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An Unhappy Couple: Paul Nelson Reports on the Cambridge “Evolution Evolving” Meeting

David Klinghoffer


Paul Nelson attended a recent meeting at Cambridge University, “Evolution Evolving: An International Conference on the Evolving Mechanisms and Theoretical Framework of Evolutionary Biology.” Behind the wordy title, Dr. Nelson found fascinating evidence of unhappiness among evolutionary biologists. On a new ID the Future episode, he talked with host Andrew McDiarmid about what he witnessed. Download the episode or listen to it here.

Nelson offers a comparison from the world of dating. We’ve all seen it: the supposedly content couple where one partner is in fact clearly “looking around,” literally casting his or her gaze around the room seeking other, better prospects. It’s painful to watch, even though of course the dissatisfied girlfriend or boyfriend would deny what’s plainly going on. 

It’s much the same with the up-and-coming generation of professional evolutionists. They’re seeking what they call an extended evolutionary synthesis, purportedly just a bit of mild correction to classic neo-Darwinism. But the outside observer sees more clearly. 

“No one looks for a better theory if they’re happy with the one they have,” says Nelson, a philosopher of biology and Center for Science & Culture Senior Fellow. And in fact at the conference last month he saw previously “forbidden topics” being explored — “non-genetic inheritance,” “environmentally induced phenotypes,” and more — that surprised even this veteran observer of the ongoing ferment in Darwinian circles. Says Paul, “It’s very difficult to know where that’s going to end up.”

Photo credit: Trouble in paradise? by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash.