Engineers Against Evolution

Engineers Against Evolution April 5, 2006

That really should be the theme of many pro-ID articles. Doug Moran over at Dembski’s home for wayward sycophants links to this article in a University of Michigan publication about three UofM professors who are for ID. It begins by credulously citing the DI’s famous “dissent from darwinism” statement. You know, the one that doesn’t actually have anything to do with evolutionary theory:

A single innocuous statement sums up “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” a petition that was released in 2001 and has since garnered over 500 signatures of experts, reading, “I am skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

As I and others have explained many times, this statement has nothing to do with dissent from Darwinism (whatever that means to them at the moment). There isn’t an evolutionary biologist in the world who couldn’t honestly sign that statement because no one believes that “random mutation and natural selection” account for all of the complexity of life on the planet. Not even Richard Dawkins believes that. But it gets worse:

Three engineering professors from the University of Michigan have added their signatures to the list which includes nine professors from MIT, as well as others from UC Berkeley, the Center for Disease Control, and the US National Academy of the Sciences.

Of what possible relevance is engineering to evolutionary biology? The average engineer likely doesn’t know the difference between a species and a speculum. Why would anyone think that they speak with any more authority on evolutionary biology than they do on art history or the art of the zone defense?

On Wednesday, March 29, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, one of the signers of this document, gave a presentation on the questions that quantum mechanics has raised regarding the beginning of the universe, as well as personal belief that the Bible holds many clues as to the nature of God’s interaction with the world.

Schroeder’s credentials are very impressive, ranging from a former position on the US Atomic Energy Commission, where he personally witnessed six atomic bomb explosions, to his current position as a physicist at MIT and prolific author on the reconciliation of God and Science, or, as he talked about in his lecture, the laws of the physical and the metaphysical.

Those are indeed impressive credentials if the issue under discussion is nuclear physics, but it has nothing to do with evolutionary biology. And what this could possibly have to do with “Darwinism” is beyond me. Darwin wrote nothing at all about physics (still less about atomic bombs) and nothing about the origin of the universe. In fact, Darwin assumed, like virtually everyone else of his day, that the universe was created. That had precisely nothing to do with evolution, and that remains true today. But here’s my favorite part:

Instead of the usual debates on evolution, which tend to revolve around the biological and genetic aspects of early life, Schroeder’s focus was instead on the universe following the Big Bang, as well as the philosophical questions accompanying the mystery of “light beams learning to love.”

Uh, okay.

As far as this whole issue of scientific authority, I’m just baffled by the idea that anyone who can be called a “scientist” is presented by the IDers as an authority on evolution. An engineer has no more legitimate authority to speak on evolutionary biology than a certified mechanic or a culinary school graduate. It’s like they think that all scientists are just like The Professor on Gilligan’s Island, who seemingly knew everything about everything. But that’s a sitcom, for crying out loud, it’s not reality. Then again, since a sizable portion of the folks who take such things seriously also think that the Flintstones was a documentary about humans living with their pet dinosaurs, this should hardly come as a shock. By the way, it always amused me that the professor could do absolutely anything. He could make a radio out of coconuts and twine, but he couldn’t fix a hole in a boat. Maybe if they’d had a few engineers on the show…

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