Recently, Springer, one of the largest scholarly scientific book publishers in the world, was considering publishing a book entitled, Biological Information: New Perspectives. In a purely scientific context, a book with that title might be interesting, because there is so many new ideas in biology. For example, though there is no dispute about the Fact of Evolution, there’s still a lot of discussion about the mechanisms of evolution, one of the most fascinating and vibrant fields in biology these days.
However, my interest would wane by reading the list of authors of the book:
R. J. Marks II–Baylor University Engineering professor and long-time proponent of Intelligent Design and Old Earth Creationism (a belief that the universe, earth and life on earth are ancient, but a supernatural force created it). I don’t doubt that an engineer can understand biology and evolution, but it is not his area of research and understanding. Moreover, and not to be overly picky, but engineering is considered an applied science, which is essentially using the scientific understanding and applying it to practical applications, especially in technology. So he has no skills in basic science which takes observations, create a hypothesis, then experimentally test the hypothesis, etc.
Michael Behe–A Lehigh University professor of biochemistry, whose own biology department faculty has published a statement opposing Behe’s views. Behe is a a fellow of the Discovery Institute, a pro-Intelligent design think tank. He is also one of the creationist academics that is used by the intelligent design movement to say “look, a real scientist believes in this!” Except that he is one of a handful of real scientists that are anti-evolution, and scientific theories are based on a democratic vote process.
William Dembski–Another Ph.D. level academic (earning his doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago) who is a well-known proponent of intelligent design.
Bruce L. Gordon–And another Ph.D. academic (doctorate in the philosophy of science from Northwestern University) who is also a fellow at the Discovery Institute, and a well known anti-evolution proponent.
John C. Sanford–A plant geneticist who has retired from teaching. He is a modified Young Earth Creationist, thinking the earth is about 5000 to 100,000 years old, so he’s really not a part of the old-earth intelligent design movement. His anti-evolution “proof” is based on the complexity of life is so great that randomness cannot explain it, only an intelligent designer.
These five men are often used by the anti-evolution gang to show proof that there are scientists who don’t support evolution. Of course, this ignores the hundreds of thousands of other scientists who think these five are clueless about biology and evolution.
Below is Springer’s description of the book:
❝Presents new perspectives regarding the nature and origin of biological information
Demonstrates how our traditional ideas about biological information are collapsing under the weight of new evidence
Written by leading experts in the field
In the spring of 2011, a diverse group of scientists gathered at Cornell University to discuss their research into the nature and origin of biological information. This symposium brought together experts in information theory, computer science, numerical simulation, thermodynamics, evolutionary theory, whole organism biology, developmental biology, molecular biology, genetics, physics, biophysics, mathematics, and linguistics. This volume presents new research by those invited to speak at the conference.❞
It sounds good, if by “new perspectives” we actually mean old arguments for the creationist viewpoint. And if by “collapsing under the weight of new evidence” we actually meant that it’s not collapsing at all, because there is no new evidence. (Not to beat a dead horse, but really, there is no collapse at all in the theory of evolution, and there hasn’t been a tiny gram of evidence that would lead to a collapse.) And if by leading experts, we really mean leading experts in the anti-evolution field.
❞As for “a diverse group of scientists gathered at Cornell University to discuss their research into the nature and origin of biological information”, a few posts from attendees tell us what actually happened – the conference wasn’t advertised, mainstream scientists with relevant expertise were not invited to attend, and participants were told several times to suppress their apparently otherwise overwhelming tendency to bring in their religion and do fundamentalist apologetics like they do in most other venues. It was basically just another fake ID “conference” where the ID fans get together and convince each other that they are staging a scientific revolution, all the while ignoring the actual science on how new genetic “information” originates.❞
Seriously, was Springer that stupid? They claim it was “peer-reviewed”, yet who are those reviewers? Were they also part of the science denying horde who is trying to make their anti-evolution theology sound scientific?
Recently, information about the book disappeared from Springer’s website. And according to the article, Second Thoughts from Inside Higher Ed:
❝Eric Merkel-Sobotta, executive vice president of corporate communications at Springer in Germany, said in an e-mail, that the initial proposal for the book was peer-reviewed by two independent reviewers. “However, once the complete manuscript had been submitted, the series editors became aware that additional peer review would be necessary,” Merkel-Sobotta said. “This is currently underway, and the automatically generated pre-announcement for the book on Springer has been removed until the peer-reviewers have made their final decision.”
He said Springer was unaware the role the editors of the book play in the intelligent design movement, and the publishing house does not “endorse intelligent design as a legitimate area of scientific research. Springer stands behind evolutionary theory as a fundamental component of modern science.”❞
Well, either Springer was snookered by the intelligent design gang (and snookering is a well-developed skill for them), or Springer really wanted to make more money by selling an anti-evolution book. Either way, the science community was appalled, and Springer probably will pass on the manuscript. At least I hope.