UCL News


Top scientist gives up on creationists

30 May 2006

A leading British scientist said yesterday that he had given up trying to persuade creationists that Darwin's theory is correct after repeatedly being misrepresented and, he said, branded a liar.

Speaking at the Guardian Hay festival at Hay-on-Wye, the evolutionary biologist Professor Steve Jones [UCL Biology] spoke of his frustrations when trying to debate with religious opponents.

"I don't engage with creationists directly," he said, saying that, when he had, they had frequently quoted him out of context or accused him of lying. "If somebody has decided to believe something - whatever the evidence - then there is nothing you can do about it." …

His talk laid out some of the evidence for evolution, such as that of changes in the HIV virus after infecting people. He also hinted at a puzzle thrown up by the human genome project. Far from the hundreds of thousands of genes many geneticists expected, there seem to be around 30,000. Another revelation was the notion that the chimpanzee genome project has shown that women are closer to chimps then men. Prof Jones explained that is because the X chromosome has changed less than the Y chromosome since we split from a common ancestor with chimps. Women have two X chromosomes compared with XY in men.

The most important difference between evolutionists and creationists, Prof Jones concluded, is that scientists are always prepared to say, "I don't know". …

In 1997, Prof Jones was awarded the Royal Society's Michael Faraday prize, the UK's foremost award for communicating science to the public.

James Randerson, The Guardian