Creationist misrepresentation of Richard Lewontin I'd like to find out in which creationis

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Creationist misrepresentation of Richard Lewontin I'd like to find out in which creationist publications, if any, an article by Richard Lewontin was first misrepre- sented by creationists. Richard Lewontin wrote an article, "Adaptation," for the September, 1978 _Scientific American_ series on evolution. On page 213 he described the general viewpoint of 19th cen- tury scientists about nature and how they thought the great variety of life forms came about. He said that Darwin had tried to account for both its diversity and fitness: Life forms are more than simply multiple and diverse, however. Organisms fit remarkably well into the external world in which they live. They have mor- phologies, physiologies and behaviors that appear to have been carefully and artfully designed to enable each organism to appropriate the world around it for its own life. Later Lewontin said that organisms only *appear* to have been carefully designed, adding: It was the marvelous fit of organisms to the environ- ment, much more than the great diversity of forms, that was the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer. Darwin realized that if a naturalistic theory of evo- lution was to be successful, it would have to explain the apparent perfection of organisms and not simply their variation. The rest of the article showed that Lewontin considers the viewpoint highlighted in the above quotation as erro- neous, and that it has been corrected by the work of Darwin and his successors in the 20th century. In fact, the arti- cle is devoted entirely to demonstrating how the adaptation of an organism to its environment can be explained by natu- ral, not supernatural, mechanisms. The abstract for the article was quite clear: "The manifest fit between organisms and their environment is a major outcome of evolution." Some creationists apparently took Lewontin's statements about 19th century views and made it appear as if Lewontin himself shared those views. They claimed Lewontin said something like "organisms appear to have been carefully and artfully designed," and that he views them as "the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer." Lewontin specifically complained about this in the 1983 book _Scientists Confront Creationism_ by Laurie R. Godfrey, W. W. Norton & Co., New York, page xxiv, "Introduction": Partly through honest confusion, but also partly through a conscious attempt to confuse others, cre- ationists have muddled the disputes about evolutionary theory with the accepted fact of evolution to claim that even scientists call evolution into question. By melding our knowledge of what has happened in evolu- tion with our doubts about how this has happened into a single "theory of evolution," creationists hope to challenge evolution with evolutionists' own words. Sometimes creationists plunge more deeply into dishon- esty by taking statements of evolutionists out of con- text to make them say the opposite of what was intended. For example, when, in an article on adapta- tion, I described the outmoded nineteenth-century belief that the perfection of creation was the best evidence of a creator, this description was taken into creationist literature as evidence for my own rejec- tion of evolution. Such deliberate misuse of the lit- erature of evolutionary biology, and the transparent subterfuge of passing off the Old Testament myth of creation as if it were creation "science" rather than the belief of a particular religion, has convinced most evolutionists that creationism is nothing but an ill-willed attempt to suppress truth in the interest of propping up a failing institution. But such a view badly oversimplifies the situation and misses the deep social and political roots of creationism. This misrepresentation of Lewontin appeared in the 1982 book by Francis Hitching, _The Neck of the Giraffe_, (page 84 hardcover; page 65 paperback). Hitching is not a creation- ist, and Lewontin's complaint leads me to think that a cre- ationist first misrepresented Lewontin -- Hitching just lifted the passage. It is known that much of Hitching's material was borrowed from creationists without attribution. Later creationist writings in turn borrow heavily from Hitching, often without attribution. Does anyone know in which creationist publications, if any, Lewontin's _Scientific American_ article was first mis- represented? I intend to collate material like this and post an arti- cle about creationists plagiarizing each other. Alan Feuerbacher ===================================================================== I don't know if it's the first, but it's earlier than the Hitching example you cited. Lewontin points out that the same passage of his article was misrepresented in "a recent issue of _Acts & Facts_," page two, in John R. Cole's "Misquoted Scientists Respond" (_Creation/ Evolution_, Fall 1981, p. 35). I think Lewontin possibly means _Impact_, since he says the misrepresentation is by Gary Parker and mentions "page four of Parker's paper." > I intend to collate material like this and post an arti- >cle about creationists plagiarizing each other. I look forward to seeing this. Jim Lippard Lippard@CCIT.ARIZONA.EDU Dept. of Philosophy Lippard@ARIZVMS.BITNET University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721


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