Casey Luskin touts the results of a Michigan poll showing that 76% of “Michiganonians” (huh?) agree with the following statement:
“Biology teachers should teach Darwin’s theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it.”
My first thought was that this is a typically misleading poll question. If there was scientific evidence against the theory of evolution, how could any intellectually honest person say it should not be taught? No scientist that I know of would take that position in a million years. The question, of course, presumes that which is entirely disputable and hardly axiomatic – that there actually is scientific evidence against evolution.
ID advocates like to use this phrase, but what they really mean is not evidence against evolution but their arguments against evolution. At very best, they might be able to find evidence that is not yet fully explained by evolution, like the bacterial flagellum for which we do not yet have a precise developmental history. But given that we have very good evolutionary explanations for many other complex biochemical systems (even by the admission of Michael Behe), this hardly counts as evidence against evolution.
As if to prove my point, look at the example that Luskin uses to show what he means by “evidence against evolution”:
To illustrate the difference between these two approaches, one can look at vertebrate embryos and recognize that they start developing very differently in a way which challenges the famous “biogenetic law,” inspired by the faked 19th century “research” drawings of Ernst Haeckel (below). One can inform students that actual embryological data challenges the notion of common descent without saying anything about intelligent design or other alternatives to Darwinism.
Notice how he completely changes targets from the premise to his conclusion. First he says that embryological data shows something different than Haeckel’s biogenetic law assumed. This is true. But Haeckel’s biogenetic law was a late 19th century concept that was discredited not long afterward, even without the widespread knowledge that his drawings weren’t accurate. The evidence of embryology is, in fact, against the biogenetic law; it is not, however, against the notion of common descent. Indeed, some of the best evidence of common descent comes from embryology.
This is the typical creationist ploy regarding Haeckel, pretending that the biogenetic law is a part of evolutionary theory. It’s not. It was a single hypothesis of a single man well over a century ago and it was left behind nearly that long ago. That has nothing whatsoever to do with the validity of common descent. If Luskin really thinks that there is embryological evidence against common descent, rather than specifically against the biogenetic law, let him present that evidence and explain why it logically argues against common descent. As it stands, he has demonstrated perfectly that what ID advocates tout as “evidence against evolution” is typically just a distortion of both the evidence and of the theory it is alleged to negate.