Re: view from Kansas on that evolution debate

Stephen E. Jones (sejones@iinet.net.au)
Sat, 02 Oct 1999 19:30:41 +0800

Reflectorites

Here is a letter to NATURE from Scott C. Todd of the Department of
Biology at Kansas State University, who attended an address by Phil
Johnson.

Prof. Scott comes close to admitting that his Darwinists colleagues appear
not to be "Honest scientists", but rather are "defensive" and "scoff
arrogantly at the masses", to cover up their "fear that discussing the
problems of macro-evolutionary theory will weaken general acceptance of
it."

But he seems to suffer from the same Darwinist delusion that because "the
evidence supporting the mechanism of [micro-] evolution is empirical and
proven", the same mechanisms must be responsible for "macro-evolution".
Even though the observational evidence for "speciation and natural history"
are "admittedly weaker":

"It must be made clear that the evidence supporting the mechanism of
evolution is empirical and proven, but that speciation and natural history
are derived from the admittedly weaker evidence of observation."

Incredibly to anyone else but a true believer in evolutionary naturalism,
despite the fact that Darwinists cannot "reproduce...macroevolution" by
"experiment", Prof. Scott still believes that that "does not diminish the
validity of macro-evolution":

"The fact that one cannot reproduce the experiment does not diminish the
validity of macroevolution, but the observed phenomena supporting the
theory must be presented more clearly."

Finally, Prof. Scott confirms what Johnson has been saying all along about
modern science being more committed to the a priori philosophy of
naturalism than it is to the evidence:

"Most important, it should be made clear in the classroom that science,
including evolution, has not disproved God's existence because it cannot be
allowed to consider it (presumably). Even if all the data point to an
intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it
is not naturalistic. Of course the scientist, as an individual, is free to
embrace a reality that transcends naturalism."

This statement will be a help in the ID movement's strategy of the Wedge:

"We call our strategy the wedge." A log is a seeming solid object, but a
wedge can eventually split it by penetrating a crack and gradually widening
the split. In this case the ideology of scientific materialism is the apparently
solid log. The widening crack is the important but seldom-recognized
difference between the facts revealed by scientific investigation and the
materialist philosophy that dominates the scientific culture. What happens
when the facts cast doubt on the philosophy? Will scientists and
philosophers allow materialism to be questioned, or will they rely on
Microphone Man to suppress the facts and protect the philosophy?"
(Johnson P.E., "Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds", 1997, p92)

Steve

===============================================================================
http://www.nature.com/server-java/Propub/nature/401423B0.frameset?context=search

30 September 1999

Nature 401, 423 (1999) (c) Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

A view from Kansas on that evolution debate

Sir -- I have recently attended two lectures in the wake of the controversial
decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to "eliminate" the
required teaching of evolution (see Nature 400, 701; 1999). Philip Johnson,
a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, and John
Staver, co-chair of the committee responsible for drafting the new Kansas
standards -- and whose draft had been, according to him, "severely edited"
by the board to "remove evolution" -- both presented their definitions of
science and evolution to sympathetic audiences. Both erroneously
presented what they believed to be the other party's definitions of these
concepts.

The crucial difference between what the creationists believe and what the
proponents of evolutionary theory accept concerns the issue of whether the
origins of life were driven by randomness or by an intelligent creator. Many
creationists are supportive of scientific enquiry for biblical reasons such as
in Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible
qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being
understood from what has been made".

Creationists, according to Johnson, do not doubt that DNA encodes the
features of an organism or that changes in DNA (mutations) give rise to
variation in those features which are subject to selective pressures in
nature. Mainstream creationists also accept that genetic and phenotypic
changes could result in speciation. They consider evolution as a plausible
model to account for the natural history of living things, but they see a
great distinction between the empirically proven elements of evolution
(micro-evolution) and the explanation of speciation and origins of life
(macro-evolution). Students in Kansas will still be required to learn the
former, but it will be left to local school districts to decide whether they are
required to learn the latter.

The lesson to be learned from the events in Kansas is that science
educators everywhere must do a better job of teaching evolution. It must
be made clear that the evidence supporting the mechanism of evolution is
empirical and proven, but that speciation and natural history are derived
from the admittedly weaker evidence of observation. The fact that one
cannot reproduce the experiment does not diminish the validity of macro-
evolution, but the observed phenomena supporting the theory must be
presented more clearly.

Additionally, one must question the interpretations of the observed
phenomena and discuss the weaknesses of the model. Honest scientists are
far more inspiring than defensive ones who scoff arrogantly at the masses
and fear that discussing the problems of macro-evolutionary theory will
weaken general acceptance of it. On the contrary, free debate is more likely
to encourage the curious to seek solutions. Most important, it should be
made clear in the classroom that science, including evolution, has not
disproved God's existence because it cannot be allowed to consider it
(presumably).

Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is
excluded from science because it is not naturalistic. Of course the scientist,
as an individual, is free to embrace a reality that transcends naturalism.

Scott C. Todd
Department of Biology, Kansas State University, 18 Ackert Hall,
Manhattan, Kansas 66506, USA

---
Nature (c) Macmillan Publishers Ltd 1999 Registered No. 785998 
England.
===============================================================================

-------------------------------------------------------------------- "It is true that both genuine homologous resemblance, that is, where phenomenon has a clear genetic and embryological basis (which as we have seen above is far less common than is often presumed), and the hierarchic patterns of class relationships are suggestive of some kind of theory of descent. But neither tell us anything about how the descent or evolution might have occurred, as to whether the process was gradual or sudden, or as to whether the causal mechanism was Darwinian, Lamarckian, vitalistic or even creationist. Such a theory of descent is therefore devoid of any significant meaning and equally compatible with almost any philosophy of nature." (Denton M.J., "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis", Burnett Books: London, 1985, pp154-155) Stephen E. Jones | sejones@iinet.net.au | http://www.iinet.net.au/~sejones --------------------------------------------------------------------