Evolution is irrelevant?

From Forbes.com, “The Dangers Of Overselling Evolution” by Philip S. Skell:

I have queried biologists working in areas where one might have thought the Darwinian paradigm could guide research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I learned that evolutionary theory provides no guidance when it comes to choosing the experimental designs. Rather, after the breakthrough discoveries, it is brought in as a narrative gloss.

Skell is writing in response to University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne’s criticism of Forbes, which had the audacity to include views skeptical of evolutionary theory in it’s forum on Chuck Darwin’s birthday.  He states,

I don’t think science has anything to fear from a free exchange of ideas between thoughtful proponents of different views. Moreover, there are a number of us in the scientific community who, while we appreciate Darwin’s contributions, think that the rhetorical approach of scientists such as Coyne unnecessarily polarizes public discussions and­–even more seriously­–overstates both the evidence for Darwin’s theory of historical biology and the benefits of Darwin’s theory to the actual practice of experimental science.

His point has nothing to do with whether or not evolution is true. His point is that it really doesn’t matter; the failure to teach evolution will not have a negative impact on either science or humanity in general. The true practical advancements in biology or any other field of science do not depend on any theory of how any organism got to where it is today:

Yet many popularizers of Darwin’s theory now claim that without the study of ancient biological history, our students will not be prepared to engage in the great variety of modern experimental activities expected of them. The public should view with profound alarm this unnecessary and misguided reintroduction of speculative historical, philosophical and religious ideas into the realms of experimental science.

If Skell is correct, then the true impact of evolutionary study is not for any other reason than the theory itself. There’s nothing wrong with that; it is not unlike trying to unravel some mathematical puzzle, or climbing a mountain “because it’s there.”  However, it does call into question the push by evolutionary scientists to shout down any challenge to evolutionary theory.  There’s hardly any other area of science – aside, perhaps, from global warming – known for its belligerence.  Why, then, are evolutionary scientists working so hard to quell any opposition?

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13 Responses to Evolution is irrelevant?

  1. Pingback: Regurgitating an Old Argument | Tangled Up in Blue Guy

  2. Pingback: e + God equals m times c squared | Quiche Moraine

  3. Quixote says:

    Now that everybody else has stepped out, can I have the leftover pizza?

  4. steve martin says:

    “… It is also designed to prevent biases from interfering with objective knowledge.”

    That’s a good one! A real knee slapper!

  5. Common sense is what science guards against. It is also designed to prevent biases from interfering with objective knowledge.

    Whatever. I’ll step out, too.

  6. steve martin says:


    I hate “religion” also.

    I think God is not too pleased with “religion” either…He is after faith in His Son, and that alone.

    Sure, I’m not a biologist, but I do have common sense. Enought to know that each camp here operates from faith.

    Enough to know that science is constantly changing it’s sphere of knowledge to erase some and add other.

    Enough to know that scientists are still just men(and women – I hate it that we have to do that these days) with the normal bias’ that all men have.

    This is very short and to the point. Worth checking out:

  7. me says:

    Mike, It’s a method. And yes, it’s a limited method. You apparently haven’t paid attention to anything I’ve said for the last 2 years. But, if you want to continue to rely on straw men and appeals to [questionable] authority, feel free.

    I’m stepping out of this one now… see you in a new post.

  8. Steve, you just blew my irony meter.

    How well do you then understand biology? Enough to get by?

    What you both ignore is that the battle over evolution and religion was hashed out in the 19th century and evolution was unearthed and investigated by people who were creationists trying to prove the accuracy of the bible and the creation story. You should take the time to acquaint yourself with the full development of the theory before you start insulting the motives of people who have been unearthing nature’s secrets as some sort of justification for affirming their “hatred of the living god.”

    It is just your sort of thinking and talking that drove me away from religion in the first place. If I have to suspend my disbelief in science so much so in order to practice religion, and if the things that religion teaches contradict what I can see with my own eyes, then religion loses out.

    If Augustine wrote one thing that makes sense, then it is his statement that misstating the facts of the natural world in order to promote religion is a fool’s game.

    Your continued denialism in the face of the evidence of evolution leads me to the conclusion that you will never be interested in anything that contradicts your “faith.” Instead you will continue to follow the lead of those who don’t understand that the process of science is a matter of investigation and not faith.

    And Alden, I am still trying to figure out how a method of science that includes the supernatural is supposed to work in yielding objective information.

    Finally, as to the accusation that scientists are only interested in protecting their money, power and authority; I would suggest that religion is lashing out on this issue because of its fear of losing hegemony.

  9. steve martin says:

    “You can’t understand biology without understanding evolution.”

    We don’t talk much about evolution at all in the early seventies, and we understood biology just fine.

    Mike, you’ve got more faith in things unproven (and unprovable) than I’ll ever have.

  10. me says:

    “quelling crack-pottery?” Is that collectible?

    And, I suspect that atheism does have something to do with it, but it’s not just about that. It’s about money, power, the system… similar to the global warming crowd. It’s about entrenched ideas, the status-quo, all of that. And, I’m sure with a little research I can find all sorts of examples in other fields where the same kind of power struggle goes on…

    This kind of thinking is what has caused a method of study to evolve into a worldview.

  11. Oh, and he is wrong. You can’t understand biology without understanding evolution.

  12. You know better than this. They are quelling crack-pottery. And Steve, it is only the creationists who think it has anything to do with atheism. It’s science and the ID’ists and Creationists want either a short cut to respectability in science, or to return the practice of science to medieval practices.

    Only evolution has to deal with this persistent intrusion. You tell ME why.

  13. steve martin says:

    “Why, then, are evolutionary scientists working so hard to quell any opposition?”

    I believe it is (unconscious in some cases) a reaction and lashing out at the Living God.

    We hate God, and will not have Him.

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