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evolution-digest Thursday, April 1 1999 Volume 01 : Number 1376


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 17:57:36 -0700
From: "Kevin O'Brien" <>
Subject: Re: Peppered moths again

>"Arthur V. Chadwick" wrote:
>> This is not an issue of creationism vs evolutionism. I do not claim that
>> the peppered myth validates the former or invalidates the latter. If the
>> classical story were true it would not threaten creationism anyway, since
>> it only involves changes within a species.
>> What the peppered myth DOES do, in my opinion, is to demonstrate how a
>> commitment to Darwinism can seduce otherwise good scientists into
ignoring >> or even misrepresenting the evidence.
>Well, no, it might be an example of laziness in not considering new
>hypotheses, or even over commitment to old; but neither of those is
>peculiar to Darwinian hypotheses, nor is there reason to think that any
>laziness or over commitment in this particular case is due to
>over attachment to Darwinism. Just ask yourself what happens if Tutt
>hypothesis, that increased industrial pollution rendered the moths'
>environment darker, thus making the carbonaria form less susceptible to
>predation, is wrong? You will still ultimately have to explain the observed
>fact that the carbonaria form, differing from the familiar by a single
>gene, enjoyed increased reproductive success during the latter half of the
>19th century over what it had achieved previously, at the expense of the
>reproductive success of the familiar form. That is, for some reason,
>whether related to industrial pollution or not, the carbonaria phenotype
>was selected for over the familiar. Whatever reason lies behind that
>selection, it is still going to be natural selection due to some cause.
>is, whether or not the mechanism is related to industrial pollution, it is
>going to be some sort of Darwinian mechanism, so even over commitment
>to Darwinism cannot explain preference for one Darwinian mechanism
>over a (perhaps unknown) other Darwinian mechanism.

True, though in this case Majerus has made it clear that Kettlewell's
results are still valid and have even been verified by later experiments.
So it seems unlikely that we have to worry about laziness or over commitment
to Darwinism.

Kevin L. O'Brien


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 18:11:56 -0700
From: "Kevin O'Brien" <>
Subject: Re: Peppered Moths - in black and white (part 2 of 2)

>How can variation be evolution? Variation is just bouncing around within
>determined limits.

No, it's not. Variation is not a verb, it's a noun; it specifies the
totallity of traits within a population, not the change in those traits.
Creationists have co-opted variation and turned it into a verb in an attempt
to invalidate so-called "microevolution" as proof of the validity of
evolution as a whole, but what they refer to as "variation" -- the change in
frequency of one or more traits within a population -- is by definition

>Evolution is something beyond this. Evolution is
>irreversible; the moth phenomenon is reversible; therefore, the
>phenomenon is not an instance of evolution. I don't think I'm making
>idiosyncratic definitions here.

As a matter of fact you are, but it is understandable. You have accepted as
true the creationist claim that "macroevolution" is the only true form of
evolution. Since "macroevolution" does involve more or less irreversible
change, it is natural for you to assume that evolution as a whole requires
irreversible change. However, "microevolution" is also evolution, even
though changes here are not always irreversible. What is important is that
evolution is a change in variation; it doesn't matter whether that change is
reversible or not.

Kevin L. O'Brien


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 18:45:54 -0700
From: "Kevin O'Brien" <>
Subject: Re: Evolution's Imperative

>To all Christians in the Forum:
>Interrogated by Pontius Pilate shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus
>explains the overall purpose of his earthly ministry: "...I came to
>bring truth to the world. All who love the truth are my followers."
>(Jn.18:37, LB). An essential hallmark of the Christian, therefore, is
>that he loves truth; he is not prepared to accept half-truths or lies.
>A little while ago, I posed the question, "Who was Adam?" Answers were
>provided by Kevin and (inadvertently) by Glenn. Clearly, neither accepts
>the straight scriptural answer provided in Genesis 2 and 3.

Once again you are hypocritically demanding that your opponents use only a
straight-forward, face-value approach to Scripture even as you often abandon
that approach to promote your own interpretation or to defend Scripture
against the errors that a literal approach would produce.

>Yet the Lord
>did! - and so did his apostles! - as is made clear from the Gospels and
>Pauline letters. For example:
>Mt.19:4 - "Haven't you read, that at the beginning the Creator made them
>male and female, and said..." Doesn't this make it clear that our Lord
>read the Genesis narrative in a literal fashion?

No. Christ was using Genesis as a parable; as such, all that was important
was that the Pharasees believed it was real, not that Christ did. Nowhere
in the Gospels can you find Christ saying anything like, "I tell you, Adam
and Eve were real people created by the Father in Heaven at the beginning of

>Lk.3:23-38 - the genealogy recorded by Luke ends with "The son of Enos,
>the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." In Luke's mind,
>therefore, God was the only 'ancestor' Adam had. This strongly suggests
>that Luke read Genesis 2 in a straightforward fashion - i.e. Adam had no
>earthly father.

So what? Luke is not God, just a man. His beliefs do not constitute the
word of God.

>Ro.5:12-21 - Paul clearly regarded Adam and Christ as parallel - not so
>much in who they were, but in what they did. The act of Adam that
>brought condemnation and the act of Christ that brought justification
>stand side by side, and the one cancels out the other. Moreover, the
>apostle speaks of Adam and his act of disobedience as facts of history.
>Christ was a real historical man whose death was a real event; there can
>be no parallel between him and his act of atonement and a mythological
>Adam whose Fall is only a symbol. The two sides of the parallel stand or
>fall together.

Again, Paul was not God, so his beliefs do not constitute the word of God.
Besides, Paul was intelligent and learned enough to know that these stories
can act as powerful metaphors to explain his theology. As such, it was not
necessary for them to have actually been historical events, just as long as
his audience believed they were.

>1Co.15:21,22 - "...for as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made
>alive." Death entered the world 'through a man' and 'in Adam'. Clearly,
>he accepted that the narrative of the Fall (Gn.3) teaches this.

Or he knew his audience would.

>1Co.15:45,47 - "...the first man Adam became a living being; the last
>Adam a life-giving spirit...The first man was of the dust of the earth,
>the second man from heaven." Reference is made to the manner in which
>the first man was created; this factor is injected into the parallel
>with Christ.

Again, Paul knew his audience believed that even if he did not.

>2Co.11:3 - "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the
>serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your
>sincere and pure devotion to Christ." In this highly relevant text we
>see further evidence of Paul's literal understanding of Gn.2-3.

Again, Paul knew his audience would accept it as literal truth even if he
did not.

>1Tm. 2:13, 14 - "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not
>the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a
>sinner." This statement occurs in Paul's discussion of the place of
>women. Referring to the Genesis account, he calls it in evidence to
>support his practice of not allowing women teaching authority over men.
>This is interesting because it refers to, (i) the order in which Adam
>and Eve were created, and (b), the order in which they fell. Paul's
>exegesis here gives striking confirmation to the natural reading of the
>Genesis narrative; for him, it was something that actually took place.

Or he knew his audience would believe that even if he didn't.

>I suggest that Christians cannot avoid accepting the correctness of
>Paul's theology.

No argument there.

>Both in theory and in practice it is the
>foundation-stone of their reflection on the relation of Jesus Christ to
>the OT revelation, and, as a result, to God's purposes as a whole.

True, up to a point.

>can be no other option than to accept the NT witness as authoritative,
>since the whole fabric of Christian theology - not some small portion of
>the OT interpretation - is under threat.

This is where you cross the line. The Old Testament could be pure myth,
beginning to end, and yet the New Testament would still be authoritative,
because it contains the teachings of the Word of God Himself (Christ).

>It is surely a serious matter then that (in the interests of maintaining
>a rapprochement with evolution) he who declared himself to be "the way,
>the truth and the life..." (Jn.14:6) is questioned as to his
>understanding of the Scriptures....

Don't put words in my mouth. I do not question Christ's understanding of
Scripture; what I question is yours.

>...again, that the meticulous Dr.Luke is
>reckoned to be sadly adrift as a historian....

Luke accepted the history that Paul taught to him, who accepted the history
that was taught to him by his teachers. Neither were historians; neither
had any way of determining the true history of mankind.

>...and further, that Paul -
>largely responsible for promoting the Gospel - is completely devoid of
>real scholarship and understanding.

Again, it you who is claiming this, not I; as such, I question your
scholarship and understanding, not Paul's.

>May I respectfully inquire of TEs: How can you so readily indulge in
>textual violence of this magnitude and yet believe you have the Gospel?

Because in fact we do not "indulge in textual violence of this magnitude";
that is your opinion, based on your fear and hatred of us.

>Can't you see that evolution is a cruel deception?

Can't you see that your fear and hatred of evolution has clouded your
reason, choked your faith and deafened you to the Holy Spirit?

>It is a cancer that
>weakens and ultimately destroys the roots of your faith....

On the contrary, it has strengthened my faith; if I ever abandon my faith it
will be because you creationists have finally convinced me that unreasoning
faith is better than reasoning faith. It is your fear and hatred that has
destroyed your faith.

> is a heavy and largely self-imposed, yoke.

On the contrary, I find it most enlightening; it is your fear and hatred
that is a heavy and largely self-imposed yoke.

Kevin L. O'Brien


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 18:58:31 -0700
From: "Kevin O'Brien" <>
Subject: Re: Peppered Moths again

>>That some selection process is involved is not disputed by anyone,
>>nor can it be.
>On the contrary:
> It also seems plausible at the moment to suggest that melanism
> may arise via some form of induction that is triggered by an
> environmental change....The question of induction with respect
> to melanism is sometimes related to the question of the
> adaptive significance of melanism. If melanism can be induced,
> some would argue, then its recent occurrence may not be
> adaptive but rather a selectively neutral (or even maladaptive)
> response to some predisposing "condition"....Whatever the case,
> we emphasize the point that an induction process would be
> compatible with either a neutralist or selectionist interpretation
> of the industrial melanism phenomenon.
>(see Theodore D. Sargent, Craig D. Millar, and David M. Lambert, "The
>'Classical' Explanation of Industrial Melanism: Assessing the Evidence,"
>_Evolutionary Biology_ 30 [1998]: 299-322; pp. 303-304) Obviously,
>if melanism were environmentally induced, observed frequencies of
>melanics vs. typicals could shift without any Darwinian selection
>As with much else in this matter, the evidence for induction is
>inconclusive (see also David Lambert et al., "On the classic case of
>natural selection," _Rivista di Biologia - Biology Forum_ 79 [1986]:
>11-49), but it is on the table among investigators as a genuine

Except that there is no mechanism by which induction can occur. Without
such a mechanism, any evidence in "favor" of induction is meaningless.

Kevin L. O'Brien


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 19:06:27 -0700
From: "Kevin O'Brien" <>
Subject: Re: Peppered Moths again

>You are right that one can conceive that malanism in peppered moths was
>induced by some as yet unidentified environmental influence. (I assume,
>since malanism is heritable, that that environmental influence also
>triggered the particular mutation for malanism.)

Melanism is caused by a gene; in the peppered moth it appears as the result
of a mutation (normally the moth would not have the gene). It is possible
for pollution to trigger mutations, but it is generally not that specific
(the normal result is cancer or some other disease, not melanism), nor that
limited (induction by pollution should have produced other observable
mutations as well). In any event, in the absence of a mechanism, any
discussion of induction is moot.

Kevin L. O'Brien


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 20:15:52 -0800
From: Pim van Meurs <>
Subject: RE: Peppered moths again

Art: ALL the evidence points to the fact that peppered moths do not rest on tree
trunks in the wild. Majerus acknowledges this in his 1998 book. It
doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this simple fact seriously
undermines the relevance of Kettlewell's observations. The scientific
method would require, at the very least, that observations be repeated on
moths resting in their natural habitat.

So that's why one should accuse Kettlewell of dishonest behavior ?

Art: And it doesn't even take a scientist to see that photographs of peppered
moths manually positioned on tree trunks do not represent their natural
condition. The continued use of these photographs by textbook-writers
constitutes deliberate misrepresentation, i.e., fraud.

Again, you claim this is deliberate.

Art: This is not an issue of creationism vs evolutionism.

No, it's an issue of accusation which lacks supporting foundation.

Art: I do not claim that the peppered myth validates the former or invalidates
the latter. If the
classical story were true it would not threaten creationism anyway, since
it only involves changes within a species.

Nothing should really threaten creationism anyway since it is not based on a
scientific premise.

Art: What the peppered myth DOES do, in my opinion, is to demonstrate how a
commitment to Darwinism can seduce otherwise good scientists into ignoring
or even misrepresenting the evidence.

Or how it can lead to creationists making accusations they cannot support ? I
thank you for that.


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 20:17:16 -0800
From: Pim van Meurs <>
Subject: RE: Peppered Moths again

Art: For those who may care, the citations below constitute what is =
referred to
in logic as "ad hominem" defense, and it is usually resorted to by those
who can make no other response.

So why did you post them then ?

Art: For your information, Jonathan Well has explored the issue in =
great detail and has submitted an article on the subject to a major =
scientific journal. =20

Cool so why does he have to use ad hominem then ?

Art: Those who wish to defend the status quo on the peppered moth on =
this list ought to be doing what they ignorantly accuse Jonathan of not =
doing, that is , investigating the subject for themselves rather than =
resorting to arguments from authority and ad hominem attacks.

And in the course resort to the same tactics ? I am impressed Art.


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 20:49:48 -0800
From: "Donald Frack" <>
Subject: RE: Peppered Moths again

Well, gang, this has been the most interesting response to anything I ever
posted. I don't have the time or inclination to post continuous dialogs (or
for some, cross-purposed monologues), but from the traffic on this topic and
e-mail to me privately over it, some are waiting for me to comment on the
responses. I guess I'm obliged to do so, but it will not be now - I'm in
the middle of other work.

I am in the odd position of having offered an argument and had someone else
(Michael Majerus) take the heat. This was not my intent, contacting Majerus
was an afterthought and I wasn't even sure he would reply. Since no one I
am aware of has complained about what I wrote, I take it as demonstrated
that Coyne's "book review" wasn't. Interestingly, Majerus has gone from
hero-behind-the-scene of the original posters of the book review and article
I discussed to part of the enemy to be opposed and degraded.

Anti-evolutionists in this case have exhibited the chameleon-Hydra hybrid I
have come to expect. The chameleon side is shown that the case is the
reverse of their argument, and it still either "proves" their case anyway or
is no longer relevant. Secondly, as in the case of the legend of the Hydra,
for every creationist dispatched, two more take his place. Makes one
consider how nicely the original Hydra story ended, but then again that's
not supposed to be a proper thought in civilized company.

I am a little bewildered by the rapid series of events since I posted my
results. I was temporarily put in an ethical dilemma by the following:

3/30/99 2:30am Original posted.
3/30/99 1:56pm I'm asked if the above can be sent to a Paul Nelson.
[Yes, but unsure about repeating Majerus's part.]
3/30/99 6:06pm I am FWD a response by Wells, indirectly from Paul Nelson
through a list member, and asked to comment privately.
[I was also asked not to distribute it.]
3/31/99 7:45am Art Chadwick posts the Wells response here.
3/31/99 9:30am Paul Nelson posts here on the subject.

When Art posted Wells response, I wasn't sure where this left Paul Nelson's
request for privacy. Now that Paul has joined the fray as well, anything I
have to say about Wells claims can be taken from here openly, from the
original - as sent.

Kevin O'Brien ("Frack's bulldog"?) has answered some of what I object to in
Wells tirade (and I definitely think that's the word for it). Several of
Wells comments are covered in my original posting; I suggest interested
parties compare the two for now. Most of the rest will be my *opinion*, and
I think I'm entitled to one regarding field studies of moths, nature
photography, and their use in science education.

Adios for now,

Don Frack


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 23:36:34 -0600
From: "Cummins" <>
Subject: RE: Where's the Evolution?

> []On Behalf Of Rich Daniel

> Of course the best example of nature creating complexity is
> evolution itself.

No, that's a bad example because you're not using an empirical example,
you're using your own interpretation of circumstantial evidence as an

> You seem to be asking for an example of nature creating large amounts of
> complexity very quickly, but that's a strawman. There are 3 billion bases
> in the human genome, and only about 5% of them code for proteins. This
> complexity evolved over 4 billion years, which means it took nature about
> 27 years per base on the average.

Scientists have worked with thousands of generations of fruitflies under
circumstances of increased mutation and selection rates without creating a
more complex creature. And, when I say that the concept of increasing
complexity is foreign to nature, that isn't limited to biological evolution.
You're free to provide an example in a non-living system. I would be
satisfied even with a computer simulation that provided an indefinite
increase in complexity. In a very short time you could simulate millions of
generations of mutation and selection. However, all such efforts have been
completely failures.

> Now I can understand if you want to say that the process has not been
> demonstrated, but you're making a much stronger statement. You're saying
> that "empirical science squarely demonstrates" that evolution is wrong.
> I don't see how you can possibly support that statement.

Sandcastles don't form on beaches because of wave action. We don't observe
species increasing in complexity. Etc.

> But scientists do not claim that evolution will result in an indefinite
> increase in complexity. And even if it were so, how could you possibly
> demonstrate it? The correct question is, "Can the proposed mechanisms
> of evolution account for the amount of complexity that we see today?"
> And so far, we haven't seen any reason why they can't.

Unless you believe there is a definite limit to how complex life can become,
you believe that complexity can increase indefinitely. And, the proposed
mechanisms of evolution have never been shown to increase the complexity of
organisms. Species, over time, are observed to become less complex (or even


Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 23:36:37 -0600
From: "Cummins" <>
Subject: RE: Recent rhetoric

> []On Behalf Of Howard J. Van

> Having read some of the recent posts by "Cummins" and other zealous
> proponents of a strident anti-evolutionist variant of Christian belief, I
> must register my utter and complete disgust.
> If I thought for a moment that in order to be a Christian I had speak,
> think, or treat other persons in a manner anything closely resembling what
> these posts exemplify, I would not simply walk away from Christianity, I
> would RUN as fast as I could!

Do you hope to find salvation with those hell-bound fascist game-players.
If they would only make honest attempts to debate, I wouldn't have all these
invitations to register my utter and complete disgust.


Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 00:18:45 -0600
From: "Cummins" <>
Subject: RE: News on fossil man

> []On Behalf Of Kevin O'Brien

> >The Bible would deny that the creation days were long periods of time....
> >
> Actually, that's not true. The Hebrew word for day can mean age or epoch;

Two points. One, you've taken my statement out of context. I was "proving"
Ross's hypocrisy by pointing out his inconsistency (Ross has one of the
highest levels of nonsense per paragraph of any prolific book-writer I'm
familiar with). Two, cut to the chase. You've seen the claim that the
creation days were 24 hours many times, and you can bet that I've seen your
argument (day=epoch) countless times. How about revealing how the Bible lets
us know that it means "epochs" when it says "day" in the first chapter.
Then you can address how things lived without the sun, how to reconcile the
different order with the secular version of Earth's past. You may start
with the plead "The sun existed first, but only became visible to the
non-existent human observer on the 4th day."

> Same in what way? The same identical nucleotides, the same identical
> biochemical apparatus? Obviously true. The same identical
> sequences, even
> the same identical genes? Obviously false. Human DNA shows the same kind
> of diversification pattern that we see when we sequence the same gene from
> different species, the kind of pattern predicted by evolution.

What exactly is the pattern, and how does Evolution predict it?

> On the contrary; Darwin described evolution as the descent with
> modification
> of all modern lifeforms from previous lifeforms. This predicts that some,
> if not most, species should share a common ancestor.

Evolution does not predict that all humans share a common human ancestor.
Remember, it's populations that evolve. If some, if not most, species are
demonstrated to share a common ancestor (of essentially the same species)
then Evolution has sunk even further in the deep doodoo it's in.

> common ancestors
> have been found in the fossil record, plus we can reproduce the descent of
> two
> new organisms from a single common organism in the laboratory, so the
> prediction has been verified.

Is that an attempt at humor?

> >You better keep it hush hush. No doubt 30 years from now, Evolutionists
> >will deny that they ever even considered the possibility that
> African's and
> >non-Africans don't share common ancestry among modern men.
> >
> If evolutionists censored that information, how was Glenn able to
> read about
> it in a scientific journal?

Didn't I say 30 years. It's like some decades ago when some Evolutionists
claimed that whites were move evolved than blacks because of larger cranial
capacity. Now, Evolutionists not only deny that they (as a group) even
considered cranial capacity (in humans) to be an indication of degree of
evolution, but that all those old studies of cranial capacity were all
fatally biased. (and, what new studies have they replaced the old ones


Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 00:39:00 -0600
From: "Cummins" <>
Subject: RE: Evolution's Imperative

> []On Behalf Of Vernon Jenkins

> The proposition that the Creator would want to underwrite the truth of a
> statement that He foresaw would, one day, be flatly denied or
> watered-down by the majority of the world's intelligensia, seems
> eminently reasonable. There can be little doubt that the authority of
> the Bible as a whole rests, ultimately, upon the truth of its opening
> words. Taken at face value, these are the received words of a Sovereign
> Being for whom nothing is impossible; a God more than capable of
> creating all things from nothing in six literal days some six thousand
> years ago. Yet the sad fact is that all kinds of reasons have been
> advanced for casting doubt on this unique miracle. Our scientific and
> intellectual establishments have preferred an explanation of origins
> that does not require the involvement of a Sovereign God - nor any
> appeal to the miraculous.

It's this simple: Evolution is impossible. The concept of nature creating
complexity is an absurdity. Why can't scientists get nature to create life?
Because nature doesn't create complexity. Why can't scientists get fruit
flies to be anything more than screwed up mutants? Because nature doesn't
create complexity. Why can't someone write a computer program that creates
complexity? Because, apart from intelligence, only nature is left and
nature can't create complexity.

The Evolutionist, when not playing games about the meaning of "evolution,"
"complexity," or some other word, points to snowflakes, Miller's amino
acids, whatever. But, even a fool can see that nature isn't really creating
complexity. These are just conditions of equilibrium, and the same forces
that cause these things would also destroy any imposed complexity. Or,
they'll equate a fortuitous mutation with an increase in complexity. But,
again, even a fool can understand that something doesn't have to be more
complex to be helpful.

> We read in Isaiah 29:13-24 that God has promised to do something about
> this. I believe the language of number to be His means of 'destroying
> the wisdom of the wise'.

Don't forget the NT passage about some people being willingly ignorant about
the Flood.


End of evolution-digest V1 #1376