Archived blog post

Open thread on evolution

Posted by Ben on Sunday, November 06, 2005 | Permalink

See how good I am to you people? Someone calling him/herself Field - who appears to be the founder of Tiscali, unless there's some other reason for claiming it as a homepage - left a comment about evolution on a post about the MCB and censorship, and I'm moving it here, responding to it and giving the go ahead for everyone to just go nuts and hammer on at each other about evolution.

On to the comment, which I'll present in the done-to-death Fisking format despite deeply disliking that way of responding to arguments. Yet another example of atheist inconsistency and hypocrisy, huh?

I notice that on one of your earlier entries you say that Richard Dawkins is a hero of yours. Did you see the recent Horizon programme which presented scientific evidence that genes are directly affected by the environment and that these environmental effects can be transmitted across generations?

This? No, I didn't. Was it good?

This is a form of Lamarckism and directly contradicts Dawkins' position of conservative NeoDarwinism i.e. that the gene is simply a random blueprint that natural selection allows to exist and replicate.

Well, I'm not a scientist and Wikipedia isn't a scientific journal, but the entry on epigenetics does say "There are no Lamarckian characteristics to epigenetic inheritance." Considering Dawkins' position at the broadest level is thetheory of natural selection, I don't think that view got overturned on BBC2 the other night. I've also seen it discussed without 'arrgh the sky is falling!' hysteria at Pharyngula, and that lad is a scientist, and very much on the side of natural selection.

Wondered if you have any thoughts on that and whether perhaps it might induce in you a degree of humility when addressing some of these questions.

Initial thoughts as above. Some of what questions? Humility? Eh? Because you believed my 'hero' had been contradicted, you thought maybe I'd be a bit more understanding of offended religious types, is that what you're saying? Not likely, atheism is all about the smugness, intolerance, dogmatism and communism, didn't you know? My own worldview wouldn't be shattered if he was shown to be wrong on something- and considering his first book was released in 1976 I'd guarantee he was way off on some stuff - and neither would his, as he stated in Unweaving The Rainbow. Good science is as much about disproving theories as making them, it's the religious bunch that get upset when something contradicts their holy scripture.

Seems to me that you have a tendency to confuse and conflate (a) religion, (b) the opinions of religious believers (which may be rather crude paraphrases of the religion) and (c) what science is able at this point in time to tell us about the cosmos.

I'd like you to point out where I've confused religion, the religious and current science, and there my response ends.

Ok everyone, Field included - fill your boots.

Comments [ 36 ]