REPLY #28e TO
"EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM"
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
This is the last of a five-part reply.
If you've ever actually read Darwin's "Origin of Species",...
(R) Actually I have.
(MB) You already said that. I guess I'll have to continue to prove (or, at least, strongly suggest) otherwise. Read on...
...you'll see that Darwin was hardly "embarrassed" by what the fossil record showed during his lifetime.
(R) Oh really? I don't know if you'd call this embarrassment or not, but here is 3 quotes from "Origin of Species":
(MB) Here, indeed, are three quotes taken from Darwin's masterwork. As with your previous quotes, they are presented in the finest Creationist tradition of being taken out-of-context and misinterpreted. And, as before, all it takes to prove this is to examine the surrounding text where these quotes actually appear and find out what Darwin was really talking about. Here we go...
(R) "why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?"
(MB) This is from Chapter 6. As I said before, this chapter is dedicated to presenting possible arguments against Darwin's theory and offering solutions to them. Creationists love to take passages from this chapter where Darwin mentions possible difficulties and try to claim that Darwin is actually disavowing his own theory. Of course, they conveniently forget about the solutions that he offers in the same chapter.
Since your quote is from the second paragraph of Chapter 6, we might well read the first paragraph to fully understand Darwin's thoughts. That first paragraph reads:
"LONG before having arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to the reader. Some of them are so grave that to this day I can never reflect on them without being staggered; but, to the best of my judgment, the greater number are only apparent, and those that are real are not, I think, fatal to my theory."
Then, comes your quote, but you forgot to include the opening words of that paragraph, which are:
"These difficulties and objections may be classed under the
following heads:-Firstly,..." So, Darwin is just laying out a possible argument against his theory. He certainly doesn't believe it himself.
(R) "the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great."
(MB) This is from Chapter 9 and, once again, is a presentation of a potential difficulty which Darwin predicts could be advanced against his theory. Once again, the solution is given in the same chapter -- which Creationists once again ignore in their haste to present an out-of-context quote as being Darwin's "true beliefs".
Let's read the entire paragraph from which you selectively drew your quotation (the quoted portion is in boldface):
"By the theory of natural selection all living species have been connected with the parent-species of each genus, by differences not greater than we see between the varieties of the same species at the present day; and these parent-species, now generally extinct, have in their turn been similarly connected with more ancient species; and so on backwards, always converging to the common ancestor of each great class. So that the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great. But assuredly, if this theory be true, such have lived upon this earth."
I think that Darwin's true beliefs are quite clear.
(R) "Nature may almost be said to have guarded against the frequent discovery of her transitional or linking forms."
(MB) This one is also from Chapter 9. Had you actually bothered to read the book itself, you could not have avoided reading Darwin's solution to the potential problem. Once again, I'll provide the full paragraph and boldface your selected quote.
"One remark is here worth a passing notice. During periods of elevation the area of the land and of the adjoining shoal parts of the sea will be increased, and new stations will often be formed; all circumstances most favourable, as previously explained, for the formation of new varieties and species; but during such periods there will generally be a blank in the geological record. On the other hand, during subsidence, the inhabited area and number of inhabitants will decrease (excepting the productions on the shores of a continent when first broken up into an archipelago), and consequently during subsidence, though there will be much extinction, fewer new varieties or species will be formed; and it is during these very periods of subsidence, that our great deposits rich in fossils have been accumulated. Nature may almost be said to have guarded against the frequent discovery of her transitional or linking forms.
The story is so clear when you actually read the entirety of Darwin's work that for Creationists to attempt to discredit or distort what he says and then claim to be presenting "evidence against evolution" is beneath contempt.
Now, that I've shown you how these quotes have been misused and misrepresented and have shown their proper contexts, I will repeat a longer quote that I presented to you in my previous response. Your response is instructive as it shows a standard evasive and meaningless answer to a proper and solid argument in favor of evolution. The quote:
"I have attempted to show that the geological record is extremely imperfect; that only a small portion of the globe has been geologically explored with care; that only certain classes of organic beings have been largely preserved in a fossil state; that the number both of specimens and of species, preserved in our museums, is absolutely as nothing compared with the incalculable number of generations which must have passed away even during a single formation; that, owing to subsidence being necessary for the accumulation of fossiliferous deposits thick enough to resist future degradation, enormous intervals of time have elapsed between the successive formations; that there has probably been more extinction during the periods of subsidence, and more variation during the periods of elevation, and during the latter the record will have been least perfectly kept; that each single formation has not been continuously deposited; that the duration of each formation is, perhaps, short compared with the average
duration of specific forms; that migration has played an important part in the first appearance of new forms in any one area and formation; that widely ranging species are those which have varied most, and have oftenest given rise to new species; and that varieties have at first often been local. All these causes taken conjointly, must have tended to make the geological record extremely imperfect, and will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps."
(R) All these causes conjointly are hypothetical.
(MB) Translation: "Yikes! I can't defeat that argument. I'd better just blow it off and hope nobody notices. But, of course, I won't acknowledge that I was wrong and will probably use the same misquotes in the next argument I get into about evolution."
If you want to find out about what Raup really thinks about the arguments and tactics of Creationists, check out "The geological and paleontological arguments of creationism" (p.147-162), which is contained in "Scientists Confront Creationism", edited by L.R. Godfrey.
(R) I have that book and have already read it. Its in my library. I take each statement upon it's own merit, and I could care less what Raup thinks about the tactics of Creationists.
(MB) How (and why) did you manage to acquire a whole library full of books that you've obviously never read? Worse yet, if you actually *have* read these books and can still say that there's "no evidence for evolution" and portray the authors as arguing against evolution, there's a serious problem with basic comprehension going on. Why would scientists make arguments against evolution in a book entitled "Scientists Confront Creationism"?
This is the 20-dollar word version of the "cats don't turn into dogs" argument. Obviously, Stanley doesn't believe in it, but Creationists love to quote this passage and hope that their lay audience can be convinced to think that he is refuting speciation in its entirety.
(R) Why don't you quit bringing up Creationists and deal with the content of the quote?
(MB) I have to bring up Creationists because it is they who are abusing the quotations. As to the content of Stanley's quote, I've already demonstrated with your quotes from Darwin how a statement can be "true" and still be "wrong" when it is drawn out of its original context and then is said to be professing something entirely different from the original meaning.
That's a ".org" site and not ".com". Also, the Internet Infidels site
is not about promoting evolution. It promotes such things as atheism,
agnosticism, non-belief, irreligion, and separation of church and state. I
think that the site you are fumbling for is Talk.Origins at:
(R) No it wasn't. I am familiar with talkorigins. I frequent that site often.
(MB) "Often"? You said that you used it while looking up info on the 747 analogy. That must have been your only concern since it's pitifully obvious that you didn't read the rest of the page on which that analogy was mentioned. If you had actually read the page, you would already have had the answers to the questions you are asking concerning abiogenesis.
(R) My remark about infidels.org was more directed to the ignorant idiocy I
hear you parrot in regards to Religion.
(MB) Perhaps you could relate an example of this "ignorant idiocy" and show why it should be labeled as such?
This is an excellent repository of information, but is certainly not the only one. Of course, I take advantage of it but also own many books on the subject and also try to keep up by reading various science magazines and journals. There is certainly no lack of available information.
(R) That is correct. I own quite a few books by Richard Dawkins and Earnest
(MB) Owning them is one thing. Actually reading them is quite another. If you had actually read them, you wouldn't ask many of the questions that you have asked.
(R) Most of my home library consists of books written by evolutionists.
(MB) Yet another dubious claim for the contents of your library.
(R) The only two books I own that could even remotely be considered "creationist" would be "Evolution, A Theory in Crisis" by Micheal Denton and "Darwin's Black Box" by Micheal Behe.
(MB) Let's see here...you've claimed that you own a library full of support for Creationism, that you own no Creationist works, and now that you only own two such books. Forgive me for being a little confused. You may be interested to read the following:
[Criticism of Denton's book]
[Criticism of Behe's book]
(R) By the way, have you read Dawkin's "The Selfish Gene"?
(MB) No, unfortunately, I haven't read that book. Isn't that the one where Dawkins argues that evolutionary changes are driven at the gene level? What are your problems with this book? Or, do you think it's "support" for Creationism?
That would be shocking news to the rest of the scientific community if it was interpreted in the sense that the Creationists wish. What Raup (and others) are actually pointing out is that the common layman's interpretation of the evolution of the horse is wrong and needs to be discarded. That common interpretation is that Equus is the result of a directed and progressive sequence of speciation events that has produced a modern successful lineage. In reality, Equus is the sole survivor of a
formerly much more copious lineage of descendants from Hyracotherium and is more properly viewed as the last gasp of a dying family.
(R) So are you saying that Equus przewalskii does not come from the classic 14 step lineage that allegedly started with Eohippus?
(MB) "14 step lineage"? Could you list those 14 steps, please? I think you may be including species that are included in other divergent lines of descent that did not end up at Equus.
BTW, "przewalskii" is a subspecies of Equus caballus -- the common horse -- that lives in Mongolia and currently exists only in captivity.
You can't be taking "the whole fossil record" since that shows anything *but* stasis.
(R) The fossil record *as a whole* shows stasis.
(MB) Please explain how you arrive at this interpretation.
(R) If this is not so, please give me the actual number of transitional fossils out of the millions of fossils that make up the record.
(MB) The actual number would be every fossil which represents any species that falls in the middle of any lineage which descends from an initial ancestral species and terminates in either a current living species or with a species that has gone extinct.
Furthermore, you are merely parroting Gish's shady manglings of "species" and "transitional forms".
(R) I'm sure you don't believe me, but I honestly do not know anything about
(MB) You may not know of him directly, but you certainly help spread his word with your arguments. Gish could be described as the "founding father" of anti-evolutionary arguments based on what the fossil record either does or doesn't show. Subsequent Creationist authors draw heavily on his 1979 work "Evolution? The Fossils Say 'No'" and its 1985 revision. He now spreads his crapola primarily through speeches and debates.
(R) I know he's a Creationists, and apparently an emminent one since you
keep mentioning him.
(MB) I don't know if one could describe him as "eminent", but he certainly is one of the *loudest* and most perservering of the Creationists.
(R) (He's so evil and irritating isn't he? That damn Gish and his Gishisms!)
(MB) On the contrary. His routine has been so thoroughly decimated over the years that it brings a smile to an evolutionist's face whenever somebody unknowingly attempts to resurrect it as if it was something new and serious. To hear somebody advancing his arguments is to know for certain that one is listening to an unwitting dupe.
Quite right. There is not one true statement -- there are six!
(R) Let me rephrase it. *there are 6 false statements.*
(MB) OK. Let's examine them and see if you have any legitimate points on contention or if you are just arguing for the sake of arguing.
1) "Indeed, this is an issue with a lot that can be discussed." OK, how is this statement false? Are you saying that evolution/creationism contains little which can be discussed?
2) "Unfortunately for them, the Creationists are fighting a hopelessly losing battle on this one." OK, how is this statement false? Creationists have lost every legal challenge they have brought or which has been brought against them -- to include the famous 1987 Supreme Court decision in the "Edwards v Aguilard" case. They have failed to overturn any part of evolution or any other science despite decades of intensive efforts. In fact, they have actually helped strengthen the case for evolution by causing scientists to write numerous books and papers laying out the evidence for all to read and learn.
3) "Not only do the not have one solid argument against evolution, they don't have any decent arguments in favor of their own alternative theory." OK, how is this statement false? I'm sure you consider your arguments to be strong, but they have all gone down in flames. At the same time, you have yet to advance a single argument in favor of the Creationist alternative.
4) "So, they fail miserably on both ends of the debate." OK, how is this statement false? When you can't touch your opponent's theory and you can't even begin to defend your own, you have failed completely, utterly, and miserably on both ends.
5) "Science has already won this debate conclusively." OK, how is this statement false? Ignorant, insufficient and totally unsupported disagreement with truth doesn't diminish that truth one iota.
6) "The fact that Creationists still dispute this is no more reason to take their objections seriously than the existence of the Flat Earth Society is any reason to doubt that the Earth is spherical." OK, how is this statement false? Creationists have no more facts to support their ideas than the Flat Earth Society has to support theirs. Therefore, why should Creationists be taken seriously?
Since the only people who oppose evolution are religious fundamentalists and since their own alternatives are all religiously based, how can this debate be anything *but* science vs. religion?
(R) Now I know you are misled.
(MB) Like so many other things you have claimed to "know", this is also appallingly incorrect. If you disagree, please detail an alternative theory to evolution that is not based upon religion.
(R) Is Micheal Behe, Micheal Denton, Fred Hoyle, Pierre Grasse, etc., considered "religious fundamentalists?"
(MB) Behe and Denton are. Hoyle is a gadfly who made his name back in the 1950's and who now likes to stump for unpopular and controversial causes. It's interesting that you bring up Grasse, since he is another frequent victim of Creationist misquoting. His books are all in support of evolution, but, as the link below demonstrates, the Creationists read only what they can twist to serve their own purposes.
[Misquotes of Grasse]
Einstein was not a theist.
(R) Did I say he was?
(MB) Yep. Your statement began: "But I agree with Albert Einstein (thiest) [sic] who said: ..." Well, actually you called him a "thiest" instead of a theist, but I don't deduct points for spelling.
He believed in what is known as "Spinoza's God" -- a belief in the inherent beauty and coherence of nature and the universe. Einstein (and others who hold similar beliefs) refer to "God" in the same sense that one refers to "Mother Nature". In other words, the usage is a personification or anthropomorphization of a collection of facts and ideas and does not express an actual belief in the independent existence of such an entity. The quote you reference should be combined with another insight by Einstein
in which he says that the person to whom wonderment and awe are strangers is as good as dead. That is the basis for the first part of the above quotation. The second part is something that fundamentalists should take to heart.
(R) I don't see why you use a context for the first part of the statement, and then give no context for the second part of the statement.
(MB) Because the second part needs no context in order to clarify what was being said. It is the first part ("Science without religion is lame") that Creationists like to mangle into some sort of support for their own views.
(R) It's almost as if you are putting words in Einstein's mouth.
(MB) Not at all. To understand what he says, you must understand his true beliefs. Creationists conveniently skip those beliefs in order to crow over his "science without religion is lame" phrase. One wonders why they even bother to include the second half of the quotation ("Religion without science is blind") since it is actually damaging to their cause.
(R) "Science without religion is lame," is a complete statement.
(MB) Sure it is. Just like your other contextual misquotes are "complete" statements.
(R) However, I am a fundamentalist and I do take the statement "religion without science is blind" to heart.
(MB) How does that work? Fundamentalists only accept science when it agrees with what their religion teaches. Therefore, their religion and its teachings would remain unchanged whether or not science was included. This means that it is still blind. How can you be proud of that?