I normally do not respond to criticisms and reviews of my work that are simply posted on the internet. Rather, I engage reviews, comments, and articles that appear in journals or prominent newspapers and magazines. The reason is that those printed venues usually ask noted scientists or philosophers to review books, so that they are very likely to contain the most pertinent and insightful comments. After all, if a book challenging Darwinian evolution is reviewed separately by the likes of Sean Carroll, Jerry Coyne, Michael Ruse, and Richard Dawkins, then the odds are good that they would have discovered any major errors, if such there be. However, if upon considering their criticisms, we see huffing and puffing instead of reasoned argument, or an attack on straw men instead of the actual arguments the author made, then we can conclude that the best minds in the field don’t have answers to the arguments the book presents. And if the best minds don’t have answers, it is quite likely that no one else has answers either.
That’s what happened when The Edge of Evolution was published in 2005. It received uniformly hostile reviews by prominent Darwinists. However, in my author’s blog on Amazon.com, at the time I engaged their criticisms and showed that virtually all of the reviews consisted of various degrees of bluster, question-begging, or attacks on straw men. What valid points remained I showed were minor and did not affect the main argument of the book: that while Darwinism can explain minor changes in life, there are strong reasons to think it does not explain much of the phenomenal complexity of the cell. Anyone who wishes to read those responses can do so at my blog and make their own judgments.
Normally I don’t respond to internet criticisms, but sometimes I do. Recently several people have asked me to comment on a series of posts by “various guest voices” at BioLogos, a website promoting “theistic evolution.” Lately the voices have taken quite an interest in my work, and all seem to be of one voice in finding it misleading, sub-par, and downright wrong (although I must say that they are always very polite when they accuse me of misleading people.) One of the voices is a member of the staff of BioLogos, and another voice is a biology student at the college where the president of BioLogos teaches biology.
The only voice that doesn’t seem to have a pretty direct connection to BioLogos is a man named David Ussery, who is an associate professor of comparative microbial genomics at the Center for Biological Sequence Analysis at the Technical University of Denmark. I first met Dave in 1998 at Roanoke College in Virginia, where we debated my 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box in front of a student audience. I immediately liked him — a congenial man who shared my interest in DNA structure. Because Dave is the most senior scientific voice in the chorus, and because he is not affiliated with BioLogos, I will briefly respond to his ongoing review of The Edge of Evolution in two forthcoming posts. (As I write this he is up to four longish posts and apparently continuing; I won’t be responding to any subsequent posts in the BioLogos series.)