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
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
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 talk.origins 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
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
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
> 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
Williamson, P. G. 1981. "Paleontological Documentation of
Speciation in Cenozoic Molluscs from Turkana Basin."
> 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