Re: "Bashing, choice & lamarkism" was "conservation..."

Tim Ikeda (
Sun, 22 Aug 1999 12:51:35 -0400

> Bertvan:
> Hi Tim, thanks of the reasoned response. Many people
> become defensive when their beliefs are challenged,
> but with a lifelong interest in science, I hadn't expected
> it of scientists. Maybe it isn't universal, but ridicule
> and personal attack seems a common tactic among people
> defending Darwinism.

It's a common tactic among people defending anything,
including creationism. That doesn't mean everyone indulges
in it.

> As far as I can tell, Johnson accepts
> some form of evolution. It is Darwinism he challenges.

As far as I can tell, the only form of evolution Johnson
accepts is "microevolution". That no one has a clue what
else Philip accepts is absolutely deliberate. And no, it
is not just Darwinism that he challenges, it's science in
general. He believes that science can identify God; not
only that but that science _must_ identify God in order
for Christianity to be true.

> If creationism isn't testable,

Creationism is testable. For example, the YEC hypothesis
is toast. It wouldn't be toast if it wasn't testable.
Further, Johnson et al. have made the claims that a new,
improved method of science would be here soon to replace
methodological naturalism in science. Others have made
claims that IC/ID can be a testable hypothesis. Yet,
despite the hype, we've seen nothing of the details.

> neither is "random mutation
> and natural selection as an explanation of macro evolution",

Speciation has been observed. In the genome we've found no
apparent relationship between various species that can't be
explained by recombinatorial or mutational mechanisms we've
seen in the lab. It could have failed those tests but

> (Anything else isn't really Darwinism, is it? Ideas
> about evolution were around before Darwin.) Surely you
> aren't suggesting no one should criticize Darwinism except
> Darwinists?? (Apparently that that is Lowenton's view: --the
> experts should be accepted without questions from an ignorant
> populace!!)

You mean Lewontin? No that's not Richard's view at all. But I
would agree that an ignorant populace should try to educate
itself rather than repeatedly "rebutting evolution" with many
of the same tired arguments that the ICR publishes.

> I disagree with Johnson about religion but I have
> read many of his critics of, none of whom I found as reasonable
> as Johnson, himself. I'll try to get Tower of Babel.

$30-$40: not cheap. Try a library.

> Tim:
>> I have to disagree with this characterization of Johnson's
>> arguments regarding the philosophies behind Darwinism. Johnson's
>> position has been critically examined by others on this list an
>> in print. Ultimately, I've found Johnson's philosophical
>> characterization of evolution to be excessively strict and
>> not even in line with other Christian views (particularly TE).

> Bertvan:
> Perhaps all Darwinists aren't materialists, but most admit
> to a strictly mechanistic philosophy.

I don't and I'm sympathetic to neo-Darwinism. There are many
Darwinists who are Christian as well, so I don't think we
can reasonably dispute the validity of Darwinism on the
grounds that is requires or implies philosophical naturalism
(which is the core of Johnson's agenda).

> It's hard for me to imagine a belief in Darwinism and not be
> a materialist. But then there are an infinite variety of ways
> people manage to make sense of their world.

I can't fathom such a lack of imagination. Read Howard Van Till's
posts recently?

>> What is yours? My view is that common descent is effectively
>> a fact. I call this "evolution". I have difficulty finding
>> common ground with people who cannot seem to get their minds
>> around such a simple and straightfoward deduction from the
>> patterns of life we see today.

> I am agnostic on common descent. There is lots of evidence
> for it. But was there one common ancestor? 5? 10? 100? 1000?

Current data supports at least one common "bottleneck". That's
based on evidence of common biochemistry. It's possible that
there were multiple origins of life on earth but that only
one branch survived. Another multiple origin idea is that
some early forms may have merged or shuffled their components,
and that this fusion came to dominate life on earth.


> Tim:
>> By far, the majority of scientists that I know tend to be
>> much more careful of teleology and science.
> Bertvan:
> I agree. (secret: I have a scientist in the family) However,
> scientists aren't the usually participants of this debate.
> I've yet to meet a Darwin-defender who would admit the possible
> existence or teleology.

You haven't been reading Howard Van Till's, Bill Hamilton's,
Terry Gray', Loren Haarsma's, or Brian Harper's posts then
(here or in the ASA list). All scientists and unabashed

>> Lee Spetner's discussion of information obscures his real position-
>> a form of neo Lamarckism. The "intelligent design" some people see
>> in nature might merely be the existence of will. Great designs are
>> often simple. I see no reason to restrict the possession of will to
>> humans-or to mammals-or to any form of life. (Humans do seem to have
>> more than their share of it.) The ability to make choices is one
>> definition of life.

[snip: Question about will and choice as applied to bacteria...]

> Bertvan:
> Even if evidence were found for "use" as an influence on mutations,
> that would say nothing about "will". "Use" could consist habit or
> instinct-and be random. "Will", which is not random, remains outside
> the realm of science.---unless science figures out a way to define
> and measure it. Is everything which has an effect upon the physical
> world the concern of science?
> Should science ignore what it can not now measure?
> Consciousness and mind are two other concepts science is trying to
> define and measure. If they exist, each have an effect upon the
> physical world.

I agree they would have an effect (witness the Great Wall of
China). Now tell me how you think mind and consciousness affected
the course of evolution before mind and consciousness arose.
Particularly, tell me how you think choice and will guides
bacterial evolution.

> If science is unsuccessful in measuring such concepts, would they
> be justified in saying they don't exist? Hard questions, but I
> suspect science will be stuck with "random mutation and natural
> selection" until it addresses them.

Hard questions indeed, which makes it so important not to
shortchange the process by invoking "New [actually Old] Age"
pseudo-explanation as a bandaid to cover up total ignorance.

After science addresses the issues of consciousness and mind, will
we it still be stuck with gravity? I suspect that should science
make great progress in these subjects, we will still have
random variation and natural selection as a significant component
of evolution.

> Tim:
>> Denton also rejects Lamarkian evolution in his recent book, even
>> though I suspect it could be helpful for his pet theory. Mike
>> does not claim that it doesn't happen but that Lamarkian mechanisms
>> are generally only found in special cases -- not generally as might
>> otherwise be suspected.

> Bertvan:
> With Darwinism in such shambles,

If as you said earlier, that Darwinism is not testable, how
could it be in shambles? How can one demolish an untestable

> I wouldn't ridicule anyone's
> ideas --including proteinoids and creationism and design. Science
> is in need of daring new thoughts, and I'm confident they will
> materialize-so long as no one passes a law that everyone has
> to believe in Darwinism.

Nobody has passed such a law. Others have already proposed mechanisms
which are potentially testable and if found, will be mixed with
neo-Darwinism to form an appended theory of evolutionary mechanisms.
For example, neutral theory was absorbed fairly readily.

Tim Ikeda (despam address before use)