evolution archive list

Sat, 29 May 1999 10:20:15 EDT

Subj: Re: Evolution Archive List
CC: susan-brassfield@ou.edu (Susan Brassfield)

Hi Susan,

You seem patient with answers, so I have more questions.

You said:
>After the court wrangles in the early 80s it seems like the creationists
>tried to switch their efforts to "creation science." When they couldn't get
>anywhere with it (there's very little science in creation science) then
>they began to try to nit-pick evolution to death. They have nothing at all
>to replace it with, and creationists like Phillip Johnson don't seem to
>think that any replacement is necessary.

By "nit-pick", do you mean listing aspects of Darwinism which appear
implausible to them? I fear I agree with Johnson that "don't know" seems
preferable to accepting what seems to us an inadequate theory. It's neo
Darwinism (random mutation and natural selection as a mechanism of macro
evolution) that I (and many creationists) object to--not necessarily
evolution itself. Perhaps as other mechanisms are discovered, the day will
come when "evolutionary biologists" are no longer locked in mortal conflict
with so many creationists.

>The modern theory of the mechanism of evolution differs from Darwinism in
>three important respects: (snip 1 and 2)
> 3.It postulates that speciation is (usually) due to the gradual
>accumulation of small genetic changes. This is equivalent to saying that
>macroevolution is simply a lot of microevolution.

This is my understanding of neo Darwinism. I've recently heard some quite
respectable biologists no longer believe "macro evolution is simply a lot of
microevolution". It is the part I find implausible. You never said whether
you think this makes me a "creationist"

>Denton is a creationist (as far as I know). Behe appears to not be a

In his latest book, At Home in the Universe or Nature's Destiny, (I can't
remember which is his and which is Kauffman's book) Denton says he is not a
creationst. Do you not take his word for it?

>questioning and doubt are sacred to a scientist. How else could you get at
>the truth? However, there is so much evidence that mutation and natural
>selection take place and are at least one of the mechanisms of evolution,
>nobody has really seriously doubted it for a very long time.

You mean no one has ever questioned Natural Selection? I am the first?

>Ah! Lamarck! You may want to read some Cuvier. He pretty much >demolished
Lamarck in the very early 19th century. Why does Lamarck >interest you?

Everyone with something interesting to suggest about evolution interests me.
I regard it as the most intriguing of mysteries. People often say Lamarck
was "demolished", but I haven't been able to learn HOW he was "demolished".
I know someone cut the tails off a bunch of mice for a few generations, and
it didn't result in tailless mice. (I wouldn't have expected it to; it was
something done TO organism and had nothing to do with its internal
organization). I also know Leysenko had some idea about wheat changing in a
few generations, but I can't imagine how that "demolished" Lamarckism.

I'd be more interested in putting mammals in a dark environment for many,
many generations and finding out if their eyes atrophied. Or if mammals which
didn't use their legs for many, many generations would inherit atrophied
legs? I'd be interested in learning if behaviors and instincts can change
in response to the environment, and if that change can become permanent.
(Even many Darwinists seem to be concluding that everything is not contained
in the genome.) Since the mutations of macro evolution took place over eons
and eons of time, how has it been determined that those mutations were
"random" and not in specific response to use, or the environment? (If the
mutations weren't random, Natural Selection wouldn't have to "create" all
those irreducibly complex organs and systems, would it?) I'd be interesting
in finding out why domesticated animals differ physically from their wild
counterparts and if that difference is inherited. I know it is for a few
generations. With enough time could that inheritance become permanent? I've
recently read of experiments where the offspring of "educated" mice learn to
solve puzzles more quickly than their (wild) parents. I'd like to know how
permanent this change is. We know organisms can be damaged by their parents'
environment before conception. Would it also be possible for that
environment to have a positive effect upon future offspring? Life has
convinced me people inherited more from their parents than a physical
body--attitudes, beliefs, temperament. All those traits can be altered by
the environment. Can such alterations be inherited?

However, I realize any scientist who has been convinced Lamarck was
"demolished" would not be interested in such questions.

Thank you for your patience, Susan.