Accepting Berlinski’s Challenge

| 14 Comments

Last week, Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne published this op-ed in the British newspaper The Guardian. Erstwhile evolution critic David Berlinski has written this brief reply for the Discovery Institute’s blog. Berlinski’s missive contains the following challenge:

Please read the article while endeavoring not to laugh, chortle, snicker, hoot or whistle. You will find it cannot be done. In the course of affirming why there is absolutely no controversy about anything over there where Darwinian biologists hang out, they indicate quite soberly that, in fact, there are lots of controversies after all – all of them precisely of the sort that Darwinian critics have been insisting were there all along and that Darwinian biologists have all along insisted did not exist and were of no consequence. You could, if you wished, line up Darwin on Trial or my own “The Deniable Darwin” and compare it to the remarkably frank admission and ask yourself just what the hell Coyne and Dawkins are not saying that we did not say long before them?

Since The Deniable Darwin is readily available online, I decided to take Berlinski up on his challenge. I made a list of all the criticisms of evolution offered by Berlinski, and compared it to the list of genuine evolutionary controversies mentioned by Dawkins and Coyne. I won’t spoil the suspense by telling you what I found, but I have posted my results here.

I also provide some more general commentary on why Berlinski’s reply is a grotesque distortion of what Dawkins and Coyne actually wrote. Enjoy!

14 Comments

Berlinski Wrote:

Before the Cambrian era, a brief 600 million years ago, very little is inscribed in the fossil record; but then, signaled by what I imagine as a spectral puff of smoke and a deafening ta-da!, an astonishing number of novel biological structures come into creation, and they come into creation at once.

This is a gross misunderstanding of the Cambrian explosion. First of all the Cambrian explosion extends over a period of 10 million years. Remember that it took less than that for the hominid divergence

Second of all, there is evidence of a pre-Cambrian world as well, both from fossil data as well as phylogenetic data which indicate that phyla evolution was far less abrupt that often portrayed by creationists.

Valentine, an expert on the Cambrian explosion, author of “On the origin of phyla” and often quoted by ID proponents who suggest that the Cambrian explosion is a problem for neo-Darwinian theory writes:

Valentine Wrote:

The title of this book, modeled on that of the greatest biological work ever written, is in homage to the greatest biologist who has ever lived. Darwin himself puzzled over but could not cover the ground that is reviewed here, simply because the relevant fossils, genes, and their molecules, end even the body plans of many of the phyla, were quite unknown in his day. Nevertheless, the evidence from these many additional souces of data simply confirm that Darwin was correct in his conclusions that all living things have descended from a commmon anscestor and can be placed within a tree of life, and that the principle process guiding their descent has been natural selection.

(Valentine On the Origin of Phyla 2004: Preface)

Perhaps Berlinski would do well relying less on Meyer’s portrayal of the Cambrian and familiarize himself with the actual data and knowledge in this area.

Once again ID has shown itself to be scientifically vacuous.

Please read the article while endeavoring not to laugh, chortle, snicker, hoot or whistle. You will find it cannot be done.

David Berlinksi must be referring to what i about to follow in his own article.

First of all the Cambrian explosion extends over a period of 10 million years.

Which is, I think, a first approximation. WIth new fossil finds and more comprehensive categorization, the time period has been shown to be much longer than this.

Which helps Berlinski even less.….

Perhaps Berlinski would do well relying less on Meyer’s portrayal of the Cambrian and familiarize himself with the actual data and knowledge in this area.

Once again ID has shown itself to be scientifically vacuous.

And, since the “Cambrian explosion” was for decades a favorite creation “science” hobby horse, ocne again ID has shown itself to be nothing more than the same tired old creationist wine, in a nice new shiny bottle.

“In the course of affirming why there is absolutely no controversy about anything over there where Darwinian biologists hang out, they indicate quite soberly that, in fact, there are lots of controversies after all – all of them precisely of the sort that Darwinian critics have been insisting were there all along and that Darwinian biologists have all along insisted did not exist and were of no consequence.”

In fact hardly any of them were “of the sort that Darwinian critics have been insisting were there all along,” and none of them were ones that “Darwinian biologists have all along insisted did not exist and were of no consequence.” They were exactly what evolution supporters have been saying they were: questions addressing whether one or another evolutionary mechanism occurs, not questions about whether evolution happens at all.

I wonder if Berlinski has misunderstood that article so badly because he was too distracted by chortling, or whether he’s simply lyig.

What else could be expected from Berlinski? He is the same man who falsely accused Talk Reason of using a derisively distorted Dembski’s surname and, after his claim was shown to be utterly false, tried to obfuscate the story with semantic acrobatics. Words of Berlinski cannot be trusted so why bother to argue against them?

Albion:

I wonder if Berlinski has misunderstood that article so badly because he was too distracted by chortling, or whether he’s simply lyig.

He was simply lying. He proved quite categorically in his criticism of Nilson and Pelger’s paper on eye evolution that he is a bald faced liar.

signaled by what I imagine as a spectral puff of smoke and a deafening ta-da!

Isn’t this the OEC view that Berlinski is ridiculing? Or is he a YEC who thinks all the Cambrian fossils are fake? Just what is his explanation of the Cambrian explosion? Or doesn’t he have one? It would seem to be the latter – his agenda goes no further than writing naysaying polemics against evolution, but he hasn’t bothered his head with any thoughts beyond that.

ts asked

Isn’t this the OEC view that Berlinski is ridiculing?

I think it’s Behe’s meticulously researched account of the emergence of irreducibly complex structures he’s ridiculing.

RBH

What does Berlinski do for his Discovery Institute Stipend. This and the Daily Cal April Fools article are about the only junk you see out of the guy. It looks like all he does is say “me too” and use the same old creationist arguments that have been going around for decades. What kind of research is he doing for his stipend? Do these guys have to write up a report every year and justify the fellowship?

What does Berlinski do for his Discovery Institute Stipend.

Since he’s Jewish, he allows the rest of them to claim that ID isn’t about Christianity, because look at our non-Christian colleague over here.

Since he’s Jewish, .….

Really? Oh well why should Xtians have all the fun?

There are now some follow-up letters about the Guardian piece. See here and here.

Man, talk about hyenas. You guys are something else. I see the same posts over and over and over again.

For something that all of you are so certain about; you certainly waste alot of time patting each others backs and re-assuring those with similar sentiments.

It always unravels to: Behe - Liar Dembski - Liar Berlinski - Liar

If you’re so certain they are lying and have ‘hidden agendas’ why even have these posts? So Rosenhouse and Myers can sleep well at night? The anger, rage, smugness and sarcasm that come from Rosenhouse and Myers is troublesome. But at least they have an audience that will gobble it all up. And that’s where you hyenas come into play. Bravo.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jason Rosenhouse published on September 5, 2005 1:27 PM.

The missing missing links: a challenge was the previous entry in this blog.

Hey, “Evolution News”: correct this! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter