December 30, 2004

by Reb Yudel
Decoding evolution

From The Economist, Evidence that evolutionary change is not always a smooth process

ONE of the most acrimonious disputes in biology is between those who believe that evolutionary change is a smooth and gradual process and those who think it happens suddenly—evolution by creeps versus evolution by jerks, as some of the protagonists unkindly put it. The gradualist model tends to be favoured by those who study things that are still alive, while the punctuated-equilibrium model, as the sudden-transition way of looking at the world is known in the trade, finds its support among those who study fossils, and who feel that the evidence from the rocks favours their view.

Now, though, the jerks have some support from two researchers who are studying still-living organisms. John Fondon and Harold Garner work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre, in Dallas. They have been looking at the genetics of dog breeds. And they have found a mechanism of genetic change that could help to explain punctuated equilibria.

Just another evidence supporting my conviction that within my lifetime, we'll find definitive evidence that the Orthodox Union's science is at least as bogus as their kosher supervision.


So how IS evolution taught at your average yeshiva, MO and haredi? I always assumed that while the curriculum might reflect "intelligent design," they can otherwise live with the fact that science teaches something different than Torah. As Slate's Jim Holt has written, "[T]he more tough-minded of the neo-creos are willing to accept the historical claim that organisms evolved from one another. They even acknowledge a role for the standard Darwinian mechanism (natural selection operating on random variation) in the process. To make good on the second part of their strategy, the Not Darwinism part, they instead try to show that for deeper reasons Darwinism is bound to fall short of telling the whole story."

Posted by: Silow-Carroll at December 30, 2004 3:41 PM
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