Monday, March 31, 2008

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed by an Asteroid?

Well, I guess there is no reason that it couldn't have been done this way. Foxnews is reporting on a clay tablet that dates to around 700 B.C. and reports on a cataclysmic event in 3123 B.C. that wiped out an area some one million square kilometers. The story notes:

Dr Hempsall [of Bristol University] said that at least 20 ancient myths record devastation of the type and on the scale of the asteroid's impact, including the Old Testament tale of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the ancient Greek myth of how Phaeton, son of Helios, fell into the River Eridanus after losing control of his father's sun chariot.

The findings of Dr. Hempsall and Alan Bond, of Reaction Engines Ltd., are published in a book, "A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels Impact Event."

I think more needs to be done to relate the two, but this is an interesting intersection of science and Biblical events.

Now playing: P.D.Q. Bach - Royal Firewater Musick (S. 1 / 5): One for the Road
via FoxyTunes

Obama on Evolution

Barack Obama was in York, Pennsylvania and was asked by an interviewer for the York Daily Record what he thought about the evolution debate. his answer was more focused than anything else he has said in his campaign:

Q: York County was recently in the news for a lawsuit involving the teaching of intelligent design. What's your attitude regarding the teaching of evolution in public schools?

A: "I'm a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state.

But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there's a difference between science and faith. That doesn't make faith any less important than science.

It just means they're two different things. And I think it's a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don't hold up to scientific inquiry."

Too bad I can't agree with him on sooooo many other things.

Now playing: William Ackerman - Visiting (Live)
via FoxyTunes

Creationism in Louisiana

The Times-Picayune's James Gill writes that creationism has descended on Lousiana. According to Gill:

Now it has painted on a new face and emerged on the arm of state Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, who is pushing what he humorously terms the "The Louisiana Academic Freedom Act" in the upcoming session.

Nevers has filed Senate Bill 561 with the spurious premise that evolution is a matter of serious scientific debate and that both sides are entitled to a hearing. A lot of people have fallen for that line, including Gov. Bobby Jindal, although, of course, scientists, save a few stray zealots, regard the evidence for evolution as overwhelming.

Nevers' concept of academic freedom requires that "any writing, document, record or other content" on the subject be allowed in science class. It is a license for crackpots.

This story suggests that the creation/evolution debate does not fall along party lines as much as I thought. This is reassuring in once sense, because, as a Republican, I am frequently associated with the creationism arm of the party. On the other hand, it is disturbing because it means that these views are more deeply held than party loyalty.

Now playing: William Ackerman - A Region of Clouds
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, March 27, 2008

1.3 Million Year Old Humans in Spain

Foxnews is reporting the discovery of a partial mandible at the Spanish site of Atapuerca is 1.3 million years old this is being lumped in with the species found in 1997, Homo antecessor. The jury is still out on whether that is a good taxonomic designation, but it is encouraging that more hominid fossils are turning up here at this fantastic cache of fossils. The story notes:

Carbonell's team has tentatively classified the new fossil as representing an earlier example of Homo antecessor. And, critically, the team says the new one also bears similarities to much-older fossils dug up since 1983 in the Caucasus at a place called Dmanisi, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

These were dated as being up to 1.8 million years old.

"This leads us to a very important, very interesting conclusion," Carbonell said. It is this: that hominins which emerged from Africa and settled in the Caucasus eventually evolved into Homo antecessor, and that the latter populated Europe not 800,000 years ago, but at least 1.3 million years ago.

The thinking goes that these hominids then led eventually to Neandertals. Not sure about that one yet.

Now playing: Sky - Troika
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bipedalism at 6 Million Years Ago

Bill Jungers and Brian Richmond write that the femur from the 6 my old Orrorin tugenensis reflects bipedality. In a story in Science Daily, Jungers is quoted as saying:

Our study confirms that as early as six million years ago, basal hominins in Africa were already similar to later australopithecines in their anatomy and inferred locomotor biomechanics.

At the same time, by way of the analysis, we see no special phylogenetic connection between Orrorin and our own genus, Homo.”

So we wait to see if anything comes of the digs out at the Sahel River to see is Sahelanthropus might have been bipedal. This is a coup for Orrorin, though.

Expelled Gaining Interest

Businesswire notes that the Expelled controversy is the top issue in the blogosphere. Uncommon Descent tells that Richard Dawkins applied to get in to see the film calling himself "Clinton Dawkins."

Gatecrashing Expelled?

This is nothing short of astounding!!! Apparently, PZ Meyers, the palaeontologist at the University of Minnesota, was barred from watching the premier of Expelled, the ID film promoted heavily by Ben Stein. His account of it is here. This is from his account:

I went to attend a screening of the creationist propaganda movie, Expelled, a few minutes ago. Well, I tried … but I was Expelled! It was kind of weird — I was standing in line, hadn't even gotten to the point where I had to sign in and show ID, and a policeman pulled me out of line and told me I could not go in. I asked why, of course, and he said that a producer of the film had specifically instructed him that I was not to be allowed to attend. The officer also told me that if I tried to go in, I would be arrested. I assured him that I wasn't going to cause any trouble.

I went back to my family and talked with them for a while, and then the officer came back with a theater manager, and I was told that not only wasn't I allowed in, but I had to leave the premises immediately. Like right that instant.

I complied.

They didn't notice the fact that Richard Dawkins was with him. They blithely let him in. Later, Mark Mathis, the film's promoter sent out a press announcement about the expulsion. Meyers writes about it here. The Discovery Institute has their own take on the episode, called Richard Dawkins, world's most famous Darwinist, stoops to Gatecrashing Expelled. In it, they note:

In January I saw an early version that was screened in Fort Lauderdale and I will be at a Seattle screening soon. The Darwinists who are portrayed in the film -- giving answers to questions submitted in advance! -- are worried about what the public will think of their views when produced incontrovertibly in their own words. What they say is damning, all right, but it’s not much different than what they write in books and say in speeches and other appearances.

The "incontrovertibly in their own words" statement is a bit thin, since several of these self-proclaimed "Darwinists" have complained loudly and long about how they were portrayed and that they weren't told what the project would be in advance. I posted about a bit back.

Richard Dawkins writes about it here. I tend to view PZ Meyers the same as I do Richard Dawkins, and he is every bit as caustic toward religion (birds of a feather?) as Dawkins. As the DI quote also notes, he is not above trampling on the rights of teachers. I wonder, though, if this is, in some way, any different than me saying that creationism should not be taught in schools at all. I firmly believe that there is no place for recent earth creationism in the science curriculum in schools. I just don't want people publicly humiliated for it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Flores, the Debate Rages On!

PopSci has posted a story about the Flores "hobbits" (provisionally Homo floresiensis).  The drift seems to be heading away from pathology.  The author, Laura Allen, quotes Bill Jungers of SUNY Stonybrook.  His position is clear-cut:

When one of the first Homo erectus specimens was discovered in Java in 1891, it was deemed pathological by many; even called a "microcephalic idiot" by a prominent scientist of the day. And even as late as 1998, skeptics have suggested that Neanderthals were victims of cretinism.

I asked Jungers his take on the apparent urge to pathologize. “I consider it to be a scientific example of cognitive dissonance,” he said. “Here’s something out of the blue, no one anticipated; everyone’s got their mind made up about the course of [human] evolution. To have your scientific world view jarred like that is difficult to accommodate. It’s easier to dismiss it than to assimilate it.”

He is certainly right about that.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is America Anti-Intellectual? Not so Fast!

A bit back, I blogged about Susan Jacoby's take on anti-intellectualism. She has written a book on the subject entitled The Age of Unreason. Carlin Romano of (a compilation of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News) is not amused. He takes issue with her here. He characterizes her approach thus:

Her style of argument often amounts to hitting the clip file or Google, piling up thrice-told tales of putatively vulgarized culture, then sarcastically inviting the reader's repelled reaction without examining whether the examples she lays out prove her point. Anti-rationalism, she argues, is not understanding the difference between factual evidence and opinion, but Jacoby's own judgment about which evidence counts for which assertions is often unconvincing.

He then goes on to defend the American populace in general.

In a nation that boasts more educated people, college graduates, books sold and general literacy than ever before, intellectually oriented people patronize institutions that pay attention to sophisticated print culture - universities, colleges, Web sites, publications, radio shows - and dump those that aim at bottom-level taste. It's telling that Jacoby piles on The Da Vinci Code and The O'Reilly Factor while ignoring NPR and BOOK-TV. The latter play the same role in the "edifice of middlebrow culture" as many of the media for which she's nostalgic (e.g., Saturday Review), but because she insists that edifice has "collapsed," they don't exist in her inventory.

My reflection on reading this is that, yes, there is much to laud in human educational aptitude and performance. This is especially evident here at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. However, I am also reminded of something that Richard Young wrote about creationism in the United States and in the schools, in his article Why Creationism Must Be Kept out of the Classroom:

However, just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, the stinkweed of Creationism remains rank.

Just as Mr. Romano is referring to the intellectual weight of the American universities, it is clear that the general public remains woefully uneducated in basic scientific matters. If you doubt this, have a look at a poll conducted by CBS/NYT in 2004 on creation/evolution. It is only 885 people, and that certainly is not a large number of people, but the results were pretty tell-tale. No, we clearly have a long way to go.

Didn't We Already Know This?

A new study by Michael Schillaci indicates that, while it is known that there was a modern human migration out of Africa around 50 kya, there is evidence of a previous migration at around 100 kya. The story, in Discovery News, notes:

Schillaci, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Toronto, also found the earlier group of emigrants had some genetic similarity to Neanderthals, a hominid that left Africa much earlier, settling in Europe and parts of western and central Asia.

"This could be the byproduct of limited [interbreeding] with Neanderthals, or a shared more recent common ancestry with Neanderthals," he told Discovery News. "Humans and Neanderthals share a common Homo ancestor in Africa at around 500,000 years ago. However, Neanderthals evolved in Europe, while modern humans evolved in Africa."

There must be more to this story than meets the eye because we have had modern human remains in the Near East dated to around 100 kya for some time now (almost twenty years) and they had to come from somewhere. Add to that the North African Herto remains (mentioned in the news story) dated to around 160 kya and you have, what I think to be as close to a smoking gun as you can have in this business. A study done by Art Durband and myself that we are going to expand and publish when I am not up to my eyeballs in work, teaching and kids argues that the Skhul and Qafzeh remains from Israel that are dated to 90-100 kya express some non-Neandertal, general archaic characteristics that are likely north African in origin. I will have to get the article by Schillaci when it comes out in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Did Neandertals Drift Away?

Tim Weaver has concluded that Neandertals evolved in different direction from modern human precursors because of nothing more than genetic drift. According to the article:

In their new study, Weaver and his colleagues crunched their fossil data using sophisticated mathematical models -- and calculated that Neanderthals and modern humans split about 370,000 years ago. The estimate is very close to estimates derived by other researchers who have dated the split based on clues from ancient Neanderthal and modern-day human DNA sequences.

This suggests that Neandertals were an isolated group in Europe and had no outside contact with other population groups. The article states that it is in this week's PNAS. The problem is that it isn't. I guess I will have to check next week.

No Quarrel in New Mexico

The online version of the Albuquerque Journal has an article about the new Superintendent of Schools for the city.

The superintendent-designate of the Albuquerque Public Schools hails from Kansas, which triggered a national backlash when it opened the door to teaching creationism in its public schools. Winston Brooks, who will move from Wichita to take the helm of APS by July 1, has some thoughts on the evolution/creation debate— but no plans to push for teaching creation theories here. And it's doubtful he could do so, even if he wanted, given state control of district curricula, its policies on the subject, and opposition from the APS board.

This is welcome news, given that there are fights going on elsewhere in the nation about this.

Homo floresiensis Again!

In a press release, George Washington University researchers have concluded the the remains from the island of Flores represent a new species of human.

GW researchers Adam Gordon, Lisa Nevell, and Bernard Wood developed a novel way to compare the shape of the "Hobbit's" skull with what the shape of modern human skulls would be like in individuals as small as the "Hobbit." Using these new methods, they have shown that the "Hobbit's" skull is shaped nothing like that of a modern human, whether or not size differences are taken into account. Instead, it is similar to our possible ancestors belonging to the species Homo erectus and Homo habilis found in Africa and the Republic of Georgia, which are about 1.7 million years old. This result is consistent with the most recent analyses of the skeleton that also suggest it was similar to older species.

"What's interesting about this is that the 'Hobbit' doesn't closely resemble the younger Homo erectus material from Indonesia, arguing for an ancient divergence of this species from the lineage that produced modern humans," said Gordon, postdoctoral research fellow with GW's Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology. "We're looking at a different human lineage that split from our own possibly as much as 1.7 million years ago or more, and persisted up to the time when modern humans started peopling the Americas. That's pretty exciting."

This will fan the flames even more, although it is certainly getting harder to deny the very weird nature of these hominids.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Persistent Rep. Storms

Rhonda Storms has continued her campaign to get the Academic Freedom Act heard. TampaBay Online has this to say:

On Wednesday, Storms and Rep. D. Alan Hays, a Republican from Umatilla who is introducing the House version[of the Academic Freedom Act], held a press conference with actor-turned-commentator Ben Stein in Tallahassee to draw attention to the measure. Stein has produced a documentary called "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" that he says shows the negative effects experienced by teachers and scientists open to other theories.

For someone who is only peripherally involved with the film, Ben Stein certainly is getting his voice heard. As far as other reaction is concerned, this is disturbing:

Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, said he would consider supporting the bill "as long as it's done responsibly." Schenck taught high school before his election to the House in 2006. "In my opinion, and this coming from an ex-teacher, education is the pursuit of knowledge," Schenck said. "Why should we contain that knowledge to certain theories? Schenck said criticism of Storms and her bill is misguided. "People don't look at the root of (the) issue, and the root of the issue is education," he said. "Education should be all-encompassing."

Why of course! Why should we contain our understanding of gravity to the current theory when "Intelligent Falling" is certainly an open option. If the root of the issue is education, don't you think we ought to provide the best education with the best knowledge that we can?

More Small-Bodied Hominids from Indonesia

The Public Library of Science journal PLosOne has posted an article about the discovery of more small hominids from the island of Palau, which is just north of PNG in the Micronesia chain of islands. From the conclusion, the authors note:

Based on the evidence from Palau, we hypothesize that reduction in the size of the face and chin, large dental size and other features noted here may in some cases be correlates of extreme body size reduction in H. sapiens. These features when seen in Flores may be best explained as correlates of small body size in an island adaptation, regardless of taxonomic affinity. Under any circumstances the Palauan sample supports at least the possibility that the Flores hominins are simply an island adapted population of H. sapiens, perhaps with some individuals expressing congenital abnormalities.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Now playing: Alex De Grassi - Turning: Turning Back

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stein Puts Weight Behind Florida Legislation

The Palm Beach Post reports that actor Ben Stein, largely responsible for the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, has voiced his support for the piece of Florida legislation calling for "Academic Freedom." The story notes:

Lawmakers were invited to attend a private screening of the movie Wednesday evening, but members of the public and press were not allowed unless reporters signed waivers promising not to write about what they saw.

The legislation being pushed in both chambers is in response to new Florida science standards adopted last month that for the first time use the word "evolution" instead of such phrases as "biological change over time." They also require that evolution be taught in more detail.

House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber remarked:

"I think it's ironic that they expelled the media and the public from a film called 'Expelled,'"

Well put.

Yet Another Book to Read!!

The Gatehouse News Service has a story of another book on faith and science by a physics professor at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts. The gentleman, Dr. Karl Gilberson laments the recent polls indicating widespread adherence to creationism.

So, he has joined the fray with a new book, “Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution.” The book is scheduled to be released by HarperCollins in June with a foreword by Francis Collins, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Already the author of numerous scholarly works, an international lecturer and the director of Gordon College’s Forum on Faith and Science, Giberson has now written what he calls his first “message book,” aiming to reach believers who are trying not to be torn between heart and head.

What he says resonates with me as well:

“If you propose the idea that the universe is random, with no purpose, instead of saying that it was created by a loving God, the creationists win hands down,” Giberson said.

For those who see understanding God and the universe as a more complicated enterprise, “you have to wrestle with what the Bible means,” he said. And, in the face of that, “you believe your faith is true.”

Just as I believe mine is.

Mikal Heller and ID

Mikal Heller, cosmologist and Catholic Priest, has won the Templeton Award for "Progress Toward Research or Discoveries About Spiritual Realities" for 2008. This award carries with it a cash prize of $1.6 million. The web page on the award notes:

Heller's examination of fundamental questions such as "Does the universe need to have a cause?" engages a wide range of sources who might otherwise find little in common. By drawing together mathematicians, philosophers, cosmologists and theologians who pursue these topics, he also allows each to share insights that may edify the other without any violence to their respective methodologies.

He has issued a statement since winning the award. He makes a note of Intelligent Design. He is not supportive:

Adherents of the so-called intelligent design ideology commit a grave theological error. They claim that scientific theories, that ascribe the great role to chance and random events in the evolutionary processes, should be replaced, or supplemented, by theories acknowledging the thread of intelligent design in the universe. Such views are theologically erroneous. They implicitly revive the old manicheistic error postulating the existence of two forces acting against each other: God and an inert matter; in this case, chance and intelligent design. There is no opposition here. Within the all-comprising Mind of God what we call chance and random events is well composed into the symphony of creation.

In a sense, this is not much different from Kenneth Miller's perspective that the universe reflects and reveals the mind of God. The notion that ID is Manichean in perspective has also been raised
by Denis Alexander in his excellent article "Is Intelligent Design Biblical?"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Neandertal Site in the North Sea

The Independent has a report of a discovery of a huge Neandertal site 8 miles off the coast in the North Sea. This would have corresponded to the early Wurm glaciation, when sea levels were low. David Keys, the Archaeology Correspondent, states:

Academic interest in what are being described as drowned Stone Age hunting grounds is likely to increase dramatically after the discovery of 28 Neanderthal flint axes on the sea bed off the East Anglian coast.

Dating from at least 50,000-60,000 years ago, they were found with other flint artefacts, a large number of mammoth bones, teeth and tusk fragments, and pieces of deer antler. The sea bed location was probably a Neanderthal hunters' kill site or temporary camp site.

There are, apparently, many more sites to be excavated:

Detailed archaeological research at the bottom of the North Sea would be likely to solve a host of Stone Age mysteries. It should help establish when Britain was recolonised by humans after a 100,000-year uninhabited period. It may also reveal for the first time the full technological capabilities of Neanderthal Man, because preservation on and in the sea bed is extremely good. Wooden, stone and bone implements have almost certainly survived.

Later this week, British and Dutch archaeologists will meet in Holland to formulate a joint program of North Sea research. German, Belgian, Danish and Norwegian archaeologists and oceanographers are likely to be included in a plan to map and investigate the North Sea's prehistoric landscapes in detail.


The Daily Texan Watches "10,000 B.C."

...and they are not amused. In an article titled "10,000 B.ull C.rap," Alex Regnery and Robert Rich have great fun with it:

I felt as if I was watching a rough cut or work print when D'Leh is running away from a stampede of mammoths. It looked as if he was on a treadmill in front of a blue screen. If you're going to spend $75 million on a film and not have any big movie stars, at least invest in some solid CGI.

This pretty much mirrors what others are saying about the film. Not anymore believable than The Day After Tomorrow but without the really cool special effects.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

An Iodine Deficiency?

Peter Obendorf of the RMIT in Melbourne, Australia now says that the specimens that have been dubbed Homo floresiensis are nothing more than modern humans with an iodine deficiency. Foxnews reports of an upcoming article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, in which this case is made:

Writing Wednesday in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Obendorf and his colleagues argue the hobbit's short stature and primitive anatomical features can be explained as dwarf cretinism caused by the dietary deficit.

The idea has not met with much support. Among others, Bill Jungers had this to say:

"The only merit to this paper is their correct dismissal of a competing 'pathology du jour' called Laron Syndrome (which causes skeletal deformities). The rest is a rather large and stinky pile of misinformation and wild speculation."

As Glenn Reynolds would say, Ouch.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Pat Hardy Has Won

The Dallas Morning News has reported that Pat Hardy has retained her post in the Texas School Board against challenger Barney Maddox, the avowed creationist. See this post for more information. This is good news.

Kenneth Miller on NMSR

New Mexicans for Science and Reason posted an interview with Kenneth Miller, Brown University biochemist. It was aired on February 8 of this year can be found here by following the "Archives" link. I am listening to it now. First up is a definition of science as being outside the realm of the supernatural and subject to peer-review. "Throw rocks at me" is how one of the hosts puts it. It is a methodology of learning about the natural world. It is not an ideology. Contrast this with the AIG post on "Are We Against Science?"

They are remarking on the Avalon Explosion, which occurred before the Cambrian explosion and took place over a time period of some thirty million years. This is a problem for creationists because they are fond of saying that the all of the major forms of life "exploded" on the scene, suggesting that animal and plant life did not evolve slowly but arrived on the scene at one time. The Avalon explosion suggests that there has been more than one "explosion." Listen to it if you have the time.

The interview mostly covers the Dover School Board trial and the adoption of the book that he and Joe Levine wrote on biology. He suggests that the Discovery Institute realized that the trial was going to be a "train wreck" because of the "hidden links between ID and old fashioned creationism" and that is why the DI's senior fellows withdrew from the trial. Miller refers to the trial as a "scientific rout for evolution."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The "Academic Freedom Bill" Rises Again

Rhonda Storms has proposed the Academic Freedom Bill in the Florida State Legislature. Tampa Bay Online has this to say:

Storms said the new bill merely says teachers should have the freedom to teach what they want, including theories that may contradict the prevalent theories of biological and chemical evolution. The bill does not mention creationism or intelligent design.

The basis of her bill came from activists who failed in February to persuade the state Board of Education to allow the leeway. The board voted 4-3 two weeks ago to explicitly require the teaching of evolution.

Here is where the problem occurs. My wife and I teach our kids at home, in large part because we don't like the education in the public schools. It also allows us to tailor our education to the kids to maximize their learning potential. In our defense, our son Marcus took the first grade Stanford Achievement Test earlier this year and blew it out of the water. The key is that we teach well-grounded math, literature and science. Allowing teachers to teach "what they want" is not the same thing. I don't teach my children the theory of phlogiston, or Lamarck's theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. Why? Because it is not good science. I might teach science more rigorously than the public schools, and make it more fun for my kids than they would, but it is not junk science. If there are legitimate alternatives to evolution, they should be taught. As of now, there are no legitimate alternatives. ID argues from negative evidence.

Just because my theory is wrong doesn't make your theory right. And right now, there is not much evidence that my theory is wrong.

The DI and Bad Grammar

Josh Rosenau takes the Discovery Institute to task for bad grammar. The original article is here. His commentary is here. Here are my thoughts.

As silly as it may sound, there are scientists who are still researching gravity. This isn't as absurd as you might think. While no one doubts that mass attracts mass and apples fall down, not up, scientists are still debating the nature of the underlying physical laws and fundamental particles that cause gravitational attraction.

Yup. That's why they call it gravitational theory.

Except when it comes to neo-Darwinism. Then scientists are supposed to shut up, not ask questions, not challenge anything. That isn't science. It isn't even what Darwin himself envisioned for science.

Given that a perusal of any biological journal contains many articles that are tests of evolutionary theory, how is this true? In 1972, Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould revolutionized the the field of evolutionary biology by introducing Punctuated Equilibrium (punk-eek). This was done by careful hypothesis testing of the evidence. This practically caused a paradigm shift. How is this not science?? Onward.

It looks as is Darwin would have been sorely disappointed in what is considered a fair consideration of the evidence these days. In Florida there was recently a vigorous debate over how evolution should be taught. Dogmatic Darwinists are insisting that Darwinian evolution be presented without any sort of critical analysis, as if it were 100% above reproach, as if it were a natural law that left no doubts.

This simply is not so. After reading the arguments of those who were opposed to the teaching of evolution in the schools, it was clear to me that most of them knew nothing of the theory! Would you want someone like me, a trained biologist, making policy on physics or English education? And what is a fair consideration of the evidence? As John Derbyshire pointed out in a National Review article:

George’s [Gilder's] own Discovery Institute was established in 1990; the offshoot Center for Science and Culture (at first called the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture) in 1992. That is an aggregate 30 years. Where is the science? In all those years, not a single paper of scientific standing has come out of (nor even, to the best of my knowledge, been submitted by) the DI or the CSC.

The DI seems to continually think that arguing from negative evidence is good scientific method. It is not. The author of this piece, Robert Crowther, also mentions the "Scores of Scientists" who reject evolution. As far as that goes, see this post. Even Michael Behe, the author of Darwin's Black Box supports evolution.