Date: 060693 (05:25) Number: 7565 To: PATRICK CRAIG Recvd: NO Subj: Theistic Evolution Con

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Date: 06-06-93 (05:25) Number: 7565 From: SCOTT FAUST Refer#: NONE To: PATRICK CRAIG Recvd: NO Subj: Theistic Evolution Conf: (70) E-SCIENCE PATRICK CRAIG to JEFF PHELPS, 03-29-93, re: "Theistic Evolution" > > What puts me on my guard against what you're saying is the > generalities you're speaking regarding what scientists have said > about evolution. You state that "many scientists have abandoned > evolution" without giving more specific evidence. Can you cite > anything that I can read in major scientific journals? It would > be interesting if science is abandoning its beliefs in favor of > Creation, and I for one would like to know about it. Hi, Pat. I am a "heathen" evolutionist, but I hope you don't mind my butting in (if such is possible in replying to a message that is a couple months old!). Speaking as one who is reasonably well read -- for a lay man -- in both scientific literature and antievolution literature (my personal antievolution library contains about 100 volumes), I strongly suspect all your correspondent would be able to cite are secondhand quotes of mainstream scientists from creationist works which misrepresent the quotee's views rather severely in most cases. I'm not quite sure why leaders of the creationist movement so often encourage and foster this widespread delusion among their fundamentalist and evangelical audience that secular science or mainstream scientists are moving away from evolutionary theory (I am pretty certain they know better), but it is merely a myth. =========================================================================== Date: 06-06-93 (05:31) Number: 7566 From: SCOTT FAUST Refer#: NONE To: JEFF PHELPS Recvd: NO Subj: Theistic Evolution 1/2 Conf: (70) E-SCIENCE JEFF PHELPS to PATRICK CRAIG, 04-01-93, re: "Theistic Evolution" > > PC> What puts me on my guard against what you're saying is the > PC> generalities you're speaking regarding what scientists have said > PC> about evolution. You state that "many scientists have abandoned > PC> evolution" without giving more specific evidence. Can you cite > PC> anything that I can read in major scientific journals? > > I get most of my information from Christian based programs on tv > and radio. I'm really not that familiar with scientific journals IOW, your answer to Pat's question is that, no, you cannot cite anything from scientific journals or similar sources in support of your contention. Your sources seem to be much as I suspected (see the preceding message). > but I do suspect that most of them aren't anxious to publicize the > lack of evidence regarding a subject that has been such a pet > peeve for scientists for many years. And, of course, it is also possible that fundamentalists aren't anxious to publicize the weaknesses of the antievolutionary position and the excellent state of health and vigour in which evolutionary theory currently finds itself. You are free to discount my take on the issue, but remember that I have widely consulted literature on both sides of the issue, while you seem to admit above that you have not. > Most scientists don't like to write about being wrong either I > would imagine regardless of the subect. No one does, but if they had a particular aversion to being shown wrong they certainly wouldn't remain scientists very long (or would at least give up any substantial involvement in research or theoretical disciplines.) I don't think you have any idea of how intellectually aggressive scientific debate is, and how critically minded scientists generally are toward the theories offered by their peers. I've gone to both mainstream science conferences and those held by "creation scientists". The contrast is this regard was quite remarkable. Basically the way science works is this... You develop a theory and publish it in a science journal. With that publication you are essentially daring the best experts in [the] world to tear your idea to shreds. There are two ways for an ambitious scientist to make a reputation for himself. One is by originating his own theory, and the other is by disproving someone else's. The latter is usually much easier to do, and indeed most new scientific theories are eventually abandoned or heavily modified. Believe me, if there was -good- and substantial evidence presently available against the general theory of evolution, a number of scientist (other than "creation scientists" who have committed themselves to reaching "biblical" conclusions whatever the scientific evidence may indicate) would have jumped on it by now. The reputation that may be achieved by overturning a theory is proportional to the status and venerability of the theory, and the theory of evolution would be a very juicy target in this respect. > I think that Ben Thomas put his finger on the problem when he said > that most scientists are looking at things from the unsaved > perspective. I doubt that the religious perspectives of scientists -- even evolutionary scientists -- differ markedly from other professionals with comparable amounts of education. The small sample that I have been personally acquainted with bears this out, at least. I don't have anything along the lines of polling data at hand to support this, but I doubt that you do either. > Most simply would like to think that they are the supreme > intelligence in the universe and they don't want to see the truth. The only appropriate response to this claim is one that an old professor of mine found occasion to use on me from time to time: "Gratuitous assertion, gratuitously denied." > If there was concrete evidence of one species changing to another > scientists would make sure we all knew about it but you will never > see it. There is a huge quantity of solid evidence that new species do arise from preexisting species, and that such is presently occurring in nature. In fact, I recently wrote a message on another network that gave just a small quantity of the evidence that I am aware of, and it ran to nearly 300 lines. I also have a text file on speciation (mostly excerpts of messages from the fidonet SCIENCE echo and the Usenet newsgroup) that runs to nearly a thousand lines. Let me know how much of this you want and you will get it. You may get it all anyway. :-) > Carbon dating methods are proven inaccurate (rocks formed from Mt. > St. Helens were dated at thousands of years old) but many claims > of science are still based on it. Carbon dating has not been "proven inaccurate". You clearly do not know what you are talking about here. Carbon dating is not used to date rocks. It can only be used to date things that were once alive, like unfossilized bone or wood. > The fact is that the scientific method disproves much of what the > scientific community believes but they cling to old theories like > their grants depend on it. To the contrary... I doubt that you can find any other field of human knowledge that is as quick to abandon old ideas (for cause) and embrace new ones as science is. > One source of information I have found to be reasonable is Dr. > james Kennedy on The Coral Ridge Ministries programs. No wonder I have such a problem with your positions! Ranking creationists in terms of intellectual honesty, accuracy, and so, Kennedy would definitely fall pretty far towards the bottom of my list. I happen to know that critics of creationism have been trying to get him to correct a number of the more unequivocal errors in his standard presentations with no discernible effect, even when these have concerned relatively minor or secondary issues. (An example would be his claim that _Hesperopithecus_ -- a.k.a. "Nebraska Man", the presumed ape tooth that turned out to belong to a pig -- was used to taunt William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes Trial, when in fact it was never even mentioned there.) I've got a very extensive and eye-opening point by point critique by a zoologist of Kennedy's antievolution arguments as he presented them during a series of appearances on the _John Ankerberg Show_. I would be willing to xerox this and send it to you if you could get me your snail mail address somehow. (I only have hard copy.) > There are many others that I believe look at science with a truly > open mind. Interesting that you should say this. I believe that I am pretty familiar with the creationism movement. -Every- organization that I know of which promotes "creation science" or other strongly anti-evolutionary positions has some kind of "statements of faith" that its members of staff are required to sign, and all of them cover -scientific- conclusions and issues as well as religious ones. I have a textfile that I have written on this subject. It includes the statements of faith of the Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research, with some interesting background information from ICR president Henry Morris' _History of Modern Creationism_. I would be happy to post this along with some of the speciation stuff. > As for transitionary forms, even Steven Gould, the eminant > evolutionist from Harvard says there is a surprising lack of them > and thus punctuated equilubrium is trying to make a comeback. Gould believes that transitional forms are, with only a relatively small number of examples, lacking AT THE SPECIES LEVEL. That is, he holds that we lack good examples of fossil transitions that link very closely related species. But these would be examples that would fall well within what most "scientific creationists" would consider to be acceptable (indeed, -necessary-, to explain the post flood diversification of the mere thousands of animals preserved on Noah's ark) "variation within created kinds". Gould DOES accept that there are good examples of transitional forms between high taxa, like families, orders and classes. Creationists just quote the bits of Gould that can be made to sound good in isolation. > In this theory they elimnate the need for transitional forms and > say new species just suddently appeared. If you will consult the writings of punctuated equilibrists, you will find that "sudden" can mean one thousand, ten thousand, even fifty thousand years. This is well beyond the typical resolution of the geological record, and any events that occur on these time frames will -appear- to be "sudden" or instantaneous. In a few places continuous deposition and other fortuitous circumstances have produced a more finely grained rock record, and in a few of these environments we do have cases of recorded speciation which seem to fit the pattern proposed by the punctuated equilibria model. E.g.: Williamson, P. G. 1981. "Paleontological Documentation of Speciation in Cenozoic Molluscs from Turkana Basin." _Nature_. 293:437-443. > Of course this requires faith. (Sounds like the requirement of a > religion, not a science).. Hardly. You have a reference for a pretty fair geological example of punctuated equilibria right above your quote. Also we have extensive evidence that speciation is in process in nature right now, and many examples fit the punc. eq. model tolerably well. (As promised I will post some of this.) In addition there is little beyond some publicity and hype that is really unique and new about punctuated equilibria. It is little more than the application by a couple of paleontologists (Eldredge and Gould) of the theory of allopatric speciation developed by the systematist Ernst Mayr decades ago. Mayr's allopatric speciation theory is well grounded in sound principles of population genetics and ecology.


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