into med school:
Evolutionary biology, in contrast with physics and chemistry, is a historical science…[where] Laws and experiments are inappropriate…
Instead one constructs a … narrative
Speaking of constructing narratives (or telling stories) here’s a quote mine of an IDer:
Paul Nelson in Junkyard Dog Chases Texas Philosopher
molecular biology graduate students (for instance) don’t know much, or any, evolutionary theory…[because] Students don’t see the point of storytelling. They could take a Fiction Writing course for that.
I was in disbelief at Paul Nelson’s claim. After all, is not evolution central to biology? I checked out the “Wedge” document for the American Naturalists and their secret plans for world domination:
Evolutionary biology …occupies a central position in the biological sciences.
As was emphasized in a recent report from the United States National Academy of Sciences, biological evolution is Ã¢â‚¬Å“the most important concept in modern biology Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a concept essential to understanding key aspects of living things.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Despite its centrality in the life sciences, evolutionary biology does not yet command a priority in educational curricula or in research funding.
In many or most colleges and universities, a course on evolution is an elective, taken by a minority of biology majors, most of whom do not think it relevant to their medical or other careers. The majority of biology majors may have little exposure to evolution beyond a few weeks (or less) in an introductory biology course.
Don’t these statement strike you all as odd?Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Why then, if evolution is so central to science, is it only seen as worthy ofÃ‚Â a few weeks (or less) in aÃ‚Â college entry-levelÃ‚Â BIOLOGY course! Do you see the incongruity here?
WhyÃ‚Â isÃ‚Â a theory of minimal importance being promoted with so much vigor publicly, yet, inÃ‚Â many biology curriculums, it’s mostly dispensable?Ã‚Â In fact, most studentsÃ‚Â “do not think it relevant to their medical or other careers”.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
I don’t mean to disparage the entire field here, and there are very fine evolutionary biologists likeÃ‚Â Richard Sternberg, butÃ‚Â I simply wish to point out, in terms of a biological disciplines,Ã‚Â Darwinian evolution as the explanation for life’s complexityÃ‚Â seems awfully over-rated in its utility for science.Ã‚Â I have to somewhat agree with Coyne regarding it’s position in the pecking order of Science as lurking near the bottom of the pecking order.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Finally we all know of this little incident:Ã‚Â Barrow to Dawkins: “You’re not really a scientist.”Ã‚Â
PS For the evolutionary biolgists out there, my apologies if I’ve offended you.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â I tried my utmost to quote those within your own profession rather than make judgements of my own.Ã‚Â I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for agreeing with evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne.Ã‚Â I think the world of the work of evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg and the work of John Davison, and I regret that their field of study is tarnished by considerations outside of their fine work.
Jerry Coyne. Of Vice and Men. (Review of the A Natural History of Rape, byR. Thornhill and C. Palmer).The New Republic, April 3, 2000.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â