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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Quote of the day: Who believes that it's all in the genes?

One reader has asked, "name one scientist who believes that genes determine everything." An interesting essay (2000) addresses this question.

In Alas, Poor Darwin, a much underrated collection of essays against evolutionary psychology, Dorothy Nelkin writes,

The language used by geneticists to describe the genes is permeated with biblical imagery. Geneticists call the genome the 'Bible', the 'Book of Man' and the 'Holy Grail'. They convey an image of this molecular structure as more than a powerful biological entity: it is also a mystical force that defines the natural and moral order. And they project an idea of genetic essentialism, suggesting that by deciphering and decoding the molecular text they will be able to reconstruct the essence of human beings, unlock the key to human nature. As geneticist Walter Gilbert put it, understanding our genetic composition is the ultimate answer to the commandment 'know thyself'. Gilbert introduces his lectures on gene sequencing by pulling compact disk from his pocket and announcing to his audience, 'This is you.' Former director of the Human Genome Project and Nobel Prize winner James Watson has proclaimed in public interviews that DNA is 'what makes us human', and that, 'in large measure, our fate is in our genes'. And a student, writing in The Pharos, a medical journal, speculates, 'Given [its] essential roles in the origin, evolution and maintenance of life, it is tempting to wonder if this twisted sugar string of purine and pyrimidine base beads is, in fact, God. '

"Less Selfish Than Sacred? Genes and the Religious Impulse in Evolutionary Psychology"
I think the student should avoid the temptation, and have some hope he will smarten up. I'm not calling odds on the rest. It would be hard to know what they think genes don't determine.
If you like this blog, check out my award-winning book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.
"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. It will be interesting to see the line that the “separation of church and state” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Christoph, Cardinal Schonborn is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.

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