As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things that always mystifies me about creationists (most, anyway) is that they seem to be stuck in a scientific time warp: there’s no recognition that any new progress has been made since 1859.
Of course, if creationists did recognize the progress that’s been made since 1859, then they might not be creationists anymore. The reason I raise this is that John Timmer, at Ars Technica, summarizes what he learned about natural selection at a Rockfeller symposium about evolution:
Natural Selection: Explore Evolution [the Discovery Institute’s ‘biology’ textbook] seems to think a reply can be made to the arguments in favor of natural selection. Based on the symposium, the scientific community clearly doesn’t. Selective pressure made appearances in nearly every session. Selection for self-replicating RNAs and for enclosing biochemical precursors within membranes were central to the origin of life work of Gerald Joyce and Jack Szostack, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, the researchers exploring human evolution (Katherin Pollard, Bruce Lahn, and Svante Pääbo) spoke of the challenges of identifying signs of selection amidst the genetic drift that’s occurred within the genomes of mammals in general and primates in particular.
Here, it was clear that there simply is no controversy. In contrast to the arguments over bacterial trees and the origin of eukaryotes, none of the researchers felt compelled to explain or justify their focus on the role of mutation and selective pressure. Concerns, when they arose, were simply focused on identifying the consequences of selection. As such, Discovery’s focus on presenting a controversy here seems hallucinatory.
I think biologists typically present organismal evidence for evolution to non-science audiences, probably because it’s thought to be easier to understand than the molecular. Since I work on bacteria, and all most people know about bacteria is that they’re very little and that they can make you ill, I’ve always had a more difficult road to travel anyway, so I might as well work in some of the scary DNA stuff too.
What’s nuts about creationists is that the molecular evidence for natural selection is incredibly strong, unless you posit a God that likes to deceive people. Or maybe DNA is a Satanic plot.