Sunday, July 06, 2008
The latest "crisis" in evolutionary theory is supposed to be revealed at the "Altenberg 16" conference coming up in Vienna. Massimo Pigliucci, who will chair the conference, has an excellent explanation of the real nature and intent of the conference to counter the likes of the sneering, conspiracy-theory-ish twaddle of Suzan Mazur's sensationalist "E-book," The Altenberg 16: Will the Real Theory of Evolution Please Stand Up?, sub-subtitled "An Exposé of the Evolution Industry," and the Discovery Institute's deliberate campaign of misinformation.
PZ Myers has already highlighted Pigliucci's explanation but there was also this part that I liked:
I'll tell you what does constitute a crisis, though: the fact that creationists have been on the retreat ever since the Scopes trial, having to invent increasingly vacuous versions of their attacks on science education in order to keep pestering the Courts of this country with their demands that religious nonsense be taught side by side with solid science. You want serious disagreement? How about several orders of magnitude difference in the estimate of the age of the earth among creationists: some of them still cling to the primitive idea that our planet is only a few thousand years old, their only "evidence" a circular argument from authority -- that's two logical fallacies at once! (The Bible says so; how do you know the Bible is right? Because it's the word of God; how do you know it's the word of God? The Bible says so...) Other creationists, particularly many in the ID movement, concede that the science of geology and physics is a bit too well established to throw it out of the window, so they accept the figure of about four billion years for the age of the earth. Now, if any scientific theory were to make statements that varied by six (I repeat: six!) orders of magnitude about a basic aspect of reality, that would really mean that the theory in question is in deep trouble. C'mon, guys, fix your own house first, then start knocking at our door if you must.