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Dr. Larry Moran, Darwinism, and Vicious Personal Invective

University of Toronto biochemistry professor Larry Moran takes issue with my characterization of his vicious personal attacks on Dr. Jonathan Wells. Dr. Wells has pointed out that superb recent research on bacterial resistance to antibiotics was independent of Darwin’s theory. Dr. Moran said of Dr. Wells:

…the right people hate Idiots…Wells makes a virtue out of lying for Jesus…He should be an embarrassment to the intelligent design creationist cult except that the members of that cult are all incapable of separating fact from fiction when it comes to science…When I first saw the Wells article I seriously wondered whether Jonathan Wells was mentally stable…

Dr. Moran has a low view of people who question his evolutionary views from the perspective of design. In 2006 he said of students who support the inference to design in biology:

Flunk the IDiots…40% of the freshman class [at UCSD] reject Darwinism… the university has become alarmed at the stupidity of its freshman class and has offered remedial instruction for those who believe in Intelligent Design Creationism…UCSD should not have required their uneducated students to attend remedial classes. Instead, they should never have admitted them in the first place…[T]he University should just flunk the lot of them and make room for smart students who have a chance of benefiting from a high quality education.

In light of the this viscious suppression of dissent from Darwin’s theory that is so characteristic of ideologues like Dr. Moran, I made the following observation:

If you were a scientist, how candid about questioning the relevance of Darwinism would you be if your livelihood depended on Darwinist professors like Dr. Myers and Dr. Moran?

Dr. Moran’s response was a post titled “Michael Egnor is an Idiot”. He begins:

Readers may recall that Wells made a really stupid claim that studying antibiotic resistance in bacteria had nothing to do with evolution.

That’s not what Dr. Wells said. Dr. Wells said:

Darwinian evolution had nothing to do with [the research]…some bacteria happen to have a very complex enzyme (acetyltransferase), the origin of which Darwinism hasn’t really explained…And although an understanding of genetics is important when dealing with antibiotic resistance, Darwin’s theory of the origin of species by natural selection is not…they were not guided by Darwinian evolutionary theory [Emphasis mine]

Dr. Wells pointed out that research on antibiotic resistance wasn’t guided by Darwinian evolutionary theory. That evolution occurred — that is, that the population of bacteria changed over time — is obviously true, and obviously was relevant to the antibiotic resistance research. Dr. Wells made the observation that the research owed little to Darwin’s theory that all biological complexity arose by natural selection without teleology.
What’s Dr. Moran’s own view of Darwinism? Dr. Moran gushes:

Charles Darwin was the greatest scientist who ever lived…Darwin discovered natural selection and he promoted and sold the idea of common descent. He founded evolutionary biology. Today evolutionary biology is one of the largest and most exciting fields in all of science.

Yet, Dr. Moran has moved on:

I am not a Darwinist…Anyone with an IQ above 50 knows that neither PZ [Myers] or (sic) I are Darwinists… We have both posted numerous articles attacking…the emphasis on natural selection as the only mechanism of evolution…In other words, both of us have as much of a reputation for questioning fellow evolutionists as for challenging IDiots like Wells and Egnor.

Ironically, Dr. Moran doesn’t accept Darwinism either. So first Dr. Moran misrepresents Dr. Wells’ observation about the relevance of Darwinism to antibiotic resistance, then he calls Dr. Wells and “Idiot”, then he sneers at Dr. Wells’ religious beliefs, then he calls into doubt Dr. Wells’ sanity, and then Dr. Moran asserts that he’s not a Darwinist, either, because he’s “posted numerous articles attacking…the emphasis on natural selection as the only mechanism of evolution.”

When Dr. Wells questions Darwinism and natural selection, Dr. Moran calls him an “Idiot.” When Dr. Moran questions Darwinism and natural selection, he calls himself an “evolutionist.”
Surely Dr. Moran doesn’t mean that evolutionists are…

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.