Evolution’s Crocodile Tearsstates that he was falsely misquoted by certain members of the Texas state’s school board textbook review committee. Shapiro explains that he was outraged by a “completely false statement” and that he was “the victim of skillful misquoting for an anti-science purpose.” Indeed, according to Shapiro these opponents of evolution are “trying to confuse and mislead the public,” and are “against freedom of speech in scientific research, honesty in public decision-making, and suitable modern education for the students of Texas.” Shapiro concludes that all of this “sounds counter to the ideals of liberty, democracy and opportunity on which this nation was founded.” These are very serious charges from a leading evolutionist and, as such, need to be addressed.
Here is the statement that so outraged Shapiro:
THE CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF THE GROWING BODY OF EVIDENCE IS THAT NATURAL SELECTION ONLY PURIFIES BUT SOMETHING ELSE IS REQUIRED TO CREATE SIGNIFICANT VARIANTS TO BE SELECTED. The critical aspect is introduction of novelty. It is gradually being recognized that no mechanism for this has been firmly established. See "Evolution: A view from the 21st century," James A. Shapiro, Prof of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Univ. of Chicago, (2011), page 144, "Selection operates as a selective but not a creative force."
As you can see, Shapiro is cited to support the claim that natural selection appears to be inadequate to explain the evolution of novelty and that science is beginning to recognize that no mechanism for the introduction of novelty has been firmly established.
Shapiro cries foul because, as he explains, he has been studying and publishing the details precisely of mechanisms that create novelty:
I stated on the very first page of the Introduction [of his book]: "Uncovering the molecular mechanisms by which living organisms modify their genomes is a major accomplishment of late 20th Century molecular biology."
Indeed, Shapiro says he discusses such mechanisms, for the introduction of novelty, throughout his book. But what exactly is this “novelty” that Shapiro discusses? It is changes to the genome structure.
In other words, Shapiro is referring to genetic changes such as adaptive mutation, horizontal gene transfer, insertion of nucleotide sequences into the genome and movement of sequences within the genome, gene and genome duplication, and so forth.
All fascinating stuff, but it directs our attention away from the problem. Yes such mechanisms are real and important, and yes science increasingly understands how these mechanisms help organisms cope with their environment. But these mechanisms do not explain the major evolutionary advances. They do not explain macroevolution and, yes, they do not explain the introduction of novelty. From individual proteins to new body plans, we have more questions than answers. And these natural genetic engineering mechanisms, as Shapiro calls them, do not suddenly resolve this fundamental problem of evolution.
Indeed, Shapiro’s outrage is rather incredulous given that evolution’s failure to explain the origin of novelty is well known. Stephen J. Gould long ago admitted that macroevolution is an unsolved problem. Since then this sentiment has only increased. As one evolutionist recently agreed, “we know very little about how they [evolutionary innovations] originate.” Or as another paper explained, “Little information exists on the dynamics of processes that lead to functional biological novelties and the intermediate states of evolving forms.” Another evolutionist was a bit more frank: “The problem is that the source of novelty is so dammed elusive.”
Shapiro’s work further confirms that natural selection is not the powerful creative force it has often been portrayed to be and that “something else” is required. Shapiro may think the answer lies in his natural genetic engineering toolkit, but neither he, nor anyone else, has shown this to be true.
To make matters worse, the sentence that so outraged Shapiro is decidedly conservative. It states that “It is gradually being recognized that no mechanism for this has been firmly established.” That is absolutely uncontroversial, as there is no question that no mechanism has been “firmly” established. It would have been entirely safe to say that no such mechanism for this [the creation of novelty] has been established, period.
Shapiro, of course, is well aware of all this. He knows that his natural genetic engineering toolkit has not been shown to solve evolution’s problem of novelty. And he knows that no mechanism for this has been firmly established. The statement is well within its rights and Shapiro’s outrage amounts to little more than false indignation.
There is another aspect of this issue that is worth mentioning. Imagine for a moment that Shapiro is on to something. Perhaps his natural genetic engineering toolkit can generate biology’s many incredible designs. Even if that is true, it would not solve the problem of novelty, it would just push it back one step.
For if those natural genetic engineering tools could create such complexities, it would raise the question of how evolution created such tools in the first place. You see those natural genetic engineering tools are, themselves, the result of complex structures and information. Adaptive mutations and horizontal gene transfer don’t “just happen.”
Imagine a fully automated factory that builds automobiles. That would be amazing and the discovery of how the factory works wouldn’t explain the origin of cars. Likewise, the discovery of genetic tools that created the species would be a tremendous advance, but it would hardly solve evolution’s problem of novelty. For how did the novel genetic tools evolve?
Evolutionist James Shapiro was outraged, but given the facts how does his criticism fare? He was outraged by the “completely false statement that ‘no mechanism for this [introduction of novelty] has been firmly established.’”
But that statement is not “completely false.” In fact, it is not even just plain false. On the contrary, it is Shapiro who is making false statements about evolution’s problem of novelty.
Shapiro also complained that he was “the victim of skillful misquoting for an anti-science purpose.” But Shapiro was not misquoted, and expecting our public schools to teach accurate science is certainly not “anti-science.” On the contrary, it is Shapiro who is firmly in the evolution camp which consistently makes the anti-science claim that evolution is a fact.
Shapiro also complained that these opponents of evolution are “trying to confuse and mislead the public,” and are “against freedom of speech in scientific research, honesty in public decision-making, and suitable modern education for the students of Texas.” But how is it that wanting to get the science right makes one guilty of all these crimes? As we have seen, it is evolution that consistently misrepresents science in textbooks and classrooms, and misinforms the public.
Finally Shapiro complained that all of this “sounds counter to the ideals of liberty, democracy and opportunity on which this nation was founded.”
How about blackballing anyone who dares question evolutionary theory, Professor Shapiro? How about keeping lists of those people and ensuring their careers are derailed? How about constructing false histories?
Is that sort of McCarthyism your idea of liberty, democracy and opportunity, Professor Shapiro?
Evolutionists are outraged when anyone dares come forward with scientific problems. These opponents are castigated for their nefarious motives. They are bad while evolutionists are good. Evolutionists wear the white hat and wrap themselves in the flag while blackballing and misrepresenting both the science and the history behind the science.
We have, unfortunately, seen this movie before and it no longer surprises. Professor Shapiro’s false outrage and hypocrisy are the rule rather than the exception.