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For more than a decade the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz.

Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.”

The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

December 7, 2001 | Recorded on December 7, 2001

DARWIN UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Questioning Darwinism

More than 140 years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, his theory of evolution is still generating controversy. Although Darwinism is championed by the majority of the scientific community, some have claimed that Darwin's theory is bad science and have put forward their own, even more controversial theories. What should we make of these arguments? Is one such theory, known as Intelligent Design, merely creationism by another name, or is it a legitimate scientific alternative to Darwinism?


Peter Robinson: Today on Uncommon Knowledge, is it time to take Charles Darwin down a peg or two?

Announcer: Funding for this program is provided by the John M. Olin Foundation and the Starr Foundation.

[Music]

Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge. I'm Peter Robinson. Our show today: daring to question Charles Darwin. One hundred and forty-three years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, his theory of evolution is still controversial. Of course, the overwhelming majority of scientists continue to champion Darwin but a few people, bright people, have begun to wonder just how well evolution has held up and to put forward a few controversial theories of their own.

Joining us today, two guests. Eugenie Scott is Director of the National Center for Science Education. William Dembski is a Fellow at the Discovery Institute and the author of Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design.

Title: You're a Good Man, Charlie Darwin

Peter Robinson: The theory of evolution is now so thoroughly understood and so completely borne out by the physical evidence that anyone who questions evolution must be, in the words of scientist Richard Dawkins, either "ignorant, stupid, wicked or insane." Bill?

William Dembski: Depending on what you mean by evolution, absolutely false.

Peter Robinson: Genie?

Eugenie Scott: You're not going to get a fight from me. That's a stupid thing to say.

Peter Robinson: That's a stupid thing to say?

Eugenie Scott: Yes.

Peter Robinson: Oh really? You're both brushing Dawkins aside? But Dawkins is one of your boys though, isn't he?

Eugenie Scott: Well he's somebody who supports evolution and who thinks that evolution happened. I think evolution happened too but that statement's way over the top. I think we both agree with that.

Peter Robinson: All right. So Richard Dawkins, put your leash on. Let's go through a couple of senses of evolution as a layman like me understands it. Sense number one, evolution as change--merely as change. The planet has a long history, certain living things that used to exist such as dinosaurs, exist no longer. Certain living things that now exist such as human beings appeared relatively recently in the history of the planet. Genie, you'd go for that?

Eugenie Scott: Works for me.

Peter Robinson: And Bill?

William Dembski: Works for me as well.

Peter Robinson: Okay. So you then distinguish yourself from a fundamentalist or a so-called young earth creationist who says the Bible claims the earth is about six thousand years--that you don't…

William Dembski: I don't buy that.

Peter Robinson: You have nothing to do with that? All right. Sense number two, evolution in what I take to be a strict Darwinian sense, all living things, everything we see around us from the blade of grass to me are descended from one or a few common ancestors by a process of random variation and natural selection.

Eugenie Scott: I would…

Peter Robinson: You buy that.

Eugenie Scott: I would augment that. There are two things going on. One, the idea--the inference that we make from looking at lots of data that living things shared common ancestors. Secondly is what is the mechanism that brings that about?

Peter Robinson: Those are distinct matters?

Eugenie Scott: Those are distinct matters. But I separate descent with modification or common ancestry, the inference of common…

Peter Robinson: And the mechanism?

Eugenie Scott: …and the mechanism. And one of the mechanisms is the one that you described, the mechanism of…

Peter Robinson: Random variation and natural selection.

Eugenie Scott: …the mechanism of natural selection…

Peter Robinson: Right.

Eugenie Scott: …which involves genetic variation and adaptive value of the variance within a particular environment. But there's other mechanisms as well that may explain parts of the evolutionary process.

Peter Robinson: Okay. So do you distinguish then between descent from common ancestors on the one hand, you refute that, you're open to it, you buy it, subscribe to it…

William Dembski: I'm open to common ancestry. I think that the evidence--I don't think I would go as far as Eugenie. I think there is still some question about that but I know there are some very strong lines of evidence for common ancestry.

Peter Robinson: And so you're open to that?

William Dembski: So I'm open to that. That's not a problem for me if that's how it turns out.

Peter Robinson: But the mechanism, random variation and natural selection…

William Dembski: I would say it certainly operates but it's incomplete. I mean, there's no question that organisms vary and that those that are more fit, that are adapted in some way will go on to survive and reproduce. Okay so the mechanism that Darwin--Darwin was onto something. Question is, was he onto the whole show? Strict Darwinists like Richard Dawkins would want to say he really nailed it down. Where I would differ it, I would say the Darwinian mechanism probably only accounts for about two to three percent of what we see.

Peter Robinson: The Darwinian mechanism is a minor sideshow in the great geologic story of the planet and of living things. Is that a summation of your point of view?

William Dembski: 'Minor sideshow' might be minimizing it too much. Certainly antibiotic resistance, I think, is something you could account for in terms of the Darwinian mechanism. And that's important. I mean, it's certainly important to the…

Peter Robinson: Let me put it to you this way. So we know because we see with our own eyes that within a species, you can grow sheep with longer hair or shorter hair or you can grow hogs that are fatter or get fatter more…

William Dembski: Right.

Peter Robinson: So we know that you can--that through random variation or indeed intentional breeding, you can create certain characteristics within a species.

William Dembski: Right.

Peter Robinson: That we grant. Everybody grants that because we see it with our own eyes. But you can't--or we haven't seen with our own eyes a sheep turned into a goat.

William Dembski: That's--I mean, it's the extrapolation. I mean, insects develop insecticide resistance. The Darwinian mechanism accounts for that but how do you get insects in the first place? If the Darwinian story is correct then…

Peter Robinson: Okay so what you're saying is that what we do see and what is irrefutable is relatively minor modulations within a species? Right?

William Dembski: Um hm.

Peter Robinson: Okay.

Eugenie Scott: And the question is, can you extrapolate what we see going on in biology today to the past? And evolutionists would describe sheep and goats as being descended from a common ancestor because sheep and goats actually are quite similar. But because we do accept an ancient age of the earth, there's a lot of time for it to take place.

Peter Robinson: Onto some specific criticisms of Darwinism beginning with the fossil record.

Title: Bones of Contention

Peter Robinson: I quote Jonathan Wells: "A century and a half of fossil collecting since Darwin has made it clear that fossil species tend to appear suddenly and persist unchanged for long periods of time before going extinct." That is to say, it is very easy looking in the fossil record to find full-blown species but they're suddenly there and then they're suddenly not there and you don't find in the fossil record lots of transitional forms, species on the way to becoming other species, which you would expect if the theory of evolution were true.

Eugenie Scott: Don't get your understanding of the fossil record from Jonathan Wells. He…

[Talking at same time]

William Dembski: He's citing Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge there really, so…

Eugenie Scott: Yeah but what are Gould and Eldredge talking about? Gould and Eldredge are not saying that living things didn't have common ancestors. They're saying that the snapshot that we have of the history of life as revealed in the fossil record doesn't show point-by-point ancestry such as Charles Darwin thought it would. Now…

William Dembski: The sort of gradualism, which Darwin said, was really essential. If his mechanism was going to count…

Eugenie Scott: Why would gradualism be essential and what the fossil record…

William Dembski: Well he says if it could be shown that any species evolved--could not have been gotten by gradual--it's a quote from The Origin of Species that's repeated over and over…

Eugenie Scott: Yeah, I know. We both know it. We do repeat it a lot.

William Dembski: …then my theory would absolutely, you know, bite the dust I guess.

Peter Robinson: Okay so Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge to name two of these guys have characterized the fossil record as demonstrating something they called punctuated equilibria. There you have long periods of genetic stability punctuated by relatively short bursts of evolutionary creativity.

Eugenie Scott: Rapid evolution.

Peter Robinson: Right?

Eugenie Scott: And you know what…

Peter Robinson: And these short bursts because they're so short are very hard to find in the fossil record.

Eugenie Scott: It's a sampling problem.

[Talking at same time]

William Dembski: It's a convenient sampling problem. And that's I think that's what raises eyebrows for some people.

Eugenie Scott: The argument about punctuated equilibria versus gradualism within paleontology has to do with which explains more of the fossil record because obviously both do. You find some sequences, particularly with invertebrates where you have a very nice gradual record. Take a look at some of the molluscan series in East Africa. You have other--but we tend to think--you know, we tend to have these blinkers on. We only think about vertebrates and vertebrates are very unlikely to show those kinds of…

Peter Robinson: Vertebrates are, why's that?

Eugenie Scott: The reproductive cycles take a long time. An elephant takes a very long time after all to grow up and reproduce and so forth. And they're far rarer than are invertebrates like mollusks and other forms that leave a very copious fossil record. That's the major reason. And the fossil rec…

Peter Robinson: What's your take on the fossil record, that it's problematic or that…

William Dembski: I think what it seems, you know, if I just look at it, you know, and I'm not trained as a paleontologist but the sense I have is that you do have these long periods of stasis, things remained unchanged and then these sudden emergences. Now I think you can account for that in terms of common descent but then you're talking about some very rapid evolution and it's not clear at all that you've got some sort of naturalistic mechanisms, either the Darwinian mechanism of random variation, natural selection, you can supplement that with some other self organizational processes perhaps. But it's not clear that any sort of naturalistic mechanism that's been proposed has the capacity to account for that.

Peter Robinson: A new topic. We find very complex biological mechanisms everywhere in nature. Just how well does the theory of evolution account for them?

Title: A Better Mousetrap

Peter Robinson: We've got a biochemist called Michael Behe who's come up with a notion of irreducible complexity. And again to me as a layman, reading this stuff, it seems quite sensible so you're going to have to help me get over this one so to speak. Behe draws a parallel with a mousetrap. It has a relatively few number of working parts but every one of them is essential. This is what he terms irreducibly complex. Take away one piece and it doesn't work. And there are all kinds of structures, lots and lots of structures in the physical world--the living world that are likewise irreducibly complex. He mentions biochemistry of light detection, requires a whole series of complex molecules and interacting in a very complicated way. Take away a single molecule and the organism can't detect light. So the point is that it's very hard to imagine how some of these things could have evolved piecemeal. You have to imagine a mousetrap first evolving as a little piece of wood and then evolving the spring and then evolving that lever that actually--and that just seems intuitively--he says it's impossible and intuitively to me, it seems a fairly forceful argument.

Eugenie Scott: Have you read any of the criticisms of irreducible complexity that have come out from scientists, from biochemists and cell biologists who actually work in these areas?

Peter Robinson: I'm waiting for you to give me--to characterize it.

Eugenie Scott: Okay. There is a long series of arguments against this and it's probably something that is not going to be…

William Dembski: I can reverse one of these arguments for you just briefly. The idea is that not only let's say if you want to reduce what you're calling a irreducibly complex mousetrap, not only do you remove a part but you have to modify another part. And if you can modify, let's say, I mean with the mousetrap, you remove what's--it's got a hammer, a holding bar, a spring, platform and a catch. You can remove the holding bar and then--rather you can remove the catch and make a little indentation in the hammer and then basically that indentation holds the holding bar and acts like a catch. You can reduce it in that sense. The notion of irreducible complexity, I mean, Behe's definition holds up. I mean, it's that you remove a part and you can't get a functional mousetrap but if you remove and modify, then you can get something functional. So the idea is that you can get to these irreducibly complex systems not just by adding parts but adding, modifying, adding, modifying, adding, modifying. So that's supposed to be a way around that.

Peter Robinson: And do you think that it is? Is his argument a forceful argument against evolution or not?

William Dembski: I think it is. I think his notion needs a little fine-tuning. And I do that in my forthcoming book, No Free Lunch, where I argue you need not just irreducible complexity but you need a notion of minimal complexity so that basically you've got the simplest sort of object that does that job. So you take, for instance, what's become the poster child of the design movement, the bacterial flagellum. It's a little outboard rotary motor on the back of bacterium. If you're going to have an outboard rotary motor, you're going to have to have something that's a propeller. You have to have something that attaches that thing to the cell membrane. You need a motor that runs and it's got to be bi-directional because this bacterium is buffeted by Brownian Motion so it's got to get through it. It's got to be able to reverse direction in order to get around. So it needs all those components. When you actually look at the bacterial flagella that are out there because it's not just in E. coli but a number of different bacteria, you find that they're all substantially the same.

Eugenie Scott: There's a lot of variation.

William Dembski: I mean, there are a few simplifications but they--it's just…

Peter Robinson: So you don't buy…

[Talking at same time]

Peter Robinson: This doesn't even cause a doubt for you?

Eugenie Scott: Not at all. No, the concept of irreducible complexity has been pretty well, thoroughly critiqued. The biggest problem is not whether there can or cannot be something that is irreducibly complex. That is not actually very interesting. The question is, can this be produced through a natural cause because that is the crux of the argument between the intelligent design proponents and everybody else.

Peter Robinson: Eugenie just teed up the next topic, the theory of intelligent design.

Title: The Search for Signs of Intelligent Design in the Universe

Peter Robinson: Intelligent design, it's a new and interesting school of thought and you are its leading proponent, what does it say?

William Dembski: Okay. It says that there are reliable means of detecting design from features of the world. So you look at arrangements of matter and energy, some of those will tell you that you're dealing with a designing intelligence, others that you're not. So let's say you're watching the movie Contact. You see--what's the--this is a movie about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. There's a key moment in the movie where contact is established, where the radio astronomers realize that they're dealing with an extraterrestrial intelligence. This is when they get a long sequence of prime numbers from outer space. It's a long sequence. You couldn't just have, you know, a short sequence because that could just happen by chance because there are--these radio astronomers are monitoring millions of radio channels. Okay so it's got to be a long sequence. There's complexity there. There's an independently given pattern. So the way I characterize that is in terms of specified complexity. There's complexity and it's specified. There's a pattern. And when you have that, that reliably points you to the effects of an intelligence. Okay. So that's the general sort of mathematical setup that I argue from and then the question is well what happens when you apply this notion of specified complexity to actual biological systems. What you find is that some, not all, of the Behe type irreducibly complex systems end up exhibiting specified complexity, which is a reliable marker of intelligence. Okay. That's the argument that I make.

Peter Robinson: So what you're saying then is if you get a sheet of paper and typed on it is to be or not to be, that is the question, you know a monkey didn't bang it out. Right?

Eugenie Scott: Not necessarily.

Peter Robinson: There's intelligence there.

Peter Robinson: But it would seem to me that from what I've heard so far, intelligent design is not taking account of scale. That is to say, if you put a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters and let them bang away for ten billion years, sooner or later one of them will type out to be or not to be, that is the question.

William Dembski: Well you can maybe get to be or not to be but you're going to maybe--I've done actually the calculation because I'm writing a book where I actually do this. How much of Shakespeare's Hamlet could you get if every elementary particle in the universe were a monkey typing at the plank time, you know, for the duration of the universe. And you get about three or four lines of Shakespeare's Hamlet. That's it. So…

Eugenie Scott: But this is irrelevant to our discussion because what we're talking about is the difference between natural selection as a natural process that produces something and "intelligence" by which we can argue I believe it means divine intelligence as opposed to natural intelligence. You got a million monkeys sitting there typing on their machine, if you want to make this an analogy that makes sense from the standpoint of evolution, you've got a million technicians standing behind them with a very large vat of white out and every time the monkey types the wrong letter, you correct it. That's what natural selection basically does. It's not just the random production of variation.

Peter Robinson: It's constantly culling the useless variations.

Eugenie Scott: Yeah, exactly. And you're going to get…

Peter Robinson: And keeping the useful…

Eugenie Scott: …and the computer programs that have been written to do this get Shakespeare written pretty fast.

Peter Robinson: Let me try to clarify this point. Is it possible to prove the theory of evolution beyond all reasonable doubt scientifically?

Title: She Blinded Me With Science

Peter Robinson: What test can evolution be put to that makes us feel more confident that it's a reliable explanation than is intelligent design?

Eugenie Scott: What test can--how do you test whether…

Peter Robinson: No, no, we'll get to him in a moment. The first question is what test can evolution be put to?

Eugenie Scott: Well Darwin hims--well natural selection you're talking about?

Peter Robinson: Natural selection.

Eugenie Scott: Okay. The natural selective argument can be tested. In fact, Darwin himself suggested the test for it. He said, if you could find any complex structure that existed in an organism that was solely for the advantage of some other creature, that would truly destroy his theory because the argument is that there's a…

Peter Robinson: That however, is attempting to prove a negative. That is proving why the theory would be wrong. What I'm asking for is positive…

Eugenie Scott: No, no, no. All you have to…

Peter Robinson: …proof that the theory is right.

Eugenie Scott: Oh well that natural sel--we already agreed natural selection works.

Peter Robinson: We did agree that natural selection produces minor variations.

Eugenie Scott: But isn't that what we're talk…

Peter Robinson: What I'm asking for is explanations of…

Eugenie Scott: That minor--that evolution would--that natural selection could account for common ancestry.

Peter Robinson: Yes, exactly.

Eugenie Scott: Okay. Well consider what we're dealing--this is why I brought up the age of the earth, this is why I brought up the fact that we have lots and lots and lots of time because what we see when we look at variation which is really a way of saying genetics, okay, we have heredity. Stuff gets passed down from generation to generation. The genetic variation in a population shifts depending on what the environmental circumstances are. We have examples that we can see in the natural world where widespread populations or species that are widespread over large geographic area, peripheral groups of--peripheral populations of that widespread species can get cut off from the main body of the species by which that means that they're no longer exchanging genes.

Peter Robinson: Right.

Eugenie Scott: And we're not talking about individuals. We're not talking about that sheep evolving into that goat. We're talking about a bunch of organisms.

Peter Robinson: Entire populations. Right.

Eugenie Scott: And when you disrupt the genetic flow from that peripheral population to the rest of them, changes can take place in that peripheral population. This has been done experimentally and this has also been inferred, granted…

Peter Robinson: But big changes, not changes of the kinds of the sheep with longer hair.

Eugenie Scott: Well again, over how long a period of time are we talking about? We've never observed this for ten million years, which is what we're talking about when we're talking about geological time. But why would you argue that the mechanism that we can observe…

Peter Robinson: I'm not arguing anything. I'm asking a question. Can a test be designed that would make me feel confident that evolution does, in fact, explain descent from common ancestors. And it sounds so far as though there are all kinds of things that make it seem extremely plausible. But if it is the case and it seems to be the case that you can't design a test that will take place within the lifetime of one of us that would indicate it's not--it does not live up to that single criterion of a theory, that it is falsifiable, that it can be tested.

Eugenie Scott: Okay, now we've shifted gears.

Peter Robinson: Now it could be--it could be that because we're talking about eons and eons, no test can be designed but that's just--that's all I'm asking.

Eugenie Scott: But now you just shifted gears on me.

Peter Robinson: Why's that?

Eugenie Scott: Because, first of all, I think we were talking about whether natural selection can bring about descent with modification?

Peter Robinson: Yeah.

Eugenie Scott: And it's clear that it can't.

Peter Robinson: Big changes.

Eugenie Scott: I mean, yeah. Okay but it seems like you've just, you know, shifted gears on me to ask me--to ask whether I can refute the idea of common descent itself which can also be done. A very--in fact, the anti-evolutionists have proposed this for a long time. If you find human bones down in the Cambrian or down in the Permian age of fishes…

Peter Robinson: I didn't mean to shift gears there.

Eugenie Scott: So there's two things, the mechanism and the process are differ--the mechanism and the event is different.

Peter Robinson: Test-ability. Can intelligent design be tested?

William Dembski: Yeah, I would say so.

Peter Robinson: How's that?

William Dembski: Darwin's theory is basically it's a divide and conquer approach. It's basically that what seems to be vastly improbable, you know, these vastly improbable systems that you couldn't get at one great leap, you can break it down into some manageable steps and each step has to confer some sort of selective advantage. The thing is now, are there systems, which--where you cannot find gradual step by step increase. Let's say you have a system, which does not have a bacterial flagellum and one that does. Can you demonstrate reliably that that sort of transition cannot be affected? Okay, that would be confirmation for intelligent design. That's a sort of in principle argument that we're trying to make. It's not an argument from ignorance. Okay, now another--okay so what would it mean to test it or falsify it? Okay it would be to show that there are, in fact, gradual roots to these sorts of systems. So there's a real question, are there systems that are not accessible by gradual Darwinian roots or all such systems that we see in biology accessible by gradual Darwinian roots? And if you can show that there's a difference in the type of systems where one cannot be accessed that way, then you have confirmation for intelligent design. On the other hand, if everything is accessible by these gradual roots, then I think you've got confirmation of Darwinism.

Peter Robinson: Does that sound…

Eugenie Scott: Doesn't sound good to me. I mean…

Peter Robinson: It doesn't sound like a…

[Talking at same time]

Eugenie Scott: What he's saying is that if we can't explain it through natural selection, it defaults to design.

Peter Robinson: All right. Let me try one last time on this issue of plausibility versus scientific proof.

Title: Looking for Proof In All the Wrong Places

Peter Robinson: It could have been that my little mind was just pursuing a wrong question here because I was thinking in terms of can an experiment be devised that's conclusive or pretty conclusive on either your point of view or your point of view that could take place within one person's lifetime? Can we actually test these things? And it doesn't sound to me as though--it sounds to me as though you're kind of inducing, there's a weight of evidence and plausibility. It really is not an experimental matter. That we can't quite get to in either case.

William Dembski: Well I think if you could show gradual Darwinian means to systems like Michael Behe points out, bacterial flagellum, blood clotting cascade, I think eventually these design arguments would just pass away.

Peter Robinson: So can anybody show them or is it just a question of arguing how plausible they are?

Eugenie Scott: Actually there has been as Bill pointed out, a fair amount of work on the bacteria flagellum and there's been work on the blood clotting cascade and the other things that Mike says are irreducibly complex. But the problem with that is let's say that we come up with a really plausible scenario for the bacteria flagellum, the intelligence design people just say, okay, that's not irreducibly complex but this still is. And so you're spending your whole time kind of brushing crumbs off the table, picking up…

William Dembski: Because you haven't even come close to explaining systems of this complexity. So, you know, it's…

Eugenie Scott: Well, you know, the young earth creationists keep saying there's gaps in the fossil record. We'll never convince them. We'll never convince you.

William Dembski: You've got thousands of papers on this…

Peter Robinson: I was still a little nervous about the fossil record myself.

William Dembski: …on this system.

Eugenie Scott: You need to know more about it, honey.

Peter Robinson: Oh do I? Okay listen, we've got to wrap it up. It's television. William Dembski, I quote you, "In the next five years, intelligent design will be sufficiently developed to deserve funding from the National Science Foundation." Genie?

Eugenie Scott: Good luck.

Peter Robinson: You laugh him to scorn?

Eugenie Scott: No, no I don't.

Peter Robinson: Oh you don't.

Eugenie Scott: I do not.

Peter Robinson: You think he's onto something? It's a serious intellectual pursuit?

Eugenie Scott: Now listen. No, listen. This is something that I do want to get clear and I, maybe more so than many of Bill's critics of intelligent design, have often said, look you are presenting a scholarly position, defend it. There have been a lot of criticisms. He's working on answering his critics. And maybe in five years or twenty-five years or day after tomorrow, maybe everybody'll smack themselves on the forehead and say yes, intelligent design is it. But until that happens…

Peter Robinson: Has he gained any purchase on your mind at all?

Eugenie Scott: Until that happens, it does not deserve to be taught in high school which is what the intelligent design people are arguing.

Peter Robinson: Okay. Now let me put--I've had her comment on you. Let me ask you to comment on Charles Darwin not on Genie, of course. So we've got these fossil record, am I being a little bit jejune and naïve about the fossil record? Am I going after something that really isn't a problem, properly understood?

Eugenie Scott: There are lots of structural transitions in the fossil record.

Peter Robinson: There are?

Eugenie Scott: For group after group.

William Dembski: You know, in science you've got facts and data but then you try to put it together with various patterns and the interpretive moves you make--you know, if you're…

[Talking at same time]

William Dembski: If you're wedded to Darwinism, you'll make it fit. You know, if you're not, it's going to look like a hard fit.

Peter Robinson: So your charge against Darwin is that it's, at this stage of the game, a hundred and thirty years after Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle, it looks contrived. It looks like a theory under immense pressure.

William Dembski: Yeah it's certainly a theory under pressure. I mean, especially when it tries to make these totalizing claims, that it's the mechanism that accounts for most of biological complexity and diversity.

Peter Robinson: Do you feel that evolution is under pressure or still sort of…

Eugenie Scott: I know that through repetition, various anti-evolutionists including design people have argued that evolution is a theory in crisis but you sure don't find that if you go to universities.

Peter Robinson: That's just not the case at all.

Eugenie Scott: No, I mean people are mystified by this claim.

Peter Robinson: Genie and Bill, thank you very much.

Eugenie Scott: Thanks.

Peter Robinson: I'm Peter Robinson for Uncommon Knowledge. Thank you for joining us.