Re: re-whales from rodents

John W. Burgeson (
Tue, 10 Aug 1999 09:40:55 -0600

Glenn Glenn Glenn....

You still don't get it.

Your original claim was that "Johnson believes that whales came from

You keep repeating that.

What Johnson believes (or does not) is his business.

What Johnson writes, however, is fair game.

He has not written, anywhere, AFAIK, that he believes whales come from

So to claim that he does, indeed, believe this, does not seem to be
either a useful or a truthful claim.

As often happens, in your reply you open up other issues, tangential to
the only one I raised.

You wrote:
However, here is what I found in my copy of Darwin on Trial:

"By what Darwinian process did useful hind limbs wither away to vestigial
proportions, and at what stage in the transformation from rodent to sea
monster did this occur? Did rodent forelimbs transform themselves by
gradual adaptive stages into whale flippers? We hear nothing of the
difficulties because to Darwinists unsolvable problems are not
~ Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial, 2nd ed. (Downer's Grove:
Intervarsity Press, 1993), p. 87
There is no way under God's blue skies that I can read into that piece
(of somewhat lawyerly prose) that Johnson "believes whales came from
Now maybe I, not being the literalist that you, and some others, are,
can't see this being a logical (and intended) consequence of the writing.
Obviously you, and I respect your scholarship, see such a claim as
flowing logically from it. I just happen to think you are dead dead wrong
in this instance.

If anyone else on this list wants to comment here, it would be
appropriate. Do you see Johnson as saying he believes whale came from
rodents as a result of the extract from his writing above? Or not?

You expand (and put a caveat on) you claim by continuing:
Since rodents didn't evolve into whales, at the very, very least, Johnson
is using a poor analogy here. And it loses him credibility.
That's a much weaker claim, of course. I have no particular problem with
that claim.

You continue:
However, he even repeats in a 1990 article:

"Whatever the molecular comparisons may or may not prove, they tell us
nothing about how one kind of creature (e.g. a rodent) can change into
another (e.g. a whale). The theory is based on the premise that
changes are mainly neutral, meaning that they have no substantial effect
upon features important for adaptation." ~ Phillip E. Johnson, "A Reply
My Critics: The Evolution Debate Continued," First Things, November,
p. 52
Same comments as before.

You continue:
Burgy, point me to a statement where Johnson demonstrates that he knows
mesonychids evolved into whales.
I doubt that Johnson has any particular position on that particular
claim, as
I do not. It is only tangentially related to the issue I raised anyway.

Finally, you wrote:
As to the second part of your objection, I do know that he used a 20+
old paleontology text by Barbara Stahl as his prime source for his 1991
book. Why didn't he use Carrol's 1988 vertebrate paleo book? It would
been better. Johnson engaged in poor scholarship.
I did not object, AFAIK, to that statement; if I seem to have done so,
apologies. It is a reasonable question to raise; I have no particular
feeling about whether or not the question has a good rebuttal. It does
seem, to me, to be all that important. I'm sure you disagree.


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