Paul Arveson (arveson@oasys.dt.navy.mil)
Mon, 20 Jan 97 17:08:32 EST

> From: "Geoffrey Horton" <ghorton@mail.gte.net>
> Date: Sun, 19 Jan 1997 16:39:57 -0600

> Here, as elsewhere, Sagan proffers an explanation to his taste without,
> apparently, being aware (a) he has provided no evidence, just an "it could
> be", and (b) that he is trapped just as much by his reductionist world-view
> as the oddest UFO fanatic is by his own view.
> I am not a YEC either, but careless use of "evolution," especially without
> acknowledgement of the unanswered questions, does no favor to a would-be
> scientific view of the world.
> Yours in Christ,
> Geoff

I had a similar experience recently. I picked up a copy of Loren Eiseley's
The Immense Journey (1946). He was a science popularizer and predecessor
to Sagan, but I never got around to reading his work.

Eiseley begins by describing his discovery of a reptilian skull in sediments
under the Midwest prairie. The book is deliberately artistic and eloquent,
but as a result, the science really suffers. The narrative is a mixture
of fact, inference, speculation and metaphor. The only way to enjoy such
a book is to trust the author completely, and assume that all he says is
true at the outset. I couldn't do that, so I could not enjoy the book.
It is not only because I am a Christian. It is also because the book is
now 50 years out of date, and much of the speculation has probably been
found to be false. Even plate tectonics wasn't widely accepted back then.
How much of modern popular science writing will be soon out of date?

One thing we all seem to agree on here is that we need to learn to
separate fact from opinion, as they tried to teach us in the third grade.

Regarding evidence for evolution: if one assumes that evolution arises out of
the success of random mutations, then how could there ever be DIRECT evidence
for it? This would require one to trace one change in one chromosome of one
cell of one particular organism, and then follow the descendents of that
organism for many generations to see how the mutation offers a benefit.
I suggest that such observations are out of the question. Therefore,
direct evidence for evolution is not practically obtainable.

Hence, people accept the theory of evolution for reasons other than
direct evidence or "hard facts". Philosophers and theologians can fill
you in on the 'other reasons'.

This in itself is not a fatal flaw of the theory, because there are other such
theories in the history of science that were accepted long before good evidence
for them existed: such as the motion of the earth claimed by Galileo without
direct evidence.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
Code 724, NSWC, Bethesda, MD 20817-5700
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)