Mike the Mad Biologist

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.

Pathetic.

Next post in the series: Egnor: Don’t Know Much about Antibiotic Resistance

Previous post in the series: The Intellectual Cowardice of Michael Egnor

Comments

  1. #1 Turcano
    March 19, 2008

    Nice post, except for one tiny mistake in the first sentence:

    In the previous post, I described how Egnor, like all creationists, refuses to answer serious rebuttals of his foolishness.

  2. #2 Scott Hanley
    May 10, 2008

    Sure, that might be how scientist think it works. But you’re dealing with religionists here. They know how ideas really work:

    The prophet delivers his doctrine and these original statements are the purest, most truthful form that doctrine can ever take. Everyone who comes after is a follower and can only, at best, expound upon the original ideas. More likely, the successors just dilute the Truth with their own inferior and incompatible ideas.

    Similarly, if the original idea is Not Truth, then no amount of tinkering can ever make it true; Humpty Dumpty was born broken. If the Prophet Darwin was wrong about anything, the entire doctrine falls, no matter how you try to dress it up.

    This “we’ve moved on stuff” you’re describing – that’s as incomprehensible as saying “Jesus was on the right track, but he totally misunderstood free market economics, his turn-the-other-cheek theory turns out to be unworkable, and there’s presently a great deal of debate on whether loving thy enemies is effective policy or not.” Inconceivable.

  3. #3 al??veri?
    November 30, 2008

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