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David Snoke

David W. Snoke is a Physics professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society "[f]or his pioneering work on the experimental and theoretical understanding of dynamical optical processes in semiconductor systems. In 2004 he co-wrote a controversial paper with prominent intelligent design proponent Michael Behe.

Overview

Snoke received his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has worked for The Aerospace Corporation and was a visiting scientist and Fellow at the Max Planck Institute.

His research has focused on basic processes and phase transitions of electrons, holes, including nonequilibrium dynamics of electron plasma and excitons, the Mott transition from exciton gas to electron-hole plasma and Bose-Einstein condensation of excitons and polaritons. His research group at the university of Pittsburgh uses stress to trap excitons in confined regions, similar to the way atoms are confined in traps for Bose-Einstein condensation experiments.

His book, A Biblical Case for an Old Earth was described in a review by Law Professor David W. Opderbeck, in the American Scientific Affiliation's Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith as "succeed[ing] admirably" in "establish[ing] that the 'day-age' view is a valid alternative for Christians who hold to biblical inerrancy", but as "less persuasive" at "argu[ing] for a concordist understanding of the Genesis texts and modern science. Snoke was elected a Fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation in 2006.

Behe and Snoke (2004)

In 2004, Snoke co-authored an article with Michael Behe, a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, in the scientific journal Protein Science, which received widespread criticism. Behe has stated that the results of the paper support his notion of irreducible complexity, based on the calculation of the probability of mutations required for evolution to succeed. However, the published version did not address the concept directly; according to Behe, all references to irreducible complexity were eliminated prior to the paper's publication at the behest of the reviewers. Michael Lynch authored a response, to which Behe and Snoke responded. Protein Science discussed the papers in an editorial. Protein Science received letters that "contained many points of disagreement with the Behe and Snoke article", including the points that:

The paper's assumptions have been severely criticised and the conclusions it draws from its mathematical model have been both criticised and contradicted:

  • An essay criticised the paper for an "over-simplified the process, resulting in questionable conclusions", that "[t]heir assumptions bias their results towards more pessimistic numbers", including one assumption that is "probably false under all circumstances", another that is "probably false as a general rule" and assuming "much too high" a level of substitutions that would destroy the protein's function. It concludes "[a]nd ironically, despite these faulty assumptions, Behe and Snoke show that the probability of small multi-residue features evolving is extremely high, given the types of organisms that Behe and Snoke's model applies to.
  • More recent research suggests that Behe and Snoke's model, and even Lynch's response, may have been "substantial underestimates" "of the rate of obtaining an adaptive combination of mutations".
  • Biochemical analysis of the question has supported an orthodox evolutionary view and rejected Behe and Snoke's approach as an "unreasonable model[] which assume[s] 'leaps in thin air', such as the evolution of completely novel activities via multiple and simultaneous amino acid changes".

On May 7, 2005, Behe described the paper in presenting arguments for irreducible complexity in his testimony at the Kansas evolution hearings. At the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial later that year it was the one article referenced by both Behe and Scott Minnich as supporting intelligent design. In his ruling, Judge Jones noted that "A review of the article indicates that it does not mention either irreducible complexity or ID. In fact, Professor Behe admitted that the study which forms the basis for the article did not rule out many known evolutionary mechanisms and that the research actually might support evolutionary pathways if a biologically realistic population size were used.

Bibliography

  • Solid State Physics: Essential Concepts, published by Addison-Wesley (2008).
  • A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, published by Baker Books (2006). ISBN 0801066190
  • Natural Philosophy: Physics and Western Thought, distributed by Access Research Network (2003).
  • Bose-Einstein Condensation, published by Cambridge University Press (1996). ISBN-13: 9780521589901; ISBN-10: 0521589908

References

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