Death of "molecular Darwinism" imminent!

16 Jun 2009

Sure, the "atheists discredited" prediction didn't come to pass by its deadline of February this year. But fear not, for the faithful have another chance at prophetic jackpot waiting in the heavenly wings. 

I stumbled across another prediction over at The Panda's Thumb, via a 2004 post on Pharyngula. This one comes from famed Intelligent Design (née Creationism) proponent William A. Dembski, in a Touchstone Magazine interview: 

Touchstone: Where is the ID movement going in the next ten years?  What new issues will it be exploring, and what new challenges will it be offering Darwinism?

Dembski: In the next five years, molecular Darwinism — the idea that Darwinian processes can produce complex molecular structures at the subcellular level — will be dead. When that happens, evolutionary biology will experience a crisis of confidence because evolutionary biology hinges on the evolution of the right molecules. I therefore foresee a Taliban-style collapse of Darwinism in the next ten years. Intelligent design will of course profit greatly from this. For ID to win the day, however, will require talented new researchers able to move this research program forward, showing how intelligent design provides better insights into biological systems than the dying Darwinian paradigm.

– (Anonymous (Touchstone Magazine), (July/August 2004).  “The Measure of Design: A conversation about the past, present & future of Darwinism and Design.”  Touchstone, 17(6), pp. 60-65.)

A little background for those not up on their devotional readings:

Touchstone Magazine bills itself as "A Journal of Mere Christianity", published by the Fellowship of St James. The interview in question solicits answers from a number of Intelligent Design's guiding lights, some of whom contributed other articles to the same issue: Dembski (Winning by Design: How ID Advocates Can Effectively Respond to the Growing Backlash), Phillip E. Johnson, Paul Nelson, Edward Sisson (Darwin or Lose: Evolution's Defense Attorneys Are Intent on Winning - Even If They're Wrong), Richard Wiekart (Eugenocide: Darwinism & the Rise of German Eugenics), Jonathan Witt (The Gods Must Be Tidy!: Is the Cosmos a Work of Poor Engineering or the Gift of an Artistic Designer?), and Jed Macosko. 

Of those luminaries, only one had the penlight bulbs to make an actual prediction – and it's two prophecies in one!

First, there's the death of "molecular Darwinism". Please see both the Panda's Thumb and Pharyngula sources for immediate rebuttals to that. Yet those rebuttals were then, and the five-year mark is almost upon us. I myself have seen absolutely nothing to suggest anything but continued strengthening of molecular support for the theory of evolution, but I'm not a scientist. Scientists and ID supporters alike, how about it? Is there anything out there to suggest a crumbling, even a crack, in claims of molecular evidence for Darwin's theory?

There's not much time left for that augury to manifest. There's no date given for the interview, but given that it's the July/August issue, how about we set the deadline to a full five years from the end of August 2004? That's more generous a grace period than your VISA card grants, I'll wager. I eagerly look forward to Darwin-defeating revelations in the remaining two and a half months!

The second prognostication, the "collapse of Darwinism", gains a deadline of August 31, 2014. Unfortunately, unless he makes it clear in other writings, Dembski doesn't spell out for us what the "collapse of Darwinism" will look like. Perhaps it'll work like pornography, i.e., we'll know it when we see it. Actually, it shouldn't be too hard to detect; after all, it's going to take place with "Taliban-style" flash! Get ready to wake the kids; this should be a heck of a show.

A final note of interest: As The Panda's Thumb pointed out, Dembski responded to the question about the future of ID with a prediction about the future of Darwinism, and no specific mention of the future of ID. He does, however, note that ID needs research to move it forward, a ball which Nelson then picks up: 

Nelson: Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory right now, and that’s a real problem. Without a theory, it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now, we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity”—but, as yet, no general theory of biological design.

It's too bad there was no prediction made for the appearance of that general theory. Given that there's been no theory yet (nor even any research out of ID), I'll have to wager against an appearance before the soon-arriving five-year mark. Would any ID proponents like to place a few quid on ten years?


What Dembski said has all ready happened. Did you think there would be people marching in the street or that the revolution would be televised? The Altenberg summit was pretty much the most significant blow to the modern synthesis to happen in the last 80 years. The problem is, it was done very low key and not many in the general public know about it. I have spoken to college professors who still have never heard about the new extended synthesis at Altenberg, or that fact that even the no holds bar Massimo Pigliucci would call for the relaxing of the assumptions of the Darwinian synthesis.


It seems even these 16 rock stars of evolutionary biology have come to realize and admit the limitations of the modern synthesis, and even its poster child natural selection as having the explanatory powers for life as we know it. This new extended synthesis being proposed is based on self organization and a non centric gene paradigm, and is being challenged by neo Darwinist like Eugenie Scott and the NCSE, but even she knows the gig is up and her gravy train is about to run dry.


 The big problem with the new extended synthesis is that even less is known about its principles than we know about Darwinism. So in essence, we are about to replace one paradigm, with a lesser known one. Major Journals are now publishing more works of ID theorist. I think Dembski was close enough. Gould proclaimed Darwinism to be dead 30 years ago, and only now are people realizing it. Encode taught everyone a lesson in just how little we really know about the genome

 You seem to still have ID on your mind even if thread is a year old. 


defaithed's picture

If there's been a revolution that overturns the Darwinian modern synthesis and upholds the claims of ID proponents like Dembski, it must be the quietest revolution ever. I guess I'll have to wait until someone, somewhere (besides IDists) takes notice. 

The Altenberg summit has been described as a summit to discuss recent evidence for evolutionary mechanisms other than natural selection, and subsequent new directions in research – i.e., research that may add to the synthesis. But who's saying that these new directions overthrow the core of existing theory? Not Pigliucci, to name one participant, who very clearly describes how integrating new ideas with existing ones does not mean "rejecting Darwinism" or a "theory in crisis" or support for intelligent design.

Please add more stories. I would like to publish this in our company publication and yes, credit goes to you.

Excellent! Very interesting. Thanks ...

But it will take years before the religious Darwinistas will allow old Charlie to be buried. He will however RIP though (rest in pieces)


In 2008, William B. Provine, Cornell University historian of science and professor of evolutionary biology, stated that "every assertion of the evolutionary synthesis below is false" :

1. Natural selection was the primary mechanism at every level of the evolutionary process. Natural selection caused genetic adaptation . . . .
4. Evolution of phenotypic characters such as eyes and ears, etc, was a good guide to protein evolution: or, protein evolution was expected to mimic phenotypic evolution.
5. Protein evolution was a good guide to DNA sequence evolution. Even Lewontin and Hubby thought, at first, that understanding protein evolution was the key to understanding DNA evolution.
6. Recombination was far more important than mutation in evolution.
7. Macroevolution was a simple extension of microevolution.
8. Definition of "species" was clear[--]the biological species concept of Dobzhansky and Mayr.
9. Speciation was understood in principle.
10. Evolution is a process of sharing common ancestors back to the origin of life, or in other words, evolution produces a tree of life.
11. Inheritance of acquired characters was impossible in biological organisms.
12. Random genetic drift was a clear concept and invoked constantly whenever population sizes were small, including fossil organisms.
13. The evolutionary synthesis was actually a synthesis.
14. Molecular biology has stolen from paleontology all ability to construct phylogenies. --   William Provine, Random Drift and the Evolutionary Synthesis, History of Science Society HSS Abstracts.


In that single paragraph, Provine destroyed almost the whole neo Darwinian theory.  And he is an adamant atheist!

It gets better, or worse if you're a Darwinist:
A  paper in the journal Biological Theory in 2011 stated,

"Darwinism in its current scientific incarnation has pretty much reached the end of its rope."  -- David J. Depew and Bruce H. Weber, "The Fate of Darwinism: Evolution After the Modern Synthesis," Biological Theory, Vol. 6: 89-102 (December, 2011).


And even better still:


In 2009, Computational Biologist Eugene Koonin of the National Center for Biotechnology Information stated in "Trends in Genetics" that there are major problems in core neo-Darwinian tenets, such as the "traditional concept of the tree of life" and the view that "natural selection is the main driving force of evolution."


Koonin stated,

"the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair" and "all major tenets of the modern synthesis have been, if not outright overturned, replaced by a new and incomparably more complex vision of the key aspects of evolution." Koonin concludes, "not to mince words, the modern synthesis is gone."  -- Eugene V. Koonin, "The Origin at 150: Is a New Evolutionary Synthesis in Sight?," Trends in Genetics, Vol. 25: 473 (2009) (internal citations omitted).


Koonin is,  Senior Investigator National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The so-called Altenberg 16 said pretty much the same things.   The famous meeting at Konrad Lorenz Institute in Altenberg, Austria in July 2008, where 16 scientists discussed expanding evolutionary thinking beyond outdated hypotheses.


The ONLY reason Darwinism is still preached from every secular humanist pulpit (universities, the media, Hollywood, the whole pub ed sector etc.) is because its being propped up like dead Bernie in "Weekend at Bernies". Sooner or later, the appearance of being alive will succomb to the stench of avtually being dead.






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