In the previous post, I described how Egnor, like many creationists, refuses to answer serious rebuttals of his foolishness. But what’s truly odd is how Egnor argues about natural selection.
Egnor repeatedly claims that ‘Darwinism’ is nothing except self-obvious: bacteria that are more likely to survive and reproduce because they are resistant to an antibiotic are more likely to survive and reproduce in the presence of that antibiotic.
It is obvious–today. If I were to give a talk which had as its central thesis the concept that natural selection has given rise to antibiotic resistant bacteria, my colleagues would think I was suffering from mental illness. It would be as ridiculous as physicist ScienceBlogling Chad giving a talk about the existence of a phenomenon he calls gravity, or an astronomer expounding about heliocentrism.
We’ve moved on since then.
Fields evolve and mature.
In 1859 (hence the post title), evolution by natural selection was a debated hypothesis. Since that time, we’ve nailed it down. If Egnor wanted to, he could walk over to the Stony Brook library and read John Endler’s Natural Selection in the Wild which documents hundreds of examples of natural selection–and was written in 1984. He could check out Joel Kingsolver’s online database that describes over 1500 studies that estimate the effects of selection. And, I imagine if he asked nicely, the Stony Brook Ecology and Evolution might even let him sit in on some courses (provided he wasn’t disruptive, of course…).
He would learn how evolutionary biologists use molecular data to infer the action of selection, using data not even in the realm of imagination of Darwin. He would learn how we can estimates of natural selection to identify functionally significant regions of proteins. He might realize, that while those who are wasting their time arguing about natural selection–the existence of which is controversial no more–are galloping back to the past in a horse and buggy, modern biology is shooting at supersonic speeds into the future with tools and data that weren’t even conceivable fifty years ago, let alone in Darwin’s time. That evolutionary biology is asking questions of which Darwin couldn’t even begin to conceive.
Instead he is trapped in the past.
Next post in the series: Egnor: Don’t Know Much about Antibiotic Resistance
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