Creationist Wisdom #429: Biology PhD

Today’s letter-to-the-editor is unremarkable in almost every way. But for one detail, it could have been written by the usual maniac in a shack. However, this letter-writer says he has a PhD in molecular biology. Ol’ Hambo has one or two people with science doctorates on his payroll, the Discoveroids have a few, and there are some others teaching at bible colleges, but we don’t run into them very often.

The letter appears in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of St. Louis, Missouri . Its title is Teach children to critically evaluate theory of evolution.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so we’ll just use the letter-writer’s first name, which is David. We Googled around for his full name and we found someone with the same biology degree as our letter-writer. That person is a Vice President of Monsanto, which is headquartered in St. Louis, and our letter-writer David lives in a St. Louis suburb.

That’s a lot of coincidences, and it’s tempting to connect the dots, but the letter-writer doesn’t identify himself as the Monsanto VP, so for our purposes he’ll remain “David,” occupation unknown. We’ll give you a few excerpts from what he wrote, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

He begins by saying that he agrees with the writer of an earlier letter who urged more science education. Well, he doesn’t entirely agree. He tells us:

As a scientist with a Ph.D. in molecular biology, I wholeheartedly agree. His example is the often emotional discussion around creation and evolution, but too often what seems to get lost in the debate is the science itself.

The science gets lost? What’s he talking about? David explains:

During my training several decades ago, I was taught evolutionary theory as fact, and given our knowledge at the time the theory seemed plausible. As a biological process, evolution can be observed and measured, and as such should be taught.

Ah, he thought evolution “seemed plausible,” but that was based on our knowledge several decades ago when he was in school. What’s happened since then? Hang in there, he’ll get around to it:

However, evolutionary theory has some major technical gaps. Darwin’s model can explain how species adapt to changing environments and perhaps the appearance of closely related species, but is grossly insufficient in explaining the origin of the diverse range of life we see today.

Lordy, lordy. We were really expecting something interesting, but what David described is nothing more than the micro-macro mambo. We discussed it in Common Creationist Claims Confuted, in the section “Micro-yes, Macro-no.” It’s also discussed in Wikipedia’s article, Objections to evolution in the section “Lack of observation.” Let’s read on from David’s letter:

I’ve yet to see a model that doesn’t have huge gaps or make assumptions with little supportive evidence. This doesn’t make them wrong, just not proven right. However, the data actually support (but cannot prove) the intervention of a creator.

The data? What data? This guy’s argument is pure God of the gaps. He continues:

Rather than avoiding these difficult technical problems, why not teach them?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! A gap in the fossil record is a “difficult technical problem.” Here’s how it ends:

If we go back to the thesis that we should teach our children science, then let’s teach them to critically evaluate all the data and possibilities. If we limit their thinking, we limit their creativity. As a scientist, I don’t find this threatening at all, nor is it threatening to me as a Christian.

David doesn’t find the gaps frightening; but he does think they’re data, and that they support his notion about the intervention of a creator. If David has a PhD in biology, we think that’s frightening.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #429: Biology PhD

  1. Our Curmudgeon notes

    That’s a lot of coincidences, and it’s tempting to connected the dots, but the letter-writer doesn’t identify himself as the Monsanto VP, so for our purposes he’ll remain “David,” occupation unknown.

    A prudent move–particularly when you consider that the Chairman and CEO of Monsanto has the name Hugh Grant

  2. I think David, Ph.D., has been out of his science for too long, assuming he was ever really in it. Still, his example serves to illustrate that no mind is entirely safe from cretinist propaganda, which Dr David regurgitates with consummate grace.

    (§4: “… it’s tempting to connected the dots…” Fixed it for ya, Curmy. 😉 )

  3. Megalonyx comments: “A prudent move”

    Prudence is one of my defining characteristics — along with paranoia.

  4. Con-Tester says: “Fixed it for ya, Curmy.”

    Your Earth languages are very confusing to me.

  5. I don’t know what institution granted this guy a Ph.D. but I think his doctoral committee may be regretting ever letting this guy out. I think I’ve said before that an old professor of mine from grad school had a very harsh view of these types. He felt that the institutions should revoke the degree for anyone in any area of biology who chose not to accept evolution. If only we could. Then they would be truly “expelled.” If a medical doctor can loose his license for not following accepted standard practices, why not a Ph.D.?

  6. SC: “If David has a PhD in biology, we think that’s frightening.”

    Even scarier f he does have a high position at Montsanto, creator of genetically-modified everything.

  7. I think a better topic might be “Teach children to critically evaluate theory of god and the bible.” Excellent show on TV last night doing exactly that, showing the incredible gaps and gaffs in the bible, how it contradicts itself in every way, can’t even tell who wrote it, and the stories that were far from believeable that run through its pages.

  8. Our Curmudgeon boasts two chief weapons:

    Prudence is one of my defining characteristics — along with paranoia.

    And ruthless efficiency. His three chief weapons are prudence, paranoia, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to Pope Retiredsciguy..His four chief weapons are–

  9. Charles Deetz ;)

    If one believes only micro-evolution, then he doesn’t have to worry that DNA editing may cause inter-species problems. His lying to himself serves multiple purposes.

  10. That was painful to read

  11. Jim Thomerson

    Some years ago I was appalled that Monsanto higher-up said that a change in genetic makeup of a population was not evolution.

    I think that macroevolution is speciation and extinction. We speak of speciation, but I have never read the terms genusization, familyization, etc. in an explanation of the evolution of any group. I’ve recently read some evo-devo study of why some groups produce only more of the same, while others produce widely divergent species. Something to do with how well the germ plasm is sequestered in development.

  12. waldteufel

    I smell a poseur. Whenever I read or hear someone referring to “Darwinian” models when the topic of evolution is at the heart of the discussion, I’m sure that person is not a biologist. Darwin died over a century ago, and evolutionary biology has gone far beyond Darwin’s ideas.

    The letter writer’s arguments are boilerplate Discoveroid material.

  13. When some dim dud says “I am (insert science field)’ but does not show evidence for this then he is no more truthful or reliable then the dim book he believes in.

  14. Megalonyx says of our Curmudgeon, “His three chief weapons are prudence, paranoia, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to Pope Retiredsciguy…”

    HUH??!!??? Please elaborate, oh Cardinal Great Claw. I’m just a simple reader of this great blog that never fails to inspire a comment or two. I have never sensed any devotion, fanatical or otherwise, radiating from Curmy the Great. Fact is, he’d probably sic his dogs on me if he had the chance.

  15. retiredsciguy says: “I have never sensed any devotion, fanatical or otherwise, radiating from Curmy the Great.”

    Your humility is admirable, but don’t underestimate your awesome influence.

  16. Well, gee. Any influence I might have is due solely to this blog. Aside from a few stray comments at newspaper sites and such (under a different name), this is the only blog I frequent. Perhaps I should broaden my horizons, but I truly appreciate the way you modulate your site, Curmy. Your writing has attracted a sizable following of intelligent commenters whose own writings are just as much fun to read as yours.

  17. @Pope RSG: Is it time for me, your humble Cardinal Gary, to get out (dun dun DUN!) the comfy chair!?!?!

  18. @Gary: Nah — you gotta keep working. Too young to retire. No comfy chair for you yet.

  19. Pope Retiredsciguy pleads

    HUH??!!??? Please elaborate, oh Cardinal Great Claw.

    You want me to elaborate? I didn’t expect The Spanish Inquisition!

  20. @Meg: Ok. Now I get the “almost fanatical devotion” bit. I’m way too literal. About the only part of Monty Python stored in my brain is “wafer-thin mint”. And because Curmy runs a classy blog, I shall not post a link to that scene. (But I’d bet someone else will.) Unfortunately, that image runs through my head whenever I see an Andes mint.

    My daughters went through high school during the VCR era and had an “almost fanatical devotion” to Monty Python.

    To get back on topic — concerning Monsanto and their BT corn. How is this different from flooding the environment with antibiotics? Aren’t we going to hasten the evolution of BT-resistant corn borers?