Evolutionary Heritage Days

The next chapter of Coyne's book is on vestigia, atavistic throwbacks, embryonic recapitulation, topped off with alleged screw-ups in the so-called process of intelligent design. Let's start with this last item, since we should be able to dispense with it in a paragraph or so. The structure of this argument is strange, in that Coyne is trying to disprove the existence of automotive engineers by showing that carburetors can get gummed up. The reason Coyne falls into this trap is that he is failing to interact with the entire creationist narrative, which is creation and fall. The point is not that everything about the world is perfect in every way, but rather that the universe exhibits design everywhere we look, even in those places where some of the features of that design are busted. Their bustedness is part of the narrative, so finding examples of it doesn't refute anybody or anything. Paley's argument from the watch could still work even if we found a watch that wasn't ticking. The argument could still work even though the watch wasn't. But Coyne says: "Perfect design would truly be the sign of a skilled and intelligent designer. Imperfect design is the mark of evolution; in … [Read more...]

Filling the Storehouse

"It follows that, next to the cultivation of personal piety, there is nothing for which the preacher should so earnestly labor, from his first call to the close of his life, as the acquisition of abundant general materials for preaching" (Broadus, Preparation and Delivery, p.119). … [Read more...]