The Evolutionary Elephant in the Living Room

Writer George V. Caylor interviewed Sam (surname withheld for reasons that will become apparent,) a molecular biologist. George asked Sam about his work and Sam said he and his team were scientific ‘detectives,’ working with DNA and tracking down the causes of disease. Here is their published conversation….

G: “Sounds like pretty complicated work.”

S: “You can’t imagine how complicated!”

G: “Try me.”

S: “I’m a bit like an editor, trying to find a spelling mistake inside a document larger than four complete sets of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Seventy volumes, thousands and thousands of pages of small print words.”

G: “With the computer power, can’t you just use ‘spell check’!?”

S: “There is no ‘spell check’ because we don’t know yet how the words are supposed to be spelled. We don’t even know for sure which language. And it’s not just the ‘spelling error’ we’re looking for. If any of the punctuation is out of place, or a space out of place, or a grammatical error, we have a mutation that will cause a disease.”

G: “So how do you do it?”

S: “We are learning as we go. We have already ‘read’ over two articles in that encyclopaedia, and located some ‘typo’s’. It should get easier as time goes by.”

G: “How did all that information happen to get there?”

S: “Do you mean, did it just happen? Did it evolve?”

G: “Bingo. Do you believe that the information evolved?”

S: “George, nobody I know in my profession truly believes it evolved. It was engineered by ‘genius beyond genius,’ and such information could not have been written any other way. The paper and ink did not write the book. Knowing what we know, it is ridiculous to think otherwise. A bit like Neil Armstrong believing the moon is made of green cheese.”

G: “Have you ever stated that in a public lecture, or in any public writings?”

S: “No. It all just evolved.”

G: “What? You just told me — ?”

S: “Just stop right there. To be a molecular biologist requires one to hold on to two insanities at all times. One, it would be insane to believe in evolution when you can see the truth for yourself. Two, it would be insane to say you don’t believe in evolution. All government work, research grants, papers, big college lectures—everything would stop. I’d be out of a job, or relegated to the outer fringes where I couldn’t earn a decent living.”

G: “I hate to say it, Sam, but that sounds intellectually dishonest.”

S: “The work I do in genetic research is honourable. We will find the cures to many of mankind’s worst diseases. But in the meantime, we have to live with the ‘elephant in the living room’.”

G: “What elephant?”

S: “Design. It’s like the elephant in the living room. It moves around, takes up an enormous amount of space, loudly trumpets, bumps into us, knocks things over, eats a ton of hay, and smells like an elephant. And yet we have to swear it isn’t there!”

George V. Caylor, “The Biologist,” The Ledger, Vol. 2, Issue 48, No. 92, 1 December 2000, p. 2.

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