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Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them

When frustrated by election results, it’s useful to remember why it’s hard to live with politicians but even harder to live without them. Bruce K. Chapman’s Politicians: The Worst Kind of People to Run the Government, Except for All the Others offers warm wit seasoned with some sharp-edged anecdotes. He reminds us that “a good political life, in the spirit of the Constitution, aims at a ‘more perfect union,’ not a perfect one.” Read More ›
Darwin Devolves

A Response to My Lehigh Colleagues

Recently in the journal Evolution, two of my colleagues in the Lehigh University Department of Biological Sciences published a seven-page critical review of Darwin Devolves. As I’ll show below, it pretty much completely misses the mark. Nonetheless, it is a good illustration of how sincere-yet-perplexed professional evolutionary biologists view the data, as well as how they see opposition to their Read More ›

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Beautiful butterfly in Hunei, Taiwan
Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

Here’s How to Tell if Scientists are Exaggerating

How much can the public trust confident claims by scientists? Especially about morally or politically or philosophically charged topics? Alas, not so much, as the New York Times Magazine reminds us once again in a recent article, “How Beauty Is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution.” The subtitle asks, “The extravagant splendor of the animal kingdom can’t be explained by natural selection alone — …

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Discovery Institute office interior staircase
Photo by Nathan Jacobson

More Than a Think Tank

I remember a Seattle Weekly article circa 2000 — around the time that I was hired as Executive Director — that described Discovery Institute as a think tank where people “sit around a big table and think really hard.” Needless to say, the article was neither friendly, nor indicative of the role that think tanks really play in policy development. It missed a bigger point, too. Discovery Institute is more than a think tank. While we still maintain an interest in public policy, we are increasingly a cultural institution — one that examines and challenges the worldview assumptions and cultural influences that drive public policy. If policies and the culture flow like a river, we work at the headwaters. Other think tanks do admirable work in the rivers and tributaries. This unique approach is one that has developed over our twenty-five year history. For those of you who are not familiar, here is a brief retelling of that story.

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Portrait of Darwin from 1893 Autobiography

Newly Discovered Notes Reveal C.S. Lewis’s Early Doubts about Darwin

Famed Christian writer C.S. Lewis has often been regarded as either uninterested in the modern evolution debate or generally supportive of evolutionary theory. But newly discovered notes written by Lewis challenge those views, revealing Lewis’s intense interest in the topic of evolution as well as his early skepticism of Darwin. The unpublished material is described and quoted from for the Read More ›

Plant tissue

Waiting Longer for Two Mutations

An interesting paper appeared recently in an issue of the journal Genetics, “Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution” (Durrett, R & Schmidt, D. 2008. Genetics 180: 1501-1509). As the title implies, it concerns the time one would have to wait for Darwinian processes to produce some helpful biological feature (here, Read More ›

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Photo by Louis Maniquet on Unsplash

A Scientific History and Philosophical Defense of the Theory of Intelligent Design

In December of 2004, the renowned British philosopher Antony Flew made worldwide news when he repudiated a lifelong commitment to atheism, citing, among other factors, evidence of intelligent design in the DNA molecule. In that same month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit to prevent a Dover, Pennsylvania school district from informing its students that they could learn about the theory of intelligent design from a supplementary science textbook in their school library. The following February, The Wall Street Journal (Klinghoffer 2005) reported that an evolutionary biologist at the Smithsonian Institution with two doctorates had been punished for publishing a peer-reviewed scientific article making a case for intelligent design. Read More ›

The Facts about Intelligent Design: A Response to the National Academy of Sciences’ Science, Evolution, and Creationism

Download this article as a PDF [638 kb] Introduction A 1982 poll found that only 9% of Americans believed that humans developed through purely natural evolutionary processes. Two years later, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued its first Science and Creationism booklet, stating that science and religion occupy “separate and mutually exclusive realms.” [1] Public skepticism of evolution remained Read More ›

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mosquito on human skin at sunset

Science, E. coli, and the Edge of Evolution

Dear Readers, As I wrote in The Edge of Evolution, Darwinism is a multifaceted theory, and to properly evaluate the theory one has to be very careful not to confuse its different aspects. Unfortunately, stories in the news and on the internet regularly confuse the facets of Darwinism, ignore distinctions made in The Edge of Evolution, or misstate the arguments of intelligent Read More ›