Re: Fwd: Alvin Plantinga's paper

Tim Ikeda (
Tue, 19 Jan 1999 23:15:25 -0500

Moorad Alexanian wrote:

> The relevance of evolutionary theory to the teaching of biology
> can be attested as follows: Suppose we took any biology textbook
> and would delete any reference to evolutionary theory or evolution
> from it, I can assure you that the text would make just as much
> sense if not even more.

I can't quite agree. I was paging through Thomas Brock's textbook on
Microbiology and you'd have to take at least a chapter out of that
book to eliminate references to evolution. And that's a particularly
interesting chapter on bacterial phylogeny and the origins of the
chloroplast and mitochondrion. I think it's intriguing to consider
that introns were discovered in these eukaryotic organelles _before_
they were discovered in their prokaryotic relatives. Molecular-based
phylogenetic analysis has had a profound impact on how bacteriologists/
microbiologists think about their work and frame some of their
research. Just examine how the focus of many articles has changed
in the Journal of Bacteriology over the last couple of decades.

While the long term path of evolutionary development may be difficult
to predict (much like the weather), I think some evolutionary theories
can be applied successfully to experiments on the smaller scale.
(eg. Dan Dykhuizen's work in chemostats & the work of other groups
on fish populations such as guppies and stickleback fish). And
even though the notion of common descent on the large scale may only
be immediately useful at predicting the existence of possible intermediates
(as well as the possible locations where you'd find them), I think
that's well ahead of current competing notions about the relationships
between life on earth.

Now, I would never advocate teaching evolution (or the inverse-square
law of gravity) as irrefutable, unquestionable fact. I just don't
think many special creationists would appreciate a truely balanced
treatment of their favorite alternatives. Not that we shouldn't attempt
to present the historical context during an intro to a unit on

Tim Ikeda (despam address before use)