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Design in science

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  • Charles Palm
    Larry Moran: http://reports.ncse.com/index.php/rncse/article/view/125/135 His way isn’t creationism but it’s not exactly science either because he
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 12, 2012
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      Larry Moran: http://reports.ncse.com/index.php/rncse/article/view/125/135
      His way isn’t creationism but it’s not exactly science either because
      he
      postulates a kind of evolution that has a goal, or purpose. He claims that
      one can investigate natural genetic engineering from a purely scientific
      perspective without invoking the supernatural. But if that’s true, then why
      don’t scientists routinely invoke goal-oriented processes? It’s because
      they have a philosophical bias against religion, according to Shapiro.
      Shapiro’s views seem to be philosophically similar to those of Richard
      Sternberg (Richard von Sternberg)—the two of them published several
      articles together a few years ago. Sternberg, you might recall, is the
      darling of the “intelligent design” creationist community because he
      supposedly lost his job at the Smithsonian Institution for promoting
      “intelligent design”. He became one of the heroes of the movie Expelled: No
      Intelligence Allowed (Sager and Scott 2008). Shapiro, like Sternberg, is
      widely admired in the “intelligent design” community and there’s a good
      reason for this. This book is highly critical of old-fashioned evolutionary
      theory (neo-Darwinism) using many of the same silly arguments promoted by
      the Fellows of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.
      Those fellows are dead wrong and so is Shapiro.

      James A Shapiro: General discussions of evolution, especially in the
      context of the Intelligent Design” controversy, suffer from an unfortunate
      conflation in the minds of the lay public (and also of scientists) of three
      distinct questions:

      1 The origin of life.

      2 The evidentiary basis for an evolutionary process.

      3 The nature of evolutionary change.

      James A Shapiro: Almost universally, the term Darwinism is assumed to be
      synonymous with a scientific approach that has provided satisfactory
      answers to all three questions. It is to be hoped that, by now, you realize
      that these three questions are individually complex and that two of
      them are quite far from having coherent scientific explanations. We have
      little solid science on the origin of life, in large part because there is
      virtually no physical record, but also because we still have gaps in our
      understanding of what constitute the fundamental principles of life. As to
      the actual nature of evolutionary change processes, you have seen in Parts
      II and III that cytogenetic observations, laboratory experiments, and,
      above all, molecular evidence about genome sequence changes tell us that
      the simplifying assumptions made in the 19th and early 20th Centuries are
      plainly wrong.

      Reference #1: They fail to account for the variety of cellular and genomic
      events we now know to have occurred. It should be emphasized that
      many change events have been quite rapid and have involved the
      whole genome—notably, symbiosis, interspecific hybridization, and
      whole genome doubling. The one issue that has effectively been settled in
      a convincing way is the evidence for a process of evolutionary change over
      the past three billion years. The reason the answer to this question is so
      solid is that every new technological development in biological
      investigation—from the earliest days of paleontology through light
      microscopy and cytogenetics up to our current molecular sequence
      methodologies—has told the same story: living organisms, past and present,
      are related to each other, share evolutionary inventions, and have changed
      dramatically over the history of the Earth. However, little evidence fits
      unequivocally with the theory that evolution occurs through the gradual
      accumulation of “numerous, successive, slight modifications”.

      James A Shapiro: On the contrary, clear evidence exists for abrupt events
      of specific kinds at all levels of genome organization. These sudden
      changes range from horizontal transfers and the movement of transposable
      elements through chromosome rearrangements to whole genome duplications and
      cell fusions. In this part of the book, we will search for alternative
      conceptual foundations that better account for our current knowledge of
      genome change over evolutionary time.


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