|Comment:||I thought you may find this artilce interesting. The author claims that there is no genetic evidence for evolution. I would like to read your response to it. If you have time of course.|
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
is entirely misleading. The point of
the piece of research the writer refers to is that the
rate of change in genes and molecules produced by genes
(the "molecular clock")is not a steady and constant rate.
This is important, because it was hoped that we could date
the times different groups of organisms split from each
other by measuring the amount of molecular change.
Unfortunatel, like many other aspects of evolution, it
occurs at many different rates. So we have problems dating
when splits occurred. We had this before the molecular
clock idea was first introduced.
But no genetic evidence for evolution? Hardly. This is like saying that because trees do not grow at a constant rate we canot use tree rings to ascertain that trees grow. There is enormous evidence for evolution, but not for the "neutral theory" that the rate of neutral molecular evolution is constant.
As always, anti-evolutionists are jumping on anything that seems to present a problem - any problem - for evolution and claim that therefore there is something wrong with all evolution. But scientific theories have unsolved puzzles, limitations and problems. That's science. Evolution is not in trouble because one minor hypothesis that was hoped to be useful in dating evolution turns out to be wrong, or of limited use. In fact, the mere fact that the hypothesis was tested and shown to be wrong is evidence that evolution is good science. But anti-evolutionists won't admit that, of course.
|Comment:||Have you heard of Kent Hovind? He is offering $25,000 for any evidence that proves evolution "beond resonable doubt". His web site is www.drdino.com.|
|Response:||We're well aware of Kent Hovind; he's one of the wackier creationists of whom we keep track. His site is found on our Other Links area, as is The Wild, Wild World of Kent Hovind. His bogus $250,000 challenge is discussed there.|
|Comment:||I am very interested in carnivorous plants, such as the Venus Flytrap and pitcher plant, but have not been able to find any information on how it is thought that these plants evolved. I understand that with no hard parts to be fossilized, the fossil record on them is pretty much nonexistent, but are there some hypotheses? I have been racking my brain for how the Venus Flytrap might have evolved, but haven't come up with much.|
|Response:||I will admit
that I do not know much about the Venus flytrap, though it
is a fascinating plant. After poking around on the Web for
a bit, however, I came across the International
Carnivorous Plant Society, which discusses the VFT and
many other carnivorous plants. It turns out that there are
almost 600 species of carnivorous plants, spread across
several different orders of plants. Evidently,
carnivorous plants have evolved several different times,
and exhibit numerous behaviors for catching insects and
other small creatures.
The evolution of these amazing plants is discussed in When Plants Kill . Essentially, conditions are right for carnivory to evolve in peat bogs and other similar locations with nitrogen- and phosphorus-poor soil. Carnivorous plants obtain their nitrogen and phosphorus from the insects they catch.
The "trap-type" carnivorous plants (like the VFT) evolved from plants with hairy leaves that are good at retaining moisture. An insect that landed on a hairy-leaf plant could suffocate in the retained water and drown, allowing it to be broken down by bacteria on the leaf. Some non-carnivorous plants exhibit this behavior as well. Over time, plants with more cup-shaped leaves and plants that exuded muscilage (glue) would be more successful at capturing insects than those without.
Here are some good carnivorous plant links:
|Comment:||Q4 bothered me very much. Your question was "If evolution is true, then isn't the whole Bible wrong?" Your answer was no, and your argument was "If the story of the prodigal son did not really happen, then is the whole Bible wrong?" This is an ignorant question because the story of the prodigal son was never said to be true. This story is located in Luke 15:11, and it very clearly defines it as "The Parable of the Lost Son," key word being "Parable," which is defined by the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, as "a short allegorical story designed to convey a truth or a moral lesson." The Bible never says that the prodigal son story is true, but the truth of creation is just that- the truth. This is never once called a parable of a story- or a theory- it is a truth, and it is that simple.|
|Response:||The story of
the prodigal son is not explicitly identified as a parable,
nor is it explicitly stated as being historical (a better
word than "true" for this discussion). The same holds for
the creation accounts in the bible.
I think the point being made in our FAQ is that one approach (with which you disagree, to be sure) is to regard the creation accounts as a-historical, and told for reasons other than historical details, just like the account of the prodigal son. That is, the choice is not between "evolution true, whole bible wrong" and "evolution false, whole bible right".
There are plenty of other possibilities.
You represent one possible view. "Evolution true, whole bible wrong" represents another view. "Evolution true, and biblical creation accounts not historical" is yet another view. The stark dichotomy you set up is not actually a good guide to the range of views that thoughtful people may have on these matters.
There is ample reason in the text of the bible itself for being skeptical of the notion that the first three chapters of Genesis were written with the intent of being plain accounts of historical events. This is especially true in Genesis 2 and 3. The generic names for the two humans, the case of God letting Adam name all the animals while searching a partner, but then making a special creation of Eve; the taking snake; the tree of life; the tree of knowledge; the angel and flaming sword; God walking in a garden looking for Adam and Eve, etc, etc.
This could be hardly more obviously metaphorical if lit up in neon letters with warnings: "symbolic language used here". But the writer of Genesis, just like Jesus, did not trouble to set up such neon signs. The allusions and general applicability are quite plain here, as also in the prodigal Son.
The first chapter of Genesis is not quite so blatant in the various allegories; but here too, a student of Babylonian cosmology may discern clear echos of Babylonian creation themes, but expressed to emphasize the great contrast with Babylonian cosmology: which is monotheism. The first chapter of Genesis uses a creation account to express the Hebrew revelation of one great God, in contrast to the squabbling pantheon of deities involved in, for example, the Enuma Elish.
I do not mean to insist that you have to accept this particular insight into Genesis. But I think you should recognize that these kinds of alternatives do exist, and are taken very seriously by many Christians and scholars of the bible. Thus, as the FAQ points out, accepting the scientific case for evolution does not imply a conflict between science and the bible, nor does it mean that the bible must be "false".
It does mean that the first three chapters of Genesis are not plain history; and the example of the prodigal son shows that this is not the same as being false.
I must say.
Quick question. Back in the 1960's there was one or several experiments that resulted in the start of life from non-living matter. If one of you can remember the study or published article, can I get the name?
|Response:||You may be
thinking of the Miller-Urey experiments in the 1950s, that
did not show life arising per se, but showed that a number
of organic compounds--the building blocks of life--could
arise spontaneously under the conditions thought to be
present on the early Earth.
A good discussion of somewhat current thinking on the beginnings of terrestrial life can be found at The American Scientist.
|Comment:||I have been studying the creation V's Evolution argument. One thing i thought of is if evolution is true, we must always be in a constant change. Humans can be classified as Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Primata-Hominidae-Homo Sapien. If we are always in a constant change are there any defing things that makes us humans. Possibley thinking with the Neo Cortex area of the brain. Is their anything that makes us really human or are we just part of the great chain of being.|
|Author of:||Evolution and Philosophy|
|Response:||It is true
that evolution means that organisms are not always clearly
defined or distinct from each other. Our neo-cortex is just
a bigger version of the generic ape neo-cortex; no special
cells or anything. But there is one thing that defines us
as human - being born of human parents. If there are cases
where it is not entirely clear, as in the early hominids,
that is expected. But we should not take the names of
classifications as evidence of anything except how we chose
to divide things up.
The "great chain of being" is one of the more pernicious ideas that undercuts a Darwinian understanding. There is no such thing. Humans are part of the living world, but there's no in-built rank from simple to complex.
love your site:) [...] I am in a debate on a different
board about evolution vs. creationisim and I have been
asked a series of questions that I honestly do not know how
to answer, or at least I cannot find them adressed on your
site so far... Here they are.
"1. Explain how irreversibly complex systems evolve.
2. Explain how legs can turn to wings without a time where the apendages are good as neither.
3. Explain how evolved species find compatible mates.
4. Explain how sea dwelling creatures evolve land dwelling lungs, and back again.
5. Explain how species survived before they'd evolved the biological processes necessary for survival, like spiders and their webs.
6. Explain how we survived while our stomachs developed, and we former sea dwelling organisms evolved to consume land food.
7. Explain why hoaxes that were uncovered by scientists decades ago still show up in text books as fact.(They are referring to the Piltdown Man here, they claimed that this was still being taught in schools...)
Any help would be very appreciated. Thx, Zach
|Author of:||Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution|
Presumably, the questioner means irreducible complexity.
Irreducible complexity is when a working system can't be
built by adding integral parts to a smaller working system
without changing the function. Since evolution is not
limited to adding integral parts or keeping functions
unchanged, irreducible complexity is not a problem in the
least. In particular, evolution can duplicate entire sets
of genes (and seems to do so frequently, according to
genetic data). Deletions and changes in one of the sets of
genes can then produce irreducible complexity.
2. When was there ever a time when leg and/or wing appendages were good as neither? A proto-wing can work perfectly well as both a leg and a gliding surface. In fact, there are some frogs today which use their feet for gliding. And bats still use their wings as legs, albeit not too gracefully.
3. Evolution is usually slow enough so that the changes aren't large enough in any generation to prevent mating. Remember, all humans have several mutations which don't appear in their parents, but those small changes don't prevent them from mating. Other species are little different. In some cases with plants, a mutation can be large enough to prevent mating with its neighbors; the plants which speciate in this way mate with themselves.
4. I don't know enough about the subject to answer how lungs first evolved. However, when land animals went back into the sea, the lungs remained lungs; they didn't change back.
5. Species which survived always had biological processes necessary for survival. Some of them then gradually acquired additional biological processes that let them flourish in new niches. Before spiders had webs, they used their legs, senses, and mouthparts to hunt, just as thousands of spider species do today.
6. Animals without stomachs absorb nutrients through their external body surface. Some animals with stomachs evert their stomach to turn it into an external surface that can digest what they push up against. I don't see any meaningful distinction by which to define land food (any food on land can fall into water), so the second half of the question appears moot.
7. I don't believe the premise. References, please.
When are we likely to be able to read the feedback post June? One of my chief delights was to read the posts and the answers to them, but since early July, there has been nothing new. Are you just too busy?
The archive has had some problems recently. An intermittent error in the feedback software has caused us to lose the feedback information from July and August. The feedback system was taken down for a while, so we have no feedback from September. I am backing up the feedback periodically so that even if the problem reappears, we will not lose many feedback items.
As you probably already know, this web site works on volunteer effort. Brett Vickers, the site maintainer from 1995 to this year, has become too busy, so now some other interested volunteers are helping to update and improve the site. Watch the What's New page for new articles and updates to old articles.
Brett created the look-and-feel of this archive and single-handedly performed the basic site maintenance for six years. We're splitting this administrative load over several other volunteers now. It's a big job, but please be assured that there are many people putting in significant time to help make sure that this web site continues to grow and improve.
|Comment:||I am a computer scientist and I was wondering if you could refer me to any scientific articles written by computer scientists supporting the evolutionists belief that information can originate without an intelligent source. From my own searching, I have not been able to find any such articles.|
Hmmm. Maybe the author of the following was not a "computer scientist", but I think that he is widely regarded as having some clue about information theory:
I think the e-text is online somewhere.
Shannon distinguished between "information" and "meaning". Many of the cases that Shannon discussed involved random symbol sources.
I've found that lit searches that fail to turn up results often do so because one does not have the right keyword. Try searching for "logical depth". That will likely turn up the articles that you have been missing in the recent literature.
befitting true science one would like to believe that the
bias shown by the majority of modern scientists is really
about facts discovered using scientific methods and not
about morality. In fact it is the suspicion of a moral
agenda more than an inability or unwillingness to believe
that Genesis 1 could be a symbolic sketch that makes most
Christians I know flatly reject the claims of the old earth
clan. If you can ever get to understanding why you'll be a
long way closer to unalienating 90 percent of the world's
population. That would be the 90 percent that believe in
Larry A. Cornell
|Response:||You don't know a lot of Christians, then. The overwhelming majority of Christian denominations, both in the United States and abroad, flatly reject the idea that Genesis is (or was ever intended to be) a literal description of the origins of the Earth and life on Earth.|
just a question. Is it true that your most recent "post of
the month" was in December 1999? I would hope that we might
be more current. Am I doing something wrong as I work my
way thru the site?
I'm trying to contact Adam Marczyk, the current "Post of the Month" selection person. Once that happens, we'll be updating the files. Please bear with us as we adjust our site maintenance procedures.
|Comment:||Is Atheism rational? What is the Basis for Atheism? Where do athiests find a basis for rationality, morality, the value of Human life, the family? How could an Atheist find meaning in a meaningless universe? Rationality in an irrational world? A basis for human value in a material existence? Where does an atheist find Purpose in a random existence? Where do Atheists find a basis for morality, when they must assume that thier own sense of justice is ultimate? Has Atheism delivered our Society from depression, anxiety, stress, addiction to entertainment, drug and alcohol abuse and ultimately suicide? Is Atheism rational?|
|Response:||This is the wrong place to be asking these questions. You want an atheism discussion group. The contributors to this web site are a diverse group of people, with many religious backgrounds.|
|Response:||For instance, you might try examining the Web site of the American Atheists.|
I hate to point out a flaw in your usually explemplary website, but a section in the "Are Mutations Harmful?" FAQ is 'bugging' me (ouch, sorry about the pun):
Regarding peppered moths, Richard Harter writes,
Footnote 5 continues:
...citing Wells' article at trueorigins, talkorigins' arch-nemesis!
(It's spelled JONATHAN, BTW)
Now, it is laudable to cite one's opponents if they do indeed succeed in making a legitimate point. However, my sense of it is that Wells has succeeded only in taking the mistakes of some scientists (namely Jerry Coyne's misguided review of Majerus' Melanism: Evolution in Action in Nature) and then further exaggerating the plight of the moth story via the usual tactics of selective quotation and condemnatory allusion.
Fortunately the footnote cites the alternative view posted (if I recall correctly) by Donald Frack on the Calvin listserv. Based on the helpful discussion there, I read Majerus' book, the review of the book Coyne (upon which Wells built his case), and subsequent commentary by the moth experts on the situation. My points follow:
1) Here is Jerry Coyne (Nature) review:
...and I can confirm Frack's opinion that there is very little relation between Coyne's review of Majerus and the actual chapters of Majerus' book. For example, Coyne says in his review:
...but, Coyne completely fails to mention that in the very next paragraph of Majerus' book, Majerus cites his own data on the natural resting places of moths -- some 47 moths -- not alot, but far more than two. This alone, in an article in Nature, furgoodnesssakes, is sufficient reason to discount Coyne's review (let alone Wells' further exaggerations of the issue). Of the 47 moths, Majerus found:
6 on exposed trunks 6 on unexposed trunks 20 on trunk/branch joints 15 in branches
...which indicates that, in fact, some 68% of the available natural sample actually does rest on trunk of some sort, contra Coyne and Wells. It is hard to see how Coyne missed this dataset, as Majerus also mentions it in the first lines of his preface (he's been collecting for his whole career -- peppered moths are not easy to find, because, well, they're camoflagued, which is the whole point).
(Frack lists the numbers here: Peppered Moths - round 2 (part 1 of 2) )
Now, sure, it may be that the moths rest in branches as well as trunks, and the relative proportions are somewhat debatable given the limited dataset (although, the much more extensive 'moths found near traps' data of Majerus has at least comparable proportions, which would suggest that the near-traps data is at least somewhat representative as well -- some 136 out of 156 moths were found on trunks of some sort, and 48/156 on exposed trunks in this case, although the attraction of the traps doubtlessly biases this data somewhat). And even if you ignore the data and imagine that moths are found entirely in tree branches, as Wells implies, well, lichens and birds (being known flying creatures) are also often found in tree branches, so it seems that the bird predation hypothesis at least remains quite reasonable.
I suspect that either Coyne was just having an off-day when he wrote the review, or he was influenced by Sargent et al.'s review hypothesizing other causes (but apparently without any supporting evidence, unlike the selective-predation-by-birds hypothesis) and by his 'higher goal', namely communicating his concluding point: "We must stop pretending that we understand the course of natural selection as soon as we have calculated the relative fitness of different traits."
...which may be true in other cases, but almost certainly not in the case of peppered moths. I've read several recent scientific articles by actual professional entomologists, and none of them seem to think that the natural-selection-by-differential-bird-predation hypothesis is anything like the "peppered myth" that Wells asserts.
Numerous additional points could be made about Wells' scholarship (see: Icons of Anti-Evolution and the thread on the ARN design forum which references Frack's critiques of Wells, here: Topic: Wells not incompetent on peppered moths ). The whole thing is really deserving of a very long FAQ, given the multitude of creationist and ID webpages trumpeting the death of the peppered moth. [After this page was originally posted, Nic wrote the first of this Archive's Icons of Evolution FAQs. See it for more details.] Frack says:
And Majerus himself (who replied to Frack) confirms:
Anyhow, hopefully you'll print this letter, or get Donald Frack's permission to repost his discussion on your website, or get a FAQ up on this topic. At the very least, perhaps you can reference several recent publications from Actual Moth Researchers which defend the essential elements of the peppered moth 'story' -- namely, that differential bird predation (and migration) are the primary factors accounting for the rise and fall of the melanic form of the peppered moth over the past 150 years. Here those are:
Grant, Bruce S. 1999. Fine tuning the peppered moth paradigm. Evolution 53: 980-984.
(a brief treatment of Grant's work: Back and Forth, and Back Again: Biologist makes an unprecedented discovery about one of the most noted examples of evolution in nature.)
And a specific recent review defending the conclusion that differential bird predation is the selective force that is acting on moths:
Cook, L. M. 2000. Changing views on peppered moths. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 69: 431-441.
This last article is not about how moth researchers are ditching the conventional view of peppered moths; it is *about* the odd fact that 'conventional wisdom' on the peppered moths has been changing in the public and even with scientists like Coyne, despite the fact that the actual researchers like Grant, Majerus, and Cook, do not think that any radical change is necessary.
...and some quotes:
...which just about does Wells in, IMO. The essential points of the classical peppered moth story remain firm. Keep it in the textbooks.
Thanks, Nic Tamzek
PS: While I'm at it, the FAQ "Bombardier Beetles and the Argument of Design" has the line "Creationists have argued for an appearance of design in everything from bacteria cilia to butterfly metamorphosis." I suspect that "bacterial flagella" was meant.
OK, I'm done. Those are literally the only two corrections I could find, so now you're clean :-) . Seriously, keep up the good work.
|From:||I know I know - I don't believe...|
|Comment:||One thing that to my mind shows a lot about how people think about evolution, science and the like is this sentence "I do/do not BELIEVE in evolution" - well, evolution, like maths, chemistry and that apple falling down from that famous tree is NOT something to believe in - it is something, that within certain boundaries of uncertainity was, is and will be observed, tested and proven to the best possible extent (if the researcher is doing his or her job right) and therefore there's nothing to believe about it, it is something that we know. Saying things like "I believe" about facts like things falling to the ground because of an effect we know as gravity implies that one can never, ever know something - well, if you believe that, what makes you so sure you're not absolutely wrong? Do you know you can walk, breathe, talk? Or do you just believe you can? Come on, get real! Of course you know - just like we know evolution occurs.|
|Comment:||How much controversy is there surrounding the Kennedy assasination? And that was only 38 yrs ago. So is anybody really going to say what happened thousands of years ago? I'm a born again and I can't say what I don't know but I can say what I do know. I believe in the God of the Bible with as much certainty as I believe that Kennedy is dead.|
in much the same position. We can't know everything about
the past, but there are some things which we do know.
There is no controversy at all that Kennedy was assasinated. There is, however, some controversy over who did the deed.
Similarly: there is no controversy that evolution has occurred. There is, however, controversy over some evolutionary relationships.
|Comment:||G/day: Re evolution. Certain orchids mimic the shape and smell of female wasps. So convincingly that males attempt to mate with these orchids and in doing so polinate the same orchids."Clever"? of these orchids to work this out and it had to work the very first time. Of course that is nonsense because if this clever orchid took years to measure these male wasps and grow the flower to suit - it would be too late and they would be extinct.Yet they are not extinct are they!!! Bob|
|Author of:||Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution|
the mimicry did NOT have to work the first time. Many
orchids attract pollinators by scent. If one of these had a
variant which additionally attracted just a small number of
pollinators by it appearance, that variant would survive
more, and so would in time dominate that species of orchid.
In future generations, variants which looked more and more
like the female wasp (or whatever appearance was favored by
selection) would likewise come to predominate. Before too
long, you would see convincing wasp-mimic orchids.
If this scenario is true, we should expect to see "transitional forms" of mimics which look somewhat like what they mimic but are not convincing. In fact, nature is rife with them.
|Comment:||Can you tell
me who the first person was to suggest that indeed the
earth was round? My kids keep insisting it was Columbus,
but methinks that is incorrect...
No, but the earliest measurement I've found of the diameter of a round earth is somewhere around 130 BCE by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus. The round earth hypothesis obviously predates that.
|Comment:||I don't understand why even though evolution has been proving incorrect in many different ways, you people still accept it as the truth.|
has not been proved incorrect; just the opposite. As time
passes and evidence accumulates, the basics of evolution
have only been confirmed. There have been many developments
to refine evolutionary theory over the years; this is also
true for any other active area of science. None of the
refinements call into any question the fundamental fact the
life has evolved and diverged into many forms over long
periods of time.
Creationists do claim that evolution is preved incorrect in many ways; but these claims are invariably nonsensical, and have no impact at all in the scientific arena. However, the claims are widely circulated in the general public, and part of the aim of this site is to address those claims. If you know of any particular "proof of incorrectness", you will probably find it addressed somewhere here.
"Introduction to Evolutionary Biology" page, Chris Colby
repeats an error that has been exposed for several
years...but word doesn't seem to have gotten around. As he
writes, "Mistakes even filter into biology journals and
texts". Then, half-way through the article, he repeats the
old story of Lamarck vs. Darwin, hinging on the neck of the
Chris: PLEASE read Stephen Jay Gould's "The Tallest Tale", found in his collection Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms, and printed in Gould's column in Natural History Magazine (in 1996, I think).
Also check out this article: "The Imaginary Lamarck: A Look at Bogus "History" in Schoolbooks" by Michael T. Ghiselin.
And then, please, correct what you have written.
I had read Gould's article when it first came out, then forgot about it until I repeated the giraffe story to my students (I teach a 100-level botany course at a state college). I was being observed by another professor that day, who was aware of Gould's historical research, and he reminded me of what I should have remembered. Guess I shouldn't be too embarrassed, since, as Gould points out, every single high school and college text repeats this same old misleading tale. It would be good to change that, though, as well as to ferret out any other nonsense from our science texts.
This doesn't have much directly to do with the "Evolution/Creation Controversy", except perhaps for giving the creationists some ammunition, but it should remind us that even the best sources are not infallible....
|Response:||I have not
read the Gould piece in question for a while and cannot see
it now, but your point is absolutely correct, as is the
Ghiselin point in the site you refer to.
A side note: I believe that most of the misconceptions about Lamarck's theory derive from the second volume of Lyell's Principles of Geology which Darwin received in 1832 and which stimulated his thinking on transmutation. In that volume the giraffe story is used as an illustration, I think. From Lyell, who got much of his information from Cuvier's Eloge or funeral oration for Lamarck, Darwin and others gained a misunderstanding of the real value and nature of Lamarck's ideas.
It is my feeling that Lamarck has been demonised for errors he didn't make, for errors he shared with Darwin, and by ignoring some ideas of real value. However, it remains the case that Darwin's theory (or theories) stand the test of time where Lamarck's do not.
In 1901, a neo-Lamarckian by the name of Alphaeus Packard cleared up many of these misconceptions, but he was ignored, and Darwinism was revived some decade or so later. The recent work on Lamarck has rehabilitated him to some degree, but still the myths persist. Such is the nature of myths, I am afraid.
We are revising the site now, and will clarify the errors that have been drawn to our attention as we do.
Hull, David L. "Lamarck among the Anglos." In Introduction to Reprinted Edition of J. B. Lamarck’s Zoological Philosophy: An Exposition with Regard to the Natural History of Animals. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1984.
Jordanova, L. J. Lamarck, Past Masters. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.
Packard, Alpheus. Lamarck, the Founder of Evolution: His Life and Work. New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1901.
|Comment:||I read an article about many creationists that you claim to have gotten degree's from degree mills and such. But Charles Darwin, didn't he only have a degree in divinity?|
Charles Darwin didn't even finish his divinity degree. He
studied medicine initially at Edinburgh University, then on
to Christ's College at Cambridge for divinity studies,
which he interrupted to take the job of naturalist aboard
the Beagle. I think you're misinterpreting the argument
being made by the FAQs on falsified and/or worthless
credentials. No one is taking the position that one must
have credentials in order to take a credible position on
any subject or to be taken seriously. Indeed, the only ones
who seem to think that credentials are necessary are the
Kent Hovinds and Carl Baughs of the world, who feel the
need to present themselves as credentialed scientists
without having done the work and study necessary to get a
legitimate degree. Darwin did not go around calling himself
Dr. Charles Darwin in order to give his ideas some
transparent credibility. He would have made himself look
rather foolish by doing so, and it would not have made his
ideas any more or less compelling than they already were.
A degree does not confer infallibility upon anyone. Even Nobel Prize winners must still present their ideas to their colleagues and go through peer review, and sometimes they are flat wrong. On the other side of the coin is the fact that many great scientists have had very productive and influential careers without having finished college. An excellent example would be Jack Horner, the curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies and an adjunct professor of biology and geology at Montana State University. He does not hold a formal degree from any college, but he is nonetheless one of the most prominent and respected experts on dinosaurs. His work on dinosaur nesting practices and social structures was enormously influential in shaping the modern views of dinosaurs. In short, his prominent place in the paleontology community is justified by the quality of his work, not by whether he has a degree or not.
The issue with the false or inflated credentials is not the false claim that one must have a degree in order to be taken seriously. The issue is one of honesty. By presenting themselves as "Dr" Kent Hovind or "Dr" Carl Baugh, they are attempting to give themselves a shallow sort of credibility that their ideas do not give them on their own.