Re: "Enormous Gulf"?

From: Stephen E. Jones (
Date: Tue Jan 18 2000 - 16:29:47 EST

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    I apologise for the delay.

    On Thu, 13 Jan 2000 08:54:30 -0600 (CST), Wesley R. Elsberry wrote:


    >>After all, one does not have to accept an evolutionist's
    >>solution in order to accept their diagnosis of the problem.
    >>BTW I note that Wesley ignore's Morgan's question. If we are
    >>so closely related to the apes genetically, then why *are* we
    >>so different from them?


    WE>I find it interesting that Steve so often credits biologists
    >with correct diagnoses of problems, and so rarely credits them
    >with correct identifications of solutions.

    What is so "interesting" about that? It is *precisely* what one would
    *expect* if "biologists" are working within a faulty metaphysical
    framework, as I maintain they are.

    That is I accept the *facts* that "biologists" find, but I do not necessarily
    accept their *conclusions* if they are based on materialistic-naturalistic

    WE>Elaine Morgan is no foe of common ancestry. She may (or may
    >not -- the quoted question is by no means dispositive of the
    >matter) dispute the close relationship of man and chimp, but
    >she does not dispute that man evolved from primate ancestors.

    Why is Wesley bringing up "common ancestry"? Surely he has been
    long enough on the Reflector to know that I *accept* "common
    ancestry", including human-ape common ancestry? My quote from Elaine
    Morgan: "If we are so closely related to them [the apes] ... then why are
    we not more like them?" (Morgan E., "The Scars of Evolution", 1990, p1),
    depends for it's force on that "we *are* so closely related to them [the

    And why does Wesley beg the question that "man *evolved* from primate
    ancestors" (my emphasis)? As I have pointed out many times before, a
    Creator could *create* by supernaturally modifying genetic code. This
    would be *creation* with common ancestry:

    "Suppose contemporary evolutionary theory had blind chance built into it
    so firmly that there was simply no way of reconciling it with any sort of
    divine guidance. It would still be perfectly possible for theists to reject that
    theory of evolution and accept instead a theory according to which natural
    processes and laws drove most of evolution, but God on occasion abridged
    those laws and inserted some crucial mutation into the course of events.
    Even were God to intervene directly to suspend natural law and inject
    essential new genetic material at various points in order to facilitate the
    emergence of new traits and, eventually, new species, that miraculous and
    deliberate divine intervention would by itself leave unchallenged such key
    theses of evolutionary theory as that all species derive ultimately from some
    common ancestor. Descent with genetic intervention is still descent-it is
    just descent with nonnatural elements in the process." (Ratzsch D.L., "The
    Battle of Beginnings", 1996, pp187-188).

    WE>Elaine's question seems to assert a fact not in evidence, that
    >our close genetic relationship is somehow at odds with our
    >phenotypic relationship. It isn't. I have not read "Scars Of
    >Evolution", but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the
    >prose following the quoted question laid out reasons why the
    >question poses no particular difficulty for common ancestry of
    >man and chimp.

    Indeed it is *because* Morgan believes in "common ancestry of man and
    chimp" that she finds it surprising why "man and chimp" are so different.
    Here is the full quote:

    "Darwin's theory of evolution propounded an answer to one major mystery
    about our species, namely, why we bear such a powerful physiological
    resemblance to the African apes-the gorilla and the chimpanzee. He argued
    that it was because we and they share a common ancestor. This solution
    immediately raised a further problem. If we are so closely related to them-
    and everything we have learned since suggests that the relationship is even
    closer than Darwin supposed - then why are we not more like them? When
    a species splits and gives rise to three separate lineages, there is no reason
    to expect that species C will differ from A and B any more widely than A
    and B differ from one another. Yet in the case of the anthropoids this is
    what happened. It is not because we split off earlier: we didn't. Evidence
    from molecular biology indicates that if any of the three diverged in
    advance of the other two, it was the gorilla. Darwin was well aware that he
    could not answer all the questions surrounding human emergence. But his
    supporters were confident that he was on the right lines and that it would
    only be a matter of time-perhaps a couple of decades-before most of the
    remaining problems were solved. One hundred and thirty-eight years have
    now elapsed since the publication of The Origin of Species, and scientists
    are no nearer to agreement on the question of why there are gorillas and
    chimpanzees and people, instead of merely three different species of
    African ape. Some people fail to see the point of the question. They would
    answer it by saying that we have simply 'evolved further' than the apes; that
    we have climbed a few more steps up the evolutionary ladder, while
    gorillas and chimpanzees have for some unknown reason lagged behind."
    (Morgan E., "The Scars of Evolution", 1990, pp1-2)

    And she points out that no one else can explain the *differences* between
    apes and humans:

    "The present state of play may be summarised as follows. Four of the most
    outstanding mysteries about humans are: (1) why do they walk on two
    legs? (2) why have they lost their fur? (3) why have they developed such
    large brains? (4) why did they learn to speak? The orthodox answers to
    these questions are: (1) 'We do not yet know'; (2) 'We do not yet know';
    (3) 'We do not yet know', and (4) 'We do not yet know'. The list of
    questions could be considerably lengthened without affecting the monotony
    of the answers." (Morgan E., "The Scars of Evolution", 1990, p5).

    WE> As I discussed in the portion of my post which
    >Steve deleted, even the evidence that Steve urged as
    >indicative of an "enormous gulf" becomes, with the proper
    >grounding in the literature of psychometrics and cognition,
    >evidence instead of overlapping capabilities between man and

    That the *highest* level of chimps (with intensive and human training)
    over many years on *some* "capabilities" overlaps with the *lowest*
    level of "man" does not mean that there is not an "enormous gulf"
    between chimps and humans.

    WE>Can Steve acknowledge that his original assertion of an
    >"enormous gulf" being supported by the chimp study in question
    >was unfounded?

    To me the study only *highlights* the "enormous gulf" between chimps
    and humans! This is the *best* they can do, after all the expert training
    they have had. A normal human child with a fraction of that training would
    easily surpass that in a fraction of the time.

    Indeed, I regard it as part of the delusionary effect of evolutionary thinking
    that trains its adherents to see the similarities but not the *differences*
    between things.

    Here is an example:

    "Among other things, medieval thinkers believed that human beings were
    unique in ways that were absolute and inviolable. This doctrine many
    modern biologists have emphatically rejected. "The western world,"
    Stephen Jay Gould remarks, "has yet to make its peace with Darwin." The
    great impediment to this reconciliation, he goes on to add in his mad way
    (the sense strong that he is urging a difficult truth on a dogmatic public),

    `lies in our willingness to accept continuity with ourselves and nature, our
    ardent search for a criterion to assert our own uniqueness. Chimps and
    gorillas have long been the battleground of our search of uniqueness, for if
    we could establish an unambiguous distinction - of kind, rather than degree
    between ourselves and our closest relatives, we might gain the justification
    long sought for our cosmic arrogance. Educated people now accept the
    evolutionary continuity between human and apes. But we are so tied to our
    philosophical and religious heritage that we still seek a criterion for a strict
    division between our abilities and those of a chimpanzee.'

    Now I quote all this not merely because Gould holds a chair at Harvard and
    I do not; although this made the target all therefore tempting, but because
    Gould represents a charming intelligence corrupted by a shallow system of
    belief. No distinction in kind rather than degree between ourselves and the
    chimps? No distinction? Seriously, folks? Here is a simple operational test:
    The chimpanzees invariably are the ones behind the bars of their cages.
    There they sit, solemnly munching bananas, searching for lice, aimlessly
    loping around, baring their gums, waiting for the experiments to begin. No
    distinction? Chimpanzees cannot read or write; they do not paint, or
    compose music, or do mathematics; they form no real communities, only
    loose-knit wandering tribes; they do not dine and cannot cook; there is no
    record anywhere of their achievements; beyond the superficial, they show
    little curiosity; they are born, they live, they suffer and they die.
    No distinction? No species in the animal world organizes itself in the
    complex, dense, difficult fashion that is typical of human societies. There is
    no such thing as animal culture; animals do not compromise and cannot
    count; there is not a trace in the animal world of virtually any of the
    powerful and poorly understood powers and properties of the human mind;
    in all of history no animal has stood staring at the night sky in baffled and
    respectful amazement. The chimpanzees are static creatures solemnly
    poking for grubs with their sticks, inspecting one another for fleas. No
    doubt, they are peaceable enough if fed, and looking into their warm brown
    eyes one can see the signs of a universal biological shriek (a nice maneuver
    that involves hearing what one sees) but what of it?

    One may insist, of course, that all this represents difference merely of
    degree. Very well. Only a difference of degree separates man from the
    Canadian Goose. Individuals of both species are capable of entering the air
    unaided and landing some distance from where they started."

    (Berlinski D., "Good as Gould", "Black Mischief", 1988, pp294-295).


    "So, the geological time scale and the basic facts of biological change over
    time are totally independent of evolutionary theory. It follows that the
    documentation of evolution does not depend on Darwinian theory or any
    other theory. Darwinian theory is just one of several biological mechanisms
    proposed to explain the evolution we observe to have happened." (Raup
    D.M., "Evolution and the Fossil Record", Science, Vol. 213, No. 4505, 17
    July 1981, p289).
    Stephen E. Jones | |

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