Ruse: creationism the fault of Gnu Atheists who don’t study enough

We haven’t checked in on Michael Ruse for a while, but his latest piece at “Brainstorm,” his website at the Chronicle, is characteristically bizarre. In “Evolution in the classroom: here we go again,” he broaches the theory that bad things—in this case the resurgence of creationism—come in threes.  The first was the 1981 McLean v. Arkansas trial, in which Ruse, along with Steve Gould and Francisco Ayala, successfully testified against a “balanced treatment” act mandating equal coverage of creation and evolution. The second was the 2005 case in Dover, Pennsylvania—another successful attempt to beat back creationism, this time in the guise of “intelligent design.”

The third act in this creationist trifecta is Tennessee’s new bill, about to be signed into law, that mandates “critical thought” on scientific issues like global warming and evolution.  Ruse says that the wording of this law was in fact produced by Seattle’s creationist Discovery Institute.  And he worries that the new Republicanized Supreme Court will find this bill constitutional.  Yes, that is a real worry.

But something worries Ruse more than the new creationists.  Guess what? It’s those pesky atheists who are causing the latest troubles!

On the left, the New Atheist movement frightens me immensely. Its supporters openly and explicitly link evolutionary thinking with non-belief, sneering at those (like me) who think that science and religion can exist harmoniously together. I don’t care what the law says, politically this is moronic. The citizens of Tennessee, the judges of the Supreme Court, are going to believe that if evolution alone is taught in schools the kids of the country will be getting atheist propaganda – no matter what actually happens – and they are going to want to counter it. I imagine that every time that Richard Dawkins opens his mouth, the Discovery Institute lights a candle of thanks, or whatever it is that evangelicals do these days.

Well, Ruse is a huge fan of Darwin, and nobody linked disbelief and evolution more closely than Darwin.  Read The Origin: over and over again you’ll read statements about how facts about biogeography, the fossil record, embryology, and vestigial organs cannot be explained by a creator.  The reason Darwin contrasted evolution and religious mythology was because creationism was the main “scientific” hypothesis for natural design in his day, and he was trying to overturn it.  Under Ruse’s theory, teaching Darwin’s book is an unconstitutional incursion of anti-religion into public-school classrooms (see my post on this issue two years ago).

And creationism remains the primary “alternative” theory to evolution in America. Frankly, I see no problem with teaching students how the facts of biology and geology don’t comport with religious accounts of creation.  That doesn’t differ in principle from teaching students the facts that dispel the myth that slaves were content with their lot, or that the Holocaust didn’t happen.  Both endeavors teach students how to adjudicate evidence, and neither pushes explicitly for atheism. Nor are these lessons explicitly motivated by a desire to push atheism, which is the U.S. courts’ criterion for unconstitutionality.

It’s a different matter, however, to argue in the public schools that evolution automatically entails atheism.  Practically, it doesn’t, as we know from religious scientists. It’s also unconstitutional.  I do happen to think that acceptance of evolution and of a theistic deity are incompatible worldviews, but the science classroom is an inappropriate (and illegal) place to say that.  And we teachers don’t say that.  I met with a bunch of high-school teachers when I was in Georgia, and all of them stick straight to the science when it comes to evolution. Yes, they see that this discomfits some kids who were raised as creationists, but that’s not a violation of church and state—any more than is teaching about the Big Bang.  If teaching science dispels children’s superstitions, well, that’s the purpose of a good education.  For if you learn to think, and to weigh evidence, the rejection of religion will follow as the night the day. (Well, maybe a bit less inevitably, but remember how many scientists are atheists: about 92% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences).

And if new Atheism has been so inimical to the cause of evolution, why is acceptance of evolution rising in the US? (The figures for acceptance of genuinely scientific, nontheistic evolution have gone from 9% in 1982 to 16% in 2011, a small increase but a large one percentage-wise: 77%).

But the most bizarre part of Ruse’s argument is this: he doesn’t think that connecting atheism and evolution in public is the problem, but connecting atheism and evolution without having carefully studying one’s opponents and the issues at hand:

Note, I am not saying that if you genuinely think that evolution implies atheism you should conceal this belief for political reasons. I am saying it is irresponsible to emote on these issues without doing serious study of the issues and looking carefully at those who beg to differ on the possibility of having both science and religion. And this, as five minutes with the God Delusion shows fully, the New Atheists do not do.

Well, I maintain that both Richard and I (and many proponents of evolution) have studied the issues and read many arguments on the other side.  I, for one, have spent a gazillion hours reading theologians’ and scientists’ attempts to reconcile science and religion—and I’ve found them wanting. And I disagree with Ruse’s contention that The God Delusion doesn’t seriously come to grips with whether science and faith are compatible.  Has Ruse even read it? Is he worried, like Terry Eagleton, that Dawkins hasn’t fully grasped the subtleties of Duns Scotus?

But let’s hear from Jason Rosenhouse, who, unlike me, has spent a lot of time going to creationist conventions and talking to believers (see his latest book, Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionist Front Line, which I blurbed and recommend).  I’ve just seen Jason’s new EvolutionBlog post on Ruse’s column, and this is what he says about the problems caused by Dawkins:

We have been down this road before. Truly it’s hard to imagine the legal theory under which Dawkins’s views on science and religion are relevant to the constituionality of this or any other law. Applying Ruse’s logic, it should be unconstitutional to teach about the holocaust, since some people infer from it that God does not exist. Likewise for the American Revolution, since some people believe its unlikely success proves that America is a nation uniquely blessed by God.

If some right-wing judge wants to uphold the law he won’t have to look to Dawkins or any other atheist for a reason. He will just argue that the law has the perfectly legitimate secular purpose of promoting free inquiry, and if that has the indirect effect of giving succor to creationists then so be it.

And about the “atheists-are-too-ignorant” argument Ruse levels at atheists, Jason says this:

So it’s not arguing that evolution undermines religious faith per se that is the problem. It is only emoting about the issue, or sneering at those who disagree that is politically moronic. This is too subtle for me. Earlier Ruse was immensely frightened that citizens and judges would hear Richard Dawkins and conclude that kids need to be protected from evolution. Now it seems that Ruse’s real fear is simply that those citizens and judges will perceive that Dawkins has failed to do his homework. Presenting the very same arguments after putting in some serious library time is just fine, according to Ruse.

You would think, though, that this is completely backward. Even looking at it from Ruse’s perspective, if we must have folks arguing that science and faith are incompatible we would want them to be people who can be dismissed as ignorant crackpots. Why would he want serious, well-informed people arguing for views he regards as politically dangerous?

Touché.  We can expect a response from the thin-skinned Professor Ruse.

What I want to know is whether the Chronicle actually pays Ruse to churn out this stuff, and, if so, how I can get some of that dosh?

91 Comments

  1. Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    “Richard and I (and many opponents of evolution)” — !?!!!???

    /@

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:36 am | Permalink

      Oops; I meant “proponents.” I’ve fixed it. Haven’t finished coffee yet. . . .

  2. Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Teachers all over the world are told that pupils cannot learn in an atmosphere of fear. So, Ruse’s argument about not “emoting” is probably not to shy away fence sitters into the arms of creationist soul snatchers. The opposite opinion is that fence sitters are more like spectators betting on the guy that makes the loudest noise. It’s a matter of choice or opinion which strategy works best – unless your above given statistics are reliable evidence for your strategy being the better.

  3. Dominic
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    “I am saying it is irresponsible to emote on these issues without doing serious study of the issues and looking carefully at those who beg to differ on the possibility of having both science and religion.”
    It really is daft to suppose that opponents of religion are ignorant of the issues.

    hmmm… methinks Michael Ruse should remove the beam from his eye before he tries to take the e-mote from that of ‘new’ atheism.

  4. Scettico
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    “he broaches the theory that bad things—in this case the resurgence of creationism—come in threes.” Isn’t the Tennessee bill the fourth? What about Edwards v Aquillard in 1987?

  5. Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Jerry,

    I am a high-school teacher (physics), and I humbly disagree with what you say about how the classroom is not the right place to challenge world-views.

    I guess I’m one of those Gnu Atheists who’d scare the shit out of Ruse!

    As you know, the Big Bang is the contestable thing for physics students who are creationists. Miracles come up too.

    I always make a point of making explicit that a physicist has two responses to incompatible data. Either we claim the data is erroneous, and check it again, or accept our theory is wrong and try to modify it.

    Those are the only two options – there’s no option to be satisfied with ignorance and shout ‘miracle!’. Yet this is what all the religiously motivated ‘alternatives’ call for.

    Learning how to think (and the limits of what is possible to know) are perhaps the most valuable things a student can acquire from a scientific education, and the best way to think yourself out of religion.

  6. Justicar
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I am afraid you cannot do what Ruse does because you have a slightly different ethos than does he. My first exposure to the estimable Professor Ruse was watching a debate in which he was a quarter of the panel for the side of evolution. Eugenie Scott, Kenneth Miller and Berry Lynn rounded out the quartet. He strikes as having nothing more than a used car lot sized bag of saponaceous rhetorical devices. I choose used car lot quite advisedly.

    In the debate, Ruse is first up to question William F. Buckley Jr. Ruse’s opening salvo: why are you on that side instead of ours? Are your objections religious, social, are you against evolution, are you against natural selection? Quite appropriately, and expected at that, Buckley lodged an objection to that (and other things from earlier), and then reversed it to argue that such a technique is illustrative of someone who has an ideological fixity. That one is speaking from a dogmatic position.

    So Ruse retorts that speaking dogmatically isn’t necessarily a fault. In response to Buckley’s asking what line of question Ruse is pursuing, Ruse asks if Buckley’s objection to evolution is because of Richard Dawkins linking evolution with atheism. Is it that some evolutionists have been socialist? Because if it is, we’ll give you a list that you’d like.

    Sorry, that is my first encounter with Ruse, and I’m fine with having it be the last, too. Were I watching a debate to help move me off of a fence and one of the debaters pulled a stunt like that, I would certainly be resistant to accepting the proposition for which he or she argued.

    You can see it in the fuller context in this youtube video; Ruse starts his shenanigans at about 4:20 in. Utterly disgraceful.

    • Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      @Justicar
      Gosh, that video was a sobering experience. Never seen such a stupid show. Do you really make these issues into evening entertainment shows with “Teams” and the bid question is which team comes out as the winning one? In that case, the Gnu strategy probably really is the better strategy for I presume the fence-sitters are in the audience and they delegate the task of making up their own minds to opting for the “winning team”.

      • Justicar
        Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        I’m not entirely clear what you’re asking me. Do I make these issues into evening entertainment and ‘the bid question’ is which team comes out the winner?

        I like watching debates. I never make an actual decision on the condition of which team has ‘won’ a debate since winning a debate is not the same thing as being correct. But debates are excellent for exposing one to lines of reasoning that might have otherwise not occurred to one. Plus, I like to watch smart people think on their toes like what one sees in an Oxbridge style debate.

        • Joachim
          Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          Sorry,

          I don’t like talk-shows even if they do not come in the format of teams pitted against each other. And I do not think that many substantial things can be heard from people forced onto their toes. With this aversion I just assumed that a portion of the audience was trying to save themselves the work of reading books, papers, etc., that is, making up their mind the hard way. But I did not mean you in particular.

          What I took away from the video is that Ruse and Buckley are both stuttering, one worse than the other, that Ruse is the poorer rhetorician, and that Ken Miller and Behe don’t let each other finish their sentences.

          Nothing substantial for me there.

    • Filippo
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      It bears mentioning again: several years ago I saw a video of a seminar in which Ruse participated. He “blessed” another participant with a seven-letter, two-syllable epithet which rhymes with dipole. I couldn’t figure out what the recipient of that epithet had possibly done to warrant being so blessed, other than perhaps civilly-enough begging to differ with Ruse on some point.

      Just where are major Gnu Atheists similarly, publicly hurling anatomical descriptors at their protagonists, whether face-to-face or in print?

  7. Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    So, Ruse says that he is not telling the Gnus to shut up…but it sure appears that he is. I must be missing something.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Gnu is not unix?

    • Tulse
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Well, yes, but in this context, “Gnu” is a humorous take on “New”.

      • Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Or an bacronym for “gobby, naturalistic unbelievers”? ;-)

        /@

        PS. Is “gobby” idiomatic outside the UK? Interpret it as, um, “outspoken”.

        • Filippo
          Posted April 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          I have a female relative who refers to some given mess someone makes of ones life as a “gob of s – – – .”

          • Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

            That’s a different “gob” – “a lump or clot of a slimy or viscous substance” rather than “mouth” (“gobby” = “mouthy”).

            However, they are (possibly) related etymologically, from the Scottish Gaelic “gob”, meaning a beak or a mouth, through the French “gobe”, a mouthful or lump.

            In Irish English, a “gob-shite” is a loud-mouthed person who talks complete rubbish, a term often heard on Father Ted.

            /@

  9. Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    “I do happen to think that acceptance of evolution and of a theistic deity are incompatible worldviews, but the science classroom is an inappropriate (and illegal) place to say that.”

    What if it comes up in class – say if a student asks you? Surely it’s legal in that case?

    • Justicar
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      What if a student asks a teacher if the teacher has had premarital, or extramarital sex? In a sex education class? It wouldn’t be illegal to answer the question. Would it be appropriate? Just because a student asks a question it doesn’t follow that it’s appropriate to answer it.

      • Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        I’m just asking what’s legal.

        • Screechy Monkey
          Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

          That depends first of all on what you mean by “legal.”

          A civil rights lawsuit requires there be a policy, practice, custom, or decision. So a student would have trouble suing based on any single comment by a teacher, whether in response to a question or not.

          On the other hand, if a school (or school board or district) consistently allows its teachers to promote creationism or other religious doctrines, I doubt a defense of “but we only do it when we’re asked a question that brings it up” would work, at least in the (likely) case that there’s always at least one student in the class who brings it up. To give an easy example: if the Dover school board’s policy had been for teachers to read the “disclaimer” about evolution and to recommend books on ID only in response to student questions, I doubt it would have affected the outcome of the case.

          If you mean “can a school fire a teacher for it,” that’s a different matter, and it probably gets bogged down in issues of tenure and collective bargaining rights, whether the school has a clearly articulated policy that was violated, etc.

        • Justicar
          Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

          Oh, well in the case of what’s legal or illegal, then it depends what is said. If the response to a question touched on whether a god did or didn’t intervene, does or doesn’t exist, is or isn’t necessary to postulate, a public school teacher would need to respond carefully. The government (in the form of its agents) is not to take a position on the god question. So, I’d expect that something like: “whether one thinks there is or isn’t a god, the steps in, oh say, mitosis remain exactly the way they are which we’re now going to discuss…” would get a pass. Whereas, something like: “well, of course you have to believe in Jesus; otherwise, the steps in the blood clotting mechanism can’t work right – what do you think causes hemophilia?” would be legally actionable. So too would something like: “don’t be silly – of course there isn’t an invisible sky fairy up in the clouds casting magic spells to make new babies.” be actionable in my estimation.

          And, of course, as Screechmonkey said, one would have to factor in the teacher’s contract, whether or not the school has a mechanism by which to investigate and resolve these claims and all that. (courts give wide latitude to schools with respect to disciplining staff members)

          • Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

            The example I was thinking of was actually one like Jerry brought up, where an *atheist* teacher was asked what he/she thought about god, given the nature of evolution. Anyway, of course which side of the religion issue you’re on shouldn’t matter.

            Some of these examples of what would be actionable seem a little ridiculous to me. It seems to me that teachers give their opinions on all sorts of things not strictly related to their curricula. A discussion of students kissing in the halls might result in questions being asked about the teacher’s views on dating, marriage, sex, etc. Granted, teachers will often decline to discuss such matters with students, but I still recall many times when teachers thought that their philosophy on some matter was worthwhile, and didn’t mind sharing a bit of it. Class discussions go off on tangents, in which teachers participate, all the time. But it sounds like religious ideas are supposed to be kept out of such discussion (where irrelevant to the class material), and I think it’s fair to ask if this kind of policy is a good thing. Of course teachers shouldn’t be forcing anything down anyone’s throats, but responding honestly to a question like Jerry’s should be fine, I think. I mean heck, presenting ideas and thinking about them is what teachers are for!

            I have a feeling that religious discussion is different from other kinds because people often do feel threatened by religious beliefs other than their own. Children in particular may feel like they’re being coerced. But perhaps the problem is that we don’t know how to have discussions about religion without feeling this way. Perhaps we need to get used to the idea that Professor Martin believes this, and I don’t, and that’s fine. Just like I disagree with his views on kissing in the halls.

            • Screechy Monkey
              Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

              If it’s being said during class or other school activities, I really don’t think it’s a meaningful distinction whether a teacher brings it up unsolicited or in response to a question. Especially on issues like creationism, where the creationists are actually circulating lists of “questions” designed to disrupt the teaching of evolution and/or to embarrass teachers.

              I’d be willing to bet that almost every biology class in America has at least student who will ask some question about Genesis or Jesus or whatever. I wouldn’t want to give the creationist teachers a license to proselytize. (And yes, by the same token, atheist teachers should not be responding to such questions with “and that’s why I think there’s no god,” either.)

              Sure, it would be nice to just write it all of on the basis of “it’s just the teacher’s opinion and I can disagree with it.” But in practice it’s likely to be very coercive and hostile to students who disagree.

            • Justicar
              Posted April 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

              Well, I don’t know where you live, but in the states there are certain ‘opinions’ that are off limits to discuss in certain situations. Yes, a teacher’s particular view on the god question is an opinion, but the dynamic isn’t a conversation between and among contemporaries. That alone isn’t sufficient to dispense with certain types of opinions. However, there is an additional element that can’t be ignored and is part of the legal analysis: is the audience free to leave or remain.

              Students are required by law to be in that class but for staff permission to exit, or a parent pulling it out. In some states, absenting one’s self from class on a regular basis without a legal justification (read note from a parent [up to a set number of excusable days quite often], or medical professional), criminal charges can be filed against the parent, the student or both. Awfully convenient to have an audience that is quite literally captive if one were to start regularly having religious discussions in science classes, provided a student asked a question on that. Listen kid: you keep leaving my classroom without my permission while we’re having our religious discussion, you risk jail time for yourself and your parents. Choose wisely.

              And the invitation to the conversation by one student wouldn’t make a lick of difference. If a ruling came down that it’s okay to wax poetic on how belief in Jesus helps explain physics provided it is done only in response to a student’s question, then you’d find that a lot of ‘clever’ parents would find time to remind their kids to ask a question about how Jesus and the laws of motion are related – just to make sure that the student isn’t missing something the teacher can’t volunteer on his/her own, but can explain if asked. ::wink wink::

              No. Just leave the question off the table and teach rigorous analytic and critical thinking skills. If you’re sufficiently robust in teaching those, the god question has a way of taking care of itself.

            • Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

              Hmm, good points. I hadn’t thought of it like that. It really is a tricky issue – it seems like we have a relatively black-and-white way of dealing with it legally, even though the scenarios themselves may involve all sorts of gray. My anal retentive mind hates that >:-/

          • Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

            Btw, thanks to the others who responded too.

        • eric
          Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

          John Corbett called creationism “superstituous nonsense” in class and the ninth circuit ruled that was okay. But, some caveats:
          – The ninth is known for being very liberal.
          – The ruling was based on a different point of law (whether, as a teacher, he had qualified immunity from being sued); when it came to the constitutionality of what he said, the court “declined to rule.”
          – Corbett explicitly told students and parents he’d be discussing and contrasting current social events with historical ones (he taught AP European History). Teachers of other classes might have weaker or stronger arguments for why discussing creeationism is relevant to class.
          – That was California. Other states, the laws may vary. Sure, states can’t make constitutional acts illegal, but they can certainly make things illegal if there is no constitutional right to do them.

          Anyway, this news story has a link to the actual court ruling, if you’re interested.

          • eric
            Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

            Interesting aside, Corbett was also part of the 1994 Peloza vs. Capistrano case, in which a creationist biology teacher at Corbett’s same school sued the school district, him, and a couple of other teachers over the requirement that he (the bio teacher) teach evolution. At least one of Corbett’s in-class references to creationism was as part of a discussion with the kids about what had happened at their school 13 years ago (at the time).

  10. Sajanas
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    The rank and file opponents of evolution aren’t drawing their strength from their outrage upon reading Richard Dawkins. I think, by and large, they are drawing their strength reading creationists and living in a Christian entertainment ghetto where they get all their news, education, and morality from various Christian merchants (and the same could be said for Islamic or Judaistic creationists). I would be shocked if many creationists had actually read the God Delusion, or the like. They might get sound bite versions of it, but that’s not really the same thing, is it?

    Of course, I’ve really only met a few creationists, so correct me if I’m incorrect.

    • FastLane
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Sajanas, I have a fair amount (I wouldn’t go so far as to say extensive) with creationists, both online and IRL (fighting state school boards in KS, back in the day).

      You are largely correct, most creationists don’t read material that disagrees with their worldview. If I had to guess, I’d say upwards of 90-95% never read even more than a cursory bit of even the creationist material they would agree with. Of those, maybe half bother to look at scientific arguments.

      I wouldn’t call what most of them do ‘reading’ though. Creationists don’t read for comprehension and content, they read science primarily to look for quote mines. Most of the creationists who do read any science at all are doing it support creationism, generally because they are selling something….

      I think the majority of them really do believe the crap they’re spouting, but I suspect there is a significant number of them that are just in it to sell books/DVDs/tracts.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Worse, they read science primarily to look for quote mines because that is how they are taught to do by the whole apologist (and today, accommodationist) textual tradition. They won’t know how to study science even if they would want to.

    • Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      I’ll second what Fastlane wrote.

      Growing up Mormon, and having extensive dealings with other deniminations (as an organist, I’ve worked among theists for any years), I can attest that the cultures are extremely insular. It’s almost a taboo to study any material opposed to one’s faith, even for the purposes of “knowing thine enemy.” The sheeple are simply supposed to trust that their leaders know and have successfully refuted any contradictory evidence.

      I know many adult theists who’ve never heard of P.Z., Harris, Dennett, or even Dawkins!

      • Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink

        Oh, for Pete’s…

        *Denominations* and *for many years*

      • Filippo
        Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        I had a religioso relative who, when congenially asked to consider the possibility of reading Martin Gardner’s “The Musings of a Philosophical Scrivener,” replied – having merely and only looked at the frontispiece – “That book has nothing to say to me.”

  11. Chris
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    “but remember how many scientists are atheists: about 92% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences).”

    This would be more accurate if the word ‘atheists’ was replaced with ‘nonbelievers’, since 92% of NAS members are either atheists •or• agnostics (I believe slightly more than 20% are agnostics).

    • Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      “either atheists •or• agnostics”

      So, tell me, these 20% who are agnostic, do they believe in any god? #newbieerror

      /@

  12. Naked Bunny with a Whip
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Why would he want serious, well-informed people arguing for views he regards as politically dangerous?

    I suspect that any atheist arguing for views Ruse finds politically dangerous is automatically poorly informed.

  13. stevehayes13
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    ‘…the subtleties of Duns Scotus…’

    The guy who etymologically bequeathed us the word: dunce.

    • Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Oh! That is actually true:

      ORIGIN early 16th cent.: originally an epithet for a follower of John Duns Scotus , whose followers were ridiculed by 16th-cent. humanists and reformers as enemies of learning.[NOAD]

      At first sight, I assumed it would turn out to be a folk etymology.

      /@

      • stevehayes13
        Posted April 13, 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

        Ah, I see you are a fellow Yorkshireman.

        • Posted April 13, 2012 at 2:57 am | Permalink

          An expatriate one, however. We’re living down in Lincolnshire, at least until my younger son finishes uni at Warwick (actually in Coventry).

          /@

          • stevehayes13
            Posted April 13, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            I know it well. I was a post-grad student there.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      +1

  14. phosphoros99
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I postulate that in years to come far from being a plinth for ” the intellectually satisfied atheist” what is called “evolution” will be a significant buttress for the theistic worldview.

    Listening to the Howard Hughes Memorial Lecture – hope I have that right – on the link in a previous post strengthened my perspective on this view.

    • Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Would you care to elucidate?

      /@

      • phosphoros99
        Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        No doubt there are issues of analogy and semantics to be resolved
        but I have often wondered why what we are observing in living organisms should not be subject to some type of forensic evaluation.

        • Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          Sorry, P-99, but I asked you to elucidate, not obfuscate! :-D

          What is it that we are observing in living organisms that you think could be subject to some type of forensic evaluation? What would you expect such a forensic evaluation to demonstrate?

          And how the heck is does what you just said provide any perspective on the claim that “what is called “evolution” will be a significant buttress for the theistic worldview”?

          /@

          • phosphoros99
            Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

            I used the expression ” some type of forensic evaluation” to capture the concept of an attempt to identify (not simply believe) probable cause.

            Surely it cannot be beyond the capacity of present science to at least attempt to do so.

            • Posted April 12, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

              Well, that’s not yet pellucid, but I think I understand what you’re driving at…

              But as far as I can see, present science has more than attempted to do that; it has identified the “probable cause” of evolution.

              Given sufficient energy and raw materials, once you have replicators, and at least one mechanism for variation (such as imperfect replication), evolution ineluctably follows.

              The theory has no need of any other hypothesis.

              /@

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

                The forensic enquiry would be to identify the probable cause of the replicators.

              • Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

                Now what has that got to do with evolution?

                What you’re talking about is biopoiesis.

                /@

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

                Without replicators there can be no evolution.

                John von Neumann seemed to have been among the first to recognized they are necessary for ” descent with modification” to occur.

              • Posted April 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

                Yes. So?

                How does that support your claim that “what is called ‘evolution’ will be a significant buttress for the theistic worldview”?

                /@

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

                Because it seems to me that John von Neumann actually defined a lower limit of complexity beyond which evolution – descent with modification – is not possible. The level of the concept of “universal constructor”.

                That’s why a forensic examination of the “universal constructor” is what is required.

              • Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

                So, now you’ve changed the object of this “forensic evaluation” of yours from “what we are observing in living organisms” (and you didn’t actually answer my question re what it is that we are observing in living organisms that should be evaluated — so, what?) to this “universal constructor” (whatever that corresponds to in chemistry or biochemistry, since RNA, for instance, has no “construction arm” to make another copy of itself).

                I really don’t see how this supports your claim that “what is called ‘evolution’ will be a significant buttress for the theistic worldview”, since the theory of evolution assumes the existence of replicators – or “universal constructors”, if you will (although it seems like a stretch to me) – and the origin of the replicators is not evolution.

                /@

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

                I have not changed the focus.

                The forensic enquiry is to help understand the cause of what we are observing – descent with modification.

                This leads, at least from John von Neumann’s insight, to the concept of the universal constructor as a necessary requirement.

                It seems to me that the universal constructor is not only a necessary requirement but the minimum level of complexity required to achieve descent with modification and is therefore the appropriate place to start a forensic assessment for probable cause of evolution.

              • Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

                Um, yes you have.

                Earlier:

                I have often wondered why what we are observing in living organisms should not be subject to some type of forensic evaluation.

                Later:

                That’s why a forensic examination of the “universal constructor” is what is required.

                I just cannot see how those two statements are equivalent… In what sense is “the ‘universal replicator’” the same as “what we are observing in living organisms”, which you now say is “descent with modification”?

                Well, descent with modification is evolution and evolution follows ineluctably once replicators exist, via well understood mechanisms. The theory of evolution takes the existence of replicators as a given.

                So, yes, replicators (I still don’t see the certain equivalence with a “universal constructor”) with a certain level of complexity are a required antecedent of evolution. But replicators no more cause evolution than a lump of clay causes a pot to be made.

                So — how does this support your claim that “what is called ‘evolution’ will be a significant buttress for the theistic worldview”?

                /@

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:06 am | Permalink

                It is fun seeing a toddler like a creationist out in the actual world play with – ooh, shiny – things and making a mess. Silly child, physical objects and processes has no ’cause’. That they obey causality is quite another thing.

                If you want a coherent pathway without the need for extraneous unobserved magical fictional beings, look at multiverses. A facile way to summarize the relatively fruitful hypothesis would be “we exist, because we can”.

                Not to derail a funny discussion with a science denialist, and with some trepidation seeing that this is a biology bl … website, I would suggest to look at evolution from an astrobiology perspective. It might be informative on the fuzzy border between chemical and biological evolution, as fuzzy as the idea that we can look at a speciation process that results in two species and say “here is the split ‘point'”.

                At one end I think we can agree to, self consistently of course, describe biological evolution as the process that takes living populations to living populations over generations. In a minimum model we have variation and selection over populations of genomes constituted of chemical compounds.

                At the other end we observe that chemical evolution starts as soon as the universe does, but with little local variation. It is first as it continues in stars we start to see such variation.

                Today we know that the atmospheres of carbon containing stars takes this further to spew out a variety of complex organics that are likely selected for high formation rates and durability under radiation. Planetary system formation takes us through the series of mineral evolution that Hazen describes, from grain formation over impact melts and wet processing to planetary differentiation.

                Note that variation spatial scales decreases as we go, and heredity time scales, the stepwise evolution from one environment to another, as well.

                Now, during geological differentiation, something informative happens. Very likely decreasing planetary temperatures promote chemical evolution of enzymes due to selection of enthalpic catalysts. (See “Impact of temperature on the time required for the establishment of primordial temperature, and for the evolution of enzymes”.)

                With a cold planets we get down to scales of thermal circulation in ocean vents or crustal pools. And by increasing catalytic closure of sets of chemical molecules heredity starts to scale correspondingly in time. Morowitz notes how everything from monomers over multimers to micro- and mini-RNA worlds participate in diverse mechanisms of catalysts and cofactors. (“The origin of the RNA world: Co-evolution of genes and metabolism”, Copley et al.) And Kaufman has just mentioned how such autocatalytic sets out of simple monomers have been observed in the lab, an article over at the NPR blogs.

                Now of course Szostak’s self-assembled lipid cells, who have been shown in the lab to compete over lipid resources and spontaneously reproduce, have been shown to encapsulate the (mini, micro, macro)-RNA world catalysts as these assembles internally and potentially reproduce. Which lands us back in biological evolution, with spatial scales of populations of cells and time scales of generations of them.

                If these results are good, we can as little look at a chemical to biological evolution process and say “here is the split ‘point'” as we can in speciation processes. There could potentially be emergent phase changes that ushers in qualitative change as catalytic closure (Morowitz) or genetic closure (Eigen), but those are as of yet purely speculative AFAIK. And the time scales could still be longer than the local evolution scale, in the same way that a plate tectonic split would be slower than the generations of geographically split species.

                In sum, biological evolution is well defined and well observed and independent of chemical evolution. And biological evolution is well defined and well observed and independent of biological evolution. Anything in between is, well, in between.

                Considering the time scales, the interesting transitions likely happen a lot on terrestrial planets, ice moons and large enough asteroids to cool over many millions of years.

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:49 am | Permalink

                Some easy to see speling erorrs. :-/

                But mostly it hit me that Shoztak’s protocell membranes could usher in ‘reproductive closure’ to go with the putative catalytic and genetic ditto, since (I forgot to point out) they are necessary to make RNA polymerases replicate enough self over other compounds. This would localize reproduction to within cells and make them able to explore their environment instead of being confined near a source of organics.

                Again, I don’t think such a transformation is rapid on the scale of local evolution. A lot of protocells will turn over while such a change happens.

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 14, 2012 at 4:30 am | Permalink

                “Since you seem singularly incapable of articulating (a) why your ideas are a better model for evolution than the current theory ……”

                The discussion could not proceed because we were not discussing the same thing.

                In seeking a “forensic evaluation as to probable cause” one has to seek to determine not only mechanism but the nature of the required infra-structure.

                I was seeking to address an examination of the infrastructure which supported the mechanisms which allowed for “descent with modification” whilst your focus appeared to be the mechanism of “descent with modification”

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted April 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

                I was seeking to address an examination of the infrastructure which supported the mechanisms which allowed for “descent with modification” whilst your focus appeared to be the mechanisms of “descent with modification”

                As I already noted, this is silly. Processes have no mechanism “allowing” or “causing” them. Causality follows from relativity, and processes are causal events in spacetime.

                Either you are out to ask for how the universe came to be, which is outside of biology, or how constraints, yes, allows for processes. As I described in my rather long comment, not for creationists but to illustrate the development of “descent with modification”, it is a generic physical mechanism that happens as the universe cools and start to develop structure.

                The rest is a manner of degree. OTOH it is clear that biological _evolution_ is described by population genetics, so fuzzily starting to be observed as the first genomes make such genetics observable. That would be around protocells.

                Given metabolic networks, also described in my comment, protocells of Szostak’s type forms spontaneously. So when you have to ask why membranes form, which is due to thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is even older than our universe physics.

              • Posted April 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

                & what Torbjörn said.

                /@

            • Filippo
              Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

              “phosphoros99
              Posted April 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink
              Without replicators there can be no evolution.

              John von Neumann seemed to have been among the first to recognized they are necessary for ” descent with modification” to occur.”

              Jacob Bronowski has some significant reflections on John von Neumann in the last segment of his series, “The Ascent of Man.”

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 12, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

                “I just cannot see how those two statements are equivalent…”

                The statements are not equivalent but they are related.

                The aim is to do ” a forensic analysis” of what we observe happening in living organisms to determine probable cause.

                We observe “descent with modification” so questions of why ? and how ? arise.

                Why leads to ” change in information or regulation of expression of information”

                How leads to the universal constructor as both a necessary and minimum level of complexity requirement to achieve “descent with modification”

                My bias, and it is a bias, is that pursuing these paths of investigation are likely , in time, to find a theist worldview more coherent than an atheist worldview.

              • Michael Fugate
                Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

                “My bias, and it is a bias, is that pursuing these paths of investigation are likely , in time, to find a theist worldview more coherent than an atheist worldview.”

                That and $1.95 will get you a cup of coffee.

              • Posted April 13, 2012 at 2:55 am | Permalink

                @ P-99

                You really are being inconsistent! And opaque. AFAIK, the (non-teleological) “why?” and “how?” questions of evolution (i.e., “descent with modification”) are perfectly well addressed by the existing theory with natural selection, genetic drift, &c.

                Couching a discussion of evolution in terms of “information” doesn’t seem terribly insightful and really only obfuscates the mechanisms.

                And, as I said before, evolution takes replicators as a given, its raw material. So, I’m not clear why your “universal constructor” idea really provides any new insight.

                Nothing in what you say goes beyond the explanatory power of a purely naturalistic theory of evolution, and, hence, nothing in what you say supports your claim that “what is called ‘evolution’ will be a significant buttress for the theistic worldview”.

                Perhaps you can be more explicit: Where in this do you see the necessity for a supernatural agent of any kind? Without mentioning “information” or “universal constructors”, but keeping to the normal language of evolutionary biology, please explain what’s missing from the theory of evolution.

                /@

              • Filippo
                Posted April 13, 2012 at 4:01 am | Permalink

                I gather that your and a couple other comments are addressed to phosphoros99 and not me.

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 13, 2012 at 3:11 am | Permalink

                “Without mentioning “information” or “universal constructors”, but keeping to the normal language of evolutionary biology”

                I’ll take that cup of coffee but before doing so I will like to suggest that “information” and “universal constructors” ought to be and will become the normal language of evolutionary biology,

              • Posted April 13, 2012 at 3:16 am | Permalink

                Well, that’s another question you’ll need to answer then: Why those terms actually add understanding or explanatory power to the theory of evolution? But please put that aside for now and focus on the “supernatural agent” question!

                /@

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 13, 2012 at 5:04 am | Permalink

                I think that John von Neumann’s universal constructor , the following work by Hubert Yockey and work by David Able (the concept of the Cybernetic Cut) point to the need for an intellect for both the “construction” of living organisms and the capacity for evolution

                Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life
                Hubert P. Yockey

                http://www.cambridge.org/aus/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521802932&ss=fro

              • Posted April 13, 2012 at 5:20 am | Permalink

                @ Filippo

                Yes, indeed. I did try to make that clear by adding “@ P-99”.

                /@

              • Posted April 13, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

                @ P-99

                You just can’t answer a direct question directly can you?!

                Was it you who brought up the “Cybernetic Cut” here before? It’s total BS, imho, worse than theology.

                If you can’t say plainly, in the plain language of evolutionary biology, what it is that the naturalistic theory of evolution lacks, you cannot make your case.

                Appealing to notions like “universal constructor” and “cybernetic cut” is bogus unless you can show that you describe evolution in those terms and that that has explanatory power. Otherwise, any suggestion that an intellect is required by these concepts may just be an artefact of applying an improper model to evolution. (In fact, I think that’s very likely, as von Neumann was originally explicitly describing self-replicating machines that had an original “human” designer.)

                /@

              • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
                Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:28 am | Permalink

                @ Ant:

                I would like to see a creationist science denialist explain how creationist “information” can explain why biology demands a _decrease_ of information to get useful genomes.

                Variation of the alleles in the genome correspond to increased information in the form of Kolmogorov complexity. Indeed, the most information carrying genome is completely unordered, without functioning genes.

                It is when selection channels in Shannon information from the environment that it results in a useful decrease of KC information. Of course, if KC gets too low variation disappears and the slightest environment change can make the population go extinct.

                This same “balanced information/complexity” goes with the universe too. It started out simple, it will soon be the most complex it ever will be, eventually the expansion will dilute complexity back to simplicity again. Carroll had an article on this over at Cosmic Variance a while back, IIRC.

                However you never see a creationist contemplating information for realz. Only for the lolz of us others.

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 13, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

                Posted in the wrong place

                “Appealing to notions like “universal constructor” and “cybernetic cut” is bogus unless you can show that you describe evolution in those terms and that that has explanatory power”

                Do you reject the idea of the universal constructor or some similar concept as a necessary requirement for evolution ?

                The Cybernetic Cut refers to fact that it has never been documented that symbols can produce syntax. Evolution is about symbols and syntax – bases for amino acids / genes for proteins.

                Can you cite a single instance in which it was demonstrated that symbols produced syntax ?

              • Posted April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

                @ P-99

                This comes back exactly to my point earlier: Appealing to notions like “universal constructor” and “cybernetic cut” is bogus unless you can show that you describe evolution in those terms and that that has explanatory power.

                So, I don’t reject the idea, but I’m still waiting for you to clearly explain how this idea is actually relevant to the theory of evolution and in what way it provides a better model of evolution than we have.

                And I really don’t see how you can describe chemicals as “symbols and syntax” or actually what it even means to say “symbols can [or cannot] produce syntax”. In any case, chemicals certainly can produce other chemicals. That’s called chemistry.

                /@

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 13, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

                I don’t think we can take this any further.

                Thanks

              • Posted April 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

                @ P-99

                Since you seem singularly incapable of articulating (a) why your ideas are a better model for evolution than the current theory and (b) why your ideas demand a guiding intellect, I’d say that’s your only true and clear statement since you started commenting on this thread.

                Adieu!

                /@

              • phosphoros99
                Posted April 14, 2012 at 4:34 am | Permalink

                Posted in the wrong place

                “Since you seem singularly incapable of articulating (a) why your ideas are a better model for evolution than the current theory ……”

                The discussion could not proceed because we were not discussing the same thing.

                In seeking a “forensic evaluation as to probable cause” one has to seek to determine not only mechanisms but the nature of the required infra-structure.

                I was seeking to address an examination of the infrastructure which supported the mechanisms which allowed for “descent with modification” whilst your focus appeared to be the mechanisms of “descent with modification”

                #

              • Posted April 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

                Oh, so it wasn’t adieu, only au revoir … 

                AS far as I can see, you continue to obfuscate by trying to reframe the discussion.

                /@

  15. couchloc
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Um…..did I miss something? Maybe someone can help me understand this better.

    Jerry writes:

    “Well, Ruse is a huge fan of Darwin, and nobody linked disbelief and evolution more closely than Darwin.” To my ear this suggests that Darwin was an atheist since he promoted “disbelief.”

    But wikipedia reports this:

    “….in 1879 [Darwin] responded that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God, and that generally “an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.”[7] He went as far as saying that “Science has nothing to do with Christ, except insofar as the habit of scientific research makes a man cautious in admitting evidence.”
    (Darwin’s Religious Views)

    • eric
      Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      If you read the rest of the paragraph you quote from, its pretty clear Jerry is talking about Darwin disbelieving in creationism and arguing against creationism. Which is confirmably true – just search through OOS for “Creator.” There are nine mentions; the first 8 are arguments against special creation, the last mention occurs in his famous ‘tangled bank’ comment at the very end of the book.

      • couchloc
        Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        If that’s what Jerry meant, then I’m fine with it. Thanks.

  16. Posted April 12, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    On the left, the New Atheist movement frightens me immensely.

    So Ruse is scared of pussy cats. Who would have guessed.

  17. Stonyground
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I thought that this might be relevent to this discussion:

    http://freethinker.co.uk/2012/04/12/childrens-evolution-book-that-us-publishers-found-too-hot-to-handle-wins-top-canadian-prize/

    As I see it, it is true that knowledge of evolution is incompatible with religion and likely to lead to atheism. Since it is true, I don’t think that there is anything to be gained by pretending that it isn’t true. It needs to be pointed out to the religious that any true religion would not have any problem coming into contact with reality. If their religion does have a problem with reality, the problem is with their religion, not reality.

  18. Thanny
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Ruse really is becoming something of a joke.

    The notion that evolution could ever by declared unconstitutional, regardless of how many people (accurately) say that it’s incompatible with religion, betrays a childish level of legal understanding. You don’t need to be a lawyer to read up on the Lemon test and understand its implications.

    Beyond that, he just doesn’t understand that the rank and file creationists do not read Dawkins, or any other Gnu Atheist. They get talking points from the creationist intelligentsia (if you can get past using that word to describe them), and that’s it. It doesn’t matter what Dawkins writes or says. The only thing a typical evolution denier ever sees or hears is a gross distortion of it.

  19. Posted April 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    sorry, only get paid if you support the current power ideologies and status quo.

  20. MadScientist
    Posted April 12, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m not surprised; after all, Ruse is No True Philosopher.

  21. nazani14
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    In related news, the VW plant in Cahttanooga, TN is looking out-of-state for 1,000 skilled workers. VW has been unable to fill a range of hi-tech jobs from within TN.

  22. phosphoros99
    Posted April 13, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    “Appealing to notions like “universal constructor” and “cybernetic cut” is bogus unless you can show that you describe evolution in those terms and that that has explanatory power”

    Do you reject the idea of the universal constructor or some similar concept as a necessary requirement for evolution ?

    The Cybernetic Cut refers to fact that it has never been documented that symbols can produce syntax. Evolution is about symbols and syntax – bases for amino acids / genes for proteins.

    Can you cite a single instance in which it was demonstrated that symbols produced syntax ?

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted April 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      As many people observed above, while biological evolution is a process on hereditary populations which are replicating ~ 50 % of “self” in the case of sexual populations, but no more, it isn’t a requirement for how it came to be. Chemical to biological evolution started out when the universe started.

      The Cybernetic Cut refers to fact that it has never been documented that symbols can produce syntax.

      This is all very fascinating, I’m sure. But it has nothing to do with evolution and we all note that you can’t produce a description with explanatory power.

      It is a fundamental misunderstanding to take the genome as “a blueprint” and nothing has come out of it. There is no description of how to build an organism in the form of what molecules should be build where. This you yourself describe as you note that genes only map to proteins!

      Instead it has been long recognized that the genome is a recipe for how to build more adult organisms out of existing ones. (By way of germ cells, which is an interesting but long story in itself.)

      Or in more generic terms an algorithmic description, not a linguistic. Algorithms can evolve as shown by genetic metaalgorithms that assembles adders et cetera. (You have to google that.) And of course a metaalgorithm is just an algorithm, so can evolve too.

      That principle is also long known, and illustrates how genes as such lack symbols and syntax. The genome can be modeled as a bayesian learning algorithm, where the priors are the whole populations alleles that are “hypotheses” on the world: how to differentially reproduce. Selection chooses posteriors as a new generation is born, and fixed alleles (some few now and then) are lessons learned.

      This is how the brain works too. There is a fascinating neuronal net model of the cortex presented ~2004, which spontaneously forms symbols. This is how it avoids overtraining, which is likely why it evolved. There is no syntax here, because again the symbols are derived and maintained by “differential fitness” of sorts: repeated activation of symbols strengthens them.

      Now I’m sure there are symbols and syntax in the cell, you can describe cell regulation involving individual genes with it in the form of repetitive (or not) regulatory patterns.

      These emergent symbols would be analogous to the ones forming in the cortex, on the substrate of genes and not as a part of it. But by now you have left biology of evolution and entered biology of cell and organism machinery.


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