Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Intelligent design does not exclude evolution

Here are unwebbed letters to the editor in today's The West Australian. I don't necessarily agree with the title, but at least it makes the point that ID is not simply creationism, so it is a plus (although the block heading to distinguish these letters from other topics is "CREATIONISM").

When I bought the paper today and read such good letters, I thought that my letter had been rejected as either too long or not good enough. But when I got home there was a message from the newspaper on my answering machine asking me to confirm it was my letter, which I did. I later received another call from a sub-editor to clarify and change some wording and he confirmed my letter would be in tomorrow's paper! I had after the first phone call read the letters again and realised that they were all about the "Creationist DVD faces school fight" article that was before the opinion piece, "Creationists monkey with public education" which I had responded to.

The letters are 4 pro-ID and 2 anti-ID, which itself is interesting, if it reflects the proportion received. The two anti-ID letters sound arrogant, which will work in ID's favour with the public. The pro-ID letters are surprisingly good, which shows that ID thinking may be more widespread in Australia than I had previously thought. Even the sub-editor was sympathetic to ID in our telephone discussion. He said that his own view was that we were created by aliens a million years more advanced than us. I replied that if in fact that is what happened (of course I don't believe it did), then science would be in the position of ruling it out apriori.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol)
"Problems of Evolution"




Intelligent design does not exclude evolution
In relation to your report on evolution and intelligent design (Creationist DVD faces school fight, 8/8) I make the following comments. The theory of evolution (Darwinism) is the current paradigm which forms the framework for biological principles and research. However, like all paradigms in science it should not be immune from critical reassessment and review based on scientific research. Thus, Darwinism should not become dogma and unchallengeable.

The theory which proposes chance and accidental mutation to explain the origin of life and the complex and varied life we now see on Earth has some problems due to lack of fossil evidence with continuity in the field of macro-evolution at one end of the scale and the evolution of some microbiological process at the other.

In particular, proponents of intelligent design (ID) use the concept of "irreducible complexity" to suggest that it would be impossible for some microbiological processes, for example, to have evolved based simply on chance and mutation. Accidental causes need to be replaced in these instances by controlled input from an external intelligent source - whatever or whoever that might be.

ID does not propose the trashing of the theory of evolution but the expansion of the theory to include possible intelligent input rather than accident, particularly in cases where currently evolution by pure chance cannot explain some complex microbiological processes.

Deric Davidson, Bunbury.

Misleading mix
The debate about creation versus evolution will not go away just because we push anything that does not give glory to man's reason into the realm of religion and
personal faith.

I was brought up in a secular education system and I remember some excellent science teachers enlightening my mind about the marvels of scientific discoveries and evolution. I therefore assumed that everything I was taught about evolution was based on scientific facts.

However, basic assumptions of the evolution theory are very much a matter of faith. Darwin himself would recognise this if he were still alive. Scientists with intellectual and moral integrity will teach evolution as a theory and will make the distinction between scientific facts versus theories. Alternative theories do exist and should be heard.

I hope the time will come when the simple words "according to the theory of evolution" will be added to the countless public assertions in museums and tourist places which are at present misleading the public by mixing facts with theory.

Madeleine Goiran, Thornlie.

True science
It's unfair to label the creationist theories as religion. It is true that the "intelligent design" theories are pinned on the belief that has a religious premise - but one mustn't forget that evolutionists are forced to do the same thing themselves. It still takes a huge leap of faith to accept.

OK, so I've shown my hand, but really, I don't mind the presentation of the evolution argument at school - there's certainly merit in it. However, the education industry is so committed to this theory that it is afraid to have another view presented.

If it was committed to the true study of science, surely its theories might stand examination and comparison to alternatives - or is its brand of science just another pursuit of a myopic, untested faith in its own right?

What is it afraid of- students actually forming a different conclusion, based on objective evaluation rather than the Darwinism it is spoon feeding?

True science is the pursuit of truth, regardless of where that truth takes you. Are you ready for the journey?

Steve Marshall, Kelmscott.

Fair hearing
The idea that creationism is a religion and evolution is science is a furphy. There are only two ways that life could have come about on this planet. One is by the act of an intelligent designer and the other is by blind chance. Those on either side of the divide take their initial stand by faith since neither theory can be tested by scientific means (it cannot be repeated and tested in a lab.)

To say "there is no creator" is to make a faith statement and evolution is its creed. Scientists have to deduce from observation which hypothesis is more likely to be true. Since many highly qualified scientists have written books and put out DVDs even a single cell, is statistically and chemically impossible, those scientists have a right to be heard. Give qualified scientists on both sides a fair hearing and let students make up their own minds.

J.K. Phillips, Katanning.

Chaos theory
Primitive tribes have always invented gods to explain things they misunderstood and to whom placatory sacrifices were made. We now have a group of evangelical fundamentalists attempting to brainwash schoolchildren into believing the theory of evolution is wrong "because life is so complex there must have been a higher intelligence involved".

Chaos theory would suggest otherwise. Had a "higher intelligence" been involved, it would have arranged things along much simpler lines. Except for the dictates of scientific laws, there is no rational need for such complexity.

David Pridhard, Geraldton.

A fairy tale
The problem with the "intelligent design theory" (editorial, 9/8) is that it is a story similar to other fairy tales. It has no scientific basis since it has no scientific proof. I have no problems with it being taught as part of religious instruction. However, it should never be presented as part of mainstream education.

It is not correct to say that "students should be told about both views of life to help them make up their own minds" because they will assume that both ideas have merit. One is a story and one is a fact.

David Abbott, Mt Lawley.

© 2005 West Australian Newspapers Limited All Rights Reserved.


John A. Davison said...

If you want fairy tales in the style of the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, try the simultaneous tales told by the brothers Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin. Both, divinely inspired from having read Charles Lyell's "Principles of Geology" and Thomas Malthus' "Essay on Population," immediately saw the "truth" and proposed virtually identical and purely imaginary versions of the evolutionary scenario.

The simple, experimentally demonstrated and accordingly undeniable truth is that Natural Selection never had anything to do with the emergence or subsequent history of any life form except to delay, with very few exceptions, its ultimate extinction, thereby making it possible for the emergence of the next form in the ascending order of organic complexity, a sequence which can never be reconciled with the Second Law, a sequence which has now been terminated just as is the sequence of ontogeny and for the same purely endogenous reasons.

Similarly the segregation and recombination of allelic mutations had nothing to do with creative evolution either and for exactly the same experimentally verified reasons.

In short there is absolutely NOTHING in the gradualist neoDarwinian paradigm that EVER had anything to do with evolution, absolutely nothing. It remains, what it was at its inception, a fiction resulting from the common reading experience of a couple of Victorian naturalists, one of whom had the common sense to abandon it later in life.

There is no need to verify Intelligent design as it is evident everywhere in the universe living and dead. Those who deny it are not only blind but also deaf to what Einstein called "the music of the spheres."

A past evolution is undeniable and a present evolution is undemonstrable beyond the trivial production of varieties and, in some few instances, subspecies. Just as ontogeny proceeds on the basis of front loaded, specific, autoregulated, irreversible and goal directed information which terminates with the final adult state and death, so I have postulated did phylogeny proceed by the same means with extinction being the irreversible final equivalent to the death of the individual. Ontogeny remains a powerful model for phylogeny and, as Leo Berg so wisely realized:

"Neither in the one nor in the other is their room for chance."
Nomogenesis or Evolution According to Law, page 134

For a further discussion I refer you to Davison, J.A.[2005] A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. Rivista di Biologia 98(1): 155-166.

John A. Davison said...


I am curious about something. When I attempt to reach your very interesting forum, I am greeted with the screen "Get your own blog."

By ignoring this greeting and retrying I have been able to reach and even post here. Is this greeting standard or just for me?

Let me say that I am much to illiterate in computer matters to even think of running a blog. Furthermore I, like every real scientist, am more interested in upsetting intellectual appplecarts than engaging in egocentric activities such as having my own blog. I am quite content to commit my views to hard copy in refereed journals on the library shelves of the world. Besides, judging from my experience in the wonderful world of cyberspace, no one would be interested in such a forum. I still have a few forums from which I have not yet been banned and they are keeping me quite busy presenting unanswered challenges to ideologues of several persuasions. Of course my primary activities involve preparation of manuscript for publication. Since I have not yet been even acknowledged by the "professional" evolutionists (if there is such a genre), I must hone my talents in the wonderful world of the internet. So far it has proven to be both gratifying and amusing not to mention revealing of how little is really known with any degree of certainty of the greatest mystery in all of biological science.

"Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know."

Stephen E. Jones said...


>I am curious about something. When I attempt to reach your very interesting forum, I am >greeted with the screen "Get your own blog."
>By ignoring this greeting and retrying I have been able to reach and even post here. Is this >greeting standard or just for me?

It is "standard".


JD>If you want fairy tales in the style of the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, try the simultaneous tales told by the brothers Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin. Both, divinely inspired from having read Charles Lyell's "Principles of Geology" and Thomas Malthus' "Essay on Population," immediately saw the "truth" and proposed virtually identical and purely imaginary versions of the evolutionary scenario.

I agree with Brackman (and others) that Darwin received Wallace's manuscript 1-2 weeks before he claimed he did, and plagiarized some of Wallace's ideas, before sending the manuscript on to Lyell.


PS: I have added this tagline quote to a new section of my book outline "Problems of Evolution," PE "Darwin's dishonesty ... Darwin plagiarised Wallace's theory" []. There are more quotes to come on this topic of Darwin's stealing of ideas from Wallace's manuscript (which for those who don't know, Wallace sent to Darwin in 1858 from Malaya for Darwin to peer-review it and arrange its publication, before Darwin had published his theory). Thus Darwin was guilty of both lying about an important scientific matter and plagiarism. The outline [] is mostly just rough notes for when I get to that part of my book itself [].

"SINCE THE MANUSCRIPT Wallace mailed from Ternate contained-in complete form-what is today known as the Darwinian theory of evolution, the date of its arrival at Down House acquires profound historical significance. A quartet of dates is in the running as *the* date on which the postrider handed Wallace's envelope to Parslow. The first of the four - Friday, June 4-is speculative; the second-Tuesday, June 8-is the day Darwin wrote Hooker that he had suddenly found the missing `keystone' of his theory; the third-Monday, June 14-is suggested by Darwin's `little diary'; and the fourth-Friday, June 18-is the date publicly advanced by Darwin himself. Wherever the chronological reality may rest, June 1858 clearly marked for Darwin the moment of truth. The problem is compounded by the disappearance of the Wallace envelope. That envelope, with its postmarks, which has been searched for in vain at the Linnean Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the British Museum (Natural History), the University of London, and elsewhere, contained irrefutable evidence of the precise date on which Darwin broke it open and read its contents. In all probability, it no longer exists. It has either been misplaced or, more likely, destroyed. The postal history of the period, the su rvival of a number of other Wallace letters from Ternate, and a consensus among philatelists is that it would take a letter from Ternate some twelve weeks to reach Down. According to the evidence found in Wallace's papers, he wrote out his complete theory of evolution toward the end of February and posted it March 9, when the first available Dutch vessel dropped anchor at Ternate. This is corroborated by a letter Wallace sent that same day by the same ship to Frederick Bates, the brother of Henry Walter Bates with whom Wallace had scoured the Amazon for species some years earlier. H. Lewis McKinney, a member of the University of Kansas faculty, was the first to draw attention to the Bates letter, which is in the possession of Wallace's grandson, Alfred John Russel Wallace. The letter, mailed from Ternate, bears the usual series of cancellations, showing its arrival at Singapore and transit to London via Southampton and then on to Leicester, where Bates lived. It arrived at Leicester June 3 and bears a cancellation of the Leicester post office for that date. Wallace's letter to Darwin should have arrived the same day as Bates', June 3, or perhaps a day or two later. `It is only reasonable to assume that Wallace's communication to Darwin arrived at the same time and was delivered to Darwin at Down House on 3 June 1858, the same day as Bates' letter arrived in Leicester,' said McKinney. `If this sequence is correct, as it appears to be, we must ask ourselves what Darwin was doing with Wallace's paper during the two weeks between 4 June and 18 June (when Darwin claimed he received it).'" (Brackman A.C., "A Delicate Arrangement: The Strange Case of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace," Times Books: New York NY, 1980, pp.16-17)
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).

John A. Davison said...

That is interesting history on the Darwin/Wallace story. It is also of historical interest that Mendel's paper was found uncut in Darwin's library. Mendel undoubtedly had sent it to Darwin since Darwin by his own admission did not read German. It is unclear as to whether or not he COULD read German. Mendel's paper, concentrating as it did on discontinuities, could hardly be interpreted as supporting the Darwinian gradualist model. What is truly mind boggling for this investigator, is the influence that Mendel, once discovered in 1900, had on the evolutionary community. They felt certain they had discovered the basis for the variations on which Darwinism depended, a certainty they entertain to this very day. The simple truth is that Mendelian genetics never had anything to do with evolution beyond the production of varieties and subspecies. Sexual reproduction can only serve to recombine allelic differences which have not and can not be implicated in creative evolution.

William Bateson, ironically considered the father of modern genetics had this to say about Mendelism when he he confided to his son Gregory:

"that it was a mistake to have committed his life to Mendelism, that it was a blind alley which would not throw any light on the differentaition of species, nor on evolution generally." Davison, J.A.(2004) Rivista di Biologia 97: 111-116

Stephen E. Jones said...


JD>That is interesting history on the Darwin/Wallace story. It is also of historical interest that Mendel's paper was found uncut in Darwin's library.

Apparently that is just an "urban legend" (see tagline).



"It is often claimed that the answer to the riddle lay on Darwin's shelves, in the uncut pages of the proceedings of the Brunn Natural History Society where nestled Gregor Mendel's paper on Versuche uber Pflanzen-Hybriden. Unfortunately this poignant story seems to be an urban myth. The two scholars best placed (at Cambridge and at Down House) to know what was in Darwin's personal library can find no evidence that he ever subscribed to the proceedings, nor does it seem likely that he would have done so. [] They have no idea where the legend of the 'uncut ages' originated. Once originated,
however, it is easy to see that its very poignancy might speed its proliferation. The whole affair would make a nice little project in memetic research, complementing that other popular urban legend, the agreeable falsehood that Darwin turned down an offer from Marx to dedicate Das Kapital to him." (Dawkins R., "Introduction," in Darwin C.R., "The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex," [1874], Gibson Square Books: London, Second edition, 2003, reprint, p.xvi)
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).

John A. Davison said...

Interesting. I am sure he didn't subscribe to the proceedings also as he didn't read German. That does not however detract from the opinion I share with William Bateson that Mendelian genetics had nothing to do with creative evolution. Where did the "legend" first appear? Surely that can be tracked down.