The folks at the Discovery Institute (DI) are engaged in an extensive attempt to rebut my friend Dennis Venema's critiques of Stephen Meyer's surprisingly lame ID manifesto, Signature in the Cell. There are several aspects of this conversation that I hope to address in the coming days and weeks, but one jumped out at me today: the consistent confusion about natural selection in depictions of evolutionary theory by design advocates.
Consider this excerpt from a recent blog post by a writer at the Discovery Institute:
...we need a brief primer in fundamental evolutionary theory. Natural selection preserves randomly arising variations only if those variations cause functional differences affecting reproductive output.A few sentences later, the same claim is repeated:
Indeed, given that natural selection favors only functionally advantageous variations, ...Those claims were first made in a piece written by unnamed DI "fellows" mocking the work and conclusions of Joe Thornton, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oregon and the University of Chicago. And the claims are badly misleading.