On August 4, 2004, an article by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer appeared in a rather obscure peer-reviewed journal entitled The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington,1 and it quickly ignited a firestorm of controversy. It argued that the current view of evolution can never hope to explain life as we see it today. The editor of the journal was branded a heretic, and he was then targeted for retaliation and harassment. Not surprisingly, he is no longer the editor of that journal. The Scientific Inquisition, which strives to enforce scientific orthodoxy, probably thought that would be the end of it. Surely no other peer-reviewed journal would ever dare to publish an honest discussion of evolution.
Well, it turns out that the Inquisition was wrong. Another obscure peer-reviewed journal, the Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, has published an article by Dr. Joseph A. Kuhn, a surgeon who is affiliated with the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.2 The article brings up three main points:
1. There is no significant progress towards coming up with even a plausible Darwinian-style mechanism to explain the origin of life.
2. Cellular systems exhibit irreducible complexity, and thus cannot be explained by any kind of Darwinian-style mechanism.
3. There is no reasonable fossil evidence to indicate that any kind of Darwinian-style mechanism produced the diversity of life we see today. (Here, the author concentrates on the supposed evolution of humans from an apelike ancestor and the supposed evolution of amphibians from a fish ancestor.)
While the article itself is interesting, what I find more interesting is the response of at least one member of the Scientific Inquisition.
Dr. Jerry Coyne is positively apoplectic about such heresy being published in a peer-reviewed journal. He says:
This paper is rife with mistakes, misguided appropriations from the creationist literature, and simple ignorance of the evidence for evolution. It’s an embarrassment to the author, to the journal, and to the field of medicine as a whole. I call on the journal to retract this paper, for if it doesn’t, then the Proceedings of the Baylor University Medical Center will be forever tarred as a vehicle for creationist nonsense.
So at least one of the High Priests of the Scientific Inquisition is laying down an ultimatum to the journal. If the journal doesn’t retract the paper, it will be put on the Inquisition’s List of Prohibited Books, along with all the other purveyors of “creationist nonsense.”
Now what Dr. Coyne fails to mention is that the journal printed a short rebuttal of Dr. Kuhn’s article on the very next page.3 At the end of the short rebuttal, we learn:
Gregory Dimijian, MD, is also preparing a full length article on Darwinism, which Proceedings will publish in an upcoming issue.
While the nature of the article is not spelled out, since the notice was put at the bottom of a short rebuttal, it is reasonable to assume that Dr. Dimijian’s article will be a longer rebuttal of Dr. Kuhn’s article.
Now the specific arguments in Dr. Kuhn’s article, the short rebuttal, and Dr. Dimijian’s upcoming article are not nearly as interesting to me as the reaction that has come from one of the High Priests of evolution. Notice what Dr. Coyne is saying. Despite the fact that the journal published a short rebuttal to Dr. Kuhn’s article, and despite the fact that what appears to be a longer rebuttal is forthcoming, the very fact that a peer-reviewed journal had the audacity to publish something critical of the scientific dogma of the day is enough to put them on the List of Prohibited Books!
In other words, we can’t even discuss the merits and weaknesses of evolution in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. If that’s not an anti-science stand, I don’t know what is. The way we make advances in science is for people to examine the data, propose explanations for why the data appear as they do, and for others to argue why those explanations are incorrect. The bad explanations will be winnowed away over time, and in the end, the better explanations will survive. This kind of discussion only enhances our understanding of the data. To threaten a peer-reviewed journal that allows such discussion goes against the very essence of what science is all about!
Of course, if Dr. Coyne is so mad about this article, I wonder how he will react to Dr. David L. Abel’s article in the online, international peer-reviewed journal Life? He states:
Is life unique? Yes. Life manifests innumerable formalisms that cannot be generated or explained by physicodynamics alone…Chance and necessity—heat agitation and the cause-and-effect determinism of nature’s orderliness—cannot spawn formalisms such as mathematics, language, symbol systems, coding, decoding, logic, organization (not to be confused with mere self-ordering), integration of circuits, computational success, and the pursuit of functionality.
In other words, while many things in nature can be explained by purely naturalistic mechanisms, life cannot be explained that way. He concludes by saying:
Materialistic presuppositional commitments are causing us to turn our backs on a rapidly growing empirical biological reality that hollers into our deaf ears, “Materialism is dead!” We will never understand life under the purely metaphysical imperative, “Physicodynamics is all there is, ever was, or ever will be”.
As more and more peer-reviewed journals start publishing honest articles spelling out the weaknesses of evolutionary naturalism, expect the High Priests of evolution to become more and more enraged. As the history of science has demonstrated, however, the High Priests don’t win. They fight, scream, scrape, and howl, but in the end, the data do prevail. This is why I am convinced that eventually, the evolutionary paradigm will fall.
Of course, I could be wrong. However, I am willing to discuss the issue in a sane, rational manner. Why are the High Priests of evolution so afraid of such a discussion?
1. Stephen C. Meyer, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117:213-239, 2004.
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