January 26, 2006

STILL HALF HUME MEN (via mlearl):

Britons unconvinced on evolution (BBC, 1/26/06)

More than half the British population does not accept the theory of evolution, according to a survey. [...]

Over 2000 participants took part in the survey, and were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

* 22% chose creationism
* 17% opted for intelligent design
* 48% selected evolution theory
* and the rest did not know.


If you do the polling just a bit more precisely and ask the 48% whether they think evolution is wholly Natural or is guided by God the number who believe in Darwinism, as opposed to evolution, drops even lower, down to 13% here in the States.


MORE:
Pitt Professor's Theory of Evolution Gets Boost From Cell Research: Jeffrey H. Schwartz's Sudden Origins closed Darwin's gaps; cell biology explains how (News from Pitt, 1/26/06)

An article by University of Pittsburgh Professor of Anthropology Jeffrey H. Schwartz and University of Salerno Professor of Biochemistry Bruno Maresca, to be published Jan. 30 in the New Anatomist journal, shows that the emerging understanding of cell structure lends strong support to Schwartz's theory of evolution, originally explained in his seminal work, Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species (John Wiley & Sons, 2000).

In that book, Schwartz hearkens back to earlier theories that suggest that the Darwinian model of evolution as continual and gradual adaptation to the environment glosses over gaps in the fossil record by assuming the intervening fossils simply have not been found yet. Rather, Schwartz argues, they have not been found because they don't exist, since evolution is not necessarily gradual but often sudden, dramatic expressions of change that began on the cellular level because of radical environmental stressors-like extreme heat, cold, or crowding-years earlier.

Determining the mechanism that causes those delayed expressions of change is Schwartz's major contribution to the evolution of the theory of evolution. The mechanism, the authors explain, is this: Environmental upheaval causes genes to mutate, and those altered genes remain in a recessive state, spreading silently through the population until offspring appear with two copies of the new mutation and change suddenly, seemingly appearing out of thin air. Those changes may be significant and beneficial (like teeth or limbs) or, more likely, kill the organism.

Why does it take an environmental drama to cause mutations? Why don't cells subtly and constantly change in small ways over time, as Darwin suggests?

Cell biologists know the answer: Cells don't like to change and don't do so easily.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 26, 2006 1:51 PM
Comments

For some reason - not quite sure why - I also found it particularly interesting that 13% were willing to say they didn't know.

Posted by: Mike Earl at January 26, 2006 2:25 PM

Nice title to the post, Orrin. It's a gift, I tell you.

I'll second Mike Earl's observation. A refreshing confidence is needed to state something like that to a pollster.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at January 26, 2006 3:03 PM

"Rather, Schwartz argues, they have not been found because they don't exist, since evolution is not necessarily gradual but often sudden, dramatic expressions of change that began on the cellular level because of radical environmental stressors-like extreme heat, cold, or crowding-years earlier.

When Schwartz says "sudden" is he talking about a matter of hours, days, years, centuries or millennia? In geological time, thousands of generations equals "sudden".

Posted by: creeper at January 26, 2006 9:10 PM

Of course, until "sudden" is nailed down, it is not incompatible with "gradual" as in evolution.

Posted by: creeper at January 26, 2006 9:13 PM

So will Darwinism be replaced by Schwartzism?

Posted by: Genecis at January 26, 2006 10:00 PM

Isn't cousin jeffrey just re-hashing the second most PC biologist ever, Stephen Gould, who had a theory of sudden change, because it was more congenial to Mao-tse Tung Thought?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 26, 2006 10:38 PM

Also, the interesting thing is that only a small minority of Brits go to church.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 26, 2006 10:40 PM

...and the facts.

Posted by: oj at January 26, 2006 10:40 PM

creeper:

Now you're getting the hang of it. In God's time seven days can likewise be geological time...

Posted by: oj at January 26, 2006 11:08 PM

It's a creation mystery whodunnit.

Posted by: RC at January 27, 2006 12:19 AM

Orrin,

now you're getting the hang of it. Not everything in the bible is meant to be taken literally in human terms.

Posted by: creeper at January 27, 2006 5:37 AM

Bingo!

Posted by: oj at January 27, 2006 7:29 AM
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