Re: Where did whales come from?

Stephen Jones (
Thu, 11 Jun 1998 19:24:12 +0800


On Thu, 04 Jun 1998 21:47:39 -0500, Glenn R. Morton wrote:

>GM>It is time to leave the charges and invectives behind.


>GM>I will address the issue of where the whale came from. You cite Stanley:

>SJ>"Within perhaps twelve million years, most of the living orders of mammals
>>were in existence, all having descended from simple, diminutive animals
>>that might be thought of as resembling small rodents..." (Stanley S.M., "The
>>New Evolutionary Timetable," 1981, p93).

GM>Stanley is not saying that whales came from rodents in spite of how you
>read this. He is saying that the ORDERS of mammals came from .

This is just hair-splitting. If all orders of mammals came from animals resembling
rodents, and whales are mammals, then whales came from animals resembling

GM>The word *resembling* is important here. If I say
>you resemble Pres. Bill Clinton, that doesn't mean you ARE Bill Clinton.
>Similarly an animal that 'resembles' a rodent isn't necessarily a rodent.
>A case in point is the marsupial mouse from Australia which *resembles* a
>rodent but isn't one.

More hair-splitting. In your program of destructive critcicism of Johnson,
you fail to point out that he also uses the term "rodent like":

"A chain of ten or fifteen of these might move us from one small RODENT
LIKE form to a slightly different one, perhaps representing a new genus,
but not to a bat or a whale!' " ((Johnson P.E., "Darwin on Trial," 1993, p51,
quoting Stanley S.M, "The New Evolutionary Timetable". 1981, p71).

"It isn't merely that grand-scale Darwinism can't be confirmed. The
evidence is positively against the theory. For example, if Darwinism is
true then the bat, monkey, pig, seal, and whale all evolved in gradual
adaptive stages from a primitive RODENT-LIKE predecessor."
(Johnson P.E. "Evolution as Dogma: The Establishment of
Naturalism", 1990, p35).

GM>>So I don't find this convincing evidence that Stanley believes that
>rodents gave rise to whales.

Neither Stanley nor Johnson "believes that rodents" (in a technical sense)
"gave rise to whales." You are being over-literal as part of your campaign
to discredit such a fine Christian apologist like Johnson who argue against

On 16 May 1998 you wrote:

"But Stephen, the use of the word 'rodent' is NOT consistent with your
thesis that rodents gave rise to bats....Bats came from the insectivores NOT
the rodents..."

Well in my Encyclopedia of the Animal World, it has a pictures of the oldest
known insectivores called Deltatheridium:

"In addition there are various groups- of extinct insectivores, which
are known only from very ancient fossils. One such animal,
Deltatheridium, lacked even the few specialized features seen in the
primitive living insectivores and seems very close to the ideal
generalized ancestor for the entire placental mammal stock."
(Morris P.A., "Indectivora", "Encyclopedia of the Animal World",
1982, pp1008-1010)

Deltatherium looks just like a rat! Indeed, the Encyclopaedia Britannica
says that insectivores can only be distingushed from similarly built
rodents by their teeth:

"Insectivores are characterized by the lack of distinctive features seen
in other mammalian orders rather than by the possession of unifying
morphological traits. All possess a low braincase, a rather long
conical rostrum (snout) and unspecialized legs, feet, and locomotion.
They can be distinguished from similarly built rodents by the lack of
the gnawing incisors (followed by a diastema, or space) that
characterize the rodents..." (Findley J.S., "Insectivora", Encyclopaedia
Britannica, 1984, 9:626-628)

Your hair-splitting on this point, in order to find some fault in Johnson
reminds me of those Darwinist apologists who claimed that man was
not descended from apes, playing on the word "apes" in
a highly specialised sense. George Gaylord Simpson used strong
words like"imbicility" and "dishonest" to characterise this type of
argument :

"On this subject, by the way, there has been too much pussyfooting.
Apologists emphasize that man cannot be a descendant of any living
ape-a statement that is obvious to the verge of imbicility-and go on to
state or imply that man is not really descended from an ape or
monkey at all, but from an earlier common ancestor. In fact, that
earlier ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in
popular speech by anyone who saw it. Since the terms ape and
monkey are defined by popular usage, man's ancestors were apes or
monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous if not dishonest
for an informed investigator to say otherwise." (Simpson G.G., "The
World into which Darwin Led us," Science, Vol. 131, No. 3405, April 1,
1960, p969, in Davidheiser B., "Evolution and the Christian Faith," 1969,

GM>Again you quote Stanley:

>SJ>"All of these longevities must be judged in light of how long it has taken
>for new higher taxa of the same group to develop. Recall, for example, that early
>>in the Cenozoic Era, whales evolved from vastly different small, rodentlike
>>mammals in no more than 12 million years." (Stanley S.M., "Earth and Life
>>Through Time", 1989, pp156-157).

GM>I don't have this book so I can't check the quotation (you are very good at
>getting the quotation correct so I believe you that this is what he wrote).

Thanks. But why raise the subject of the accuracy of my quotations at all?

GM>However, once again, Stanley said rodentlike not rodent.

So does Johnson!

GM> However, I don't think that anyone other than maybe Stanley believed that
>whales arose from rodent-like critters. If he had said wolf-like I would have agreed. As far
>back as my books go, whales have been believed to have arisen from Creodont
>mesonychids, not rodents or rodent-like animals.

I can hardly believe that as an evoltutionist you can write this Glenn, especially since it is
not the first time. Where do you think the "mesonychids" came from, if it was not from
"rodent-like animals"?

GM>...Robert Carroll, Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, (New
>York: W. H. Freeman, 1988), p. 522
>...Lawrence G. Barnes and Edward
>Mitchell, "Cetacea" in V. J. Maglio and H. B. S. Cooke ed. _Evolution of
>African Mammals_ (Harvard University Press, 1978), p. 592
>...Szalay, "Origin and
>Evolution of function of the Mesonychid Condylarth Feeding mechanism,"
>Evolution 23:703-720, p. 705
>...A. S. Romer, Man and the Vertebrates, (Baltimore: Penguin
>Books, 1968), p. 176,177.
>...Bulletin American Museum of Natural History, Vol 132, p. 93.
>... A. S. Romer, Vertebrate Paleontology
>(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945), p. 488

See above. All the above quotes saying that whales arose from mesonychids
are irrelevant and a red-herring because the same authors would all agree
that mesonychids in turn arose from small, rodent-like mammals.

GM>While this may seem to be a small point to many, I am on some listservs
>where I am in the minority and atheists are in the majority. They have
>criticised Johnson for this rodent point.

I wonder how many of them have actually read Johnson? If they had they
would have seen that Johnson also says "rodent-like". Probably one atheist
says it and the rest just repeat it parrot-like. Now you know that Johnson
also says "rodent-like", will you correct them on this point?

GM>It seems to me that when we give ammo to those that disagree with our
>theological position, we are not doing good.

This is your usual mantra by which you justify your destructive criticism of
Christian apologists like Johnson. Yours is the strategy of the quisling:

"quisling ...Person cooperating with an enemy who has occupied his country...."
(Coulson J., et al, eds., "The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary", 1980, p694)

You seem to think that you can appease the atheists by joining in their attacks
on leading Christian apologists like Johnson. But all you do is confirm them in
their atheism, and cut off a lifeline that God throws to them, through the teachers
like Johnson and Ross whom He has sent (Eph 4:11). You will bear a heavy
responsibility for your actions on this score.

GM>What would it hurt, to fix these statements. Do we christians
>really want to make a stand that a 'joke' should not be changed when it is
>attracting criticism and justifiable criticism in my opinion?

I don't believe it was a "joke" - you got that explanation second hand. I
presume Johnson was speaking popularly, in a non-technical way for layman
readers. Someone who had read the book from start to finish would have realised
that by "rodent", Johnson means "rodent-like" because that is the order it appears
in "Darwin on Trial", ie. "rodent like" (p51); and "rodent (or whatever)" (p53);
appears before "rodent" (p87) and (p104).

But it wouldn't matter if Johnson did "fix" this slight inaccuracy. The atheists
would not be appeased, and nor would TEs like yourself. You would just keep
scraping the bottom of the barrel to find more minor faults. It is abundantly clear
that your real agenda is to neutralise all Christian apologists like Johnson and
Ross who are a threat to evolution.


"Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented."
--- Dr. William Provine, Professor of History and Biology, Cornell University.

Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\
3 Hawker Avenue / Oz \
Warwick 6024 ->*_,--\_/ Phone +61 8 9448 7439
Perth, West Australia v "Test everything." (1Thess 5:21)