Your Special Report “Anti-evolutionists raise their profile in Europe” (Nature 444, 406–407; 2006) mentions a seminar held in Brussels at the European Parliament on 11 October 2006, as part of a new strategy by supporters of intelligent design (ID) to disseminate anti-evolutionism among the general public of Europe. Two days later, the Catholic Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation and the creationist group Truth in Science published summaries on the Internet. A moderator of the seminar, Maciej Giertych, then published a Correspondence (“Creationism, evolution: nothing has been proved” Nature 444, 265; 2006) claiming that his arguments are entirely scientific and denying any religious component to them. I believe, therefore, that it was a good decision by Nature to publish this Correspondence, as a wake-up call to scientists.
The anti-evolution seminar was a series of three public lectures, introduced and moderated by Giertych, who is the retired head of the genetics department of the Polish Academy of Sciences and an honorary member of the Daylight Origins Society, a Catholic creationist organization based in Britain. The seminar was co-organized by Dominique Tassot, director of the Centre d'Etude et de Prospectives sur la Science, an association of 700 Catholic intellectuals who do not accept macroevolution because it is in conflict with their interpretation of the Bible (see Nature 439, 534; 2006).
At the meeting, Giertych pointed out that macroevolution (the gradual appearance of novel body plans as documented in the fossil record) is a “falsified hypothesis” and that there is, from genetics research, no evidence but “only disproof” for Darwin's principle of common descent of all life on Earth. These claims were supplemented by Joseph Mastropaolo, a US aerospace physiologist, who argued that the theory of evolution, after more than 150 years, “still lacked any empirical proof”.
The German civil engineer Hans-Joachim Zillmer told the audience that the fossil record does not provide evidence for gradual macroevolution. Zillmer was announced as an expert in palaeontology and evolution, but he has not, according to the Web of Science, published any paper in the peer-reviewed literature. He is the author of popular books with titles such as Darwin's Mistake (Adventures Unlimited Press, 2003) or Die Evolutionslüge (The Evolution Lie Langen Müller, 2005). In Darwin's Mistake, Zillmer asserts that he has found human and dinosaur footprints in fossil-bearing sediments in a riverbed in Texas and concludes that these organisms lived together. Even creationists no longer claim that these supposed 'human prints' are genuine (see Nature 323, 390; 1986). Zillmer's books state that biologists, geologists and the editors of most scientific journals are either misled or fools.
Finally, Guy Berthault told the audience about his research on the rates of sediment depositions, which “did not form slowly over millions of years”, but “have been laid down within very short time periods”. Hence, according to Berthault, most geological data on the age of fossils must be wrong. Giertych's controversial letter is a brief summary of these anti-evolution, pro-ID-lectures.
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Kutschera, U. A timely wake-up call as anti-evolutionists publicize their views. Nature 444, 679 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/444679a
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