The IDiots Respond

I didn't think it would take very long for the Intelligent Design Creationists to respond to my posting on Evolution Is a Fact and a Theory. After all, it's not something they can be very happy about since it reveals how clueless they've been when discussing evolution.

David Klinghoffer, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, gets the ball rolling with: Evolution in Fact and Theory, Revisited. Let's see how he does ...

Around the 30th anniversary of the publication of Stephen Jay Gould's essay with a similar name, Larry Moran has reposted his essay "Evolution Is a Fact and a Theory." His article begins by blithely accepting the confused terminological protocol that uses the same word, "evolution," to describe very different things: a) the observation that life forms have changed over vast stretches of time, and b) a set of proposed observations regarding how, by what mechanisms, the forms of life have changed.

You don't have to be a philosopher to sense that using the same word to designate different things, in a contentious context like this, is bound to result in confusion if not abuse. It surprises me that folks in biology don't establish a more precise vocabulary, unless the confusion serves a purpose they'd rather not admit even to themselves.
Hmmm ... imagine using a word to describe a field of study while using the same word when you refer to the theory behind it. Gravity, economics, Intelligent Design Creationism, history, epistemology, black holes, plate tectonics, the Bible, music, atoms, cells, politics, ethics, chemical bonds, the weather, .....

In any event, regarding the assertion contained in Moran's title, Casey's formulation has a lot to recommend it:

When evolution is defined as mere change over time within species, no one disputes that such evolution is a fact. But neo-Darwinian evolution -- the great claim that unguided natural selection acting upon random mutations is the driving force that produced the complexity of life -- has many scientific problems because such random and unguided processes do not build new complex biological features. Neo-Darwinian evolution is a theory that has been falsified by the evidence.
The proper definition of evolution is [What Is Evolution?] ...

Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations.
Is it too much to ask that the IDiots get the definition of evolution correct? (It's a rhetorical question.) Evolution is not just change. It has to be heritable change and it has to occur in a population, not an individual. And there can be many populations within a species. You'd think that after several decades the IDiots would at least try and understand the subject they're attacking!

As for "neo-Darwinian" evolution, that's part of evolutionary theory. Evolution by natural selection is a fact. We know that it doesn't explain everything about evolution because there are other mechanisms of evolution that are known to have played a role in the history of life. Can some combination of these mechanisms result in the evolution of complex biological features? Yes, of course they can. It's wishful thinking on the part of the IDiots to claim that evolution can never do that. The theory of evolution by natural selection has not been falsified. Neither has evolution by random genetic drift. There are many viable theories of speciation. Punctuated equilibria seem to be the best explanation for some, but not all lineages in the fossil record. There are lots of theories about mass extinctions. Mutationism seems like a reasonable possibility. Molecular drive is probably restricted to very particular cases. Lamarckian inheritance hasn't been totally ruled out but it's not very likely.

Evolutionary theory is a lot more complicated that the IDiots think. I've spent the better part of 25 years tying to educate them about evolution (fact and theory). How come, after decades of supposedly trying, they still think that "Darwinism" or "neo-Darwinism" is all there is to modern evolutionary theory?

Is it because they're IDiots? (That's a rhetorical question.)

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