Academic Elites Don’t Appreciate Uppity Scientists Who Buck the Consensus

Here come more threats to academic freedom, not unlike those seen by intelligent design proponents and Darwin skeptics. Over the years we’ve covered many, many cases like this where someone who expresses doubt about Darwinian evolution is harassed, fired, denied tenure, and so on. “The significance of this is a threat to academic freedom and it’s also a threat to academic science,” Siegel said. “If scientists have to produce work that meets a certain view to keep their jobs, researchers are going to stop publishing negative findings for fear of being fired.” No, they will simply stop researching period in the subject areas that get them in trouble. The average scientist can find lots of fruitful areas of research that Read More ›

Hawking Not Needed to Explain His New Book, Says Universe

Reached today for comment about Stephen Hawking’s new book, the Universe said that Professor Hawking should receive no credit for the ideas. “You humans naively assume that ‘physicists’ exist, who discover theories,” said the Universe. “But I did it all. Me. The transitory entity known to you as ‘Stephen Hawking’ is merely an epiphenomenon of the laws of nature, otherwise known as Me, the Universe itself. Mindless physical stuff, the only thing that ever really existed, or ever will exist.” “Hawking, and that other guy — what’s his face, Dawkins — have been stealing my royalties for years. I’ve got some lawyers working on that.” “Anyway, I don’t know why Hawking and Dawkins, or Harris and Dennett and the rest Read More ›

Implications of Genetic Convergent Evolution for Common Descent

In the previous post, I discussed a recent paper in Trends in Genetics, “Causes and evolutionary significance of genetic convergence,” which notes that that genetic convergence is not uncommon, even though only a “restricted number of substitutions” at the genetic level can create novel phenotypic traits. This data not only shows that functional genotypes are rare, but it also poses a much deeper problem for evolutionary thinking–one that challenges the very basis for constructing phylogenetic trees. The main assumption behind evolutionary trees is that functional genetic similarity implies inheritance from a common ancestor. But “convergent” genetic evolution shows that there are many instances where functional similarity is not the result of inheritance from a common ancestor. So when we find Read More ›

A Biologist Misunderstands Intelligent Design (Again)

In an earlier article, I pointed out biologist Kathryn Applegate’s astonishing attempt to attribute the bacterial flagellum to “magic” rather than intelligent design. But I neglected to point out another problem with her critique of ID: She apparently does not understand what the theory of intelligent design actually proposes. Applegate’s misunderstanding becomes clear early-on when she asserts: “Despite the strong appearance of special design, most scientists, myself included, believe the evidence points to a gradual development for the bacterial flagellum.” Applegate here treats intelligent design as the opposite of “a gradual development of the bacterial flagellum.” But no intelligent design theorist would do that. Many intelligently-designed things in nature may well develop through a gradual process. That’s not the issue. 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 ›