A few weeks ago I posted a summary of the Coffin Creation Seminar given here in McMinnvill

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A few weeks ago I posted a summary of the Coffin Creation Seminar given here in McMinnville Oregon. A week or two after the seminar I wrote a fairly long letter to the organizer of the seminar here in McMinnville (who was the one responsible for inviting Coffin), where I showed numerous examples where Coffin had misrepresented evolution and oversimplified the issues. The individual I sent the letter to forwarded a copy of my letter on to Harold Coffin, who sent me a letter in response. Both letters were quite long so I won't go into too many details here, but I would like to hear this group's response on a couple of the issues. I also have a request for all you t.o. netters at the end of the post. 1. Dr. Coffin argued that because of the nature of his audience he was forced to simplify the issues in order to not talk over their heads. He claimed that if he had directed his comments at someone of my knowledge he would have lost 99% of his audience. I see two problems with this: a) The problem was not that the issues were simplified for a novice audience, they were instead misrepresented. In other words, in my opinion, the audience was worse off after the seminar than before. Certainly there are ways to present concepts in a simple fashion without distorting them in counterproductive ways. Of course his distortions were not conterproductive to creationism--just counterproductive to science. b) His claim that his simplifications were due to a naive audience sound hollow in light of his profuse compliments at the end of each of the sessions of the seminar. He praised his audience as being a truly exceptional audience who had asked highly perceptive and technical questions. It was truly depressing to sit there and listen to his compliments, because it was clear that he really believed it. If this was a skeptical audience, I can't imagine what an average audience would be like... 2) At one point in my letter (after demonstrating some concepts that he simply got wrong due to poor scholarship) I made a statement something like: "Dr. Coffin contradicts mainstream science in many other areas as well..." To which Coffin responded that it is impossible to be a creationist without contradicting much of what mainstream scientists are claiming (true enough!). But what he went on to say is what bothered me the most. In reference to the fossil record, he said that there is so much controversy in science (due to the as yet unfilled gaps in the fossil record) that evolutionists are not sure which way to go. He made reference to controversies surrounding puntuated equilibrium, gradualism, gaps in the fossil record, the adequacy of natural selection to evolve past certain limits, etc, etc. He says that most scientists, will of course, if backed into a corner, still claim to believe in evolution, but that there is so much confusion and dissarray in the ranks as to call into question the whole field. He claims that to abandon creation now is like "jumping out of a plane just before it is going to land because you are afraid it is going to crash". Now I think that if I hear a claim like this one more time I'm going to puke. This is a standard creationist ploy that has been used for the last 50 years. I certainly have personally heard it for at least 20 years. I'm tired of people taking what is one the best indicators of health in a scientific field, and painting it in such a distorted way as to make it appear that it is a weakness. This argument is a subtle argument based on authority. That is, it is an end run (around the physical evidence), based on the alleged conflicting statements of evolutionary scientists (that is, a claim to their authority--however misrepresented they may be). I think that it is time to counter this argument on its own terms. Do any of you out there have some good references to statements made by scientists that evolution is not in danger of being thrown out? If you do, I would appreciate it if you could send them to me. I would like to put together a simple refutation of this claim. Also, many of you out there are either Ph.D.'s or graduate students in various fields of science, could some of you send me a few sentences describing how you perceive the controversy currently found in evolution science? Please include your degree and university affiliation (if you are an academic). I will put them together with quotations from the references that I already have (and hope to get) from you all, and I will repost it back to the net as a resource for all of you when you encounter the old "evolution is about to fall apart" argument. Thanks for your help, Dan Ford Hewlett-Packard /* Please do not hold my employer responsible for my views or statements, I do not represent my employer, or anyone else, in any official capacity. My comments are my own opinions, nothing more, nothing less. */ P.S. Also, those of you who have collected a lot of creationist material, if you know of statements made in very old creationist publications where this argument is made, could you pass on these references to me. It would be useful to show that creationists have been crying wolf for a long time now. It would help to show that what they call controversy is science in good form, doing what it does best.


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