ID at the AAAS Annual Meeting, Part 2: David Deamer on the origin of life

This post is the second in a series reviewing the February 15, 2009 session at the AAAS annual meeting, Why Evolution Makes Sense of Biology. The first post is here. David Deamer: Why Evolution Makes Sense of Biochemistry …so-called prebiotic chemistry, which is of course falsely named, because we have no reason to believe that what they’re doing would ever lead to life — I just call it ‘investigator influenced abiotic organic chemistry’… — Robert Shapiro, Chemistry (NYU), at the roundtable “Life, What A Concept!” (p. 92), August 2007 First to the podium following Joshua Rosenau of the NCSE was David Deamer, a biochemist and leading origin of life researcher from UC-Santa Cruz. After outlining the Darwinian historical context — Read More ›

ID at the AAAS 2009 Annual Meeting (Part I)

You won’t find any well-known intelligent design advocates among the speakers at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held recently in Chicago. But that does not mean ID was not there — quite the contrary. Like the social outcast left uninvited to the garden party, who nevertheless becomes the main topic of conversation, ID was on the lips of most of the speakers at an overflow Sunday (2/15) afternoon session, Evolution Makes Sense of Biology. One could be forgiven for leaving the session thinking that evolutionary biology was defined largely by its opposition to ID.

The Catechism Versus the Data (Part 4): The Origin of the Tetrapods

This is the fourth in a blog series responding to John Timmer’s online review of the supplementary biology textbook Explore Evolution. The first part is here, the second here, and the third here. 4. Well, the Tetrapods are Monophyletic: Only “Ph.D.” Malcolm Gordon Disagrees, Right? Timmer accuses EE of what he calls the “find a Ph.D.” approach: “if you look hard enough, you can find someone with a PhD who will say anything.” In this instance, Timmer disparages the minority viewpoint of UCLA biologist Malcolm Gordon (a tenured professor, actually), who has argued that the tetrapods may have evolved polyphyletically (i.e., more than once).

A Footnote to a Footnote to a Footnote: More on Schwabe and relaxin

Two scientists who read the second reply to John Timmer complained (one publicly, the other in an email) that I had neglected to inform readers about the refutation of one of Christian Schwabe’s claims about the protein relaxin. Their complaints, while in my view misdirected, raise some interesting questions that I’ll discuss in my next blog entry.

The Catechism Versus the Data (Part 3): The “Fact” of Evolution

This is the third in a blog series responding to John Timmer’s online review of the supplementary biology textbook Explore Evolution. The first part is here, and the second here. 3. Open Your Catechism to Page One: The Fact of Evolution So what is the “fact” of evolution? Timmer argues that “aspects of the theory [of evolution] can be safely treated as fact,” and in support of this point, cites a paper by the Canadian geneticist T. Ryan Gregory, entitled “Evolution as Fact, Theory and Path.” Here is how Gregory (2008, 49) defines the “fact” of evolution: