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Egnor with Another (shockingly) Bad Argument Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Posted by Henry in anti-creationism, anti-ID, creationism, evolution, intelligent design, Michael Egnor, science.
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Michael Egnor has recently come up with a shockingly bad argument against the process of evolution. It is so bad, that some scientific commentators have even called it the worst anti-evolution argument they have ever heard. For those who don’t know, Egnor is a pro-ID neurosurgeon working for the Discovery Institute (a pro-ID organisation), whose bad creationist arguments have made him a favourite target of ridicule and rebuttal amongst scientific bloggers.

Egnor’s argument goes like this: cancer is a real evolution phenomenon that should produce better brain through random mutation and natural selection.

Here is the full text that I have reposted here. The entire article can be found here.

Dr. Novella is missing a much better example of random mutation and natural selection that’s not metaphorical at all. Cancer is a test of Darwin’s theory. Cancer is real biological evolution by random mutation and natural selection, writ fast. There’s no reason to invoke encyclopedia typos or tractor engines in order to understand what “chance and necessity” can do to a living system. Brain tumors are perfect little Novellian “two-cycle engines” nestled inside the skull, “random mutations” coming out the ears, and “natural selection” like there’s no tomorrow (excuse the metaphors). Brain tumors are constantly generating new biological variation, and they are avatars of natural selection. They provide a tremendous spectrum of variation, from “variation jet-engines” like malignant glioblastoma multiforme to “variation tortoises” like benign pilocytic astrocytomas. Cancer wards are full of patients brimming with “two-stroke engines” of evolutionary change.

… If random mutations and natural selection — Dr. Novella’s “two stroke engine” — is the source of all functional integrated biological complexity, brain tumors ought to help our brains evolve in some way.