The Plausibility of Life
|October 23, 2005||Posted by William Dembski under Evolution|
[From a colleague:] Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerharrt are important players in the evo-devo movement. They have a new popular book that is just out titled The Plausibility of Life (Yale, 2005). It summarizes a good deal of work in their earlier textbook and several important articles. In the new book, the authors go much further here in admitting that life and evolution are indeed implausible on the standard neo-Darwinian interpretation. They call their own position “facilitated [meaning non-random] phenotypic variation” (as opposed to facilitated genetic [neo-Lamarckian] variation, which they deny). They hem and haw to a certain extent, and try to soften the blow to their neo-Darwinist colleagues, but in many places they say that non-random, functionally adaptive variation is required to make sense of life and evolutionary change. They present their work as “completing” the Darwinian revolution. But of course it also shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Modern Synthesis is radically incomplete as it stands. Kirschner & Gerhart do not pause to consider how phenotypic adaptability is possible in the first place. And needless to say, they never utter the word “teleology,” and they even expressly disavow ID in a sort of political coda. In short, they are extremely naive philosophically, invoking teleology freely without realizing that that is what they are doing. At a minimum, it demonstrates the state of ferment within evolutionary biology at present.