Review of Chapter 8...
From: email@example.com (Robert Derrick)
.. of Richard Thompson's _Mechanistic and Nonmechanistic Science_
Chapter 8, "The Doctrine of Evolution", argues that the Science of
Evolution has never been successful in providing a reasonable basis
for a natural explanation of the origin of species. It uses several
tactics, most of them distressingly familiar.
Briefly, we have the gaps in the fossil record, the argument from
amazing design, the hopeful monster as scientific desperation, and the
argument from negative theology. The only new idea, to me, at least,
is an argument that claims that there are displaced fossils of "higher
plants" that contradicts the claimed order of evolution theory.
If they are true, they would through some serious doubt on the descent
claimed for flowering plants. I will cover this one first, and invite
all comments. I will then cover the rest of the items briefly in future
Thompson starts out with some statements to the effect that there is
none of the continuity in the fossil record that is claimed by Evolution.
I think that he is referring mainly to the large scale characteristics,
as opposed to intra-species changes. "Even such important general pattern
as the basic vertebrate body plan are seen to appear suddenly in the
fossil record without recognizable antecedents." [p.187] He then
goes on to talk about the sudden appearance of angiosperms in the
fossils during the Albian and Cenomanian Epochs (about 100 mya).
During this period of 12 million years, the number of families of
angiosperms goes from 0 to 50. He says that this seems to be "'punctuated
equilibrium' with a vengeance." [p. 188] He says that many paleontologists
believe that the angiosperms evolved in relative isolation in some as
yet unknown place for many millions of years, and then proliferated
throughout the world sometime in the late Cretaceous. Thompson quotes
Daniel Axelrod (from _The Evolution of Flowering Plants_) suggestion
that the evolution of flowering plants took place in highlands, which
are not represented in very old fossil beds due to severe erosion
effects. Thompson takes umbrage at this suggestion. He says, "it is
completely unscientific for paleontologists to try to save the theory of
evolution by maintaining that they evolved there. If this procedure is
allowed, then the theory of evolution becomes unfalsifiable.... Such
vacuous proposals can explain anything, but for this very reason they have no
place in a scientific account of this world." [p.190] Ironically, later
on Thompson will claim that the realm of science needs to be expanded to
include Vedic beliefs as principles and theories! How such claims as the
existence of the jivatma (the Vedic "soul") are to be made falsifiable
is not presented.
Next, Thompson drops his coup de theatre - "what would [paleontologists] say
about evidence for the existence of flowering plants...two billion years
ago? ... Yet there is evidence that flowering plants may have existed
during this time [the Pre-Cambrian]." [p.191] He then quotes "Nature"
as claiming that angiosperm pollen has been found in rock dated to ages
of 2,090 mya and 1,710 mya.* He also cites an Axelrod paper ["Evolution of
the Psilophyte Paleoflora," pp. 264-275, journal of "Evolution", 1959 (I
don't have a vol.#/month)] that mentions claims that spores and wood
fragments were found from the Cambrian Period. Apparently, Axelrod
has some theories that run (or ran; how long ago was Axelrod's last
contribution to the field?) counter to other more popular theories.
Is anybody familiar with him?
Thompson concludes this section with the claim that the fossil record
is used to support "unverifiable hypotheses", and that there are "cases
where evidence conflicting with established evolutionary scenarios seems to
have been ignored, or even suppressed." [p.192] Now where have we heard
This constitutes Thompson's entire argument against Evolution proper.
*I see that I made a fatal mistake by not copying the bibliography, so
my citations are more than a little lacking. Perhaps we can persuade
KD to provide the complete citations. If he/she/it/they feels that
biblio ref's also require Author Perm's, then I will try to get back
to the Library for the missing pieces.
Axelrod, _The Evolution of Flowering Plants_ (presumable a book)
and Axelrod, "Evolution of the Psilophyte Paleoflora" from the
journal "Evolution" sometime in 1959.
and several "Nature" citations, corresponding to notes 15, 16 and 17 of
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