Thanks for your message and my apologies for the long delay in responding.
As is my normal practice, I am replying to it via my blog CED, minus your personal identifying information.
----- Original Message -----
To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007 6:26 AM
>Hi Steve. Can you help me with a question? Darwinians quite often discount microevolution to explain macroevolution.
I am not sure what you mean by this. The true Darwinian position is that "all evolution is due to the accumulation of small genetic changes, guided by natural selection" and therefore "transpecific evolution"( i.e. macroevolution) "is nothing but an extrapolation and magnification of the events that take place within populations and species" (i.e. microevolution):
"The proponents of the synthetic theory maintain that all evolution is due to the accumulation of small genetic changes, guided by natural selection, and that transpecific evolution is nothing but an extrapolation and magnification of the events that take place within populations and species." (Mayr, E.W., "Populations, Species and Evolution," , Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, Reprinted, 1974, p.351)
That Darwinism has not really changed in its insistence that macroevolution is really just microevolution write large, i.e. "flies in bottles ... extended":
"Geneticists can study the gradual increase of favored genes within populations of fruit flies in laboratory bottles. Naturalists can record the steady replacement of light moths by dark moths as industrial soot blackens the trees of Britain. Orthodox neo-Darwinians extrapolate these even and continuous changes to the most profound structural transitions in the history of life: by a long series of insensibly graded intermediate steps, birds are linked to reptiles, fish with jaws to their jawless ancestors. Macroevolution (major structural transition) is nothing more than microevolution (flies in bottles) extended. If black moths can displace white ones in a century, then reptiles can become birds in a few million years by the smooth and sequential summation of countless changes. Change of gene frequencies in local populations is an adequate model for all evolutionary processes-or so the current orthodoxy states." (Gould, S.J., "The Return of Hopeful Monsters," Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 6, June-July 1977, pp.23-30, p.23)
is evident from this quote at Berkeley University's Understanding Evolution website that "Despite their differences" (i.e. "micro- and macroevolution") "evolution at both of these levels relies on the same, established mechanisms of evolutionary change" (my emphasis) :
"Evolution encompasses changes of vastly different scales - from something as insignificant as an increase in the frequency of the gene for dark wings in beetles from one generation to the next, to something as grand as the evolution and radiation of the dinosaur lineage. These two extremes represent classic examples of micro- and macroevolution. Microevolution happens on a small scale (within a single population), while macroevolution happens on a scale that transcends the boundaries of a single species. Despite their differences, evolution at both of these levels relies on the same, established mechanisms of evolutionary change." ("Evolution at different scales: micro to macro," Understanding Evolution, University of California, Berkeley)
>but when the heat is on Darwinism, the same critcs (Gould, Eldredge) appear to make a retreat to the extrapolationist view.
Indeed! The classic example was the late Stephen Jay Gould who from the 1970's had adopted "the critical stance that had made him famous-that gradualistic neo-Darwinism was incapable of accounting for the rarity of transitional fossils" yet in a 1989 private debate with Phillip E. Johnson, "Gould argued that there is plenty of scientific evidence in the fossil record for Darwinian evolution and cited a number of fossil series that allegedly supported the validity of step-by-step Darwinian macroevolution":
"Gould vs. Johnson: The Campion Debate Just fourteen months after the  Berkeley colloquium, Phillip Johnson's plane began its descent into Logan Airport in Boston, carrying him on a collision course with Stephen Jay Gould. In a matter of hours Johnson would be meeting the prestigious Harvard evolutionist for the first time at a private gathering of experts called together to discuss the problem of `Science and Creationism in Public Schools.' ... What he did not quite expect was the ferocious attack and intense duel that would break out. Gould had already established his reputation as one of the twentieth century's most prolific masters of scientific prose and was undoubtedly America's most popular and widely read spokesperson for evolution. ... On Saturday morning as the participants were gathering for the second session, Johnson and Gould met briefly. Their chat was polite, but Gould signaled to Johnson that, having read the material shipped from Berkeley, his response to Johnson was going to be an urgent polemic. He told Johnson, `You're a creationist, and I've got to stop you.' As the morning session got underway, Johnson was first given an opportunity to summarize the gist of his Berkeley paper and the much shorter `Campion Summary.' For over an hour Johnson reviewed point after point of his thesis. Near the end of his presentation, paleontologist David Raup briefly interjected his own evaluation of Johnson's work. He said that he had read the Berkeley paper and had even distributed it and discussed it with his students in one of his graduate seminars at the University of Chicago. Raup said he and his students agreed that Johnson's scholarship was fully accurate in its scientific detail and contained a clear understanding of macroevolution's anomalies and empirical gaps. In fact, said Raup, the various lines of evidence for Darwinian macroevolution were not nearly as strong as one would hope. The key point was clear-Raup had briefly but unmistakably certified the empirical quality of Johnson's critique. At this point, Gould immediately seized the floor and `donned the mantle of Darwin.' Displaying agitation in voice and shaking bodily, he began to set the record straight. In what one observer described as an `obliteration attack,' Gould started pelting Johnson's thesis with vehement criticisms. Oddly, Gould argued that there is plenty of scientific evidence in the fossil record for Darwinian evolution and cited a number of fossil series that allegedly supported the validity of step-by-step Darwinian macroevolution. On this point, Gould was clearly backing away from the critical stance that had made him famous-that gradualistic neo-Darwinism was incapable of accounting for the rarity of transitional fossils. On the contrary Gould implied that the branches of evolutionary trees could be reasonably traced in the fossil record. Very early in the attack, Johnson stepped in with strong rebuttals of a number of Gould's points, and immediately the two were engaged in a furiously paced seesaw debate that lasted for nearly an hour before a spellbound audience. The rhetorical purpose of Gould was clear-to so bury Johnson's criticism in a torrent of contrary evidence that the net effect would be to illegitimize both the logos and ethos of Johnson's critique while defending classic neo-Darwinism. However ... many felt the emotional intensity of Gould's all-out attack clashed with the spirit of the meeting and somewhat undermined his credibility. ... In the final analysis, many who attended described the private debate as a draw." (Woodward, T.E., "Doubts about Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 2003, pp.79,82-83. Emphasis original)
>For example, when Gould answered Kristol in Discover magazine in his article called "Darwinism Defined" he spoke about microevolution as establishing evolution as a fact.
Agreed. Gould in that article, despite his earlier derision about "Orthodox neo-Darwinians" who "extrapolate these even and continuous changes to the most profound structural transitions in the history of life" so that "Macroevolution (major structural transition) is nothing more than microevolution (flies in bottles) extended", gave as his first line of evidence for "the fact of evolution" the "direct evidence of small-scale changes in controlled laboratory experiments ... on bacteria ... the fruit fly Drosophila ... or observed in nature ... color changes in moth wings" etc "or produced" by "human breeding and agriculture":
"Our confidence in the fact of evolution rests upon copious data that fall, roughly, into three great classes. First, we have the direct evidence of small-scale changes in controlled laboratory experiments of the past hundred years (on bacteria, on almost every measurable property of the fruit fly Drosophila), or observed in nature (color changes in moth wings, development of metal tolerance in plants growing near industrial waste heaps), or produced during a few thousand years of human breeding and agriculture. Creationists can scarcely ignore this evidence, so they respond by arguing that God permits limited modification within created types, but that you can never change a cat into a dog (who ever said that you could, or that nature did?)." (Gould, S.J., "Darwinism Defined: The Difference Between Fact and Theory," Discover, January 1987, pp.64-70, pp.65,68)
But then he admits that "Creationists" accept "this evidence" and argue that "God permits limited modification within created types". So how can that then be evidence for "the fact of evolution" if even creationists accept it?
>Am I reading Gould Correctly? Is he saying that this small changes add up to big ones?
Gould was deliberately ambiguous on this point. In one breath Gould claimed that microevolutionary "shortest-term studies are elegant and important" yet in the other he dismissed such "Evolutionary rates of a moment, as measured for guppies and lizards, are vastly too rapid to represent the general modes of change that build life's history through geological ages":
"These shortest-term studies are elegant and important, but they cannot represent the general mode for building patterns in the history of life. The reason strikes most people as deeply paradoxical, even funny-but the argument truly cannot be gainsaid. Evolutionary rates of a moment, as measured for guppies and lizards, are vastly too rapid to represent the general modes of change that build life's history through geological ages. ... These measured changes over years and decades are too fast by several orders of magnitude to build the history of life by simple cumulation. Reznick's guppy rates range from 3,700 to 45,000 darwins (a standard metric for evolution, expressed as change in units of standard deviation-a measure of variation around the mean value of a trait in a population-per million years). By contrast, rates for major trends in the fossil record generally range from 0.1 to 1.0 darwins. Reznick himself states that `the estimated rates [for guppies] are...four to seven orders of magnitude greater than those observed in the fossil record' (that is, ten thousand to ten million times faster!)." (Gould, S.J., "The Paradox of the Visibly Irrelevant," Natural History, December 1997/January 1998, Vol. 106, No. 11, pp.61-62,64)
But if "These shortest-term studies ... cannot represent the general mode for building patterns in the history of life" then in what sense are they "important"? Gould's own article title says that they are "Irrelevant"!
Then again, Gould did write at the outset of his 1987 Discover article that "evolution (as theory) is indeed `a conglomerate idea consisting of conflicting hypotheses" (my emphasis)!:
"Well, Mr. Kristol, evolution (as theory) is indeed `a conglomerate idea consisting of conflicting hypotheses,' and I and my colleagues teach it as such." (Gould, S.J., "Darwinism Defined: The Difference Between Fact and Theory," Discover, January 1987, pp.64-70, p., p.65).
His real problem is that despite his (and his fellow paleontologists) failure to find confirming evidence in the fossil record for the natural selection of random mutations being a major factor in macroevolution, in the end he had to admit that naturalistically he had nothing better to offer "than natural selection" of random mutations "to build structures of such eminently workable design":
"Since the ultras [ultra-Darwinists] are fundamentalists at heart, and since fundamentalists generally try to stigmatize their opponents by depicting them as apostates from the one true way, may I state for the record that I (along with all other Darwinian pluralists) do not deny either the existence and central importance of adaptation, or the production of adaptation by natural selection. Yes, eyes are for seeing and feet are for moving. And, yes again, I know of no scientific mechanism other than natural selection with the proven power to build structures of such eminently workable design." (Gould, S.J., "Darwinian Fundamentalism," The New York Review of Books, June 12, 1997. Parenthesis mine).
>Or is he merely knocking down a straw man by saying that creationists can't account for any kind of change. Thanks
I do indeed maintain that Gould is "knocking down a straw man by saying that creationists can't account for any kind of change." That is, in the sense that Gould's straw man is confusing "creationism" with those versions of creationism that reject Universal Common Ancestry (e.g. Young-Earth Creationism and the more popular version of Old-Earth Creationism and Progressive Creationism).
Indeed, as I will argue in a further part #2 and perhaps a part #3 of this post, Gould's second and third of his "three great classes" of evidence on which his "confidence in the fact of evolution rests," while they may count against those versions of creationism above that do not accept Universal Common Ancestry, they fail to uniquely establish evolution against those versions of creationism that do accept Universal Common Ancestry (as I do), e.g. my Progressive Mediate Creation position.
Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
Exodus 8:16-19. 16Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,' and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats." 17They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. And the gnats were on men and animals. 19The magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said.