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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Actually, the goal posts were just pulled up. Too much trouble to move...

Widely hated embryologist Jonathan Wells, author of Icons of Evolution notes, in "Moving the Goal Post" that one outcome of constantly changing definitions of what constitutes Darwinian evolution is to make it difficult to evaluate the track record of any of them.

As a biologist, I have written on this subject. In the June 2009 issue of Scientific American, Mirsky quotes me:

Creationists argue that speciation has never been seen. Here’s part of a December 31, 2008, posting by Jonathan Wells on the Web site of the antithetically named Discovery Institute: “Darwinism depends on the splitting of one species into two, which then diverge and split and diverge and split, over and over again, to produce the branching-tree pattern required by Darwin’s theory. And this sort of speciation has never been observed.”

Actually, however, Mirsky mis-quotes me. I did not “argue that speciation has never been seen.” What I wrote in 2008 was:

The best way to find “evolution’s smoking gun” would be to observe speciation in action. There actually are some confirmed cases of observed speciation in plants—all of them due to an increase in the number of chromosomes, or “polyploidy.” But observed cases of speciation by polyploidy are limited to flowering plants, and polyploidy does not produce the major changes required for Darwinian evolution. Darwinism depends on the splitting of one species into two, which then diverge and split and diverge and split, over and over again, to produce the branching-tree pattern required by Darwin’s theory. And this sort of speciation has never been observed.

More: The central claim of Darwin’s Origin of Species was that an unguided process of natural selection acting on minor variations is sufficient to produce new species (“speciation”), organs and body plans—indeed, every feature of every living thing, at least after the origin of life. But Darwin had no evidence for natural selection; all he could offer were “one or two imaginary illustrations.” Instead, Darwin’s argument (which was also heavily theological) relied on an analogy with artificial selection. Domestic breeders had been showing for centuries that existing species can be modified—sometimes dramatically—by selecting only individuals with desired variations. Darwin simply argued that such a process, if extended over geological time, could accomplish much more.

Despite the title of his book, however, Darwin never solved the origin of species. Neither have his followers. In 1997, evolutionary biologist Keith Stewart Thomson wrote: “A matter of unfinished business for biologists is the identification of evolution's smoking gun,” and “the smoking gun of evolution is speciation, not local adaptation and differentiation of populations.” Before Darwin, the consensus was that species can vary only within certain limits; indeed, centuries of artificial selection had seemingly demonstrated such limits experimentally. “Darwin had to show that the limits could be broken,” wrote Thomson, “so do we.” 1

(Of course, Wells will be accused of quote mining - which means telling the public what Darwinists tell each other in science journals.)

More evil Disco stories below.

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