Re: Professing evolution column by Maggie Gallagher

From: Don Winterstein (
Date: Fri Feb 07 2003 - 02:50:20 EST

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    My two-cents worth:

    It's clear that life forms have changed a lot down through time. Given the
    fossil record, any respectable scientific theory would hold that later life
    forms derive from earlier ones. Hence all students perhaps should be
    required to buy into evolution this far.

    I would not require them to buy the mechanism of random mutation constrained
    by natural selection. Why not? This mechanism, although it admirably
    satisfies parsimony, has never been shown to apply. Even where species
    changes in historic times have been clearly documented, no one has shown
    that the mutations responsible were random. Randomness is a bald
    assumption. Why couldn't God have guided them, for example? (Just because
    a concept is not scientifically useful does not ipso facto make it wrong.)
    Furthermore, there's the question of probabilities. Many educated people,
    including myself, have a hard time believing that a sufficient number of
    favorable mutations of the right kind was likely to occur in succession at
    random to cause certain observed transitions. People like Richard Dawkins
    come up with interesting and even entertaining plausibility arguments to
    support the scientific mechanism, but the support never transcends mere
    plausibility. No one should be denied anything on the grounds that he or
    she cannot buy someone's plausibility arguments. If science has proven
    anything, it is that no theory can be given the highest level of respect
    until it is empirically tested in great detail. Unfortunately, the
    mechanism of evolution does not lend itself to adequate tests.

    Conclusion: Although important aspects of the theory of evolution are well
    supported, the mechanism itself, despite its great esthetic and scientific
    appeal, is not adequately supported. Therefore, go easy on what you require
    students to believe.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "William T. Yates" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Thursday, February 06, 2003 7:09 PM
    Subject: Professing evolution column by Maggie Gallagher

    > Any thoughts?
    > --Bill Yates
    > --
    > --Bill Yates
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