Critics of intelligent design (ID) sometimes argue that if the human body were designed, it would be perfect. Among other things, we would not suffer from diseases such as cancer. Defenders of ID point out that this criticism is misplaced. Design does not imply perfection. Many things we know to be designed (such as cars) are imperfect. The “argument from imperfection” against ID is implicitly a theological argument, namely, that God is the designer and anything designed by God must be perfect. ID does not make that claim.
Charles Darwin wrote in the first edition of On the Origin of Species that North American black bears had been seen “swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.
Imagine yourself in Moscow in 1950, taking part in a March for Science. Science in the Soviet Union had been suffering for many years under Trofim Lysenko, a third-rate biologist who promoted unsound agricultural policies. Lysenko’s ideas appealed to Joseph Stalin, who elevated him to a high position. Eventually, all criticisms of Lysenko were prohibited. Thousands of scientists lost their jobs. Some were even imprisoned or executed. You and others in the imaginary Moscow March for Science would be risking your lives to protest Stalin’s rule. Contrast this imaginary March for Science in 1950 with the March for Science on April 22, in Washington, D.C. Organizers describe the Washington march as “a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. …
I am a scientist, but I won’t be joining the worldwide March for Science April 22. That’s because it’s really a march for something that undermines good science. March organizers say “our diversity is our greatest strength.” They say “a wealth of opinions, perspectives, and ideas is critical for the scientific process.” But they don’t really mean it. Their passion for diversity extends to race, religion, nationality, gender and sexual orientation, but not to opinions, perspectives and ideas. In particular, it doesn’t extend to diversity of opinion about two controversial ideas. The first idea is that you evolved from ape-like ancestors by unguided processes such as accidental mutation and natural selection. The second idea is that manmade global warming threatens …
Editor’s note: ENV is delighted to present in two parts Jonathan Wells’s account of the memorable 1999 International Symposium on the Origins of Animal Body Plans and Their Fossil Records, Kunming, China, the subject of recent Internet chatter. This is part two. Find part one here. In June 1999, Paul Nelson and I flew to Kunming in southern China to attend an International Symposium on The Origins of Animal Body Plans and Their Fossil Record, held at Fuxian Lake Hot Springs Resort. According to the invitation letter, the symposium would take “an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the study of the origin and evolution of animal body plans. The organizers encourage not only paleontologists and evolutionary biologists, but also morphologists and Read More ›
I did not watch the sixth episode of Cosmos on April 13, but I’m told that it included animations to illustrate the molecular workings of a chloroplast — the organelle that carries out photosynthesis in a plant cell. In a review of the episode posted on the blog of the censor-everything-but-Darwinism National Center for Science Education, Josh Rosenau called the animations “cartoonish industrial machinery, rather than the messy complexity of the real molecular workhorses within a cell.” Rosenau cited an April 14 piece in the New York Times by Carl Zimmer, who wrote that a widely used 2006 animation titled “The Inner Life of a Cell” was “a piece of art. The scientists and animators made choices about what to Read More ›
Review: The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution byRichard Dawkins (New York: Free Press, 2009) Some years ago an anonymous well-wisher sent Richard Dawkins a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Evolution: The Greatest Show on Earth.” The T-shirt inspired Dawkins with the title for his latest book, which he describes as his “personal summary of the evidence that the ‘theory’ of evolution is actually a fact—as incontrovertible a fact as any in science” (p. vii). Dawkins is a good writer, and his book is quite entertaining, so it is appropriate that he named it after the famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus. Let’s imagine The Greatest Show on Earth as a three-ring circus being performed before an audience of Read More ›
Jerry A. Coyne is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at The University of Chicago. In Why Evolution is True, he summarizes Darwinism — the modern theory of evolution — as follows: “Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species — perhaps a self-replicating molecule — that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection.”1 Coyne further explains that evolution “simply means that a species undergoes genetic change over time. That is, over many generations a species can evolve into something quite different, and those differences are based on Read More ›
According to the online critique of Explore Evolution by the National Center for Science Education: (A) EE claims that natural selection produced only oscillations in beak size in Galápagos finches, but “in the course of a few years, the size changes within species were large enough to explain the differences among the various species of Galápagos finches,” and “the size and shape of finch beaks did change over the course of the 30 years that biologists have been studying the populations.”  (B) EE claims that Galápagos finch species are merging rather than diversifying, but “the hybridization observed in the finches is not enough to merge two species, and observations in the field have actually shown substantial evidence of incipient Read More ›