Thursday, January 22, 2009

Misrepresentation at the Texas SBOE

Josh Rosenau at Thoughts from Kansas has an amazing article on how the work of Nobel Prize winner Werner Arber was completely misrepresented by the ICR and by Texas SBOE member Cynthia Dunbar. The ICR paper, by Jerry Bergman is here. The conclusion of that paper is:

Arber concluded that the genetic mechanisms that produce variation are designed and are not products of Darwinian evolution. Furthermore, this variation--often called microevolution--has clear limits and is unable to produce macroevolution. Arber stressed that the knowledge of the "molecular basis of biological evolution" impacts not only "our worldview" in the areas of origins, but also has implications for the possible risks of genetic engineering. It is for this reason that Arber affirmed that only the existence of a Creator God is a satisfactory solution to the problem of biological origins.

Arber responded thus:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

I recently got aware of an article entitled "Werner Arber: Nobel Laureate, Darwin Skeptic" that was published in September 2008 by the Institute for Creation Research and that is authored by Jerry Bergman, Ph.D. This article completely misinterprets my general conclusions that I base on several decades of studies in microbial genetics. A number of citations are taken out of their original context and surrounded by comments and misinterpretations by the author of the article.

The truth is that I have contributed to advance scientific knowledge on biological evolution by studying molecular mechanisms of genetic variation. Genetic variation is clearly the driving force of biological evolution. A number of different specific molecular mechanisms contribute to spontaneous genetic variation. Together with non-genetic elements specific gene products are thereby involved as variation generators and as modulators of the rates of genetic variation. These are established facts that are based on experimental evidences and that are valid for the course of biological evolution as it works today in living organisms. Theoretically, one can extrapolate into the past history of life development on Earth. One can, e.g., postulate how the genes involved in biological evolution may have become fine-tuned to insure to living organisms a comfortable genetic stability and at the same time to the populations of living organisms an evolutionary development, including adaptability to changing living conditions and an expansion of biodiversity. In contrast, there is, so far, neither satisfactory scientific knowledge nor theory on the origin and early evolution of life on our planet.

On solid scientific grounds one cannot expect to discover if a Creator as defined by religious beliefs and sometimes referred to as intelligent design or God's Will, could be responsible for the origin and subsequent evolution of life. Serious scientific investigations can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God or a possible impact of God on evolutionary processes. In our civilization, both scientific knowledge and religious beliefs contribute essentially to our orientating knowledge, but these two sources of our worldview should not be intermingled.
In conclusion, I am neither a "Darwin skeptic" nor an "intelligent design supporter" as it is claimed in Bergman's article. I stand fully behind the NeoDarwinian theory of biological evolution and I contributed to confirm and expand this theory at the molecular level so that it can now be called Molecular Darwinism.

Werner Arber
Professor emeritus for Molecular Microbiology,
University of Basel.
Nobel Laureate Medicine/Physiology 1978

Another creationist paper, another misrepresentation of mainstream science. Sigh. Bergman will probably claim that Arber is back peddling when his decades of research reveal that he is doing nothing of the sort.

2 comments:

  1. Arber concluded that the genetic mechanisms that produce variation are designed and are not products of Darwinian evolution....
    It is for this reason that Arber affirmed that only the existence of a Creator God is a satisfactory solution to the problem of biological origins.


    I read this same story over at Panda's thumb (with reference to Texas education standards) but this seems new. Did the article really say that Arber both affirmed that it was designed and that a Creator God was the only satisfactory solution??? I can understand misunderstanding Arber's work given there extremely strong biases, but I hope if they really asserted these things Arber actually said these things.

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  2. Good question. That is what I read but I will look more closely.

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