Chris Turney (cc. CED)
----- Original Message -----
From: Chris Turney
To: Stephen E. Jones
Cc: Chris Turney
Sent: Monday, June 19, 2006 6:38 PM
Subject: Re: Another straw man attack on ID (in Australia's national newspaper)
>Thanks for your interesting email.
And thank you for your reply. As mentioned, as per my usual practice, I am copying my response to my blog CED. The comprehensiveness of this response, including the quotes and links are also for readers of my blog. I have bolded my comments to make it easier for readers to distinguish my words from yours on my blog. I will probably split this into two or three parts on my blog.
>I really would recommend Nicholas Wade's book 'Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors'.
As I tend to buy every evolutionist book I come across (see an incomplete listing of ~1,700 of my estimated ~2,000+ books, mostly on creation/evolution/design topics), I will probably buy Wade's book also in due course.
>It is an excellent read regarding how natural selection is an unguided process, even in relatively recent human history.
By definition "natural selection is an unguided process." If "selection" was a "guided process" then it would be intelligent selection!
But in my experience Darwinists tend to forget that their theory is actually the natural selection of random mutations, as Richard Dawkins points out:
"There is a fifth respect in which mutation might have been nonrandom. We can imagine (just) a form of mutation that was systematically biased in the direction of improving the animal's adaptedness to its life. But although we can imagine it, nobody has ever come close to suggesting any means by which this bias could come about. It is only in this fifth respect, the 'mutationist' respect, that the true, real-life Darwinian insists that mutation is random. Mutation is not systematically biased in the direction of adaptive improvement, and no mechanism is known (to put the point mildly) that could guide mutation in directions that are non-random in this fifth sense. Mutation is random with respect to adaptive advantage, although it is non-random in all sorts of other respects. It is selection, and only selection, that directs evolution in directions that are nonrandom with respect to advantage." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, p.312. Emphasis original)
And as Darwin's contemporary and critic Samuel Butler pointed out, it is "the `Origin of Variation,'" (or in Neo-Darwinian terms, the origin of mutations) "whatever it is, [that] is the only true 'Origin of Species'":
"The question is not concerning evolution, but as to the main cause which has led to evolution in such and such shapes. To me it seems that the `Origin of Variation,' whatever it is, is the only true 'Origin of Species,' and that this must, as Lamarck insisted, be looked for in the needs and experiences of the creatures varying. Unless we can explain the origin of variations, we are met by the unexplained at every step in the progress of a creature from its original homogeneous condition to its differentiation, we will say, as an elephant; so that to say that an elephant has become an elephant through the accumulation of a vast number of small, fortuitous, but unexplained, variations in some lower creatures, is really to say that it has become an elephant owing to a series of causes about which we know nothing, whatever, or, in other words, that one does not know how it came to be an elephant." (Butler, S., "Life and Habit," , Wildwood House: London, 1981, pp.263-264. Emphasis original)
This is the Achilles heel of Darwinism, the unproven (and unprovable) claim that all mutations in the entire ~4 billion year history of life have been random (in the sense of unguided), as Dawkins' quote above implies.
But as molecular biologist Michael Denton points out, "this is the fundamental assumption upon which the whole Darwinian model of nature is based" (my emphasis) "that all mutations in all organisms throughout the entire course of 4 billion years of evolution have all been entirely spontaneous," which is just an "unquestioned article of faith" for which "evidence ... is hardly ever presented":
"The idea of the spontaneity of mutation is taken as a proven fact by a great many biologists today. And this is the fundamental assumption upon which the whole Darwinian model of nature is based. If it could be shown that some mutations, even a small proportion, are occurring by direction or are adaptive in some sense, then quite literally the whole contingent biology collapses at once. What is very remarkable about this whole issue is that, as is typical of any `unquestioned article of faith,' evidence for the doctrine of the spontaneity of mutation is hardly ever presented. Its truth is nearly always assumed. In nearly all the texts on genetics and evolution published over the past four decades, whenever the author attempts to justify the doctrine of the spontaneity of mutation, he refers back to a series of crucial experiments carried out in the late forties and early fifties on the bacterium E. coli that were associated with the names of Salvador Luria, Max Delbruck, and Joshua Lederberg. But the fact that some mutations in bacteria are spontaneous does not necessarily mean that all mutations in all organisms throughout the entire course of 4 billion years of evolution have all been entirely spontaneous. ... During the course of the past 4 billion years of evolution, countless trillions of changes have occurred in the DNA sequences of living organisms. There is simply no experimental means of demonstrating that they were all spontaneous." (Denton, M.J., "Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe," Free Press: New York NY, 1998, pp.285-286. Emphasis original)
Darwinists just assume that all mutations in the entire history of life must have been random (in the sense of unguided) because in their personal naturalistic worldview, there is nothing outside of nature that could guide mutations. As Richard Dawkins put it in his quote above, "no mechanism is known (to put the point mildly) that could guide mutation in directions that are non-random."
But of course if Christianity is true (which it is) then there is a `mechanism' that could guide mutations in directions that are non-random, namely God. As the founder of the ID movement, Phillip E. Johnson put it, "An essential step in the reasoning that establishes that Darwinian selection created the wonders of biology, therefore, is that nothing else was available" but "Theism is by definition the doctrine that something else was available" (my emphasis):
"If God exists He could certainly work through mutation and selection if that is what He wanted to do, but He could also create by some means totally outside the ken of our science. Once we put God into the picture, however, there is no good reason to attribute the creation of biological complexity to random mutation and natural selection. Direct evidence that these mechanisms have substantial creative power is not to be found in nature, the laboratory, or the fossil record. An essential step in the reasoning that establishes that Darwinian selection created the wonders of biology, therefore, is that nothing else was available. Theism is by definition the doctrine that something else was available." (Johnson P.E., "What is Darwinism?" Lecture at a symposium at Hillsdale College, November 1992. My emphasis)
Darwinists simply rule out guidance by God as `unscientific' (deluding themselves, like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand, that if they refuse to see it, then it doesn't exist ), but it was not always so that guidance by God was deemed unscientific and even incompatible with Darwinism. It once was a respectable scientific argument, proposed by Harvard botanist and Christian Darwinist Asa Gray, and seconded by the `father of geology' Sir Charles Lyell (but rejected by Darwin on personal naturalistic philosophical grounds), "that variation" (i.e. mutation) "has been led along certain beneficial lines":
"In the argument for design in nature which he advanced [Asa] Gray finally came up to the problem of how to introduce design into the Darwinian system. Variation was the point he seized upon. At least `while the physical cause of variation is utterly unknown and mysterious, we should advise Mr. Darwin to assume, in the philosophy of his hypothesis, that variation has been led along certain beneficial lines.' [Gray A., "Darwiniana," (1861), Belknap: Cambridge MA, 1963, pp.120-121] ... If Gray's argument for the compatibility of the Darwinian hypothesis with theism failed to win over the Bishop of Oxford, it failed equally to win over an even more important leader, Darwin himself. ... In the fall of 1860 ... Darwin in effect announced his decision. `I grieve to say I cannot honestly go as far as you do about design.' [Darwin C.R., Letter to Asa Gray, November 26th, 1860, in Darwin F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," (1898), Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, pp.145-146] ... While an amiable discussion continued between the two friends, it held from this time on a fundamental disagreement. With Darwin's decision against the design argument, Gray lost his place as a shaper of strategy in the inner circle of friends. The assumption quickly grew up that Darwin had annihilated Paley's argument, and Huxley moved quickly forward to become the interpreter of Darwinism before the public. Gray's solution would obviously have been quite different. Later students have often puzzled over Lyell's hesitation and near estrangement from Hooker, Huxley, and Darwin without noting that Lyell alone of the inner circle in England adhered to Gray's position. Indeed, on the last pages of the Antiquity of Man, he specifically adopted Gray's view of design in nature. Other factors, of course, entered into Lyell's later opinions on the Origin, but he and Gray stepped out of the inner circle together on the same issue." (Dupree A.H., "Asa Gray: American Botanist, Friend of Darwin," , The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore MD, 1988, reprint, pp.296, 300-301)
[Concluded in part #2]