Does the Discovery Institute really understand the word 'hypothetical'? I don't think so. In little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer Evolution and 'news' and Views post "The Medical Background to Intelligent Design", I think he misses the point. But then since he is repeating a constant Creationist trope, it might be understandable. Here is a quote of his:
"Biological systems not only need to exist but to function properly. It's no use tracing a hypothetical path of evolutionary descent unless every living thing along that path was fully functional in the real world."The trope I mention is their continual insistence that a biological system must exist in its final and absolute state in order for it to be considered functional. How many times does this have to be addressed before he, and the rest of the DI get it? Michael Behe tried this with his 'Irreducible Complexity (IC)' and that work so well that he's backed off considerably from providing examples. He got his hat handed to him after testifying about it during the 2005 Dover trial and and the court said:
The court found that "Professor Behe's claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large." (Wikipedia: Irreducible Complexity)If you don't recall the details, here's a quickie refresher: He argued that evolution, particularly evolution by Natural Selection, was impossible because 'certain' biological systems cannot evolve by successive small modifications to pre-existing functional systems. He cited a number of potential systems, like blood clotting factor and the immune system as irreducibly complex. However, when faced with over 50 peer-reviewed articles and papers explaining these in evolutionary terms, he rejected them out of hand saying that they were not enough. You can see why the court said what it said about it.
I do enjoy how he brought in medical doctors into the argument. Back in 2005 the Discovery Institute claimed 60% of medical doctors didn't believe in evolution, in In 2007, the Jewish Theological Seminary conducted a survey on this topic, finding that 78 percent of doctors accept evolution. As we have said before, you can find a survey on any subject that will support a particular view, so surveys like these are meaningless. The real question is "Is it important that a practicing medical doctor accept evolution?" The answer seems to be that for the most part, no.
When I first realized that, I was more than a bit surprised. But when you think it through, doctors use the results of the biological science, but are not necessarily educated in understanding the details. Most specialties in medicine require no actual study or understanding of evolutionary theory to do their jobs. There are some, like dealing with infectious diseases or cancers where evolution is key to their work, but for the most part doctors don't need it. Their focus is on the here-and-now and not on how we got here. So when is comes to asking medical doctors about their level of belief in evolution, the answer isn't very important. Which pretty well makes the DI's point meaningless.
I haven't checked, but I am sure there are some medical doctors who signed to 'Dissent from Darwinism' petition, that's we've discussed all too often. If you remember those posts, while the statement they signed claimed to dissent for scientific reasons, the reality was they signed for religious reasons. I am sure there are a number of doctors who have a philosophical stand against evolution, but I doubt those that use evolution as part of their medical duties would agree. Remember that while doctors are highly educated, the education is tightly focused.
While I am sure doctors wouldn't like the comparison, but can a car mechanic build a car? No, that's not their job or training. That is similar for medical doctors. I have three degrees dealing with computers, but I cannot build a computer. I can assemble one from parts purchased from multiple sources, as I have done on a number of occasions. I can fix them, program them, network them . . . but I do not have the training or experience to 'build' one. Why would we expect doctors to know everything about biology? I wouldn't go to a biologist for a medical diagnosis, would you?
Of course the DI doesn't care about the reality. All they care about to be able to string together words and phrases that make it sound like Evolution is on its knees. You know for a scientific theory whose death knell has been declared continually for over a century and a half, its constant survival might seem surprising, until you look at the actual attacks. Then it's easy to see why it's still the most supported theory in biology, maybe in all of science.