Get me a barf bag!
My goal is to make them think about evolution. Evolution as a philosophy makes monsters out of all us. It removes all that makes us human - morals, virtue, love, honor, self-sacrifice. All those become illusory. I'm trying to raise some questions. Who is the real monster here? I do it through a monster story."Evolution as a philosophy"? What the hell is he referring to? My best guess is that he's confusing social Darwinism and eugenics with biological evolutionary theory, but who knows?
Even worse, look at what he says in this interview:
There are two themes that are in the book that come through strongest. Evolution walks on two legs. One is beneficial mutation, purely random, and the other is natural selection. The whole idea is that some organism, purely by accident, has a mutation in his genetic structure and purely by accident that becomes beneficial because it helps him survive better. So he survives better than all of his other compatriots that don’t have that mutation. Then over billions of years, and billions of mutations, you end up with every living thing on the planet.When he brought up the X-Men, I knew he had no clue what he was talking about. As for there being "no such thing as a beneficial mutation," obviously he hasn't heard of the CCR5 receptor mutation that makes T-cells far less susceptible to infection with certain strains of HIV than wild-type--and that's just one example. But he's not content to stop here:
Well, I am presenting a thesis in this book that there is no such thing as beneficial mutation. And in weaving this whole story together, that’s what propels the story because this particular scientist decides he is going to prove that beneficial mutations really work. So he starts messing around with the DNA of some animals trying to prove how evolution works. And of course, as in most of these pretty cool monster stories, it is the old pattern of this scientist is messing around with things that are best left. You’ve seen that in all the great horror movies.
So one thing I want to do in the book is just get people to ask questions, to say, ‘Wait a minute, do mutations really work? Is that a really viable pillar for evolution?’ We’ve been told all of our lives that it is purely through mutations that this happens. We’ve even seen it in the movies. Look at X-Men, they were all these mutants with all these special powers. The whole thing was built off the premise of evolution.
I want people to ask questions about evolution, but there is a deeper philosophical theme here too. The logical outcome of evolution is that it makes monsters. We turn into monsters because evolution takes away everything that makes us human in the sense of our moral accountability, our moral absolutes, and our idea of being distinct from the animal kingdom. The prime directive becomes survival. It’s not a matter of what is right or wrong, what is virtuous, what is honest, what does God think, it is all a matter of survival. When that is your prime directive, then virtually anything is possible.
"The logical outcome of evolution is that it makes monsters"? I realize it's only a work of fiction and that bad science is common in horror novels, but such mind-boggling ignorance is hard to fathom. But hang on, it gets even worse. When asked if he wanted to have his book gain crossover success among the general public, here's what Peretti said:
Oh, absolutely, because the secular audience more than anybody is the one that is brainwashed by evolution. They have been told it all their lives. They believe it. If I can get them to ask just one question, I’ll be happy. “You know, I wonder if mutations really do work? I’ve been told that all my life, but I’ve never seen any. They don’t happen on a regular basis; they are not observable in nature now. If we don’t observe them in nature now, how can we know they ever happened in the past?” I’d like to just get them thinking instead of just swallowing all this stuff.
"Brainwashed by evolution"? "I've never seen any [mutations]"? (Well, whoop-de-do! Just because you haven't seen them doesn't mean that scientists haven't.) "They don't happen on a regular basis"? "They are not observable in nature now?" This is creationist drivel of the worst magnitude! I'm not even sure that William Dembski would sink to this level.
Get this man over to Talkorigins.org, STAT! Not that it'll do any good; he's clearly too far gone. But hopefully some of his readers aren't.
As I was getting ready to post this, I just noticed that PZ has already commented on this clown as well, but fortunately for him he wasn't aware of the true--shall we say?--horror of Peretti's additional comments about beneficial mutations.