More mangling of biology by ID creationists

I see that Jonathan McLatchie has crossed Larry Moran’s radar (Fishing for Creationists).  Jonathan published one of his verbose articles taking issue with Jeffrey Shallit’s takedown of a video featuring Phillip Johnson, the grand-daddy of Intelligent Design creationism  (This Video Should be Shown to all Biology Students – see also A Discovery Institute Flack Responds) – it’s a video dating to the early days of the Intelligent Design variant of creationism, and reveals Johnson’s ignorance of biology and evolution.  The whole thing’s blown up to include another example of ID creationism misquoting, selectively quoting, and just plain failing to comprehend the scientific literature, this time on homology (both morphological and molecular).

Paul Nelson, in particular has weighed in at Sandwalk.  In case you’re wondering about Nelson’s background in biology, it is the usual extensive education seen in ID creationism.  According to his Wikipedia page,  “In 1998, Nelson gained a PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago”.  Anyway, the discussion has spilled out into a new post, Homology, where I expect the discussion to continue, amid the accusations that he’s selectively mis-quoting and misrepresenting the literature.  Worth following.

And on the ‘further incomprehension by McLatchie’ front, we have this blog article cross-posted to crossexamined*: An Eye-Opening Discovery: The Remarkable Vision of Anomalocaris. This is a ‘teaser’ paragraph from the full article at the very silly and mis-named Evolution News and Views, to which I don’t link, due to its ‘no comments’ policy).  For the rational-minded, the new discovery is really very interesting: that the ‘top predator’ in Cambrian seas was equipped with an effective visual system comprising a high resolution compound eye.  The proposal has elicited quite a bit of discussion, not least around whether or not the eyes are really part of Anomalocaris (which, interestingly, McLatchie doesn’t refer to), but also that it suggests that Anomalocaris had arthropod affinities.  Anomalocaris itself has had an interesting history in palaeontology, having over the years had body parts identified as three different species.  While I cannot fault McLatchie when he says “This beast poses mysteries both small and large”, he then ruins it by charging off into his usual nonsense.  Apparently the new discoveries make it another “tough day to be a Darwinian”, though it’s not clear quite why he says this, other than senior ID creationists say so (Meyer, Nelson and Chien** – the latter being one of the few biologists in the ranks of ID creationists), and that it’s the hoary old story of ‘sudden appearance’ of complex structures (such as a very high resolution compound eye) in the fossil record that exceeds his capacity to grasp the science.

For my part, I am fascinated by Anomalocaris, and look forward to further discoveries about the Cambrian seas. Not so much the ID creationist mangling of those discoveries!

*Jonathan McLatchie seems to be the sole blogger at crossexamined.  Many of his posts there are ‘interesting’.

** Chien apparently leads the Discovery Institute Paleontology Research Program, according to his Wikipedia page, though that page suggests he’s a biochemist rather than a palaeontologist.

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