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Atheists Against Darwinism - Page 11

Nagel states: "My own situation is that of an atheist who, in spite of being an avid consumer of popular science, has for a long time been skeptical of the claims of traditional evolutionary theory to be the whole story about the history of life."[98] In Nagel's view:

Sophisticated members of the contemporary culture have been so thoroughly  indoctrinated that they easily lose sight of the fact that evolutionary reductionism  defies common sense. A theory that defies common sense can be true, but doubts about its truth should be suppressed only in the face of exceptionally strong  evidence.[99]

Thus Nagel apparently agrees with Behe that the burden of proof is on those who doubt design:

a person who conjectured that the statues on Easter Island . . . were actually the result of unintelligent forces would bear the substantial burden of proof the claim demanded. In those examples, the positive evidence for design would be there for all to see in the purposeful arrangements of parts to produce the images. Any putative evidence for the claim that the images were actually the result of unintelligent processes . . . would have to clearly show that the postulated unintelligent process could indeed do the job. In the absence of such a clear demonstration, any person would be rationally justified to prefer the design explanation.[100]

It's worth noting Fuller's comment that: "As long as evolutionists cannot bridge the model gap between the possible and the actual in their core domain . . . the conceptual space remains for alternative  explanatory scenarios for the emergence of the cell and other prima facie intelligently designed features of nature."[101] If it 'looks like a duck, walks like a duck, swims like a duck and sounds like a duck' then it should be assumed to be a duck, in the absence of sufficient evidence to the contrary.[102] Franklin Harold admits: "there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations."[103] It should take more than "wishful speculations" to trump the prima facie evidence for design.[104]

Behe distinguishes between common descent and adaptationism, accepting the former but rejecting the latter as the explanation for (most of) the former[105]:

Random mutation, natural selection, common descent ? three separate ideas welded into one theory . . . In brief, the evidence for common descent seems compelling . . . Second, there's also great evidence that random mutation paired with natural selection can modify life in important ways. Third, however, there is strong evidence that random mutation is extremely limited.[106]

Fuller distinguishes between:

observable, often experimentally induced, "microevolution" in the laboratory, and more speculative inferences concerning "macroevolution" in the distant past based on the fossil record. The neo-Darwinian synthesis consists largely of an extended promissory note to the effect that these two senses of "evolution" are ultimately the same.[107]

Arguing for macroevolution from the fossil record doesn't show that common descent is explicable in terms of an extrapolated micro-evolutionary process. Indeed, most of The Edge of Evolution is devoted to showing that, far from making good on Fuller's "promissory note", a straight-forward extrapolation from the evidence of microevolution shows that the macro-evolutionary explanation is all but empty (the merits of design as an alternative explanation is an separate issue). Behe urges: "Properly evaluating Darwin's theory absolutely requires evaluating random mutation and natural selection at the molecular level."[108] Nagel agrees:

Are the sources of genetic variation uniformly random or not? That is the central issue, and the point of entry for defenders of ID. In his recent book, The Edge of Evolution, Michael Behe examines a body of currently available evidence about the normal frequency and biochemical character of random mutations in the genetic material of several organisms: the malaria parasite, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the bacterium E. coli, and humans. He argues that those widely cited examples of evolutionary adaptation, including the development of immunity to antibiotics, when properly understood, cannot be extrapolated to explain the formation of complex new biological systems. These, he claims, would require . . . mutations whose random probability, either as simultaneous multiple mutations or as sequences of separately adaptive individual mutations, is vanishingly small. He concludes that alterations to DNA over the course of the history of life on earth must have included many changes that we have no statistical right to expect, ones that were beneficial beyond the wildest reach of probability . . . he believes that random mutation is not sufficient to explain the range of variation on which natural selection must have acted to yield the history of life . . . This seems on the face of it to be a scientific claim, about what the evidence suggests, and one that is not self-evidently absurd. I cannot evaluate it; I merely want to stress its importance for the current debate.[109]


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