Letter to the Editor
McIntyre's Fatal Flaw
Douglas Hayworth, ASA Member
2307 23rd Street #5
Rockford, IL 61108
From:PSCF 52 (March 2000): 73-74. Response: McIntyre
The moment I read the title of McIntyre's article, "Evolution's Fatal Flaw" (PSCF 51 [September 1999]: 162-9), I suspected that I would not like it. As I read on, my suspicions were confirmed. The idea that evolution as a science could have a problem as pathological as a "fatal flaw" without somehow having been detected during the last century of rigorous scientific inquiry is absurd.
McIntyre specifically claims that his article addresses a flaw at "the heart of the theory of evolution" and the "understanding of evolution itself." The ASA has repeatedly stressed the importance of clarifying evolution as science and distinguishing different hierarchical levels in the meaning of the term "evolution." McIntyre's piece muddies these distinctions. What meaning is intended in the title? The implication made in the title, opening sentence, and tone of the overall article seems quite different from what is actually delivered. In fact, all aspects of evolution as science (micro-, macro-, common ancestry, that is, what good scientists consider to be the "heart of evolutionary theory") come through unscathed by McIntyre's attack. Had the article been directed more precisely and clearly at scientism, then the title of the article could be forgiven as poetic license.
There is, no doubt, a logical flaw in the three quoted statements cited by McIntyre, and they are statements made by some prominent evolutionary biologists. However, none of the particular statements come from a textbook or a peer-reviewed journal article, in which the heart of evolutionary biology are cast. I would argue that the researchers quoted by McIntyre should be commended for keeping their philosophical musings in the proper forum, namely their own books. I question whether it is even appropriate to so logically dissect people's individual musings. However apparent it is to McIntyre and the rest of us theists that these people have made an illogical step in their interpretation of the larger meaning of evolution, they made the step nonetheless and felt compelled to do so. I doubt if their minds would be changed by us pointing out how their casual musings contained logical flaws. In fact, I am quite sure they would see the logic itself differently.
Despite my problems with the article, I believe McIntyre provides a useful reminder of what many others have shown before: a dismissal of God's existence is not logically warranted on the basis of evolutionary theory. As an equally useful reminder for Christians, I would add that a belief in God does not logically warrant antagonism to evolution as science. Let's be more precise in our finger pointing and less carried away by catchy titles.