Monday, August 2, 2010

PNAS not a theology journal?

Thanks to a number of readers, I got copies of the Murray/Schloss/Avise correspondence from last week's PNAS. As I suspected, one of Murray & Schloss's concerns was that the theological issues raised by Avise were simply inappropriate for publication/debate in a science journal like PNAS. They made other points, of course, but this was the issue that bothered me the most. Say Murray & Schloss:
Natural imperfections may (or may not) be irreconcilable with a divine designer, but this is an entirely theological issue and not a scientific one suitable for PNAS.
Yeah, I kind of agree with that. Years ago when Rick Sternberg was editing the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington and approved the publication of Steve Meyer's ID paper, one of the things people threw a fit about was that the Meyer paper was inappropriate for publication in PBSW. It was supposedly just not something that PBSW would normally publish, and I can at least sympathize with that. So now Avise comes along with his theological critique of ID and publishes it in PNAS, and I think Murray & Schloss are right on the money. If Meyer's paper was inappropriate for PBSW, then Avise's paper is not appropriate for PNAS. It would be different if Avise was making a scientific critique, for example by offering an account of the evolution of the blood clotting cascade. But Avise's paper was pure theology. That's fine for a book or a theology journal, but I'm really uncomfortable seeing it in PNAS.

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