Re: Don't forget about me! (distal vs. proximate)

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Thu Apr 19 2001 - 17:50:27 EDT

  • Next message: Bert Massie: "Re: Don't forget about me!"

    Hi Robert

    Good to hear back from you wrote:

    > Thanks for your note. I agree that original research is a necessary. My
    > wish is that more of it were done outside the evolutionary paradigm on
    > problems that the paradigm should be able to solve, but hasn't. For
    > instance, the idea that species go through the process of aging is not
    > considered a respectable area of research in paleontology, since George
    > Simpson squelched the topic in mid century by calling it an absurd idea. Yet
    > there is significant evidence for it in the paleontological literature that,
    > however, is consistently cast in an exclusively evolutionary framework, and
    > thus lost. The concept of phyletic aging implies that phyletic groups go
    > through a developmental process that involves the entire life cycle of the
    > group and is independent of evolutionary processes. But I doubt if any
    > evolutionary biologist or paleontologist would touch the topic.

    Is the origin of phyla an "anomaly" that cannot be explained or simply an area
    that needs further research? This is where we need to be consistent. All
    sciences have areas which require further research. I understand that in the
    study of the formation of the solar system the origin of Neptune and Uranus are
    difficult to explain using current models of planetisimal accretion. Does this
    mean that accretionary theories need to be rejected and other paradigms (such as
    the currently rejected tidal and inter stellar capture theories) explored?

    With respect to senescence, my understanding of the literature is that the
    evidence for it is actually poor, which is why the idea has been discarded. It
    was a good idea at the time, but simply one that did not work out. You have to
    allow for progress in our understanding of how things are.

    > Phyletic development happens to be my pet anomaly. It raises doubts in my
    > mind about the adequacy of Darwinian evolutionary theory. I would like to
    > hear from others about anomalies they have regarding the theory. I'm not
    > talking about shortcomings of the theories that will perhaps be resolved in
    > time. I am talking about known phenomena that the theory should be able to
    > encompass and explain, but doesn't or can't. But what I read are largely
    > criticisms of those who raise questions about the theory.

    > As you can see, the misuse of science is not my main concern. My concern is
    > that there is no longer a critical attitude toward the theory of evolution;
    > that it is placed in the same category as the established theory of chemical
    > bonding, when in fact there has been much serious criticism of the theory.

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "much serious criticism". Once you have
    eliminated the YEC and most ID criticism which is driven by a God of the gaps
    theology, how much is left? Behe and Dembski perhaps, but both a using their
    open competencies to speak outside it. Behe for example, handles the literature
    in a way that does not engender confidence. Besides, Behe has no problem with
    evolution as such, at least he did not in "Darwin's back box", but with natural
    selection as a mechanism for formation of some aspects of biochemistry. He might
    be right, but at most all this shows is that there is more to evolution than
    Darwinian processes, something we know anyway. Dembski may be a good but his use
    of mathematics has too much of a smoke and mirrors approach for my liking,
    especially when his hostility to evolution appears to be driven by a weak

    I am leaving for a week, so will leave it to you to have the last word.


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