Is Shapiro really a design theorist but doesn’t want to admit it? (Evolution News & Views, January 12, 2012)
For proponents of intelligent design, James Shapiro’s constant dancing in the DMZ between Darwin and design can be frustrating. On the one hand, Shapiro is as dismissive of Darwinism as any ID proponent. On the other, he constantly gives public notice that he is not on the side of ID. And yet, methinks he protests too much.
Or not enough.
Shapiro is a molecular biologist on faculty at the University of Chicago. When it comes to ID, Shapiro admits that it has identified some legitimate problems, such as Michael Behe’s irreducibly complex biochemical systems (in this he is light years ahead of Richard Dawkins and Kenneth Miller, who deny that any problem exists). Shapiro admits that these are unresolved in Darwinian terms.
Some Darwinism sounds like such nonsense as to cast grave doubt on the intelligence of the persons who utter it.
Fast forward to two days ago, January 8, 2012. In the Huffington Post, Shapiro wrote an insightful article on the mechanisms involved in antibiotic resistance, rejecting the standard Darwinian picture of antibiotic resistance being conferred by the gradual accumulation of slight adaptive modifications. Appealing to lateral gene transfer as a way of bacteria quickly acquiring complex biological structures and functions, and then appealing to natural genetic engineering to adapt those structures to new circumstances of life, Shapiro offers a picture that seems utterly congenial to intelligent design.
And yet, intelligent design is anathema in the circles in which Shapiro moves, so he must utter the mandatory denunciations:
Well, every form of refuge has its price. Some would find that stuff humiliating.
Like, placating the Darwin tenure bore, the Darwin lobbyist, the government Darwin stiff, the reverend who found Jesus n’ Darwin …
There’s a great relief in telling them all to just go to blazes, but we can’t pretend that it translates into interest from TV hair models or Arianna Huffington – once they realize that you must know what you are talking about, and no compromise.
To get anywhere with these problems, you have to be more embedded in this planet than they are.
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