Jerry Coyne has won the internet today. Everyone can stop trying until tomorrow.
When told by young-earth creationist Paul Nelson about all the biologists,mentioned by name, who “ave recently expressed frank doubts about selection,” Coyne emailed them to ask what they thought. It was a very fair and neutral email delivered by Coyne (though Larry Moran disagreed), and the responses were terrific.
Go read all of them. This bit, from Michael Lynch, is my favorite:
Thanks for calling my attention to this. I don’t consider myself to be in the camp of those who question the legitimacy of “modern” evolutionary theory. On the other hand, I do question the motivations of those who argue that the modern edifice has been patently unsuccessful and needs to be dismantled so that a new evolutionary synthesis can be erected to save the day. Not much drives me crazier than folks who make such statements without providing any evidence of ever having attempted to read a single paper in evolutionary theory. I find this attitude about as defensible as ID. The ID crowd tends to misinterpret my embracing of what I call “nonadaptive” mechanisms of evolution (drift, mutation, and recombination) as implying a rejection of Darwinian processes.
And how does Nelson respond?
I’ll stand by what these authors (Davidson, Lynch, Gerhart, Kirschner, and Wagner) have published on the topic of the efficacy of natural selection.
Neslon then quotes some passages from the authors. In other words, he doesn’t believe what they say. He believes what he wants them to say in his pet quotations.
I have no doubt that if we could bring Jesus himself out in front of the religious and ID-addled, and if we could confirm that Jesus was just a dude and/or didn’t mean what Christians seem to think he did, then Christians would still maintain belief in their pet interpretations.
Of course this assumes there was a single person who correspondedclosely enough to the Greek Testament’s character.