Citizens of the UK, speak out!


There is an online petition for UK citizens to protest creationism in education. Sign it if you agree with this statement:

We, the undersigned, feel it is an inappropriate use of taxpayer's money (and inappropriate within the UK National Science Curriculum) to teach religion in the science classrooms of UK schools. We feel is more appropriate that religion be taught as a separate subject from science. We want religion taught as a separate subject from science and the science taught to our (the nation's) children to reflect our scientist's current best understanding of the world & universe around us.


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Has anyone here read David Swifts book “Evolution Under the Microscope”? Swift is a scientist from the UK. I’m reading through “Microscope” right now and it’s a pretty decent critique. The problem with the book is that Swifts degree is not in biology, biochemistry or so forth. (David Swift graduated in Natural Sciences from St John’s College, Cambridge in 1974 and subsequently obtained an MSc in Water Resources Technology from the University of Birmingham.)

Without focusing solely on his qualifications, (which I think does need to be taken into account, but not at the expense of entirely ignoring his argument) it appears to me that his argument is quite good and his book is worth a reading. (Especially for people who think there are absolutely no scientific arguments against evolution.)

Of course every time I even suggest checking out an author who is an anti-evolutionist i’m berated and told that I have not addequately discerned this debate. (By the way, I don’t think Swift or many of the other so-called anti-evolutionists really are “anti” evolution, They just don’t think evolution has occured on the same scale, that the majority of scientist believe that it has.)

Not an anti-evolutionist,

T. Russ

Errm, OK…but what, exactly, is his argument? All you’ve told us is his lack of credentials.

Actually, you’re in good company. I just went searching through the web for any mention of this book, and none ever bother to get around to saying what his argument is.

T. Russ wrote It appears to me that his argument is quite good and his book is worth a reading

Any chance you could summarise his argument and (perhaps more importantly) the reasons you feel it is strong?

There are a few Amazon reviews that say little about the book’s claims. But one spoke approvingly of its tired old argument from incredulity about abiogenesis, as if that had any bearing on evolution, and noted a reference to Popper (before or after his admission that evolution was falsifiable?). One can guess where it goes from there.

I’ve done a little digging myself.

The Publisher of the book is “Leighton Academic Press” which publishes no other books - and the website is registered to David Swift.

I did find one example of an argument he put forward (from the publisher’s blurb - which is probably more accurate than usual given that the publisher seems to be the author)

“Further, there is no evidence for the constructive mutations that would be required to fuel long-term evolution (and the book includes a detailed discussion of the acquisition of resistance to pesticides which is frequently portrayed as demonstrating such evolution).”

Such an obvious strawman is not only not a good argument, I would question if it is even an honest argument.

Thanks all,

Tonight I’ll put together a breif sketch of Swift’s argument.

Then after some responses from you all I will be able to assess whether I remain impressed with his argument.

For PZ: I did not say that he was lacking credentials entirely. I just wanted to note up-front that his credentials mainly lie in other fields. However, I imagine you study a good bit of evolutionary biology when pursuing any science degree at Cambridge.

For Frank J: Swift contains a small section concerning abiogenesis and repeatedly states that it is quite a different issue from evolution. He attempts no equivication there. I’ll check up on the Popper quote.

For Paul King: It seems a bit wreckless to tag a book’s argument as a strawman because you read a blurb about it’s contents. A blurb just tells you what the book itselfs argues.

Mr. Russ, you say that the blurb tells us “what the book argues”. It follows then that if the blurb claims that the book asserts that pesticide resistance is protrayed as “evidence for the constructive mutations that would be required to fuel long-term evolution” - rather than as an example of beneficial mutation or of natural selection in action - then the book does indeed make such a claim. It follows then that it is in no way reckless to criticise the book for making such an assertion.

I would further suggest that further discussion is moved to the forum associated with this blog (link on main page “After the Bar Closes). Since this subject is not related to the topic of the main post it would be polite to do so. I further suggest that after creating a topic on the forum you post a link to the topic here.

Thanks, Will do.

Thanks, Will do.

I only brought Swift up because he is one of the only critics of evolution that I am aware of in the UK.

The issue under discussion is a petition against teaching from Genesis in science classes. I had not got the impression that Swift was claiming that a YEC 6-day creation model was scientifically valid or that we should use the Bible as a scientific textbook. So why exactly is Swift’s book relevant to the issues of the original post ?

Well it seems this is one of those rare issues where Richard Dawkins and a Bishop agree[…]0889,00.html

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on June 14, 2004 6:15 AM.

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