Scared? Nah, just busy

By Carl Zimmer | July 1, 2008 8:44 pm

darwin-200.jpgOn my first full day blogging at Discover, things are a bit chaotic, but I’d be remiss not to take a second to observe the 150th anniversary of natural selection’s debut. It was today in 1858 that members of the Linnean Society listened to a paper from Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, each proposing that species adapted to their environment as some individuals reproduced more than others. And so begins a marathon of Darwin celebrations that’s going to rage on for sixteen months–on to the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birthday in February and to the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species on November 24.

I’m a little weary just thinking about it all. I hope it doesn’t turn into overkill, and I hope people take the opportunity to delve into the history of Darwin’s achievements, rather than just polish up their old myths about the origin of evolutionary biology. The history of science is full of surprises, as historians discover that things in the past are not as they once may have seemed.

For example, Newsweek’s cover story this week takes a look at Darwin and Lincoln. (The two men were born on the same day in 1809.) The author, Malcolm Jones, writes how Darwin first came up with the rough outlines of his theory of evoution in the 1830s.

As delighted as he was with his discovery, Darwin was equally horrified, because he understood the consequences of his theory. Mankind was no longer the culmination of life but merely part of it; creation was mechanistic and purposeless. In a letter to a fellow scientist, Darwin wrote that confiding his theory was “like confessing a murder.” Small wonder that instead of rushing to publish his theory, he sat on it-—for 20 years.

Jones repeats a popular story here (one that I’ve told myself). But it doesn’t hold water anymore. John van Wyhe, a Cambridge historian, has tested the “scared-into-silence” hypothesis against Darwin’s vast paper trail, much of which has only been coming to light recently. As Wyhe wrote last year in the Notes of the Royal Society of London, the notion that Darwin kept his theory a secret “is overwhelmingly contradicted by the historical evidence.”

Darwin did not act like a man with something to hide. Passages “like confessing a murder” may sound scandalous, if you forget about Darwin’s sly way of making fun of himself to his friends. Wyhe concluded:

Instead of a man afraid of his secret theory’s being revealed to his prejudiced contemporaries, it is demonstrated that Darwin was understandably very busy and began his species book when he had completed work in hand, just as he had intended all along.

So in this time of Darwin celebrations, let’s try to get to know the scientist as he really was. A good place to start is Whye’s paper, which is available for free here.

[Update: Fixed a couple typos–thanks to the collective copy-editing hive mind!]

 [Image via Wikipedia]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution

Comments (31)

  1. Sillysighbean

    Best of luck with the new blog! Always an infomative talk at Blogging Heads TV and I am reading Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life. Fascinating stuff for the non scientist.

  2. pam

    Congratulations on the new home! I have enjoyed reading Loom and it has taught me a lot about blogging and writing. I look forward to following your next career at Discover. All the best to you and good luck!

  3. Somebody should keep a list of these silly mistakes in magazine articles. . . .

  4. John S

    “It was today in 1853″ Did you mean “1858”?

  5. John S.–I did. Thanks for catching that. These fonts are a bit small for my eyes…3s and 8s blur together.

  6. ” …structures in E. coli showed clear evidence of being created–they were complex, made up of lots of parts, and seemed to work like manmade machines. The flagellum–the tail E. coli spins hundreds of times a second–was one of their favorite examples. It reminded them of car engines, of outboard motors.”

    The problem is not evolution, it is darwinism.

    Only a fool would deny evolution.

    Only a greater fool would embrace darwinism as the mechanism.

    There is not one shred of empirical evidence, either observational or experimental, that establishes a plausible or credible nexus between random mutation and natural selection and the emergence of the highly organized structures, processes and systems that exist in bacteria and other living organisms.

    Darwin characterized his theory as “one long argument”. Sorry Charlie but science is not based on “argument”, it is based on empirical evidence. You did good by debunking the immutability of species and special creation but in 150 years we have learned quite a bit
    about complexity and organization.
    Subsequent generations of scientists have expanded your theory to include highly organized structures like molecular motors, an audacious leap of faith that simply is not justified by the known facts.
    Sorry Charlie, you were a great naturalist and made important contributions, but the notion that random mutations and natural selection can result in the emergence of highly organized structures, processes and systems is not supported by the evidence and can best be characterized as a “leap of faith”.
    But you were too good of a scientist to not see the truth, although you came close. And were you alive today, I believe you would concur and be profoundly saddened that your work has been used to dishonor science and the scientific method we all regard so highly.

  7. Owlmirror

    There is not one shred of empirical evidence, either observational or experimental, that establishes a plausible or credible nexus between random mutation and natural selection and the emergence of the highly organized structures, processes and systems that exist in bacteria and other living organisms.

    Says the guy whose method of dealing with the empirical evidence of biology is to ignore it. And who cheerfully suggests all sorts of nonsense that have not one shred of empirical evidence, and even nonsense that has been contradicted by the empirical evidence.

    Still banging that old cracked pot, Wagner…

  8. “Says the guy whose method of dealing with the empirical evidence of biology is to ignore it.”

    If you (or anyone else) has such evidence then present it.
    I assure you I will not ignore it.

    I’m not holding my breath waiting…

  9. Owlmirror

    If you (or anyone else) has such evidence then present it.
    I assure you I will not ignore it.

    Oh, now you’re just lying again.

    You’ve been presented with the evidence on all the biological science blogs you haunt; there are free publications online available for reading; there are books you could read if you don’t like reading online…

    But instead, you come up with nonsense like:

    Subsequent generations of scientists have expanded your theory to include highly organized structures like molecular motors, an audacious leap of faith that simply is not justified by the known facts.

    Hey, where’s your empirical evidence against all of those hard-working “generations of scientists”, huh? Did you maybe leave it in your other pants? Or maybe you threw it out with the trash?

  10. “You’ve been presented with the evidence on all the biological science blogs you haunt; there are free publications online available for reading; there are books you could read if you don’t like reading online…”

    With all due respect, you don’t seem to understand what “empirical evidence” is.
    It is evidence derived from direct observation and sense experience. It is NOT intuitive insight, metaphysical speculation, pure logic or argument.
    It must be provable by observation or experiment and not based merely on theory.
    No such empirical evidence exists for darwinism. It does not meet the rigorous standards of the scientific method which applies too all other sciences. It is nothing more than a “just so” story.

    “IN the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn’t pick up things with it. But there was one Elephant–a new Elephant–an Elephant’s Child–who was full of ‘satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions. And he lived in Africa, and he filled all Africa with his ‘satiable curtiosities. He asked his tall aunt, the Ostrich, why her tail-feathers grew just so, and his tall aunt the Ostrich spanked him with her hard, hard claw. He asked his tall uncle, the Giraffe, what made his skin spotty, and his tall uncle, the Giraffe, spanked him with his hard, hard hoof. And still he was full of ‘satiable curtiosity! He asked his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, why her eyes were red, and his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, spanked him with her broad, broad hoof; and he asked his hairy uncle, the Baboon, why melons tasted just so, and his hairy uncle, the Baboon, spanked him with his hairy, hairy paw. And still he was full of ‘satiable curtiosity! He asked questions about everything that he saw, or heard, or felt, or smelt, or touched, and all his uncles and his aunts spanked him. And still he was full of ‘satiable curtiosity!”
    from “The Elephant’s Child” by Rudyard Kipling

  11. Owlmirror

    With all due respect, you don’t seem to understand what “empirical evidence” is.

    That’s a laugh, coming from you.

    It is evidence derived from direct observation and sense experience.

    Yes, like all of the direct observation of (a) inherited variation in reproduction and (b) differential survival of inherited variation.

    Not to mention the direct observations of the inheritance of traits, genetics (DNA makes RNA, which makes proteins), molecular biology (the proteins made by genes can be compared, both within an individual organism, and between two kinds organisms), developmental biology (the bodies of organisms develop from single cells, as the result of the interactions between the proteins and RNA made by DNA), microbial biology (bacteria evolving resistance to antibiotic compounds and viral phages, or evolving new traits such as the ability to metabolize citrate in aerobic conditions), and so on.

    I’d keep going, but what’s the use? It never seems to have sunk in through your thick skull these past years that all of science is based on empirical observations, including all of evolutionary biology, and these empirical observations are always laid out in painstaking detail which you always just… ignore.

    It is NOT intuitive insight, metaphysical speculation, pure logic or argument.

    You mean like all of your arguments? Come on, when have you directly observed genetic “front loading”, or an infinite regress of life, or any of the other crackpot nonsense you like to spout?

    Sheesh.

    It must be provable by observation or experiment and not based merely on theory.

    Yes, evolution is supported by 150 years of observation and experiment. Oh, and I see that even after it’s been patiently explained to you I don’t know how many times, you fail to understand that there is a huge difference between the colloquial and scientific meanings of the term “theory”.

    No such empirical evidence exists for darwinism. It does not meet the rigorous standards of the scientific method which applies too all other sciences.

    Says the crackpot who has no idea of how the scientific method works, at all, let alone for evolutionary biology.

    Your use of the Just-so story is pretty funny, given your fanatical insistence that panspermia must be a fact. Classic crackpot.

  12. I’d keep going, but what’s the use?

    All of your examples are valid.

    But that’s not where the problem lies.

    Random mutations occur, natural selection can be seen and measured by scientists.
    Traits can be seen to be inherited, molecular and developmental biology are legitimate and compelling branches of science, backed up convincingly by empirical evidence. Bacteria do change dramatically in response to their environment.

    None of this data is questioned by me.

    But you miss my point. None of this evidence supports the notion that random mutation and natural selection can result in the emergence of the highly organized structures, processes and systems that are found in living organisms. This legitimate data is used erroneously to create the impression that a “huge mountain of evidence” supports the darwinian paradigm. It does not.

  13. amphiox

    I can’t believe someone is actually bringing up the old bacterial flagellum argument again.

    As for empirical evidence, I personally think that while empirical evidence is the foundation of science, it is not sufficient alone. Without the application of inference and reason to put it all into a coherent whole that allows the making of predictions concerning what is not yet known (ala the theory of evolution) it’s all just a pile of useless, disconnected facts, a stamp collection.

  14. Owlmirror

    None of this evidence supports the notion that random mutation and natural selection can result in the emergence of the highly organized structures, processes and systems that are found in living organisms.

    Yes. It. Does!

    Great flipping dodo birds on pogo sticks, do I have to explain basic science yet again?

    A scientific theory is the best explanation of natural phenomena, based on the evidence.

    All of the evidence that we have so far — genetics, genomics, population biology, molecular biology, developmental biology, palaeontology, microbiology, cellular biology — supports the theory that “the emergence of the highly organized structures, processes and systems” arose from inherited variation.

    You do not have any empirical evidence that contradicts this basic idea.

    Even those biologists who are out on the cutting edge of research have not found anything that directly contradicts this. Rather, they are researching, and presenting evidence, that there is more to know about how biology, and inheritance, and variation, all work in various levels of detail.

    Evidence, Wagner. You got any?

  15. Hi! Amphiox,
    “I can’t believe someone is actually bringing up the old bacterial flagellum argument again.”

    Why not? It’s a great argument and it has not been debunked, despite what some people may believe. The bacterial flagellum falls into the more general catagory of “molecular motors” which are substantially represented in the literature. Even in Wikipedia!
    No one has yet to offer a darwinian scenario of random mutation and natural selection that accounts for their exestence.

    “Schliwa M, Woehlke G.

    Adolf Butenandt Institut, Zellbiologie, Universität München, Schillerstrasse 42, 80336 München, Germany. schliwa@bio.med.uni-muenchen.de

    Life implies movement. Most forms of movement in the living world are powered by tiny protein machines known as molecular motors. Among the best known are motors that use sophisticated intramolecular amplification mechanisms to take nanometre steps along protein tracks in the cytoplasm. These motors transport a wide variety of cargo, power cell locomotion, drive cell division and, when combined in large ensembles, allow organisms to move. Motor defects can lead to severe diseases or may even be lethal. Basic principles of motor design and mechanism have now been derived, and an understanding of their complex cellular roles is emerging.

  16. “supports the theory that “the emergence of the highly organized structures, processes and systems” arose from inherited variation.”

    No. The evidence supports the notion that random mutations, natural selection, inheritance of variation, and changes in gene frequency are real phenomena. Nothing presented supports the notion that these mechanisms have the power to assemble highly organized structures, processes or systems, such as described above that involve molecular motors.
    Look at my website for a more complete explanation:
    http://www.charliewagner.com/casefor.htm

    BTW, I have end stage prostate cancer and may be hospitalized from time to time, but I will try to keep up with my postings. Thankfully, up ’til now my brain is still working to capacity ;-)

  17. amphiox

    When I look at the various multi-protein complexes that people call molecular motors as they really appear (under electron microscopy for example) and as they actually move in real-time, with the effects of brownian motion factored in, and not as what one might draw in a simplified text-book diagram, I don’t see anything that looks like any machine or designed thing at all. To me they look like randomly quivering blobs of goo. In fact we know that many of the subunits are redundant, or interchangeable, and different collections of subunits perform identical functions in different organisms. We can take two closely related subunits, remove one and duplicate the other, and still get the same function. In short, everything we know about them suggest that they arose through random changes accumulating slowly over long periods of time, and not via deliberate design by any sort of intelligence that we can conceive of, unless we postulate that each motor was designed by a different designer, and all the designers were crazy.

    The genetic and molecular evidence is pretty strong that the various subunits arose via gene duplications (one type of random mutation) of smaller numbers of ancestral subunits, which then accumulated differences over time through other kinds of random mutations. Natural selection is one of the mechanisms that favored the retention of those groups of subunits that worked best together and eliminated the collections that did not.

    We can extrapolate all the way back to a single ancestral protein, if we want. I do not know if there is evidence to support this contention or not, as I am not an expert in this field. But this is what true science is actually about, extrapolating hypotheses from existing evidence, then going out and looking for new evidence to determine if the hypothesis is correct or not.

    The terms “darwinism” and “darwinist” really have no significant meaning. But personally my opinion is that Darwin’s biggest contribution is not natural selection (it was one of the important mechanisms he proposed but he also proposed others like sexual selection, and others like Wallace independently arrived at the same idea), or random mutation (as far as I know Darwin knew nothing about genetics and so the concept of random mutation is completely unrelated to his work), but rather common descent. That was the really big, ground-breaking idea that Darwin bequeathed to the world.

  18. Owlmirror

    Look at my website for a more complete explanation:
    http://www.charliewagner.com/casefor.htm

    No. That’s an argument. That isn’t evidence.

  19. “No. That’s an argument. That isn’t evidence.”

    Agreed.

    There is no empirical evidence, either observational or experimental that supports intelligent design. It’s a theory, as is darwinism. Which is why neither my view or yours should be taught as fact.

    However, I believe that my ARGUMENT is stronger than yours.

    Thanks for looking at my website…

  20. EastwoodDC

    Sorry Charlie, but misinterpreting the work of real science most certainly is not evidence, and only qualifies as an argument in the sense that it is a bad one. Your ideas don’t even seem to be original, as every other Creationist-claiming-to-be-scientist is writing the same things you are.

    On a different note, Mr. Zimmer’s new book Microcosm has a bit to say about the bacterial flagellum, and that’s not even the most interesting part. I could go on to say more nice things about the book, but people might start to think Carl is paying me. ;-)

  21. Owlmirror

    There is no empirical evidence, either observational or experimental that supports intelligent design.

    Well, duh. I’m glad you can admit this, at least.

    But wait, how do you twist this around? Why, by saying:

    It’s a theory, as is darwinism.

    NO. NO. NO.

    “Intelligent design” is a “theory” only in the weakest colloquial sense; an idea or notion; a whim; an imagined scenario; a fantasy; a pipe-dream; a daydream.

    Evolutionary biology is a scientific theory, supported by empirical evidence.

    There is no equivalence between them.

    However, I believe that my ARGUMENT is stronger than yours.

    Your ARGUMENT is not only weak, it fails completely because evolutionary biology has the empirical evidence.

    (Sigh… This is like Zeno’s Paradox, only with a crackpot denialist…)

  22. amphiox

    Dear Charlie Wagner,

    Once again I would like to repeat for you: there is NO SUCH THING AS DARWINISM. There is the Theory of Evolution, to which Charles Darwin provided important contributions. If properly taught, it should be taught as SCIENTIFIC THEORY, which is much, much more important than any mere fact, which by itself is nothing more than useless trivia.

    The value of a scientific theory is measured by its usefulness. No theory is 100% accurate. No theory explains everything. A good scientific theory generates hypotheses which allow for the experiments to be designed, thus providing an avenue for us to increase our knowledge. A good scientific theory is self-correcting. It guides our inquiry so that we may discover where and how it might be wrong, and then adjust it to remove those errors.

    Ptolemaic Astronomy is a scientific theory that is completely wrong, but it was a good scientific theory because it made testable predictions. Some of those predictions were accurate and allowed for useful applications. Others were inaccurate and the investigation of these inaccuracies allowed us to increase our knowledge of astronomy, ultimately replacing ptolemaic theory with newer, better theories about our universe.

    The Theory of Evolution is one of the most useful theories humans have ever conceived of. There has not been a single observation in its entire history, not one, for which the ToE has not been able to provide a reasonably hypothesis for. None of these hypotheses have ever been disproven when investigated. Some have been absolutely and completely confirmed. The rest are generating incredible amounts of useful research avenues that has increased, and is continuing to increase, our knowledge of biology to an enormous degree.

    Intelligent Design makes no predictions, proposes no hypotheses, guides no research programs and generates no knew knowledge. As an idea or set of ideas, it is more useless than the concept that the sun revolves around the earth.

  23. Amphiox,
    “Once again I would like to repeat for you: there is NO SUCH THING AS DARWINISM. There is the Theory of Evolution, to which Charles Darwin provided important contributions.”

    Ignore the last message, I pushed the wrong button!

    Evolution is not a theory, it is a fact. There is empirical evidence that living organisms change over time, that the forms extant today are different from those of the past and that all living things are related and most likely had a common origin.

    What is in question is the mechanism of evolution. Both darwinism and intelligent design are proposed mechanisms by which evolution occurred. Neither has strong empirical support.
    Scientific laws are nothing more than statistical averages, drawn from a large number of observations. The Law of Gravity is a good example. This law states that every object in the universe attracts every other object with a force directed along the line of centers for the two objects that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them.
    This is a Law because it is supported by a large number of observations over a long time. In addition, no exceptions have been seen. But the mechanism is not well understood. There are many theories of gravity, but none has been universally accepted. So the Law of Gravity is fact and the theory of gravity remains speculative.
    Many people mistakingly conflate the fact of evolution with the theory of evolution. The argument is improperly framed since evolution is a fact and darwinism (the idea that random variation and natural selection is the mechanism) is a theory. They ask the question “do you believe in evolution or creationism”, forgetting that evolution is a fact, a process of change over time and creationism (god did it) is a proposed mechanism. Intelligent design is also a mechanism, although the source of this intelligence remains unknown.
    I am not a religious creationist but I do believe based on my knowledge of science, that intelligent input was required for the emergence of biochemical machines (life).

  24. Owlmirror

    I do believe based on my knowledge of science, that intelligent input was required for the emergence of biochemical machines (life).

    You don’t know science at all, because if you did, you would realize that evolutionary biology (and organic chemistry) has the empirical evidence, and your belief has NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE AT ALL.

    (round and round we go; if it will ever sink in, nobody knows. )

  25. amphiox

    Dear Charlie Wagner,

    There is a fact of gravity – things fall. There is a law of gravity, which you described quite well. There is also a theory of gravity, which includes said law as well as other details. In its modern formulation it was first developed by Newton, and later modified by Einstein.

    There is a fact of evolution – living things have changed over time. There are laws of evolution. I would consider natural selection one of these laws. There is a theory of evolution, which includes random mutations of several classes, natural selection, sexual selection, genetic drift, human artificial selection among its mechanisms. An expert in the field could probably select more.

    I agree with your assertion that intelligent design is a potential mechanism for evolutionary change. I can think of two situations where consideration of this mechanism might be useful, or even necessary in understanding a biological phenomenon. One would be, in the near future, in the analysis of the effects if any of the fruits or byproducts of human genetic engineering, up to and including the manufacture of completely artificial organisms, on the rest of the biosphere. A second would be in astrobiology, again in the future, if life on another planet were discovered and evidence was found to suggest that a technological civilization once existed there, but was no longer extant.

    Both of my above scenarios have one thing in common: the designer is specified. Intelligent design as a mechanism begins and ends with the designer. Only by considering the possibly abilities, motivations, and limitations of a postulated designer can useful hypotheses be produced.

    Intelligent design, in the form that it has currently been proposed, where the designer is unspecified and presumed to be omnipotent, not a scientific theory. There is no evidence of any kind that can distinguish it from any other thing. By definition an omnipotent designer could create things to appear in any way he/she/it pleased. Even if the idea turned out to be true, it could not be used as a guide for research, and is therefore useless as a scientific theory.

    I definitely disagree with your assertion that intelligent input is required for the emergence of life, and I dispute your equating of life with biochemical machines. My own understanding of biological processes convince me quite strongly that they are nothing like machines as humans understand that term, and that no intelligence as humans understand that word was necessary in any way for their emergence here on earth.

  26. amphiox

    And once again, the term “Darwinism” has no meaning in science. There is only the Theory of Evolution, which is NOT “Darwinism.” The term “Darwinism” may have some meaning in the non-scientific vocabulary, but this is irrelevant to biological science.

    I also urge, very strongly, for non-scientists to avoid the term “Darwinism,” even in non-scientific discussion, for it is both confusing and unfair. While Darwin applied the concept of differential survival from competition for limited resources to biology, and is rightly celebrated for this insight, that concept itself did not originate with him. We should give credit where credit is due, and refer to this concept by the name of the man who actually originated it. That man would be Adam Smith. The proper term, in my opinion, should be “Smithism.”

  27. “And once again, the term “Darwinism” has no meaning in science. There is only the Theory of Evolution, which is NOT “Darwinism.” The term “Darwinism” may have some meaning in the non-scientific vocabulary, but this is irrelevant to biological science.”

    ROFL!

    I don’t blame you for trying to distance yourself from Darwin.
    McCain has the same problem with GW Bush!

    Ok Darwin, under the bus!

  28. amphiox

    Dear Charlie,

    The term “Darwinism” was invented by creationists as a strawman to disparage the theory of evolution. It hasn’t been accurate to so label evolutionary theory since Gregor Mendel. Your use of the term suggests that at some time in your intellectual development, you have been influenced by creationist thought.

    It is obvious I won’t be convincing you of my position, just as you will not be convincing me of yours. That is fine. Discussing philosophy with you as provided me some insights into your world-view.

    There do remain some questions I would like to ask you.

    You seem certain that some intelligence was involved in the design of living systems. You and I are intelligent, at least when compared to, say, bacteria, but if we sit down and think, no matter how profound our thoughts, nothing will happen unless we act. So how did the designer act? What tools did it use? What mechanisms did it employ? Do these tools and mechanisms leave behind any signs of their use? How may we identify such signs? How may we distinguish them from purely natural mechanisms? Did the designer do all of this by itself? Was there an intelligent mechanic, who put together the designer’s designs? If so, what tools did it use, and how could we tell?

    You stated your conviction that molecular motors must be intelligently designed. It follows then that the intelligent designer could not have possessed any of these molecular motors. Otherwise it, too, would have had to be designed. What then, did the designer have in lieu of molecular motors? How did it function and survive without them? If life is movement, as you say, how did the designer move, without molecular motors?

    You equate biological machines with life, and state that such machines must have been designed. It follows then that the intelligent designer could not have been a biological machine itself, for otherwise, it, too, would have had to be designed. So if the intelligent designer was not a biological machine, was it alive? If it was alive, how could it not be a biological machine, if life and biological machines are the same thing? Are there kinds of life out there that are NOT biological machines? If so, are there other entities like the intelligent designer, alive but not biological machines? How did they arise, if not by design?

    When a human being designs something, another human being can examine the product of that design and ascertain many of the characteristics of the first human (the designer). To varying degrees, he or she can estimate the level of skill and ability of the designer, the age, size and strength, the intent and purpose, preferences and limitations of the designer, just to name a few examples. Well, the products of the intelligent designer you believe in are all around us. So what does it all say about the properties of the intelligent designer? What does life on earth sat about the intentions, abilities, and limitations of the intelligent designer?

    I understand you may not know the answer to all my questions. I understand that some of these questions may not yet have been answered. That’s okay! In fact, that’s good! If all the answers are already known, there would be no science left to do! Just tell me what are the leading hypotheses regarding these topics provided by the Theory of Intelligent Design, and give me a few links or article references to the latest published research regarding the experiments and observations currently being used to investigate these hypotheses.

    P.S. If any of these questions are controversial within the science of Intelligent Design, that is, if there is more than one hypothesis being debated, that’s also fine! I love learning about scientific controversies! Just tell me about all the hypotheses involved.

  29. amphiox

    PPS to Charlie Wagner,

    By the way, I am not distancing myself from Darwin, whom I admire, but defending him. The term “Darwinism” in the context in which you have used it, is an insult to Darwin, a straw-man caricature of his actual ideas made-up by his detractors to disparage his achievements, just as “Bushism” is used by liberals to insult George W, or ancient Romans during the reign of Nero once mocked early Christians with the term “Nazarene.”

    Perhaps your ethical standards are different from mine, but I find the use of such terms most distasteful, and unfitting of civil discourse.

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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