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“Shut up,” Coyne Explained

Jonathan Wells

Joseph A. Kuhn, MD, is a distinguished surgeon affiliated with Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Dr. Kuhn recently published an article critical of Darwinism in the medical center’s Proceedings that has made University of Chicago fruit fly geneticist Jerry A. Coyne as mad as a hornet.
According to Coyne, Kuhn’s paper is “poorly written, dreadful, full of scientific errors, and the journal should not only be ashamed of it, but retract it.”
Coyne writes that Kuhn’s criticisms of current origin-of-life research are “absurdly funny” — even though such research has not led to the abiotic formation of a single functional protein, much less a living cell. Coyne then dismisses Kuhn’s argument that eyes depend on an irreducibly complex light-transduction system, claiming that Kuhn (following Michael Behe) is simply arguing from ignorance and “doesn’t give any examples” — even though Kuhn supports his argument with specific biochemical details.
Coyne goes on to write that Dan-Erik Nilsson and Susanne Pelger once “showed in a cool computer model that a complex camera eye could easily evolve.” Yet Nilsson and Pelger did no such thing, and Coyne’s claim to the contrary — if not due to inexcusable ignorance — borders on fraud. Furthermore, the evolution of a camera eye from a light-sensitive spot — even if it were easy — is irrelevant to the origin of the light-transduction system, as Behe pointed out in 1996.
In response to Kuhn’s argument that the fossil record lacks the innumerable transitional forms required by Darwin’s theory (witness the Cambrian explosion), and that genetic mutations are inadequate to change a fish into an amphibian or a primitive primate into a human, Coyne responds: “He fails to realize that this is all moot because WE KNOW it happened: we have the fossils!”
So, Coyne argues, we Darwinists know our theory is right because we have the fossils. But fossils — which are rocks, frozen in time — do not tell us how one species might transform into another. Modern neo-Darwinism claims that genetic mutations explain the transformation, yet when Kuhn points out how unlikely that is, Coyne — a geneticist! — ignores Kuhn’s point and sounds like stand-up comic Lewis Black: “I’m right, and I don’t have to argue this point any more. Fossils. Fossils. Fossils. I win.”
Instead of adequately addressing Kuhn’s arguments, Coyne calls for their censorship. And he concludes with the following:

This paper is rife with mistakes, misguided appropriations from the creationist literature, and simple ignorance of the evidence for evolution. It’s an embarrassment to the author, to the journal, and to the field of medicine as a whole. I call on the journal to retract this paper, for if it doesn’t, then the Proceedings of the Baylor University Medical Center will be forever tarred as a vehicle for creationist nonsense.”

How odd. With just a few substitutions, this conclusion could be applied to Coyne’s 2009 book Why Evolution Is True:

This book is rife with mistakes, misguided appropriations from the scientific literature, and simple ignorance of the evidence against Darwinian evolution. It’s an embarrassment to the author, to Viking Press, and to the field of biology as a whole. I call on the publisher to retract this book, for if it doesn’t, then Viking Press will be forever tarred as a vehicle for Darwinist nonsense.

Now, THAT’S funny!

Jonathan Wells

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Jonathan Wells has received two Ph.D.s, one in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and one in Religious Studies from Yale University. A Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, he has previously worked as a postdoctoral research biologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the supervisor of a medical laboratory in Fairfield, California. He also taught biology at California State University in Hayward and continues to lecture on the subject.



evolutioninformationJerry CoyneLewis BlackRobert J. Marks