Volume 1, Number 2 April 1985 A publication for the members of SOR We have so much to repo

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Volume 1, Number 2 April 1985 A publication for the members of SOR We have so much to report this time, I don't know if we can squeeze it all on to four pages. First, as you will notice, we have finished our second reading list which you will find enclosed. If you need a few more of these to pass out to friends and skeptics, let us know and we will be happy to send them to you. Our thanks to Peter Gordon for doing the leg work to pull this reading list together. One of the more surprising papers on this list is Tom Bethell's "Agnostic Evolutionists, The taxonomic case against Darwin," in the February 1985 Harper's. Why is it surprising? Let me quote what the evolutionists said about it in the last newsletter of the Committee of Correspondence, "The normally respectable Harper's has an atrocious anti-evolution article...Because Harper's is so respectable, the piece could give a great deal of aid and comfort to the creationists." We feel this paper is so significant that we wrote to Harper's and got permission to copy the paper. If you would like a copy just indicate so on the enclosed envelope and we will be glad to send you the article at no charge. Unix and CompuServe For those of you who like to communicate at electronic speed, you might be interested in two computer networks that are carrying creation/evolution dialogues among users. The Unix operating system is found on many university and research computers which are all tied together in a network. A forum known as "net.origins" was started by SOR member Paul Debuc. Our Branch Chapter President at University of Illinois, A. Ray Miller, has also been a frequent contributor. In fact he has "field tested" some SOR brochures he is working on by submitting the text to the network and asking for response. There seems to be a good representation of both creationists and evolutionists on the network. Lane Lester informed me just this week that a similar forum has developed on CompuServe which is accessible from anyone's home computer. The action has been occurring in the Science Education Forum (G EDU13) under the Biology Data Library (DL 4). A DIR command will give a directory of text files. The BRO command allows you to "browse" abstracts and keywords, and an R lets you read the entry once you find one you like. When I signed on last night, I found out that Lane had been hashing out the definition of speciation with a neurobiologist. If you have a home computer and modem, then get down to your local computer store and sign up for CompuServe. What an opportunity to communicate directly with science educators around the country. NABT Members Sent SOR Book Catalog We recently rented a portion of the mailing list of the National Association of Biology Teachers and mailed them our new book catalog. Over 1,100 catalogs were sent out and we are just now beginning to receive orders. It's still to early to tell if the mailing will be profitable in a financial sense of the word, but it does look like we are reaching our goal of placing creationist books in the public schools. Four of the first five replies were purchase orders from schools. Finances Last time I reported that our finances were unusually low for the time of year. Well, now they are depressingly low. We have about $1,000 in bills that we are unable to pay at the moment and we need another $1,000 to publish the next issue of Origins Research. As a result we have imposed a spending freeze and decided to cut the next issue of the newsletter back from 16 pages to 8 pages. Part of the problem is that we had to convert a lot of our cash to inventory to get ready for the NABT mailing. In studying our 1984 finances it appears that not as many people are supporting SOR on a regular monthly basis as were before. We passed the hat at the last staff meeting, to pay some pressing bills, but I don't want to do that too often or nobody will show up at the meetings anymore! Our long range plan is to increase SOR membership, but in the short term special donations or monthly support would help get the next newsletter printed on time. We are committed to running SOR on a cash basis and do not plan on borrowing money to keep operating. It is not our desire to make this bulletin a heart throbbing plea for funds every issue, but we do have a real need at the moment in order to continue publishing. Since we have a large supply of Wysong's book The Creation/Evolution Controversy in stock, we would be happy to send a copy to any member who can donate $10 or more at this time. Even if you have a copy, its an excellent book to give to a friend or college student. Be sure to indicate on the enclosed envelope that you would like a copy of the book. On the brighter side, one of our long time needs was recently met when a Savin 755 Copier was donated to SOR. However, it has been in storage for several years and we will not be able to put it into service until we are back in the black and have some funds to have it serviced. - Dennis Wagner, Executive Director Notes From Peter Gordon Recent work from England. In the 21 Feb 1985 number of New Scientist, p. 44, under the heading, "Another case for creation- ism," our readers will find a short but interesting review by P. T. Saunders, of the new book, Adam and Evolution, by Michael Pitman (Hutchinson, 268 pp.). Saunders, who is a mathematical biologist and evolutionist at Queen Elizabeth College in London, was impressed by a number of Pitman's arguments. He writes, for instance, that "Darwin worried about the origin of the eye; Pitman adds the problem of the origin of cytochrome c. And he (Pitman) shows how very flimsy indeed is the neo-Darwinist explanation of macroevolution." But Saunders is unimpressed, and is rather dismissive, of Pitman's "chief aim," the proposal of creation as an alterna- tive. Saunders argues (now, where have we heard this before) that a refutation of Neo-Darwinism is not the same thing as a refutation of evolution itself, that robust entity (you know, IT'S A FACT, etc., case dismissed). Well, anyway, I agree, at least insofar as there are other theories of "the mechanism," including Saunder's own theory, awaiting their turn with the evidence. Is it entirely unreasonable for creationists to ask, however, that THE FACT be held lightly, lightly enough, in fact, to allow creation a place with the other theories? Perhaps Saunders will (maybe soon?) be open to this possibility. (I'm not so sure about Michael Ruse, who writes in Darwinism Defended, p. 58, "Evolution is a fact, fact, FACT! I do not want to appear dogmatic or to overstate the case here!" OK, Mike. Catch your breath.) Recent work from Austria. Alfred Locker, a scientist with the Institute for Theoretical Physics, at the Technical Univer- sity of Vienna, has written a long and interesting paper, "Evolu- tion and 'evolution'-theory in systems-and meta-theoretical respect," Acta Biotheoretica, vol. 32: 227-264, 1983. Here are some excerpts for the abstract: In a critical survey, based on systems-theoretical and meta-theoretical considerations, principal objections against usual "evolution"-theory are raised, abounding the result, that this widely accepted theory is scientifically questionable...Because of the inevitability to definitely discard (evolutionary theory) in its usual form, the problem of an alternative to it emerges. It is suggested that this alternative cannot be found within the context of "Galilean science," but rather needs to be trans-scientific (i.e., meta-theoretical), taking the inherent complementarity of any approach towards nature into account. There is just one problem with this paper; it's auf Deutsch. (The abstract is in English.) I am currently translating the paper, and hope to complete the translation later this spring, but anyone able to plow through some fairly heavy academic German is encouraged to take a look at the paper. Those same readers with some German are also encouraged to take a look at a book edited by Alfred Locker, Evolution-kritisch gesehen (Evolution in a Critical Light), Salzburg, Universitats-verlag Anton Puster, 1983, 179 pp. Eight essays and a epilogue provide a critical discussion of evolution, in which (according to the review in Acta Biotheoretica, vol. 33: p. 141 1984) "Evolution is viewed from different angles, including philosophy, biochemistry, paleontology, and genetics. The standpoint of the authors varies from complete rejection of the evolutionary theory, to a synthet- ic view in which Lamarckism and neo-Darwinism are regarded as complementary." Recent work from Italy. Any reader who has wandered onto the pages of Rivista di Biologia in the past four years will have encountered articles such as the following: "Life as a non- historical reality," by Giuseppe Sermonti (vol. 73, no. 4, pp. 551-569, 1980). Sermonti is a geneticist and Professor at the Institute of Histology and Embryology, University of Perugia. He writes that his view "opposes the evolutionary view according to which life as a general phenomenon is a progressive process," and that his "eventual conclusion" is "that a stationary (steady- state) view accounts better for the observed facts than an evolutionary (historical) view. The problem of origins is outside the domain of our understanding from the scientific point of view." (p. 560). A year later, the same journal carried the notes of a debate between Sermonti and a zoologist, P. Omodeo, held on February 2, 1981. Sermonti's remarks included the following: According to evolutionism, life starts from a condition of extreme simplicity, the minimal elementary life, and through a mutation process a large Variability arises. Natural selection, working on this variability, determines Complexity and the Variability of living beings is the result of the huge amount of information, potentially contained in life...How can complexity have appeared at the beginning? this is a great question which I cannot answer. Again I wish to quote from Jacob: "The really creative part in biochemistry must have occurred very early..." This is not far from stating that life began with complexity. (Rivista di Biologia, vol. 74, p. 396, 1981) I do not have space here to cover all the articles of great interest which have appeared recently in Rivista di Biologia, but to my American eyes the freedom of discussion in this journal is astonishing. There will be more to follow on Sermonti and his collaborators. Meanwhile, (to paraphrase Shakespeare), get thee to a library... - Peter Gordon


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