Re: Phil Skell replies to David Campbell

From: Joel Moore <>
Date: Thu Sep 22 2005 - 18:36:10 EDT

I think people need to be careful to think through their statements
before posting them, especially when they're disagreeing with large
bodies of evidence. See specific example below:

On 9/21/05, Ted Davis <> wrote:
> Phil has asked me to post this. (He prefers not to join the list himself at
> the moment, but he is interested in what we think of his op-ed piece.)
> ****
> David Campbell's very learned exegesis of Mayr's description misses
> the point that paleontology and modern experimental biology provide
> enormously disparate data.
> His digression into chemistry is almost totally non-relevant, since biology
> is concerned with unique individual organisms, no two of which are
> identical in the sense that two samples of the same chemical are identical.

I assume Dr. Skell didn't mean the following, but if you follow his
above statement about individual organisms to its logical conclusion,
then it suggests that all of biochemistry (including his own work in
penicillin) is invalid. Biochemistry and medicine would not have any
validity if every individual organism was unique because the
biochemical reaction that lowered cholesterol in one individual
organism would not be predicted to have any success in the next
individual organism. The same applies to species: if humans and mice
did not have many biochemical pathways in common, then successful
biomedical research performed on mice would not predicted to have any
validity for application to humans.

> Further, Darwin's theory was based on evidence most of which is lost and
> forever inaccessible to experimental tests, while chemistry and its
> theories are grossly different in this respect.

David Campbell addressed this objection well but I'll add one more
example. We have organisms that are found in the fossil record and are
extant today. One example is the gingko, which has been around for
about 200 million years. So we cannot only learn a lot from the
fossils as David wrote, as he eluded to about their biochemistry as
well. By studying the biochemistry of gingko, we can use what we learn
from these "living fossils" to better understand both past life in the
fossil record and the evolution of plants subsequent to 200 million
years ago.


> Nobels for Physiology/Medicine deal almost entirely with Biology. Darwin's
> "theory" is mainly metaphysically-based speculation about matters lost in
> deep-time, and makes only meddlesome contributions to experimental
> biology. Phil
Received on Thu Sep 22 18:38:43 2005

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