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The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Feedback for January 1997

Listed below are some of the letters received from readers of the Talk.Origins Archive in the month of January 1997.

Due to the sheer volume of letters the archive is receiving lately, only a fraction of them can be reproduced here. Please note, however, that just because a letter wasn't published doesn't mean that it wasn't read. All comments are greatly appreciated.

I'm reading "Godless Linguistics!", Post of the Month for December 1996. I'm confused as to how excluding the teaching of Babel has anything to do with kids committing crimes and violence in our society today. I must have missed a flight somewhere in the text. A more blaspheming theme in this article is the mention of God. If one is not literate in the history of languages and civilivations, such mention completely avoided. We do not need anymore blasphemy in the Christian community. Just stick to facts as presented in the Bible. If it's not there don't add anything to it. There is nothing wrong with languages evolving to what they are today. Crimes and violence certainly have their roots, but language evolution is not one of them.

Response from :

That particular article is a parody of creationist articles which blame evolution for the moral failures of society. Parodies of creationist articles are a long standing tradition in the newsgroups. Quite often they are composed with the objective of getting gullible evolutionists to take them seriously and respond indignantly. Successful parodies are awarded Loki points (named after the Norse trickster god) in the home game - a long standing joke originated by Chris Colby, Dean of the fictional University of Ediacara. Regular contributors to aren't always stuffy and serious.

I have read your definition of evolution. What I can't understand is how you can equate the changes that happened to the pepper moth with evolution. The moth did not undergo any changes that would changed it into a different species. It merely "ADAPTED" (microevolution) to its surroundings. Surely you recognize the difference between adaptation and evolution! I would also like to know why you chose to ignore the two quite independent processes of evolution that are known to man. Microevolution (ie. the pepper moth or those changes that take place within a species such as dogs) and macroevolution of which there can be no obervable changes because the large amounts of time that you (and other evolutionists) ascribe to it.

Response from :

The definition if evolution serves two purposes; it helps to distinguish evolutionary change from non-evolutionary change, and it defines the minimum characteristics of evolution.

The case of the pepper moth illustrates a change in the frequencies of alleles where the "black" allele increased relative to the "white" allele. By definition, this is an example of evolution. Now, the question is "how did this change occur?". The evidence suggests that the change was due to natural selection or adaptation. Thus, in this case, it is evolution by natural selection. One could have evolution by other mechanisms, such as genetic drift. As you correctly point out, it is important to distinguish between evolution and adaptation. The latter is simly one of the ways in which evolution can occur and that's why the definition of evolution does not include any mention of possible mechanisms. There are many evolutionary biologists who are interested in macroevolution. All of them accept the fact that macroevolution occurred because the evidence overwhelmingly supports this fact. However, there is considerable debate over the mechanism of macroevolution. Some agree with you that there are different mechanims that can't be explained by cumulative microevolution while others reject this notion. The scientific debate is not over whether macroevolution happens but how it happens. I realize that you probably question the fact that macroevolution occurs but this is outside the realm of science. We certainly aren't ignoring this important area of evolutionary biology. The evidence for macroevolutionary changes can be found in many of the FAQ's.

"If you wish to deposit the entire column during the deluge, you will need explanations for... 2) why there are plenty of surface features smack in the middle of 'flood deposits.'"
- Chris Stassen in Responses to Young Earth Arguments.

Many evolutionists suppose believers in the flood postulate rain for a long time -- a middle ages concept of the flood. However, if we examine such things as the Laetoli prints, it becomes obvious there was volcanic activity. Given volcanic ash, etc. the existance of surface features does not disprove the flood. Perhaps other data, in connection with that would disprove it. Maybe the flood is indeed a myth. Maybe it's not. After all, it's hard to get a myth into hundreds of different cultures, the world around.

I've read some of these stories personally, and you can tell they evolved from a common ancestor. It's obvious. There are so many homologous genes between them that it defies any explanation but evolution from one common source. In fact, it would be interesting for someone to compare the proteins and DNA between the different stories and find out if the story that first ventured out of the "warm little flood" can be found near Mt. Ararat, and then various things, such as the founder effect, the bottleneck effect, and other evolutionary processes did the rest, and created the 6 million species of flood stories we find today.

dabid en hellhnisti

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "The Age of the Earth":

My criticism was not intended to cover all variants of the Flood. There may well be creationists who do not require that the entire Earth be covered with water in the recent past. The critique does not apply to those who do not hold that belief.

However, I would bet that the majority of the so-called "creation scientists" (including Walter Brown, whose arguments I was addressing in the portion of the FAQ which you quoted), believe that essentially all fossil-bearing strata were laid down in a single year-long event during which the entire surface of the Earth was covered with water. Check out the "Earth Science" and "Hydroplate" sections of Walter Brown's web site to get a flavor of his position.

Do you have stories about creationists becoming evolutionists? I have heard many the story of an astrologer or astronomer studying his/her field and originally being atheistic then becoming a "religious" person. Or about a scientist who was evolutionist and turning creationist. I've never heard about a creationist becoming an evolutionist though.

Response from :

Funny you should ask. Many examples of people "switching teams" in both directions could be cited. Here's an example of what you ask for from another respondent:

Thank you for having this resource readily available. I was a creationist myself up until I began my education in Biology At Seattle Pacific University (B.S. Biology, Environmental Studies, 1993). It was this education where I realized my unfounded belief in the literal creation was not necessary to maintaining my faith in Christ, in fact my understanding of evolution has given me a renewed sense of awe in the creator himself. It is time for Christians to let go of creationism if we are to reveal Christ to the world in a logical fashion that is acceptable to them. If we embrace beliefs that have no foundation in evidence and truth we will not be able to build bridges to those who do not believe.

So, as you can see, it happens both ways.

Is it a correct assumption that mainstream evolutionists would not attribute any uniqueness or unusual significance to homo sapiens as a species? Given the theory of common descent and natural selection, I find it hard to see how any unusual significance could be assigned. If this is the position, do evolutionists reject any claim to objective morality which transcends individual perceptions? If not, I would like to understand how evolutionists avoid total relativism in ethics and morality. If they accept objective morality, where does it come from? Thank you for your extremely educational website!!

Response from , author of "Creation Science and the Earth's Magnetic Field":

And so I take it upon myself to speak for Evolutionists everywhere! :) The question implies an all-encompassing belief in "evolutionism", which is simply not the case for anyone I know, myself included. There is no answer, or rather, there are as many answers as there are evolutionists. The biological theory of evolution is rigorously neutral on questions of morality, or whether or not humankind is "special" in some way; these are questions for the individual to answer in their own way.

Note the question asked: do evolutionists reject any claim to objective morality which transcends individual perceptions? The question implies a presumption that "evolutionists" are necessarily atheists, which is certainly not the case. Evolutionists can be, and are, church-going members (or the equivalent thereof) in every religion on Earth. Those are certainly not moral relativists.

I am myself an unrepentant atheist. I do not know from whence the human sense of morality springs. But, I suspect that its roots are buried in the complex mentality shared by all humans, which those of a more religious mind might call the Human Spirit. I do not accept moral relativism, but I do believe that tolerance should be extended to its maximum practical limits. Curiously, I get along just fine not knowing the answer, and I rather enjoy the experience of trying to find out what it is (with no guarantee of success).

Response from :

It is correct that, in evolutionary terms, homo sapiens is just another large mammal. The only significance that species has is that the theorists and researcher doing the evolutionary biology are of that species. That, and the enormous ecological impact that species is having, without parallel in the history of life, so far as I know.

However, this fact of biology is not, in my own opinion, relevant to the question of the foundations of morality. To illustrate this, consider the heliocentric model of the solar system. During the Ptolemaic period of astronomy, the super-lunary sphere (the region of the universe beyond the moon) was considered to be perfect and without irregularity. This region was the source of all ideal standards. Once the Copernican view took hold, many felt that the source of morality was destroyed and sought for a better foundation, leading to the Humean, and then Kantian, view that morality was not based on matters of fact, but of what Kant called the Categorical Imperative. In the last years of the 19th century, this was recast as the "Naturalistic Fallacy" - the denial that the Good was based on any natural property or states, such as, in this case, the origins of behaviour. Views bearing the misnomer "social Darwinism" were in fact based on the somewhat overoptimistic philosophies of progress like those of Herbert Spencer. These made natural selection into a moral principle, but this is not what Darwin intended for it, and in fact is the result of an older tradition, going back to Adam Smith and his successors, and Malthus. Evolutionists do not have a single position about the source, justification or foundation of morality. What unifies evolutionists is a model of the origins of biological diversity. Some have provided historical hypotheses about certain sorts of cultural behavior being based on biological traits - this is called either sociobiology or evolutionary psychology depending on how far one thinks biology constrains behaviour. However, this in no way either licences a particular morality or provides a firm view of the nature of moral systems in general. It is all about behaviour, while moral philosophy is about justification. The problem of moral relativism lies in the fact of many different and apparently functional moral systems. How can one choose rationally between them, and how can one revise one's inherited system to be more consistent and worthy? This is not the result of evolutionary biological science, but of the wider scope of our experience of human ways of living. My personal answer, not binding on anyone else, is that moral talk is of a different kind to factual and explanatory talk and although it must rely on states of factual affairs that are true not false, any single factual description of reality permits an infinite number of moral systems. Therefore I choose to work with the one I have inherited, revising it to my best ability. As philosopher Hilary Putnam once wrote: "I should use someone else's system?" Biology will neither solve the universal problem of moral relativism, nor impose it upon you. I hope this helps.

I was blow away by Graham Hancock's theories presented in "Fingerprints of the Gods." Until today I had been keeping my eyes open for evidence which dove-tailed into his theories and never ONCE thought of looking for evidence which may refute 'em. I'll still keep my eyes open, but thanks for being a voice of reason and showing me how narrow and prejudice my thinking skills had become. This is a "Demon-Haunted World" [Carl Sagan] and I better begin brushing up on my "Art of Baloney Detection". You did an excellent job of revealing the holes in his bold, earth-shaking theories. Perhaps he can uncover further evidence which would better support his views. One thing he cannot do is let your rebuttal go unchallenged.

In looking for information for a school research paper I looked through the archives. I was disapointed to find that much of what was kept here was very one-sided in favor of Evolution. Although I wanted very much to hear the Evolutionist point of view, I also wanted to hear from the Creationist. Under the topic Creationism I found that most of the articles dealt with why CREATIONISM is wrong. Under Evolution: why EVOLUTION is right. Under debates: how to DEBATE a creationist (although there were some transcripts from debates between Evolutionist and Creationist.) Perhaps I have made an error in this criticism, and there truly is a place where the Creationist side is given. If so, feel free to correct me and point me in the correct direction. I also wanted to say that even though I was disapointed with what I didn't find, I did find some useful information. Thanks for listening.

Response from :

Dear Mr Milligan, I am glad you found the archives, and hope that you found them useful. As regards your concern that the opinions of Creationists are not fully represented, you might have missed our "Links" page. If you set your browser to: /origins/other-links/creationism.html You will see a reasonably comprehensive set of links to many sites maintained by anti-evolutionists, some Creationist and some not. In truth, there is no way we could really speak for Creationists, and if we tried they would certainly consider at least some of our summaries or characterisations to be unfair. Instead, we have chosen to put in links to their pages, so that they can speak for themselves. People who see our arguments can then see the arguments of the other side without any filtering or bias on our part. This is clearly the fairest way to deal with dissenting opinion. You may also note that our list of suggested books includes several titles by Creationist writers. I only wish that those who maintained anti-evolution WWW sites would be more attentive to including links to the pages: it seems to me that the best thing for all concerned is to make sure that everyone has the chance to see all the arguments.

I read with interest your article wherein you make a rather shallow case for bad design. The question came to mind. Given that all things are not perfect they still work and perform in mindboggling fashion. what have the authors designed and produced that that work so perfectly that give them credentials to be creditable authorities? I would like an example of just one design and working model of something even remotely as efficient as simulated sex by lizards to promote and continue the species. The best minds we have cannot even cure most of the diseases that ravage our human population much less create something as complex as a living organism.

Response from :

Thank you for your feedback to the archive.

I reject your implied claim that one needs to be able to design a system from scratch in order to criticize the design of that system. For example, I own a Toyota Corolla wagon. Where the hatchback closes, there is a little ridge that in my Canadian climate collects rain, snow, and ice. The result is that the hatch is impossible to open for three months of the year. Is that good design? I feel comfortable in saying that it is not, even though I do not have the expertise to design a car from scratch. Similarly, living organisms contain many features that can legitimately be criticized as poor design. For example, the blind spot in the human eye; the kludgy arrangement of ligaments that support the human knee; and the proximity in the human female of the urinary tract and reproductive organs. These and similar examples are very difficult to explain if one assumes living beings are the result of an omnipotent creator, but very easy to explain if one understands modern organisms as the descendants of earlier organisms, subject to evolution and evolutionary trade-offs between different survival strategies. A good book that discusses these issues in more detail is Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker.

I can see no rational explanation for the phenomenom of life other than what I understand to be the 'theory of evolution'. One question I have, however, concerns the mechanism of natural selection. Has anyone quantified the necessary number of generations required to effect changes in an organism against the evidence in the fossil record? For example it seems to me that there are very substantial differences between modern man and Homo Erectus which must have occured in say 80,000 generations (2 million years?). Are there mathematical/genetic models that explain this? i.e. How could these homonids be selected for so many different features in what seems to be such a short period of time? How big a change can a mutation make in the next generation and how fast can it be transmitted through the population etc.?

Response from :

The rate of evolutionary change depends on a number of factors, including environmental changes and spontaneous change in the gene pool. In some cases evolutionary change has taken place rapidly, and other cases certain creatures have survived with very little change for millions of years.

There is no universal formula to predict the number of generations necessary to go from one species to another.

I would like to make a comment on the Gish and Plimer debate about Gish' 17 year old pamphlet. Gish wrote that book 17 years ago and of course things are going to change between now and then. You can still buy Darwins Origin of Species book and there are many mistakes in it. So, I think to base a whole arguement on something that was written 17 years ago was a waste of time and by no means won the arguement. I think it only showed how little Plimer had to debate with and had to result in trying to insult Gish. To me it only showed how ignorant Plimer really is and I think he was slammed by Dr. Gish

Response from the editor:

While the reader is correct to note that Darwin's Origin of Species contains several statements that were later shown to be untrue, the book remains important because of the indelible mark it has placed on history and science. Just as physics has moved beyond Newton's Principia, so too has biology moved beyond Darwin's Origin. The Origin continues to be published because it is one of the few great works of science that have profoundly changed the way we view our world. It strains credibility to make the same argument about Duane Gish's cartoonish pamphlet "Are you being brainwashed?". Gish was rightly derided for continuing to disseminate information that he knew to be false. In general, many creationists have difficulty admitting to error. See Scientific Creationism and Error and Lucy's Knee Joint: a case study in creationists' willingness to admit their errors.

The evolution vs. creation debate is a very old one that is full ignorances on BOTH SIDES (dogma is found in science as well as religion). The THEORY of evolution is only a scientific theory as is creationism and neither have been disproved. Science is merely observation of the universe wich surrounds us and can only be sure about observed events that can be reprodused in a laboratory setting (sometimes it cannot be sure of that). Since the begging of the universe was not observed by human eyes and cannot be reproduced then science can never prove how the universe began.

I don't know what events in your life have caused you to be so prejediced against creationism but the attitude that you have toward creationism is very unscientific. It is in no way helping anyone the only thing it is doing is to promote more argument and strife in our world.


Response from

Dear Mr Davis:

As with many items in our feedback collection, yours could open up many avenues of discussion. I will focus on two of them, and hope you will not feel shortchanged in any way.

The first point concerns "facts" and "theories". You may be familiar with the "germ theory of disease" -- our modern medical notions that some kinds of illness are caused by microorganisms which have infected a victim's body. This too is properly referred to as a theory. What's more, nobody has ever actually SEEN a cold virus float through the air and be breathed in and infect someone. But virtually everyone accepts the germ theory of disease as a proven fact, because there are many kinds of secondary evidence (common symptoms among those infected with similar microorganisms, healing in those treated with agents that kill the microorganisms), and there are verified predictions (such as the successful creation of vaccines -- the theory says that if we can cause the body to be prepared for certain organisms, it will be able to fight them off and the treated patients will not get sick).

Another point on theories concerns knowing the past. In our modern court systems, we accept physical evidence as sufficient to determine what happened in the past, even to the point of executing human beings when the evidence is overwhelming. People can be, and are, given the death penalty without any eyewitness testimony against them: if the accumulated physical evidence can only be explained in one reasonable way, then we accept that this is enough to convict a person of a crime.

When the authors of FAQ files refer to evolution as a known fact, they are speaking in the spirit of the "germ theory of disease", and in the spirit that we can know a man is guilty of a crime because of the evidence collected at the scene. So far as we can determine, the only reasonable way to explain the mountains of data collected by naturalists over the last few centuries is with the view of earth history which has become mainstream in the scientific community: Earth is very old, species evolve and go extinct, and species which we now consider different share common ancestors. We have tried, with varying success, to present the evidence here clearly, and to include sufficient links to anti-evolutionists so that anyone can see the issues and evaluate the arguments themselves.

The second point from your comment that I wanted to address was why this is so important. There are several reasons: many who accept the mainstream scientific view of earth history are Christians, and therefore have a strong interest in all topics which might help shed light on the Bible. Among Christians, most denominations (including the largest and oldest of them) generally agree that Genesis need not be a literal statement of facts, but could be a parable designed to teach us about our relation to God. Others insist that Genesis must be literally interpreted. In such an environment, it seems to me that the best course of action is to collect all the data we can, from whatever sources, to help weed out the incorrect interpretations from the correct ones. Sometimes this can be done with Bible atlases, with Hebrew or Greek dictionaries, by archaeologists digging in Bible lands to find clues which may be left behind -- and by geologists, astronomers, and others in the natural sciences. Others are interested because of direct effects on themselves: there are stories of science teacher being threatened and attacked because they taught biology and included evolution in the course.

Most of us on are, as you note, hostile toward Creationists. But it is not a "prejudice", which means to pre-judge -- it is a response to long experience with so-called "Creation Scientists". If you look through the feedback column, you can find people making false claims about moon dust; if you read for any length of time, you can see people -- who are claiming to march under the banner of Jesus Christ -- make claims they cannot support and then become belligerent when challenged for facts. You will see Christians call other Christians "Satanic Liars" (along with some things I would not feel comfortable typing in). You will see Christians pretending to be experts in areas where they don't know even the basics, and then covering up when they are caught.

It may be unfair to some Creationists when they are lumped in with those who are so impolite and unreasonable -- but the impolite and unreasonable ones seem to be in the majority. For every halfway decent Creationist book I have read, there are dozens of bad ones. The Creationists need to do a lot of housecleaning before they can claim that their reputation is the result of "prejudice".

I just started reading your article and noticed what you said about a theory having to be falsifiable and must predict. This goes along with what I have been studying in the University of Toronto, in my Psychology class. However, I don't think that what you said about evolution is correct. Evolution does not predict anymore than the Bible does (at least in reference to "future" adaptions of men). You stated that evolution predicts how populations will change. I agree. But this is not a prediction of evolution, it is just the study of animal and plant populations. To be able to say that evolution predicts, it should be able to tell or at least make a reasonable guess at what the next evolved form of life should be.

Response from :

I don't think that there are very many evolutionary biologists who would claim to predict the future course of evolution. The problem is that so much of evolution relies on chance events such as whether a particular mutation arises of wheher a particular allele will become fixed in a population.

However, there are some cases that can be studied in the laboratory. An understanding of evolutionary mechanisms allows one to predict that bacterial species will develop resitsance to drugs, for example. The real cases of prediction have to do with the history of evolution on this planet. If our ideas about the mechanims of evolution are correct then we predict that certain transitional fossils will be found or that the sequences of genes will support our hypothesis. In such cases the results that are found turn out to overwhelmingly favor evolution as the best explanation. Think about it this way. Detectives at the scene of Nicole Brown's murder have discovered bloody footprints that could only be made by someone wearing Bruno Magli shoes. If O.J. Simpson committed the murder then one predicts that he owns a pair of these shoes. When we discover that he did own such shoes it tends to support our hypothesis that he is the murderer. There is no prediction about the future involved here either.

Since finding the TO Archive, I know a lot more than I knew before. But so far, I have been unable to find something I am exceedingly curious about. The ICR claims there are thousands of scientists who believe in creationism. I suspect their claim is inflated by inclusion of large numbers of high school teachers who hardly qualify as scientists. While some working scientists do not have PhD's, nearly all do. Do you have any estimate of the number of bone fide PhD scientists in America who believe in creation? If so, what proportion of the total number of scientists is this? Is there any estimate as to the number who work in the fields of geology and biology?

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "The Age of the Earth":

I am not aware of any comprehensive surveys of Ph.D. scientists. However, I am reasonably certain that the claimed figures are not inflated by inclusion of public-school teachers. In a recent survey (Eve and Dunn, 1990), about one quarter of high-school biology teachers agreed with a recent (less than ten thousand years) Divine creation of humanity. Had school teachers been included, the figure would probably have been in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands.

I'd guess that the ICR's claim refers to the membership of the Creation Research Society (since ICR does not have membership of their own). CRS requires both a graduate degree in science and signing of a "statement of faith" in creationism, for voting members. Supposedly CRS has on order of a thousand voting members. The number of "Ph.D. creationists" is almost certainly in the thousands... though that figure is heavily dependent on the fields of study included, as well as exactly what is meant by "creationist."

There are probably a great many Ph.D.s (any field of study) who believe that God is ultimately responsible for our existence (very inclusive definition of "creationism"). On the other hand, there are probably only a handful of Ph.D. geologists (limited field of study) who are young-Earthers (strict definition of "creationism" per ICR's own "Tenets"). Numbers (1992, pp. 229-232,273-282) details the problems creationists encountered in either attracting or cultivating a qualified geologist.


  • Eve, Raymond A., and Dana Dunn, 1990. "Psychic Powers, Astrology, and Creationism in the Classroom" in The American Biology Teacher 52, issue 1, pp. 10-21.
  • Numbers, Ronald L., 1992. The Creationists. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-40104-0.

"Nebraska Man was not a fraud, but an honest mistake." I saw that in one of your pages. The author was trying to expose Ian Taylor. I would reply by saying that it was certainly just as unscientific as any fraud for people to print out pictures in school books, paid for by tax money, of "Nabraska man". I heard they even had his wife with him in the picture. If that is not an exercise in mental gymnastics, then I don't know what it is. Obviously, they had him looking as apelike as possible --I saw one of the pictures personally.

dabid en hellhnisti

Response from Jim Foley, author of "Fossil Hominids: Creationist Arguments: Nebraska Man":

I know of no evidence that pictures of Nebraska Man ever appeared in any school books, and I strongly doubt that it happened. Speculative drawings are not dishonest so long as they are presented as such. The drawing of Nebraska Man that appeared in the Illustrated London News had a caption that clearly stated that nothing was known about the form of Nebraska Man, and that the drawing was entirely imaginative. The authors were thus entirely honest, which is more than can be said for Ian Taylor's claims about the affair.

I fail to see why including a picture of his wife is "mental gymnastics". Are you suggesting that it would have been more scientific to assume that that Nebraska Man reproduced asexually?

I'm trying to find the E-mail address of Dr. Hugh Ross. Also, I was wondering what kind of Bible (Publisher) you use. The description of Creation has a lot of stuff packed into a few chapters. A small variation of wording might not be significant grammatically, but could be when describing laws of physics comming into reality. Or, maybe I just want to be picky about the Bible I use. I appreciate any help and enjoy your here very much.

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "The Age of the Earth":

An hour of research did not turn up an E-mail address for Dr. Hugh Ross himself, but you can send E-mail to his Reasons to Believe organization at If you send something there marked for Dr. Ross, it will probably reach him eventually.

Recommending a Bible is a bit like recommending a car -- nearly every one is good enough to get you from here to there, but the "best" match is largely determined by the buyer's needs. I'd recommend that you check out some of these links:

Personally, I am somewhat partial to Zondervan's The NIV Study Bible, but I also refer frequently to several other translations.

This is one of the most intriguing site I have found. I am interested in a discussion of the differences in evolutionary theory between Dawkins and Gould. I read somewhere that Dawkins theories are now in the mainstream while Gould (and Eldridge) are on the periphery. Is Dawkins' theory that the gene is the unit of evolution totally accepted in the evolutionary community? I know that puncutated equilibrium is still controversial but are the stuff that G&E have written about speciation and the role of chance in evolution considered out of the mainstream too? I'm not a professional biologist but I've read a bit in the evolutionary field (Gould, Eldridge, Calvin, Dawkins, Dennett and assorted other works). I'd appreciate it if someone would discuss these questions with me or direct me to where it is being discussed.

Response from :

This isn't an easy question to answer. There are many aspects of evolutionary theory that are contentious and it isn't always the case that Dawkins and Gould are on opposite sides.

The main difference between Dawkins and Gould is over the importance of natural selection as a mechanism of evolution. Dawkins tends to place great emphasis on selection and adaptation - so much so that he and his supporters are often referred to as "adaptionists". Gould points out that chance, in the form of contingency and random genetic drift, are very important features of the historical record of evolution. It's difficult to say where the "mainstream" is on this important issue. Most evolutionary biologists are probably less adaptionist than Dawkins but still don't accept the worldview of Gould. The situation is different when it comes to selfish genes. There don't seem to be very many evolutionary biologists who go along with Dawkins on this one. Most see the individual organisms as the unit of selection although they appreciate the insight that Dawkins' view has provided. It's important to recognize that the idea of selfish genes is intimately connected to natural selection as a mechanism. After all, the term "selfish" implies selection. Anti-adaptionists point out that the Dawkins' worldview over-emphasizes the role of natural selection and selfish genes are part of this "incorrect" version of evolution. However, even some adaptionist types object to the emphasis on genes as the unit of selection. Punctuated equilibria is not nearly as contoversial as you might imagine. Most evolutionary biologists now accept that the fossil record shows periods of stasis and rapid change. There is some disagreement over what causes this pattern and how important it is but these are relatively minor points. When it comes to speciation events there is a lot of heated debate. Eldredge (but not Gould) favors models of evolution that work on populations leading to speciation. These postulated models cannot be explained by the simple "selection acting on genes" ideas of Dawkins. There is still much we have to learn before we can decide whether "group selection" or "species selection" is a reasonable mechanism of evolution. A simple way to describe the controversy is to imagine a distinction between macroevoution and microevolution. Dawkins believes that all of evolution can be explained by cumulative small changes (microevolution) whereas others believe that macroevolution, or speciation, involves other mechanisms. It's difficult to find a book that does a good job of presenting both sides of these many issues. I suggest "Reinventing Darwin" by Niles Eldredge. He, of course, tends to favor his own ideas but at least you will find some criticism of Dawkins and the other "Ultra-Darwinians". It seems to me that Dawkins and Dennet do a very poor job of presenting their opponents' point of view.

"What makes the formula even more indefensible is that it contradicts a literal reading of the Old Testament since it forces the Exodus to have occurred no earlier than 346 A.D." (from Bob Day's debate with Ian Taylor). What two-year-old wrote that? Or was it just a mistake? Anyone's dog ought to know that the last OT books were written a hundred to 4 hundred years before Christ, with some very liberal scholars nearer the later date, and conservative scholars at the earlier date. 346 A.D. was three hundred + years after Christ(more or less). How on earth could the O.T. have said that the Exodus happened around 346 A.D. when it wasn't written then? Probably the reference was to 346 B.C., but what proof was given that the O.T. said that? What verses can I look up?

dabid en hellhnisti

Response from Chris Stassen, author of "The Age of the Earth":

The referenced quotation is not an error, typographical or otherwise. I recommend folks check out Rob's statement in its original context. I thought it to be reasonably clear, though some familiarity with the population growth argument is assumed.

Rob was saying that Ian Taylor's "population growth" graph does not reach sufficient population to account for the Exodus (Moses' census of 600,000 Israelites reported in Num 1:46) until after 300 A.D. Thus, Rob claimed, Taylor's own young-Earth argument contradicts the Bible. This is just one of a very large number of problems with the "population growth" argument. See my age-of-the-Earth debate with Bob Bales for more examples.

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