Archive for human genome project

Francis Collins stepping down as head of Genome Institute

Posted in science with tags , , on June 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Francis Collins, who piloted the Human Genome Project and authored the book “The Language of God”, is stepping down as head of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Full article can be read here.

Ben Stein should be “Expelled”

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2008 by airtightnoodle

I’ve always thought Ben Stein was an ok guy.  He’s intelligent, witty (in just about the driest way ever), and how can you not love a guy that gives you a line worth repeating?  “Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller?” 

So I’m a bit shocked at his recent foray into the world of Michael Moore-esque film-making. 

Expelled” is a film made by Stein set to hit theaters in April 2008.  The site features several trailers, a blog (with comments by Stein among others), an interview about the film with Bill O’Reilly, and lots of resources for students and teachers (you, too, can host your own evolution/intelligent design debate at your school!). 

 Naturally, I haven’t seen the film yet since it won’t hit theaters until April.  However, my interested is piqued already, and I see some things on the site worth mentioning.

The main premise of the film appears to be unveiling the sinister attacks of “Big Science” on scientists who dare to “go against the grain”, so to speak.  Of course, what this is referring to is scientists who believe, or at least believe in the possibility of, intelligent design rather than evolution.  According to what has been unveiled so far at the site, the rest of the scientific community has attacked, discredited, shamed, humiliated, and basically ex-communicated any scientists who even slightly question evolutionary theory or appear to be even slightly religious.  Stein would apparently have us believe that evolutionary scientists are afraid of the truth, or afraid of being questioned, or afraid of the slight chance that they might be wrong about a theory they have invested so heavily in.  Based on what I’ve seen at the site, he would have us believe that all scientists are anti-religious and that science is suppressing religion. 

This leaves me wondering where Stein’s mention of Francis Collins and Kenneth Miller is in all of this.  These are not minor names in biology by any means.

For those unaware, Francis Collins was basically the leader of the Human Genome projectfor a number of years.  He happens to be a Christian who accepts evolution whole-heartedly.  Similarly, Kenneth Miller is a practicing Catholic who has been very involved in defending evolutionary theory; he works at Brown University. 

To my knowledge, neither one of these men has been shunned or treated as an outcast. 

Both Miller and Collins have written books espousing their views.  Miller’s book, Finding Darwin’s God, is an absolute must-read.  It is particularly well-written and has one of the best explanations of evolution I have read.  This book also addresses all of the major dissenting ideas and includes commentary about the popular Philip Johnson novel Darwin on Trialand Michael Behe’s popular book, Darwin’s Black Box.  Collins’ book, The Language of God, is an entertaining read, but seems to be geared more toward the general population rather than those deeply interested in the scientific nuances of evolution.  

Are many scientists anti-religion?  Yes, I believe many are, and you can find plenty of them saying so quite openly.  Are some religious scientists afraid of “coming out of the closet” and espousing their religious beliefs publicly?  Probably.  Yet I am certain you can find the same dilemma in any domain, be it business, science, health-care, education, etc.  In any case, if science is doing religion a disservice, in my opinion religion is certainly doing the same to science in many ways.  For example, states trying to bring creationism or intelligent design into the state standards for science education confuses students about the nature of science.  Presenting science alongside religion within the science curriculum hinders students’ efforts to grasp the nature of science versus faith–a disservice to both science and religion.  “Expelled” looks like it is trying to undermine science…science, which is responsible for virtually all of our sinful modern-day conveniences (like electricity) and modern health-care (Do you really need that azithromycin to treat your pneumonia?  Let’s just see how your immune system fares against it first, shall we?).  Evil, evil science.

If anyone reading has had the privilege to see a screening of “Expelled”, please comment and let us know if these two scientists (Collins and Miller) are interviewed, or even mentioned.  After viewing the trailers, I have a feeling that Stein’s arguments in the movie against evolution will be more of the same old, same old.  It is improbable, some organelles/cells/organs/organisms are too complex to have evolved randomly, yada yada yada.  All of these have been addressed already–and quite competently–by Miller in “Finding Darwin’s God” (seriously, you have to read it!).

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