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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

I think I'll skip this meeting

I just received an invitation to a meeting ...

On behalf of the international organizing committee, we would like to invite you to a conference to be held in Neve Ilan, near Jerusalem, from 4-8 October 2021, entitled ‘Potential and Limitations of Evolutionary Processes’. The main goal of this interdisciplinary, international conference is to bring together scientists and scholars who hold a range of viewpoints on the potential and possible limitations of various undirected chemical and biological processes.

The conference will include presentations from a broad spectrum of disciplines, including chemistry, biochemistry, biology, origin of life, evolution, mathematics, cosmology and philosophy. Open-floor discussion will be geared towards delineating mechanistic details, with a view to discussing in such a way that speakers and participants feel comfortable expressing different opinions and different interpretations of the data, in the spirit of genuine academic inquiry.

I'm pretty sure I got this invite because I attended the Royal Society Meeting on New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives back in 2016. That meeting was a big disappointment because the proponents of extending the modern synthesis didn't have much of a case [Kevin Laland's new view of evolution].

I was curious to see what kind of followup the organizers of this new meeting were planning so I checked out the website at: Potential and Limitations of Evolutionary Processes. Warning bells went off immediately when I saw the list of topics.

  • Fine-Tuning of the Universe
  • The Origin of Life
  • Origin & Fine-Tuning of the Genetic Code
  • Origin of Novel Genes
  • Origin of Functional Islands in Protein Sequence Space
  • Origin of Multi-Component Molecular Machines
  • Fine-Tuning of Molecular Systems
  • Fine-Tuning in Complex Biological Systems
  • Evolutionary Waiting Times
  • History of Life & Comparative Genomics

This is a creationist meeting. A little checking shows that three of the four organizers, Russ Carlson, Anthony Futerman, and Siegfried Scherer, are creationists. (I don't know about the other organizer, Joel Sussman, but in this case guilt by association seems appropriate.)

I don't think I'll book a flight to Israel.


Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

Creationists are milking the "fine-tuning" term dryer than Hollywood is milking franchises like Terminator and Star-Wars.

Robert Byers said...

Well at least opposition to conclusions to what is now said is happening in other places. It will probably be in English and is not biblical creationism but , I think, the future. It should happen in Canada surely. Opposition to the old ideas is becoming prestiges and the rest of the world is open and desiring a piece of the action possibly. Also they can't say its Christian motivations either as it must have many Jews and possibly Muslims.

luvsdabud said...

Gunter Belchy has it listed on his online itinerary for 2021.

luvsdabud said...

But Israel... creationism... fine tuning.. sounds like a perfect environment for James Tour

Joe Felsenstein said...

At least one natural history museum in Israel had the practice of keeping its human evolution exhibit covered by a sheet to avoid offending ultra-orthodox visitors by letting their children learn about it. This was in 2018; I don't know what the situation is now. There are also a great many secular Israelis who are very unhappy about situations like that.

Gerdien de Jong said...

James Tour is on the list of selected speakers; as is Doug Axe. And Richard Buggs who came out as ID (See Jerry Coyne's blog). And Paul Davies. And Steve Fuller.
The big question is: what are Nick Lane and Eugene Koonin doing in this set up?

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

Nick Lane, Eugene Koonin, and Paul Davies? Well if they're on the list of speakers you have to wonder if they're even aware this is a creationist meeting?

I see Dan Tawfik and Doron Lancet are there too, who are also real scientists.

So what's Axe and Tour going to say, I mean other than "chance is impossible, magical wishing mustadunit?"

Larry Moran said...

Koonin is a bit of a maverick so I'm not surprised that he would show up. I can't imagine that Nick Lane will actually attend.

William Spearshake said...

I think we should start a go fund me campaign to fund Gordon Mullings, Philip Cunningham and Joe Gallien’s attendance and speakers at this event.