Further to Barry Arrington’s post, “Zachriel goes into insane denial mode,” which has garnered so far 170 comments, and doubtless counting:
The biggest problem for Darwin’s supporters (paleo, neo, extended, whatever) today has nothing to do with Uncommon Descent or with any design hypothesis.
The problem is genome mapping. Blame people like Francis Collins and Craig Venter.
Darwinian evolution was always a theory, by which Darwinism (natural selection acting on random mutation generates huge levels of information, not noise) .
It was the single greatest idea anyone ever had, and could be believed without evidence because “Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining certain aspects of life.” (p. 287, Blind Watchmaker, 1986)
And it has been believed without evidence. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is considered by a broad swathe of lay people to be the most influential academic book they know, with very little evidence backing it.
It is a theory that is in constant search for evidence, which results in masses of Darwinian fairy-tales about everything from why stressed mares miscarry through why insects kill their moms, or how people vote and why they tip at restaurants.
One need only map some circumstance in life onto the theory, chop off the inconvenient bits, and there we are: More “science” at work.
Loud crash is heard, some time around 2000.
Today, we know much more than we used to about how life forms change over time. Evolution has become a history, not a theory. Like all histories, it is messy. It only indifferently supports a theory.
Mechanism differs from theory in that it answers Behe’s question, “How, exactly?”: For example, one mechanism of the evolution of some life forms is simply absorbing genes from another organism (horizontal gene transfer):
Bacteria that grow on crustaceans can absorb fragments containing more than 40 genes, using a small “spear.” Researcher Melanie Blokesch describes that number as “an enormous amount of new genetic information.” That may explain why antibiotic resistance sets in so quickly. More.
Jut think of all the Darwinian fairy tales that could have been, and maybe were, told about how natural selection acting on random mutation caused the antibiotic resistance, when they were, for practical purposes of explanation, caused by bacterium equipped with a small spear.
We are now much closer to the world of Popular Mechanics than the world of Philosophical Quarterly.
Mechanism doesn’t answer the kinds of questions “science vs. religion” types or “God-and-science” types explore. But it does answer questions about how evolution happens.
It has become a history.
Nowhere is there any reason to believe that Darwin’s claimed mechanism, that massive increases in information somehow happen just because the “fittest” at any given time survive and reproduce, explains anything in particular. And the claimed random creation of high levels of information just does not fit with what we know about the universe we live in.
Darwin’s faithful are thus reduced to endless terminological squabbles about what “stasis” or “primitive” mean.
It keeps us on our toes, and keeps up our site numbers.
And these guys still have jobs! Goodness! Darwin’s lobby must start calling on Top People for support more often, not?
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