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Sorry; you're the one who is wrong. Evolution is as much a fact as the nearly-elliptical orbits of planets around a focal sun, waves of electro- magnetism, and the composition of (ordinary) matter in "atoms" made up of electrons and nuclei themselves composed of protons and neutrons. Each of these facts has a long history of origin within, and continued entanglement with and explanation by, theories -- and some of those old theories are no longer of direct scientific relevance. Each fact could be "dissolved" by a sufficiently hard-boiled "skepticism" -- but only at the expense of calling into question just about anything else one would like to call fact. In other words, I am not making ultimate ontological statements (which I regard as futile, anyway), but practical ones. And Creationists who question the "fact" of evolution are playing a semantic shell-game, in that they *will* not apply the same criteria uniformly (e.g., to putative religious "facts" or even to everyday or scientific facts that THEY have no agenda to attack.) The fact of evolution was granted by serious investigators within a decade or so of Darwin's extremely convincing presentation of the data; all life is marked by signs of a common descent which can be "questioned" only by adopting criteria that question *all* empirical conclusions. Such Humean questioning is valuable -- but not when done in a rhetorical game that pretends evolution is any more vulnerable than the factual underpinnings of our physical and chemical world. The theoretical explication of the fact also began with Darwin, and his treatment of variation and adaptation -- both of which are again facts, the theory being the logic which combines these to explain the commonalities within the differences observed in life. Darwin's theory had some serious problems at the genetic level: why doesn't inheritance just "blend" everything back to statistical population means? And post-Mendelian population genetics and molecular biology both help to address this point, and raise others (about genetic drift, for example.) But questions in the logic of the theory, or unresolved issues in the comparison of theory and fact, do not reduce the factual status of: a) massive variation of genotypes and phenotypes in populations b) variety of phenotypes in a population with only arbitrarily small phenotypic differences between many nearby taxons c) continued introduction of variation both at a combinatorial level and by mutation d) phenotypic change in populations over time, on a basis of genetic change over time e) divergence of previously mutually interbreeding populations under selection and/or drift f) dispersion of phenotypes in time and space as "radiations" from localized origins, with variations increasing over this dispersion g) fossil evidence of gradations quite as small as any in the contemporary evidence of b) over geological ages sufficient to *document* descent with modification as taxonomic levels much higher than the species (e.g., reptile -> mammal) Evolutionary theory is indeed a live and lively body, only started (in a manner related to current theory) by Darwin, not now or in the for- seeable future a "finished" product. A Creationist might logically pin *some* hopes on lacunae and problems in current evolutionary theory -- Some would like to suggest [and this is fine] that adaptation and drift are NOT sufficient mechanism for the observed record -- and some paleon- tologists would be sympathetic, if the suggestions are not vitalistic or otherwise obscurantist. But typically, such suggestions are made with an absurd dichotomization which wants to *deny* selection and drift. Some want to posit "barrriers" to descent-with-modification [i.e., evolution] "beyond" the "bounds" of species (or some vaguely construed "kind" -- which has the advantage that it can continually retreat before new factual evidence of speciation :-)) But in FACT species don't HAVE "bounds" and the whole archaic notion of "kinds" simply fails to be an adequate basis for the taxonomy of living things. Most Creationist attacks on evolution are bizarrre -- operating by mistakes about what the weak points are, and only plausible when the facts ARE rejected. -- Michael L. Siemon "Of course, we can not guarantee our mls@panix.com Bibles against ordinary wear or abuse." mls@ulysses.att.com -- Oxford University Press

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