The Evolution Fact FAQ
M. R. Leipzig
Last revision: 14 September, 1999
If one is to surf the web today and try and make some sort of sense of the bewildering
array of information (running the Gardnerian gamut of "good, bad and bogus") so
easily available there; one can become quickly mired in the voluminous mainstream
scientific and less-than-mainstream pseudoscientific terminology, arguments and
contentions. As an attempt to hopefully help "clear the muddied waters", level
the playing field (I speak hopefully, although not terribly optimistically, that this can
be accomplished without the use of explosives; verbal or otherwise) and turn some of the
intensely emotive partisan friction of the Creation/Evolution issue into light, I offer
What is Evolution? (and,
what is not evolution.)
Before we proceed, it is essential that we set a few ground rules and delimit exactly
to what we are referring when we speak of evolution in the context of the
evolution/creation conflict. Thus: by definition, evolution is:
(1.) precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from
one generation to the next. The gene pool is the set of all genes in a species or
population. This is the neontological (biological) definition.
Unfortunately, alleles themselves are rarely, if ever, preserved in the rock record as
fossils; which are the key data units in the examination of the history of life on Earth.
But, the expression of these alleles is preserved in the fossils of populations of
organisms, which are readily available for examination. From this, it is readily apparent
(2.) life has developed (not "progressed") from one or a small set of common
ancestors as well as from "simple" organisms to more "complex"
creatures over the span of geological time. This is one of the paleontological definitions
Although already there may be some dissenters bristling over the relative merits of
biological "simplicity" or "complexity"; I maintain that, in however a
general or specific sense, a multicellular organism (say, a human, a blue whale, or a
Velociraptor mongoliensis) is relatively more complex (systemically) than a unicellular
blue-green alga; although I will concede that complexity is not a measure of a population
of organisms success (viz.: bacteria and alga are much more voluminous and have been
extant far longer than Homo sapiens), but is used here solely for purposes of
differentiation between the neontological and paleontological concept of evolution.
Therefore, with these definitions in mind; evolution:
1. is a fact,
2. is also a number of theories,
3. is Science,
4. is also scientific,
5. is naturalistic and purely mechanistic,
6. is falsifiable,
7. is testable,
8. is predictive,
9. has been observed;
- in the field and in the laboratory,
- 10. has occurred in the past,
11. is still occurring,
12. will continue to occur in the future.
Further, we can also note that evolution,
13. is not atheistic (nor Communistic, Marxist, Leninist, Stalinist, etc.),
14. is not evil,
15. is not mandated by law to be taught in US public schools,
16. is not a cosmological theory (i.e., "it don't do origins"),
17. is not a religion nor Religion,
18. is not determined by popular opinion (as can be said of any science),
19. is not a socio-political program or paradigm,
20. is not dependent on the supernatural,
21. does not claim that "Man came from apes",
22. is not progress,
23. has not, will not and cannot be proven (as can be said of any science),
24. Is not random nor relies on "blind chance",
25. does not violate the second law of thermodynamics,
26. Does not deny (a) God(s), and finally,
27. Falsifying evolution does not prove Creation.
- That said, let us examine every claim in turn and in detail that evolution:
1. is a fact:
"It is time for students of the evolutionary process, especially those who
have been misquoted and used by the creationists, to state clearly that evolution is a
FACT, not ['only a' - ed.] theory, and that what is at issue within biology are questions
of details of the process and the relative importance of different mechanisms of
It is a FACT that the earth with liquid water, is more than 3.6 billion years old.
It is a FACT that cellular life has been around for at least half of that period and that
organized multicellular life is at least 800 million years old. It is a FACT that major
life forms now on earth were not at all represented in the past. There were no birds or
mammals 250 million years ago. It is a FACT that major life forms of the past are no
longer living. There used to be dinosaurs and Pithecanthropus, and there are none now. It
is a FACT that all living forms come from previous living forms.
Therefore, all present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were
different. Birds arose from nonbirds and humans from nonhumans. No person who pretends to
any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts any more than she or he can
deny that the earth is round, rotates on its axis, and revolves around the sun.
The controversies about evolution lie in the realm of the relative importance of
various forces in moulding evolution."
- R. C. Lewontin "Evolution / Creation Debate: A Time for
Truth" Bioscience 31, 559 (1981).
- Just as much as gravitation is a fact, so is evolution. It has been observed, in both
the laboratory and the field, and through the evidence of the fossil record. It is not
debated in mainstream science that evolution has occurred (and is still occurring); but it
is the mode and tempo of evolution that is being debated.
2. is also a number of theories:
Even before the time of it's formal introduction to science by Darwin, there have been
many differing and different theories advanced to explain the fact of organic evolution
and the diversity of life on Earth. Some are over 100 years old, while others are quite
recent innovations. Some have been discarded as erroneous, while others have, literally
and figuratively, tons of evidence which support them.
A general listing of these theories include Darwinism (descent with modification by
natural selection; and in and of itself a set of theories; i.e., "Strict
Darwinism", "General Darwinism", etc.; and an "umbrella" term
sometimes used in other evolutionary theories as a basis, which is then modified),
Lamarckianism ("inheritance of acquired characteristics"), saltationalism
(evolution proceeding by major leaps or jumps), gradualism (slow, uniform accumulation of
modifications), punctuated equilibrium (periods of stasis followed by brief, intense
periods of speciation), phyletic gradualism (speciation occurs gradually over a species'
entire range), orthogenesis (evolution that follows a single direction or specific trend
continuously, "straight- line" evolution, often appearing to be independent of
natural selection), creationism (a religious, non-scientific, pseudoscientific
preconceived dogmatic construct), etc.
With the exception of creationism ("Scientific", Biblical or otherwise), the
remainder are or were scientific theories. Orthogenesis, Lamarckianism, saltationalism (to
a certain degree), and creationism have been largely been abandoned or supplanted by other
theories or a combination of theories. In fact, the union of molecular biology, genetics
and natural selection (Darwinism) lead to what is known as the Modern Synthesis. That is,
the Modern Synthesis is a theory about how evolution works at the level of genes,
phenotypes, and populations whereas Darwinism was concerned mainly with organisms,
speciation and individuals.
One of the most recent, and generally least understood, theories of evolution is Punctuated
Some paleontologists think evolution is a hierarchical process.
- The theory of punctuated equilibria attempts to infer the process of macroevolution from
the pattern of species documented in the fossil record. In the fossil record, transition
from one species to another is usually abrupt in most geographic locales -- no
transitional forms are found. In short, it appears that species remain unchanged for long
stretches of time and then are quickly replaced by new species. However, if wide ranges
are searched, transitional forms that bridge the gap between the two species are sometime
found in small, localized areas.
For example, in Jurassic brachiopods of the genus Kutchithyris, K.
acutiplicata appears below another species, K. euryptycha. Both species were
common and covered a wide geographical area. They differ enough that some have argued they
should be in a different genera. In just one small locality an approximately 1.25m
sedimentary layer with these fossils is found. In the narrow (10 cm) layer that separates
the two species, both species are found along with transitional forms. In other localities
there is a sharp transition.
Gould and Eldredge, the authors of punctuated equilibria, interpret this in light of
theories of allopatric speciation. They concluded that isolated populations of organisms
will often speciate and then invade the range of their ancestral species. Thus at most
locations that fossils are found, transition from one species to another will be abrupt.
This abrupt change will reflect replacement by migration however, not evolution. In order
to find the transitional fossils, the area of speciation must be found.
They also argue that evolution can proceed quickly in small populations so that the
tempo of evolution is not continuous. This has lead to some confusion about the theory.
Some popular accounts give the impression that abrupt changes in the fossil record are due
to blindingly fast evolution; this is not what the theory of punctuated equilibria says.
Some PE proponents envision the theory as a hierarchical theory of evolution because
they see speciation as analogous to mutation and the replacement of one species by another
(which they call species selection) as analogous to natural selection. Speciation adds new
species to the species pool just as mutation adds new alleles to the gene pool and species
selection favors one species over another just as natural selection can favor one allele
over another. This is the most controversial part of the theory.
Most biologists agree with the pattern of macroevolution these paleontologists posit, but
many disagree with the mechanism -- species selection. Critics would argue that species
selection is not analogous to natural selection and therefore evolution is not
The theory of punctuated equilibrium was designed to replace the theory of phyletic
gradualism (here, in and of itself, is a type-section instance of the scientific nature of
evolution: testing, re-analysis, re-interpretation and self-correction in action).
Phyletic gradualists held that a species would slowly transform into another species over
its entire range. Phyletic gradualism is often associated with the assumption of a uniform
rate of evolution, but this need not be the case.
Although all this fact vs. theory exposition may seem a tad confusing, here's a concise
binary clarification courtesy of Harvard's own Stephan Jay Gould:
"Well evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are
different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's
data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go
away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of
gravitation replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't suspend themselves in
mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did
so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered.
"Moreover, 'fact' doesn't mean 'absolute certainty'; there ain't no such
animal in an exciting and complex world. The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow
deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are NOT about the
empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists
often do (and then attack us falsely for a style of argument that they themselves favor).
In science 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to
withhold provisional consent'. I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the
possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.
"Evolutionists have been very clear about this distinction of fact and theory
from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from
completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred.
Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate
accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory - natural
selection - to explain the mechanism of evolution."
- Stephen J. Gould, "Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, May 1981
- 3. is Science:
By definition, science (apart from being defined by definition) is:
1.a. The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and
theoretical explanation of natural phenomena.
1.b. Such activity restricted to a class of natural phenomena.
1.c. Such activity applied to any class of phenomena.
2. Methodological activity, discipline, or study.
3. An activity that requires study and methodological approach.
4. Knowledge, esp. knowledge gained through experience.
[ME, knowledge, learning < OFr. < Lat. scientia < sciens, pr.part. of
scire, to know.]
By all aspects of the definition, evolution is science.
4. is also scientific:
Let's take a quick look at the scientific method and see just how evolution stacks up:
They are based on actual experience. Evolution has been observed, in both the
laboratory and the field.
1 for 1 so far.
It follows the rules of logic and is consistent with known facts. Evolutionary
theories must be logical (or they are disposed of) and are consistent with, and modifiable
by, the addition of new information.
2 for 2.
You can verify them by experimentation. It is possible to imagine ways that they
prove to be invalid. Yes, indeed. See #s 6 & 7 for further exposition on this topic.
3 for 3.
They tend not to be complex, to involve fewer assumptions. By application of the
Razor of Ockham, the "principle of parsimony", or the "KISS" principle
(Keep It Simple, Stupid).
4 for 4.
They work for a relatively wide range of phenomena. Organic evolution unites
biology (neontology), molecular biology, zoology, genetics, geology, paleontology,
physical chemistry, physics, etc. I'd consider that a "relatively wide range of
5 for 5.
You are willing to give them up if they prove wrong. Has been done and continues
to be done. Lamarkianism, Creationism (special, "Scientific", Biblical,
Qu'ranic, Talmudic, Vedic, or otherwise), and orthogenesis are examples of unsuccessful
attempts to define and describe the diversity of life on Earth.
That's 6 for 6. A perfect score.
Therefore, evolution is addressable and able to be investigated by the scientific
method; is internally consistent, physically evidenced, observable (either directly or
through the fossil record), is self- testing and self-correcting.
As evolution is both fact and theory; evolution is both science and scientific.
5. is naturalistic and purely mechanistic:
Invokes no God(s) nor supernatural constructs in its explanations. It is constrained by
the natural laws of chemistry and physics and does not proceed randomly. Further,
evolution and evolutionary theories all contain exactly less than one miracle and less
than one God.
6. is falsifiable:
Evolution is scientific because it is falsifiable. Unlike creationism, where no test, no
procedure, no gedankenexperiment, can be postulated to disprove the notion of special
creation or a creator; which is a belief system based on faith. Evolution, on the other
hand, being based entirely upon facts and evidence, and which makes statements derived
from those facts, can be falsified. Viz.: find a fossilized skeleton of Homo sapiens in
an undisturbed stratigraphic sequence at the same level as a Tyrannosaur.
Evolutionary theory maintains that:
1. Tyrannosaurs are extinct,
2. They existed in the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era, and
3. Are never found in rocks younger than approximately 66.6 MY (million years) old.
Evolutionary theory also holds that Homo sapiens is a relatively recent addition to
the biological sphere (if you look at the history of life on Earth from a geological
standpoint), is currently extant and whose remains are never found in sediments greater
than approximately 4 MY. Therefore, if one were to be found in an undisturbed section
cheek-by-jowl with a T. rex...
7. is testable:
That is, evolutionary theory can be given to "what-if" scenarios. For
instance, if I happen upon an environment (some may think this a frivolous notion; but not
at all. In recent years life-bearing environments have been found that were previously
thought to be antagonistic to life, i.e., deep-sea vents on the ocean ridges, which were
found to be teeming with, admittedly unusual, life), I can propose the test of which
organisms I would expect to find there. Conversely, given an organism (extant or extinct)
and it's adaptations; I can, through evolutionary theory, deduce the environment to which
it is best suited.
For instance, let's look at the fossil record. If I find the remains of an organism,
let's say one with wings; I can put it to the test that it was a flying organism. But, if
I find that the wings are heavily modified and the theoretically-flying creature's remains
are always found with fossil fish fragments and cephalopod pens; and the geology of the
depositional environments indicate a cold, polar fringing-marine environment; my test
would have failed. Seems the winged creatures are more well adapted to a pelagic,
nektonic, open marine lifestyle (at least for part of the time). I am forced to develop
another hypothesis and test that (this time in favor of organisms that "fly"
through the water). The hallmark of science is it's testability, re-analysis,
re-interpretation and self-correcting nature. (BTW, if you haven't already guessed, I was
talking about Aptenodytes patigonica.)
8. is predictive:
Logical outcome of item 7. Organisms can be used to predict their environment and
environments can be used to predict the type of organism that could best exploit that
portion of ecological hyperspace.
9. has been observed:
9a. in the field
In the genus Tragopogon (a plant genus consisting mostly of diploids), two new
species (T. mirus and T. miscellus) have evolved within the past 50-60
years. The new species are allopolyploid descendants of two separate diploid parent
Here is how this speciation occurred. The new species were formed when one diploid
species fertilized a different diploid species and produced a tetraploid offspring. This
tetraploid offspring could not fertilize or be fertilized by either of its two parent
species types. It is reproductively isolated, the very definition of a species.
Rapid speciation of the Faeroe Island house mouse occurred less than 250 years after
humans brought it to the island. Species identification in this case was based on
morphology, since breeding experiments could not be performed with the parent stock . (S.
Stanley, Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, San Francisco: W. H. Freeman & Company,
1979, p. 41)
During a series of natural catastrophes, the Galapagos island finch-species
fortis developed a larger beak, necessary for consuming a variety of seed unaffected
by the ravages. This was a new phenotype never observed before, made manifest in just a
few years time.
9b. in the
In 1905, while studying the genetics of the evening primrose,
H. De Vries discovered among his plants a variant having a different chromosome number. He
was unable to breed this variant with O. lamarckiana. He named the new species
gigas. (De Vries, Species and Varieties, Their Origin By Mutation, 1905)
In 1973, L. D. Gottlieb documented the speciation of Stephanomeira malheurensis
from a large population of S. exigua in Harney County, Oregon. He was able to
document morphological differences in five characteristics plus chromosomal differences.
Attempts at crossbreeding these plants produced hybrids having either scant seeds and
pollen, or developmental abnormalities. (American Journal of Botany 60, pp. 545-553)
After five years of selective crossbreeding, E. Pasterniani in 1969 produced almost
complete reproductive isolation between two varieties of corn. The species were
distinguishable by seed color, white versus yellow. Other genetic markers allowed him to
identify hybrids, which were not used for future breeding. (Zea mays L. Evolution
23, pp. 534-547)
There is a lot of literature about speciation in fruit flies and house flies. Different
experiments have been carried out to examine separately the effects of natural selection
and genetic drift. See, for example, J. Ringo, et. al, "An experiment testing two
hypotheses of speciation," The American Naturalist (1989) 126, pp. 642-661, or A. B.
Soans, et. al, "Evolution of reproductive isolation in allopatric and sympatric
populations," The American Naturalist (1974) 108, pp. 117-124.
The question can be asked, is the sex ratio then just a non-adaptive consequence of the
independent assortment of X and Y chromosomes in male sperm? Or, is the ratio adaptive and
Mendelian assortment an adaptive trait that has evolved?
The authors of a recent paper put this to the test by studying the Atlantic silverside
fish Menidia menidia . This fish has an unusual life cycle in that, during the
early months of the year mostly female offspring are produced. In the summer months mostly
males are produced. The bias in the sex of the offspring is induced by the water
temperature. Female offspring are produced while the water is cold, males while it is
warm. The sex ratio across the whole year balances out to 0.5. This sex bias is caused by
temperature dependent sex determination, not temperature dependent sex mortality. In other
words cold water makes baby female fish form, it doesn't kill male baby fish. The same
embryo could be male or female depending on the temperature it is raised at (i.e.
Mendelian segregation does not influence the sex ratio in this species.)
The authors captured hundreds of these fish and maintained them in aquaria for five to
six years. Some tanks were maintained at low temperatures, others at high temperatures. In
the low temp aquaria, the populations began with mostly females. The sex ratio, for
example, in one low temp tank was 0.70 (70% female) In the high temperature aquaria, the
populations began with mostly males. In one of the low tanks the sex ratio was 0.18. Both
of these, given the population sizes, are significantly different than 0.50.
As the experiment progressed, the sex ratios changed from the highly skewed initial
conditions. In all the populations the sex ratios converged on 0.5. The trajectory of the
sex ratios converging on 0.5 differed between many of the tanks. In one tank, the next and
all subsequent generations were at an 0.5 sex ration. In another, it slowly converged upon
0.5. In yet another it reached 0.5, then overshot slightly, then returned. This indicates
that a sex ratio of 0.5 is somehow adaptive be cause the fish evolved from a skewed ratio
to a balanced ratio. Since chromosome assortment does not determine sex in these fish
(temperature does), the only explanation for their convergence to 0.5 is natural selection
favored fish that produced an abnormal amount of the minority sex. (If males are lacking,
any fish that produces male fish will contribute more than average to the gene pool).
This is a frequency-dependent kind of selection. As the sex ratio approaches 0.5, fish
who produce a disproportionate amount of either sex will contribute less than average to
the gene pool.
Finally, notice that evolution has occurred. The experiment started with populations of
fish that produced skewed sex ratios and ended with populations that produced balanced sex
ratios. Since the environment was held constant, the change in the populations was
therefore genetic. In other words, the gene pool changed over time. This is the definition
Conover and Voorhees, 1990, Evolution of a Balanced Sex Ratio by
Frequency-Dependent Selection in a Fish, Science 250: p.1556-1558.
10. has occurred in the past:
In the July 13, 1990 issue of Science, Gingerich et al reported on an interesting fossil
found in Egypt. It is a whale with feet. The skeleton is of the species Basilosaurus
Current cetacea do not have external hind limbs. But whales, which are mammals, evolved
from terrestrial mammals. This fossil, therefore, is a link between the two. The skeleton
they show is long (16 m) and serpentine. The authors believe this whale hunted in shallow
mangrove or sea grass habitat. It's hind limb has a short femur and a slightly shorter
fibula and tibia. It has no thumb and a greatly reduced second digit. The other three
fingers are quite long (relatively). In short, another variation of the basic mammalian
The authors speculate that the limbs were tucked in close to the body while the whale
was swimming (and the osteology of the bones suggest that they are correct).
Gingerich, et el., 1990, Hind Limbs of Eocene Basilosaurus : Evidence of Feet in
Whales, Science 249: p.154-156.
11. is still occurring:
Yes, evolution is still occurring; all organisms continue to adapt to their surroundings
and "invent" new ways of better competing with members of their own species. In
addition, allele frequencies are being changed by drift, mutation and gene flow
constantly. Studying the process of evolution as it continues to occur is a major field of
biology today. Although evolution has been observed and all the mechanisms have been shown
to work, there is still no consensus on the relative contribution of each of the
mechanisms to the overall pattern of evolution within a lineage.
12. will continue to occur in the future:
As noted by pre-eminent geologist James Hutton: "The present is the key to the
past". Although Hutton's axiom is strictly uniformitarian, the premise is valid.
Therefore, logically, today's present is tomorrow's past. What we see in the lab and the
field regarding the fact of evolution today indicates that it will continue into the
future as it has for the last ~3.65 BY.
In addition, we can also note that evolution:
13. is not atheistic (nor Communistic, Marxist, Leninist, Stalinistic, etc.):
"Evolution is thus not only anti-Biblical and anti-Christian, but it is
utterly unscientific and impossible as well. But it has served effectively as the
pseudo-scientific basis of atheism, agnosticism, socialism, fascism, and numerous other
false and dangerous philosophies over the past century."
Morris, Henry M. and Robert T. Clark. 1976. The Bible Has the Answers. San
Diego: Creation-Life Publishers.
- Morris and Clark's brutum fulmen aside, evolution is about as atheistic as World
League Soccer. That may seem sort of a ridiculous comparison, but it is not. While soccer
players may be atheist, Christian, Zen Buddhist, New Age Crystal Voodoo Necromancer, Tree
Hugging Neo-Driud, or followers of Bob the Questionable; the rules, officialdom, tenets
and game of soccer says exactly nothing regarding the presence, absence, traits or
idiosyncrasies of a supernatural being. It just plain does not concern itself with that
14. Is not evil:
That is precisely the same for evolution. Evolution neither requires nor desires
spirits, sprites, spooks, spectres, goblins, ghouls, ghosts or God(s). It says nothing,
nothing, of the presence or absence of God(s); and by definition , it cannot. Evolution,
as shown above, is science. Science, by definition, is purely naturalistic. Therefore, the
"God Hypothesis" is untenable for use or consideration in evolution. Succinctly
put, evolution only concerns itself with the natural world; God(s) and the like, are, by
definition, supernatural and therefore not a consideration, nor are they considered, when
examining the natural world.
Evolution neither desires nor requires God(s); but it does make them unnecessary.
Sometimes the creationists drop their scientific pretences and reveal their religious
motivations by attacking evolution on the grounds that it is an "anti-religious"
or "atheistic" theory (vide alta). The creationists would have one
believe that evolution is atheistic, because it contradicts their naively literal
interpretation of the Book of Genesis in the Bible.
However, evolution is not necessarily atheistic. Evolution is a scientific finding, and
science tells us, by design and definition, nothing about metaphysical (and oftimes silly)
issues such as the existence of God. We know through science that evolution is a reality.
Whether a God exists who used evolution to create life is an open question; although some,
like the author, find the entire question illogical and irrelevant.
Some claim that evolution is communistic, Marxist or even anarchist. Using the method of
dialectical materialism, Marx and Engels were able to discover the laws that govern
history and the development of society in general. Using a similar method, Charles Darwin
was able to uncover the precepts of evolution of the biological world. "Darwin
applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of nature,"
states paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. "Matter is the ground of all existence;
mind, spirit, and God as well, are just words that express the wondrous results of
Even if, by similar methods, Marx/Engels and Darwin devised revolutionary concepts; this
in no way makes evolution and Marxism any more related than the fish is to the squid I
caught while fishing.
Even if it was, by any standard you desire, it would not be a reason to assume it is
wrong. Chemistry is responsible for millions of deaths every year; physics, accelerating
bodies to 9.78049 m/sec/sec, kills those who believe gravity is not a fact; but we do not
reject its findings because of this.
How people use a theory is not a judgement of its accuracy.
Fortunately we do not face this dilemma. Evolution does not say what is right and what
is wrong, but merely what has happened. A strictly historical account of the
Auto de fe
or Crusades would not say that they either were good or bad, rather, that they had
happened (although it would note their religious underpinnings). Similarly, evolution does
not say that any conclusions people might draw from it are good or bad.
Evolution simply "is".
15. is not mandated by law to be taught in US public schools:
It is, and should, be taught in the science classroom because it is science and science
is what should be taught in science class. As noted by the late Judge Overton in the 1980
Arkansas vs. McLean "Balanced Treatment" case; "science is what scientists
do", and scientists "do" evolution; not creationism. Never has it been
legislated that evolution must, by law, be taught in the science class, it simply was
because it is science.
It is wholly amusing (and somewhat aggrieving) to witness the machinations of the
so-called "Scientific" creationists, who have been so enflamed in trying to
achieve legislation for their battle-cry of "balanced treatment". This whole
issue is so riddled with oxymorons, it's a lexicographer's delight. For instance,
"scientific" creationism is promoted by only a few fundamentalist Christian
types with a heavy doctrinal axe to grind and a thinly disguised, but ridiculously
apparent, hidden agenda.
The Institute for Creation Research
and the Center for Creation Research are self-professed ministries; and for that,
they make no apologies nor have any qualms in accepting their tax-exempt status. They do
no research whatsoever (that is, their so-called "research" consists almost
solely of their ransacking scientific publications for quotes from prominent evolutionary
scientists which could be lifted from their original context and then perfidiously
recontextualized in order to serve Creationist designs; they also spend considerable
"research" time being an "outreach" ministry, financing expeditions to
Turkey to ferret out gopher-wood ships and expend their remaining time floating horsetails
in aquaria; such is their "research" activities), instead they content
themselves with trying to "disprove" evolution (about which more later).
- They require the signing of a
statement of belief
(all religious, all Biblical) in order to be counted with their little clan. Odd that this
is so diametrically opposite to what real science is and what real scientists do. And yet
these so-called, self-professed "scientists" have the unmitigated temerity to
call mainstream scientists closed-minded. I personally belong to 14 international
geological, biological and paleontological scientific societies and have yet to be
required to sign a single document confirming that I have a literal belief (or, for that
matter, any beliefs) in anything.
20. is not dependent on the supernatural:
Secondly, when one looks at the strategies of the creationists; their deceptions, shoddy
work, and illogic, their "secret" agenda becomes all too apparent. First they
clamor for "fairness" in balanced treatment; that is, they want their
narrowly-sectarian, fundamentalist, Biblically-literalist religious dogma taught right
alongside the science of evolution in the science classroom. Well, besides being
unconstitutional, it's devious, disingenuous, and dastardly as well. If they truly want
balanced treatment, then they would be lobbying to present all the theories of development
of life on Earth.
Let's balance the treatment by including the fables, myths, parables, and legends of the
Aaragon, Abenaki, Acoma, Ainu, Aleut, Amunge, Angevin, Anishinabek, Anvik-Shageluk,
Apache, Arapaho, Ararapivka, Arikara, Armenian, Arrernte, Ashkenazim, Assiniboine,
Athabascan, Athena, Aztec, Babylonian, Balinese, Bannock, Bantu, Basque, Blackfoot, Blood,
Bosnian, Breton, Brul, Bundjalung, Burns Paiute, Caddo, Cahuilla, Catalan, Cayuga, Cayuse,
Celt, Chehalis, Chelan, Cherokee, Chewella, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Chinook, Chippewa,
Chirachaua, Choctaw, Chukchi, Coeur d'Alene, Columbia River, Colville, Comanche,
Congolese, Concow, Coquille, Cow Creek, Cowlitz, Cree, Creek, Croat, Crow, Crow Creek,
Cumbres, Curonian, Cushite, Cut Head, Da'an, Devon, Dihai-Kutchin, Diyari, Dogon,
Duwamish, Egyptian, Elwha, S'Klallam, Eritrean, Eskimo, Esrolvuli, Eta, Even, Evenk,
Flathead, Fijian, Fox, Fuegan, Gaul, Gooniyandi, Gond, Govi Basin Mongolian, Grand Ronde,
Gros Ventre, Haida, Han, Haranding, Havasupai, Hendriki, Heortling, Hidatsa, Hindi, Hmong,
HoChunk, Hoh, Hoopa, Hopi, Hunkpapa, Hutu, Ik-kil-lin, Inca, Innu, Intsi Dindjich, Inuit,
Iroquois, Isleta, Itchali, Itelemen, It-ka-lya-ruin, Itkpe'lit, Itku'dlin, Jicarilla
Apache, Jotvingian, Kaiyuhkhotana, Kalapuya, Kalispel, Kamchandal, Kansa, Karuk,
Katshikotin, Kaurna, Kaw, Kazahk, Ketschetnaer, Khanti, Khoi-San, Khymer, Kickapoo, Kiowa,
Kirg hiz, Kitchin-Kutchin, Klamath, Knaiakhotana, K'nyaw, Koch-Rajbongshi, Kolshina, Kono,
Kootenai, Koyukukhotana, !Kung, Kurd, La Jolla, Lac Courte D' Oreille, Lac Du Flambeau,
Laguna, Lake, Lakota, Lao, Latgalian, Leech Lake Chippewa, Lemmi, Lower Brul , Lower
Yanktonai, Lowland Lummi, Lummi, Malawi, Makah, Mandan, Maori, Maricopan, Martinez, Mayan,
Mazatec, Mednofski, Menominee, Meryam Mir, Mesa Grande, Mescalero Apache, Metlakatla,
Miniconjou, Mission, Moallalla, Modoc, Mohawk, Mojave, Morongo, Muckleshoot,
Murrinh-Patha, Nadruvian, Nagorno-Karabakh, Na-Kotchpo- tschig-Kouttchin, Nambe, Namib,
Natche'-Kutehin, Navajo, Nes Pelem, Neyetse-kutchi, Nez Perce, Ngiyampaa, Nisqualli,
Nnatsit-Kutchin, Nomelackie, Nooksack, Norman, Norse, Northern Cheyenne, Nyungar, Oglala,
Ogorvalte, Ojibway, Okanagon, Okinawan, Olmec, Omaha, Oneida, Onondaga, Ordovices,
Orlanthi, Osage, Osetto, O-til'-tin, Otoe, Paakantyi, Paiute, Pala Mission, Papago,
Pawnee, Pazyryk, Pechango, Penan, Piegan, Pima, Pitt River, Ponca, Potowatomie, Prussian,
Pueblo, Puyallup, Qiang, Quileute, Quinault, Red Cliff Chippewa, Red Lake Chippewa,
Redwood, Rincon, Sac, Saisiyat, Sakuddeis, Salish, Salt River, Samish, Samoan, Samogitian,
San Carlos Apache, San Idlefonso, San Juan, San Poil, Santa Clara, Sartar, Sauk-Suiattle,
Selonian, Semigolian, Seminole, Senecan, Sephardim, Serano, Serb, Shasta, Shawnee, Shiite,
Shinnecock, Shoalwater Bay, Shoshone, Sikh, Siletz, Silures, Sinhalese, Sioux, Siskiyou,
Sisseton, Siuslaw, Skalvian, S'Klallam, Skokomish, Skyomish, Slovene, Snohomish,
Snoqualmie, Soboba, Southern Cheyenne, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Steilacoom, Stillaquamish,
Stockbridge, Sunni, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tadjik, Takhayuna, Tala, Talastari, Tamil,
Tanaina, Taos, Tarim, Tasman, Tatar, Tesuque, Tlingit, Toltec,
Tpe-ttckie-dhidie-Kouttchin, Tranjik-Kutchin, Truk, Tukkutih-Kutchin, Tulalip, Tungus,
Turtle Mountain, Tuscarora, Turk, Turkmen, Tutsi, Ugalakmiut, Uintah, Umatilla, Umatilla,
Umpqua, Uncompagre, U-nung 'un, Upper Skagit, Ute, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Viking,
Vunta-Kutchin, Wahpeton, Walla Walla, Wasco, Wembawemba, White Mountain Apache, Wichita,
Wik-ungkan, Winnebago, Wiradjuri, Wylackie, Xhosa, Yahi, Yakama, Yakima, Yakut, Yanamamo,
Yankton Sioux, Yanktonai Sioux, Yellowknife, Yindjibarnd, Youkon Louchioux, Yukaghir,
Yukonikhotana, Yullit, Yuma, Zjen-ta-Kouttchin, Zulu, et al., ad infinitum del mundi.
Just when we're going to be able to fit all of this into the science curricula and still
get to any real science is, of course, a yet to be addressed question; particularly by the
Secondly, when creationists try to procure "balanced treatment", they often
try and do this by attacking evolution; an utterly fallacious endeavour (see #27: the
False Dilemma [a.k.a., bifurcation fallacy]). The status quo now, in the science
classroom, is that evolution is "in" and creationism is "out".
What the creationists so desperately desire is to overthrow that status quo and retread it
to read: evolution "in", creationism "in". But notice what a
precedence this sets.
The status of evolution remains unchanged!
In both cases, it is "in".
Now we can see just how truly unfounded and fundamentally inane are creationist attacks
on evolution. By their own admission, in striving for balanced treatment, they are not
trying to oust evolution (balanced = equal for both); therefore anything that the
creationists have to offer must be defending or supporting creationism, on a scientific
(definitely not religious) basis; and not an attack on evolution (however specious or
irrelevant), for it's not the status of evolution that they're trying to change, but
rather the status of creationism.
In fact, must exclude itself from this realm. Evolution, as all science, must depend on
exactly less than one miracle. No God(s) required nor desired.
21. does not claim that "Man came from apes":
Only misinformed types, typically with a single-edged doctrinal axe to grind, maintain
this. In fact, it is about as matchless a "straw-man" argument as can be
constructed. The facts of the matter are that evolutionary theories maintain that humans
and the great apes share a common ancestor. Nowhere is the claim made that "man
evolved from apes"; and no evolutionary theorist makes such a claim.
This is due, in my opinion, to the abysmal lack of scientific comprehension in the world
today (fully 95% of Americans can be said to be scientifically illiterate (Science, 1986)
[Citation is in error. See follow-up later in this text. Correct citation is: Hively,
1988]), the "bad press" received by science in the media and the
pseudoscientific pap they present under the guise of science; the generally poor
reputation of science and scientists by non-scientists ("Science geeks",
"math is too hard," "Why the hell should I care that the Cambrian began 560
MYA? Will that earn me $ 150K a year?" and the like), deliberate misinformation
(finger pointed squarely at the so-called "Scientific" Creationists and their
thinly disguised anti-and pseudoscientific agenda, J'accuse!), and a failing of the
scientific community in relating the incredible vistas, amazing worlds (past and present)
and life-enriching fulfillment of our calling to those who are not scientists.
Although, in the final case there may be certain reasons for scientists not wanting to
discourse with non-scientists. For his efforts in "enlightening the masses", the
late Carl Sagan of Cornell University was branded the "evolutionary god-papa of
science", "that atheist Sagan" and "Sagan is probably a
communist" by none other than good old Henry Morris of the Institute for
Creation Research. Similar inanities and ad hominems are heaped upon Richard
Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, and a host of other scientists who try and
keep science in the public eye. Can one scarcely blame science for refusing to cast
"pearls before swine"?
22. Evolution is not progress:
Organisms simply adapt to their current surroundings and do not necessarily become
"better" over time. A trait or strategy that is successful at one time may be
deleterious at another. Studies in yeast have shown that "more evolved" strains
of yeast can be competitively inferior to "less evolved" strains. An organism's
success depends a great deal on the behaviour of its contemporaries; for most traits or
behaviors there is likely no optimal design or strategy, only contingent ones.
23. has not, will not and cannot be proven:
There is a type of epistemological argument contra evolution.
Science maintain that nothing in science can ever be "proven" and this
includes evolution. Semantics aside, "proof" and "proving" are not
something done in science. As the old saying goes: "Proof is for alcohol and
mathematics"; natural science deals not with proof, but rather evidence.
This is another distinction of science.
Continuing, the probability that evolution is the correct explanation of life as we know
it may approach 99.9999...% but it will never be 100%. Some would contend that this would
lead to the conclusion that evolution cannot be a fact (see #1). This kind of argument
might be appropriate in a philosophy class but it won't do in the real world. A
"fact", as Stephen J. Gould pointed out (see above), means something that is so
highly probable that it would be silly not to accept it. This point has also been made by
others who contest the nit-picking epistemologists:
"The honest scientist, like the philosopher, will tell you that nothing
whatever can be or has been proved with fully 100% certainty, not even that you or I
exist, nor anyone except himself, since he might be dreaming the whole thing. Thus there
is no sharp line between speculation, hypothesis, theory, principle, and fact, but only a
difference along a sliding scale, in the degree of probability of the idea. When we say a
thing is a fact, then, we only mean that its probability is an extremely high one: so high
that we are not bothered by doubt about it and are ready to act accordingly.
"Now in this use of the term fact, the only proper one, evolution is a fact.
For the evidence in favor of it is as voluminous, diverse, and convincing as in the case
of any other well established fact of science concerning the existence of things that
cannot be directly seen, such as atoms, neutrons, or solar gravitation ....
"So enormous, ramifying, and consistent has the evidence for evolution become
that if anyone could now disprove it, I should have my conception of the orderliness of
the universe so shaken as to lead me to doubt even my own existence. If you like, then, I
will grant you that in an absolute sense evolution is not a fact, or rather, that it is no
more a fact than that you are hearing or reading these words."
H. J. Muller, "One Hundred Years Without Darwin Are Enough" School
Science and Mathematics 59, 304-305. (1959)
In all aspects of evolution, natural laws and principles can explain what has occurred.
These influences act as a controlling force that guides evolution to predictable outcomes.
Evolution (at the molecular level) abides by the laws of chemical reactions (i.e.,
chemistry and physics) which can produce complicated organic molecules naturally (we have
witnessed this in the laboratory). Organic evolution is directed by biological principles
such as natural selection and genetics, which again we have observed in the laboratory.
The odds are, at the moment of conception, over 70,000,000,000,000 (7.0x1013)
to one that your genes will not come together in the combination now in your body.
However, you are here and it was all controlled by the principles of genetics. Natural
forces and laws govern and direct evolution, not "blind chance."
- 24. Is not random nor relies on "blind chance":
25. does not violate the second law of thermodynamics:
There has been much written regarding the old canard that "evolution is impossible
because it violates the second law of thermodynamics". This is utter cod swallop.
Typically, if pressed, the individual making such a claim will mutter something about
"everything in the universe tends toward chaos" and "you cannot derive
order from disorder". This evidences not a problem with evolution, but a deep lack of
understanding of basic science by the accuser.
Simply put, the second law of thermodynamics states that in a closed system, "No
process is possible in which the sole result is the transfer of energy from a cooler to a
hotter body." [Atkins, 1984, "The Second Law", p. 25]. Another way of
stating this is that the entropy of a closed system cannot decrease. Entropy is an
indication of unusable energy and frequently corresponds to intuitive notions of disorder,
or randomness order, of systems which will not spontaneously increase. One may ask
"What does this have to do with evolution?", and well one might. Where it does
is in the creationist caricature of the second law where they, in their sophomoric
simplicity, claim that evolution derives order from disorder; and that is in violation of
the second law?
What creationists fail to note (whether out of ignorance or duplicity, one cannot
reliably say, although it's probably both) is that the Earth and it's life are not a
closed system. All they would need to do is arise early some morning, and face due east.
Do they see that large, luminous ball of fusing hydrogen and helium hanging in the sky?
Creationists sometimes try to weasel around this by claiming that the information
carried by living things lets them create order. However, not only is life irrelevant to
the second law, but order from disorder is exceedingly common in nonliving systems, too.
Snowflakes, sand dunes, tornadoes, crystal growth, stalactites, graded river beds, and
lightning are just a few examples of order coming from disorder in nature; none require an
intelligent program to achieve that order. In any nontrivial system with energy flowing
through it, you are almost certain to find order arising somewhere in the system. If order
from disorder is supposed to violate the second law of thermodynamics, why is it
ubiquitous in nature?
One final "argument" creationists pose is that the only true closed system is
the Universe itself; therefore evolution, taking place in that universe, violates the
second law. Well, for reasons stated above, this is totally a fallacious claim. Regions of
high energy flow can increase order at the expense of apparent disorder. Further, the
solar system (of which the Earth-Sun portion thereof is with what we are currently
concerned) is not immortal nor infinite. One day, our sun will consume most all of it's
nuclear fuel (in 5 or so billion years, so not to worry...yet), will go "red
giant" and consume Mercury, Venus and quite possibly the Earth. If not consumed in
this phase of stellar evolution, the Earth's oceans and atmosphere will be boiled off into
space and the Earth itself left a charred, cold, very dead world. The bloated sun will
consume the remainder of it's nuclear fuel in a very profligate manner, spend itself and
finally "wink-out", to become a dense, dead cinder in this region of space.
Thermodynamics wins again, and the entropy bill for the Sun-Earth system will be paid in
Now, can the creationists out there answer how creation can be valid when it violates
the very first law of thermodynamics...where matter can neither be created nor destroyed?
Remember: "God did it." is not a valid hypothesis.
26. Does not deny God(s):
There is no reason to "believe" that God was not a guiding force behind
evolution. While it does contradict some specific interpretations of God, especially ones
requiring a literal interpretation of Genesis 1, few people have this narrow view of God.
There are many people who "believe" in the existence of God and in evolution.
Common descent could then describe the process used by God.
But more fundamentally, it is fallacious to utilize the terms "belief" and
"believe" in natural science. Belief requires faith. Faith is accepting that
which is unevidenced or which cannot be evidenced, typically without question. These
concepts are totally alien and inimical to the mode, methods and machinations of science
and the scientific method. Certainly, scientists may "believe" and hold beliefs;
but when they speak of them, in whatever context, they are speaking of a personal
prejudice (yes, remember that they are also human; and therefore just as subject to human
foibles as any other); they are not speaking of science.
As far as science is concerned, it cares not one whit what you believe, but cares
infinitely more about what you think. Anyone can have and hold beliefs; although it is
vastly more difficult, but infinitely more rewarding, to have thoughts.
27. And finally: Falsifying evolution does not "prove" Creation:
This is known as the "False Dilemma"; inasmuch as this argument (again,
tremendously fallacious) claims that there are only two possible explanations for a
certain circumstance, in this case the diversity of life on Earth; that is evolution or
special creation. Some maintain that if evolution is shown to be in error (this itself is
an erroneous supposition, for evolution is an observed fact; although theories of
evolution could be shown to be erroneous and therefore would require re-analysis and
possible abandonment of that particular theory of evolution, as was done with
Lamarkianism), that this would automatically prove creationism. I think that if the gentle
reader has slogged though all this thus far, we need not once again note the multiple
errors of that conclusion.
It can be demonstrated that there could be another possible explanation
for the diversity of life on Earth, viz. for your reading pleasure:
THE LGM UNIDIRECTED PANSPERMIA, THE EARTH IS JUST ONE BIG TEST-TUBE FOR
You see, the "One, True" theory is this: that the Earth over the span of
geological time (beginning just about 3.75 BYOSA [Billion Years Or So Ago]) was visited by
a race of extremely patient extraterrestrial genetic bioengineers from the Dinwoody
Cluster in the galaxy of Archeocetus.
Being relatively new to both space travel, blackholes, warp drives, and recombinant DNA;
they decided to start small...proteinoid microspheres, protobioinformational
macromolecules, paleoarcheviri...you know, simple critters. Dump 'em in the ocean, give
'em a stir and stand back to watch.
Sort of a galactic sized ant-farm (of course, ants wouldn't show up until the Cenozoic;
they're a late model addition). Occasionally, back on Arglebargle 4 (their home base), an
Arglebarglian equivalent of an Einstein would show up at their tri-century geneticfests
and show off his new invention.
The greatly revered Warroona (a state hero and developer of in situ-in vitro
protoretroviri) came up with the idea of external protection for creatures.
This was too good to pass up. After all the diddling around with multiple appendages, a
stab at sexual reproduction (a fairly good idea, as it turned out) and colonial critters;
the Arglebarglians "Strangeloved" the entire Earth (our naively so-called
"extinctions") to pave the way for Warroona's great next experiment.
It worked out great. Hoards of shelled, frustruled and carapaced critters skittered
about and littered the ocean floor. And in the nutrient rich broth called
"seawater", they flourished. Unfortunately, the Arglebarglians didn't account
for plant life (seems that archealga were merely an embarrassing by-product of one of
their ships flushing out it's bilges before a return trip home), and this stuff was taking
over. So much, in fact, that it changed the composition of the early atmosphere from
reducing to oxidizing (by, of all things, by-products from their metabolism) and now was
thinking about taking over the great unwashed plains that stuck nudely out of the oceans.
So, a pattern started to develop. Approximately every 22.6 MY or so, some bright, young
Arglebarglian bioengineer would come up with some great, new innovation. Wanting to be
first on the scene with such new advances, the Arglebarglians would turn their "death
ray" on the Earth, and, again, "Strangelove" the planet. Although competent
(and terribly patient) bioengineers, they were not overly good mechanical engineers.
Their Strangelove ray would at times be set too high (like the time 245 MYA, damn near
took out everything), or too low (like 345 MYA, when the placoderms bought the proverbial
ranch). But, it worked well enough for their purposes (they themselves evolved a culture
that existed only for per diems, frequent flyer miles and a trophism for spaceport bars;
but that IS another story) and their experiments progressed nicely.
New, young, bright AG [Hey, let's shorthand these guys.-ed.] bioengineers came up with
the most improbable contrivances to give a whirl on their test-tube planet. Amphibians
("Water: Don't leave home without it.") to let animals conquer dry land (hey,
the plants snuck out first...those slimes), the amniote egg, and other such innovations.
Then things went into high gear. More and more AG's were turning to Earth and it's
growing ecology because it was (1.) a high profile project, (2.) chock full of new
critters to mess with and (3.) a great way to milk research grants, expense-paid
vacations, junkets with their comely secretaries, and tenure out of universities.
So, all in all, the pace of innovation accelerated. "Hey. Here's a trick we've
never tried", remarked on particularly bright AG bioengineer after a frat party,
"Let's take one of those scale covered, toothy characters and make 'em walk on
[<hee, hee, get this>] their hind legs..."
"Wow!", remarked his frat buddies in a haze and din of alcoholic approval,
"What a great idea."
Next came opposable digits, motile hands, encephalization and, of course, a refined
bipedal stance. No, we're not to ol' Homo sap. yet. We're discussing archosaurians
here. Dinosaurs, gang. They beat us humans to the advanced-trait punch by over 100 MY.
Things were going swimmingly for the AG's and their experiments, particularly
ichthyosaurs and mosasaurs...Fewer and fewer Strangelove episodes were necessary as they
were content to tinker and fiddle with what was already available. Experiments included
gigantothermy, facilitated endothermy, opportunism, gigantism, dental differentiation;
experimenta ad infinitum. After a while, they noticed some smaller critters shivering in
the cool polar nights, what with their naked skin and all, so feathers were developed as
insulation. After yet another frat party, these feathers were noticed to be good for
snaring bugs (a mistake that the AG's never caught). They also were aerodynamic. The bugs
had flight, the pterosaurs (custom designed (by committee) after an intense 12 kegger frat
party) had flight; why not little, feathered, flying dinosaurs?
All the while, one meek little AG bioengineer (who was never invited to frat parties)
was told to get after the Terran bug problem. All of the frat guys were working on the
high-profile (and typically large, noisy and fierce) archosaurs. Being a mousy sort of
person himself, he took a totally different tack. He fashioned little, hyperactive
They were small, though fairly buzzed on a terribly high metabolic rate; fueled by, yep,
you guessed it, insects. They had to be insulated (again, naked skin was de rigeur for the
AG engineers). Feathers were already in use, so something new had to be used. Fur made
it's first appearance.
With all the archosaurs stomping around, it's good that the first mammals were small.
They, by necessity, were also nocturnal, as most larger archosaurian predators were
diurnal. Accordingly, their senses intensified and expanded, by necessity. Larger
olfactory lobes, large eyes with color stereoscopic binocular vision, hand [paw]/eye
All was moving right along for the AG engineers. Oh, sure, there was the occasional
cosmic conflicts; but comets, asteroids and the like plopped onto the Earth so
infrequently that they weren't paid much mind. Besides, with Utahraptor, Tarbosaurus
and Carnotaurus to play with, why worry about dirty cosmic ice-balls and hunks of
rather unremarkable rock tumbling around the solar system?
After the "Big One" of 65 MYA, the Arglebargian bioengineers were most
distraught. They were having trouble with their dinosaurian clans already, and the whole
of the biosystem of the Earth was out of whack. Mountains were rising, epeiric seas
draining, temperature cooling globally, then the "Big One". Killed every blessed
<wink> creature over 25 kg in mass. That did not leave the AG's much to work with.
They tried an early dalliance with birds. Huge flightless carnivorous ratites were given
the go ahead. After only a few million years (due to the K/T debacle being still fresh in
the powers-that-be's minds), the program was scrapped. What was left to work with?
"Well, there are the furballs", remarked one AG engineer, again one never
invited to frat parties.
Grudgingly, the elders consented and soon grant proposals and all sorts of experiments
Hooves, claws, extensible tongues, protrusible lips, prehensile tails... all given the
After myriad mammals marched across the face of the Earth, the elders again grew
restive. '*YAWN*', commented one elder, secretly yearning for the good, old days.
'Remember the Late Cretaceous? Now *THERE* was a time!'. Hearing this was an upstart AG
bioengineer who was also keen on ancient history books. "Late Cretaceous "eh?
What was so special about that time and those critters...?'
His proposal for mammalian bipedalism, opposable digits, and increased encephalization
was greeted with mixed results.
"Nahhh. We tried that once. Worked great, but remember what happened?"
"But this time is different!', protested the engineer. "These critters are
already insulated, have a lower species and generic diversity and live in protected
environments...[turning to an aid...what's that called again? Oh, yes...], in
"Nahhh...once burnt, twice learnt. I know, let's make something new.
With...pouches...webbed feet...poison glands!" exclaimed the elder after a 6 martini
In the end, both projects were funded, but as pilot projects. One on an island
continent, the other on a larger continent next-door. Here, the AG's screwed up, for the
first project had been started on the sly millions of years earlier over in the old
Gondwana continents. But even the AG's were surprised by the rapid takeoff of the African
But, by this time, after all the 6 martini lunches and herds of tenured professors
roaming the steppes of their home planet, the AG were in a bit of their own fix. Things at
home were getting very messy indeed and a bit of housecleaning was in order. They weren't
able to check their charges for a couple of million years.
When they finally returned, and saw what had happened to their project planet, they
blanched. Never before had they seen a species spread like such wildfire over the face of
a planet. In every niche, cranny, and environment. And, they had developed technology,
science and civilization.
Unfortunately, they had their scopes set upon the noisome twee little burg of El Cajon,
Ca., upon an even more noisome group called the Institute for Creation
Research. Investigating deeper, they noted there the worship of an ancient
tome of Middle Eastern mythology, a total disdain for logic and reason, a penchant for out
of context quoting, deliberate misrepresentations and out-and-out lies; all in the name of
some "omnipresent", but strangely absent, deity.
After seeing all this, the AG's decided to give up 6 martini lunches, mothball the
current project and return to Arglebargle to see if they could milk grants out of the
system on another, perhaps more promising, planet. One not quite so far out in the
backwaters of some distant, and rather prosaic, galaxy...far, far away...
Well, there you have it. The LGM theory. Neither evolution nor creation, but consistent
with the fossil record and entirely plausible.
Unfortunately, it is not testable, falsifiable nor predictive. These are the attributes
it shares with creationism.
It does though contain exactly <1 miracle and <1 deity, attributes it does not
share with creationism.
And thus endeth the lesson.
This material is copyright (c) M.R. Leipzig, 1997-1999. All rights reserved. This
article contains numerous references and copious original material. If a reference has not
been cited, or cited improperly, please comment to the author Leipzig@qgpc.com.qa or email@example.com so that proper citation may
be attained in future editions of this work.
Permission is granted for electronic storage, dissemination and telecommunication
as long as citations remains intact.
I wish to thank Fred and David Rice, Dr. Martin Goldberg, Dr. Don Martin, 'Hector
Plasmic', Dan Ceppa, Marilyn Burge, Judith Bandsma, Karl Schneider, and all the other
WOA's of the FIDONET HolySmoke Echo; Wes Elsberry at the University of Ediacara, those at
the Skeptic Tank, the creators and authors of the First Amendment, and frenzied,
fulminating fundies the world over; without which whom this article would not and could
not have been possible.
Addendum: unattested reference in Evolution FAQ
Date: 5/25/98 8:52 AM
Subject: Unattested reference in Evolution FAQ
Reply, part 2. (J.M. Mahoney, Ph.D.)
> There is a missing reference that is of some importance.
> On page 13 of 19, you stated, '95% of Americans can be
> said to be scientifically illiterate (Science, 1986).'
> A more precise reference would be useful for the
> statement, as I am sure it will be a hotpoint for critics
> here in the Bible Belt.
I have done a bit of research concerning that vague "Science, 1986"
reference. I do admit I am in error, not about the 95% scientific illiteracy rate in
America (and other countries, as I found out), but about the original reference. Trust me
to trust my memory and not my archives...
Anyway, the proper citation will read "Hively, 1988", and the reference
is: Hively, Wm., 1988, "How much science does the public understand?" American
Scientist, Sept/Oct, p. 439-444.
This is the article that cited the original 95% scientific illiteracy rate in the
US (and other developed countries, as well). I had also found two references from Science
(perhaps where my confusion arose):
A. Culliton, B.J., 1989, The dismal state of Scientific Literacy, Science, V. 243
B. Byrne, G., 1989, U.S. Students flunk science, math, Science, V. 243
Further, in 1996, Carl Sagan again quoted the "95% scientific illiteracy
rate" in his exceptional book "The Demon Haunted World".
Be that as it may, the correct citation will appear in my Fact FAQ. It is
apparent that even those in the Bible Belt are going to have a tough time trying to refute
the "95%" statement.
The citation error is, of course, mine (although I never claimed inerrancy...).
But, isn't that one of the hallmarks of science? Peer-review and correction. It will soon
be [and has been ed.] rectified.
A sincere "thank you" for your review and suggestion.