Re: Message from Phil Skell

From: David C Campbell <amblema@bama.ua.edu>
Date: Tue Sep 20 2005 - 19:12:04 EDT

The underlying problem with the argument is that similar objections
apply to any fundamental theory. For example, atomic theory wasn't
very important in anything I did in chemistry lab. I measured stuff
and observed various changes, but none of this would have been affected
at all if the changes were due to something besides rearranging atoms.
Some of the more complicated measurements used equipment that was
designed in light of the predictions of atomic theory, and the data
were interpreted in light of atomic theory, but it did not directly
guide the experiments. Most of the experiments replicated experiments
that were done, if not prior to significant acceptance of atomic
models, at least prior to the point when significant detailed guidance
could be gotten from the existing atomic models. Thus, atomic theory
is merely providing after the fact explanations. Applied chemistry has
much more to do with determining whether a particular substance or
reaction has useful properties rather than anything relating to atomic
theory, although atomic theory may give hints as to things that could
be worth examining.

Some of the objections relating to Archaeopteryx are outdated; others
are part of the strange situation relating to the bird-dinosaur
relationship where opposing parties have entrenched on several issues
that do not necessarily relate to each other and are not too careful
about the quality of arguments. There are fairly birdlike dinosaurs
now known from similarly aged deposits. The teeth of Archaeopteryx are
simplified; evolving them from any of a number fo possible ancestors
would be plausible. Although ground-up flight has its problems, the
evidence of the Jehol fossils from northeast China supports the descent
of birds from small arboreal dinosaurs (thus offending both the birds
aren't dinosaurs and the birds are dinosaurs that evolved flight form
the ground up parties). The purported underdevelopment of the arms in
the relevant dinosaurs is not very convincing to me; relatively longer
or shorter limbs does not seem like a big change, especially in light
of the "small arboreal dinosaur" option just noted. However, it should
be emphasized that the "birds aren't dinosaurs" party asserts that
birds are close relatives of dinosaurs. There is not major
disagreement about the evolutionary pattern, just about the exact
details. (I took a class on vertebrates from Feduccia and am quite
familiar with the debate!)

Nobel Prizes are not a very good criterion to relate to evolution
because there is no Nobel Prize in biology. I'd guess that relatively
few major awards in engineering have a direct foundation in atomic
theory.

----------------------------------------
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama, Box 870345
Tuscaloosa AL 35487
"James gave the huffle of a snail in
danger But no one heard him at all" A.
A. Milne
Received on Tue Sep 20 19:13:23 2005

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