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UM Professors Cast Doubt on…. Evolutionary Theory?

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They seem to have gotten the headline wrong, but the content is correct. ID is winning the minds of intellectuals at an accelerating pace:

Dr. Schroeder is only one of many intellectuals that are part of the rising tide questioning the science of evolution being taught in text books, where political agendas often create an environment stifling dissension and serious debate.

Full article here.

Would anyone like to take a shot at why the article title was so far off the content? Call it a Darwinian Slip?

From the article:
In some respects, the current evolution debate has taken the form of the flat earth arguments of the 15th century, or the geocentric/heliocentric debate which lasted for over a millennium. On both sides were the best scientists and philosophers of the day, and both had different interpretations of the same evidence. Only time and advances in technology were able to prove one side empirically correct. Yet, at this time, we do not have the ability to go back in time and observe the genesis of the universe. Instead we must content ourselves with theories. However, these theories can only be improved by avoiding the dogma surrounding them, comparing the evidence of the present with the theories of the past, and adjusting them accordingly.
Very true. I'm just really glad the zealous witch hunters can't burn us heretics at the stake anymore. crandaddy
oops, was aiming for the shift key, and hit some weird combo of keys...Anyway...How could one get to that level of education, and aquire any sort of job experience with out developing the ability to read or otherwise take in, critique, analyze and possibly even apply to other areas, information from feilds of study not seemingly directly related to your own? I don't know this for fact, but every time I look into it, it seems like no matter what course major you decide on, economics is a requirement. Why would that be, except that the study of that so very complex and complicated feild of inquiry gives you very excellent tools for dealing with the complexity and complitcatedness of absolutely any area of thought and investigation. Regardless of whether an engineer or mechanic is "qualified and certified" in the feild of evolution, they most certainly are capable and have the training. Even I recognized the electric motor the first time I saw the bacterial flagellum. I actually thought I was looking at a power generator in a hydro-electric dam... carbon14atom
huh, I wonder if I should feel insulted, I was, until a few years ago, a certified mechanic. NO! WAIT! THATS IT! I DON"T understand evolution theory, how something can possibly be considered to be even remotely true OR factual when all that I was ever taught about it was based on faked evidence, presumption, and assumption that has no evidence to support it. Ok, now I don't feel so insulted. carbon14atom
Brayton is writing about an engineer's lack of authority to speak on important issues in evolutionary biology. That only shows his lack of appreciation for the engineers role in the future of biology. Biology is permeated by Turing machines (computers), software, artificial languages, feed back control systems, etc. etc. That is an engineers domain. Systems biology will become a dominant paradigm within biology, and that will require the insights and participation of engineers. Perhaps Ed should read about systems biology and it's future. Even Bruce Alberts said that engineering will be an important component of biological understanding in the future. Guests give answers at presidential colloquy or how about this: Systems Biology Evolutionary explanations must be able to answer questions about systems biology. If a systems biologist in the not too distant future asks, "hey, how did this analog to digital signal processor evolve in the cell?" or "how did the gene grammars adopt this particular backus-normal form" or "how will evolution help us understand the engineered design of the cell better?" What's the evolutionary biolgist going to answer? Maybe something like, "You system biologist/engineer types don't know squat about evolution, you're just religiously motivated, that's why you're questioning how it happened....Clearly the phylogentic molecular data says it evolved. The homologies show it must have evolved. You're blind if you can't see that this is proof it evolved. Of course evolution helps you understand the design of the cell better, can't you see that?" I can only envision the systems biologist/engineer just shaking his head in disbelief, thinking to himself how worthless evolutionary theory is to understanding the design in biology. A JMU professor reported recently to my circle of friends that at a recent bio-technology conference he attended, he was astounded that there were hardly any biologists there. Chemists, computer scientists, physicists, mathematicians, engineers dominated the scene. Evolutionary biologists? Eh, non-essential personnel. How accurate were the words of Jerry Coyne, "In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics." At George Mason, the (now retired) co-founder of the Bio-Informatics department was the former chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering. Times are changing. Here are some interesting engineering/computer science related biology developments: Institue of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: Concepts in Post Genomic Era Basic Gene Grammars and DNA-ChartParser for language processing of Escherichia coli promoter DNA sequences Systems biology will dominate the landscape, evolutionary biology will be relegated to the bottom of the pecking order if it isn't already. scordova
"no one believes that “random mutation and natural selection” account for all of the complexity of life on the planet. Not even Richard Dawkins believes that." The conclusion of Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker:
It is the contention of the Darwinian world-view that...slow, gradual, cumulative natural selection is the ultimate explanation for our existence. If there are versions of the evolution theory that deny slow gradualism, and deny the central role of natural selection, they may be true in particular cases. But they cannot be the whole truth, for they deny the very heart of the evolution theory, which gives it the power to dissolve astronomical improbabilities and explain prodigies of apparent miracle.
Thus, Dawkins does make allowance for trivial exceptions to RM+NS, so the statement from scienceblog is technically true. However, it's a strawman because it misrepresents the Scientific Dissent from Darwin statement, which reads:
We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.
Dawkins does believe in "the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life." j
I'm not sure what kind of scrutiny editors at the Michigan Review give their contributors' work, but it looks like a classic case of a managing editor or publisher making an assumption without reading the content of the story.Just goes to show how strong the bias is. As a freelance contributor for a local section section of the Des Moines Register, I've called my editor a couple of times and told her how embarrassed I was about the title or the tagline printed for my story. Journalists don't always have control. kathy
jerry: "The only trouble is it conflicts with Thanksgiving which is a big social event in our family every year." Heck, take the whole family with you! :) Seriously, thanks for the reference. It sounds like a fascinating trip to take. dougmoran
Dr. Schroeder is a very interesting guy. I've read a couple of his books and if anybody is interested his website is here. His discussion of the Cambrian and phyla is eye opening and his attempts to reconcile God and science laudable. A fine man. John
Gerald Schroeder was a major player in the anti-Darwin movement before ID and DI. See his book Genesis and the Big Bang. He is also a biblical scholar going to the original Hebrew to find alternative interpretations of the words of Genesis. Day might not mean day and light may not mean light, night might not mean night, morning may not mean morning, evening may not mean evening. What do the ancient Jewish scholars think. In other words the Hebrew words had different connotations. He is never mentioned in the ID debate but when I asked a couple Jewish friends about evolution, the first words out of their mouths was Gerald Schroeder. His website is http://www.geraldschroeder.com/ If you have a few thousand left around he runs a 2 week safari every year discussing evolution and Genesis in South Africa. Stay at first class accommodations in the bush and each night discuss God, Genesis and evolution under the stars. I am saving my pennies. The only trouble is it conflicts with Thanksgiving which is a big social event in our family every year. jerry

The same poster at scienceblogs comments:

Of what possible relevance is engineering to evolutionary biology? The average engineer likely doesn't know the difference between a species and a speculum. Why would anyone think that they speak with any more authority on evolutionary biology than they do on art history or the art of the zone defense?... An engineer has no more legitimate authority to speak on evolutionary biology than a certified mechanic or a culinary school graduate.

In other words, one may not critique the claims of evolutionary biology without being an evolutionary biologist, or at least without undergoing special training.
This is not the case, for the simple reason that evolutionary theory is such a soft “science” that any reasonably intelligent person can very easily and readily grasp all the salient points and implications of the evidence. (The reverse is not true, of course. An evolutionary biologist would need to acquire quite a bit of expertise to reasonably critique principles of mathematics or engineering.)
I love this quote from David Berlinski:

The ID movement in its attack on Darwinism has simply articulated what many people instinctively feel. Darwin’s theory is plain nuts. It is not supported by the evidence; it has no organizing principles; it is incoherent on its face; it flies against all common experience, and it is poisonous in its implications.
And another thing. It is easy to understand. Anyone can become an evolutionary biologist in an afternoon. Just read a book. Most of them are half illustrations anyway. It’s not like studying mathematics or physics, lot of head splitting stuff there.
It is thus infinitely droll to see evolutionary biologists restrain themselves from debating the issue on the grounds that the public is apt to get confused. And God Knows, there’s no need to confuse the public so long as they keep those swell funding checks coming.

Brutal! :-) -ds GilDodgen
"because no one believes that "random mutation and natural selection" account for all of the complexity of life" That shows how Darwinists love to play game with words. When you say RM/NS can't account for the complexity in life forms, they rant and rave about RM/NS is not the only mechanism that they have. However, anyone with an understanding of evolutionary biology knows the fact that if you take out the RM/NS from the set of Darwinian mechanisms, whatever else remains can't account for the complexity of life. In same article: "Of what possible relevance is engineering to evolutionary biology? The average engineer likely doesn't know the difference between a species and a speculum." The level of arrogance here is totally laughable. They simple believe when it comes to evolutionary biology anyone who is not directly in the field simply must be considered as a layman. Because an average engineer is too obtuse to understand the difference between a species and a speculum. Ofcourse, evolutionary biology is something that requires you to have atleast an IQ above 180 to fully comprehend, isn't it? Farshad
The blog below picked up on your comments here. Among other things, what caught my eye was the following statment he made: "There isn't an evolutionary biologist in the world who couldn't honestly sign that statement because no one believes that "random mutation and natural selection" account for all of the complexity of life on the planet. Not even Richard Dawkins believes that." I've read many quotes by Dawkins (and others) and my understanding is he believes exactly this. If not RM+NS then what else? http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/04/engineers_against_evolution.php Lurker
I conjecture that the original title, "UM Professors Cast Doubt on Intelligent Design" was provided to get past the very shallow (reading only the headline) censors. The contents of this article are excellent, and most fundimentally pro-ID. bFast

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