Scientific American on "Creationist Nonsense"

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jul 18, 2002.

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    ERIC B

    I thought this would especially be of concern to Helen:

    Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000D4FEC-7D5B-1D07-8E49809EC588EEDF&catID=2

    This struck me at a magazine stand.

    Some of these things I find hard to answer, as this debate was never my strong point. (I was reared in it and it was very hard to come to faith). But right away I can see:

    These two rely on "natural selection" which strives to "desirability"/"adaptability" and
    "benefits". But this presupposes a higher cosmic principle that lies outside of the evolving matter itself guiding it to what WE now experience as "useful". Who says that light was made to be "seen", for instance?

    They also discusse the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which was supposed to be one of our strongest cases.

    This one they're right on. Too many of us do not understand the theory and make assumptions like one animal "turning into" another.

    I just was shocked at this blunt statement in the title. While creationists have done a lot of ranting and casting into Hell the evolutionists (Like Henry Morris and other ol-line creationists), the evolutionists themselves have usually responded more passively.
     
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    HELEN

    Hi Eric,

    I've been aware of this 'article' for a bit now. I know Jonathan Sarfati replied to it point by point at Answers in Genesis:
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/news/scientific_american.asp

    Simply as a personal thing to the trash Rennie wrote in SA, I thought I would work out some of my own personal response. I can't do it all in one day, but here are the first couple of points he brings up with my response:

    Real science does not eliminate possible answers before it starts the investigation just because there are some possible answers it cannot test! Real science involves logic as well as interpretation.

    Rennie begins with very questionable statements. Evolution was NOT introduced by Darwin. It was popularized by him, expounded upon by him, and even questioned by him. If it was going to be traced to anyone of that time, his grandfather, Erasmus, should get the credit. However the concept of evolution can be traced back through ancient Greece if not earlier.

    In addition, the fields mentioned have not ‘established evolution’s truth beyond a reasonable doubt.’ If it had, molecular biologists like Michael Behe would not be questioning it. The fact is, there are major points of question and doubt in every area of science having to do with evolution regarding its validity. To ignore that is to actually be deceptive on Rennie’s part.

    His deceptiveness continues. It is evolutionists who have mounted an all-out assault on members of Congress, school boards, and ordinary citizens, by doing just what Rennie is doing here: presenting half-truths, false innuendos, and attempting to intimidate those who don’t know any better. First of all, intelligent design is NOT, I repeat NOT, creationist. It is an entirely scientific approach to the data, asking whether or not natural systems, and in particular biological systems, show evidence that we would recognize from our own experience as being the product of intelligent design. The fact that a ‘yes’ answer has profound theological implications is actually no different that the fact that a ‘no’ answer also has profound theological implications! If theological implications must be kept out of the science classroom at all costs, then naturalistic materialism must also be eliminated from all science curricula.

    This is a very effective propaganda technique he is using. “Besieged teachers”? The last besieged teacher I heard about was Roger deHart who was forbidden to use any materials besides the text in his biology class because he was introducing scientific articles questioning certain aspects of evolutionary theory. WHAT besieged teachers? If the above few paragraphs are any indication, the creationists are not alone in using ‘specious’ arguments based on misunderstandings and outright lies! The first thing I have seen stated correctly in this article so far is that there are a number of diverse objections to neoDarwinism as it is presented in schools and to the public today.

    Ah, he is not so worried about what evolutionists and creationists argue about, but what will be presented to the children in classrooms. Heaven help that the little darlings should be taught to think instead of simply learning how to spit back indoctrination on tests.

    He is missing the point about this objection. The point is that evolution is taught as an absolute fact, call it what you will, and that it is not a fact at all, but an interpretation of the data in accord with the belief that all causes must be natural and material because that is all science can deal with. The arrogance of this statement becomes apparent when you realize that what it is really saying is that science refuses to admit the validity of anything they cannot manipulate in terms of its possible effect on the world we experience. Therefore reality is being defined by evolutionists as only what the human mind and abilities can deal with and manipulate! This is absolutely nonsensical. Fooling around with the word definitions as he did above does not alter the truth that the root and core of evolutionary theory is a denial of the possibility of anything other than natural causes as we understand them to be responsible for anything encountered by man.

    The fossil record is a clean and unambiguous record of the fact that there were organisms that lived and then died, and that they seem to have lived and died in different times. It says absolutely nothing about their relationships with one another unless we see one eating another! All the ideas about evolutionary relationships are interpretations of the fossil record based on the presupposition that evolution is true. The only changes we can see and testify to as fact are those which are the same as we see today: variations within basic types which do not alter the basic types. Variations as distinct as different kinds of dogs is a good example. They can vary remarkably, and yet are all recognized as dogs – they recognize each other that way, too!

    What Rennie is neglecting to mention here is that Physicists can work with subatomic particles, while all the work imaginable regarding evolution past simple variation has yielded nothing for evolutionists. The physicists are working with something they actually can work with, and with experiments that are repeatable. Evolutionists have yet to produce anything along these lines at all.

    No one is arguing these kinds of shifts. The fact is, things like beak size on the Galapagos finches go back and forth in the general populations depending on the amount of rainfall and therefore on the hardness of the seeds. The change in beak sizes do nothing to change either the form or the function of the finch. However, by presenting this in opposition to the second objection listed, Rennie is attempting to draw attention away from the objection itself, which is a logical one, not an evidential one. “Survival of the fittest” is indeed a circular argument. However the objection itself as stated in #2 is not one I have read or heard in that way. Natural selection is NOT the same as survival of the fittest. If Rennie has actually heard this mistake being made, then he should have corrected it, not continued it. Survival of the fittest is a reference, as he stated, to the number of progeny left by a given generation in a population and by given individuals within that population. Natural selection refers to the idea that a number of individuals or an actual segment of any population will be eliminated in the course of time due to external factors which favor variations present in the other members of the population. Thus those other members are the ones left to breed, so tying natural selection and survival of the fittest together; but by evolutionary definitions they are not the same thing.

    He has just changed definitions to suit his own argument. Fitness, described by him above, is “differential rates of survival and reproduction. That is, rather than labeling species as more or less fit, one can describe how many offspring they are likely to leave under given circumstances.” It is not an exaggeration to state that an individual must survive to leave offspring…

    [ July 26, 2002, 12:40 PM: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
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    MARGARET

    Helen: "Real science does not eliminate possible answers before it starts the investigation just because there are some possible answers it cannot test! Real science involves logic as well as interpretation."

    Mainstream science did not do what you say, in the remarks above.
    After Darwin's book was published in 1859, there was extensive debate on evolution for 30 or 40 years before the theory was generally accepted. As for logic, that is a very subjective matter. [Where was evolution] accepted without adequate research and debate?

    Helen: "Rennie begins with very questionable statements.
    Evolution was NOT introduced by Darwin."


    You are not accurately representing Rennie's remarks. What he said was that Darwin introduced the theory of evolution "through natural selection". He was quite accurate in that statement. I am sure that Rennie understands that Darwin was not the first to suggest evolution. He was the first to suggest natural selection as the mechanism, which seems to be what Rennie was suggesting.

    Helen: "His deceptiveness continues. It is evolutionists who have mounted an all-out assault on members of Congress, school boards, and ordinary citizens, by doing just what Rennie is doing here: presenting half-truths, false innuendos, and attempting to intimidate those who don't know any better."

    Both sides have raised a fuss about evolution.

    Helen: "First of all, intelligent design is NOT, I repeat NOT, creationist. It is an entirely scientific approach to the data, asking whether or not natural systems, and in particular biological systems, show evidence that we would recognize from our own experience as being the product of intelligent design."

    If Intelligent Design is scientific, it is hard to find any published research on it. Can you list 3 peer reviewed scientific papers on
    Intelligent Design?

    Helen: "The point is that evolution is taught as an absolute fact, call it what you will, and that it is not a fact at all, but an interpretation of the data in accord with the belief that all causes must be natural and material because that is all science can deal with."

    The mainstream scientific community, by and large, believes evolution to be an absolute fact for which there is an adequate amount of proof.
    Would you insist that they not teach what they really believe?
     
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    JOHN PAUL

    Margaret, beliefs shouldn’t be taught in a science classroom. If you think there is an adequate amount of “proof” (your word) why don’t you join us in the “Question for evolutionists” thread and enlighten us. Also Darwin did not introduce natural selection*. Almost everything (if not all of it) except the voyage aboard the Beagle and the observations made during that voyage, was borrowed from someone else. Also natural selection would be nothing without changes to be acted upon. IOW without those changes life would just be a population(s) of single-celled organisms (in the evolutionary scenario).

    *The origins of evolution:

    http://www.thedarwinpapers.com/oldsite/number3/number3.html

    The article in Scientific American was a blatant misrepresentation of the real issues. It saddens me to see such diatribe printed in an alleged science magazine (must be in title only). AiG exposed it as such and then were threatened with some sort of lawsuit. Go figure…
     
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    HELEN

    Hi Margaret, and welcome to the board!

    Of course you know I will be disagreeing with you…

    When I said that real science does not eliminate possible answers before it starts, you replied with the fact that evolution had been debated for a long time ‘before the theory was generally accepted.’ That had nothing to do with my point. Here is what I mean:

    We live in a world we have access to by means of our five senses. If there is a reality outside of our five senses, our five senses cannot pick it up. By means of the fact that we interact with physical creation via physical bodies, we are limited in what we can test and work with. We are limited to the physical. We call it the ‘natural’ and the ‘material.’

    The question is, are all natural, material effects the result of natural and material causes? The answer, of course, has to be yes or no – unless you are aware of a third option, which I am not. If they ARE limited to physical, natural, material causes, then what about your thoughts? They, also, must be the results of natural and material causes, even though they are not material. But if they are the results of natural and material causes, how do you know they are reliable? Delusions and hallucinations would have exactly the same causes, would they not?

    So how would you tell the difference? Because of the way the majority think? The majority are not known to be the final arbiters of truth…

    Mob psychology is not known for its logic and righteousness!

    If your own thoughts, however, have an immaterial cause, what about anything else in the world?

    You see, science has declared that all physical effects must have material, natural causes. And so by definition they have eliminated one possible answer to any phenomena they encounter or work with. They have denied, before they start, the possibility that there might be an immaterial, non-natural cause for anything in our universe. This, however, logically denies the validity of their own thoughts, as any delusional person would have equal right to declare the universe exists in the way he sees it. And if thoughts themselves have only material, natural causes, then mine are certainly as good as yours.

    On the other hand, logic is NOT subjective. It is something which is subject to formal rules and when those rules are not followed, what is stated is termed illogical by definition. It does not matter how anyone feels about it. Because these laws exist outside of however we choose to perceive something, they can be appealed to as objective guides to statements.

    So I think you have it backwards to an extent. Logic is not subjective, but can be objectively stated, discerned, and judged. And evolution, whether or not it is debated until forty cows jump over the moon, by appealing only to naturalistic materialism, denies the validity of our own thoughts on the matter!

    On your second point, you are right, Rennie does qualify the introduction of evolution as introduced by Darwin to be via natural selection. I would have to do some research here, but I am willing to bet both Wallace and Erasmus Darwin plugged these ideas before Darwin, for I do not find Darwin to have been an original thinker at all. Have you read Origin of the Species yourself? Most people haven’t!

    And yes, of course both sides have raised a fuss about evolution. I am not denying that creationists and other anti-evolutionists have been up in arms! But the point is that they are not in control of the educational system and what is taught, are they? Rennie said teachers were “besieged” by creationists. I don’t know where he gets that, but I know that Roger deHart and a number of other teachers who would like to present adjunct material in their courses on evolution are forbidden to do so because evolution may not be questioned. I do know that candidates for Ph.D. acceptances do not dare mention their creationist views if they want to be accepted. I do know that programs such as the PBS “Evolution” are so full of half-truths as to be quite deceptive. I do know that Eugenie Scott and co. are there on the spot if there is any discussion of standards in science, which has been mandated federally now in terms of updating and revisions. And I know that the entire concept that there might be something besides evolution which adequately explains the data is absolutely forbidden under threat of lawsuit by her and her cronies if it is even breathed in a classroom today.

    If those who doubt evolution (as in bacteria-to-bears, not as in simple variation) are kicking, perhaps it is as a result of this continual assault on the simple freedom to THINK that is going on in the education institutions today! In the meantime, however, the besieging that is going on is not against the individual teachers unless they are doubting evolution and, in particular, if they are also…gasp…Christian. That is intolerable in the majority of educational institutions today.

    You then asked for peer reviewed articles involving intelligent design. Peer review means that those who are reviewing the articles re chosen by the editors/publishers of the journals BECAUSE THEY ALL AGREE ON THE BASIC PARADIGM – in this case, naturalistic materialism. Therefore the request for ID material in an evolutionary journal, which is, I am sure, what you mean by “peer reviewed” is nonsensical. They won’t even send an ID article to peer review should one be submitted.

    Unless, of course, the intelligent design is by a human! Then you will find plenty of intelligent design peer-reviewed articles! They will be in archaeology, abiogenesis experiments, technologies, etc. etc. We have no problem recognizing intelligent design when WE are involved! But the same people who can look at a shard of pottery and declare its origin by time and culture somehow cannot look at the cell and call it anything but time and chance. That is denying every criteria there is for determining if something is intelligently designed even in our limited human manufacture.

    Finally, you asked, Would you insist that they not teach what they really believe?

    No, of course not. But that is exactly what the evolutionist community is doing to the rest of us! And, as you implied by the way you worded that question, that is very wrong.
     
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    HELEN

    To continue with Rennie’s refutations of ‘creationist points’ in his article:

    Rennie knows that the type of evolution being disputed is what he refers to as ‘macro,’ meaning basic changes in body form and function through time due to mutations and natural selection. He knows that this cannot be observed and cannot be re-created. To mention that there are the two types of evolution at this point in his article is to try to indicate to the reader that creationists are too stupid or ignorant to know that. I found it fascinating, though, that he is defining macroevolution as changes ABOVE the species designation. I appreciate that, because speciation can be accomplished simply by isolating a small population for a number of generations, as was done with lizards in the Bahamas, and in different environments certain genetic traits will be selected for. This is not even part of the argument! However there are a number of evolutionist apologists who insist that speciation is macroevolution. If they get nothing more out of Rennie’s article, maybe they will pick up on his definitions.

    However, all that being said, it is correct to say that evolution, as in macroevolution, is not testable and therefore not directly falsifiable. – Although it is certainly not for lack of trying! In over 100 years (and approximately, therefore, over 2 ½ million linear generations) of E.coli bacteria, no macroevolution has been seen despite throwing every mutagent in the book at them. If we cannot get a single-celled prokaryote to mutate enough to become something else in 2 ½ million generations, where is the logic that said it must have happened that humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor in fewer generations than that? The evidence – what there is of it – for macroevolution is against it ever happening, except in the imaginations of men.

    Who is he trying to kid, anyway? First of all, no one is disputing variation, or microevolution. We can look at our own children and see variation. We have bred for different variations in dogs, horses, fish, etc. This is not and never has been in question! Now, let’s look at those things he says drive ‘profound changes in populations over time.’

    1. natural selection – natural selection cannot select something that is not there in the first place. The question is not whether something is selected for, but how did it get there to BE selected for? That is what evolutionists must answer!

    2. chromosomal changes – called mutations. It is presumed by evolutionists that these mutations introduced new meaningful information into the genome of various organisms. This is not only not seen, but there is also the problem of the necessity of the cell already knowing how to code and decode for this information. The decoding, in particular, is NOT a result of the original mutation. How would the cell know what to do with the new ‘directions’? How was it programmed to follow those new directions? It is not simply a matter of mutations, folks, but of how the cell will react to them! First of all, most mutations are weeded out in the original cell division – there is an entire system of checks which a dividing chromosome must pass through. Secondly, those mutations which do make it through are usually ‘silent’ – meaning they have no discernible effect on the organism. But thirdly, and very importantly, those mutations which are expressed in the organism are about a thousand to one negative! Many are lethal they are so negative. Others are crippling. Think about it – how many times in a hospital have parents been told their newborn has a mutation and they have clapped their hands with glee, exclaiming, “Wow! Is it a good one?” We know better. Chromosomal changes result in things like Down’s Syndrome and other major handicaps.

    3. symbiosis – this is simply two organisms living together in mutual harmony and dependance. They both existed in the first place; and their mutually beneficial relationship has never been seen in any case to result in the merger of the two into one organism of a new kind or in the production of a new organism by any other method. Symbiosis is not a method by which evolution can progress. It would, in fact, possibly stop evolution, as that mutually beneficial relationship between two types of organisms could easily be disrupted by a change in one, thus damaging both.

    4. hybridization – this is the breeding of two similar, but different organisms to produce a third variety. It is done easily with plants and can also be seen in the animal kingdom in such things as a horse-zebra or a lion-tiger combination. This, also, has nothing to do with evolution of one basic type of organism into another. Both the lion and the tiger are felines; both the zebra and the horse are equines. No matter if one subscribes to evolution or creation, there is agreement that the zebra and the horse descended from a common ancestor, as did the lion and tiger. Therefore hybridization might bring us closer to what an original type was for that animal, but it will not drive evolution forward!

    In other words, none of Rennie’s list helps evolution at all.

    What Rennie is actually saying is that macroevolution cannot be observed and therefore must be inferred, or interpreted. This is what we have been saying all along! Our point is that it very well may be the wrong inference, the wrong interpretation! I would also submit that if Rennie honestly thinks the fossil record shows a progression from ape-like to H. sapien, he might want to read Henry Gee’s book, In Search of Deep Time. Gee is one of the editors of Nature and considered respected in his field. Here is a little of what he says of the fossil record where man is concerned:

    p. 86-88: The stories we tell ourselves about evolutionary history, such as the take of how fishes got their legs, as I discussed in chapter 2, are only true inasmuch as they reinforce our prejudices: they tell us what we want to hear, not what really happened. How do such stories have the potential to be so wrong? The reason is that they become detached from science or rather, the capacity of science to examine these stories in terms of hypotheses or experiments that can be tested.

    Ultimately, the fault lies with our failure to recognize Deep Time as an unsuitable medium for telling stories…To explain what happened in the past in terms of present-day adaptations is to tread on thin ice. It is also illogical….Nevertheless there are plenty of real-life examples in which scientists try to do exactly that – to use present-day adaptation to explain past history…

    Testing hypotheses about adaptations is surprisingly hard, even when the animals concerned are living. It is impossible when you turn to fossils, the produce of Deep Time. Fossils are not living creatures, but the imperfect fragments of things that we assume to have once been alive, that need not resemble any creature now living. To speculate about adaptation in extinct creatures is at best pointless, at worst recklessly misleading.

    -----------
    pp26-27 and 85: Deep Time is like an endless, dark corridor, with no landmarks, to give it scale. This darkness is occasionally pierced by a shaft of light from an open door. Peering into the lighted room, we see a tableau of unfamiliar characters from the lost past, but we are unable to connect the scene before us with that encountered in any other room in the corridor of time, or with our own time. Deep Time is fragmented, something qualitatively different from the richly interwoven tapestry of time afforded by our everyday experience, what I call ‘everyday time’ or ‘ordinary time.’
    A fossil can be thought of as an event in Deep Time. Compared with the immensity of time in which it is found, a fossil is a point in time of zero extent: a fossil either exists or it doesn’t. By itself, a fossil is a punctuation mark, in interjection, an exclamation, even, but it is not a word, or even a sentence, let along a whole story. Fossils are the tableaux that are illuminated by the occasional shafts of light that punctuate the corridor of Deep Time. You cannot connect one fossil with any other to form a narrative.

    …In the end, we never see fossils as they are, but only imperfectly, in the light of models that are more or less approximate. Given this constraint, it is surely hard enough to make progress understanding the evidence we have without leaping way beyond it, with presuppositions about chains of ancestry and descent, and about missing links. Such presuppositions are exposed as vacuous once the evidence finally catches up.


    As an aside, I challenge anyone to tell me those quotes were taken out of context!

    Rennie continues:
    We cannot, however, as hard as so many have been trying, document the emergence of ANY life form from any sort of chemical soup under any kind of conditions. His appeal to aliens casting evolution in doubt had me honestly laughing. Aliens he will consider, but not the God who says He did it, right?

    This is true and I totally agree with him. I am curious, though, how he will appreciate it when this quote is used to explain to evolutionists why creation, a one-time event which cannot be tested, cannot therefore be excluded from the realm of science due to lack of falsifiability/testability.

    That is approximately like saying “pick up a cook book and you will find recipes.” One is not going to find dissidents in the evolutionary peer reviewed journals! One must look outside that narrow venue to find out what else is going on. One may then see the books available by anti-evolutionists, or the websites where their material is, or some of their own peer-reviewed journals. These materials are growing in numbers daily. This would be of no concern to evolutionists, I’m sure, if the anti-evolutionists were all ‘country bumpkins,’ but they’re not. There are hundreds of actual, practicing scientists involved; professors with Ph.D.’s in fields of science and engineering, and other very educated folk who are taking a good look at the evidence and finding that the evolutionary emperor has no clothes. To not realize the numbers of evolution doubters are growing, Rennie must indeed have his head stuck firmly in the proverbial sand.

    What made him think there was even a remote possibility they would publish such an article? On the other hand, the fact that they totally refuse has led to a number of other journals and magazines dedicated to looking at science another way being published. Rennie seems to not be aware of this.

    It is hard to take someone seriously if you do not read their material, granted.

    Let’s see, they passionately debate how evolution (speciation) happens. That passionately debate the rate of postulated change. They passionately debate ancestor/descendant relationships.
    Translation: they don’t know how it happened, when it happened, or what it happened to. But they know it happened. OK, right…

    Seems to me that there would not be such passionate debates if a little more actual ‘solid science’ really did support evolution!

    Well, at least he didn’t misquote any creationists! I have not seen any creationist using Gould’s material to show that he doubted evolution, only that he doubted the slow transitions which evolution up to his time had supposed. Evidence for these transitions is lacking in the fossil record and Gould proposed PE as a way around that. Nor am I aware of a creationist confusing Schmidt’s hopeful monster theory with Gould’s punctuated equilibrium theory. Rennie here has misrepresented what is going on with the vast majority of creationist critiques of evolution and of Gould. However, just for the fun of it, here is an extended quote from Dawkins. It is from the preface to his “The Blind Watchmaker”. It’s long enough to avoid any accusation of quote mining and clear enough to show that no comment is needed regarding his desperation in getting around the concept of intelligent design or God:

    This book is written in the conviction that our own existence once presented the greatest of all mysteries, but that it is a mystery no longer because it is solved. Darwin and Wallace solved it, though we shall continue to add footnotes to their solution for awhile yet. I wrote the book because I was surprised that so many people seemed not only unaware of the elegant and beautiful solution to this deepest of problems but, incredibly, in many cases actually unaware that there was a problem in the first place!

    The problem is that of complex design. The computer on which I am writing these words has an information storage capacity of about 64 kilobytes…. The computer was consciously designed and deliberately manufactured. The brain with which you are understanding my words is an array of some ten million kiloneurones. Many of these billions of nerve cells have each more than a thousand ‘electric wires’ connecting them to other neurones. Moreover, at the molecular genetic level, every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer. The complexity of living organisms is matched by the elegant efficiency of their apparent design. If anyone doesn’t agree that this amount of complex design cries out for an explanation, I give up. No, on second thoughts I don’t give up, because one of my aims in the book is to convey something of the sheer wonder of biological complexity to those whose eyes have not been opened to it. But having built up the mystery, my other main aim is to remove it again by explaining the solution.


    We don’t have to take things out of context. We don’t have to pretend they say what they don’t say, or don’t say what they do. People like Gee and Dawkins are gold mines all by themselves for evidence that all is not what the public is so carefully told it is by evolutionists.

    OK, will do.

    This entire question is a straw man. As Rennie states, it is the product of ignorance (or confusion) and not an argument brought up by the many, many people who are involved in science who are anti-evolution! The fact that Rennie and others like him can print this type of nonsense in a widely read magazine only shows how far they are willing to go in their desperate attempts to propagandize the American (and world) public.

    Evolution demands natural and material causes for effects seen and studied. Therefore abiogenesis, or life from non-life, is required by the evolutionist. The ridiculous concept of aliens introducing the first cells billions of years ago does nothing to explain where those aliens came from! I am truly hopeful that the average reader of his article will see the ridiculousness of that statement! In the meantime, the problems with his blithe rendition of self-replicating chemical units have been totally avoided by him, although they are widely documented and discussed in both peer reviewed journals (for many years) as well as critical work.

    A point Rennie and other evolutionists need to realize is that life is NOT a correct collection of chemicals in a correct environment, but rather a series of processes which utilizes these chemicals in a friendly environment. If life were simply the result of the right chemicals at the right times and under the right circumstances then the dead could be made to live again!

    But we don’t see that happening without a touch from the author of life itself: God.

    [ July 24, 2002, 09:44 AM: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
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    THE GALATIAN

    I have a couple of comments on the subject. It was said:

    But Rennie didn't say Darwin introduced evolution. He introduced a
    theory
    of evolution, as Rennie correctly notes. Further, he discovered
    natural
    selection, which explains why it happens.

    Behe doesn't question it. He agrees that evolution is a fact. He
    supposes
    that God has to intervene from time to time to help it out. He is a
    special
    sort of theistic evolutionist.

    That would be rather odd, since scientists overwhelmingly acknowledge
    that
    evolution is a fact. And it appears the number of people who doubt
    evolution is diminishing as more evidence accumulates.

    If one agrees that life started at some point, then one has to
    conclude that
    life does come from non-life. However, it wouldn't have to be from
    abiogenesis. It could be by miraculous intervention by God.

    Therefore, if you think God directly caused life to be brought forth
    by the
    earth, or if you think that He created nature in such a way that it
    would do
    so, that would do just as well as any sort of godless abiogenesis.

    Evolutionary theory has no need to suppose any particular origin of
    life,
    and miraculous causes would do just as well.
     
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    HELEN

    Behe definitely questions a number of aspects of evolution. This is more and more evident in his recent talks and as far back as “Darwin’s Black Box.”

    And no, Galatian, although officially scientists have to support evolutionary doctrines to keep jobs, grants, etc., we are very, very aware of the growing numbers who are expressing dissatisfaction with the theory as it is presented and its implications. This is evident through private emails, the growing numbers at the various conferences, the numbers of professors and Ph.D.’s signing various petitions supporting balanced teaching, etc. And far from more evidence for evolution accumulating, the evidence is providing more and more reasons why it really can’t have happened. Bacteria-to-bears evolution is a dream, a fantasy, a what-if story that denies cellular complexity and the irreducible complexity of life itself. Recent discoveries of the complex interrelatedness of genes adds more doubt to the idea that ‘new meaningful information’ can be added to the genome in such a way as to lead to a new form or function. All we have seen is something like the E.coli example you are always referring to where the cell itself is programmed internally to be able to build a new pathway when an old one is destroyed. Brains also do that when part is damaged. This is part of the incredible design of life, not evidence of evolution.

    Regarding abiogenesis, the minute you introduce God into the scenario you have denied naturalistic materialism as the cause of all physical effects. Once that door is opened there is nothing but man’s declaration, right or wrong, that God did not do a whole lot more; in fact that He did not create directly in six days as He states He did. Theistic evolution, which you are espousing, uses God as a stop-gap measure to operate as you decide He must have. It has nothing to do with either evolution per se or with biblical Christianity. It is an untenable middle ground with no support from either side.

    The entire premise of evolution is naturalistic materialism. To think anything else is to misunderstand what it is saying entirely.
     
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    JOHN PAUL

    My apologies but I had thought this was already made clear:

    Charles Darwin did not introduce the theory of evolution nor did he introduce natural selection. I am really surprised that there are still people who think he did. Once you read the facts you will see that it appears the only thing he brought to the table was his experience from the trip aboard the Beagle.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.thedarwinpapers.com/oldsite/number3/number3.html

    That should also clear up the misconception that Newton, Kepler, Pasteur et al. didn’t have a choice. Indeed they had a choice and chose Special Creation.
    But this helps me understand the confusion. How can I expect evolutionists to know what they are debating against when they aren’t sure of what they are supporting? It makes me wonder what is being taught in schools these days.
    On the fact of evolution:

    Again some deception is going on. Yes, evolution, as in the change of allele frequency over time, is a fact. However that does not mean that can be extrapolated into meaning that all of life’s diversity owes its common ancestry to some genetically unknowable population(s). If the grand sweep of evolution was a fact there wouldn’t be any problems answering the questions in the “Questions for evolutionists” thread. The fact is the amount of people who dispute that extrapolation (the grand sweep) is growing and once the deception is fully exposed that list will grow longer.

    In the book Darwin’s Black Box Dr. Behe states common descent could only happen if the first population(s) already had the plans (information) for the alleged IC systems, not that some entity had to intervene. I have not read everything by Dr. Behe. If the galatian can produce a reference to substantiate his claim (that Behe believes God had to intervene) it would be much appreciated.

    And if God did Create the first organisms, regardless of what they were, that would be ID and depending on what those organisms were, Special Creation. Charles Darwin acknowledges that he is an IDist (or maybe a closet Creationist) in his book Origins of Species…: ” There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved. “
     
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    MARGARET

    This question is directed to Helen. Helen, in your remarks below,
    you have made some serious charges, that could be considered
    slanderous, if not true. But to my mind, your accusations were not
    well supported. You backed off of some of the comments that you made,
    for example, your comments to the effect that Darwin was not the
    first to suggestion evolution. That is true enough, but Rennie did
    not make the statement in the way that in which you indirectly quoted
    him as having made it. Now my suggestion to you is that in the
    interests of a fair discussion, you detail for us, with supporting
    evidence, how it is that Rennie is deceptive, putting forth
    half-truths etc. In reading his article and your comments, I don't
    think
    that you have made a good case to that effect. Your post has been
    commented on by several people, and with those comments in mind,
    please give us the current reasons why you think that Rennie was
    deceptive in his article. For example, do you still maintain, as
    implied below, that evolutionists are the only ones in this
    controversy
    who contact Congress, school boards etc? If you do not, then why did
    you imply that with your comments below? Why do you imply that Rennie
    is deceptive in this regard, when you know or should know that both
    sides have been using political influence and all manner of publicity
    to advance their cause? When you suggest something that is not true,
    i.e. that only one side is stating their case, then you only hurt your
    cause, because those on your side can also see that what you say is
    not true. And oddly enough, you accuse Rennie of being deceptive on
    something where it is very clear that you are mistaken, and not
    Rennie. Don't you think you got a bit carried away with this idea
    that Rennie is deceptive?
     
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    HELEN

    Hi Margaret,
    As per your request. First, it should be established that Rennie has a background in science. Here is his short bio :
    http://www.ssma.org/rennie.html

    I think it is pretty well acknowledged that Scientific American is not just pro-evolution, but radically enough so that they would not allow Forrest Mims to handle the layman’s science page after they found out he wasn’t an evolutionist – even though that particular section of SA has nothing to do with evolution or creation at all, but rather with technical things the layman can do himself.

    That means that Rennie, as editor-in-chief, should be familiar with evolution – its history, its meaning, its implications, etc.

    Therefore, he should know that Darwin, first of all, did not even remotely originate the concept of evolution, as John Paul demonstrated with his link:
    http://www.thedarwinpapers.com/oldsite/number3/number3.html

    Darwin also did not originate the concept of natural selection.
    http://www3.mistral.co.uk/bradburyac/dar0.html

    Nor was Darwin the first to put them together. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, published two works which contained the essence of this idea: Zoonomia and The Temple of Nature. In these publications he claimed that animals would transform from one species to another due to three ‘objects of desire’: sexual drive and selection, hunger (the struggle for survival), and security (or escape from capture). These actually make up the foundation of what came to be known as ‘natural selection.’

    Darwin had also been very influenced by Malthus, although Malthus’ ideas regarding survival of the fittest (natural selection) had already been espoused by not only Erasmus Darwin but by Lamarck. Darwin had read all three…

    What Darwin did do was to ‘turn Malthus on his head’ in regard to Malthus’ description of where this struggle for survival would lead. Malthus claimed it would lead to a stable and homogenous population and Darwin claimed it would, rather, lead to greater variation.

    It is possible, Margaret, that Rennie was simply ignorant of this and spoke about it from his ignorance. As editor-in-chief, he can get what he wants published without it being checked for accuracy, I suppose. But the fact of the matter is that what he presented is NOT the truth, not just in this instance, but in many others in this article of his (which I am still working on, point by point). If you wish to plead he was ignorant, I can’t argue with you, although I can say I highly doubt that, given his education. And the only other option is that he was being intentionally deceptive.

    Nor did I imply that evolutionists are the only ones involved in this matter. There would be no battle if there were not two sides, eh? Of course anti-evolutionists have contacted everyone they could. However the fact remains that it is the evolutionists who are in control of education and educational decisions. It is the evolutionists who have caused innumerable teachers to be warned that their jobs are in peril if they dare even suggest that evolution might not be the foundational truth of all that there is! It is the evolutionists who are consistently resorting to legal maneuvers and threats of legal maneuvers to keep the schools ‘in line.’ Anti-evolutionists do not have that power or that kind of money. And school districts cannot afford lawsuits, as Eugenie Scott and Co. well know.

    And, finally, no, I don’t think I have gotten carried away with my accusation that Rennie has not told the truth in his article. As I continue going through point by point, I hope that you will be able to see my efforts to substantiate that accusation.
     
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    MARGARET

    Helen stated previously that Charles Darwin's grandfather suggested
    not only evolution but also natural selection as a mechanism for
    evolution. The following is a quotation from the elder Darwin
    about the cause of evolution, and if he is describing natural
    selection, the description is certainly obscure. I think that
    the younger Darwin, by his clear description of natural selection,
    is the one due the credit for this now famous idea. I will first
    give the web site and then the quote from the web site:

    http://65.107.211.206/victorian/science/edarwin.html

    >>The elder Darwin believed that the process of evolution was due to

    "...the power of acquiring new parts, attended with new
    propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions, and
    associations; and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to
    improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down those
    improvements to by generation to its posterity, world without end
    [572]"


    In almost any case of scientific discovery, it is possible in
    hindsight
    to identify previous workers who were very close to the same discovery
    and who, in some cases, identified very important factors prior to the
    work that made the discovery famous. In this case, there were
    certainly
    many who contributed bits of information that Darwin wove together
    into
    a coherent picture. If Darwin had not written his famous books about
    evolution, surely someone at later time would have, perhaps only a
    little
    later than Darwin. Darwin is famous mainly for taking information that
    was already available to anyone and making a persuasive case with it.
     
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    RICHARDC
    Helen quoted John Rennie in his Scientific American article:

    By John Rennie

    When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere--except in the public imagination.

    Helen replied:
    Hi, Helen. Charles Darwin was the writer who is largely responsible for making the world take evolution very seriously as a scientific theory and for converting the scientific world to acceptance of evolution during the 1860s and 70s. I think this is a reasonable interpretation of Rennie’s first clause. In any case I do not see that this point has much relevance to the main points of Rennie’s article.

    If I’m not mistaken, Behe accepts a billions-years-old earth and the common descent of all life on earth including humans. I.e., he accepts evolution but says that God intervened supernaturally at crucial junctures here and there. Doesn’t this make him almost as deluded as the average theistic evolutionist, in your view?
    One thing that has struck me about your posts here, Helen, is your willingness to make uncharitable interpretations of the actions and motives of evolution’s defenders. You say here that Rennie is being deceptive by deliberately ignoring doubts about evolution. But what about the possibility that Rennie simply has honest differences of opinion with you: that he doesn’t agree with you that there are reasonable and major doubts about the validity of evolution?
    Can we agree on ground rules for this discussion that we will not attribute disreputable motives in general to the other side, or make accusations implying moral turpitude? Comments along these lines nearly always generate heat rather than light.
    I don’t know if this question is on topic for this thread, but I’d like to ask it anyway:
    Why do you consider the question of ID to be very important (if you do)? Interesting, certainly, but why important? If I found out tomorrow for a certainty that God either did or did not intervene in the workings of the laws of nature to create (say) the first cell or the bacterial flagellum, it would have little or no effect on the way I live my life, either way. It would no doubt have profound implications for theologians, but I’m not a theologian nor are most Christians. I would not join a different church or become an atheist, either way. I would not pray any differently. Genuine religion and spirituality, for me, are primarily concerned with what is in my heart and whether I love God and my neighbor as myself; it has very little to do with how the first cell originated or the age of the Earth.
    quote:

    Besieged teachers and others may increasingly find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism. The arguments that creationists use are typically specious and based on misunderstandings of (or outright lies about) evolution, but the number and diversity of the objections can put even well-informed people at a disadvantage.

    See for example
    http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/rncse_content/vol21/3150_the_children39s_cursade_for_12_30_1899.asp
    You can find numerous other examples on the NCSE website: http://natcenscied.org/. By “besieged teachers,” Rennie is evidently referring to the numerous teachers who are confronted with pressures, from students, school boards, parents, and legislatures, to teach creationism or ID.
    quote:

    To help with answering them, the following list rebuts some of the most common "scientific" arguments raised against evolution. It also directs readers to further sources for information and explains why creation science has no place in the classroom.

    Again, you are making an uncharitable interpretation of the motives of evolutionists. Isn’t it possible that Rennie and other evolutionists would like to teach children to think, but we honestly don’t believe that teaching ID in science classrooms is consistent with that purpose? After all, that is what we say; if you cannot accept our own explanations of our motives, you ought to explain why. And if you really believe that we would like children to be indoctrinated (which is really the job of religious teaching, not science education), you ought to back up this allegation.
    Evolution, both in the sense of common descent of life on earth and in the sense of change in allele frequency, is taught as “fact” for the same reason that the roundness of the earth is taught as fact: because of the enormous amount of accumulated empirical evidence that supports these “facts.” The conclusion that there is overwhelming evidence for common descent does not depend, so far as I can see, on the belief that all causes must be natural and material, any more than the conclusion that there is overwhelming evidence that the earth is round depends on such a belief. If you disagree, please explain why.
    This raises essentially the same question: Can you please support your assertion that evolutionary theory is premised on the denial of the possibility of anything other than natural causes as we understand them to be responsible for anything encountered by man? Science, as I understand the term and roughly speaking, is the enterprise of seeking naturalistic explanations for observed phenomena in terms of the regularities of nature. Nothing in this enterprise, so far as I can tell, requires the assumption or belief that only naturalistic causation is possible.
    Essentially the same question again: When and where did “science” declare “that all physical effects must have material, natural causes”?

    The above paragraphs contain more instances of your attributing disreputable motives to evolutionists, Helen. For example, you say evolution may not be questioned, implying dogmatism and/or censorship on the part of evolutionists. You do not seem to acknowledge the possibility that we sincerely believe that teaching creationism and ID in public-school science classes is contrary to the educational mission of such schools, a disservice to students, and a violation of the First Amendment. I ask you to have the courtesy to accept our stated motives at face value unless you have some solid arguments to the contrary, and I will do my best to return the favor.

    You do not seem to acknowledge the possibility that Eugenie Scott and the rest of us are concerned about good science education, the public’s understanding of science, and keeping the government’s nose out of religion. Instead you refer to a continual assault on the simple freedom to THINK that is going on in the education institutions today, so far as can see without evidence supporting this allegation.

    This is another unsupported allegation. Can you please provide some support for your assertion that reviewers are always or even mostly chosen because they agree with naturalistic materialism or because they reject ID, rather than for their expertise in a particular field?

    There are two normal criteria for concluding that an object is likely to be the product of ID:

    (1) The object has a strong resemblance to other artifacts that we know to be the product of intelligent agents; and
    (2) we do not know of any natural (non-intelligent) process that might plausibly have produced the object.

    Pottery shards, Mt. Rushmore, watches found on the beach, etc., fulfill these two requirements. Cells do not: We have not observed any intelligent agents creating anything like cells, and it is at least a reasonable hypothesis that natural processes produced the first cells. Nor do bacterial flagella, the blood-clotting mechanism, etc., fulfill these criteria.
     
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    HELEN

    I see this sort of statement constantly and it never ceases to amaze me.
    1. Natural selection cannot select from what is not already there.
    2. What is there is the product of random, purposeless mutations
    3. Therefore the original cause of everything has to be chance. One cannot propose natural selection without something to select!
    4. Natural selection does not and cannot work on a molecular level; therefore to say that proteins can be formed via natural selection is somewhere between ignorant and deceptive.
    5. The fact of genetic load belies the idea that natural selection eliminates ‘undesirable’ mutations.
    6. The presumption that all mutations which will later contribute to a new form or function are immediately adaptive before that form or function is established is entirely unfounded.
    7. Natural selection can only delete, it cannot add, to the genome. It selects by eliminating the less fit for any given environment. That section of the population’s genetic heritage is then lost for good. When this keeps up through enough time and generations, the end result is what is called over-speciation or a fitness peak, where a population is so specifically adapted to one particular environment that it cannot survive outside of that environment. In other words, its genetic plasticity is lost and it is in danger of extinction. We have hundreds of species in this position at this time.
    8. Deleting from a population via natural selection cannot produce any new structures, let alone ‘sophisticated’ ones.

    In short, Rennie’s argument here is entirely fallacious.
    This is also fallacious. The computer program was a product of intelligent design and it was programmed to keep changes in line with the target phrase. Evolution is, by definition, purposeless and targetless and not the product of intelligent design. To try to demonstrate it with a designed, targeted program is a complete fallacy.
    There is another problem here in this argument. Let’s suppose there is a truly beneficial mutation in an individual. Assuming that it did not alter this individual enough so that another of its population would refuse to mate with it, sexual combining of the genes does not guarantee that this mutation will be passed on to the progeny. It could be effectively eliminated completely in a generation or two whether or not it provided any benefit, simply because of the mathematics and mechanics of sexual reproduction.

    Let me add one more thing while we are on this subject. Most traits are the products of the interactions of a number of genes. This means that while one mutation has the potential of disrupting expression of this trait, the expression of it in the first place requires ALL the interacting genes to be in place and coded for in the proper sequence. Thus, even an entirely new gene, if such could be formed by accident, would have a very difficult time inserting itself into a position where it not only expressed something new in conjunction with the other genes, but did not disrupt their former interactions.

    Evolution from bacteria to bears really is not genetically supportable…

    They are not complex structures. Crystals of any sort are highly ordered, but simple forms. He is confusing order with complexity. Nor do they arise spontaneously. They are the result of specific circumstances at specific times.

    If Rennie would like to give me an example of a spontaneously arising case of complexity in a living organism which was not programmed into it from the beginning of its existence as an individual, I would be VERY interested in seeing it or even just hearing about it. Plants convert sun energy into complex carbohydrates not accidently or randomly, but in a very specific and complex cascade of chemical reactions which are highly dependant upon the right circumstances. A fetus grows from a fertilized egg because that is what it is programmed to do. It is not a fortuitous accident. The Second Law may PERMIT certain parts of a system to decrease in entropy at the expense of other parts of the system, but it does not ENABLE them to do so.

    And if “simple organisms can fuel their rise toward complexity by consuming other forms of life and nonliving materials” why don’t we see that happen apart from what they were designed to do? He is implying here anything from the maturation of a juvenile form of an organism to the radical change of form and function that evolution over time requires. The first is designed into each individual via the DNA and other cell structures. The second has never been seen to happen.
     
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    HELEN

    Hi Richard,

    I do consider Rennie dishonest. He is in a position with the education to know better than what he wrote regarding many of his points.

    I disagree with you about Darwin being the one who caused folks to look at evolution seriously. Huxley was far more responsible, as were a number of others. Darwin’s own letters make it very clear he was quite unsure about his own ideas! Others took Darwin’s book and made a icon out of it, but that is a different matter.

    As far as Behe goes, he is a personal friend and I am not going to judge him or anyone else. I will simply repeat my statement that if evolution were established beyong a reasonable doubt, there would not be so many scientists, of which Mike Behe certainly is one, who seriously question/challenge one or more areas of it.

    And yes, Rennie is certainly entitled to his own opinions and of course they are different from mine. But this is no excuse to ignore possible valid points of those who disagree with him, and that is exactly what he has done. This is dishonest of him. Solid scientists like Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, Michael Denton, Lee Spetner and so many others have raised valid points of doubt about evolution. To say they don’t, or to deny that the points should be taken seriously and discussed is simply not being honest on Rennie’s part. One can disagree with the points themselves, but one cannot honestly deny they exist.

    I would love to say yes to your suggestion about disregarding motives of the writer in this and other discussions. But I can’t when I see so much that is dishonestly presented. I have to ask myself WHY the author did this. If creation science is so silly and pointless as he is trying to make it out to be, then he is casting the science of some very good scholars and scientists to the wind in one fell swoop, and that is insulting to them. Why would he do this? What possible reason could he have for attacking so vehemently something he says should not even be taken seriously in the first place? That by itself is a sort of oxymoron and one has to ask why…

    Do I consider ID, or the question of ID important? Yes, I do. Very. Why? For several reasons:

    1. It is the application of what we know to what we don’t know, which is at the heart of a lot of science.

    2. It challenges the supposition of naturalistic materialism, and suppositions should be challenged, at least occasionally!

    3. It agrees with what men have considered true for thousands of years. We need to take that seriously and look at it seriously – that there is an intelligence outside of the human race and far above it which is responsible for this world and life itself. To ignore that possibility, even if science cannot ‘deal’ with it, is illogical and even stupid.

    I presume from what you say about praying and such, that you are a Christian. It seems to me that it would make a great deal of difference to anyone to know that God meant exactly what He had written in Genesis. Genesis is the foundation for every major doctrine in the Bible. As soon as you call it allegorical, or myth, or nice poetry with spiritual truths, or however you rationalize it, you have left those doctrines without a foundation or explanation. You have also questioned the veracity of every Bible author who referred to the events in Genesis as real historical events which, by the way, our Lord also did. I don’t think you have to be a theologian to understand that trusting the Bible is pretty necessary to the Christian faith. It has to do with the character of God, and one cannot separate the Bible from the character of God in our human understanding of Him.

    As far as besieged teachers go, let me know when any of those who are ‘besieged’ by creationists lose their jobs or promotions or tenure because of their teaching of evolution, OK? That happens consistently to those who question evolution. Also, as a retired teacher, I would have to say that when I was audited by parents and others in my science classes, I was never challenged by creationists, even though I had to teach evolution by law. All challenges I got were from evolutionists to “make sure” my “religious views” did not get in the way of my teaching. It was their religion or nothing and yes, it is a religion when it is not allowed to be questioned as a science. And evolution is not allowed to be questioned scientifically in any public high school classroom that I am aware of. Your job is at stake if you do.

    Maybe Rennie’s and your ideas about besieged are simply different from mine, however.

    You don’t think teaching ID is consistent with science? Please don’t tell that to archaeologists, forensic pathologists or the SETI folks, OK? They all use the same methods ID uses and I don’t think they would like to be told they are not being scientific about what they do. Look at it this way: it is scientific to look at a shard and use your experience and learning to declare whether or not it is an accident of nature or a product of design. And that is simply a bit of hardened clay, perhaps.

    But it is somehow NOT scientific to look at something as complex as the human brain and even question if it is simply the product of time, chance, mutations, and natural selection.

    What else can I say but GET REAL! ??

    Have you read the preface to Dawkins’ “Blind Watchmaker”? Fascinating…

    Do I want the children indoctrinated? NO! And that is EXACTLY why I want to see challenges to evolution in the classrooms! NO, not ‘teaching creation.’ I am NOT espousing that and never have. I want evolution taught as the idea it is, not as a fact. I want the warts along with the rest of it. I want the problems along with the suppositions. I don’t care, actually, if ONLY evolution is taught, as long as ALL of it is taught. Taught honestly. Taught truthfully. This has NOTHING to do with the first amendment or any other law!

    Right now it isn’t. Right now it is a sacred cow and the object of what can only be called religious indoctrination. You are afraid of what we ‘might’ do. We are afraid of what we already see you (as an evolutionist0 doing. Don’t blame us if we do fight to stop the indoctrination of our children in to the religion of humanism – for that is exactly what it is at the core.

    You said evolution is taught as a fact because the empirical evidence supports that. I presume we are both talking about ‘bacteria to bears’ evolution and NOT simple variation which
    1. no one is arguing about regarding it happening and
    2. does not lead to gross morphological changes in form or function in a population

    Now, WHAT empirical evidence are you talking about? The fossil record? That shows a lot of dead animals and plants. Everything else is interpretation.

    So what empirical evidence are you talking about that is so strong that it justifies evolution being taught as a fact?

    I see no overwhelming evidence for common descent. Where do you find this overwhelming evidence, please?

    Now, you asked for some kind of evidence that evolution posits only naturalistic materialism and I have to admit to being a little stunned by this question. It is all over the place.

    How many quotes do you want? Here are just a few from about five minutes in my own library:

    Consciousness itself is a consequence of the gradual cooling of the components of the Universe.
    P.W. Atkins, The Second Law; Energy, Chaos, and Form, [1994, Scientific American Library, p. 107]

    That is the cause of chemical change: in chemistry as in physics, the driving force of natural change is the chaotic, purposeless, undirected dispersal of energy.
    [ibid. p. 112]

    The study of God’s handiwork in nature was known as Natural Theology. To modern biologists the answer is equally obvious: natural selection, which fits organisms to their environments through the gradual accumulation of small changes in response to the prevailing conditions of the environment.

    This explanatory shift – from divine design to natural selection – was the second of two radical intellectual revolutions of the past half millennium
    [the first being the Copernican]. …The revolution initiatedby Charles Darwin (1809-1882), three centuries later, dispelled the notion that the creatures of the Earth – including humans – were not [sic] God’s immutable creations but were the products of a process of descent with modification, or evolution as it came to be known.
    Roger Lewin in the Foreword to Evolution: The Greatest Story Ever Told (no blasphemy there…), by Philip Whitfield [1993, Marshall Editions Ltd, London]

    We have ample reason to believe that every biological phenomenon, however complex, is ultimately based on chemical and physical interactions among molecules…we must never forget that molecules, cells and organisms are all creatures of history, brought forth by the interplay of chance and necessity.
    Franklin M. Harold, The Way of the Cell, [2001, Oxford University Press, pp 4-5

    I could go on for hundreds of pages, literally, with quotes just from the book in my own library! Evolution declares under no uncertain terms that all causes are natural and material. Nothing else is allowed.

    Of course students are therefore allowed to think: within that fence and only insofar as they come up with conclusions acceptable within the evolutionary paradigm! They are to think as they are told to think, in other words.

    As far as peer reviewers for peer reviewed journals are concerned, I have seen enough peer review reports with the authors I have worked with, both evolution and creation, to know that the journals on both sides generally pick their reviewers not just for expertise in a subject (which is generally determined by how much they have published, which is also a matter of agreeing with the prevailing paradigm), but on their agreement with the editor and/or publisher’s point of view. It gets really interesting. Even on the evolution side what one journal will reject and not being in line with its editorial policy, another will welcome with open arms – and generally on the advice of the reviewers. Since this is the field I work in professionally, I do have a pretty good working knowledge of this sort of thing…

    As far as your idea concerning how intelligent design is determined, you have chosen to restrict yourself to intelligent design by humans. SETI might not agree with you. I know I certainly don’t, and neither do a number of others.
     
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    RICHARDC

    John Rennie wrote in Scientific American:

    The NAS defines a fact as "an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as 'true.'" The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time. Although no one observed those transformations, the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling.


    Helen replied:

    The fossil record is a clean and unambiguous record of the fact that there were organisms that lived and then died, and that they seem to have lived and died in different times. It says absolutely nothing about their relationships with one another unless we see one eating another! All the ideas about evolutionary relationships are interpretations of the fossil record based on the presupposition that evolution is true.

    Helen, can you give an example or two of an argument demonstrating scientific support for the common descent of all life that is “based on the supposition that evolution is true,” i.e., that is circular? No straw men, please; only arguments propounded seriously by reputable scientists.

    All such arguments that I am aware of take the following form: they use the hypothesis of common descent to deduce predictions; the predictions are then compared with the real world to test the hypothesis. There is nothing circular about this form of reasoning, which is generally known as the scientific method. And in every case that I am aware of, common descent passes the test; indeed most of the predictions would be highly likely to fail in the absence of common descent.

    Helen:
    However, all that being said, it is correct to say that evolution, as in macroevolution, is not testable and therefore not directly falsifiable. – Although it is certainly not for lack of trying! In over 100 years (and approximately, therefore, over 2 ½ million linear generations) of E.coli bacteria, no macroevolution has been seen despite throwing every mutagent in the book at them.

    You say that macroevolution is not testable, and then immediately contradict yourself by stating (incorrectly – see below) that it has so far failed the test of being recreatable in the lab.


    If we cannot get a single-celled prokaryote to mutate enough to become something else in 2 ½ million generations, where is the logic that said it must have happened that humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor in fewer generations than that? The evidence – what there is of it – for macroevolution is against it ever happening, except in the imaginations of men.


    In E. coli, artificial selection has created an entirely new metabolic system “including the ability to metabolize a new carbon source, the regulation of this ability by new regulatory genes, and the evolution of the ability to transport this new carbon source across the cell membrane” (from the Talk.Origins Archive); see

    Hall, B. G. (1982) "Evolution on a petri dish: The evolved b- galactosidase system as a model for studying acquisitive evolution in the laboratory." Evolutionary Biology 15: 85-150
    And we have observed many other organisms to acquire new functions; see J.A. Endler,. Natural Selection in the Wild, 1986. This and much other evidence confirms a prediction of the hypothesis of common descent: that organisms can evolve new functions.

    Also, speciation has been observed both in the lab and in the wild; see

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
    and
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html

    Incidentally, the standard definition of “macroevolution” is any evolutionary change at or above the level of species, or something very similar.


    natural selection – natural selection cannot select something that is not there in the first place. The question is not whether something is selected for, but how did it get there to BE selected for? That is what evolutionists must answer!


    Genetic variation comes from mutation, recombination and gene flow.


    What Rennie is actually saying is that macroevolution cannot be observed and therefore must be inferred, or interpreted. This is what we have been saying all along! Our point is that it very well may be the wrong inference, the wrong interpretation!


    In other words, you don’t agree that macroevolution has occurred. This is a “point”?

    I would also submit that if Rennie honestly thinks the fossil record shows a progression from ape-like to H. sapien, he might want to read Henry Gee’s book, In Search of Deep Time. Gee is one of the editors of Nature and considered respected in his field. Here is a little of what he says of the fossil record where man is concerned:

    Helen
    As an aside, I challenge anyone to tell me those quotes were taken out of context!

    I challenge you to show how this quotation from Gee casts any doubt on the evolution of humans and the other apes from a common ancestor or on the existence of transitional sequences; indeed the same book contains extensive discussion of hominid evolution, including a cladogram of hominid interrelationships on p. 211.
     
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    JOE MEERT

    JM: I would like to vociferously disagree with parts of this
    statement.
    I am currently the chief editor of one journal and an associate editor
    of another journal in Geology. I probably review 10-15 articles each
    year along with 3-8 proposals each year. In addition, I write about
    2-5
    papers each year and so I have experience on both the receiving and
    'dishing out' end of the process. In my field (I can't speak to
    creationist journals), this portrayal of peer-review is incorrect.
    Reviewers are picked on the basis of their expertise AND their past
    record in providing solid and critical reviews. In my experience, a
    majority of submitted papers are either (a) rejected or (b) require
    major revision. The reviewers tend to concentrate on the weakest
    parts
    of the manuscript and the science. The goal of the reviews is to
    entice
    the author to make better arguments and provide sound data. More
    often
    than not, the reviewer will disagree with the conclusions of a paper.
    This is not done to support 'the current paradigm', but rather to
    force
    the author to argue soundly. I have yet to see an editor who requires
    that reviewers agree with his or her personal viewpoint. This may
    happen in some fields, but I can honestly say that in my 10+ years of
    reviewing, editing and writing articles for scientific journals--it
    has
    not happened. Good editors want reviewers who are going to carefully
    go
    through a paper. I would argue that the really good papers argue
    against the prevailing paradigm rather than endorsing it. These
    papers,
    when accepted, have been strongly argued and critiqued.
    You are correct about journals having a 'profile'. It happens,
    not too infrequently, that a perfectly sound paper simply does not fit
    the journal. A good reviewer will note this in his/her review and
    suggest an alternative journal for the writer. For example, I just
    reviewed a paper with really good descriptive science. It was focused
    on a very small region, but the authors did not place their work in a
    global context. In fact, it would have looked awkward had they
    attempted to do so. The journal I was reviewing for requests that
    papers be interesting to a global audience and place the research in a
    larger context. This was not possible to do with this particular
    piece
    of work and so I rejected the paper. In my review, I noted the
    science
    was sound and the conclusions were sound, they had merely picked the
    wrong venue. It is the responsibility of the writer to carefully
    examine the journal's policy before submitting a manuscript. Some
    authors don't do this and they suffer for it.
     
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    RICHARDC

    Helen wrote:
    It’s strange, then, that we refer to the Darwinian revolution and Darwinism instead of the Huxleyan revolution and Huxleyism. All Darwin did was write the book, after marshalling the evidence and constructing the arguments.

    Your comments are still uncharitable. Rennie, along with most scientists I know of, does not believe that Wells et al. have raised any serious doubts about evolution. He is not being dishonest; he simply disagrees with you that these writers have raised any reasonable doubts about evolution. Rennie stated that evolution’s truth has been established beyond reasonable doubt, in his honest opinion, not that no one was raising any arguments against it anymore. And Michael Denton now accepts evolution, by the way.

    Surely the answer is obvious. The allegedly scientific arguments of creationism/ID are very poor as science, but many scientifically uninformed people in the US nevertheless find their arguments appealing and many are trying to get this stuff into public school science classes.

    With regard to ID, Helen wrote:

    One does not have to accept ID to believe that “there is an intelligence outside of the human race and far above it which is responsible for this world and life itself.” That intelligence may express itself in ways other than periodically interfering with the workings of the laws of nature that it presumably created in the first place, in order to create life forms or features of living creatures. And presumably it was within its capabilities to design a universe in which life would self-assemble from the elements rather than needing external help to get going or develop. I find the thought of a Creator who created us by making a universe and letting it spin to be more awe-inspiring than the thought of Creator who created us by the clay-molding method.

    I’m not trying to argue you out of your beliefs about the Bible, but I am interested in understanding your point of view better. I believe that the Bible was in a sense inspired by God and that it is a guide to salvation, but I don’t believe that He inspired it in the literal way that you seem to believe in. So I am free to follow science wherever it leads without worrying about whether it contradicts a literal reading of Genesis, which I believe came to us through the minds of people who were ignorant of science by 21st-century standards.

    This is what I don’t understand; perhaps you could elaborate. I am quite happy in my beliefs, as indeed are most Christians, while believing that Genesis is a mix of myth, allegory, and historical truth. The Creation story makes much more sense to me in Christian terms as myth than as an historical account of events. Even Augustine in the 4th century A.D. rejected a literal reading of Genesis.

    I haven’t questioned their veracity, I have questioned their knowledge of science; there’s a big difference. And I don’t claim to know what Jesus actually knew, or whether He would have said so if He thought that the Creation story was a profoundly insightful myth rather than history or whether it would have been necessarily recorded by the evangelists.

    I trust the Bible as a guide to “how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.” There are different ways in which one may trust a book or person.

    Since the evidence is well known, voluminous and easily accessible, I presume you mean that you are aware of some of the purported evidence for common descent but do not agree that it is truly evidence for it. There is a good introduction to the evidence for common descent at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/.

    For a discussion of some very persuasive evidence for the common ancestry of human and the great apes, see http://www.gate.net/~rwms/hum_ape_chrom.html

    The evidence for common descent consists in the vast array of observations that are explained by the hypothesis of common descent, along with the fact that no other scientific hypothesis comes remotely close to explaining so much of the biological world.

    To barely scratch the surface (and to boldly split the infinitive): Every organism known has pretty much the same organization and biochemistry down to the molecular level, including the genetic code. Furthermore, we have discovered the twin nested hierarchies of the morphological and molecular phylogenies. These observations are predicted by the hypothesis of common descent but not by creationism/ID (although they are compatible with creationism/ID), and common descent is their most parsimonious explanation.
     
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    JHAPPEL

    The issue is scientist's against orthodox Darwinian dogma. Orthodox
    Darwinism is undirected natural processes with the mechanism of
    random mutation and natural selection. Common descent and the
    mechanism of
    evolution are two different beasts. Many creationists have no
    problem with
    common descent but realize there is no naturalistic mechanism capable
    of
    filling in the gaps at the phyla/class/order/family level. Behe and
    Denton
    accept common descent but they reject the orthodox darwinism
    mechanism. For
    an accurate understanding of what Denton believes read this link.

    http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or152/dent.htm

    and

    http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od192/naturesdestiny192.htm

    For a small listing of scientist's skeptical of orthodox Darwinism

    http://www.discovery.org/articleFiles/PDFs/100ScientistsAd.pdf

    I disagree. ID deals with the origin of information and the origin of
    irreducible complexity. As far as we know noone has come close to
    presenting a credible explanation for the origin of life. No one has
    presented a detailed testable description of how the bacterial
    flagellum
    could have evolved. If there is no naturalistic pathway for the
    origin of
    life why should we believe a naturalistic mechanism can change a
    bacteria to
    a man? We have never observed anything evolve into something
    fundamentally
    different. Never observed the evolution of a new organ or a new body
    plan.

    By saying that your are revealing your own metaphysical worldview is
    effecting how you interpret the past. We should let the evidence
    decide
    what we believe not allow metaphysical assumptions determine what we
    want to
    believe and cloud our interpretations of the evidence.

    Augustine believed in instantaneous creation not long ages of
    evolution.
     
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    HELEN

    Some responses:

    John asked me to give “an example or two of an argument demonstrating scientific support for the common descent of all life that is ‘based on the supposition that evolution is true,’ i.e., that is circular.”

    John, all cladistics is based on that. All interpretation of the fossil record on the part of evolutionists is based on that. This list is endless, or at least as long as the fields of science having to do with the subject.

    So let me issue this question to you: can you point me to ONE area where, today evolution is concluded without it being presumed first? Is there any area you are aware of in science (and I’m not worried about ‘reputable scientists’, OK? – you are free to go wherever you like with this) in which there is no presupposition of evolution at the beginning but the interpretation yielding evolution or common descent at the end?

    In the meantime, the E.coli example has been used over and over again here by “Galatian/Barbarian/Pat Parson”. First of all, it was artificial. Secondly, the type did not last. Thirdly, the ability to vary back and forth along hot spots of the genome is known to exist in prokaryotes. Now, if you can see anywhere where that change ended up yielding another change on top of it later that led to better fitness, you might have something. As it is, you have a forced variation which the bacteria was already capable of doing and which later switched back. If this is your best shot at evidence for evolution which we can see and work with aside from sexual variation, evolution is probably in sad shape.

    And, again, no one is arguing speciation.

    As far as the “standard definition of ‘macroevolution’”, that is NOTHING if not circular. You define a species as an isolated inbreeding population and then you can isolate any population you like and say “Wow! Look! Macroevolution!”

    That doesn’t wash logically or realistically.

    You might also be interested in the following:

    So what happened?
    Is Rennie unaware of this conference?
    Have definitions been quietly changed to accommodate the lack of data for evolution and still indicate that evolution is ‘true’?
    Is everyone ignoring these scientific opinions?

    I wrote, “natural selection cannot select something that is not there in the first place. The question is not whether something is selected for, but how did it get there to BE selected for? That is what evolutionists must answer!”

    To which you replied, “Genetic variation comes from mutation, recombination and gene flow.”

    But I didn’t ask where ‘genetic variation’ comes from. Are you saying that genetic variation does what Ayala said it cannot do? Accumulate? Accumulate to build new forms and functions? And what happens when a genetic variation happens and natural selection is operating? It has to be IMMEDIATELY selected for, before that new form or function is operating. The fact is, John, and PLEASE read this carefully here – expressed physical traits are NOT the result of the old idea of one gene = one trait. Traits are expressed through complicated interactions among genes and timing mechanisms that we really don’t understand yet. So while knocking out a gene can certainly alter or destroy a trait (or several of them), the addition of a new gene does not mean a new trait will be added. That new gene must integrate with the rest of the genome and not interfere with the timing of expression for other traits. It must also cooperate with other genes in the expression of a new trait. And then, on top of that, the transcription devices must be properly in place for it, the timing codons correctly placed, and the cell must know how to follow the new directions it receives. It’s ever so much more than simple mutation, recombination and gene flow for a new trait to show up in an organism. Which is probably why we have never seen it happen and it is only presumption that it has.

    And, in the meantime, natural selection continues to kill off segments of any given population with environmental changes. If there are new traits to select from, where on earth did the new traits come from? Genetically you just can go about switching around the genome and resulting proteins. The cells are much too fine-tuned to allow that to happen. Keep in mind also that most proteins are disassembled frequently and the amino acids used to build new and replacement proteins. So even if one were ‘abnormal’ it wouldn’t last long anyway – and would the cell produce that same abnormality again?

    Natural selection can only select from what is there, not what someone imagines must have happened.

    About the quote from Gee – I used it to show a good scientist’s (and evolutionists’) candid look at the fossil record and what it really means. However yes, Gee presumes evolution happened anyway. And that PRESUMPTION led to the cladogram you point to on page 211 as well as all the others in the book! He is trying to replace fossil record interpretation with cladistics. Cladistics is based firmly and completely on the presumption of common descent.

    Your second email accused me of being uncharitable towards Rennie. That does not bother me at all. He is a senior science editor. If he doesn’t know better than what he has written, he should. I might mention that his attitude towards those he does not agree with is not only uncharitable, it's downright insulting.

    What Wells did, by the way, in “Icons of Evolution” was document one after another, slowly and carefully, that every main evidence for evolution used in the current texts has been known to be false as published in peer reviewed mainstream literature for at least 20 years, and in some cases at least a hundred years. He showed that deception is the only possible reason for this. Michael Denton may or may not accept evolution in full, I don’t know. That is not the point either. The point is that there are a number of excellent scientists with degrees, papers, standing, etc., who have disagreed with evolution enough times and in enough ways that when Rennie says it is a fact and beyond doubt, he is either ignorant or lying. Your choice.

    You, as do many, make the assertion that creation science is “poor”. But you might be interested to know that almost every major field of science was begun by a Bible-believing creationist! That’s not so poor, I don’t think. And creationists today are doing cutting edge science as well, as creationists, in a number of fields. In the past few days the press regarding the Davies article on the possibly decreasing speed of light through time has made big press. However my husband was publishing on that in 1981. The complexity of parasites has been a recent field of exploding knowledge as well. But Mark Armitage has been publishing on that for a number of years as well. A lot of these men are quiet people and not prone to hyping themselves, but their work is nevertheless top class and recognized that way by many in their field. We have, for instance, in the past three days, been getting phone calls and emails from physicists from around the world, literally. Several from China, which is interesting… they know about Barry’s work and appreciate it. That was a pleasant surprise for us.

    There are, to put it very mildly, far more creation scientists out there than you think. And they are doing quite a bit of very respectable work. The canard about creation science being religion and poor science is simply a bit of propaganda. Granted that has been helped along for you by some of the popularizers, but nevertheless, the real science is there and moving along quite nicely.

    Then you said something that really puzzled me: ‘One does not have to accept ID to believe that “there is an intelligence outside of the human race and far above it which is responsible for this world and life itself.”’

    Okayyyyyy, are you trying to say that this intelligence that is responsible for this world and for life is NOT an intelligent designer? That the design is not intelligent? What is it you are trying to say here?

    I think you mistake what ID is postulating, actually. It should not be confused with creationism, by the way. ID is simply saying that there are tests we can use to indicate whether any natural phenomena shows signs of being intelligently designed rather than the product of either natural law or probability. That’s it. It does not go further than that! You see, it fits your theistic evolution as well as my young creation point of view. Unless you are trying to say God did NOT design things intelligently and that, if He did, there is no trace of that intelligent design left. ID has NOTHING to do with creationism. That, also, is a bit of propaganda by those who are afraid of Darwinism being challenged.

    A quick word about the Bible and current science. Current science is forever changing its mind about things. The Bible is not. And every time there has been a chance to confirm or falsify something the Bible has said in the way of science as we know it, the Bible has come out as telling the truth. With the comparative track records of the Bible and man’s science, I prefer Bible. The odds are far greater that it is telling the truth about what it speaks about than science is about what it speaks about. And I taught science for many years…

    God’s standards, by the way, are much stricter than ours. We settle for reasonable evidence and an interpretation in line with current thinking. He demands truth.

    You say you are happy in your beliefs. That says nothing about whether they are right or not, does it? Hindus and Muslims are quite happy in their beliefs, too. One’s satisfaction with what one believes is no indication of whether that belief is true or not. In a similar vein, what ‘makes sense’ to you about Genesis is also no indication as to whether it is true or not. It is presented as straight history and needs to be accepted or rejected on its own terms. There is increasing evidence, as well, that it is actually a series of eyewitness testimonies. You might be interested in this link where there is some explanation of that:
    http://ldolphin.org/tablethy.html

    Read it and see what you think. The evidence is not only strong, but getting stronger. I have a couple of essays by current scholars who are also starting to swing to that position. Seriously, let me know what you think.

    You said, “I trust the Bible as a guide to “how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.” There are different ways in which one may trust a book or person.” That’s another one from “Galatian” -- you guys the same person??? Let me put it this way, if the Bible is not right about what we CAN verify, why on earth should we trust it regarding anything we CAN’T verify? If God can’t get simple science right when He speaks about it, why trust Him with anything else?

    I asked you for some of the purported ‘overwhelming evidence’ for common descent and got only that it is ‘voluminous and easily accessible” and then a reference to the TO article which I have read before. Common descent is presumed by them. That is no way to start off a bit of evidence for it! And yes, I am aware of molecular, phyogenetic, etc. evidences for common descent. None of them hold up that I can see. So if you could show me what you do think holds up against a challenge involving a different presumption and a different possible interpretation which is completely in line with the data, I would really appreciate it. You see, I used to believe in evolution. I used to teach it. It was because of evidence that I ended up becoming a creationist. I really don’t see that overwhelming evidence at all in any field which supports common descent. I see a LOT of data with interpretations based on the presupposition of common descent, and I see a LOT of declarations of common descent, and I see a LOT of retreats into ‘convergent evolution’ when all else fails – but I don’t see the overwhelming evidence at all.

    And, by the way, morphology (body design) and molecular genetics are frequently at odds. It is not quite the lovely pairing you are seeming to want to indicate. They are not ‘twins’ by any mean, in terms of ‘nested hierarchies’ or otherwise. Considering that ‘common descent’ has to resort to so many anomalies, it really is not the most parsimonious explanation. Creation works better there. Biblical creation. Creation of created kinds by population. That explains ever so much more without retreating into all sorts of shenanigans about convergent evolution, imagined transitionals, changing stories of evolutionary relationships and the like.

    To Joe:
    I’m not arguing about your experience with peer-reviewed journals, Joe. I am stating mine as someone who has worked with a number of authors and a number of submissions.
     

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