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==* EVO_FAQ_NO_JAM GENTIC_ALGORITHMS NATURAL_SELECTION WILDER_SMITH ELSBERRY 920728 Counting Your Failed Simulations Before They've Crashed Copyright 1992 by Wesley R. Elsberry Permission is granted for free electronic distribution of this work. All other use requires the written consent of the author. The author may be contacted at P.O. Box 1187, Richland, WA 99352, elsberry@beta.tricity.wsu.edu. A.E. Wilder Smith, in "The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution", says: [Begin quote] Thus, Paley's work was destroyed by a theory for which the experimental evidence was -- and still is -- lacking. Darwinism survived simply because it was difficult to disprove and because it neatly and conveniently destroyed the divine hypothesis to which intellectuals were unwilling to submit. THE "SUPER-COMPUTERS" It is only in recent years, with the advent of the "super-computer" which could automatically, swiftly and surely deal with the astronomical numbers in which Darwin enshrouded his theory, that the denouement of this grand scheme became possible. The astronomical numbers of random changes, the long time spans and the alleged evolutionary "trends" in the midst of randomness have been programmed and fed into super-computers. The result has been dramatic, for the machines jam in their efforts to unravel such tangled masses of informational "noise." No wonder that the mathematical experts have crowded around the site of these experiments just as physicians crowd around the bed of a patient sick with a rare disease, to ascertain the cause of the excitement. The biologists have mocked from a distance and denied the result proclaimed by the mathematicians -- that the theory will not work but merely jams the best machines. [pp. 232-233] [End quote] Wilder Smith does not give any references for where these "experiments" took place, who conducted them, or even any reasonably technical description of the results. (No self-respecting computer scientist would leave the results as, "It jams the machine." You would be told, "There was a segmentation fault recorded at address 634592," or something like that.) Wilder Smith later claims that this experiment or experiments reinstates Paley's "argument from design". However, David Hume knocked off this argument long before computers were available. I saw no refutation of Hume's arguments here, so Wilder Smith was a bit premature in his rehabilitation of Paley. But even if we ignore Hume, and more recently Dawkins, Wilder Smith was premature for another reason: natural selection has been adapted to computers and is being used on platforms ranging from mainframes down to personal computers. The whole field of genetic algorithms remained to unfold in the future at the time that Wilder Smith wrote the above quoted lines, which tells us that it is always proper to reserve the conclusions of science to the domain of science, which is natural mechanisms of operation. Appended here is a list of references collated by Mike Rudnick, which is simply papers that address artificial neural networks and genetics algorithms together. Additionally, there are several GA demos and simulation packages available from CNS which do not "always" or even "consistently" do the Wilder Smith "jam" on the computer. [Bibliography available separately] ==! ==* ELSBERRY DARWIN WALLACE PRIORITY 870619 Copyright 1987 by Wesley R. Elsberry Permission is granted for free electronic distribution of this work. All other use requires prior written consent of the author. The author may be reached at P.O. Box 1187, Richland, WA 99352, elsberry@beta.tricity.wsu.edu. Something I wrote June 19, 1987: A recent article stated that Charles Darwin was the first to expound evolution. This is patently false. The German based Naturphilosophie of Owen and others recognized that change occurred in biological systems. Most of Darwin's immediate predecessors and colleagues felt that evolution was a valid principle, and many put forward their own mechanisms and theories to support it. However, what sets Darwin apart from the rest is his manifold documentation of the veracity and efficacy of natural selection as the mechanism for evolution. Alfred Russel Wallace and Darwin had papers presented to the Linnean Society at the same meeting. The reason that most people have heard of Darwin, and few have heard of Wallace, is that Darwin followed up that presentation with his book ("a preliminary essay," as he put it), 'The Origin of Species.' ==! ==* DAY_LENGTH BIBLE ELSBERRY HENLEY Copyright 1992 by Wesley R. Elsberry Permission is granted for free electronic distribution of this work. All other rights reserved. All other use requires prior written consent of the author. The author may be contacted at P.O. Box 1187, Richland, WA 99352, elsberry@beta.tricity.wsu.edu. JPH> From: henley@eng.auburn.edu (James Paul Henley) In article <1992Jul20.192129.22403@javelin.sim.es.com> ronwill@sierra.sim.es.com (Ron Williams) writes: >In article , henley@eng.auburn.edu (James Paul Henley) writes: > >> "But do not forget one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a >> thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day." >> >> II Peter 3:8 _NIV_ >> >> James P. Henley Jr. > >Yea, well, ... so what. What are you trying to say? Are you saying that the earth >was created over a period of 6000 years? Add that to the 6000 years of biblical >history and that adds up to 12,000 years. That still does nothing to explain the >4,000,000,000+ years of the earth's natural history. JPH> Why do I have the feeling that I am going to need to JPH> spend the next month trying hopelessly to defend myself JPH> against all manner of charges about what I supposedly JPH> said, and what I meant to say, and what I implied, and JPH> what I insinuated? 1) Because you didn't take the time to give your interpretation along with the marvelously ambiguous bible quote. 2) Because, like most schlemiels, you wear a large "Kick Me" sign on your back. (Ever read Berne's "Games People Play"?) 3) Because you are, as Meritt has stated, paranoid. (The King's dilemma: "I know I'm paranoid, but am I paranoid enough?") 4) Because you like the attention that claiming persecution gives you. (Ooops, this and #2 are redundant.) JPH> Can't you take a simple statement JPH> as a simple statement without expanding it and twisting JPH> it beyond all recognition? You mean using a process akin to claiming that "days" in Genesis means some indefinite but lengthy period of time because some other text in the bible waxes vaguely allegorical over the term, ignoring differences in the two creation stories presented in Genesis, extrapolating the size of the first family, then extrapolating unmentioned incest, and finally claiming all of the above and more are a "literal" interpretation of Genesis, and much better than actually looking at the real world? If so, excuse me if I miss the "simplicity" in that. JPH> What is the relevance of the verse that I quoted? I JPH> think that it is very relevant, because that verse JPH> convinced me that the "days" in Genesis were not JPH> necessarily meant to be 24 hour periods, in other JPH> words, evidence that "day" could very well be referring JPH> to a period of time other than 24 hours. It's that JPH> simple. The verse quoted convinced me that the Lord resides in a singularity. Look around you. The earth does *not* reside in a singularity, so the verse does not have applicability to the Genesis day interpretation. Read it again: "... a day with the Lord ...". Not, "... a day when the Lord was creating things ...". Besides which, why can't you answer the straightforward critique given? I just don't see the "twisting" or "expanding" you have claimed. Six days of creation, one day of rest with the II Peter sized days gives seven thousand years, then our ordinary days kick in for some six thousand years. I get 13,000 years by the simple (hic) reading of your quote. I don't see where you can "twist" or "expand" the original verse to yield anything other than an exchange of a day for 1,000 years and vice versa, whereas your mealy-mouthed response above implies (uh, sorry) that you definitely plan to try to trade it in on some other period of time. Note also that it is just as likely that the exchange goes in the opposite direction, as indicated by the II Peter quote. Thus, instead of the 13,000 years, we would actually get 6,000 years and 1.6559 seconds, creation having taken place in the first 1.4193 seconds, and the day of rest occupying the remaining 0.2366 seconds. JPH> If you can't accept that, then email me privately and JPH> we'll debate what my insinuations, interpretations, JPH> implications, hidden agendas, and motivations were for JPH> saying it. Otherwise cease and desist this insane line JPH> of attack. Nice, dude. Literally interpreting your quote is insane. Fine, I'm glad we agree on that much. JPH> James P. Henley Jr. JPH> Chemical Engineering Dept. JPH> Auburn University ==! ==* ELSBERRY SORNSON FERTILIZATION GAMETES PROBABILITY SCICRE By Wesley R. Elsberry The author may be contacted at P.O. Box 1187, Richland, WA 99352, elsberry@beta.tricity.wsu.edu. 920803 Subject: Dawkins/_The Selfish Gene_ quote (was Re: this is jw dishonesty ...) On 2 AUG 92, Mark Sornson(?) writes: CS> Instead, through selective quoting, CS> they pretend it doesn't exist. On page 44 of their book CS> (paragraphs 18 & 19 of the same chapter), they make the tired CS> old improbability argument. MS> Gee, maybe you ought to lie down and get some rest. The "same MS> tired old improbability argument"? ... Seems fair to me, MS> though, since Dawkin's uses the same tired old "with enough MS> millions of years, anything could happen" argument. MS> The "improbability argument" [among other things considered] IS MS> their way of refuting Dawkins's imaginings of what happened. MS> Dawkins wants his readers to believe what he says is true MS> because he hopes he'll have sufficiently tickled their MS> imaginations. The WBTS is saying, in effect, "the daydream's MS> over, welcome to the real world." By playing imaginary games MS> with probability, Dawkins succeeds in disguising the impossible MS> as merely "excedingly improbable", as though the excedingly MS> small probability was any real proof that the event he imagines MS> ever took place. Yes, indeed, we should by all means use SciCre Probability whenever possible to examine notable events. Let's look at one: the alleged birth and existence of one Mark Sornson. The genes that code for the putative individual in question may be considered to be a string of alleles more or less common in the human gene pool. Taking as a given that this alleged Mark Sornson's parents have a real world existence, the gametes that would combine to render a particular individual come from them (Well, we will *assume* so anyway. Get your mind out of the gutter.). Now, how many possible different gametes might be produced from each of the alleged Mark Sornson's parents? Folks involved in the human genome project might place this number in the millions or billions. Let us be conservative and say only 200,000 different individual gametes are possible. By the simplest recombination, we get a mere 40,000,000,000 different individuals that may be produced by this couple. How many children can a couple have? Perhaps a woman is only capable of delivering 25 or less children. So the chances of any particular child being born to this couple having 25 kids is 1/1,600,000,000. Now, in the proper SciCre Probability analysis, how many trials could possibly take place? Let's say the woman is fertile between the age of ten and fifty, and assiduously attempts to conceive each and every 28 days. We will, of course, subtract the gestation period for the 25 kids from this figure (we don't wish to be *unrealistic*, after all). Assuming a 28 day period, we obtain: (40 * 365.25)/28 - (25 * (3/4) * 365.25)/28 = 277 possible trials. Thus, assuming that the alleged Mark's mom did indeed attempt to get knocked up each and every period since the age of ten, and that he was one of 25 kids, and that his mom never miscarried or spontaneously aborted, we note that since 277 << 1,600,000,000, we properly (in the SciCre Probability tradition) conclude that the alleged Mark Sornson should wake up from his daydream and realize that he cannot possibly exist in the real world. Yes, indeed, lottery odds are a giveaway in comparison to the odds that Mark Sornson might exist. I've got to admit that I haven't done the above analysis comletely properly, given that I was supposed to be using SciCre Probability. I should have used the billions of possible gametes figure, reduced the assumed fertility window to 15 years, assumed 20 kids (thus coming up with a mere 20 trials instead of 277), and expanded the estimate on individuals by taking into account sex linkage, other interesting recombination effects, mutations, trisomy, mitochondrial genetics, and various other esoterica. All of these reassure us that, in fact, the non-existent Mark Sornson is even more non-existent than calculated above. Does Usenet have any regulations concerning the posting of articles by illusory characters? ;-) Wesley R. Elsberry PS: If the non-existent Mark's parents were extremely long-lived and interfertile over that time, then over a period of 400,000,000 years we might expect 3 of Mark Sornson to appear. I think I'm just as happy to be able to note that, by his own logic, he must not exist. PPS: Anyone who wishes to use this post as a template is free to do so. If someone converts this to a kind of mail merge format, with "Mark Sornson" replaced with macro tags for inclusion of the name of the SciCre Probability Expert of the moment, I'd like a copy. ==! ==* F_MIMS SCIAM SCICRE Copyright 1992 by Wesley R. Elsberry Permission is granted for free electronic distribution of this work. All other rights reserved. All other use requires prior written consent of the author. The author may be contacted at P.O. Box 1187, Richland, WA 99352, elsberry@beta.tricity.wsu.edu. 920803 The Non-hiring of Forrest Mims III Revisited Discrimination can be an ugly word, representing the application of prejudice to decisions concerning individuals. Often, the individuals in question do not have the negative attributes that the discriminator fears. But discrimination also means "choice", in the sense that if you are in the grocery store and wish to buy a tomato, you can (and hopefully do) discriminate the tomatoes that are not ripe, ovverripe, with mushy spots or worms from the unbruised, just ripened types, and buy the latter. Some may recall that a couple of years back, Scientific American was looking for a writer to take over the Amateur Scientist column in their magazine. One of the applicants was Forrest Mims III. Mims is a writer of no mean talent, whose expertise in making electronics understandable by the masses is immense. He has quite an impressive list of publication credits, including a series of "Engineering Notebooks" done for Radio Shack that are quite handy for the novice electronics enthusiast. Scientific American requested sample articles from Mr. Mims, which he provided. These were apparently of sufficiently high quality that Mims was invited in for a face-to-face interview with the editorial staff. During the course of the interview, Mims admitted that he was a creationist, and placed no credence in "Darwin's Theory". Scientific American (SciAm) did not hire Mims as the reguler Amateur Scientist columnist. Mims then gave a press conference, where he blasted SciAm for practicing "religious discrimination", a discrimination in the first sense, of applying possibly mistaken biases in evaluating an individual. As an aside, I cannot conceive of a circumstance where I would attempt to get national press coverage of *my* failure to get a job offer, but perhaps my ego is just not up to the task. So, the question remains, was SciAm using discrimination of the first or second type? Was SciAm justified in not hiring Mims? I believe that SciAm was justified in their decision. As evidence I offer the July 1992 Amateur Scientist column, authored by Rick Riolo. This column deals with "genetic algorithms" (GAs), which are basically the adaptation of natural selection principles into computer algorithms. These GAs are being applied in many fields of engineering for solving difficult optimization problems. They also demonstrate that the principles of natural selection do provide improvements over "random chance" or even, in some cases, intelligent design. Could Forrest Mims III have written this article? Was he capable of reporting the facts without reference to his own personal beliefs that hold that natural selection is a crock? Could he research the topic well enough to match Riolo's coverage? Could he then implement a GA, as Riolo did? I think the answer is sufficiently in doubt that the decision of SciAm to not hire in this case has been fully justified. The decision can be viewed strictly in the context of science coverage. Natural selection is an important theory with real world applications, and it was not unreasonable at the time of the interview to suppose that one or more future Amateur Scientist columns might be devoted to this subject (see also A.K. Dewdney's column on FLIBs back in the mid eighties). Mims' use of media circus techniques in this incident certainly did lower my personal respect for him. (The AP wire reporter gets low marks, as well, since the reports did not give the SciAm editors' response to Mims' claims.) What could motivate him to expose this sort of embarrassing personal setback? I speculate that it was done to advance the Scientific Creationist (SciCre) movement. The SciCre movement has consistently used media attention, textbook review committees, school boards, state houses, and the courts to attempt to advance their views, in preference to the peer-reviewed journals, science association meetings, and scientific conferences that scientists doing real work use. Given this, much of the blame should be placed upon the leaders of the Institute for Creation Research and the Creation Science Research Center, who seem to wish all creationists to interpret every imagined slight or setback in terms of a worldwide evolutionist conspiracy. So, I conclude that SciAm's "discrimination" falls into the second category of usage that I outlined at the start. Mims did not provide the SciAm editors with confidence, the confidence that he could and would cover science without exclusions due to his personal opinions. And thus Mims was discriminated against, properly and on the basis of individual merit, in favor of someone who did provide that confidence. Wesley R. Elsberry ==! ==* HITCHING NECK_OF_THE_GIRAFFE LAMARCK SCICRE ELSBERRY 920831 In looking over the archives of files from this topic, I noticed that M.Crearer [Mike] evinced a fondness for the work of Francis Hitching. Mike attempted to belabor the departed Phil Nicholls over Hitching's references to paleontologists and criticism of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Mike failed to point out (how odd) that Hitching is also no friend of the SciCre-ists. After listing off what Hitching saw as high points in "The Genesis Flood" by Whitcomb and Morris, he proceeded to examine the low points: "But the book's weaknesses, on any objective reading, are also readily apparent. There is the selective quotation of cautious scientific doubts -- a confession of ignorance about a particular geological difficulty is cited in order to throw doubt on geological knowledge as a whole. This is a widely used technique in books and articles stemming from ICR and elsewhere. [Note to Dave: Here's one survey result. How non-specific do you like it? -- WRE] Reading creationists on the subject of ancient man, you would never gather that fossils available for study now come from a wide variety of places, and however fallible, dubious and self-seeking individual fossil finds may be (see chapter eight), they fit into a *general* [Emphasis in original -- WRE] pattern of man having evolved from an ape-like ancestor at some point during the last six million years." [From "The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong", Francis Hitching, pp. 123-124] More trenchant criticisms follow that comparatively mild critique. Hitching draws heavily upon the SciCre literature for his attacks upon the neo-Darwinian synthesis, which does seem odd in that he elsewhere demonstrates that he is aware of the problems inherent in SciCre explication. Hitching also dotes lovingly upon Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, and apparently favors a "true" Lamarckian theory of evolution. -- Austringer ==! ==* ELSBERRY MENTON SCOPES INHERIT_THE_WIND SCICRE BIAS 921114 A response to: INHERIT THE WIND: A HOLLYWOOD HISTORY OF THE 1925 SCOPES 'MONKEY' TRIAL by Dr. David N. Menton by Wesley R. Elsberry Copyright 1992 by Wesley R. Elsberry This text is released for free electronic distribution as long as it remains unmodified and this copyright notice is retained. Printed copies for personal use are permitted. Publication (hereafter defined as reproduction in journals, newspapers, magazines) requires prior written permission of the author. Dr. Menton finds it distressing that "Inherit The Wind" remains popular as an entertainment. In point of fact, Dr. Menton does a good job of demonstrating that the movie versions of "Inherit The Wind" bear about as much similarity to the original events as other Hollywood productions do to their own sources. Of course, Dr. Menton does not merely wish to dispute the verisimilitude of productions of "Inherit The Wind". That is entirely too easy to demonstrate. Dr. Menton wishes to further demonstrate that "Inherit The Wind" is biased against fundamentalist Christianity. Again, this is really a fairly easy target. Dr. Menton further wishes to support a contention that Hollywood in general is biased against fundamentalist Christianity. Dr. Menton's thesis is that "Inherit The Wind" is perceived to be a "docudrama" (Menton uses "documentary-drama" as his term of choice), and should, then, adhere closely to the actual events and circumstances of the Scopes trial of 1925. It would seem that people viewing "Inherit The Wind" as simple documentary are suffering from a failure of history education. The approach used to demonstrate the differences between the reality of the Scopes trial and the Hollywood versions thereof is to go back to a transcript of the Scopes trial. This seems to serve Dr. Menton well, and he does uncover a number of points where reality and entertainment diverge. However, Dr. Menton chose an interesting source for demonstrating "bias" in Hollywood's treatment of the Scopes trial by relying upon a popular press rendition of the Scopes trial transcript. As Dr. Menton describes: The transcript of the Scopes trial is available on microfilm in most University law libraries, but for convenience in study, I chose to use a reprint of the original transcript published in its entirety at the time of the trial in the book, The Worlds Most Famous Court trial (see bibliography). All page references to the "transcript" in this study refer to this book. I would like to take some time on this. Fortunately, I happen to own an original copy of the book which Dr. Menton references. The book, "World's Most Famous Court Trial", is copyrighted 1925 by the National Book Company, Cinncinati, Ohio. The title page carries a subtitle, "Tennessee Evolution Case", and further description, "A complete stenographic report of the famous court test of the Tennessee anti-evolution act, at Dayton, July 10 to 21, 1925, including speeches and arguments of attorneys." The Publisher's Note reads: In presenting the material of this book we are moved by the great interest shown throughout the world in this most notable case. It is unlike any other case ever tried, and we believe has an interest that will hold long after the individuals involved shall have passed away. While some of the headings and sub-heads are ours, we have made no attempt at editing. We simply present the case from the court record as it was made from day to day. In publishing this book we are indebted to many interested friends and especially to the Chattanooga Times for the use of their transcript copy. We trust this work may find a hearty welcome from those who desire to know just what occurred at Dayton. The headings and sub-headings make interesting reading in and of themselves. These demonstrate that bias may not only work against the interests of fundamentalist Christians, but also may be manifested as taking an anti-evolutionist stance. Dr. Menton, in supporting claims of one kind of bias, relies upon a source which readily displays its own counter-bias. In his analysis, Dr. Menton chooses to label items under discussion as either MOVIE or FACT. Unfortunately, not all of Dr. Menton's "FACT"s actually pass muster as unarguably true. Menton takes as "FACT" anything recorded within the pages of the transcript, and makes much of certain failings of understanding on the part of the defense lawyers and experts concerning evolution. One wonders about the "fact" that Attorney-General Stewart, the prosecuting attorney in the trial, averred concerning the standard bible in Tennessee (p. 66): "If your honor please, the St. James Version of the Bible is the recognized one in this section of the country." I've never had the pleasure of encountering a St. James Version of the bible, but by Menton's standard of fact, I should be able to find one of these elusive tomes. In discussing the mapping of names from entertainment to reality, Dr. Menton states: Lest there be any doubt, even the pattern of the names and the number of syllables in each name carefully match the real names of the people they purport to portray. In both the play and film versions, the character Matthew Harrison Brady represents William Jennings Bryan, Henry Drummond represents Clarence Darrow, Bert Cates represents John Scopes and E. K. Hornbeck represents H. L. Mencken. Neithr my nor my spouse's Southern accent manages to shorten "Harrison" to two syllables, nor stretch "Jennings" to three syllables. I readily admit that this is a minor point, but it demonstrates a willingness on Menton's part to exaggerate when exaggeration is not necessary. Under a heading of "FACT", Menton advises us: Bryan proved, for example, that Darwin did in fact claim that man descended from a monkey, a point the defense had tried to deny. Bryan did indeed quote Darwin's "Descent of Man" in the trial. Did he, as Menton says, demonstrate that Darwin claimed man was descended from "a monkey"? No. Darwin's comments indicate that he was discussing common descent, not descent from modern monkeys. Another factoid which Menton brings forth: Darrow was, in fact, cited for contempt of court for repeatedly interrupting and insulting judge Raulston. Darrow was cited for contempt, yes. Was it for the reason stated by Menton? Of course not. Darrow impugned the court, and later apologized for his lapse. The putative personal slurs were not at issue. Another factoid: Technically, the only point at issue in the trial was whether or not John Scopes actually taught the evolution of man from lower orders of animals, so naturally the lawyers for the prosecution did question the relevance of the testimony of expert witnesses. Simply because this was the view of the prosecution and the court does not mean the it was "the only point at issue". The defense presented several other issues from constitutional and case law which Judge Raulston did not choose to entertain. These certainly would have become issues on appeal, had appeal been feasible. Bryan had asked for, and received, the right to cross-examine the expert witnesses, but Darrow was so opposed to allowing his experts to be questioned that he never called them to the witness stand! Does this indicate that the experts were not heard from? No. It was in the midst of the legal debate over this point where Darrow made his comments that won him a citation for contempt of court. Defense counsel were advised to make their experts' testimony available via affidavit, and were given a recess extending from Friday morning until Monday morning in order to compile their affidavits. Menton goes on to show that the defence legal counsel were confused as to what constituted a definition of "evolution". These gentlemen were merely early examples of the general class of biologically misinformed lawyers, later examples would include (with less excuse due both to having more information available and the fact that they claimed to be able to critique evolution) Norman Macbeth and Phillip E. Johnson. Another "FACT" according to Menton: As for dogma, the trial transcript reveals that there was plenty of that on both sides of this dispute. This is a fact? It certainly would appear to be an arguable point from where I stand. In concluding remarks, Menton says: The evidence suggests, however, that the inaccuracies encountered in the film Inherit The Wind are substantive, intentional and systematic. It is actually quite easy to see a pattern in the inaccuracies and from this one can make reasonable guesses as to the motive. The Christian Fundamentalists and particularly William Jennings Bryan are consistently lampooned throughout the film, while skeptics, and agnostics are consistently portrayed as intelligent, kindly and even heroic. Why is Menton so upset over one instance of screen slander of fundamentalists, but ignores the rather more prevalent anti-intellectual and anti-science tendencies of Hollywood scriptwriters? Menton also says: There have recently been many exciting debates on this issue between qualified scientists who are quite sophisticated in their knowledge of the scientific evidence. Most people who have witnessed these debates find that Creationist scientists have held their own quite well, indeed, some evolutionists have conceded that creationists often win these debates! One might quibble about the "qualified" adjective being applied to any of several SciCre-ists who engage in these debates. The reason that SciCre-ists sometimes win these debates is that a debate format is not one in which a debater may spent unlimited time imparting basic knowledge needed to refute neat rhetorical barbs employed by SciCre-ists. The matter does not imply that the SciCre-ists' arguments or evidences are better, rather only that the opponent usually is unprepared for the manner of SciCre-ist debate. ==! ==* ELSBERRY N_GEISLER SCICRE PRESENTATION CRITIQUE Copyright 1988 by Wesley R. Elsberry Permission is granted for free electronic distribution of this work. All other use requires the written consent of the author. The author may be contacted at P.O. Box 1187, Richland, WA 99352, elsberry@beta.tricity.wsu.edu. 880707 [Response to a lecture by Dr. Norman Geisler at the University of Texas at Arlington] Welcome to the Norm Geisler magic show! Before your very eyes, Norm turns religion into science, and science into religion. With a couple of fast postulates and a couple of dubious quotes, Norm turns the argument on its head. Instead of providing evidences and proofs for his views, he calls on scientists to defend their theories, but only on his terms. To be sucked into Norm's special world is to allow yourself to lose all grasp of reality, and be at the mercy of his specious logic. Dr. Geisler starts with a slide showing "TWO KINDS OF SCIENCE" with two branches leading from it. We have only two choices which are mutually exclusive, Norm says (betraying the typical 'scientific creationist' fondness for systems of oppositional dualism). Either we have the typical 'operation-science,' or it is an 'origin-science.' He then postulates that evolution is an 'origin-science,' with the strong implication that 'origin-sciences' are based on and produce only guesswork. When I stated that evolution was, in fact, an 'operation- science,' he asked me for proof! Proof at the postulate level is, of course, impossible. Dr. Geisler should be required to back up his reasons for postulating a demotion in the status of evolutionary theory. Micro- and macro-evolution are two different entities, Norm says. Unfortunately for your postulates and theories, Norm, the two are inseparable and mere taxonomic tags for the same external observable reality. (You could call them the 'Duality' of evolution in keeping with your 'religicizing' of evolutionary science.) In the comment period following his prepared speech, Geisler fielded questions from the opposition with bad grace, mocking one questioner's accent, and then having the audacity to accuse me of making a personal attack on him! My comment was that Blaise Pascal had said that the abuse of truth should be as much punished as the introduction of falsehood, and that I was impressed with his ability to do both simultaneously. By that, I meant that his presentation was full of inaccuracies and misleading statements. He chose to take it personally, and lectured me on proper debate etiquette while refusing to allow me to give the specific inaccuracies which led me to my statement. Perhaps Norm thinks that when he attacks someone, it's interjecting humor, but when someone attacks his presentation, it's a personal affront. Dr. Geisler gave a rousingly emotional send-off to his plea for equal time in science classrooms for creationist explanations, bringing in images of flags and prominently mentioning the Declaration of Independence. Unfortunately, his talk was tangential to science, despite the advance billing. I certainly fear any 'scientific creationist' intrusion into the precious little time students are given to learn even a modicum of scientific principles and theory, because IT IS NOT SCIENCE. No amount of postulating, ad hominem polemics, or flag-waving can change the fact that there is no science in 'scientific creationism'. (That's a long phrase, let's shorten it to 'SciCre,' like SciFi for Science Fiction, but without the science.) Wesley R. Elsberry ==! ==* MACROEVOLUTION DEFS REFS MAIER 920624 It seems that some confusion is brewing over the term, "macroevolution". We all know by know (even if some wish not to admit it), that evolution is defined as "a change in allele frequency in a population over time". Since this is so simple and straightforward, SciCre'ers can't stand to come to grips with it, and insist on utilizing more obscure pieces of terminology. The general lay ignorance as to what biologists mean by "evolution" is exceeded by the ignorance of how those prefixes, "micro-" and "macro-", modify the object. This makes the use of these compound terms a favorite target of your local Keep-Our-Kids-Ignorant representative. (Can anyone come up with a good word beginning with the letter "O" to turn that into the acronym, K.O.O.K.I.?) Stephen J. Gould, in "Ontogeny and Phylogeny", has a handy glossary that includes "macroevolution", where he states it thus: MACROEVOLUTION The study of evolutionary events and processes that require long times for their occurrence or operation -- conventionally defined at taxonomic levels involving the origin and deployment of species and higher taxa, not changes of gene frequencies within local populations. Well, that was pretty clear, yes? Speciation is observed. Macroevolution is speciation OR changes at higher taxa. Thus, macroevolution is observed. Sorry, Lionel... Short digression: Homework problem 2 of Part 1 in Futuyma's "Evolutionary Biology" is: "Read 'Did Man Get Here by Evolution or Creation?' published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and refute its arguments." This is interesting in two senses: first, it certainly puts a dent in the SciCre canard that evolutionists wish to silence the SciCre'ers. Not only does Futuyma mention the SciCre'ers, he wishes the student to *read* *their* *stuff*. Second, by the end of Part 1 out of 5, Futuyma considers the student to have all the information necessary to rebut the claims of the JW's. Wouldn't it be nice for some SciCre text to be mentioned at the end of the book, to provide a _real_ challenge (that is, to be as challenging as other evolutionists are)? Needless to say, such a work does not exist, and judging by Jim Loucks' progress in this area, it appears to be a genuine "gap" in the scientific record of SciCre'ers. (Or would that be a "missing think"?) Now, back to the lexicographic legwork. Fortunately, Chuck Maier has put together several quotes that support Gould's definition. (Surprise, surprise.) Public message 3466 SCIENCE Area 18:30 Friday 27-Sep-91 From: CHUCK MAIER To: WESLEY R. ELSBERRY Re: Macroevolution >= speciation [...] But, to be fair let's here what Steven Stanley says : "... Simpson adopted the idea of Goldschmidt that evolutionary research could be divided into the study of microevolution, or changes within species, and the study of macroevolution, or evolution above the species level. Goldschmidt believed... that species and higher taxa arise only through sudden chromosomal changes ... ." [Note that speciation, while not directly addressed by Stanley, is pretty obviously part of macroevolution by Stanley's statement. -- WRE] and from Goldschmidt himself, who apparently started all this terminology: "Subspecies are actually, therefore, neither incipient species nor models for the origin of species . They are more or less diversified blind alleys within the species. The decisive step in evolution, the first step toward macroevolution, the step from one species to another, requires another evolutionary method than that of sheer accumulation of micromutations. ... At the LOWER LEVEL of macroevolution, evolution of species , genera and even families [ this is really the sci cre statement of variation within a kind , horizontal change on the same level of complexity] there is still available some information based upon collaboration of genetics and taxonomy." This statement would certainly seem to support your position, at least if you're talking about lower level macroevolution. And , as you know, Goldschmidt had no time for Darwinism, so he was looking for a different mechanism to explain higher taxa. [It certainly does support my position. Thanks, Chuck. Please shoot yourself in the foot a few more times. -- WRE] and David Raup, evolutionist geologist: "We are confident that the process of natural selection works at the population level, and there is no argument about this between the evolutionists and the creationists. But we are not sure whether we can extrapolate this process of microevolution to explain the larger events of macroevolution." [Note here that speciation is not mentioned. Speciation is a "smaller event" of macroevolution, but still macroevolution. (Kind of like all those breeds of dogs are "still dogs", and the Hawaiian wallabies are "still wallabies".) -- WRE] And Theodosius Dobzhansky, leading neo darwinian, evolutionary geneticist: "... we are compelled at the present level of knowledge reluctantly to put a sign of equality between the mechanisms of macro and micro evolution, and, proceeding on this assumption, to push .. .as far ahead as this working hypothesis will permit." [I'm at a loss as to why Chuck included this quote, as it does nothing to distinguish a demarcation between macro- and micro- evolution, but does reiterate the view that the mechanisms are the same for each. -- WRE] [...] WRE@9> And biologists use macro- and micro-evolution purely as semantic WRE@9> shortcuts, _not_ as any indication of an observed dichotomy of WRE@9> mechanism. This statement is true only if you are a Neo-Darwinian micromutationist. There always have been macromutationists from the start. The fact is, no one is sure what the mechanism of speciation is, and evolutionists argue among themselves, 130 years later, on this central point. Creationists object to this terminology because the term evolution, much less macroevolution, implies the formation of a different form (dictionary defn.). And that this has happened is hardly the proven fact that evolutionists claim it to be. how bout genevol'n vs.macro? cm. [Use of non-technical sources (dictionaries, encyclopedia, etc.) and unreliable sources ("Acts & Facts", Duane Gish, Henry Morris, Steve Austin, etc.) hardly constitutes scintillating argumentative style, and certainly doesn't say much for Chuck's scholarship. Nit: Who thinks there is a "mechanism" of speciation, as in a single all-encompassing methodology? Hence, the discussion and interplay between researchers as they put forward their best work, and do their darndest [ ;-) ] to falsify the other fellow's theory. This is called "science", Chuck. Nit take 2: It's an *observed* fact, Chuck. I do hope Chuck doesn't spend the time away from his keyboard "proving" facts. -- WRE] ---------------- OK, I will now poke some holes in all the above. The macro- and micro- prefixes for evolution are _fuzzy_ in application, because not all biologists are in total agreement on the boundary. This should not give SciCre'ers any comfort, since consensus would, in my ever-so-brief survey of the literature I have on hand, come down squarely as pitching speciation into the macro-evolution bin. But I have a vanishingly small fraction of all the extant literature, and what I have is somewhat dated (my college bio courses are now over a decade behind me, alas). So, it is certainly possible that the Lotfi Zahdeh take on current application of "macroevolution" could shift speciation to the micro- side of things. SciCre'ers: this is your cue to rev up your transcription devices (scanners, secretaries, whatever you normally use ... you don't type all that in _yourself_, do you?) and demonstrate me to be wrong concerning how evolutionary biologists _define_ "macroevolution" ... if you can. Wesley R. Elsberry, Sysop Central Neural System BBS 509-627-6267 Home of the Chuck Maier Whopper Database and other ignorance reducing information ==! ==* DARWIN_ON_TRIAL PE_JOHNSON CRITIQUE ELSBERRY Copyright 1992 by Wesley R. Elsberry Permission is granted for free electronic distribution. All other use requires the written consent of the author. The author can be contacted at P.O. Box 1187, Richland, WA 99352, elsberry@beta.tricity.wsu.edu. 921016 Phillip E. Johnson's "Darwin On Trial" This 1991 book has made quite a splash in the summer of 1992. With the arguably vituperative review given by Stephen Jay Gould in the July 1992 issue of Scientific American, a controversy now rages not only over the topic of evolution versus pseudoscientific nonsense, but also over how to engage those who espouse that pseudoscientific nonsense. But before we proceed to the dissection of the corpus of errors which Johnson has presented to us, let us look at the cover text for "Darwin On Trial". [Begin quote] Darwin On Trial Phillip E. Johnson Darwin's theory of evolution is accepted by most educated Americans as simple fact. This easy acceptance, however, hides from us the many ways in which evolution -as an idea- shapes our thinking about a great many things. [Huh? There has been nothing "easy" about getting people to accept evolutionary mechanism theories (EMTs), unless they have seen the evidence of biological research. Additionally, the nice thing about EMTs is that they do allow us to recognize relationships which might have otherwise escaped our notice. EMTs are perception heightening, not the opposite as Johnson asserts. -- WRE] What if this idea is wrong? [Well, then, we can be certain that science will abandon it as science has done with other theories which have not withstood the tests and findings of later research. So far, though, most EMTs have done admirably well. -- WRE] That is, what if it turned out that the evidence for Darwin's theory is in tatters and science is hanging on to it only because no other theory is in prospect? [While this might be the premise for an SF novel, Johnson does nothing to demonstrate that this actually holds. -- WRE] What if "evolution" is just a word that covers up scientific ignorance of how the wonders of the living world could have been created? [Then I guess that it holds an analogous position to the word "gravity" covering up the scientific ignorance of how clumps of matter attract one another. -- WRE] Berkely law professor Phillip Johnson looks at the evidence for Darwinistic evolution the way a lawyer would -- with a cold dispassionate eye for logic and proof. [ROFL -- lawyers take an adversarial position and run with it. Johsnon does look at the topic in the manner of a trial lawyer, but the preceding description bears no relation to his approach in "Darwin On Trial". One wonders if another book was written that actually has the "cold and dispassionate" analysis. While "proof" may be an operative concept in the legal field, it is not part of the scientific method. -- WRE] His discovery is that scientists have put the cart before the horse. [Interesting use of the word "discovery" there -- I wonder if Norman MacBeth, author of the 1971 book "Darwin Retried", would agree with the usage. Various and sundry other authors have announced this selfsame "discovery", and none of them has yet documented that their discovery actually exists. -- WRE] They prematurely accepted Darwin's theory as fact and have been scrambling to find evidence for it -- mostly unsuccessfully. [This is demonstrative of either massive ignorance or massive chutzpah on Johnson's part. Even the most churlish of SciCre mavens have conceded the existence and operation of what they term "microevolution" by means of natural selection. Since "natural selection" is "Darwin's theory", it would seem that acceptance of the evidence is nearly universal, even among those most critical of the theory. -- WRE] As the evidentiary difficulties have piled up, they have clung to the theory out of fear of encouraging religious fundamentalism, and in the process have turned belief in Darwinism into their own religion. [As I said earlier, this may make great SF, but it bears no relation to the reality that you or I actually live in. There are no "evidentiary difficulties" of the extent that Johnson implies, and natural selection has withstood over a hundred years of implacable testing by determined skeptics. To those who have seen and understood the evidence, no "belief" in natural selection or other EMTs is necessary, merely an acknowledgement of the scientific validity of the findings. -- WRE] Darwinism, Johnson argues, has become another kind of fundamentalism -- merely dressed up in a laboratory smock and with a fierce and condescending refusal to listen to critics. [Nonsense. Biologists listen to each other with great regularity. However, I do not not consider someone to be a critic unless they demonstrate some knowledge of the domain which they critique. SciCre-ists and their fellow travelers in general fall well short of being "critics" of evolutionary mechanism theories. Is the contumely displayed for those who chose to represent themselves in court an example of lawyers being condescending? Somehow, I think it might be difficult to get a lawyer to agree with that characterization. -- WRE] "Darwin On Trial" is a cogent and stunning tour de force that not only rattles the cages of conventional wisdom, but could provide the basis for a fundamental change in the way educated Americans regard themselves, their origins, and their fate. [I will withhold comment on this sentence for the moment. -- WRE] Professor Phillip Johnson is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Chicago. He was a law clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, and has taught law for over twenty years at the University of California at Berkeley. He took up the study of Darwinism because he saw that the books defending the theory were dogmatic and unconvincing. [I find this explanation unconvincing. My own conjecture is that Johnson finds "evolution" personally distasteful, and has gone on from there. -- WRE] He wrote this book to give Americans the information they need to make up their own minds. [I find that exceedingly doubtful. Johnson's book is ragingly partisan. Even Francis Hitching's "The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong" is more even-handed than Johnson's book. -- WRE] [Now for some of the blurbs.] "'Darwin On Trial' is unquestionably the best critique of Darwinism I have ever read. Professor Johnson combines a broad knowledge of biology with the incisive logic of a leading legal scholar to deliver a brilliant and devastating attack on the whole edifice of Darwinian belief. There is no doubt that this book will prove a severe embarrassment to the Darwinian establishment." [It is certainly an embarrassment to those of us who must grudgingly admit being citizens of the same nation as Johnson, an embarrassment not shared by the author of the blurb. -- WRE] Dr. Michael Denton, Molecular Biologist and author of "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis". [Hey, just because someone is composed of molecules and happens to be involved in the life sciences does not make that person a molecular biologist. Several people have attempted literature searches for Dr. Michael Denton, and have come up with no molecular biology related journal articles. The lack of any publication record in the topic certainly diminishes the credibility of Denton's claims of molecular biology expertise. Dr. Denton appears to be, however, a medical doctor with a publication record in the medical journals of the South Pacific. -- WRE] "'Darwin On Trial' shows just how Darwinian evolution has become an idol of the contemporary tribe, and how deeply philosophical and religious ideas enter into its status as part of the intellectual orthodoxy of our day." Alvin Plantinga, Professor of Philosophy Notre Dame University [Ever notice how fundamentalists are so contemptuous of philosophers, unless they happen to agree with the fundamentalist? -- WRE] "Darwin's theory of evolution is one of the great intellectual superstitions of modern times. It does the soul good to see a Berkeley professor attack it." Tom Bethell, The Hoover Institution [Pretty strong words coming from a fellow who apparently cannot distinguish between what natural selection is and a concise misstatement of natural selection. Bethell's "Harper's" article on this topic is a screamer. -- WRE] [Going back a bit, let's take another look at a sentence: ] "Darwin On Trial" is a cogent and stunning tour de force that not only rattles the cages of conventional wisdom, but could provide the basis for a fundamental change in the way educated Americans regard themselves, their origins, and their fate. [As for cogency, there are a number of serious problems in Johnson's characterizations of "evolution", "evolutionary theory", and "Darwinism". Mainly, these stem from Johnson's use of his own connotation of each, while mistakenly assuming that his connotation is operative for each occurrence in the literature. "Stunning" is usually applied to phenomena with the attribute of novelty, something to which Johnson's recycled polemics cannot lay claim. Educated Americans will find Johnson's book the basis for a fundamental belly laugh at a specific instance of an outsider critiquing a field, and delimiting the extent of his ignorance rather than unmasking flaws in that field. It would seem that SciCre literature and its fellow travelers - Johnson's "Darwin On Trial" among them - suffer from a critical dependence upon previously forwarded arguments. Few new forms of argumentation have been forthcoming on the SciCre side of things since the days of George MacReady Price. Johnson, unfortunately, covers no new ground. There already exist compendiums of rebuttals to the archetypal SciCre arguments, so much of the possible criticism of "Darwin On Trial" will be, in a sense, redundant.-- WRE] ==! ==* PE_JOHNSON DARWIN_ON_TRIAL CRITIQUE ELSBERRY 921017 A Critique of Specific Failings of Phillip E. Johnson's "Darwin On Trial" Copyright 1992 by Wesley R. Elsberry Permission is granted for free electronic distribution of this work. All other usage requires the written consent of the author. The author can be contacted at P.O. Box 1187, Richland, WA 99352, elsberry@beta.tricity.wsu.edu. A 'q' in parentheses indicates that the text paragraph following is a quote (also contained in {}). Otherwise, the paragraph following is a paraphrase or simply refers to the text on the indicated page. On page 3, Johnson confuses "evolution" with "evolutionary [mechanism] theories" (EMTs hereafter). p. 3(q): {The conflict requires careful consideration, because the terms are confusing.} Johnson does little to cure the confusion, though. He proceeds to define "creation-science" and "creationism", but avoids delving explicitly into what he means by his use of "evolution". He does say this, though: p. 4(q): {"Evolution" contradicts "creation" only when it is explicitly or tacitly defined as _fully naturalistic evolution_ -- meaning evolution that is not directed by any purposeful intelligence.} At this point, Johnson has departed into the weeds. This is a shame, since it means that the rest of his book is devoted to the pursuit of chimeras -- Johnson's misunderstandings of what science is and what part evolution has within science. In a footnote on page 4, Johnson expands upon his "c" definitions. p. 4 (q)(footnote): {Clearing up confusion requires a careful and consistent use of terms. In this book, "creation-science" refers to young-earth, six-day special creation. "Creationism" means belief in creation in a more general sense. Persons who believe that the earth is billions of years old, and that simple forms of life evolved gradually to become more complex forms including humans, are "creationists" if they believe that a supernatural Creator not only initiated this process but in some meaningful sense _controls_ it in furtherance of a purpose. As we shall see, "evolution" (in contemporary scientific usage) excludes not just creation-science but creationism in the broad sense. By "Darwinism" I mean fully naturalistic evolution, involving chance mechanisms guided by natural selection.} Still no definition of "evolution" given, although he has delimited the "c" definitions reasonably well. Given that Johnson then eschews the discussion of creation-science or creationism in the rest of the book, this seems like a pointless exercise to take up in the first two pages of his work. Further, leaving "evolution" without clear definition is fatal to his purpose, for as Johnson states: p. 3(q): {The conflict requires careful explanation, because the terms are confusing.} Skipping ahead a bit, we find on page 15 a remarkable sentence. p. 15(q): {My subject is not history but the logic of current controversy, and so my interest must be in Darwinism and not Darwin.} We see here the emergence of a pattern. Johnson claims that he wishes to clear up controversy, and establishes that the terms used in the debate could be confusing. So Johnson defines two terms which he has no intention of using to any great extent in the rest of his volume while not defining clearly the ones which he will use over and over. Then, we discover that rather than explore the subject of the title of Johnson's book, we will be treated instead to an exploration of Darwinism. This could lead one to believe that Johnson's purpose in writing this book may not be to clear up controversy, but rather to layer the controversy with another mass of obfuscation. p. 5(q): {The trial thus ended in a conviction and a nominal fine of $100. On appeal, the Tennessee supreme court threw out the fine on a technicality but held the statute constitutional.} If one examines p. 273 of Gould's "Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes", it seems apparent that no review of the law occurred. Also, if a fine of $100 in 1926 currency is "nominal", I wonder if Johson would be willing to pay me the equivalent sum in today's currency for each factual error of his that I expose. Somehow, I think that he would not care to take me up on that even for one error's worth of correction. If so, I'll take mine in gold certificates, please. pp. 5&6: Johnson recounts a partial history of Henry Fairfield Osborn and Nebraska Man. As Gould points out in his SciAm review, this treatment ignores the fact that Osborn discovered and published the observation that Nebraska Man was actually an extinct peccary. p. 7(q): {If we say that naturalistic evolution is _science_, and supernatural creation is _religion_, the effect is not very different from saying that the former is true and the latter is fantasy. When the doctrines of science are taught as fact, then whatever those doctrines exclude cannot be true. By the use of labels, objections to naturalistic evolution can be dismissed without a fair hearing.} Johnson simply displays how far out of it he is with this conflation. Fields of study with differing assumptions are not directly comparable. Attempting to extablish the relative worth of findings in science, which does not examine the supernatural by definition, with those of theology, which does consider the supernatural, is an exercise in futility, or in Johnson's case, rhetorical devices and fallacies. The answer to Johnson's predicament is not to go tilting at well supported theories, but rather to take Thoraeu's advice. Educate the public, making clear that the difference between "science" and "religion" is not equivalent to the difference between "fact" and "fantasy". Good instruction in science will make clear that most of what is currently accepted theory in science will someday in the future be considered erroneous to some degree or another. "Doctrines of science" should not, as Johnson points out, be taught as fact, where those "doctrines" are hypotheses and theories. On the other hand, an appreciation of empirical inquiry should be part of any science education. Theories and hypotheses are supported or abandoned in the light of evidence, not conjecture or prejudice. It is less easy for me to give guidelines on the educational approach to theology, since I have no formal training in the subject. Emphasis should be given to pointing out the distinction between the assumptions that theology makes and those of science. Science is limited both in its domain and range because of its incorporation of the naturalistic assumptions in operation. Consider for a moment two phenomena. One has a natural cause, the other a supernatural cause. In both cases, science might be used to attempt to provide an explanation for each. In the case of the first phenomenon, the scientific method may produce a theory giving a mechanism. If the mechanism is testable given current technology, evidentiary support or contradiction may be found, and the theory will be supported, modified, or abandoned. On the other hand, the second phenomenon may well be explicable via natural mechanisms, but still be the result of supernatural action. In the case of the second phenomenon, science is incapable of distinguishing what is analogous to a statistical Type II error. The difference between how science operates and how Johnson and many SciCre-ists believe that science should operate is that science and its practitioners do not even attempt to distinguish whether the natural mechanisms proposed to explain the second phenomenon are actually causal, or simply apparently causal, whereas Johnson apparently believes that science should concern itself with considerations p. 8(q): {For example, the Academy's rule against negative argument automatically eliminates the possibility that science has not discovered how complex organisms could have developed.} This is nonsense. Science doesn't claim to know all the answers, else, there would be no need for research. p. 9(q): {When he contemplates the perfidy of those who refuse to believe, Dawkins can scarcely restrain his fury. "It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)." Dawkins went on to explain, by the way, that what he dislikes particularly about creationists is that they are intolerant.} So what is tolerance? Tolerance is described generally as the ability not to interfere with those with whom you disagree. Nowhere has Johnson demonstrated that Dawkins practices intolerance. In fact, since Dawkins' disagreement with fundamentalists appears so extreme, this absence of evidence of intolerance may point to a very tolerant person indeed. Johnson's grasp of rhetorical devices and fallacies is solid, but his willingness to engage in "cold and dispassionate logic" certainly is not anywhere in evidence here. p. 14(q): {I assume that the creation-scientists are biased by their precommitment to Biblical fundamentalism, and I will have very little to say about their position. The question I want to investigate is whether Darwinism is based upon a fair assessment of the scientific evidence, or whether it is another kind of fundamentalism.} Gee, I can hardly wait to see how this turns out, given that Johnson decries "Darwinism" as a form of fundamentalism on the jacket of the book. Here we see the creationist fondness for systems of oppositional dualism. p.15(q): {The story of Charles Darwin has been told many times, and no wonder. The relationship with the lawyer-geologist Charles Lyell, the long voyage in the Beagle with the temperamental Captain Fitzroy, the observations and adventures in South America and the Galapagos Islands, the long years of preparation and delay, the eventual rushed publication of "The Origin of Species" when Alfred Russell Wallace appeared about to publish a similar theory, the controversies and the smashing triumph -- all these make a great saga worth another retelling.} However, the great saga is not worth a revionist retelling, as it is plain that Johnson would do. Darwin did not publish "TOoS" to beat out Wallace's publication. The rush was over when to present the basic thesis to their peers. This was done in a joint presentation to the Linnean Society in 1858 of both Darwin and Wallace's papers on the topic. "TOoS" was published in 1859, and Darwin did rush his production of it, but not for the reason which Johnson has given. When Johnson cannot even give such basic historical facts accurately, one must wonder what else is being given short shrift or deliberate spin. p. 16-17 (q)(footnote): {"Mutation" as used here is a simple label for the set of mechanisms which provide the genetic variation upon which natural selection can go to work. The set includes point mutations, chromosomal doubling, gene duplication, and recombinations. The essential point is that the variations are supposed to be random. Creative evolution would be much easier to envisage if some guiding force caused the right mutations to arrive on schedule. Orthodox genetic theory insists that no such guiding principle for mutation exists, so creatures have to make do with whatever blind nature happens to provide.} Where to start? Natural selection does not operate upon all mutations, only those which result in an expressed phenotypic trait that has some selection pressure upon it. Recombination is not considered "mutation" by any geneticist that I know of. It appears obvious that Johnson has not considered the growing literature on directed mutagenesis. p. 18(q): {Natural selection is a conservative force that prevents the appearance of the extremes of variation that human breeders like to encourage.} Assertion without evidence. This is a faulty argument with a long, long history. p. 19(q): {With respect to animals, Darwinists attribute the inability to produce new species to a lack of sufficient time.} I wonder about this, since the datum expressed here is not true. Animal speciation has been observed in the wild and also has been produced in the laboratory. Even at least one new species of Drosophila has been noted. p. 19(q): {In some cases, convincing circumstantial evidence exists of evolution that has produced new species in nature. Familiar examples include the hundreds of fruitfly species in Hawaii and the famous variations among "Darwin's Finches" on the Galapagos Islands.} Incredible. Here Johnson admits that evolution produces new species, yet elsewhere he tells us that evolution is not a fact. Rather than labeling this as a contradiction, let us classify it as an inconsistency and move on. p. 20: Johnson raids Norman MacBeth for some substance as well as his book title in repeating "natural selection is a tautology". While claiming that "natural selection is a tautology" seems quite popular among creationists, demonstrating that it is indeed so is not. Despite the quotes from biologists that seem to make their case for them, creationists employ a curious kind of filter to biological writings: what agrees with us is true, and all else is false. It is intriguing that many of the folks that they quote in the context lovingly and with full approbation, they may elsewhere denigrate as being entirely mistaken. On pages 23 and 24 of Johnson's book, Johsnon provides us with quotes of at least two statements of natural selection which are not tautologous. Apparently, this inconsistency of treatment slides right by Johnson. p. 24(q): {In fact the stock is highly successful at resisting improvement, often for millions of years, so there must be something wrong with the logic. This time it is the confusion generated by that word "advantage".} The confusion is Johnson's, not the author of the quote just previous, as becomes clear from Johnson's further commentary. He notes that what "Darwinists" mean by "advantage" is not what Johnson thinks it should mean. By extracting this piece of biological jargon from context, Johnson aims to make the biologists look deliberately obfuscatory, but merely succeeds in making himself look petty and uninformed. Johnson also ignores the fact that "improvement" may not be accompanied by any morphological change that would be reflected in the fossil record. The species "unchanged for millions of years" are judged so only on the basis of morphology, and that generally only of hard parts. The statement cannot held to be dogmatically true when much of the evidence is missing, as Johnson is elsewhere fond of pointing out, but not, apparently, when it might cause him to have to abandon a point of criticism. p. 28(q): {In this situation some may decide that Darwinism simply _must_ be true, and for such persons the purpose of any further investigation will be merely to explain how natural selection works and to solve the mysteries created by apparent anomalies.} The problem here is that Johnson assumes that science determines truth. In fact, Johnson makes this error throughout his book. Science does not do this. Science, instead, derives models of how physical processes work. These models are subject to change or abandonment due to further experiment or observation. In the absence of contradictory evidence, the model will be retained. Johnson holds, incorrectly, that theories of evolution must be demonstrated to be "true" before we should "accept" them. p. 30(q): {Darwin wrote that "If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection." But this was the same Darwin who insisted that he had never claimed that natural selection was the exclusive mechanism of evolution.} Well, well. Here we see that Johnson is hoist upon his own petard. By not defining "evolution" to avoid confusion, he has confused himself in attempting to read the literature. Darwin's theory is natural selection, not "evolution". Evolution had been theorized prior to Darwin, as most readers with even a slight familiarity with the literature are able to distinguish. Johnson's obvious pleasure in picking out what he mistakenly feels to be a contradiction on Darwin's part should make this all the more embarrassing for Johnson. [The end. For now.] ==!

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