Re: James Shapiro Article

Keith B Miller (
Mon, 7 Sep 1998 14:11:29 -0600

I haven't had the time to carefully read the article by Shapiro, but I
would echo the comments made by both Howard and Loren. I don't see how his
comments have any bearing on the validity of Intelligent Design arguments.
The original issue was whether hierarchy and morphological discontinuity in
the biological world were consistent with "neo-Darwinism." I understand
"neoDarwinism" to usually refer to the modern synthesis and including a
wide range of proposed evolutionary mechanism, and certianly not implying
anything about evolutionary rate. As I stated, the patterns of hierarchy
and discontinuity are not only compatible with neo-Darwinism but are
predicted outcomes of it.

I have too often seen critiques of a particular view of evolutionary change
or mechanism (commonly already disgarded concepts), be touted as evidence
of the imminent collapse of evolutionary theory. The targets of criticism
are often an undefined "Darwinism" or "neo-Darwinism." Unless the interest
is in the historical study of the development of scientific theory, critics
of evolution must grapple with evolutionary theory as it exists today - not
as it was 50 or 100 years ago. Evolutionary theory is now so complex and
involves so many areas of investigation that few individuals (certainly not
me) can claim to be thouroughly aquainted with more than a narrow

What seems to be the often unspoken object of criticism is the concept of
common descent of all life from a single origin. That is, the organic
continuity of all life through time. While some within the ID community
have stated that this is not the object of their criticism, their strong
words against theistic evolution would seem to indicate otherwise. As
expressed by Howard quite clearly, accepting the continuity of biological
processes in no way denies Design in its most significant sense. I see
design in _all_ of creation.

There is much exciting ferment in evolution, genetics, and paleontology.
It is clear there are many new discoveries and insights to be made. I
suspect that evolutionary theory will have matured significantly in another
20 years. This reflects the vibrancy of evolutionary theory, not its


Keith B. Miller
Department of Geology
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506