Thu, 11 Sep 1997 07:48:47 -0400 (EDT)


I appreciate your thoughtful response of September 9. There is much in it
with which I agree.

You wrote, "Consequently, I believe that our energies must be focused on the
philosophical/religious claims, rather than the scientific ones. And as I've
said many times, I'm willing to join the young-earthers and the intelligent
design advocates on exposing the philosophical/religious claims of SOME
evolutionists. . . . The problem seems to be that they are unwilling to
admit me to the critique if I refuse to critique the science."

Nothing prevents you, however, from forming your own cadre of critics
targeted specifically on SOME evolutionists, by whom you mean, I presume,
Dawkins, Dennett, and their ilk. Your acceptance of evolutionary theory even
gives you some advantage, since you can criticize them from *within* the
paradigm, allowing you to focus more sharply on their philosophical/religious

I want to respond to some other things you wrote. Here's one: "As to Bob's
post of today with references to irreducible complexity, Cambrian explosion,
and other so-called phenomena that are unexplainable in the standard
evolutionary picture, I simple must say that I disagree. He and Johnson and
Behe say that non-interventionist evolutionary models CANNOT explain these
phenomena. I'm not nearly as convinced that our "normal" science has failed
or is failing us. No doubt there are many interesting questions that remain.
But to conclude that we've reached the dead end of our evolutionary
explanation is simply to close our eyes to much recent progress."

I want what I wrote to be read carefully. I wrote, "My second problem is
that there are fundamental aspects of organic life that I find next to
impossible to interpret as the outcomes of a purposeless, unguided
processes." I didn't say CANNOT. My eyes are not closed. But I'm a Serious
Skeptic. I'm looking carefully. I'm trying to see where evolutionary
processes fit all of this.

I'm also looking at other phenomena that standard evolutionary picture pays
scant attention to, which you seemingly wrote off as "other so-called
phenomena." Let me repeat them. I refer first to the top-down, hierarchical
structure of organic life over the past 500 million years; second, to the
relative stability of body plans of the Cambrian animals over the past
half-billion years, that provide the identifying characteristics of the
phyla; third, to the coordinated, synchronous growth and development of large
animal groupings, called allomorphosis, that are paralleled in the
development and growth of individual members of these phyla; fourth, to the
relative paucity of species in the Early Cambrian when the Cambrian animals
were being synthesized; fifth, to the clear-cut parabolic-like curve that
emerges when changes in many variables in the life span of large groupings of
animals are plotted against a geologic time line; sixth, to the phenomenon of
aging and death of large groups of animals if extinction doesn't first do
them in; seventh, the remarkable reflection of von Baer's first two laws of
development in the phyletic growth and development of large phyletic groups.
I consider these legitimate phenomena that need explanations that
evolutionary theorists have largely passed over.

In short, I'm exploring the applicability of developmental principles to
changes that occur in phyletic grouping of animals over geologic time,
changes that the are not included in the evolutionary picture. Developmental
processes provide a model to account for these changes because they are
intrinsically directed, hierarchically sequenced, goal directed. The
processes are reflected in the fossil record. The approach does not rule out
the operation neo-Darwinian mechanisms. My present thinking is that
neo-Darwinian mechanisms make important modifications of the basic structures
formed initially by developmental processes, increase diversification,
enhance the survivability of phyletic lineage's, and come into play after the
basic structures are laid down by developmental processes.