Ted Davis Review of Johnson, Behe, and Moreland

Wed, 2 Sep 1998 07:00:03 EDT


Your reviews of Johnson, Behe, and Moreland are very perceptive and at one
level, valid. Their validity, however, lies in part, in your limited, and
over-simple conception of evolution, if I may say so. There are two
important references to evolution in your review. Both apparently assume, as I
see it, that the theory of evolution adequately accounts for *organic
diversity.* The references are:

"For ID to fit this category, however, it will be necessary for its advocates
to spell out much more clearly just what an ID account of the *origin of
biological diversity* would look like, and how this would actually further
scientific inquiry rather than hinder it." (My emphasis.)

In your last paragraph you wrote, "All told, the efforts of an accomplished
legal theorist like Johnson might be better directed toward persuading his
colleagues to reconsider their interpretation of the Constitution, rather than
toward criticizing the basic tenets of what most scientists rightly regard as
*a well-supported theory of the origin of biological diversity.*" (My

Biological diversity, however, is only one, and not necessarily the most
important, characteristic of organic life that needs to be accounted for. It
is the one that evolutionary authors typically emphasize. There are two other
features that evolutionists, however, rarely consider. Dobzhansky wrote,
"The two fundamental characteristics of organic diversity--its *discontinuity*
and the *hierarchical odering.*...Let it be re-emphasized that discontinuity
and hierarchical ordering are universal in the living world." Dobzhansky, T.,
Chap. 6., "Species and Their Origins" *Evolution* (San Francisco: Freeman,
1977), 168-169.

While natural selection is undoubtedly the major engine of organic diversity
(microevolution), its role in the formation of biological hierarchies and in
discontinuities is probably non-existent, or at least much attenuated. The
reason is that biological hierarchies arise from "macroevolution", and are
built from the top down. The theory of evolution is notoriously silent when
it comes to how natural selection gives rise of the major body plans which are
the starting point of natural hierarchies and discontinuities in animal life.

In my opinion, the ID movement has more promise for elucidating the formation
of hierarchies and discontinuities than it does organic diversity. Natural
selection is king of that mountain. As long as you hold ID to explaining
*organic diversity*, as I believe you do, you do not allow it to exercise its
full scope of explanatory power.

Thanks again for your review and for your many thoughtful contributions to
this list serve.