Thursday, June 23, 2005
My Favorite T.O Quote Mine Entry
I wanted to write a response to my favorite T.O. quote mine project entry. This one the T.O. guys thought was so good that they made an entire page devoted to it. The funny thing is that the page they made gives more credence to the creationist interpretation than even the creationists did!
It is obvious what Lionel's (the quote mine refuter) error was -- it was he was assuming that the creationist quote was saying something it didn't say. This happens quite a bit in my experience. Evolutionists assume that creationists are stupid, backward, disingenuous people, and therefore attribute all sorts of not only bad motives to creationists, but also stupid theories. For example, so many evolutionists believe that creationists believe that there is no species change. This is so obviously ludicrous to anyone who has ever read, listened, or watched anything by any reputable creationist organization, that it's strange that such a myth continues. However, evolutionists seem to always assume they know what creationists think, even without reading what they actually say, or thinking about it. They just assume that it must be stupid, and therefore read it in such a way as to disregard it out-of-hand.
I should assume that most creationists can understand what I find so amusing just by reading the entry. For those of you who take T.O as the carrier of the official evolutionary gospel, I'll explain myself a little more.
Here is the quote:
I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. . .I will lay it on the line, There is not one such fossil for which one might make a watertight argument.
So what is the point of including this? I have not read the book in question, but it seems fairly obvious that the focus on the part that there is no fossil that makes a watertight argument for evolutionary transitions. If the context is different, I hope someone points it out to me so I can correct or retract this page.
Lionel seemed to regard the thrust of the argument being that Colin Patterson didn't believe in transitional fossils. That is just stupid. Of course evolutionists believe that there were transitions, and that some of the fossils are those. Noone is saying that they don't believe such things. What the quote points out is that unlike what evolutionists say, this is not a bulletproof case. In fact, as the quote points out, there is not one such fossil for which one might make a watertight argument.
What's even more amusing is that when Lionel includes the rest of the quote, it does more damage to the dogmatic evolutionary position than the original, abbreviated quote. Here is the continuation of the quote:
... a watertight argument. The reason is that statements about ancestry and descent are not applicable in the fossil record. Is Archaeopteryx the ancestor of all birds? Perhaps yes, perhaps no: there is no way of answering the question. It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favoured by natural selection. But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way to put them to the test.
So, not only is the fossil sequence not a watertight argument, it isn't even testable. And, as creationists have always pointed out, It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favoured by natural selection. But such stories are not part of science.
But isn't that what evolutionists do all the time? Make up untestable stories, call them "science", and then claim it as an evidence that evolution is right and everyone else is stupid? Here, Colin is being very honest and pointing out that creationists are correct when we criticize how scientific any sort of dogmatic position on origins is. The public part of science just can't say this, it is more based on presuppositions and philosophy than testable hypotheses.
Now, Patterson does add, I think the continuation of the passage shows clearly that your interpretation (at the end of your letter) is correct, and the creationists' is false. I assume this is due to Lionel's having stated to Patterson his own interpretation of the creationist argument.
He then talks about how evolution has done more harm than good to biosystematics, and somehow the fact that a creationist recorded it was problematic. If a creationist had said something damaging about creationism at a creationist conference, would the T.O crowd ignore it if we waved it away as something only addressing serious, concerned creationists?
It is a complete enigma to me how Lionel thinks that this is a win for evolution, and how it shows that creationists are lying. All of Lionel's own research confirms the validity and the context of the quotes. The only thing is that when Lionel uses the creationist negative innuendo, and the professor says, "oh no, I certainly don't want to be considered a friend of them". The only thing the T.O post has is innuendo. Period. He simply attributes negative motives to creationists, and then calls his hypothesis valid even though his own research confirms the creationists, simply because he assumes that creationists must be lying and stupid.
It also points out once again that T.O considers anything a creationist says as "refuted" simply because they post a page about it. It also echoes the theme of "certainly science should be open to criticism, just not from them."
I just noticed that in the top right corner the entry has a now-defunct link to a letter from Patterson to the person I _think_ was the original person who recorded the quote. The site is no longer there, but thanks to The Wayback Machine, I was able to scrounge up the original letter. Here it is:
British Museum (Natural History)
Cromwell Road London SW7 5Bd
Telephone 01-589 6323 ext
Department Of Paleontology
5 Griffin Drive
Apalachin, NY 13732
Date: 10th April 1979
Dear Mr. Sunderland:
Thanks for your letter of 5th March, and your kind words about the museum and my book. I held off answering you for a couple of weeks, in case the artwork you mention in your letter should turn up, but it hasn't.
I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. You suggest that an artist should be asked to visualize such transformations, but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it, and if I were to leave it to artistic licence, would that not mislead the reader?
I wrote the text of my book four years ago. If I were to write it now, I think the book would be rather different. Gradualism is a concept I believe in, not just because of Darwin's authority, but because my understanding of genetics seems to demand it. Yet Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say that there are no transitional fossils. As a paleontologist myself, I am much occupied with the philosophical problems of identfying ancestral forms in the fossil record. You say that I should at least ‘show a photo of the fossil from which each type organism was derived.' I will lay it on the line - there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument. The reason is that statements about ancestry and descent are not applicable in the fossil record. Is Archeopteryx the ancestor of all birds? Perhaps yes, perhaps no: there is no way of answering the question. It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why the stages should be favored by natural selection. But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test. So, much as I should like to oblige you by jumping to the defence of gradualism, and fleshing out the transitions betweeen the major types of animals and plants, I find myself a bit short of the intellectual justification necessary for the job.
Thanks again for the writing.