Action & Reaction - December 1999

We Are Bad Mutations

Last month we found this in our e-mail box.

Subject: Fantastic!!
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 19:13:05 -0500
From: "Steve"
To: <do_while@ridgecrest.ca.us>

Science against evolution.

Reading your pseudo-scientific drivel has PROVEN the case for evolution. Not all the mutations were good. Look how people like you slipped through.

So, we sent him this reply:

From: Do-While Jones
Sent: Thurs., Nov. 11, 1999 10:24 AM
To: Steve
Subject: Re: Fantastic!!

Specifically, what do you find to be in error?

We received this response.

Subject: RE: Fantastic!!
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 12:10:57 -0500
From: "Steve"
To: "Do-While Jones"

Almost everything you have written is simply a pejorative interpretation of pseudo-scientific imagination.

There is not one shred of original research with any data approaching the careful observation of reality. I refer you to ANY of the clearly unconsumed mass of scientific literature in any peer-reviewed journal. However, as someone who appears incapable of correctly interpreting biological or medical scientific data, I doubt you have the desire or capacity to properly devise your hypothesis and render any meaningful empirical data, peer reviewed by objective science.

I am not one who thinks ignorance is bliss.

I also strongly object to the plans to remove a discussion of evolutionary theory in schools. This is one of the most horrendous displays of an almost Nazi suppression of information for the sake of propagating a value belief system based in the ideas of a super-human omnipotent being. A Devine Creator I have always been confused by the prophetic ideation of creationism. If you concede you 'Believe' in creationism, who created the super-human omnipotent being?

I thank you for being so clear in describing just why science is objective, albeit by mistake. You mistake the idea of scientific evidence being Proof. It cannot, by it’s nature be Proof. Even a shallow grounding in any science will clearly show that the only thing science can be SURE about is disproof.

Whilst as a professional scientist, I accept criticism and conflicting empirical evidence of disproof, I also have to answer these criticisms and make an argument, using my empirical evidence. This is a constant, never ending process of science. In your writing your aggressive attempt to ‘prove your case’ has shown an almost dangerous lack of understanding of the scientific process.

When asked “…what is the use of science!”, Michael Faraday answered without hesitation, “What is the use of a new-born child?”

The obvious interpretation of this statement is that Faraday meant that whilst the baby has no use now, it has endless potential in the future.

However, a more complex interpretation might be what is the use of bringing a baby into this world if the only thing is does with it’s life is just believe the past, work and go on living. If everything is judged by how useful it is we are facing a futile circularity.

This is simply my humble opinion.

Steven
B.Sc(Hons).,Ph.D.,C.Biol.,MIBiol.,FIMLS.,FRCPath

We sent Steve this reply:

Subject: Re: Fantastic!!
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 1999 09:32:51 -0800
From: Do-While Jones
To: Steve

We asked for a specific example of factual error. You replied, “Almost everything you have written is simply a pejorative interpretation of pseudo-scientific imagination.” We don’t consider “almost everything” to be very specific.

Although you did not respond to the question we asked, we would like to address some aspects your reply.

We fully understand your annoyance that we do not submit our material for censorship by a peer-review committee. We have read the editorials in the academic journals whining about how the Internet allows information to be disseminated outside their control. Their argument that the unwashed masses are incapable of making decisions for themselves, and therefore need the all-knowing intellectual elite to protect them from dangerous ideas, strikes a familiar chord with us. The same argument was made when the printing press took the publishing monopoly out of the hands of monks and gave it to the general public. We think that the free flow of information was a good thing then, and is still a good thing now. We are sorry that you favor censorship, but you are entitled to your opinion. We understand how frustrating it must be for you to be unable to stop the free flow of information on the Internet, but we aren’t very sympathetic.

We weren’t quite sure what you meant when you said, “I refer you to ANY of the clearly unconsumed mass of scientific literature in any peer-reviewed journal.” At first, we (probably mistakenly) thought that you were complaining that nobody actually reads peer-reviewed journals like Science and Nature--they just leave them out on their coffee tables to impress other people. But then we thought that you were saying that scientific literature is not consumed (that is, read) by Science Against Evolution. If that is what you meant, you must be unfamiliar with our “Evolution in the News” columns. We quote from Science and Nature as well as National Geographic (is NG peer-reviewed?), Scientific American, Science News, Time, and Newsweek on a regular basis. We could not quote them if we did not read them.

Then it became clear that you hadn’t read (or understood) very many of the pages on our web site when you said, “I also strongly object to the plans to remove a discussion of evolutionary theory in schools. This is one of the most horrendous displays of an almost Nazi suppression of information for the sake of propagating a value belief system based in the ideas of a super-human omnipotent being.” What has that got to do with us? We have never advocated removing any discussion of evolutionary theory in schools. In fact, we want the theory of evolution discussed. We want more investigation into it. Surely, that should be apparent from all we have written. How could you have read our web site and gotten the opposite impression? We would really like a specific example. Please quote something we have actually written that advocates elimination of discussion of the theory of evolution in the public schools.

You did bring up an interesting point when you said, “A Devine Creator I have always been confused by the prophetic ideation of creationism. If you concede you 'Believe' in creationism, who created the super-human omnipotent being?” (We presume you meant, “A Divine Creator [period] I have …”)

We try to avoid discussions of creation because our charter is to talk about evolution. But we might be able to justify a word or two here because what you have said is applicable to evolution. Your question implies that Christians have to accept the creation of God by a super-god. If this were a religious web site we might argue that your statement of Christian belief is confused and without Biblical support because the Bible says God is ever-lasting and was not created. But that’s beside the point. The concept that you have so correctly identified is that Christians accept the origin and existence of God by faith without scientific proof. Since they believe that doctrine by faith it is a religious doctrine. In the same way, evolutionists accept the origin of life by unknown natural processes by faith without scientific proof. That makes the theory of evolution religious rather than scientific.

Which brings us to your next claim-that we have “an almost dangerous lack of understanding of the scientific process.” We addressed this in our April 1998 Evolution in the News column entitled “Science or Faith?” Then we addressed it again in January 1999, in the “Astrology and Evolution” essay. In particular, our understanding of the scientific process is in harmony with Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary statement that science is "knowledge concerning general truths or the operation of general laws esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method" where the scientific method is defined to be "principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses". We are aware that Eugenie Scott claims that “science is based not just on observation and experimentation but also on inference.” We consider her view to lack understanding of the scientific process.

Your discussion about Michael Faraday seemed to imply that we think science is useless. (Anyway, that’s what we think your point is. We admit we aren’t really sure what your point is.) We wonder how you could have read very many of our pages and come to this conclusion. In particular, you must not have read our reasons why “Everyone Should Join”, which says (in part),

“But the general public still believes that the riddles of life have been solved. As long as they believe this, it will be hard to get funding for scientific research in these areas. That's why scientists without any particular religious background should help Science Against Evolution turn the tide of public opinion. The public won't support efforts to solve any problem as long as they think that the problem has already been solved.”

We try to tell the general public about the wonderful things being discovered by astronomical and DNA research because we hope it will encourage funding of these projects. Granted, we think SETI is a waste of time and money, but we enthusiastically support most other areas of scientific research.

The “Everyone Should Join” page tells what we do, then says, “These are our ways of encouraging scientific research to see if there are any better naturalistic explanations for the origin and diversity of life on Earth than the implausible theory of evolution. If there really is a credible naturalistic explanation, don't you think we should try to find it? If there isn't any reasonable naturalistic explanation, isn't that important to know, too?”

Those are specific things we have written encouraging scientific investigation. Can you quote anything from any of our web pages that discourages scientific pursuit of the truth. (Other than SETI, of course, which is arguably “scientific”.)

We are sorry, but we can’t help but think that you didn’t bother to read anything we wrote. It appears that you just fired off a flame at every place you thought was a creationist web site. When we responded to your flame with an honest inquiry of what you found to be in error, you attacked positions we don’t support. The most logical assumption for us to make is that you have a prejudiced idea about what we stand for, and didn’t even bother to check your facts.

Let us make this perfectly clear. We don’t support the removal of discussion of evolution from public schools. We don’t oppose scientific investigation. We do read peer-reviewed technical journals and comment on them. (There is so much to comment on that the material is going into our editorial queue faster than we can take it out, so we are getting a little bit behind. We certainly won’t run out of material for a long, long time.)

We hope that you will actually read some of our web pages before writing to us again.

Sincerely,

R. David Pogge

We have not received a response. An apology would be nice, but we don’t really expect one.

Quick links to
Science Against Evolution
Home page
Back issues of
Disclosure
(our newsletter)
Web Site
of the Month
Topical Index