Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dr Carl hammers on

Dr Carl decided to try a point by point rebuttal of my previous email, and here it is, though some of it seems to have dropped out - maybe he got tangled up mid-sentence, or the sentence disappeared up its own backside, as some sentences do.

Hello Carl

I'm glad you've seen the light.
Not sure what you've gleaned from my email to suggest that.

Actually, I think my tone has remained much the same throughout this exchange, but it might surprise you to know that unoriginal claims about Darwin as racist and progenitor of nazism do tend to annoy reasonable people.
I wonder if you will ever get to reading the voluminous documentation of the direct Darwin-Hitler link, e.g. from Richard Weikart's book - he is a professor of sociology, I believe, used to documenting his sources.
I hope this email will bring the exchange to an end - unless you respond, because, you see, I always have to have the last word!
Hey, that makes me feel good about you. That's normally a creationist trait. :-) Guess you've got work ahead of you.

One has to ask why it is that creationists get so hot under the collar about 'Darwinism'. Of course it has little to do with racism or nazism and everything to do with the supernatural elephant in the room, or I should say the cosmos. Your god just doesn't have enough of a role to play.
Actually this is a rather naive view. It does not have to do with creation per se, but with biblical history. The facts in Genesis relate intimately to the reality of the Gospel. Just as Clinton said "It's the economy, stupid" one can say of those looking for the motivation behind the modern creation movement: "It's the Bible, stupid". If Scripture taught that there were millions of years of development as God caused pondscum to gradually become transformed into human beings, then the degree or otherwise of the role played by God would be irrelevant.

It should be pointed out that it was generally recognized, among the leading scientists even of Erasmus Darwin's era - before the birth of his grandson Charles - that some form of evolution was going on. The opposite of evolution - or change - was the fixity of species - or no change. The idea - hardly so coherent as to be called a theory - that a creator separately created these endlessly multiplying species, at different times in different places, seemed less and less credible as more fossils were discovered, all with related body plans and classifiable similarities and differences. This along with increasing knowledge and speculation around artificial or human selection, the breeding of pigeons, dogs, strains of wheat, etc, provided increasing evidence that living things evolved, changed somehow. What wasn't understood was the mechanism or set of mechanisms involved. Various attempts were made, from the late eighteenth century onwards, to work out these mechanisms.

Had Darwin never existed, natural selection would still be the cornerstone of modern biology. First, Darwinian evolution is not the cornerstone of modern biology, much as many would like to think this. Skell's paper (which you likely won't bother to read, as your mind is made up) shows how virtually none of the modern advances in biology depended in the slightest on evolution being true. And in spite of your continual conflating of the two, natural selection is not the same as evolution. Natural selection was worked out and formally described by a creationist called Blyth before Darwin (though he later at least part-signed up for the Darwinian bandwagon). This was based on the evidence and common sense. Natural selection is not at all a threat to Genesis history, far from it. In fact, had you seen The Voyage, you would have realised that the 'creation' idea which Darwin say himself as overturning was not biblical creation at all. Fixity of species, with centres of creation, owed far more to Greek philosophers. No-one who took Genesis as history (the way in which the Lord Jesus Christ and all the New Testament writers universally take it) would believe that after a global Flood, the creatures on the Galapagos had been created on the islands. Wallace worked out the mechanism separately, and had he never existed, someone else would have done so. Maybe it would have taken a bit longer, but it was an idea whose time had more or less come. The evidence had to be accounted for.
Natural selection provides an enormously powerful mechanism to account for the changes as well as the connections that so puzzled earlier scientists. And of course the later discovery of genes provided the universal organic material upon which selection could act.
Sounds somewhat confused, Stewart. Genes represent the information upon which selection acts, the medium on which that information rides is largely irrelevant. NS has no creative power; Darwin saw NS acting on random variation (the origin of the variation is beside the point), and he was right. But since any given gene pool has a limit in the amount of genetic information, there are inevitably limits to variation. Hence the modern view of evolution to seek to overcome this limitation is that random mutation
I heard an emeritus Professor of Genetics (Cornell University), a scientific convert to biblical creation, at our major Australian conference in January this year explain carefully how the NeoDarwinian mechanism has been thoroughly falsified by highpowered supercomputer modelling. The program is called Mendel's accountant. The DVD is available. But then, anything which counters your preferred worldview is not likely to be permitted to disturb it. It's easier, no matter what the evidence might be, to dismiss something as 'propagandist'.

I think I've given you a fair go, but I won't be accessing your propagandist website. I did, for open-mindedness' sake, attempt to access the link you provided re Philip Skell's article, but it required a paid subscription and, being poor but honest, I can't presently afford it. I did find out something about Skell's background though. His beliefs seem to have caused a stir, mainly of amusement, in the science-blogging community. I was quite tickled by some of the comments here.
Yes, it's interesting that someone can be an emeritus Professor of Chemistry at an Ivy League university, and yet one's views generate derision when they don't line up with the establishment paradigm. It seems little has changed since the days of phlogiston and Ignaz Semmelweiss.
Without the evolutionary mechanism worked out by Darwin and Wallace - without evolution in fact - we'd be back where we were in the eighteenth century.
That is so irrational as to make one weep. Think of the huge number of advances in any branch of science; now list ten that could never have been thought of by a convinced creationist.
Creationism has no testable theory, it can create no research program, it simply gives up on understanding as far as I can see.
Nonsense. Vague creationism, maybe. Biblical creationism, no way. It posits a specific history in which there are research goals, and a fair bit of research (limited by no access to taxpayer dollars is going on. For example, the recent research of the RATE project which has made highly significant discoveries on the issue of radiometric dating, a program which would not have existed if not for specific biblical creationist expectations. Check "RATE" on the search engine. O, I forgot. Even if you were challenged by actual evidence, it seems all you have to do to prevent being further disturbed is to Google a few more websites and then feel comforted by 'derision'. That's really smart.
Now I'll get back back to my Darwin book. That's what I call stimulating company.

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