Design in science
- 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
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
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
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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