I am the author of the article “Argument from Evolution” released on Thinking Matters. Ken Perrott has laid a few charges at the door (see Open Parachute) so to speak, and has tripped a few times getting there, so I wish to address some of the problems here. I will first outline them.
I perceive these charges to be: (1) being anti-evolution; (2) upholding a ‘web of lies’ by citing ‘bulling’ tactics from evolutionists that curtail of the freedom of inquiry; (3) The illegitimate use of a quotation by Stephen J Gould that speaks of a lack of transitional forms in the fossil record; (4) the illegitimate use of probability calculations to substantiate fault in evolutionary models; (5) the illegitimate use of the second law of thermodynamics and (6) that these improbability calculations should equally apply to creation models.
(1) on being anti-evolution
There needs to be a subtle distinction drawn here. In the article I did not state my position, but I did argue in a way that suggested a purely naturalistic evolutionary model is not viable. Granted, the movement of the article was towards refuting evolutionary models, and evolution did come under heavy assault, but the main burden of the article was to show that evolution does not imply that God does not exist (a contention it seems you did not imbibe) and if true, the Christian can be open to where the evidence leads. If the evidence points to some form of evolution, then holding to it can be considered a valid intellectual move. If the evidence points away from evolution, the Christian is free to move away from it unlike the atheist who committed to purely naturalistic evolution.
But where does the evidence lead? We can discuss the merits of it here at least partially by looking at your objections.
Beginning your discourse you immediately make two mistakes. The first is here:
“It’s interesting that people who have no real regard for science, and are actually working hard to discredit modern science, feel the need to ‘use’ science to support their arguments!”
You conflate ‘modern science’ with ‘correct science.’ I, like you, have a regard for science as a valid method to explain the world in which we live (I have posted on this subject of Science, God and the Bible separately). I have no interest in discrediting good science. I do feel obligated to refute bad science (as I see it), and especially bad philosophy that is smuggled in underneath good and bad science.
Your second mistake is here:
“…the fact that evolutionary science is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientifically literate. . . the experts, do actually support evolutionary science?”
Just because the majority of people accept evolution does not mean that evolution is true. Making that leap is called the fallacy of argument from the majority of opinion. If your point was that the majority of expert opinion lends weight to the argument that evolution is true, then I could agree with you. I would question then if it was the case that there was an overwhelming majority of opinion, but that would be beside the point.
Take for instance this example. If I told you that the overwhelming majority of critical new testament scholars and historians recognise the facts surrounding the events of Christ’s death as truly historical (namely; (a) the honourable burial; (b) the empty tomb; (c) the resurrection appearances; (d) the disciples earnest belief that ‘God raised Jesus from the dead,’) and then told you that therefore God raised Jesus from the dead, you wouldn’t accept that. You would find all manner of reasons to disregard the critical scholars and historians acceptance of the data (by saying they cannot legitimately derive that conclusion from the data; these people are biased; these people are no authorities), or failing that discredit the reasons why the majority agrees to (a) through (d). It is after analysis of (a), (b), (c) and (d) that your opinion would be swayed, if at all. Similarly, it is on the arguments and reasons why evolutionists believe in evolution that should sway you to believe, or in failing to convince you, perhaps disbelieve. Not on the majority opinion!
Majority of opinion has very often been wrong in science before. That is a lesson you should know very clearly if you have done any research in history of science. Besides all this, if it turned out the majority of opinion actually was for the ID model, you wouldn’t accept that as proof of the truth of ID either. So its clear claiming expert opinion as a means of proving evolution is a fallacy best avoided.
(2) ‘bulling’ tactics
Your claim is creationism and ID are propped up creationists and ID proponents by claiming they are bullied by the scientific establishment and prevented from being published by a faulty peer review system: a conspiracy is afoot, and lies are protected by the establishment.
Now I did not cite any bulling tactics, nor did I use an argument like this at all. I did mention Ben Stein’s documentary, but this was to support the right to speak out without being called derogatory names, and for the responsibility of everyone to let criticisms of any theory to be heard.
Your comments are therefore quiet disturbing. Any charge of the curtailing of academic freedom is deplorable and should be scrutinised with the up-most seriousness. Your quick dismissal is not engendering in this reader a confidence of your own “open mind.” The facts are there is a culture of scientific intolerance that pervades academia (especially American) towards critics of neo-Darwinian evolution. To support this I need only cite your own blog and your favourite satirical cartoons you have provided (very funny btw :-).
Your third mistake I perceive is here:
“Well, it’s too late to tell the truth. That would destroy the whole web of lies they have constructed. . . Of course these creationist propagandists see New Zealand Christians as the natural constituency for their propaganda. This constituency is more accepting because the more fundamentalist of them fear that modern science negates their faith. They also inappropriately feel that the harsh reality of natural history somehow has implications for how human society should work.”
Your clear that you think that creationists have constructed a big ‘web of lies.’ Not so clear on just what these lies supposedly are. It is incumbent on you to support your general aspersions of Christian belief or what the Christian community ‘inappropriately feel’ with specifics and then arguments if you have them. As I mentioned before the burden of the article was to show that evolution in no way speaks to the issue of God’s existence, but rather brings a very different challenge to Christian belief than the atheist charges.
The assertion that Christians “inappropriately feel that the harsh reality of natural history somehow has implications for how human society should work” is unsupported and unjustified. As longs as evolution remains the standard for presuppositional naturalism, while the science (good or bad) is being trumpeted the philosophy will be smuggled in underneath. Evolution therefore constitutes a worldview that will influence how people think and fell about themselves and society at large. Eventually it will (if it hasn’t already) start to dominate the actions of people.
Dr. Nathan Jastram says on the topic of evolution, if life is a product of random chance [blind, undirected evolution]; it doesn’t matter if we live or die; it doesn’t matter how we live and die; end-of-life issues like euthanasia and abortion become acceptable and we are no better than trout, dogs, cockroaches, chickens or salmonella. These are the logically consistent conclusions if evolution is the case.1 I can think of many more consequences to people and society that are not listed above. This does not mean to say that evolution is not true – just the unsavoury consequence if it is.
(3) Misquoting Gould
You claim I illegitimately used a quotation by Stephen J Gould that speaks of a lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. Even if I have, this does not invalidate the point of the section “The problem with fossils.” There are other quotes supporting the lack of transitional forms, as well as other problems in the fossil record other than the lack of transitional forms.
But was I misusing the quote from Gould as you claim?
(i) Gould was complaining about the ‘distortion and innuendo’ of his theories. I ask you now, how did I distort and/or give suggestive, disparaging remarks of punctuated equilibrium? Moreover, (ii) the quotation I used points out the extreme rarity of transitional forms (which was the point being made), as does the quotation by Gould that you used – “Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level…” He then modifies his statement somewhat by saying “…but they are abundant between larger groups.“2 And what are the abundant transitional forms between the larger groups? The species that in the fossil record appear not to modify. Put simply, the missing links are still missing. So its actually you (because of (i) and (ii)) who are illegitimately using his quotes.
In the quote of Gould from Natural History, Vol. 86, he goes on to say, “…new species almost always appeared suddenly in the fossil record with no intermediate links to ancestors in older rocks of the same region.”3 It is true that this lack of evidence led him to amend evolution as gradual change to his model of punctuated equilibrium, but the point I was making was the same as Gould himself – that there is a problem with the fossil record due the lack of transitional fossils.
To underscore the point, here is another quote from Dr. Niles Eldredge;
“…the smooth transition from one form of life to another, which is implied in the theory… is not borne out by the facts… No one has yet found any evidence of such transitional creatures… In the last decade, geologists have found rock layers of all divisions of the last 500 million years and no transitional forms were contained in them. It is not the fossil record which is incomplete, it must be the theory.”4
…continued on the next article Answering Objections to ‘The Argument from Evolution’ Part 2
1. Dr. Nathan Jastram [Concordia University Wisconson], Issues, Etc., (Podcast: 23 October, 2008)
2. Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Evolution as Fact and Theory’ (http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_fact-and-theory.html; Retrieved 24 October, 2008)
3. Stephen Jay Gould, ‘Evolution’s Erratic Pace,’ Natural History, Vol. 86, May 1977, p. 12.
4. Niles Eldredge, “Missing, Believed Nonexistent,” Manchester Guardian (The Washington Post Weekly), Vol. 119, No. 22, 26 November 1978, p. 1.