Re: [asa] Response to Baylor meeting

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Sun Aug 30 2009 - 21:30:13 EDT

Schwarzwald wrote:
> As for the question he has about stewardship and evolution, I think his
> question may go deeper. If extinction is just a part of evolution, then
> why is it a concern? I don't think this problem goes away just by
> increasing the scope of the extinction to 'wiping out ecosystems' and
> 'no daughter lineages'. I think this is divorced from the question of
> 'human specialness' - even if we're 100% certain that humanity has a
> unique purpose, that alone doesn't tell us what we should do about the
> rest of creation. After all, extinctions happen, niches disappear, new
> species appear, new niches open up.

I must admit that I didn't find the question to be the most lucid and would like to see it teased out to make clear some of the assumptions which lie behind it.

Other than that, I would urge the view that the scope of the extinctions is the major point of concern *in the contemporary context*. Note that this last is an important qualification because it's not extinction per se that I believe concerns evolutionists here, but rapid and widespread extinctions of the sort we see presently occurring.

The rate at which ecosystems are being destroyed is also enormously problematic. Here global warming is a prime example of the problem. From an evolutionary perspective, it is not the fact of global warming which is the problem, but the rate - the fact that species simply can't adapt to rapid rate of habitat change.

Actually, the rate of ecosystem destruction AND the scope of extinctions are intimately related. One can, for example, hunt a species like the Bison to extinction and you will merely create a "new" niche into which another species can evolve. But destroy the ecosystem and you destroy both the niches and every organism which might have evolved into them.

I'll only add that it doesn't take five minutes of Googling "habitat destruction" or "endangered species" to see that this connection between habitat destruction and widespread extinction is precisely the issue which most raises its head. Concerns about the extinction of individual species due to some targeted threat (say a species specific disease or hunting) are nowhere near so prominent on the evolutionists' radar screen.

All this predicates a certain outlook, of course: i.e. an evolutionary point of view which sees adaptation happening in time-frames of tens of thousands of years. So when we see the ecosystems of the planets changing, or even disappearing, in time-frames which can be measured in decades, or even less, I don't think the evolutionists' concerns need much explaining.


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Received on Sun Aug 30 21:31:01 2009

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