I was disturbed to read the following letter in this week's Private Eye.
Your reviewer of Richard Dawkin's latest literary fantasy The Ancestor's Tale
(Eye 1118) was correct to point out the religious aspects of Dawkin's effusions. Evolutionism is certainly more a faith than a science. There is still no fossil evidence. Recent advances in molecular science have shown the incredible and irreducible complexity of cell structure and programmed information that rules out any evolutionary progression. Evolutionists now cite cell mutations as a possible means of evolution – yet in all mutations studied genetic information is always observed to be lost. i.e. what what we observe taking place is actually the opposite of evolution. Discerning Eye readers not yet taken in by this false religious belief will wish to investigate the following more scientifically-balanced books: Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton or Darwins's Black Box by Michael Behe.
Obviously I'm not having a go at the Eye for printing this letter since it is evidence that they are giving all their readers, no matter
how loopy, a right to reply. This is a good thing and speaks well of the Eye. No, I'm disturbed because I thought these kinds of
fundamentalist nut-cases only existed in hell-holes like Alabama not within our own green and pleasant land.
This letter encompasses all the Creationist greatest hits. lets enumerate and discuss for fun and profit.
- Evolutionism, this is a favourite straw man of the Creationists. Claim that anyone who espouses evolution is actually a
religious nut just like them. Just to clear this up repeat after me, There is no such thing as Evolutionism. There is a scientific theory
known as Evolution by natural selection which talks about how species evolve. The exact details of this theory are still the subject of
massive amounts of research. Want to know more about evolutionary theory?
- No Fossil Evidence, this one's so wrong it's almost funny. There is in fact an overwhelmingly huge amount of fossil evidence. I can only assume this is one of those repeat something often enough and people will believe you kind of deals.
- Information is always lost, this is a riff on the old tune of evolution is in contravention of the second law of
thermodynamics. To start off I'll point out that contrary to what the author claims evolution has often been convincingly demonstrated in the petri dish. This EMBO report has a useful section entitled Evolution in the Laboratory. Anyway evolution doesn't break the 2nd law of thermodynamics although
it clearly breaks the fragile little minds of Cretinists. Talk Origins address this in their massively helpful FAQ.
- There are scientific alternatives, particularly insidious is the suggestion that there are serious scientists with alternative
explanations. Having read the Behe book I know this is not so (in case you are interested it was bought for me by my creationist grandmother). These are usually variations on the theme "God did it" clouded by some badly mis-informed pseudo science and careful avoidance of using the word God. For your edification here is a careful dismanteling of Behe's empty box. The evolution in crisis book was new to me so I had to look around for almost thirty seconds before a could find an answer.
After Blair happily started funding schools that teach creationism I am worried that this sort of thing may start becoming more common here in blighty. The only thing you can do about ignorance is to correct it when you see it.