RE: Panda's from 1995

From: Hofmann, Jim <>
Date: Sat Nov 12 2005 - 13:29:27 EST

As I said, and will not say again, why not simply say that no evidence will ever convince YOU of common descent and then just drop it? We've heard you.
Jim Hofmann

-----Original Message-----
From: Cornelius Hunter []
Sent: Sat 11/12/2005 9:00 AM
To: Hofmann, Jim;
Subject: Re: Panda's from 1995

I was at one time convinced that evolution and common descent are facts. I was, however, not committed to that position. When I looked more carefully at the reasons why common descent is supposed to be a fact I found some interesting things. For instance, there are many evidential problems yet evolutionists claim evolution and CD are a fact. Indeed, the claim is repeatedly made in the literature, but not actually demonstrated. Your paper does this as well. The paper uses the typical special-pleading argument that supportive evidences demonstrate the fact of common descent (though the actual logic as to how such a conclusion is mandated is omitted) but counter evidences don't matter because they deal merely with the mechanism (how evolution occurred, not if it occurred). For instance, you write:

"First of all, as we have already argued in detail, there is a fundamental epistemological difference between the factual assertion of common descent and theoretical efforts to stipulate relevant causal mechanisms. Wells repeatedly uses language that blurs this distinction. He refers over and over again to how 'Darwin's theory' is placed in jeopardy by the fossil evidence. But this chapter of his book supposedly confronts the thesis of common descent and textbook representations of that thesis."

The paper lists several evidences in support of CD, arguing that they prove CD. Yet evidences against CD do no harm to the fact of the matter. We are to believe common descent is a fact, for as you earlier wrote in the paper:

"Although hypotheses about detailed direct lineages are always subject to revision, the fossil record clearly shows that modern fish, amphibians, mammals and birds are descended from earlier life."

The fossil record not show this, but you write that it *clearly* shows this. And claims that are clearly true need not be explained; after all, they're obvious. The paper makes this assertion, but does not explain how we are supposed to conclude this given the evidence.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Hofmann, Jim
  To: Cornelius Hunter ;
  Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 3:23 PM
  Subject: RE: Panda's from 1995

  Why not just say that no evidence will ever convince you and leave it at that? One comment:

  "Anti-evolutionary writers have attempted to coop the term 'design' so as

  to make it incompatible with common descent. They have done so by blurring the

  distinction between design as an intention, on the one hand, and the execution of

  that intention on the other. Life may well have been 'designed' in the sense that it

  was divinely intended for a specific purpose. Nevertheless, even if this is the case,

  the scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the execution

  of that intention has been through the process of common descent. Students must

  be made aware of this fact and should be allowed to draw their own conclusions

  about whether or not common descent represents the execution of a supernaturally

  intended design, an issue that is not appropriately decided in a science classroom." (p. 755)

  "The Fact of Evolution: Implications for Science Education", Science and Education, 2003, vol. 12, pp. 729-760. James R. Hofmann and Bruce H. Weber)

  Jim Hofmann


  From: [] On Behalf Of Cornelius Hunter
  Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 3:16 PM
  Subject: Re: Panda's from 1995

  There are many problems with evolution. We simply are in no position to conclude that it is a fact, and without blemish. Likewise, there are obvious evidences for design staring us in the face. Again, let's not play dumb. I'm not saying I have the answers, but it is disappointing to see the various (and opposing) claims of certainty made in this origins debate. We don't seem to be very close to a serious engagement of the issues / evidences.

    ----- Original Message -----

    From: Terry M. Gray


    Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 1:53 PM

    Subject: Re: Panda's from 1995


    I would still contend that "without plan or purpose" is not inconsistent with theistic evolution IF it is understood from the perspective of the created thing. We use language of like this all the time to describe things in the universe--why is it such a problem in biology?.

    Of course, it's not true from the point of view of the Creator, from an orthodox Christian perspective. I will concede Cornelius Hunter's point that Darwin and most evolutionists after him do not share that theological perspective, but that does not mean that the language is not reasonable or that "from a scientific" perspective that "without plan or purpose" is not the case.

    If there is a "plan and purpose" that is detectable scientifically, then I'm all ears. Where is it? How is it imposed on organisms and ecosystems?

    I think Miller conceded to Wiester much too quickly.


    On Nov 11, 2005, at 8:50 AM, Rich Blinne wrote:

     On 11/10/05, Terry M. Gray < > wrote:

    Check this out:


    Interesting. Note the following:

      Following these presentations were interactions with the audience. John
      Wiester quoted from Miller's book, Biology (K. Miller and J. Levine,
      Prentice-Hall, 1993, p. 658):

      "In many ways, each animal phylum represents an experiment in the design of
      body structures to perform the tasks necessary for survival. Of course,
      there has never been any kind of plan to these experiments because evolution
      works without either plan or purpose."

      He then asked Ken if he would consider this science or philosophy. John's
      point was that B.'s ideological implications are significant and worth
      considering for revision in the next edition of the book.

     MSNBC reported at the Dover trial said he missed the reference.

      Miller also backed off a statement in a 1995 biology textbook he co-wrote that said evolution was "random and undirected." Miller said he missed that reference by a co-author and that he did not believe evolution was random and undirected.

    Yet, this shows that the reference was brought to his attention in the same year that the book was published. Further, the phrase was apparently not removed in the 1998 or 2000 editions.

      In spite of author Kenneth Miller's pledge to the American Scientific Affiliation in August of 1995 to remove the phrases that "evolution is without plan or purpose" and "evolution is random and undirected" because they represent ideology masquerading as science, this identical language reappeared in the 1998 and 2000 editions.

    Could someone with access to recent editions of Biology please verify this? Could someone with access to the trial transcripts get Miller's exact words on the stand as the MSNBC article does not directly quote him? If pro-teleology is not allowed then neither should anti-teleology. As such, Miller should be held to his pledge.


    Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.

    Computer Support Scientist

    Chemistry Department

    Colorado State University

    Fort Collins, CO 80523

    (o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801
Received on Sat Nov 12 13:32:09 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Nov 12 2005 - 13:32:09 EST