Sarkar Lab: Debating a Creationist

An olden goldie from Sarkar, Director and Professor at the Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory, of the University of Texas-Austin, who had the good fortune (sic) to debate Paul Nelson.

“It wasn’t much of a debate, with Nelson conceding that intelligent design was far from being a scientific theory, that it had no legitimacy as part of a high school curriculum, and that it had to develop a laboratory research record before it can be taken seriously.”

Wow, was that all?

It gets better

The second was a hackneyed version of the old God-of-the-gaps argument. Nelson claimed that there were many biological cases he found difficult to explain using evolutionary theory. I agree but this only suggests that he needs to learn more evolutionary theory. That would, for instance, let him understand that orphan genes pose no looming problem over evolution. (Later in the night, when Bolnick and I began constructing several plausible scenarios for the evolutionary emergence of such genes, all Nelson had to say is that he would think about it.) But none of us should claim that there is no unresolved issue in evolutionary biology—if that were so, there wouldn’t be ongoing research in evolution. The conclusion to draw is that we should encourage young scientists to pursue evolutionary biology. But, for Nelson, it followed that ID was the answer (in spite of the admissions noted earlier). It was a strange exercise in “logic.”

I repeat: I prefer my creationists to have more teeth.

I’d love to get a recording of this event. Of course the question to Paul Nelson would be “are you still thinking about it”, or is it just indefinitely delayed like the publication of your thesis work or your ontogenetic depth arguments? It must be fun to be an ID proponent as the expectations of actual research relevant to it seem to be minimal.