Re: methodological naturalism (response to J. Witters)

RDehaan237 (
Fri, 27 Mar 1998 05:53:25 EST

In a message dated 3/26/98 6:48:10 PM, WITTERSJ@ESUVM.EMPORIA.EDU (Jeff
Witters) wrote:

<<Also, I must question PJ's basis for the statement that the "whole
Darwinian scenario is contrary to the fossil and experimental
evidence". Perhaps he has not had "recent occasion to study the
matter." I might suggest he do so (maybe a chat with Peter Grant
at Princeton, re: Darwin's finches) before making more such
ungrounded statements.


You might wish to read what Stephen J. Gould has to say about "short-term
evolution", presumably including the beaks of Darwin's finches. He claims
that it occurs far too rapidly to serve as a model for evolution as found in
the fossil record. Here's how he put it: "We may say that any change
measurable at all over the few years of an ordinary scientific study must be
occurring far too rapidly to represent ordinary rates of evolution in the
fossil record" (p. 64). ("The Paradox of the Visibly Relevant" _Natural
History_ [106, 12/97-1-98, p. 12 ff.], ).

In one example of "short term evolution" described by Gould the rate of change
occurred 4 to 7 orders of magnitude greater than found in the fossil record.
He reminds us that that's ten thousand to ten million times faster (p. 64).
He continued, "Most cases of rapid microevolution represent the transient
momentary blips that 'flesh out' the rich history of lineages in stasis" (p.

Gould has nothing basic to say in this article about how major innovative
changes took place in animal lineages.

Johnson's statement is not far off target. I would say, "Darwin's mechanisms
that produce microevolution cannot serve as a model for what is found in the
fossil record."