Eric Hoffer’s Skepticism About Darwinism

ENV is pleased to welcome guest blogger Tom Bethell, a senior editor of The American Spectator and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (Regnery) and other books. Many years ago I interviewed Eric Hoffer (1898-1983), and may have been the last journalist to do so. Widely known as the Longshoreman Philosopher, he was for years a member of the dockers’ union in San Francisco, but his views were not those of your typical stevedore. He had published The True Believer in 1951, and more books after that. Impressed by the breadth of his mind and the unconventional nature of his opinions, I wrote and asked if I could come and interview him. That was in 1980. He invited Read More ›

Racism? Sexism? Que sera, sera.

Evolutionary evangelist Jerry Coyne argues that we are all just slaves to our genes and that behaviors likes racism and sexism are facts of evolution. They’re in our “own nature”. We may also have evolved to be sexist and xenophobic, but that doesn’t mean that we should give up trying to extirpate racism and sexism from our world. After all, by asking people to stop disliking foreigners, or those of different races, we may be asking them to defy their own nature. Yet, he thinks we should try to stamp them out anyhow. But, if these traits are simply a result of our genetic make-up won’t evolution eventually either enhance such traits or eradicate them forever? In its own good Read More ›

When Evolutionary Psychology Collides With Morality

In 2006, the New York Times published an exceedingly long book review titled “An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong,” covering Harvard evolutionary psychologist Marc D. Hauser’s theories of the evolution of human morality. “Religions are not the source of moral codes,” stated the review when describing Hauser’s ideas, further noting that this claim, “if true, would have far-reaching consequences.” The review observed that “[m]atters of right and wrong have long been the province of moral philosophers and ethicists,” but after Hauser’s work, “[m]oral philosophers may not welcome a biologist’s bid to annex their turf.” So who has authority over morality: evolutionary psychologists, or theologians? In his book, Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong, Read More ›

Behe Critic on Bacterial Flagellum: No Intelligence Required Because “Natural forces work ‘like magic'”

Over at BioLogos, biologist Kathryn Applegate has offered what has to be one of the more creative alternatives to the intelligent design of the bacterial flagellum: Magic. I’m not kidding. Applegate readily concedes biochemist Michael Behe‘s point that the flagellum “looks and functions just like the outboard motor, a machine designed by intelligent human engineers. So conspicuous is the resemblance that it seems perfectly logical to infer a Designer for the flagellum.” But, wait, she says: “The bacterial flagellum may look like an outboard motor, but there is at least one profound difference: the flagellum assembles spontaneously, without the help of any conscious agent.” (emphasis added)  Acknowledging that “the self-assembly of such a complex machine almost defies the imagination,” Dr. Applegate assures her readers that this is not really a problem Read More ›

Zombie Genes?

On August 19, Gina Kolata reported in The New York Times that geneticists “have seen a dead gene come back to life and cause a disease.” According to Kolata, the human genome “is riddled with dead genes, fossils of a sort, dating back hundreds of thousands of years–the genome’s equivalent of an attic full of broken and useless junk,” though some of those genes “can rise from the dead like zombies.” Now a supposed “zombie gene” is implicated in a type of muscular dystrophy abbreviated FSHD–a hereditary disease that affects about 1 in every 20,000 people. Kolata cites a recent Science article that begins by reviewing work dating back to the 1990s that establishes a link between FSHD and a Read More ›