Texas Darwinists are afraid of language in the Texas Science Standards that requires students to learn about the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution, justifying their fear by claiming that when it comes to neo-Darwinian evolution, “[t]here may be some questions that may yet to be answered, but nothing that’s to the level of a weakness.” Nothing that’s to the level of a weakness? That’s a pretty dogmatic and unscientific claim. If this Texas Darwinist is right, then I suppose that these comments by leading scientists must not show that there is anything that rises “to the level of a weakness” in neo-Darwinian evolution:
- “We must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.” — Franklin Harold, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University, in an Oxford University Press text.
- “Darwinian evolution — whatever its other virtues — does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology. This becomes especially clear when we compare it with a heuristic framework such as the atomic model, which opens up structural chemistry and leads to advances in the synthesis of a multitude of new molecules of practical benefit. None of this demonstrates that Darwinism is false. It does, however, mean that the claim that it is the cornerstone of modern experimental biology will be met with quiet skepticism from a growing number of scientists in fields where theories actually do serve as cornerstones for tangible breakthroughs.” –U.S. National Academy of Sciences member Philip Skell
- “[The] Darwinian claim to explain all of evolution is a popular half-truth whose lack of explicative power is compensated for only by the religious ferocity of its rhetoric.” –National Academy of Sciences member Lynn Margulis
- “Mutations have a very limited ‘constructive capacity’ … No matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of evolution.” –Past president of the French Academy of Sciences Pierre-Paul Grasse
- “The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.” –Late American paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould
- “Phylogenetic incongruities can be seen everywhere in the universal tree, from its root to the major branchings within and among the various taxa to the makeup of the primary groupings themselves.” –The father of molecular systematics, Carl Woese
- “Most of the animal phyla that are represented in the fossil record first appear, ‘fully formed,’ in the Cambrian … The fossil record is therefore of no help with respect to the origin and early diversification of the various animal phyla.” –Invertebrate Zoology Textbook
- “It remains a mystery how the undirected process of mutation, combined with natural selection, has resulted in the creation of thousands of new proteins with extraordinarily diverse and well optimized functions. This problem is particularly acute for tightly integrated molecular systems that consist of many interacting parts…” –Two leading biologists in Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics
- “New species usually appear in the fossil record suddenly, not connected with their ancestors by a series of intermediates.” –Eminent evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr
Still think Darwinian evolution has “nothing that’s to the level of a weakness”? I strongly suspect we’ll be re-using this quote by this Texas Darwinist (Kevin Fisher) a lot over the coming months. It’s especially difficult to believe his claims in light of the fact that Texas Darwinists are also now resorting to patently false conspiracy theories that “teaching the strengths and weaknesses of theories such as evolution has become ‘code’ for pushing … religion-based ideas in schools.”
I think that Texas Board of Education chair Don McLeroy was right to say that the requirement to teach students the “strengths and weaknesses” should be left in. As McLeroy said, “Evolution shouldn’t have anything to worry about — if there’s no weaknesses, there’s no weaknesses.” What are the Darwinists afraid of? A little critical analysis of evolution never hurt anyone who had the evidence on their side.