Thursday, July 28, 2005

Eugenie Scott's Retraction

Eugenie Scott's retraction related to the Larry Caldwell libel suit can now be found here. Oops, she refers to it as merely a "clarification." Sorry, Eugenie.

The Science magazine version can be found here. They did not call it a "clarification," but rather a "mea culpa." That must be Latin for "clarification." The Discovery Institute's blog discusses it here, with other interesting links.

I thought this part of her statement was interesting:
Of the two incumbents not re-elected, one, who supported Caldwell's position, did not seek re-election; the other never identified himself as a creationist, although members of the community perceived him to support the antievolutionist efforts.
Even in her "mea culpa/clarification" she seems to be justifying the label "Creationist" for anyone who is perceived to be questioning macroevolutionary theory. Maybe someday she will be able to think in shades other than black and white, and use substantive arguments instead of convenient, but misleading, labels.

For a discussion on the meaning of "Creationist" and "Creationism," and another example of a misleading use, have a look here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hot Air: The Myth of Inherit the Wind

Jonathan Witt has a nice post on the reality of the Scopes trial v. the myth that most people believe because of the play and movie Inherit the Wind. For those who would like to know more, Edward J. Larson has written a Pulitzer Prize winning book on the history of the trial, entitled Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion. For those who may not have time for an entire book, there is this enlightening article by Carol Inannone.

Funny how it is the proponents of evolution who are the ones promoting a myth based on selective facts, and it is the challengers who are eager to dig deeper into the facts and understand the complexities. There is a similar approach to the facts relevant to the theory of evolution. Proponents try to argue that there are no valid scientific challenges to the theory-- only debates about the mechanisms. As a result, they seek to ban any questioning of the underlying theory from the public schools, and require that all thinking be done inside their rigid materialist box. They want to ignore the serious problems in reconciling the facts with the theory and dismiss such issues with an imperious “asked and answered” wave of the hand. The new challengers ask whether those “answers” are actually convincing, or even plausible, and are willing to question the underlying theory and explore all the possibilities.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Challenges to Macroevolutionary Theory

At some point, I hope to write a summary of the criticisms of macroevolutionary theory. In the meantime, I thought I would begin to gather links to some of the best articles I have read. This is meant as a resource for those who are interested in evaluating the evidence for and against macroevolutionary theory for themselves.

Don't miss Phillip Johnson's piece from the August 16, 1999, Wall Street Journal entitled The Church of Darwin.

For a very brief article listing some of the main problems with Darwinian theory, there is this one by David Berlinski. Berlinski is an accomplished mathematician, with a PhD. from Princeton University, who happens to be Jewish. (I only say this because some Darwinian fundamentalists seem to dismiss out of hand any criticisms of Darwinian theory written by a Christian.)

Berlinski wrote a much longer discussion in Commentary, entitled The Deniable Darwin (also here). If you only have time to read one article from the web, this may be the best. He also happens to be fairly witty, which makes this an enjoyable read. Here is some of the flavor:

The facts in favor of evolution are often held to be incontrovertible; prominent biologists shake their heads at the obduracy of those who would dispute them. Those facts, however, have been rather less forthcoming than evolutionary biologists might have hoped. If life progressed by an accumulation of small changes, as they say it has, the fossil record should reflect its flow, the dead stacked up in barely separated strata. But for well over 150 years, the dead have been remarkably diffident about confirming Darwin's theory.

. . .

Most species enter the evolutionary order fully formed and then depart unchanged. Where there should be evolution, there is stasis instead - the term is used by the paleontologists Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge in developing their theory of "punctuated equilibria" - with the fire alarms of change going off suddenly during a long night in which nothing happens.

Letters in response to Berlinski's Commentary article, including a few from some of the leading evolutionary scientists, can be found here. Berlinski's response to the letters follows at the bottom.

I strongly recommend Phillip Johnson's classic book, Darwin on Trial. This is widely viewed as the book that launched the current intelligent design movement. However, it does not promote intelligent design directly, but simply evaluates the evidence for and against Darwin's theory based on common principles of logic and proof. Johnson is a former law professor at the law school at the University of California, Berkeley.

A great short summary of the peer-reviewed scientific literature dealing with the Cambrian Explosion can be found here.

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