BioLogos and Theistic Evolution: Selling the Product
Giberson and Collins bemoan that many of the critics of Darwinian evolution are not biologists. But then we read in the preface that Francis Collins "fully completed his contribution in the spring of 2009" and "did no further work on this project after he assumed the directorship of the NIH" (9). Given that the book was just published (2011), it follows that the bulk of it was written not by biologist Francis Collins but by non-biologist Karl Giberson, who is a physicist. Moreover, if we are to believe this disclaimer, then Collins didn't offer any feedback on the manuscript as Giberson was writing it (if he subsequently read portions of the manuscript and offered editorial suggestions on how they should be changed, then it's not fair to say Collins' work on this project ended in 2009). So either this book was not properly vetted (at least not by its biologist co-author) or Collins was in fact providing input right along, which this disclaimer denies. Either option is problematic.
In any case, Giberson and Collins scrupulously avoid getting into the details of evolutionary theory and deny that it is even questioned among mainstream biologists. That such questioning occurs, even in the mainstream, consider Susan Mazur's The Altenberg 16, subtitled An Exposé of the Evolution Industry. This book, by a secular journalist, shows how secular biologists are finding Darwinian theory so full of unresolved conceptual difficulties that they are conceding the field is in disarray and needs a new theoretical underpinning.
Or consider Francisco Ayala, whom Giberson and Collins cite glowingly. When Ayala is speaking candidly and not trying to shore up Darwinism against critics of evolution, he admits, "Unfortunately, there is a lot, lot, lot to be discovered still. To reconstruct evolutionary history, we have to know how the mechanisms operate in detail, and we have only the vaguest idea of how they operate at the genetic level, how genetic change relates to development and to function . . . [sic] I am implying that what would be discovered would be not only details, but some major principles" (from a 2002 interview with Larry Witham). Yet as far as Giberson and Collins are concerned, the mechanism of evolution is all sewn up and was sewn up ages ago by Darwin.
Over and over again they merely assert the truth of Darwinian theory. The only detailed item of evidence they consider in favor of Darwinian evolution is the defective GULO gene in humans and other primates. This gene, when intact, allows for the synthesis of vitamin C. Its common defectiveness in humans and other primates, according to them, argues for its common ancestry apart from design (common defectiveness not being something readily explained by common design). But this same defect is also found in guinea pigs, which, on evolutionary grounds, are so far removed from humans that this common defect could not be attributed to a common ancestor but rather must be explained as some sort of evolutionary convergence. But in that case, the defective GULO gene hardly becomes compelling evidence for our common ancestry with primates—humans might have started off with a functional GULO gene, which then subsequently became defective. (For more on this, see my book with Jonathan Wells titled The Design of Life.)
A mathematician and philosopher, William A. Dembski is Research Professor in Philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, where he also directs its Center for Cultural Engagement. He is Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle and Senior Research Scientist with the Evolutionary Informatics Lab.