Yale Computer Science Legend David Gelernter Says Goodbye To Darwinism

Professor David Gelernter of Yale’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is famous for having predicted the World Wide Web years before its appearance, as well as having conceived or designed  innumerable computing tools in wide use throughout the world.

Yale Professor David Gelernter. (Screen shot from interview with Hoover Institution’s Peter Robinson.)

But Gelernter is also something of a Renaissance Man because he is a prolific lecturer and author, the latter including works of fiction, technical articles and art criticism. Plus, he’s a member of the National Council of the Arts.

But there is one thing Gelernter is not, at least not anymore, and that is a believer in contemporary Darwinism. The Yale professor explained why in May in a Claremont Review of Books (CRB) article provocatively entitled “GIving Up Darwin.” Unfortunately, this may be the first you’ve heard about it.

Note that it is contemporary Darwinism, not Darwin per se, that Gelernter now questions. There is a crucial distinction for him.

“There’s no reason to doubt that Darwin successfully explained the small adjustments by which an organism adapts to local circumstances: changes to fur density or wing style or beak shape,” Gelernter wrote in his CRB piece.

“Yet there are many reasons to doubt whether he can answer the hard questions and explain the big picture—not the fine-tuning of existing species but the emergence of new ones. The origin of species is exactly what Darwin cannot explain.”

In other words, the Yale professor is a yes on micro-evolution, but a no on the fundamental issue of how did the species come into existence in the first place.

“The origin of the species is exactly what Darwin cannot explain.”

Gelernter is not also now a convert to the Intelligent Design school of thought, but, unlike so many in the scientific and academic worlds, he recognizes it as a legitimate approach that must be accounted for and deserves serious consideration.

In the CRB piece, Gelernter credits three books in particular with his revised thinking:

“Stephen Meyer’s thoughtful and meticulous Darwin’s Doubt (2013) convinced me that Darwin has failed. He cannot answer the big question. Two other books are also essential: The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays (2009), by David Berlinski, and Debating Darwin’s Doubt (2015), an anthology edited by David Klinghoffer, which collects some of the arguments Meyer’s book stirred up. These three form a fateful battle group that most people would rather ignore.”

The Hoover Institution’s Peter Robinson recently brought all three men together in one place to discuss these issues. It’s 57 minutes in length, much longer than the typical video posted here on HillFaith. But Robinson is a masterful interviewer and he draws out the best of this trio of modern Galileos.

“Robinson is a masterful interviewer and he draws out the best of this trio of modern Galileos.”

Why should somebody working on Capitol Hill know or care about these matters? Congress shapes the quality and quantity of scientific research and debate in this country — for better or worse — and congressional staffers are a key factor in the shaping process.

The issues discussed in this interview, especially on the oppressive response that too often typifies the academic establishment’s treatment of the growing ranks of Gelernters — is already a familiar issue to many staffers in places like the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

But these issues are even wider because they involve questions about free inquiry, technological innovation and academic integrity. In other words, it’s a big deal and if you are on the Hill, sooner or later you will need to know about these matters.

If that’s not enough, Wintery Knight at cross-examined.org has more on Gelernter and the issues he raises regarding Darwinism. Go here.


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Author: Mark Tapscott

Follower of Christ, devoted husband of Claudia, doting father and grandfather, conservative lover of liberty, journalist and First Amendment fanatic, former Hill and Reagan aide, vintage Formula Ford racer, Okie by birth/Texan by blood/proud of both, resident of Maryland. Go here: https://hillfaith.blog/about-hillfaith-2/

4 thoughts on “Yale Computer Science Legend David Gelernter Says Goodbye To Darwinism”

  1. What Gelernter says in this brief article and I am sure in more detail in the other references has been obvious to me for over 20 years since I first read some were questioning Darwin. The Darwinian processes, whether in his original thesis or as part of the modern synthesis can not build proteins, the fundamental structure of life. It can modify existing ones in minor, often important ways, but not build them. It can correct the grammar of a complicated essay but not write the basic essay. And yes proteins are very complicated entities.

    Darwinian ideas are the basis of modern day Genetics and thus important. But at evolution they are a bust.

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  2. I think that many people when they hear the words intelligent design automatically attribute the description to an omnipotent theocratic god, but intelligent design can also be imagined in a plethora of possible paths that only predate human intelligence by a few billion years. Simulation Theory, Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Metaphysical Intelligence, or a host of possibilities that our own as yet small minds do not have the information available to even begin to ruminate on.

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