Many arguments by those in the broadly defined theistic evolution camp criticize errors routinely made by both certain atheists and certain design, young-earth, etc. advocates, such as god of the gap theology. Thus, they may be critiquing both atheists and theists at once.
Regarding the development of higher-level patterns, here is an example of appealing to natural factors, but outside of natural selection, to explain some patterns: R. D. K. Thomas, R. M. Shearman, and G. W. Stewart. 2000. Evolutionary exploitation of design options by the first animals with hard skeletons. Science, 288:1239-1242. Hard parts are classified by seven properties with two to four possible states each. This gives a total of 182 possible pairs of characters (four are logically or functionally impossible). Of these, 146 combinations were already present in the Burgess Shale fauna (over 80 percent); almost all of the remainder have since (or in other Cambrian faunas) been exploited. The early establishment of the major body plans may thus represent a rapid exploitation of the available options, followed by variations on the basic theme. Many of the post-Cambrian options are those exploited mainly by vertebrates. Functional combinations may represent strange att!
ractors. Thus, natural selection plays a role (e.g., promoting certain combinations to be more frequent than others), but physical constraints may be just as important, if not more so, in establishing phylum-level patterns.
Dr. David Campbell
Saint Mary's College of Maryland
18952 E. Fisher Road
St. Mary's City, MD 20686-3001 USA
firstname.lastname@example.org, 301 862-0372 Fax: 301 862-0996
"Mollusks murmured 'Morning!'. And salmon chanted 'Evening!'."-Frank Muir, Oh My Word!
---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: george murphy <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 08:15:11 -0400
>> In a message dated 4/13/01 9:40:04 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
>> << A critical study of evolution in
>> this sense will conclude that it's a pretty good theory, the best we have at
>> present, though certainly not perfect. >>
>> Pretty good, but not good enough. You seem to be content to stop there. We
>> shouldn't be. Someone on another list serve said that the theory of
>> evolution is _overextended_. That is a fair assessment, IMHO. I do not think
>> Darwinian evolution can accomplish all that is claimed for it. For a final
>> biological theory I think we will need to include (1) intelligent design, (2)
>> development not only at (2a) the individual level, but also at (2b) the
>> phyletic level, and (3) Darwinian evolution, and perhaps others, such as
>> Not only must the remarkable _diversity_ of the biota be considered, (which
>> is the favorite property of the biota for evolutionists) but also its
>> _discontinuties_, and its _hierarchical organization_. To expect natural
>> selection to account for all this is just too much. We need thinkers who can
>> think outside the evolutionary paradigm.
>> In short, I believe we should be looking for other processes at work in the
>> organic world besides evolutionary ones. Then evolution will then be seen as
>> one of several or more coordinated processes, rather than the only one, that
>> have shaped the organic world to what it is.
> The sentence of mine which you quote was intended just as a quick summary
>of the situation, not a comprehensive evaluation of evolutionary theory.
> The basic idea of biological evolution, that there has been a long
>process of "descent with modification", is so well established a theory that the
>likelihood of it being overturned is extremely remote. The views of the great
>majority of opponents of evolutionists, all the YECs and crypto-YECs, are out of
> The questions you're raising have to do with the nature and extent of an
>adequate theory of evolution. "Darwinian evolution" may be convenient shorthand,
>but what does it mean? Does anyone today accept evolution exactly as Darwin
>posed it - including his complete lack of knowledge of Mendelian genetics? Does
>"Darwinian evolution" just mean "natural selection"? That is certainly very
>important but natural selection can't be the entire story because there has to be
>something to "select".
> I have no problem with the suggestion that present evolutionary theories
>may need significant modification. What I do have a problem with is the notion
>that that modification must involve miracles, which is what ID claims amount to.
>George L. Murphy
>"The Science-Theology Interface"
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