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Matt Young

Matt Young

Teaching Professor, Retired
Department of Physics


BS, 1962, PhD, 1967, Institute of Optics, 
College of Engineering and Applied Science,
University of Rochester, New York


Optics, optical communications, fiber metrology;
Science and religion, evolution


Why Evolution Works (and Creatonism Fails), Matt Young and Paul Strode, Rutgers University Press, 2009.

Reviews of Why Evolution Works:

  • Publishers Weekly Web Exclusive, August 3, 2009, Starred Review.
  • Michael H. Comet, The American Biology Teacher, 73(2),117 (2011).
  • António M. de Frias Martins, The Quarterly Review of Biology, 86(1), 48-49 (March 2011).
  • Mike Klymkowsky, Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 31(1), 4.1-4.4 (January-February, 2011)
  • David Campbell, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, December, 2010.
  • Al Denelsbeck, Walkabout, November 5, 2010.
  • Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, May 15, 2010.
  • Michael Buratovich, Christian Scholar’s Review, 23(3), 358-362 (2010).
  • Adam R. Shapiro, Science Education, 94(2), 390-392 (2009).
  • Kostas Kampourakis, Newsletter, International History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching Group, August, 2009, pp. 14-17.
  • Arsen Kashkashian, “Evolution Revolution: A Fairview Science Teacher’s Guide for the Anti-Creationist,” Boulder Weekly, October 8, 2009.

Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, Matt Young and Taner Edis, eds., Rutgers University Press, 2004. Paperback edition, 2006.

Reviews of Why Intelligent Design Fails:

  • Paul R. Gross: “Patience and Absurdity: How to Deal with Intelligent Design Creationism, “ e-Skeptic #40 (October 29, 2004).
  • Linda Seebach, “New Book’s Essays Deftly Counter Intelligent Design,” Rocky Mountains News, August 28, 2004, p. 31A.
  • Massimo Pigliucci “More Than You Ever Wanted to Know about Intelligent Design,” Evolution, 59(12),2717-2720 (December 1, 2005).
  • Todd Neff, “New Name, Same Argument: Scientists Look at ‘Intelligent Design’ and See the Designs of Creationists,” Boulder Daily Camera, March 13, 2005.,1713,BDC_2516_3614459,00.html
  • Cornelius G. Hunter, “Can Science Refute Design?” Origins, 58, 37-39 (2005).
  • Ian Simmons, “Fundamentally Wrong,” Fortean Times (July, 2006).
  • Frank A. von Hippel, “Fundamentally Wrong,” The Quarterly Review of Biology, 80, 349-350 (July, 2006).
  • David Sepkoski, “Worldviews in Collision: Recent Literature on the Creation–Evolution Divide,” Journal of the History of Biology, 39, 607-635 (2006).
  • Anthony Campbell, Untitled (March 19, 2007).
  • Evelyn Sears, Untitled, (March 8, 2007). Available:

No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe, 1st Books Library, 2001.

                        Free download here.

Reviews of No Sense of Obligation:

  • Michael Cavanaugh, President of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, untitled, 2002, for Amazon.
  • David Eller, Geocities, untitled, 2002.
  • Howard Garcia, “Laugh or Cry,” Skeptical Inquirer, March-April, 2002, pp. 51-52.

Optics and Lasers, Including Fibers and Optical Waveguides, 5th ed., Springer, New York, 2000.

The Technical Writer’s Handbook, University Science Books, Mill Valley, California, 1989.


Besides the 5 books above, I have published around 100 articles, perhaps 70 of them in refereed journals, and many others in conference proceedings and as NIST Technical Notes or Interagency Reports. I am also the main contributor to the influential evolution blog, The Panda’s Thumb, to which I have been contributing since 2004. Some selected publications and presentations follow.

Sarah Wise and Matt Young, “The Unintelligent Design of Your Eye,” paper presented to the Rocky Mountain Optical Society, no date.

The Prism and the Rainbow: A Christian Explains Why Evolution Is Not a Threat, by Joel W Martin (book review), Reports of the National Center for Science Education 31(1), 9.1-9.3 (January-February, 2011).

“Evolution Confers Morality,” paper presented Darwin Week, February 9, 2011, in Old Main at the University of Colorado. A shorter paper was presented to third Colorado Skepticamp, May 9, 2009, at the Tivoli Student Union in Denver. This pdf file includes “The Trolley Problem,” a paper presented to the fifth Colorado Skepticamp, May 7, 2011, at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“Little Black-and-White Lies: The True Story of the Peppered Moth,” paper presented to the Mensa Annual Gathering, Denver, Colorado, July 3, 2008.

Evolution Versus Intelligent Design: Why All the Fuss? The Arguments for Both Sides, by Peter Cook (book review), Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 27, 48-49 (Sept-Dec., 2007).

“Workshop on Teaching Evolution at the University of Colorado,” Sarah Wise and Matt Young, Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 27, 4-6 (May-Aug, 2007).  See also Symposium on Teaching Evolution at the University of Colorado.

“Unbelief among Scientists,” Matt Young and John Lynch, New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, Prometheus, Amherst, N.Y., 2007, pp. 687-690.

“Smart Scientists on Intelligent Thought (If Not Design),” review of Intelligent Thought: Science vs. the Intelligent Design Movement, ed. by John Brockman, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 31, No. 1, Jan/Feb, 2007, pp. 59-60.

“Why (and How) Intelligent Design Fails,” paper presented at the conference, Exploring the Borderlands: 
Science and Religion in the 21st Century, at the Jefferson Center for Religion and Philosophy, August 4-6, 2006, in Ashland, Oregon.

“A Fine Kettle of Moths: How Creationists Have Defiled an Icon of Evolution,” paper presented at the 21st Regional Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science, Boulder, Colorado, April 7 and 8, 2006.

Moonshine: Why the Peppered Moth Remains an Icon of Evolution,” Matt Young and Ian Musgrave, Skeptical Inquirer, March-April, 2005, pp. 23-28.  Preliminary versions at   Talk Design, February, 2004, and Talk Reason, February, 2004 (posted simultaneously).

The Young Antony Flew,” Free Inquiry Web Exclusive, January, 2005.

“Well-designed Book Skewers ID Targets,” review of Unintelligent Design, by Mark Perakh, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 28, No. 4, July/Aug, 2004, pp. 53-55.

“How to Be Religious without Believing in God – and Why,” paper presented at the 49th Star Island Conference, Is Nature Enough? The Thirst for Transcendence, July 27-August 3, 2002, p. 21.

Are Intelligent Designauts Functionally Illiterate?” (response to an unfounded attack by David Berlinski in Commentary magazine, December, 2002, p. 34, footnote 2), in Paul R. Gross, Mark Perakh, Jason Rosenhouse, and Matt Young, “Has Darwin Met His Match in Berlinski?” Talk Reason, December, 2002. Printed in abridged form in “Controversy: Darwinism versus Intelligent Design,” Commentary, March, 2003, pp. 12-13.  See also “Controversy: A Scientific Scandal?” Commentary, July-August, 2003, p. 14.

Grand Designs and Facile Analogies,” Talk Reason, October, 2002.

“How to Find Meaning in Religion without Believing in God,” Free Inquiry, Summer, 2002, pp. 44-46.

How to Evolve Specified Complexity by Natural Means,” revision 1, Pacific Coast Theological Society Journal, 2002. (originally published in Metanexus, February, 2002).  See also my “Note Added” on the PCTS Journal, 2002.

“Intelligent Design Is Neither,” paper presented at the conference Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?  Atlanta, Georgia, November 9-11, 2001.

“The Bible as a Science Text,” three book reviews from Rocky Mountain Skeptic.

“Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe,” Skeptical Inquirer, Sept-Oct, 2001, pp. 57-60.  Reprinted as Chapter 38 of Paul Kurtz, ed., Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? Prometheus, Amherst, New York, 2003, pp. 345-352.

“Imaging Optics,” Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology, 3rd ed., Academic, 2002.

“Two-Dimensional Refracted Near-Field Scanning of Fibers and Waveguides,” Norman Fontaine and Matt Young,
Appl. Opt., 1999.

“Mode-Field Diameter of Single-Mode Optical Fiber by Far-Field Scanning,” Appl.  Opt., 37, 5605-5619, 1998.

“Off-Axis Illumination and Its Relation to Partial Coherence,” Matt Young and Paul Hale, Amer. J. Phys., 63, 1136-1141, 1995.

Proc., Conf. on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements, M. Young and R. J. Cook, eds, IEEE Trans. Instrum. Meas., Vol. 44, Mar 1995.

“Optical Fiber Geometry:  Accurate Measurement of Cladding Diameter,” Matt Young, Paul Hale, and Steven Mechels, J. Res. Natl. Inst. Stand. Technol., 98, 203-216, Mar-Apr 1993.

“The Pinhole Camera,” The Physics Teacher, 648-655; Dec 1989.

“Optical Fiber Index Profiles by the Refracted-Ray Method (Refracted Near-Field Scanning),” Appl. Opt. 20(19): 3415-3421; Oct 1981.


Matt Young was Senior Lecturer in the Departments of Physics and Engineering and then Teaching Professor in the Department of Physics at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, from 1999 to 2017. From 1976 until 1999, he was a Physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, and Chairman of NIST’s Boulder Editorial Review Board.

Dr. Young confesses that he was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1941. He earned a B.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, Institute of Optics. He has been Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo, Assistant Professor of Electrophysics and Electronic Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Associate Professor of Natural Science at Verrazzano College, and Professor Adjoint at the University of Colorado. He also served briefly as Guest Scientist at the General Electric R & D Center; consultant to the New York State Energy Commission, Holobeam Laser, and the law firm Quinn Emanuel; Visiting Scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science; and Technical Editor of the trade magazine Photonics Spectra.

Dr. Young was the first person to study the production and spectroscopy of laser-induced plasmas at the University of Rochester (which later became the home of the Laboratory for Laser Energetics). He continued that research at the University of Waterloo, where he also became interested in holography and coherent imaging. He initiated research into optical fiber measurements at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While at Verrazzano College, he became interested in solar energy. After a year at Verrazzano College, he joined the National Institute of Standards and Technology (which was then known as the National Bureau of Standards) in 1976. While at NIST, he studied optical surface-quality standards and helped to rationalize the scratch-and-dig standard. He then developed standards for optical-fiber index profile, outside diameter, and numerical aperture. His work on optical-fiber diameter led to studies of image processing and linewidth measurement by scanning confocal microscopy.

After leaving NIST and joining the Colorado School of Mines, he became interested in the theory of evolution and developed a mathematical model of Kettlewell’s pioneering work on the peppered moth. At Mines, he taught multidisciplinary engineering laboratory in Engineering; advanced laboratory and senior design in Physics; and Design–Epics.

Dr. Young won the Newton Award for Achievement in the Applied Sciences at the University of Rochester and was elected to Sigma Xi, a scientific research honor society. He has earned a Department of Commerce Silver Medal for his work in optical fiber measurements, a Gold Medal for leading a team that developed a standard of fiber diameter, the Measurement Services Award, and a Denver Federal Executive Board Citation, as well as a handful of NIST Certificates of Appreciation. In 2019, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Who’s Who. He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has served as Associate Editor of the Journal of the Optical Society of America, President of the Rocky Mountain Section of OSA, and Optics Correspondent for the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Dr. Young is the author or co-author of 5 books on varied topics. He is also author or co-author of several NIST Technical Notes and Interagency Reports, and roughly 75 other publications, and was twice Guest Editor of the international Conference on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements. 

Dr. Young is President of Colorado Citizens for Science and the major contributor to the influential evolution blog, The Panda’s Thumb. He works from time to time with the Denver March for Science. Finally, he is a volunteer facilitator with Consumer Reports magazine and a volunteer Victim Advocate with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.


Department of Physics
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO 80401