Michael Yarus and the Thing that Couldn’t Die
|June 7, 2010||Posted by William Dembski under Intelligent Design|
Michael Yarus, an emeritus professor at UColorado, is one of the leading experts on the RNA World hypothesis, which takes the origin of life as flowing from RNA chemistry. His recent book with Harvard UP, Life from an RNA World, contains lots of material responding to ID, though without basic understanding, to say nothing of nuance.
The reason I bring the book up here, however, is to note his extensive use of Dawkins’ famous METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL evolutionary computing simulation. Yarus changes the target phrase to NOTHING IN BIOLOGY MAKES SENSE EXCEPT IN THE LIGHT OF EVOLUTION, but the essence of Dawkins’ simulation is nonetheless there in all its glory — indeed, Yarus develops this “instance of evolution” more extensively than Dawkins did. Moreover, Yarus sees this simulation as underwriting the power of evolutionary processes.
Dawkins’ simulation has come under considerable criticism both here at UD and at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, where we have implemented “WEASEL WARE” (go here). Some internet critics have urged that we are beating a dead horse, that this example was never meant to be taken too seriously, and that if we were “serious scientists,” we would be directing our energies elsewhere. Let me suggest that these critics take up their concerns with Yarus.
The reason we keep bringing up Dawkins’ example is because evolutionists themselves won’t let it die. You can find Yarus’ discussion of it beginning on p. 64 of his book. It is available at Google Books here. Or you can view it below: