Sunday, October 24th | 18 Heshvan 5782

September 4, 2012 2:00 am

Darwin Under Siege in Hyde Park

avatar by Moshe Averick

Dr. Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago

Warning bells are sounding out of the quaint Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s south side. Hyde Park, of course, is home to the University of Chicago and home to outspoken atheistic biologist and blogger, Dr. Jerry Coyne. In an 8/30/12 post on his Why Evolution is True blog, Coyne revealed some disturbing “heretical” trends that are brewing in the world of evolutionary biology.

This time the evolution-doubters are not the “silly” Christian fanatics at the Discovery Institute, nor the “moronic” Jewish agnostic, David Berlinski; it’s not even “creationist” rabbi’s like myself. No, this time the defectors from and critics of, neo-Darwinian orthodoxy (“Darwin was, Darwin is, Darwin will be”), are from the ranks of the non-creationists!

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The title of the post says it all: “Larry Moran reviews Shapiro’s anti-Darwinian book; and another new anti-evolution book is about to appear.” Coyne is referring to his University of Chicago colleague, Dr. James Shapiro, a geneticist and microbiologist at that august institution. Coyne is not happy at all regarding Shapiro’s “beefs against the modern theory of evolution.” In fact some of Shapiro’s views seem almost blasphemous to a loyal Darwinist like Coyne: “Shapiro seems to have an almost teleological view of how evolution operates.” Coyne goes on to inform us that “virtually all the non-creationist…approbation of Shapiro’s views, come from molecular biologists.” He then wonders if “there’s something about that discipline (the complexity of molecular mechanisms?) that makes people doubt the efficacy of natural selection.”

Distinguished philosopher, Dr. Thomas Nagel

Can you imagine the nerve of those uppity molecular biologists?! After all, what the hell could they possibly know – except of course, “the complexity of molecular mechanisms” – that would give them the chutzpah to challenge Coyne’s scientific position? Don’t these molecular biologists know that before expressing any type of view on science they are supposed to first seek approval from the zealous defender of the Darwinian faith, Dr. Jerry Coyne? Don’t they know that creationists could use these types of views to question neo-Darwinian theory?

There is more bad news. “And now we learn that another respected philosopher (Jerry Fodor was the first) has come out against neo-Darwinism too: the distinguished philosopher Thomas Nagel is about to issue Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Concept of Nature is Almost Certainly False.” In fact, there are a number of distinguished philosophers besides Nagel and Fodor who have attacked Darwinian orthodoxy; the prominent British philosopher, Antony Flew, renounced his long-held atheism after concluding that the origin of the first bacterium and its genetic code could not possibly have emerged through any conceivable unguided process; Darwinian psychology and socio-biology was shredded by Australian philosopher of science, David Stove, in his classic work, Darwinian Fairy Tales; and let’s not forget Coyne’s agnostic, and decidedly non-creationist nemesis, Dr. David Berlinski, who holds a PhD in philosophy from Princeton University.

Dr. James Shapiro, geneticist and microbiologist at the University of Chicago

Dr. Coyne, perhaps the reason that non-creationists are starting to question some of your views is because they really are worth questioning. Perhaps, like an old gunslinger in the West, your time is fading; or perhaps you are being forced to confront what real science is all about. It’s about the pursuit of truth at all costs, even if it means having to abandon long-held, deeply cherished views.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi, a regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website. If you wish to be informed when new articles appear, send an email to [email protected] with the email address and the word “Subscribe” in the subject line.

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