Santayana and Shrom
I’m making my way through Glenn Shrom’s book, Getting Past the Culture Wars: Regarding Intelligent Design. I’ve run across something that I think is worthy of some immediate attention.
Two separate yet simultaneous battles
In discussing this book that I am writing, my wife, Jane, pointed out to me what I would have called two different approaches on intelligent design – one helpful and the other harmful. She prefers to consider them as two separate battles in the culture wars, both worthy of being fought in their own right.
One approach or battle says:
Of two religions, one is being heard in the science class¬room and the other isn’t. We should level the playing field by either teaching both or teaching neither. Let’s teach both. (This position was also taken by one of the Elizabethtown forum theology speakers, but regrettably I forget which one.)
The other approach or battle says:
Of two scientific theories, one is being heard in the science classroom and the other isn’t. We should level the playing field, etc. (This is what I feel is the winning approach for all parties.)
(Getting Past the Culture Wars, p.42; emphasis added.)
It turns out that, far from advocating “getting past” the culture wars, Glenn Shrom is an advocate of a particular strategy of antievolutionist culture warriors that dates back several decades. (Unless, of course, one thinks that “getting past” the culture wars is accomplished by saying that the pro-science side should simply unconditionally surrender.)
The strategy in question has been called “equal time” and “balanced treatment”. It was developed shortly after the 1968 SCOTUS decision in Epperson v. Arkansas. Antievolutionists were frustrated in their outright attempts to exclude the teaching of evolutionary biology entirely in that case; the courts ruled that scientific concepts could not be excluded from public school science curricula because of perceived incompatibility with sectarian religious concepts.
For the sake of simplicity, I will use one reference to establish the antiquity and the similarity of what Shrom advises us is a “winning approach for all parties” and what represents the documented victory conditions for antievolutionists to win their culture war. The book also shows that both stategies discussed by Shrom have long been part of the antievolution culture war. That book is Louisiana state senator Bill Keith’s Scopes II: The Great Debate. Keith was behind the Louisiana Balanced Treatment Act passed in 1981 and struck down by the SCOTUS Edwards v. Aguillard decision in 1987. Here are some of the relevant passages:
“Having been an adjunct professor of constitutional law, having lectured on origins, creation and evolution from a legal viewpoint, and having studied and having researched this legal issue for many years, it is my belief that the passage of your bill to teach scientific creationism or scientific evolution are not only constitutional, but failure to teach either one without the other is, in my opinion, placing the government and the school board in an unneutral position, which would be unconstitutional. Teach both or teach neither, and you have neutrality and constitutionality.” [quoting Judge Braswell Dean]
“We are not asking that religion be presented in the classroom but we are asking that scientific evidences supporting both of these alternative points of view be presented,” she said. “We call upon all of the school boards, manufacturers of textbooks, concerned citizens, and teachers of educational agencies to resist pressures towards scientific dogmatism and presentation of only one point of view of origins.” [quoting Kay Riebolt]
Creationists answered them and tried to explain that creation-science is pure science and as unreligious as evolu¬tion. Science and not Genesis. Science and not the Old Testament. But most evolutionists’ minds are completely closed because their belief is based on faith and not on facts.
“Both creation-science and evolution-science can be equivalently scientific, just as they can be equivalently religious. I believe the best way to find truth is not to talk
dogmatically about one conceptual framework but to consider pros and cons and to assess alternative conceptual frameworks.” [quoting Scott Morrow]
“The fact that many of the people who advocate that schools teach students about the concept of creation in an unbiased manner do believe the Bible is no justification for banning Act 590,” Sunderland said. “Otherwise evolution should also be banned because it is advocated by people who believe the Bible and who claim that it is completely compatible with the Bible. Furthermore, evolution is explicitly written in the basic statement of belief of humanists — the Humanist Manifesto. So, using Judge Overton’s arguments, evolution must also be banned from public school classrooms.” [quoting Luther Sunderland]
On the subject of religious doctrine being taught in the schools, the suit says:
“The plaintiffs agree that public school instruction in the Biblical account of creation or religious doctrine of evolution would violate the establishment clause, but suggest that public school instruction in the scientific evidences for creation-science and . . . evolution-science fully conform . . . and that the science can be taught without the religion.”
The suit also addresses the religious nature of evolution. It says:
“Creation-science is as nonreligious as evolution-science. . . . The concept of evolution-science is consistent with some particular religious beliefs to the same extent that the concept of creation-science is consistent with some particular religious beliefs; this does not suggest that either explanation is itself inherently religious. . . . Evolution is a doctrine of a number of religious faiths (both Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and non-Judeo-Christian) to the same extent that creation is a doctrine of a number of religous faiths . . . but this does not preclude the existence of scientific evidence and related inferences supporting either. . . . [quoting from LA lawsuit over the Balanced Treatment Act]
Those demonstrate clearly that Shrom’s two strategies are old hat, and that acceding to either is a one-sided victory for antievolutionists, not some middle ground that may be reached with compromise on both sides.
I will provide some more content from Keith’s book to document that this is well and truly a culture war in progress based upon the indicated strategies:
If you are fed up with evolution being indoctrinated into the minds of your children, then it’s time to speak up and take a stand for truth.
Here are some things you can do:
1. Become thoroughly informed on the subject of crea¬tion vs. evolution. Read everything you can find. Vast resources are available. There are a number of scientific groups, such as the Institute for Creation Research, San Diego, California, that will provide materials to help you.
2. Once you are thoroughly informed, go to your public school science teacher and present the information to him/her asking that consideration be given to creation-science, the alternate view concerning origins. Be sure to have some good materials available for the teacher. Never be dogmatic or demanding. Make a good presentation and hope the teacher will have an open mind.
3. Many of the teachers will thank you for giving them the information and some will begin giving equal time to creation-science along with evolution-science. There is no law whatsoever which precludes teachers from teaching both theories of origins.
However, if the teacher fails to implement creation-science in the classrooms, the next step is to go to the prin¬cipal and discuss it with him. Make the same presentation of factual materials and encourage him to institute it in the school. Explain to the principal that as a parent — who pays taxes to build school buildings, pays teachers’ salaries, and purchases textbooks — you want both concepts presented fairly to your children.
4. Should the principal not be open to the idea, the next step is to go before the school board. Take a large group of people with you who believe like you do. Remember this when you go before any body of elected officials: you have a right to have someone represent you and your point of view. That is the basis of true democracy. So don’t be hesitant. You are a taxpayer and a voter and you have every right to expect elected officials to respond to your requests.
If at all possible, it would be good to talk to the school board members one by one prior to going before the full board The reason for this is simple. If there is only one board member who is antagonistic toward creation-science, he might be able to sway the entire group, particularly in a public meeting. However, if each board member has had time to think about the issue and study creationist materials, he may decide it is a pretty good idea. Remember that school boards in Dallas, Texas; Tampa, Florida; Bossier City, Louisiana; and a host of other areas have ruled in favor of the balanced treatment of the subject of origins.
5. Hopefully you will get a favorable response from the board. But what if you do not? Then you need to wait until election time and elect a new board that will favor teaching both theories.
Once people realize how dangerous evolution is in the classroom it will be quite easy to rally support behind a pro¬creation candidate. All the polls show that at least 75 per¬cent of the people believe in the balanced treatment..
If you can organize only 100 people who will work for a candidate, and work hard, you can elect people to office. But it requires time, effort and a lot of hard work.
Let me explain some things you will need to do:
* Find a qualified candidate. People won’t vote for just anyone, regardless of what he or she may believe.
* Raise some financial support for that candidate. He can’t win a political campaign without posters, handbills, campaign cards, newspaper advertising and radio and television exposure.
* A door-to-door campaign must be carried out on behalf of the candidate by the 100 workers. Just imagine what 100 people could do working in a campaign. If 100 people visited 50 homes on a Saturday that would be 5,000 homes. During a period of one month that same 100 people could contact 20,000 homes in behalf of a candidate.
* During the door-to-door campaign on behalf of the can¬didate, you should make sure that you explain to each per¬son what is happening in the schools, why you believe
creation-science should be given equal time, and that your candidate is committed to the concepts of openness and fairness in the public schools.
* You should also select a candidate who is knowledge¬able in various other areas of school life and has a genuine desire to help improve schools. It is wrong to support one-issue candidates and most of the general public feel strongly about those who do so.
6. Contact your senator and representative and tell them you are interested in fairness in the instruction of origins. You can write them a letter or call them on the telephone. But the very best approach would be to visit them personally, discuss the subject at length and provide them with some background reading materials on the subject.
When you visit a legislator it would be good to take a half dozen other people with you so he will understand there is widespread grass-roots interest in the subject.
Public officials are elected to carry out the will of the people. It is only a myth that parents have no right to say what should and should not be presented to children in the public schools.
7. After you have contacted your legislator or other public official, then encourage your friends, relatives and neighbors to do the same.
8. Call on the various groups to help you in your efforts. Some of them are: The Pro Family Forum; Veterans of Foreign Wars; American Legion; large segments of the membership of free trade unions; and the majority of businessmen. Some church groups favor the balanced treat¬ment of creation-science, others oppose it.
9. Start petition drives in your neighborhood. The most effective approach would be to divide neighborhoods up into precincts and then blocks. Choose both precinct and block captains. The block captain would take the petition to every household on the block, then report back to the precinct captain who would coordinate the efforts and compile the petition signatures.
The petitions then should be presented to the elected of¬ficials.
10. Here are some of the basics you would need to know in order to talk to elected officials about creation-science:
* There are valid scientific evidences which point to a Creator as being responsible for everything in the universe. Thousands of scientists all across America believe this.
* Creation-science is just as scientific as evolution-science.
* There are textbooks available which present the balanced treatment of the two theories.
* The law of biogenesis, universally accepted, tells us that living matter does not originate from non-living matter. The law points to creation and refutes evolution. What’s wrong with presenting the law to schoolchildren?
* The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that the universe is gradually running down, not building up as the evolutionists would have us believe.
* In the fossil record, whenever man appeared he was a pure man. Monkeys were pure monkeys. All the so-called “missing links” have been proven to be hoaxes or errors. If man evolved from lower forms during a process which took millions of years, there should be billions of half-monkey half-men in the fossil record. But there are none and that points to creation.
* The creation-science movement in America today is not trying to get rid of the teaching of evolution. We are only asking that the alternative theory of creation be given equal time. This will allow the schoolchildren to make up their own minds and not be indoctrinated in only one point of view.
* You need to note that various Supreme Court rulings have said that government is supposed to remain neutral regarding religion. Yet, evolution is the religion of secular humanists, atheists, religious humanists and theological liberals. Therefore, teaching only evolution advances those religions that believe in evolution — and that’s unfair.
* The balanced treatment prohibits specific religious instruction. For instance, the creation story out of Genesis would not be taught. Instruction would be limited to those scientific evidences which point to creation or evolution.
11. Remember, the school board members or legislators will never know how you feel on the subject unless you tell them.
Remember that creation-science is pure science and has nothing to do with religion. But the strategy of the evolutionists is to try to make it appear only to be religion.
SciCre, “creation science”, “intelligent design”, and whatever antievolutionists decide to call the ensemble of bogus antievolution arguments that make up those movements are sectarian religion, which has no place in public school science classrooms. Even Glenn Shrom notes in the quote at the top that there exist culture wars worth fighting. This is the one i’ve volunteered for. It’s also the one Glenn Shrom is fighting, on the wrong side, picking up the sleazy, deceptive strategies behind SciCre and “creation science” and making them his own. It’s rather ironic that Glenn simply didn’t know enough about this topic when writing his book to accurately title it, Cluelessly Perpetuating the Culture Wars. Score yet another one for Santayana.
31 thoughts on “Santayana and Shrom”
I am sorry, I just don’t see the point in spending more than a moment on a self-published weez. Yeah, Luskin read it. Whoopee. It must be short with simple words.
Wes, you have thrown your self on this creato stink bomb- a noble deed of self-sacrifice.
I dont get why you mention the term “antievolutionist” so many times (5 or 6 in relation to my book, or where you get the sectarian religious stuff from. My book is very pro-evolution, and really has nothing to say against it, and many antievolution ID people criticize me for that. I believe there are culture wars worth fighting, but not against science.
I think you’d better do some more reading to see that I am a hemisphere away from the quotes you try to associate with my writing. It seems that you are anxious to criticize, and not to find things you agree with. Try reading with a more open and analytical mind, please, and leave your prejudices aside for a while. You can attack the antievolutionists all you want, but to set up a straw man argument and lump me with them is a cheap shot.
I say in the first pages that creationists are generally anti-evolution (in our society), and that one of the differences between creationism and ID is that ID can be very pro-evolution. The questioning of some evolution ideas and hypotheses is part of the scientific endeavor, and it is being carried out mostly by evolutionists themselves, not by ID proponents. To ask good questions is a valid part of science. To make a battle out of it because of religious agendas or a priori assumptions is bogus science. ID and anti-evolution are two totally separate lines of thinking. To see what I mean, read Judge Jones’ decision where he says again and again that arguments against evolution do nothing to prove ID, and arguments for ID do nothing to disprove evolution.
I bring up the idea that just as we think intelligence evolved in mankind, intelligence could have evolved on a different level in DNA, and in this regard I am more evolutionist than most evolutionists who never contemplate that kind of idea. I have no proof that DNA is intelligent, but I can foresee that in the future we will find ways of testing for intelligence in DNA, just as we have done for dolphins and monkeys and bees. The idea of evolution on the molecular level is a new one to explore, and we are only starting to ask the right questions. It’s a very new field.
The religious battles should stay out of the science classroom, but there is a place to address both the religious implications of ID and the religious implications and assumptions that evolutionists make when it comes to evolution as a philosophy. My mantra is that we should drop all that stuff in the public school classroom, and just settle down with some basic science, like scientific evolution and a very few ID perspectives – not the ID that the big names are trying to impose on us.
The whole culture war that you describe in your post – the anti-evolution petitions, etc.etc. are exactly what I am AGAINST in my book! I’ve said before that that type of thing is what I view as childish, shortsighted, and unproductive, but your harping on that kind of thing is just as bad. This is not about judicial rulings or balanced treatment. It is about including scientific ideas in the science classroom, and keeping the cultural biases out!
As usual, you are ignoring the main point, which is that what you happily trot out as a “winning approach for all parties” was in fact exactly the winning approach for the benefit of only one party, the antievolutionists. This is undeniably documented. There are many, many more sources that attest to the truth of what I said above, but Keith’s book is fully sufficient to establish it.
As for being “very pro-evolution”, one merely need read Glenn’s book to discover that this is a big falsehood:
Along the way in his book, Glenn encourages people to doubt common ancestry, evidence of transitional fossil sequences, and the efficacy of natural selection, and attests to the fact that he further has no clue concerning the entire field of ethology. In various statements, Glenn plainly has concluded that evolution is “impossible” as stated, though it is also clear that Glenn knows very little about the topic.
Yes, “antievolution” describes it quite well.
Not in the least, Wes. Your quotes do not show arguments being made against evolution. There are arguments for intelligent design, together with the evolutionary processes. The “apparent approval” you mention is a false appearance. I think you confuse the idea of evolution failing to explain a particular observation with evolution not happening at all. I agree with Behe that some things are best explained by Darwinian type evolution, while other things are better explained by intelligent design, but I go beyond that to say that it is very hard to rule out traditional evolution in the cases where ID is most apparent, and hard to rule out ID even when randomness is most apparent. We simply do not have enough data to prove anything conclusively. I definitely believe that Darwinian evolution has occurred and still is occurring in nature, and that it is a perfect explanation for the kinds of differences Darwim observed among finches, for example.
I am against the philosophy/religion of Darwinism – those ideas which say that there is no difference between swatting a pesky mosquito and assaulting an annoying human being. In the religious battle, I think Darwinism should be kept out of the public school classroom, but in the scientific battle, God forbid the day that we stop using our brains to study and teach evolution. Science is not authorized to make a value judgment on the worth of a human life versus the worth of an animal life. There is no way to prove “worth” in an experiment.
In the same way, I am against the religious and philosophical pieces of ID being taught in the public school science classroom, when they are obviously not science at all. To quote you, I am in full agreement with the “no sale” you talk about: “What “intelligent design” advocates have done so far is ignore the scientific method and the scientific community and pressed for untested assertions and various old, bogus antievolution arguments to be put directly into high school science curricula as if they were science. No sale.” What doesn’t fit into the scientific method should not be taught as science, and there is no reason to teach against evolution.
But as to the science part of ID, you yourself admitted: “I’ve never said that a hyothesis that pesticides may have an effect on mosquitoes should be left uninvestigated. Also, there has been no exclusion of anyone wanting to develop an “intelligent design” hypothesis from doing so, testing it, and reporting on it.” It’s ideas like the pesticide effects on mosquitos which should be openly addressed in the classroom, and this is where both evolution and ID count as science, and where there is a legitimate scientific battle to be fought. Let the future generation grow up with these kinds of questions and be free to explore the answers without Darwinist indoctrination, while at the same time letting them learn about Darwinism and seriously considering what things are best explained by “random” evolution and what things are best explained by intelligent design.
When I talk about things which natural selection does not explain, I am not ruling out evolution. Natural selection is only one aspect of evolution. Natural selection never explains why or how changes occur – it only explains why changes lead to extinction or lead to survival. I am against the type of reporting that seems to say that natural selection explains the appearance of sexual reproduction, based on sexual reproduction resulting in a larger gene pool, for instance. It is not logical. It is logical that natural selection would favor sexual reproduction, but natural selection does not lead to sexual reproduction appearing on the scene in the first place. Intelligent design would contemplate whether or not sexual reproduction evolved into being in order to create a larger gene pool, instead of ruling out that possibility a priori. It is only about keeping an open mind and allowing for different possibilities – never about excluding possibilities without scientific evidence to do so.
You’d be hard pressed to show any serious scientist that similarities alone prove common ancestry, yet that is not an argument against evolution – only an argument against clouded thinking.
No we haven’t seen macro-evolution happen yet, but that is not an argument against evolution – just a simple fact of science. We wouldn’t expect to see clear macroevolution in a few hundred or thousand years – only in hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. I don’t hear evolutionists basing any arguments for evolution on cases of macroevolution during the brief number of decades that we have been studying it. That does not mean that evolutionists are anti-evolutionists though, and the fact that I agree with them does not make me anti-evolutionist either.
Many times when I seem to be arguing against evolution, I am really arguing against the exclusion of intelligent design – against the idea that deterministic evolution is the best explanation for what we observe in nature. Deterministic evolution, however, is always a possibility in my mind, even when it is not the best explanation. Sometimes even the best explanations can be wrong, and that cuts both ways.
At some point, you must agree that things happen in nature which have end causes in mind, the only question is at what time in biology did end cause criteria begin to appear. Your options to say that there are no end causes in mind in nature is either to philosophically deny that intelligence exists at all – not even in mankind – or to claim that intelligence (including human intelligence) only exists outside of nature.
The simple science of intelligent design is only that we should consider if end causes might play a part in biological changes at any point in history. (And then there is the idea of intelligent design in cosmology, which is an issue separate from our conversations here.)
Now, I have hinted twice at removing discussion of my book from the anti-evolution category, and I have asked you once. Now I will ask a second time: Please act with integrity and remove the “anti-evolution” tag from this thread. It was a misunderstanding on your part which I have throughly cleared up by now.
I clarify: I am really arguing against the idea that deterministic evolution is the best explanation for EVERYTHING we observe in nature. (My previous sentence only said “for what we observe in nature.”
You wrote: “Along the way in his book, Glenn encourages people to doubt common ancestry, … ‘
Well, yes, every good scientist should have a healthy degree of skepticism regarding what cannot be proven. I argue for keeping an open mind.
You wrote: “Along the way in his book, Glenn encourages people to doubt … the efficacy of natural selection, …”
I explained this earlier. Natural selection is not effective at all for creating changes. It is very effective at causing some species to become extinct when they are not adapted to their environment, and allowing other species to remain and procreate when they are. Natural selection does not do anything to the DNA – it does not CAUSE mutations. If natural selection did cause mutations, that would be 100% evidence of intelligent design – that changes in the DNA occur IN ORDER TO aid in survival or reproduction. I don’t see where we have any such proof, therefore I doubt the efficacy of natural selection to cause mutations – but then again, so does every evolutionist. It’s just the ignorant reporters and bloggers who get that stuff wrong.
You wrote: “… Glenn … attests to the fact that he further has no clue concerning the entire field of ethology.”
I admit that without a dictionary, I couldn’t even give you a good definition of the word “ethology”, although I have a clue that it is similar to taxonomy.
You wrote: “Along the way in his book, Glenn encourages people to doubt … evidence of transitional fossil sequences, …”.
I do doubt, for instance, that all birds have evolved from archeopteryx, or that successive, random, gradual changes resulted in flight, but I don’t talk about this much in my book, if at all. Transitional fossil sequences are not really addressed in any detail at all, although I entirely approve of Dr. Behe allowing for the historical possibility that all life on earth has a common ancestor. He mentions, for instance, that the DNA for all the species could have been coded for in an initial DNA molecule, and that evolution of all the species took place from this one tiny beginning.
correction: could have taken place from this one tiny beginning.
In this case, nearly every fossil ever found and every species alive today could be considered an evidence of transition.
Not in the least. What I am pointing out and documenting is that Glenn Shrom’s latest book, presented as if it were some new insight on creation and evolution, instead simply echoes what we’ve been hearing from antievolutionists for decades. For example, here is Dean Kenyon, in an affidavit for the Edwards v. Aguillard case, which the SCOTUS decided in 1987:
When Glenn stops pushing the bogus arguments of antievolutionists is the time when I stop calling his stuff antievolution. While he pushes even one of those bogus arguments, the classification remains accurate. At this point, it is far too late to ask that Shrom’s book not be considered to be antievolutionary — that is the plain content of its pages, and thus that is exactly what anyone who knows anything about this topic — and who have any integrity at all — should call it.
Note to Glenn Shrom:
My thesis is that your stuff is just the same old antievolution material reprinted. I have decades of documentation to draw upon to show this every single time you dispute it, and I know these sources quite well. You, on the other hand, either are ignorant of this prior material, in which case you are going to be perpetually blindsided and gobsmacked every time we do another round, or are deliberately playing obtuse, in which case you are pursuing an odd strategy if you care to retain any pretense of novelty.
Maybe this is baiting, but I have to ask…
Glenn, there is an error concerning the deployment of horizontal and vertical in the following bit of text that you quoted. Can you tell us all what it is? (I’ll give Glenn a couple of days, then produce a post on the answer.)
Glenn Shrom wrote:
I have a peer-reviewed publication on this very topic, Glenn, and it blows apart your contention. And it did so back in 2001. Why is it that you don’t know about it already?
The advantages of theft over toil: the design inference and arguing from ignorance.
Visiting Sweden in 1973?
Ringing any bells yet?
My impression is that Darwinism is about a whole lot more than evolution. Darwin postulated a Universe that operates without Divine Intervention.
That is, nature is a struggle to survive. There is no delicate web of interdependent species managed by Mother Nature.Mother Nature is a myth, just like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
This is the real problem religion has with Darwin, not evolution, which is an effect, but not the Cause.
The absence of an Interventionist God-being not only challenges Christianity, it challenges every religion everywhere.
That’s one of Behe’s stupider assertions. If an initial front-loaded organism carried a bunch of information that was not being conserved by stabilizing selection on current function, one need only use the numbers that Behe presented in his sworn testimony to determine that just point mutations alone would have caused about 1e30 changes to each and every base in the DNA strand over most of life’s history. Work out the probability that a front-loaded sequence without current function would remain untouched in bacterial genomes over 3.2 billion years time, and you’ll have some idea why Behe does himself no favors with that assertion.
I must have missed that in my reading. How about a title and page number for that?
I’ll start with your September 15th post. I am not presenting any new insight on creation at all, and the only “new” insight about evolution is perhaps that it is not in conflict with intelligent design. It’s not that this is a new insight, just that very few people are pointing this out.
Your Dean Kenyon book does not relate to my book hardly at all. I don’t spend time distinguishing between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is proven and observable, and macroevolution is a very valid theory which I do not refute or have anything against. Some things in nature may be better explained through macroevolution and other things through intelligent design, and these two theories are perfectly compatible if you look it each one better explaining a different phenomena, or if you look at the two being intertwined and as multiple factors contributing to the same end result – just as we don’t argue about whether rock formations are caused by wind erosion or water erosion, but we look at the two both being factors that come into play. To say you believe that wind erosion takes place is not being anti-water erosion, in the same way that saying intelligent design is a factor is in no way being anti-macroevolution.
I do not make a bogus argument when I say that macroevolution has not been proven in the laboratory, and making that argument does not come against macroevolution – it only makes a true statement about it to put things into perspective.
I think you should keep reading, and maybe try pointing out all the things I say in the book which support evolution. If you can list twenty or thirty quotes from my book which lend credence to evolutionary theory and why we should take it seriously, that would balance out a few of the things I mention which challenge certain evolutionary ideas.
Evolution? Yes, by all means. Why not? Could be macroevolution, and definitely there is microevolution. Evolution as the only explanation for everything we see in biology? Definitely not.
I’ll start with your Sept. 15th comment. I present no new insights on creation, and really stay away from creation altogether. As far as new insights on evolution, it is not so much a new insight as an appeal to the ID movement to be accepting of evolution, so that is sort of a new idea, although I am not the only one saying this.
I am really not sure why you make another comment about anti-evolution or why you bring in the quote by Dean Kenyon. My book is not about macroevolution versus microevolution.
Evolution? Yes, by all means. Why not? There is direct evidence of microevolution and indirect evidence of macroevolution. Does evolution give the whole story for everything we observe in biology? No, it is not the best explanation if taken alone. It is the best explanation for some things, and the second best explanation for other things. Whether first best or second best, we should consider it very seriously without ruling it out.
In some ways it is like two sides fighting over whether erosion is caused by wind or caused by water. For some things, water seems to be the primary cause, and for other things it could be wind, and in many cases it is both factoring in together. This is the approach I take to intelligent design and evolution in my book.
It is not bogus to say that macroevolution has not been observed in the lab, but it is not anti-macroevolution to say that either. It is simply a way of putting things in perspective.
Getting on to the first Sept. 16th comment …
“My thesis is that your stuff is just the same old antievolution material reprinted. I have decades of documentation to draw upon to show this every single time you dispute it, and I know these sources quite well. You, on the other hand, either are ignorant of this prior material,…”
If I understand you correctly, you are saying that you have decades of documentation to support your thesis that my book is the same old antievolution material reprinted, while I am disputing that and saying that what I have written is not anti-evolution. You claim to have sources proving that what I have written is anti-evolution.
It sounds like we have a difference of opinion here, or of understanding. As I have said before, you seem to think that my claim that random evolution is not the best explanation for everything in nature is in fact an anti-evolution claim, whereas I see it as perfectly inclusive of all the factors of random evolution which we see taking place.
For instance, I talk about evolution as being highly possible along with “purposeful agent/s present in the original building blocks of the absolute simplest life forms to direct those changes towards making the organism better suited for survival in its environment and environments.”
You consider “Darwinism does not explain instincts or shows of affection and solidarity as well as it explains anatomy and physiology” to be an anti-evolution statement, whereas I find it to be very reasonable and inclusive of evolution. I am saying that evolution is a good explanation for anatomy and physiology, but that the logic is much harder to follow to use it to explain affection and solidarity, even if it can explain affection and solidarity. Nothing anti-evolution there either.
I question if evolution was a unique historical event of the past due to conditions of the day and irreplicable for the future. This is to allow for changes in the ease of evolutionary changes, whereby the more species evolve, the less chance there is for more large-scale evolution in the future, or if the rate of such substantial mutations has slowed down over millions and billions of years. Such thinking is not anti-evolution in the least, but is a simple scientific question. Science cannot tell us what will happen in the future in biology as easily as it can predict effects due to gravity, for instance.
I wrote someone about their efforts to discriminate against biologists for employment based on religious beliefs which do not affect their methods and procedures. How does evolution figure into that at all? Yet you claim it is an anti-evolution statement. It is about the culture wars, not science. As long as a religious person and a secularist are doing the same science, why would you support discriminating against one getting the job and not the other?
I talk about evolution existing with intelligent design existing, and you claim that I am saying that evolution does not exist. Quite the contrary! If I talk about evolution existing, that is supporting evolution.
You quoted me saying “No field of research would be closed if tomorrow we decided to abandon the theory of evolution. In and of itself, however, that is no reason to abandon the theory of evolution.” and you called that anti-evolution. Where is your decades of literature to prove that, and where did those decades of criticism of my book come from before I even wrote the book? I know that it is not a novel idea that it is no good reason to abandon evolution, but I don’t see how that is interpreted as a reason to get rid of evolution.
Finally, I wrote that evolution may prove to be the most convenient materialistic explanation and thus will stand the test of time, and that more specific explanations of some things are needed for the future. That is the whole point of ongoing research and studies, isn’t it?
Concerning the second September 16th post: What is meant by “deployment of horizontal and vertical”? Do you mean the word choice and usage? I have no stake in defending the terms vertical and horizontal. I think they are based on a theoretical chart where ancestors which appeared first are higher up. In this case, nothing happens horizontally, since time doesn’t stop.
Concerning the third post of September 16th: My contention is that there are three options. One is that there is intelligence in nature. (e.g. – mankind is part of nature and mankind is intelligent.) Two is to philosophically deny that intelligence exists at all – not even in mankind. Three is to claim that intelligence (including human intelligence) only exists outside of nature.
Does your paper blow apart the first contention by appealing to one of the other two options? If so, which one? If not, what is the third option I am missing?
Does your paper blow apart the contention that there are only these three options? If so, what is the fourth, or what is the perspective that you take on it? I am curious.
Concerning the fourth post on September 16th:
Nope, you got me there. I’m out of the loop.
I hope my responses to your Sept. 15th and 16th posts are simply being “moderated” and have not been deleted.
I really like comparing evolution / design to water erosion / wind erosion. Imagine scientists figuring out how water erosion created the Grand Canyon, and then someone finding a few spots where they thought wind erosion had also taken place. The water erosion advocates scramble to figure out how water erosion could have created those spots as well, even though wind erosion is the better explanation. The water erosion advocates make it sound as if the wind erosion theory is claiming that the whole Grand Canyon were formed by wind erosion, and they attack the wind erosion theory using all the proof they had that the vast majority of the Grand Canyon’s formation was through water erosion. They say that even though they don’t know how water erosion could have created the formation in those few spots, they are sure they will eventually figure it out, but they reject all talk of wind erosion as a possibility, only speculating about how water erosion could have done it without the help of any wind.
Now when we look at the plateau on top of the Canyon, the wind erosion people point out that no river created that, so the water erosion people point to the rain. What’s to say that there could be no wind erosion? What’s to say that the two couldn’t operate together, and when the rain wets the soil and turns it to mud, the wind blows the puddles with the dissolved dirt to new places?
I hear all your proof that no intelligent design is evident as if it were the water erosionist claiming that no wind erosion is involved – ever, at all. I think we will get past the culture wars, when the wind erosionists calm down and admit that water erosion is a very good explanation for much of the erosion we observe, and water erosionists allow for wind erosion as well without feeling threatened by it.
Overwhelming evidence for water erosion does not rule out wind erosion as a minor factor in the canyon, or as a key factor on the plateau. The problem is that too many ID advocates are acting as if the “wind erosion” formed the Grand Canyon, and claiming that water erosion is a myth.
ID is just creation science under a different label. This was established quite overwhelmingly in federal district court last year.
From Shrom’s book cover:
Funny, a cutting-edge book with nothing new in it.
I comment about antievolution because that is what Shrom’s book is composed of and what Shrom’s book promotes.
Shrom’s earlier comment brought up macroevolution:
Shrom had made that statement because I quoted Shrom’s book discussing macroevolution:
Shrom can’t recall what he has said, apparently, and thinks that nobody else has any better recall of what has transpired.
Simply put, Shrom hasn’t a clue about things that he makes unfounded assertions about.
First, macroevolution occurs in experiments all the time. Colchicine is commonly used to induce tetraploid speciation in various plants. Speciation is a macroevolutionary event. QED.
Second, experimentation is not the sole means we have of acquiring knowledge via the scientific method. We can utilize data from molecular biology and paleontology, among other fields, to discover macroevolutionary events and processes that have left their imprint upon the empirical evidence. This class of knowledge is conspicuous by its absence from Shrom’s text.
I can imagine that Shrom does like using types of erosion as an analogy — it has the property of being completely disanalogous to the subject under discussion. Both wind and water erosion are part and parcel of empirical inquiry into natural causes of events.
A better analogy would be demon possession as a current medical theory for certain mental illnesses. That at least would have the point of analogy with ID that there is no evidence for the alternative being promoted. One could argue, in the way that ID advocates do, that since we don’t understand the causes of some mental illnesses, we should infer that our only alternative is to posit demon possession. One could then insist that psychological counseling has some similarities to praying over a demon-posessed person, and therefore all of that should also be considered as being within the new science of “demon-possession-ology”. People would be exhorted to “keep an open mind” about this revolutionary new science. Anyone who opposed this approach could be told that they aren’t open-minded, aren’t looking for points of agreement, etc.
As usual, Shrom is ignoring the main point, which is that what Shrom happily trots out as a “winning approach for all parties” was in fact exactly the winning approach for the benefit of only one party, the antievolutionists. This is undeniably documented.
Shrom’s attempts to obfuscate this are growing exceedingly tiresome.
First, here’s what Shrom said in a comment here:
From Shrom’s book:
And that is why I provided the text from Dean Kenyon, which comes not from a book, as Shrom erroneously asserts above, but rather from a sworn affidavit in a federal trial.
Kenyon’s text shows that Shrom does not have any grasp of what creation science was, since the above clearly demonstrates that creation science did not clash with the idea of “evolutionary components in nature” and that ID simply follows exactly the same strategy as creation science before it, which is not at all surprising, since we now know that ID is simply creation science re-labelled.
Shrom says that, certainly, but he has no basis for it other than his expansive ignorance and his overweening confidence that his ignorance is in fact knowledge of the world. This is a guy who has no clue what “ethology” means, is ignorant of the research going right back to Darwin that would have a bearing on the issue, and yet feels perfectly free to dismiss all of that sight unseen.
Yes, it is an anti-evolution statement. It seeks to dismiss actual research with nothing more than personal ignorance. It seeks to place a conjecture with no supporting evidence on the same plane as hypotheses and theories that have undergone frequent test and refinement in light of the empirical evidence, without ever even acknowledging that the research exists on the one side. I cannot express here just how loathsome I find that smug superciliousness on Shrom’s part.
Shrom’s screed in his book was a ludicrous misreading of the statement by Dr. Tyson. Shrom’s ridiculous assertion of bigotry stands upon no basis whatsoever. Further, Shrom’s reply assumes that knowledge of evolutionary biology makes no difference in the practice of vaccine manufacture, which is both erroneous and antievolutionary. It seeks to denigrate the utility of evolutionary biology without any basis for that stance.
Have a look at
Mark Isaak cites two sources dating back to 1985, but there are many more.
Jennings Bryan, 1922:
Richard Bliss, 1984:
I have no idea what Shrom is blithering about with that. He does seem to get confused rather easily.
The essential point that Shrom refuses to apprehend is that pretty much every argument he makes for why ID should be given special treatment has a long, long history in the antievolution movement. His arguments are antievolutionary because that is exactly what their history has shown them to be, and what their intended import is. They seek to denigrate evolutionary biology as a well-supported, useful branch of the natural sciences.
That may be Shrom’s contention now, but it wasn’t when I replied to his earlier false dichotomy:
That is to say, the paper does show a third option not given by Shrom, that there is a class of “ordinary design”, where we recognize the products of agents because of our experience with those agents or the processes agents use to achieve their ends. In other words, Shrom’s sudden increase of options from two to three is apparently to make it look like I didn’t properly respond to what he argued before. Naughty, naughty Glenn — this isn’t a place where one can invoke an infinitely plastic past to escape your own poor arguments.
Shrom also fails to note how it can be that he could hype his book on ID as “cutting-edge” and yet have no prior knowledge of the paper I wrote and cited here. It rather makes hash of any claim Shrom might have to scholarship in his endeavor. And then there was his ignorance of the anthology, “Why Intelligent Design Fails”. Has he even gotten around to reading it, I wonder?
Some time ago, I wrote a line to preface a quote of a quote in Shrom’s book:
Shrom protested my note about “apparent approval”.
I should have immediately revisited Shrom’s book. Well, I have now, so here is Glenn Shrom discussing the text that he is about to quote from Babu Ranganathan:
No real approval, but it is an echo of what Shrom himself says. How does that work?
Then there is the issue of the error in Ranganathan’s prose. I even told Shrom which words were used in error. Could Shrom say what the error was? Of course not.
For many decades, antievolutionists have gotten the directions of “vertical” and “horizontal” evolution confused. For some bizarre reason, antievolutionists willy-nilly use the terms orthogonally from the way that real biologists do. Horizontal evolution is diversification, that is, increasing number of species and what antievolutionists would call macroevolution. Vertical evolution is evolution that occurs within a lineage and is used especially to describe adaptation within a species or clade, the sort of evolution that antievolutionists call microevolution. Getting this wrong is a hallmark of antievolution argumentation. Ranganathan gets it wrong. Shrom doesn’t even know enough about the topic to figure out what’s wrong, even when told that there is a problem.
If you need a guide to tell you which way is up, Glenn Shrom is definitely not your guy.
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