Review & Comment By Bill Dembski on Uncommon Descent, Weblog of Bill Dembski & Friends, June 1, 2006
Photo; John Sanford
John Sanford writes: "In retrospect, I realize that I have wasted so much of my life arguing about things that don’t really matter. It is my sincere hope that this book can actually address something that really does matter.
The issue of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going seem to me to be of enormous importance. This is the real subject of this book…
Modern Darwinism is built on what I will be calling “The Primary Axiom”. The Primary Axiom is that man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection. Within our society’s academia, the Primary Axiom is universally taught, and almost universally accepted. It is the constantly mouthed mantra, repeated endlessly on every college campus. It is very difficult to find any professor on any college campus who would even consider (or should I say – dare) to question the Primary Axiom….
Late in my career, I did something which for a Cornell professor would seem unthinkable. I began to question the Primary Axiom. I did this with great fear and trepidation. By doing this, I knew I would be at odds with the most “sacred cow” of modern academia. Among other things, it might even result in my expulsion from the academic world.
Although I had achieved considerable success and notoriety within my own particular specialty (applied genetics), it would mean I would have to be stepping out of the safety of my own little niche. I would have to begin to explore some very big things, including aspects of theoretical genetics which I had always accepted by faith alone. I felt compelled to do all this – but I must confess I fully expected to simply hit a brick wall.
To my own amazement, I gradually realized that the seemingly “great and unassailable fortress” which has been built up around the primary axiom is really a house of cards. The Primary Axiom is actually an extremely vulnerable theory – in fact it is essentially indefensible.
Its apparent invincibility derives mostly from bluster, smoke, and mirrors.
A large part of what keeps the Axiom standing is an almost mystical faith, which the true-believers have in the omnipotence of natural selection.
Furthermore, I began to see that this deep-seated faith in natural selection was typically coupled with a degree of ideological commitment – which can only be described as religious.
I started to realize (again with trepidation) that I might be offending a lot of people’s religion!
To question the Primary Axiom required me to re-examine virtually everything I thought I knew about genetics. This was probably the most difficult intellectual endeavor of my life. Deeply entrenched thought patterns only change very slowly (and I must add — painfully).
What I eventually experienced was a complete overthrow of my previous understandings. Several years of personal struggle resulted in a new understanding, and a very strong conviction that the Primary Axiom was most definitely wrong.
More importantly, I became convinced that the Axiom could be shown to be wrong to any reasonable and open-minded individual. This realization was exhilarating, but again – frightening.
I realized that I had a moral obligation to openly challenge this most sacred of cows. In doing this, I realized I would earn for myself the most intense disdain of most of my colleagues in academia – not to mention very intense opposition and anger from other high places.
What should I do? It has become my conviction that the Primary Axiom is insidious on the highest level – having catastrophic impact on countless human lives. Furthermore, every form of objective analysis I have performed has convinced me that the Axiom is clearly false. So now, regardless of the consequences, I have to say it out loud: the Emperor has no clothes!
…To the extent that the Primary Axiom can be shown to be false, it should have a major impact on your own life – and on the world at large. For this reason, I have dared to write this humble little book – which some will receive as blasphemous treason, and others – revelation.
If the Primary Axiom is wrong, then there is a surprising and very practical consequence. When subjected only to natural forces, the human genome must irrevocably degenerate over time. Such a sober realization should have more than just intellectual or historical significance. It should rightfully cause us to personally reconsider where we should rationally be placing our hope for the future.".... John Sanford
Dembski writes: "Sanford drew heavily from the work of Motoo Kimura, James Crow, and Walter ReMine. He featured a lot of data I had never seen, and he applied the concept of signal-to-noise ratios (from information theory) to show that the selection pressures are too weak for natural selection to transmit useful information into the genome.
He made devastating critiques of naturalistic evolution using standard population genetics. It was a superb book, something one would expect from such a capable scientist. I’m surprised this book is relatively obscure, it ought to be required reading for serious IDers!
Sanford’s Bio: Cornell Professor of 25 years (being semi-retired since 1998). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in the area of plant breeding and genetics.
He founded 2 successful biotech firms, Biolistics and Sanford Scientific. Most of the transgenic crops grown in the world today were genetically engineered using the gene gun technology developed by Sanford.
He still holds a position of Courtesy Associate Professor at Cornell. Here are some endorsements for the book:
In the Mystery of the Genome Cornell University researcher John Sanford lifts the rug to see what evolutionary theory has swept under it. He shows that, not only does Darwinism not have answers for how information got into the genome, it doesn’t even have answers for how it could remain there.... Michael Behe
I strongly recommend John Sanford’s Mystery of the Genome, which provides a lucid and bold account of how the human genome is deteriorating, due the accumulation of mutations. This situation has disturbing implications for mankind’s future, as well as surprising implications concerning mankind’s past..... Phillip Johnson "