Re: virus: Making a monkey of Darwin (or Spot the Fallacy)

Duane Daniel Hewitt (
Tue, 1 Aug 1995 13:25:08 -0600 (MDT)

The first point that I will make about this is that the author does not
make any attempt to forward an alternative hypothesis. He assumes that
his attacks are strong enough to lead everyone to his preconceptions
which seem to be that there was a conscious intent behind the creation of
the universe.

On Mon, 31 Jul 1995, David McFadzean wrote:

> Making a monkey of Darwin
> by William Gairdner
> Psssst! Don't tell. The most explosive secret of the worldwide
> intellectual establishment is the rapid crumbling of Darwinian
> evolution theory.

This gossip-like tone fits well with this reporters style of writing and

> At the 1966 Wistar Institute Symposium, Sir Peter Medawar expressed

Note that in the first paragraph the reporter said "rapid crumbling" and
then he refers back to 1966. Since that was before I was born it does not
seem to be to rapid to me and as a molecular biologist I have never seen
a serious challenge to Natural Selection.

> this widespread skepticism on behalf of an imposing assembly
> of scientists. The fantastical idea that all life began from non-life,
> then evolved by gradual random mutation and natural selection from a
> single-celled common ancestor into complex higher life forms, has
> fallen on hard times.
> Molecular biologist Michael Denton spoke for many scientists
> in his lucid Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, when he wrote that
> "ultimately, the Darwinian theory of evolution is . . . the great
> cosmogenic myth of the 20th century." A pseudo-scientific Genesis
> story that presents God as a blind process instead of a wilful
> creator. Well, the reputational fur -- uh, feathers -- are flying.

It seems that the author would like to replace a "pseudo-scientific
Genesis story" with a purely theological one.

> And yet the broader public is largely unaware of this bitter
> dispute. Museums and textbooks continue to display standard models
> of, for example, the famous "horse sequence" (tiny weird horse
> transforms into normal big horse over millennia). But Dr. Niles
> Eldredge, a curator of the American Museum of Natural History, said:
> "It (the horse sequence) has been presented as the literal truth in
> textbook after textbook " and complained that this is "speculative,"
> and "lamentable." Meaning, possibly a lie.

My understanding of what the curator may have been saying is that the
progression may not have necessarily been from smallest horse-like animal
to the largest. The common ancestor may have been an intermediate in size
and selection pressures operated to produce some that were smaller and
some that were larger.

> The public also believes all critics of evolution theory are
> religious nuts,
Including Mr. Gairdner, I guess.

> when in fact the main thrust of criticism comes from a
> variety of fields within science itself, mostly from agnostics
> doubting Darwin as much as God.

This line of reasoning seems to state that the agnostics are detached
observers who can be objective and their doubting Darwin proves the
existence of God. Although I may be confused.

> Their main bone of contention is that if Darwin's theory of
> random mutation and natural selection were true, then just as there is
> plenty of fossil evidence for all the known species, there ought to be
> lots of it for the millions of "transitional forms" of plants and
> animals that gradually evolved into their final forms.

Uhh, like dinosaurs, trilobites, and hominids to name a few.

> But no sirree. Once a loon or a bat or a lobster, well that's it.
> You're stuck. For 500 million years, from first lobster fossil to the
> living model dropped in your boiling kettle- there's no change. The
> overwhelming impression to be gotten from a study of the fossil record
> is not evolution, but stasis. No one has ever found a maybe, or partly
> loon or bat or horse. You know-something on the way to becoming those
> species from whatever it was before.

I think I would have to toast this guy like Minsky does for never reading
a science book in his life. His definition of "stasis" seems to include the
mass extinctions that have been known to occur periodically.

> Some argue that even the basic idea of gradual evolution is
> self-defeating because if species depend on optimal adaptation for
> survival, then anything on the way to becoming optimal couldn't
> survive to adapt, could it?

Optimal adaptation is an attractor for survival not a necessary condition
as the existence of this reporter clearly demonstrates.

> And then, there's the problem of simultaneity. The evolution of
> interactive parts of organisms (the iris, the cornea, the eyelid flap,
> say) would all have to change at once. How could a blind process
> orchestrate such harmony?

Just because it is not understood the reporter has to invoke mysticism to
explain it.

> There is no good answer. That's why Darwin himself said that "the
> human eye, to this day, gives me a cold shudder," and, "the sight of a
> feather in a peacock's tail . . . makes me sick."

Context, context, context!!!

> Perhaps the most disturbing fact for evolutionists is that more than
> three-quarters of Earth's crust is lifeless. No fossils. Then, in the
> so-called Cambrian explosion," life suddenly appears, demonstrating
> most of the same species we know today, with the same huge gaps
> between them, and no evidence of any transitional forms whatsoever
> Even modern agnostic scientists routinely refer to this as "abrupt
> appearance," or "creation."

Single celled organisms do not leave fossils. Fossils require structures
that can be preserved such as a skeleton.

> Fish appeared abruptly in complex for (Ommanney: "a veritable
> explosion;") same with reptiles, and birds (Ager: "we find not gradual
> evolution, but . . . sudden explosion,") and the primates, said
> Johansen, spring out of nowhere, as it were. They; here today. They
> have no yesterday."

> It's the same for man. Geneticist Richard Lewontin, former president
> of the Society for the Study of Evolution, and professor of zoology at
> Harvard, said that "there is a vast weight of empirical evidence about
> the universe which says that unless you invoke supernatural causes,
> the birds-life in general-could not have arisen from muck by any
> natural processes" (though he prefers a natural answer).
> About man evolving from apes, he said in his 1982 book Human
> Diversity: "All th fossils which have been dug up and are claimed to
> be ancestors-we haven't the faintest idea whether they are ancestors."
> Probability crunchers information theorists ar molecular biologists

As a molecular biologist, I find it quite offensive that this individual
presumes to speak for me.

> als weigh in against evolution theory.
> Computers programmed to mimic Darwinian evolution just jam up.
> The likelihood of ran dom creation of only ones single protein (of
> some 200,000 human protein is one in one billion.

This is irrelevant. Natural selection is not a random process.

> So Nobel laureate Francis Crick, discover of DNA, said the whole field
> has "too much speculation running after too few facts" . . . and has
> suggested life came to Earth by "panspermia" seeding from outer
> space. According to famous astronomer and mathematics professor Fred
> Hoyle, the information content of a single enzyme is unimaginably
> vast. "Evolutionary processes would require several times the time
> since creation of the universe. The chance that higher life forms
> might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a
> tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from
> the materials therein."

What are the assumptions and proof underlying this assertion?

> By now, Darwin's theory sounds like monkey business.

A nasty little jab to finish off an attack without a single solid piece
of evidence or even simple logic

> > (Gairdner is an author and freelance

How encouraging.