Intelligent Design

In Defense of Quoting Darwinists

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“Quote Mining” is a pejorative term used to refer to the practice of compiling quotations, often from one’s opponents. As anyone who has studied evolution for any length of time knows, one need not quote ID proponents or creationists for authority against evolution or Darwinism. The Darwinists themselves can be quoted for practically every proposition that an ID proponent or a creationist would advance. When this is done, however, Darwinists often level the charge of “quote mining,” and accuse their opponents of taking the quotations out of context. For example, in his 1973 article “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.” Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote:

Their [i.e., creationists’] favorite sport is stringing together quotations, carefully and sometimes expertly taken out of context, to show that nothing is really established or agreed upon among evolutionists. Some of my colleagues and myself have been amused and amazed to read ourselves quoted in a way showing that we are really antievolutionists under the skin.

The quote mining charge did not end with Dobzhansky. In 1996 Michael Behe responded to a charge of quote mining as follows:

“Coyne complains the book is ‘heavily larded’ with quotations from evolutionists. This leads into his being upset with being quoted himself, as discussed above. That aside, however. I don’t know what to make of this statement. What is a book concerning evolution supposed to contain if not quotes from evolutionists? Quotes from accountants? Michael Behe, “Reply to my critics,” Boston Review, November 1996; http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_brrespbr.htm.

The response to the Darwinist’s charge is four-fold. First, it should hardly be surprising that ID proponents and creationists quote Darwinists. Every lawyer knows that an “admission against interest” is very powerful evidence. Also, a writer is immune to the charge of bias when he quotes his opponents for a proposition, and this is especially true in the origins debate where the views of a non-Darwinist who might be quoted for the same proposition are often dismissed before they are given a hearing.

Secondly, any work about evolution is bound to contain quotations from Darwinists. Therefore, attributing nefarious motives to a writer merely for quoting a Darwinist in an anti-Darwinist work is, as Behe suggests above, just silly.

Thirdly, to be fair any quotation must be accompanied by an accurate citation to the quotation’s source, and in my experience ID proponents and creationist are assiduous in this respect.. This allows anyone who cares to do so the opportunity to check the accuracy and context of the quotation.

Finally, using a quotation from a Darwinist to disparage some particular aspect of Darwinism, does not, as Dobzhansy suggests, necessarily imply that the Darwinist disagrees with the theory as a whole. For example, if I were writing about the fossil record I could quote Niles Eldrege as follows: “[Anatomical] Change in the manner Darwin expected is just not found in the fossil record.” Eldrege is a dyed-in-the-wool evolutionist, and nowhere do I say or even suggest otherwise. I quote him for no other reason than to demonstrate that the fossil record does not support Darwin’s predictions. Someone who reads this quotation might extrapolate from the proposition that Eldrege does not believe the fossil record supports Darwin’s predictions to the false conclusion that Eldrege does not support Darwinism generally. But this is not my fault, especially given the fact that I will give a citation to Eldrege’s book The Myths of Human Evolution, the barest perusal of which demonstrates otherwise.

I believe the Darwinists’ charges of quote mining has less to do with their asserted concerns about cherry picking, quotations taken out of context, and misleading implications, and more to do with the fact that the ore in this particular mine is so overwhelmingly rich. In other words, it is becoming clearer with every passing year that the evidence does not support the neo-Darwinist synthesis, and it is not only ID proponents and creationists who know this. Darwinists know it perhaps better than anyone else. Therefore, Darwinists are between the proverbial Scylla and Charybdis when they want to talk to each other in the journals. When dealing with yet more non-confirming data, they can either not mention it or try to deal with it. If they take the former option they leave themselves open to charges of sloppy work or even fraud when the evidence inevitably comes to light. If they take the latter option, however, they are putting more ore in the mine, which they are loathe to do.

34 Replies to “In Defense of Quoting Darwinists

  1. 1
    GilDodgen says:

    It has been noted by a number of commentators that Darwinists present a unified front to the public with the persistent claim of overwhelming evidence, but that within inner circles doubts and problems are sometimes revealed. They don’t like it when these doubts and problems are made public.

  2. 2
    johnnyb says:

    What’s really amusing is when the quote mine project actually presents even more interesting quotes than the original quote source. See especially my favorite quote mine entry:

    http://crevobits.blogspot.com/.....entry.html

  3. 3
    DonaldM says:

    Gil writes:

    It has been noted by a number of commentators that Darwinists present a unified front to the public with the persistent claim of overwhelming evidence, but that within inner circles doubts and problems are sometimes revealed. They don’t like it when these doubts and problems are made public.

    What I find ironic is that many of the quotes made by Darwinists and later cited by IDPs are not quotes from “inner circle” conversations, but from their popular books and articles intended to explain the findings of science to the public. In other words, the Darwinists themselves proclaim these doubts and problems to the public, but then get in a dither when those doubts and problems are cited by IDPs as evidence that evolution may not work as advertised. Apparently it’s okay when the Darwinist says it, but woe be to the IDP who quotes it.

    Johnny B: What’s really amusing is when the quote mine project actually presents even more interesting quotes than the original quote source. See especially my favorite quote mine entry:

    That letter from Patterson is quite interesting. Even more interesting is that though the letter was written in 1979, it could just as easily been written today…and been just as accurate. Over 25 years later and we’re still looking for those fossils for which a watertight case could be made.

  4. 4
    Chris Hyland says:

    “but that within inner circles doubts and problems are sometimes revealed”

    What is the ‘inner circle’, and do you have some examples of recent problems that were discussed in the inner circle but not revealed to the public? Thanks.

  5. 5
    afdave says:

    I spend a lot of time over at Panda’s Thumb at “After the Bar Closes” refuting evolution and defending Intelligent Design …

    Here’s a great quote from Talk Origins where they basically agree with ID advocates on how to detect something that is designed by an intelligent agent …

    Under Talk Origins “Creationist Claims” section, we find this one …

    Claim CI190:
    SETI researchers expect that they can recognize artificial signals, proving that there is an objective criterion for recognizing intelligent design.
    Source:
    Dembski, William A., 1998. Science and Design. First Things 86 (Oct.): 21-27. http://www.firstthings.com/fti.....mbski.html

    Talk Origins Response:
    SETI researchers do not expect to find recognizably designed messages in the signals they are looking for; in fact, they expect that the signal modulation would be smeared out and lost. They are looking for narrow-band signals, which are what people build and are not found in known natural radio signals (SETI Instutute n.d., Shostak 2005). The objective criterion for recognizing intelligent design is to look for things that look like what people build.

    Whoa! Did you see that? Did I hear that right?!! Wait a minute, let me clean out my ears and play the tape again slowly …

    Talk Origins said …

    “The objective criterion for recognizing intelligent design is to look for things that look like what people build.”

    This is Talk Origins’ response, not an AIG, DI, or ICR quote.

    I can think of about a thousand different things inside a cell and in nature that look like what people build … just read Denton or Behe for starters …

    So if this is objective criteria for the SETI folks, it’s good enough for us, right? They are REAL scientists, right?

    If anyone wants to copy this quote from T.O. you’d better hurry … they will probably change it soon.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CI/CI190.html

  6. 6
    Mats says:

    I believe that Dr Duane T. Gish’s score card in defeating Darwinists is precisely due to the ever-changing-theory-of-evolution’s lack of consistency. In other words, when debating Darwinists, Dr Gish would right away bring a quotation saying exacly the opposite of what the Darwinist (with whom he is debating) is saying. Like Barry said, this doesn’t imply that the quoted Darwinist scientist doesn’t believe in evolution. What it does show is that there are many Darwinian “facts” that are not agreed even among evolutionists themselves.

  7. 7
    Bob OH says:

    Can you explain what you mean by this:
    “Also, a writer is immune to the charge of bias when he quotes his opponents for a proposition,….”
    I don’t understand the terminology of quoting someone for a proposition.

    Bob

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    …and do you have some examples of recent problems that were discussed in the inner circle but not revealed to the public?

    Does it really matter how old or how recent the problems are? Some problems have been around, well, since Darwin, and have yet to be resolved.

    From one website:

    In October 1980, the world’s leading evolutionists met in Chicago in a special Evolution Conference.

    “The central question of the Chicago conferences was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution.” — Roger Lewin, “Evolutionary Theory Under Fire,” in Science, November 21, 1980.

    “It was decided that no record would be kept of the sessions, in order not to give ammunition to the creationists.”

    I have no idea how to veryify the above claim, but that’s nto really the point. The point is, where are the papers presented at the conference and the records of the sessions?

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    A quick note of clarification.

    The final quote is not from Lewin’s article.

  10. 10
    Chris Hyland says:

    “I have no idea how to veryify the above claim, but that’s nto really the point. The point is, where are the papers presented at the conference and the records of the sessions?” Interesting maybe, but I have been to many conferences and meetings that did not publish records of the sessions. From the Science article it looks like they were discussing problems with the modern synthesis in light of paleontology and developmental biology. The outcome seemed to be that microevolution (at least allelic variation) does not lead to macroevolution, and thats pretty much accepted in biology now as far as I am aware.

  11. 11
    johnnyb says:

    “The outcome seemed to be that microevolution (at least allelic variation) does not lead to macroevolution, and thats pretty much accepted in biology now as far as I am aware”

    They just don’t bother to inform the public that they have been wrong on this point and the creationists have been right on this point for the past 150 years.

  12. 12
    Chris Hyland says:

    I didn’t say macroevolution didn’t occur or couldn’t happen within the mechanisms we are aware of, I just said that it’s not all about variation in alleles, that’s an oversimplification. I do agree that the curriculums seem to be a little behind, but there are some excellent books available on the subject.

  13. 13
    russ says:

    Chris Hyland wrote:

    “What is the ‘inner circle’, and do you have some examples of recent problems that were discussed in the inner circle but not revealed to the public? Thanks.”

    Comment by Chris Hyland — May 14, 2006 @ 4:04 am

    This may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but I would say that Jonathon Wells’ “Icons of Evolution” are good examples of science elites deliberately misleading the public about the evidence for evolution.

  14. 14
    Chris Hyland says:

    “I would say that Jonathon Wells’ “Icons of Evolution” are good examples of science elites deliberately misleading the public about the evidence for evolution.”

    Admittedly I haven’t read it, but i thought it was more about textbooks. The fact that textbooks contain oversimplifications and inaccuracies, and occasionally even major conceptual errors is well known to most scientists.

  15. 15
    Mats says:

    “he fact that textbooks contain oversimplifications and inaccuracies, and occasionally even major conceptual errors is well known to most scientists.”

    Why don’t they do something about it, and, what’s worse, they criticize a scientist (Jon Wells) for exposing such fallacies and wrong info ?

  16. 16
    Chris Hyland says:

    Firstly most general highschool textbooks aren’t written by scientists, or at most a scientist without knowledge in all of the areas covered. As I said I haven’t read Icons, and it’s not really fair to read a review to base my opinion on. I get the impression that the book concludes that the inaccurate teaching of these icons represents problems for the theory of evolution itself, although correct me if I’m wrong. Having said that, I wasn’t taught the Miller experiment as a plausible model for the origin of life, nor Darwin’s finches as a good model for speciation.

    Even if this is not what you were taught, surely you will concede that the process that led to intra-species variation among Darwin’s finches is widely taught as the same process that led to the existence of the finches in the first place. BA

  17. 17
    jpark320 says:

    Well, I don’t know of any textbook that hasn’t been written by someone w/ enough knowledge to back it up, in fact most high school science teachers can back up whatever science they teach and they haven’t written textbooks.

    @ Chris Hyland: Are you saying that you werent taught the above two things? or that you were taught them but they didn’t link Miller-Urey exp w/ basic buildings needed for life and Darwin’s finches b/c of environ. pressure became a different species? Either choice you must’ve went through a very unique biology class as those are “paradigms” in evolutionary belief. Just curious, I was wondering what they did teach you that those experiments said?

    PS Miller-Urey was done under conditions that were nothing like the “primitive” earth (its seems as if the “old earth” keeps changing btwn reducing and oxidizing env.) and doesn’t shed light on the main prb which would be nucleic acids encoding for amino acids – not merely making them. [see Dr. Stephen Meyer’s paper at http://www.discovery.org]

    Finches: No net evolution happened… after the drought (the environ. pressure in this case) they “reverted” back to the original form. In fact, a recent post here showed that the when ppl move in they “reverse” the evolution experienced by the finches.

  18. 18
    Patrick Caldon says:

    Thirdly, to be fair any quotation must be accompanied by an accurate citation to the quotation’s source, and in my experience ID proponents and creationist are assiduous in this respect.. This allows anyone who cares to do so the opportunity to check the accuracy and context of the quotation.

    I’m sorry Barry, but this is piffle, at least when you invoke creationists. Just one example:

    Lewis L. Carroll: “Unfortunately not a single specimen of an appropriate reptilian ancestor is known prior to the appearance of true reptiles. The absence of such ancestral forms leaves many problems of the amphibian-reptilian transition unanswered.” Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, vol 44 1969, p.393.

    The quote is all over the web. Somehow the quoters confuse a 19th century British mathematican and children’s author with a living palentologist (Robert Carroll). Note ROBERT CARROLL is on EVERY PAGE of the paper in BIG HONKING CAPITAL LETTERS. The quoter then goes on to “forget” the next line, which is what the whole paper is about:

    Nevertheless, a great deal can be learned from the study of amphibians contemporary with the early reptiles which may be relicts of the group that gave rise to that class.

    The paper then goes on to describe how one can make conclusions on this basis, the degree to which they’re tentative, and the degree to which we can be certain.

    I’ve not checked ID quoters, except I note that they too cannot even spell the names of the quoted parties properly, which does not augur well for their accuracy.

    “Piffle?” Oh dear. Let me just say that I cannot vouch for every creationist and ID proponent, but my general experience is what it is, and that was what my comment was based on. You give one example of a misquote and from that conclude creationists are generally reckless with their citations. Quite aside from the inductive nature of your conclusion, it does not make sense to me. Creationists know they are carrying a heavy burden of persuasion, and it seems to me that this knowledge would naturally lead them to be careful with their citations lest their credibility be undermined. – BA

  19. 19
    Chris Hyland says:

    “Just curious, I was wondering what they did teach you that those experiments said?”

    We were taught the Miller experiments were interesting but didn’t prove the origin of life and it is something we still don’t understand although it is an active research topic. We were also told that the origin of life is a different topic than evolution, which works on the assumption that life already exists. I don’t think a big deal was made of the finches, but no one ever said ‘look the finches beaks change and the moths change colour, this is how a fish changes int a human’. If this is what I lot of people get taught I agree most text books are quite behind.

    “Finches: No net evolution happened” Didn’t their beaks get bigger in the drought and then smaller when there wasn’t a drought? Isn’t that what we would expect to happen. I think it was taught to me just as an example of natural selection, which it is.

    “those are “paradigms” in evolutionary belief”

    I agree that most people, even a lot of biologists, when asked to describe evoltion would probably say something different than I would. But it is quite hard to teach, so simple examples of natural selection are used to introduce the topic. I think that most people realise that high school science is quite often oversimplified.

  20. 20
    Patrick Caldon says:

    Barry, I make my judgement of “piffle” having done the following:

    – purchased a copy of Morris’s “That Their Words May Be Used Against Them” – a compendium of “mined” creationist quotes.
    – for several of them, gone to the library, and looked up the references
    – read the paper, and read any criticism (in subsequent citations) of the paper

    I think I got through 6 or 7 quotes before I got bored. Every one of them that I found was either a misquote, failed to reference relevant follow up material or was consistent with modern mainstream biology/physics. Every one. Of the 6-7, I recall two where they couldn’t even get the name of the author or the paper correct – the Carroll above was one of those, and there was another by Derek Ager, but I’ve mislaid my notes on the details. If I recall the journal name was wrong for Ager, and it took me and a librarian several hours to track down the paper.

    Creationists know they are carrying a heavy burden of persuasion, and it seems to me that this knowledge would naturally lead them to be careful with their citations lest their credibility be undermined.

    Well I can assure you that they’re not careful with their quotations. I’ve checked.

    As I say, this is a pattern common through the ID and Creationist literature. Google for “Niles Eldrege”, and you’ll note that 3 or 4 of the citations on the first page are ID’ers who can’t even spell the man’s name.

  21. 21
    russ says:

    Patrick, you may be right. Sounds like you’ve done a lot of work to prove your position. But I dare say that ID supporters have suffered “a train of abuses” at the hands of ID opponents and their accomplices in the media. And those abuses include not mere mispelling of unusual surnames, but actual misrepresentations of what ID itself is or holds.

  22. 22
    jerry says:

    Just a comment on high school biology textbooks. Because a comment was made a couple months ago that high school biology texts didn’t say too much about evolution, I bought Ken Miller’s latest textbook on Amazon. I haven’t read much of it yet since it arrived only a few weeks ago. It is beautifully illustrated and 1000 pages + in length and covers a lot of topics in detail. So I think any comment about these texts being superficial are not appropriate. Over a hundred pages were spent on evolution and another hundred plus on genetics so any high school student reading this is getting a heavy dose of information on evolution and bio-diversity. There are over 4 pages on Darwin’s finches and how they relate to evolution with the implication that this is one process by which it occurs. I also have the previous edition and the finches got 4-5 pages there too.

    There is a page on the Miller Urey experiments with the caveat that the original conditions really weren’t appropriate but more modern tests that are more appropriate have produced even better results. There is another page with a discussion of OOL with lots of caveats but seem to be over ridden by comments on all the great results that have recently been achieved. So Ken Miller could cite all his caveats if he wants to when questioned on how he presents OOL but the net impression is that these are a blip on the way to concrete results. In other words the gaps will be filled in the future so don’t worry about what we don’t know today. The previous edition had 4 pages on OOL.

    Again, I have read very little but no one should assume high school texts are superficial when it comes to evolution. But there is no doubt where Miller wants the student to go. Also if one wants to assess Ken Miller’s motives, I wonder how much money does this text book provide him. If he didn’t defend Darwin to the wall, his textbook would go down the tubes.

    About people mis-quoting anyone. I don’t care if you find a 1000 mis-quotes or mis-use of the quotes. All you need is one accurate portrayal of the opinion actually expressed to be able to assess what they actually believe. Also claims such as the mis-spellings of names to undermine the assessment of a quote is a nonsense argument. Deal with the instances where the quote is not portraying an inaccurate sense of what the person has said and who cares if the names are spelled correctly.

  23. 23
    BarryA says:

    I agree with jerry’s comments. On the other hand, in my legal writing my practice when it comes to citation is to strive for punctilious rectitude. For one thing, the other lawyer would like nothing better than to undermine my argument by pointing to a mistake in one of my cites, even if it is a trivial mistake. Therefore, I am by no means defending sloppiness in citation. In fact, if you look at my post, I said that the only fair quote is one that provides an accurate citation.

  24. 24
    mynym says:

    I believe the Darwinists’ charges of quote mining has less to do with their asserted concerns about cherry picking, quotations taken out of context, and misleading implications, and more to do with the fact that the ore in this particular mine is so overwhelmingly rich.

    It seems that any critic of the type of perceptual Darwinian “reasoning”/imagining that Darwinists so often engage in finds themselves pointing to text and back to the conceptual in some form, even the Darwinists’ own. E.g.

    The viewpoint of Coyne et al. (1988) is one in which past events are argued to explain, in a causal sense, the world around us. Such explanations cannot be verified or tested, and the only biological observations they require are that variation and differential reproduction occur. This is not a caricature, as a reading of Coyne et al. will verify.

    (Points of View
    Species and Neo-Darwinism
    By C. S. White; B. Michaux; D. M. Lambert
    Systematic Zoology, Vol. 39, No. 4. (Dec., 1990), :400-401)

    It seems to be the same patterns all the time given that Darwinian reasoning is based on trying to place formation before information, sight before insight, image before word. So they’ll always have to do the same things like trying to include their own imagination as evidence and it will be a historical claim about past imagery. The irony of it all is that they conflate Darwinian imagining with science and make arguments along the lines of: “It’s just like gravity.” It is ironic because if they were around in Newton’s time given their type of philosophy and imaginings they would have made the argument that things fall because it is their nature to do so. That is the “natural” answer, but an invisible, conceptual, mathematical and near mystical force like gravity is not a natural answer. In fact, it may as well be like magic or superstition! And that would be besides the fact that the metaphor of “natural laws” somehow “governing” the universe is essentially based on theism. Note that the meta-scientific reasons for science itself that also define its limitations are always rejected by those with the urge to merge. At any rate, for those who are trying to place formation before information their own text will tend to turn into quite a problem for them, naturally!

    (Given their inversion of immanence and transcendence they get lost in their own imaginations and tend to reject the definition that comes with text. Yet they wonder why only that 10% of the population with similar psychological dynamics fully agrees with “evolution” as the be all, end all. Well, at least they’re finally getting around to defining the origins of life right on out of the pollution of language, i.e. evolution. Let’s not play pretend or imagine things, that was not always the case. It used to be included in the hypothetical goo of “evolution.”)

  25. 25
    Bob OH says:

    Barry, you seem to have missed my question (comment 7):

    Can you explain what you mean by this:
    “Also, a writer is immune to the charge of bias when he quotes his opponents for a proposition,….”
    I don’t understand the terminology of quoting someone for a proposition.

    I’d like to understand your point, but I’m being stymied by your legalese.

    Bob

    Sorry Bob. A proposition is a “statement that affirms or denies something.” If I affirm or deny something myself, I am subject to the charge of bias, because I am obviously self-interested. If, however, my opponent has said the same thing, I can quote him, and he cannot accuse me of the same bias. BA

  26. 26
    j says:

    Chris Hyland: “I think that most people realise that high school science is quite often oversimplified.”

    It’s not only high school textbooks, and it’s not only oversimplification. Consider the introductory college biology textbook, Biology: Concepts and Applications, Fourth Edition (2000), by Cecie Starr, published by Brooks/Cole, with 44 advisers/contributors from a wide variety of major universities (including U of Chicago, BYU, U of Washington, UC Davis, Scripps Institute, UPenn, Dartmouth):

    * On page 279, it has an apparently specially-commissioned version of Haeckel’s embryos — fish, reptile, bird, and human — with the caption, “Adult vertebrates show great diversity, yet the very early embryos retain striking similarities. This is evidence of change in a shared program of development.” The text says, “The early, embryonic stages of all vertebrate lineages proceed through strikingly similar stages. Look at Figure 18.7. Without the labels, would you know which embryo is an early developmental stage of a fish, lizard, chicken, or human? The early embryos of vertebrates strongly resemble one another because they have inherited the same ancient plan for development. According to that plan, tissues can form only when cells divide in certain patterns and interact in prescribed ways. Later, the gut, heart, bones, skeletal muscles, and other parts grow in prescribed ways.”

    But Phillip Johnson (among others) nicely explained the problems with this: “embryonic patterns [actually] generate a monumental puzzle… Although it is true that vertebrates all pass through an embryonic stage at which they resemble each other, in fact they develop to this stage very differently. After a vertebrate egg is fertilized, it undergoes cell divisions and cell movements characteristic of its class: fishes follow one pattern, amphibians another one, birds yet another, and mammals still another.” This is important. Why is there no mention of it?

    * On page 293, there is a diagram of the Miller-Urey apparatus with the caption, “Stanley Miller’s experimental apparatus, used to study the synthesis of organic compounds under conditions that presumably existed on the early Earth. The condenser cools circulating steam so that water droplets form.” The text says, “…energy from sunlight, lightning, or even heat escaping from the crust could have been enough to drive their combination into organic molecules. Stanley Miller conducted the first experimental test of that prediction. First he mixed methane, hydrogen, ammonia, and water inside a reaction chamber of the sort depicted in Figure 19.3b. Then he kept the mixture circulating and bombarded it with a spark discharge to simulate lightning. In less than one week, amino acids and other small organic compounds had formed. In other experiments that simulated conditions on the early Earth, glucose, ribose, deoxyribose, and other sugars formed spontaneously from formaldehyde, and adenine from hydrogen cyanide.” Fortunately, the text then notes, “However, if complex organic compounds had formed directly in the seas, they would not have lasted long. The spontaneous direction of the necessary reactions would have been toward hydrolysis, not condensation, in water.” (But then it offers the wishful-thinking clay substrate and hydrothermal vent hypotheses!)

    Note the misleading implications (that I put in boldface) that the Miller-Urey experiment simulated conditions of early Earth.

    * For what it’s worth, on page 245, there’s four photos of finches of the Galapagos Islands. (“As Darwin learned from other naturalists, thirteen finch species were distributed among the Galapagos Islands…”) In introducing Darwin’s theory, after explaining how traits can be adapted to meet enviromental pressures, the text quickly gets to the point: “Anticipating that his ideas would be controversial, Darwin waited to announce it and searched for flaws in his reasoning…[I]n 1859, Darwin did publish On the Origin of Specied, his detailed evidence in support of the theory. In that publication, Darwin…argued it was entirely possible for one species to evolve gradually into a separate species, with its own unique traits, over many generations.”

    No mention of whether the 13 “species” are capable of interbreeding. No clear statement that the finches don’t imply macroevolution.

    Education, or indoctrination?

    Did it even mention the biggest problem with chemical evolution – chirality? All methods of producing amino acids naturally produce them in 50/50 mixes of left and right handed molecules. Living things only use left handed molecules and right handed molecules in the mix are often fatal. The problem is that there is no known natural mechanism which either produces only left handed molecules or polymerizes only left handed molecules. Chemically, they are produced and polymerize without preference. So now the problem has left the earth and they’re trying to see if polarized UV light in outer space can produce only left handed molecules so in a roundabout way they are moving in the direction of heaven! 😉 -ds

  27. 27
    Patrick Caldon says:

    Well, jerry, Barry, I can point you to the following text above:

    For example, if I were writing about the fossil record I could quote Niles Eldrege as follows: “[Anatomical] Change in the manner Darwin expected is just not found in the fossil record.” Eldrege is a dyed-in-the-wool evolutionist, and nowhere do I say or even suggest otherwise. I quote him for no other reason than to demonstrate that the fossil record does not support Darwin’s predictions. Someone who reads this quotation might extrapolate from the proposition that Eldrege does not believe the fossil record supports Darwin’s predictions to the false conclusion that Eldrege does not support Darwinism generally.

    Note the last part of the third sentence above is ambiguous; it could be read as either “does not support [one] of Darwin’s predictions” or “does not support [all] of Darwin’s predictions”. I’ve just now read this out to my wife and asked her the question: “what does this passage say about Darwin’s predictions?”. Her prompt response was that the author implied that Darwin’s predictions were demolished by Eldredge’s evidence. This was also my reading of this passage. I know a sample size of two isn’t statistically signifigant, but my guess is that the majority of people would read this statement in this manner.

    Indeed it is hard to read “Eldrege does not believe the fossil record supports Darwin’s predictions” in any other way than referring to the totality of Darwin’s predictions concerning the fossil record.

    This is of course false. It’s merely the extreme gradualism of which is not supported by Eldredge, and replaced with a notion of varying rates of evolutionary change.

    If you doubt me, consider for instance (among many other predictions) Darwin states in The Origin of Species that in and post the late Tertiary, we discover (and implicitly will only discover) fossils of creatures closely allied to the creatures living on various continents, e.g. we will only discover marsupial fossils in Australia. I’m certain Eldredge does not challenge that statement in any way. The vast preponderance of statements concerning the fossil record he does not challenge in any way.

    In this way your above statement is misleading. You state that Eldredge believes that the fossil record does not support any of Darwin’s predictions. Eldredge (to my knowledge) simply does not believe this, and flatly contradicts this in several of his books. If you have serious doubts on this issue the polite thing to do would be contact him and ask. His phone number and e-mail address can be easily found on the web.

    And Barry, I’ve hinted at this twice in the hope not to embarrass you publicly, but why not give the punctillious rectitude a go in your ID writings and put the “d” in Eldredge’s name? I can assure you I’ve made many (many!) stupid mispellings in my time, but I try to at least get it right when I’m blowing my own trumpet about how correct I am.

    The quote appears to be accurate taken at face value. The only kind of change I’m aware of that Darwin predicted was gradual and fossil record is one of new species appearing suddenly, fully differentiated, and then remaining unchanged until extinction. This is not the manner of change that Darwin predicted and Eldredge’s quote appears factual on its face and unambiguous. -ds

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    Patrick Caldon says:

    ds, Darwin stated and predicted a great deal more than this concerning the fossil record.

    I’ve given one example in my 4th paragraph above. Another is that: “a species when once lost should never reappear, even if the very same conditions of life, organic and inorganic, should recur.” He also predicts that “the utter extinction of a group [roughly phylum] is generally, as we have seen, a slower process than its production”. Here then are three other guidelines concerning change which Darwin predicted, which (as far as I know) Eldredge does not dispute.

    Have a read of The Origin of Species. You’ll find more such examples.

    As it happens, many species existing today aren’t fully differentiated, the gulls in the Arctic and various Rocky Mountain salamanders being among the more famous. Here you’ll find populations A, B and C, where both A B and B C interbreed and produce viable offspring, but A and C cannot interbreed; it would therefore be truly astonishing if the fossil record had the property you ascribe to it. If you get a copy of Mark Ridley’s textbook, “Evolution”, he gives several examples of of fossilised non-differentiated species. I’m therefore uncertain as to where you got this notion of the nature of the fossil record.

    Where I got the notion of the nature of the fossil record:

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.” (Gould, Stephen Jay [Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University, USA], “Evolution’s erratic pace,” Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 5, pp.12-16, May 1977, p. 14).

    I don’t see how those other things you mention qualify as non-gradual change or how they’ve been demonstrated to be non-gradual. Extinctions I don’t think even qualify as the kind of change that applies to the quote and these are usually dependent on the environment changing (which can be arbitrarily fast or slow) not the rate of evolution. An extinct species not reappearing isn’t non-gradual evolutionary change.

    How was the attempt made to produce and test hybrids for fertility between A and C in your example? I’m always leery of how exhaustive the attempt was. Fecundity isn’t like a lightbulb that’s either on or off. Of course extinct species cannot be tested at all for ability to produce fertile hybrids so any claim of them being different species is entirely based upon arbitrary anatomical differences.

    -ds

  29. 29
    DaveScot says:

    By the way, Patrick… what was your point about tertiary marsupial fossils? Marsupial fossils from the tertiary are found on several continents and the oldest are in North America. It seems Darwin got that wrong too.

  30. 30
    Bob OH says:

    Barry – thanks for your explanation. I wanted to make sure I understood you before making any criticisms.

    A problem with what you wrote is that you state that “Darwinists … accuse their opponents of taking the quotations out of context.” but the charge you answer to is that one of taking the quotations in the first place: you argue that it’s OK to quote Darwinists (as long as you give a citation), and I think everyone would agree with you – as long as their comments are represented correctly.

    The only response that I can see to the charge of mis-representation is to claim that Darwinists have different motivations in making the charge. But so what? If the charge is true, then why does the motivation for making the charge matter?

    It’s difficult to see how mis-representation can be defended, so the onl response to the charge is to show that it is false. I think this has to be done on a case-by-case basis: of course this is what happens, and is what makes this debate so much fun to watch.

    Bob

  31. 31
    jerry says:

    Patrick,

    My only comment was that spelling someone’s name should not be a reason for how you assess a quote by someone. Barry pointed out in a court of law, where opinions matter dearly, that it is bad practice to be sloppy when quoting someone. I agree with that completely.

    I am glad that you affirm that Eldredge,(did I spell it correctly) says that the fossil record does not support the gradualism which Darwin and Neo Darwinism propose as the mechanism for evolution. Note that this does not mean that the fossil record negates Darwinism or Neo Darwinism, only that they cannot point to fossils as support for their ideas. Thus, Eldredge can still believe in Neo Darwinism but cannot point to paleontology (his chosen field) as supporting his beliefs.

    We can certainly entertain a discussion of why the fossil record doesn’t support Neo Darwinism even if it should perhaps be the true mechanism for most evolution. That would be an interesting discussion. It would be interesting to see what people would propose? Things like punctuated equilibrium would be out since by definition that is not gradual.

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    j says:

    ds: “Did it even mention the biggest problem with chemical evolution – chirality?”

    The word “chirality” does not appear in the book as far as I remember from reading, and it does not appear in the index or glossary. (But you can be sure chirality would have been mentioned if it tended to support philosophical naturalism.)

    jerry: “Things like punctuated equilibrium would be out since by definition that is not gradual.”

    Not so. With PE, macroevolution is still supposed to occur gradually, just not at a constant rate. (I’m not defending PE, only attempting to correct a mischaracterization.)

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    Patrick Caldon says:

    When you make statements like jerry’s above, and use quotations in the manner of Dave above, it becomes apparent that you’re either extraordinarily careless, quite daft, or (most likely) attacking something you don’t really understand

    Goodbye, dopey. -ds

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    Mung says:

    Well, I just had my own little experience along these lines that I’d like to share with everyone. I was quoting a couple authors over at ARN. Someone responding to my quotes admitted that they did not have the material I was quoting from, then asked me to stop posting out of context quotes. Apparently the mere fact that I was quoting a Darwinian author was enough to establish that I was quoting out of context.

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