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29 Jun 99 0:07
Steve Quarrella
Rick Gordon

Hi, Rick...

RG>> So what do you call the attempts to create life from non-living
RG>> matter?

Scientific curiosity and inquiry.

RG>> How do they relate to evolution?

They don't. You're confusing biogenesis with evolution.

Let me give an example, from my own training as a linguist:

I can take you back to the Middle Ages, oh, 'round the 1100s CE, and show you a language in the Iberian Peninsula that looks a hell of a lot like Latin, and a hell of a lot like what we call "Spanish" in 1999. I can go backwards and demonstrate to you with certainty that this language, which we'll call "Old Spanish," evolved from Classical Latin, over a period of several hundred years (nobody woke up one morning, saying "Yo soy" instead of "Ego sum"), and over a period of a few more hundred years, that language became Modern Spanish. Sure, you'll be able to point out some inconsistencies with the language's evolution, such as the unknown origin of -y for the first person singular of DAR, SER, IR, and ESTAR (doy, soy, voy, estoy), or why something like Latin "teneo" didn't become *tio instead of the "tengo" that we use today. I'll be the first to say "I don't know," and I expect that other professional linguists will, too, but those little inconsistencies do not destroy the _fact_ that, in the Iberian Peninsula, a former Roman territory (where Latin was spoken) that we now call "Spain," Latin evolved into Spanish. Furthermore, I can show you an entire corpus of Latin literature and writings to back up the Spanish language's origins. Anybody who would deny this language evolution is denying the facts.

Still with me?

I can now take you back to the British Isles to, oh, let's say the late 700s CE, and show you the first written evidence for the Anglo Saxon language, which would later evolve into what you and I call "English." This language bears very little resemblance, superficially, to Modern English, but it, too, demonstrably evolved over time. I can show you an entire corpus of English literature and other documents, ranging from Beowulf to Chaucer to Shakespeare to CNN in order to demonstrate this evolution. The problem here is that, unlike the Romance languages, I don't have a written mother tongue to pull out of my back pocket to show you. I can only compare and contrast structural, morphological, phonological, and other characteristics between Anglo Saxon ("Old English") and other Germanic languages, like Icelandic, Yiddish, Frisian, Gothic, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, etc., in order to speculate what that mother tongue looked like (We call it "Proto-Germanic," BTW). This science is called "philology," and as you may guess, it is open to self-correction and change as new evidence comes to light. That correction and adoption of new ideas about the evolution of the Germanic languages does not in any way 1) deny that these languages are related, 2) deny that these languages have evolved, and 2) deny that there was some kind of common ancestor, even though we don't have a clue as to what it looked like. We have observed the similarities and drawn conclusions based on those facts.

Whereas linguistical evolution occurs over hundreds of years, at least in the examples I've given (let's not go into Proto-Indoeuropean), physical evolution occurs over a much larger period of time, and I'll leave it to those who are more in the know than I am to explain the details to you. In any event, though, evolution has occurred, and they can cite you countless examples of it.

Whether you choose to accept that is your own affair, of course, but you'll notice that there is no concern with an initial creator. Evolutionary theory describes the fact of evolution, just as I can document you the fact that Romance languages evolved from Latin, and the "theory" part of it describes the hows and the whys, just as there are questions in Romance linguistics about how we got to where we are. Example: It's generally accepted that the Latin accusative case was the foundation for your basic nominative case in most Romance languages, but a mentor of mine made an argument that, in some cases, the dative case took that role. He's probably still arguing his case, and he had a good argument, but whether it's dative or accusative and they argue for years, the evolution still took place. It's how it took place that it is at issue.).

RG>> And if the origins of life
RG>> are not related to the theory of evolution then why the hostility
RG>> towards those who favor a Creator as the ultimate source for life?

Evolution describes facts, not faith. A divine creator is a religious concept, unobserved, and thus, not considered as part of the theory. You may as well posit that a large green fish belched, and his bile caused some kind of protein soup to be formed that spawned life. There's just as much evidence for that as there is for the Book of Genesis. Sorry.

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