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23 May 01
Dear Dr. Lee Spetner,
Thank you for your detailed reply and your information in your last email.
Before continuing with the point-by-point reply, one of the biggest 'misunderstandings'/'disagreements' must be removed. Without removing this obstacle there can be no progress in our discussion. I think it can be solved. I quote:
Consider the following statements:
Of course one does not observe a theory.
Of course neither evolution nor Creation have been observed!
Of course you did not observe your own brain with your own eyes! Your reply beautifully demonstrates my point. You made an inference presumably based upon knowledge of brain surgeons and pathologists as represented by photographs or drawings in textbooks plus a lot of biological knowledge about how similar humans are 'constructed'/'created', etc. But you did not refer to a visual inspection of your own brain with your own eyes. What I am saying is that even something so close to your self is inferred, not observed.
Of course evolution of all life from the first living cell, a process of a few billion years, has not been observed! It looks as if you want to turn this into an objection against the existence of evolution. That logic equally dismisses 'Creation' because no human being observed a Creator creating the world. But the logic is wrong.
Lee, the observation that has to be explained is not 'Evolution-A', but a million of species on our planet. The primary fact in the study of life is the existence of millions of living and extinct species. My impression is that by your eagerness to refute neo-Darwinism, the wish to have a complete alternative theory, the wish to stay within the boundaries of science, plus your religious belief in Creation, you are driven to define out of existence the central problem of biology: the existence of a million species. Alternatively it could be that you are commenting on evolutionists claiming that 'evolution is a fact', which is indeed a confusing statement.
The authors of Creation myths knew the basic observaton, although, significantly, they underestimated the number of species by a few orders of magnitude. The observation of the million species is the starting point for creationists and evolutionists. This observation predated the Creation/Evolution Controversy, predated Darwin and even predated Linnaeus. Darwin explained this observation by Common Descent (CD) of all life. You focus on neo-Darwinism. Great! Significant! Important! Relevant! The point however is that you overlook that:
Neo-Darwinism is about mechanism(s). Evolution and CD are about the million species and the pattern of similarities/continuities and dissimilarities/discontinuities they display. The principle of Common Descent is independent of the mechanism of evolution. CD without a mechanism would be less convincing, but it still is a breath-taking revolutionary idea in the history of biology. CD is the most parsimonious explanation for the existence of all the current and extinct millions of species and their properties, including humans. There is no rival principle equal in force, internal consistency and coherence (3). Alternatives such as most creationist variants are hybrids between 'creation' and 'micro-evolution'. That means a lot of creation mixed with a little bit of 'micro-evolution'. That takes me to:
Anyway life on Earth is a whole, a unity because of the identical genetic code (discovered in the sixties) of all life (see for a short description: review of Remine). The parsimony explanation (see for a short description of the parsimony principle: review of Henry Gee) and unity of all life taken together are sufficient to accept Common Descent of all life on Earth. Everybody who rejects CD faces a huge task of demonstrating real discontinuities despite the (unnecessary on creationist accounts) genetic and chemical unity of life on Earth. The most convincing evidence for independent creation would be that every independently created organism had a different genetic code (means: not genes but one of the many ways proteins can be encoded in DNA). Nobody did this so far in a serious way (including all the consequences). Every such discontinuity decision will face a priori many insuperable difficulties: why the genetic code of those separated organisms is (unnecessarily) the same; why there are so many (unnecessarily) genetic similarities between those species just separated; why organisms should (unnecessarily) have exactly the same 4 DNA bases; why (unnecessarily) exactly the same helix structure of their DNA. I am glad that I don't have to explain the consequences of a rejection of CD. A creationist has to explain all this. That's why my questions (in my previous reply) are relevant:
Any theory that does not explain the million species on Earth, is incomplete. So if you don't have a theory within the domain of science to explain the million of species, you fail.
The point of all this is to distinguish CD from neo-Darwinism, and to point out the basic observation in biology that has to be explained.
I stop here for the moment. I do have a couple of other urgent questions for you, but I think it is wise to keep them for the next time. The issues in this letter needed to be addressed first, in order to make any progress in our discussion. All is serious, relevant and honest. I hope I will learn from your reply soon.
PostscriptFootnotes 2-6 have been added after 23 May 2001.
I am still waiting for Spetner's reply. I contacted him a few times. [5 Aug 2002]
I waited now for more than 1,5 year and no response from Spetner. I conclude without hesitation that Spetner has no answer. [added 12 Dec 2002]
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