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Was Darwin Wrong?
A selection of emails from visitors of the site

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DATE:15 Jun 2001
document
From: Robert Koepp
Subject: Crick's Central Dogma

Greetings Gert -
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my earlier message. I certainly didn't expect you to revise your review - but the fact that you did speaks volumes about your personal and intellectual integrity!

On a historical note, when Crick introduced the central dogma in his paper "On Protein Synthesis", he did not actually claim that information flow followed the DNA - -> RNA - -> Protein schema. This was the interpretation (actually mis-interpretation) given to the CD by others. Unfortunately, the misinterpretation has become the standard presentation in biology texts. Actually, in that paper Crick stated explicitly that the CD meant that sequence information could not flow from proteins to nucleic acids. When reverse transcriptase was discovered in 1970, Crick wrote a short paper to explain that this discovery did not require any revision of the CD. Here are references for the two papers I've mentioned:
Crick, F.H.C. (1958) On Protein Synthesis. in Symp. Soc. Exp. Biol. XII, 139-163.
Crick, F. (1970) Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. Nature 227, 561-563.

Once again, thank you for your gracious response to my remarks about your review of the Steele, et al book. I want you to know that yours is the only review I have seen of that book that outlined its central arguments with sufficient clarity that I want to read it myself.

Yours -
Bob Koepp
Bob Koepp, IRB Res Coord         612-813-6391 (Mpls)
Hematology/Oncology Clinic       651-220-6061 (StP)
Children's Hospitals & Clinics   612-813-6325 (fax)
2525 Chicago Ave So; Ste 4150    
Minneapolis, MN  55404

DATE: 26 Apr 01
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From: Jack Haas
SUBJECT: The Dover Book

Hello,

Mr. Korthof:

I was assigned to review "Dear Mr. Darwin" for Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. After viewing your review I am convinced that you have it right-on. So.......Could we use your review in our journal? -as is. Information about the American Scientific Affiliation and PSCF can be obtained from: http://www.asa3.org
Thank you

Jack Haas

DATE: 28 Apr 01
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From: Jack Haas
SUBJECT: Re: The Dover Book

Gert:

Thank you for the permission to use your review.
Actually what you see on our web site is what has been published in the paper edition of our quarterly PSCF.

Would you send me a mailing address that I can use for the article and also to send you a hard copy of the issue in which the review is published.

Thanks for your good help.

Sincerely,

Jack Haas
ASA Web Editor

DATE: 17 Apr 01
document
From: Dave Mullenix
SUBJECT: Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells

Hello,

Thanks for your fascinating site. I can't stop reading it!
I notice that you haven't reviewed "Icons of Evolution" yet. This book is creating quite a stir in the US, as Intelligent Designers and plain old Creationists are vigorously promoting it. Or at least they were, until they learned that Wells is a Mooney. The IDers and especially the Creationists consider the Unification church as basically an arm of Satan and now there are many red faces amongst the American anti-evolutionists who were promoting his ideas.
If you do decide to review "Icons", you might want to check out some of the things Wells has posted to this web site:
http://www.tparents.org/Library/Unification/Talks/Wells/0-Toc.htm
I found this entry particularly interesting:
"So DNA does not program the development of the embryo."
This is from
http://www.tparents.org/Library/Unification/Talks/Wells/DARWIN.htm
which is titled "Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D." on the first URL above. If you read it, you'll find that the quotation above is NOT taken out of context and that Wells really means it!
Thanks again for all your hard work,

Dave Mullenix

Thanks for your email and your information about Mr Wells which is new to me. I read the 2e page. If Mr Wells claims there are errors in the textbooks of evolution, then Mr Wells should ask the publishers of those textbooks to correct the errors. I am sure they will correct errors, but I am not so sure if Mr Wells is willing to correct errors in the Bible. For example will he correct the claim that water can be transformed into wine? To my knowledge nobody has ever reproduced this experiment or even tried to repeat it. Is that not enough reason to remove this claim from the Bible? in order to prevent children being told this unsubstantiated claim? And this is relatively an innocent claim.
"So DNA does not program the development of the embryo"; "The floor plan and many of the assembly instructions reside elsewhere (nobody yet knows where)" Wells clearly did not read Walter Gehring: "Master Control Genes in Development and Evolution". There you find hard, exciting and the latest evidence about "the floor plan" of animals! how genes make the body plan of animals! Clearly scientists today know how development is controlled by genes. It is a mystery why Wells does not know this. The information is available in popular science books! If you are interested in developmental biology and refuting Wells you must read Gehring. If you need education you must read: Enrico Coen: "The Art of Genes. How organisms make themselves". It is splendid in education.
Reviews of "Icons of Evolution":
[GK]

DATE: 22 Feb 01
document
FROM: Stephen Yuan
SUBJECT: have you seen this?

Two articles, one claiming the Human Genome Project vindicates Darwinism, and one claiming it does not. I tend toward the latter view myself.

Arthur Caplan: 'Darwin vindicated!' Cracking of human genome confirms theory of evolution.
Mark Hartwig: The end of creationism? The Human Genome Project poses a threat...


Stephen Yuan

Hartwig's article has no publication date, but is of August 2000, as pointed out to me by Enézio E. de Almeida Filho. So as an assessment of the results of the Human Genome Project it is worthless, because the reports of the HGP were published in the week of 12 Feb 2001 (12 Feb is Darwin's birthday) in Science and Nature. Hartwig criticises Baltimore's conclusion of common descent (he does not tell us about his own theory!). If similarity of genes in different organisms did not arise from common descent, then the only alternative explanation is that each similar gene is independently created from scratch, which is a severe insult to the designer's intelligence. Such a designer could as well create every individual out of nothing. Both Caplan and Hartwig are unbalanced.
The 2 publications of the Human Genome Project are:
  1. J. Craig Venter et al: "The Sequence of the Human Genome", Science 16 Feb 2001: 1304-1351.
  2. The International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium: "Initial sequencing and analysis of the human genome", Nature 409, p860 - 921 (2001) 15 Feb 2001
These articles together count about a hundred pages and are highly technical, but are accompanied by abstracts and News & Views articles. Anyone who wants to learn the lessons from the Human Genome and wants to write about it cannot escape to read those articles. I mention only a few of the many News & Views articles: and 4 books:
  • "The Human Genome" edited by Carina Dennis (Nature Publishing Group, Palgrave, 2001). This book contains the Nature articles and several introductions.
  • Kevin Davies(2000): "Cracking the Genome" (USA title) or: "The Sequence. Inside the Race for the Human Genome." (UK title). The book was published before Feb 2001. A new edition will be published with Epilogue.)
  • Nicholas Wade(2001): "Life Script: How the Human Genome Discoveries Will Transform Medicine and Enhance Your Health". 208pp. Simon & Shuster. This book is reviewed in Nature 415, 736, 2002.
  • Lynn Helena Caporale(2003): "Darwin in the Genome. Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution", McGraw-Hill, hardback, 246 pp. (very good)
[GK, 25 Mar 01, updated 16 Feb 2002; 14 Mar 2003]

DATE:13 Feb01
document
From: Melissa Randy
Subject: "Was Darwin Wrong"

Dear Mr. Gert Korthof,
I was visiting your web site "Was Darwin Wrong". I think it is a very comprehensive and objective one, with all the well known books about this topic. I would like to suggest you another book on criticism of Darwinism: "The Evolution Deceit" by Harun Yahya. I guess this is the pen name of a well known Turkish writer. I had 2 copies of this book by chance, and before reading the book I was thinking that the evolution theory is an unquestionable scientific fact. I think the book is very satisfying in terms of the scientific evidences and also rationality. You don't see the classic radical arguments and style of the Creationists. This is a scientific and rational one. This writer has a web site in English, may be you can visit that site to get some idea: http://www.harunyahya.org/Eng/homeeng.html

Melissa Randy


Thanks. No need to send the book, it's full text on his site. I read the introduction. It is on the same level as Young-Earth Creationists. There are far better books than his to spend your time on. These are the words he uses in his introduction: "Deceit", "dishonest philosophy', "bogus views", "Karl Marx","evolution is simply a lie". Would you spend your time on a stranger who calls you a liar? Would you attack the atom theory because of the atomic bomb? All the reviewed books on my site are of a higher level and quality than his. [GK]

DATE: 07 Feb 01
document
From: stephen yuan
Subject: my compliments

As a layman who has long been curious about evolutionary theory and the validity of neo-darwinism both within and outside of the domain of biology, I was very impressed with the agglomeration of material I found on your site "Was Darwin Wrong?". It is the most comprehensive information source on the internet about issues in contemporary evolutionary theory I have yet to come across and it is a very rich source of understanding indeed. Thanks for saving me a lot of work.

I suppose you've been flooded with suggestions for additional material for your site. I'll put in my two bits now. Some critics of darwinism have begun to toute chaos theory as a viable theoretical alternative to natural selection. Of these probably the most intellectually imposing is Stephen Wolfram, who is currently at work on a book called "A New Kind of Science" in he proposes a new model for all sciences, including biology. He claims natural selection to be "not that important" for instance. Whether or not these claims are overblown they do merit a serious response. Here is a link to a popular magazine article on wolfram. He also has a personal site in the yahoo directory. Also, for a deeply flawed if entertaining summary of pro-chaos theory perspectives in biology and anti-natural selection arguments, read Robert Wesson's "Beyond Natural Selection".

Stephen Yuan

DATE: 24 Jan 01
document
From: Mike Griffith
Subject: Very Impressive

I am a creationist. I'm very impressed with your site. It's a breath of fresh air. Very readable. Very balanced. Very interesting.
Nice work. Keep it up.

Mike Griffith

DATE: 09 Jan 01
document
From: Dean Overman

Subject: Re: A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization

Dear Mr. Korthof:

I have only had an opportunity to skim your review and note that we could have an interesting discussion on some of the inferences that you draw from my writing. I sit on the board of a Netherlands company so I am frequently in Amsterdam. Perhaps we can have a discussion over lunch in the coming year. In the meantime, I have a couple of questions for you: why are you interested in the subject matter of my book? Could you help me understand what you mean by "creationist?" The term confuses me. Does it have a variety of meanings?

With best regards,

Dean

15 Jan 2001
Dear Mr Overman,

Your first question:
1) Because the book looked to me a focussed attack on matters that are a natural part of my worldview and education. So I was curious to see why somebody would go so far to write a book against it and *how* it is done. A year before I read and reviewed Kauffman (about complexity and auto-catalysis) and I was impressed and got interested in complexity. Before that I became fascinated by 'fine-tuning' by reading Barrow & Tipler (see review). Further I read and reviewed Denton's Nature's Destiny (also about fine tuning). So naturally I got intrigued by the title of your book. (Please note that I classified your book in the same category as Barrow and Tipler and Denton on my homepage). And I was intrigued to find quotes from Polanyi in your book. The irreducibility of life is an intriguing notion and a challenge and has a long history in biology. "The difference between life and matter is information", was also Yockey's message. I was trained as a biologist, specialisation evolutionary biology, theoretical biology and (clinical) genetics, so all these matters have a longstanding interest for me.

Your second question:
2) The word 'creationist' occurs 3x in my review. and one time I said "Creationists like Overman, Dembski, Behe ..." If you disagree please say so. I use the word in the meaning: a creationist believes in Creation. It is a broad concept indeed. Please note there are no Young-Earth Creationists on my site. I created a category 'Religious critics', it used to be 'religious criticism' which is different.

3) I would be great to meet you in Amsterdam, please notify date, time and location. However at the same time it would be great to have a response on the points I raised in my review. I read your book carefully; I was intrigued and sometimes puzzled and I am very interested in your reply.

Yours truly,
Gert Korthof

PS:
An example of an interesting letter (with my reply) from Lee Spetner on my site: http://wasdarwinwrong.com/kortho36a.htm —————————— 8 Sep 2001
Dear Mr. Overman,

We had an email exchange in January this year.
You suggested a meeting in Amsterdam.
But nothing happened after that email.
If a meeting is not feasible, could the conversation be done via email? I am still interested in your comments on my review. Are there errors I need to correct? Are there statements you strongly disagree? or agree?

With best regards,
Gert Korthof

DATE: 28 Dec 2000
document
From: Liz Craig
Subject: Was Darwin Wrong?

Dear Gert,

Your website is pure gold. I have bookmarked it and intend to read all your other reviews, after having read your review of Dembski's book. Yours are the first objective reviews I have seen of books both pro and con evolutionary theory.

I would like to put a link to your site on our website: www.kcfs.org, if you don't mind. We are Kansas Citizens For Science, a not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting quality science education in Kansas public schools, despite the efforts of creationists to prevent it.

Thank you for your excellent website.

Best wishes,
Liz Craig
Kansas Citizens For Science

DATE: 09 Dec 2000
document
From: Joao Leao
Subject: Suggestion

I saw and used your site which seems to me quite dilligent and fair in its reviews. I would just like to call your attention to a book I am reading and which seems to have escaped your notice. It is called "Beyond Natural Selection" by Robert Wesson and published by MIT press, Bradford Books 1991.

Joăo Pedro Leăo
Cambridge, MA

Also by Robert G. Wesson: "Why Marxism? The Continuing Success of a Failed Theory", "Cosmos and Metacosmos", "Evolution And Human Values".

DATE: 13 Nov 2000
document
From:
Hubert P. Yockey

Subject: Your Review of Information Theory and Molecular Biology

Dear Gert:
Thank for your review of my book Information Theory and Molecular Biology. This book is now out of print but I am working on the second edition.
You seem puzzled by my quotations of the Bible. Please note that I also quote Robert Frost, Homer's Iliad, the Mikado, Charles Darwin, Machiavelli''s The Prince, Plato, The Rubaiyat and other sources. When something was said 2000 years ago, it is plagiarism to say it again without quotation.
It is a viscous circle indeed! (*) But that is what we find by experiment. We are the product of nature not its judge. As Hamlet said to his friend: "There are many things, Horatio, between Heaven and Earth unknown in your philosophy."
See Gregory Chaitin's books "The Limits of Mathematics",1998 and "The Unknowable",1999 both Springer-Verlag. See also my comments on unknowability in Epilogue. We will never know what caused the Big Bang and we will never know what caused life.
By the way, I am indeed an anti-creationist becaue I believe that the origin of life is, like the Big Bang, a part of nature but is unknowable to man.
Taken all in all, especially for those who finished reading the review, it is very favorable.
Here is a list of my recent publications. If you send me your postal address I shall send you the Computers & Chemistry paper. That will explain why the recent data on the genomes of human and other organisms provide a mathematical proof of "Darwinism" beyond a reasonable doubt. (**) I suggest you read the paper in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. Perhaps you would then like to read some of Walther Löb's papers. Stanley Miller was not the first to find amino acids in the silent electrical discharge.

Yours very sincerely, Hubert P. Yockey

  • Yockey, Hubert P. (2000) "Origin Of Life On Earth and Shannon's Theory Of Communication", in: "Open Problems of computational molecular biology", Computers & Chemistry 24 issue 1 pp105-123 [This is an invited paper.]
  • Yockey, Hubert P. (1997) Walther Löb, Stanley L. Miller and "Prebiotic Building Blocks" in the Silent Electrical Discharge Perspectives. in: Biology and Medicine 41, Autumn pp1125-131.
  • Yockey, Hubert P. (1990) "When is random random?", Nature Vol 344 p823. (scientific correspondence).

(*) I now think Yockey refers to the comments in the box titled "A vicious circle".
(**) Even after reading the C&C paper Yockey's sensational claim is still a mystery for me! [GK]

DATE: 6 Nov 2000
document
From: Henry Gee
Subject: deep time

Dear Mr Korthof --- thanks very much for the review of my book Deep Time on your 'Was Darwin Wrong?' webpage. It was enjoyable and informative. I came across it a few weeks ago on my own, and today the link was forwarded by a colleague, so I was prompted to write.
In response to your point 'Gee the Authority' and my repeated assertion that we 'know' that every organism had a common ancestor: as you rightly say, cladistics would fall were this not to be true. However, I do not simply brush aside this problem, which as you say is extremely important. I spend a page or so somewhere in the book (I don't have it with me so I cannot give a precise reference) saying that every organism so far found has an organization and biochemistry that is more or less the same, down to the molecular level. Of course, my assertion above, about certain knowledge, was perhaps too bold -- as you know, science has no place for certainty, only degrees of doubt -- but to use the language of cladistics. the degree of similarity between all living organisms makes it more parsimonious that they had a common descent than the suggestion that they did not.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Henry Gee

DATE: 31 Aug 2000
document
From: Lee Spetner

Subject: Your review of Not By Chance!

Dear Gert,

I read your detailed review of my book Not By Chance!
I commend you on the effort you put into it and the knowledge you exhibited.
I think you are a better defender of evolution than Richard Dawkins. His prose may be better than yours (of course, English is his native tongue), but your substance is superior. I do, however, think your review deserves a critical answer. Let me offer you my detailed critique of the review, point by point.

continue for the detailed critique:

DATE: 5 Aug 2000
document
From: Gianfranco Bruno
Subject: Against darwin

Why in your site you dont cite the italian anti darwinist biologist Giuseppe Sermonti. His last book is "Dimenticare Darwin.Ombre sull'evoluzione, Italy 1999" which means "To abandon darwin-Ghosts over the evolution". These are the web sites over professor Sermonti. The first book was in 1980 "Dopo darwin. Critica all'evoluzionismo"-After Darwin -critics on evolutionism" with the paleontologist Roberto Fondi.

saluti
Gianfranco Bruno
Italia

Giuseppe Sermonti (2 articles)
Evolution and the Pope by Henry M. Morris
Is There a Purpose in Nature? - Workshop papers.

DATE: 31 Jul 2000
document
From: Wade Tisthammer
Subject: Behe, Book Recommendation and other comments

Hi.

To be fair, I have never actually read "Darwin's Black Box", but I found some of your arguments questionable. I also have a book that I very strongly recommend. It's called "The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate" and is written by Del Ratzch. It is one of the best and most objective books I have ever read on the subject of creation vs. evolution.

You hold the belief, as I once did, that a theory has to be falsifiable in order to be scientific. As it turns out, it is impossible to conclusively falsify a theory. Ratzch gives two chapters on the philosophy of science (the best I have ever seen) and showed why this is true. Since you seem to accept Popperian falsificationism, I'll assume that you already know that scientific theories cannot be rigorously proven.
[...]
If you want to learn more about the nature and philosophy of science, I suggest you go to The Nature and Philosophy of Science for more information, since there are many popular misconceptions of science that you have probably been exposed to (as I was). Nevertheless, the book does a better job of explaining it.
[...]

---Wade A. Tisthammer

DATE: 22 Jul 2000
document
From: Jim Falter
Subject: The Anthropic Cosmological Principle

Gert,

I was intrigued by your strong positive reaction to Barrow and Tipler's work. I've not read the book but may do so. Reading about the book has so far lead me to agree with Martin Gardner in the New York Review of Books, who proposed a fifth principle: "CRAP: the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle".

I'm writing in regards to your confusion as to why the fine-tuning argument gets so little attention. A book I found by accident, "Show Me God" by Fred Heeren gives this lots of attention. It's really an excellent book. The author has a definite Christian angle but the book is crammed with technical discussions and interviews with people like Hawking, Guth, Jastrow and many other scientists.
Check it out, if you can.

Regards,

Jim Falter




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Copyright © 1997-2001 G.Korthof . First published: 10 Aug 2000 Last update: 13 Sep 2002