Bizarre opinion piece in Irish Times

8 views
Skip to first unread message

Derek Bell

unread,
Jul 18, 2001, 2:30:08 PM7/18/01
to
I was reading the Irish Times today when I came across the
following:
http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/2001/0718/opt3.htm
(For those not familiar with the paper, they haven't published
creationist articles that I remember - they often publish guest
articles which they don't neccessarily agree with.)

The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
"no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known. I'd have looked
up the quotes cited, but the library closes early outside of term
time here.

Derek
--
Derek Bell db...@maths.tcd.ie |"Usenet is a strange place."
WWW: http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~dbell/index.html| - Dennis M Ritchie,
PGP: http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~dbell/key.asc | 29 July 1999.
|

Brendan Heading

unread,
Jul 18, 2001, 3:51:22 PM7/18/01
to
A certain Derek Bell, of soc.culture.irish "fame", writes :

> The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
>the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
>"no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known.

Creationists are great laugh. I heard one the other day about some
investigations which had looked closely at the old testament and found
that the stories were inconsistent; for them to be true, some of the
people in the stories would have to be several hundred years old.

Apparently the Creationists counter this by saying that people used to
live for hundreds of years whenever there was no pollution. Funnily
enough, that in itself contradicts the whole "three score and ten"
thing.

--
"I begin to suspect my own sanity every once in a while. "
(LR Hubbard,"Coordination of Classes of Processes" 1 Nov 1956)
Scientology/Dianetics : tax-exempt child abuse and neglect?
www.taxexemptchildabuse.net

Floyd

unread,
Jul 18, 2001, 4:28:23 PM7/18/01
to

Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> wrote in article
<elpblt42u65o9u5ss...@4ax.com>...
> Scríobh Derek Bell <9j4kjp$21rr$1...@salmon.maths.tcd.ie> :


>
> > The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
> >the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
> >"no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known. I'd have looked
> >up the quotes cited, but the library closes early outside of term
> >time here.
>

> The internet is your library. See www.talkorigins.org
>
> --
> An Féachadóir abardubh at eircom dot net
> Read the FAQ: http://www.geocities.com/welisc/ifaq
> Seanfhocal na Seachtaine: "Géill Slí"

I hope you both, and all your friends in Ireland, will write letters to the
editor of the times critiquing Tassot's opinion, ideally, mentioning
John-Paul II's "Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences" (22 Oct. 1996)
which can be found at http://www.cin.org/jp2evolu.html

Providing Times readers with an accurate definition of "macroevolution"
(i.e. speciation, reproductive isolation) to combat Tassot's straw man
would also be helpful. Taking him to the mat on "missing links" should be
easy. Of course we haven't found any "missing links," otherwise they would
be called "found links." Then provide information on some of the "found
links" that we have. Nail him on his out of context quotes and his twisted
conception on geology, and then top it all off with an explanation of why
he is absolutely and unequivocally wrong about thermodynamics.

I don't know what field Tassot studied to earn his PhD, but it certainly
doesn't seem to be biology, paleontology, geology, or physics. He sounds
like a crackpot, and it wouldn't surprise me to hear that his "Centre des
Études et de Prospective sur la Science" was just the French version of the
"Discovery Institute." Please nail him. Take him out now. Creationism is
like any other mental virus, it spreads rapidly unless treated. Slán;
-Floyd

Dick Keable

unread,
Jul 18, 2001, 6:18:42 PM7/18/01
to
The Irish Times piece is sufficiently well structured to invite a pedantic
and stepwise deconstruction, but the last sentence "The plentiful contrary
arguments are withheld." seems sufficent to the cause.

However, Dr, Tassot's terminal handwringing concerning "The idea taught to
students, that everything evolved, even religion, has led to a massive
decline in faith and rampant materialism" seems to assume, firstly, that
because a result is unpleasant, this invalidates the reasoning that led one
to it. Secondly, that a decline in faith (presumably in opposition to
reason) is a bad thing, and thirdly that a decline in faith is always
concomitant with rampant materialism. As my old dad used to say, "Bollocks".

While not treated, I consider myself innoculated.

"Floyd" <far...@u.washington.edu> wrote in message
news:01c10fca$50b16ce0$c9aa...@myhost.u.washington.edu...
*snip*

Fiona Hyland

unread,
Jul 18, 2001, 7:34:57 PM7/18/01
to
> The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
> the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
> "no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known. I'd have looked

Funny for the IT to publish it! In a way it's kind of nice to see
something that's fairly far outside the mainstream but they really
should have published a short rebuttal as well.

Regards, Fiona

Frank Reichenbacher

unread,
Jul 18, 2001, 7:40:03 PM7/18/01
to

<snip>

> Creationists are great laugh. I heard one the other day about some
> investigations which had looked closely at the old testament and found
> that the stories were inconsistent; for them to be true, some of the
> people in the stories would have to be several hundred years old.

Duh. I can see that you have never read the Bible. I suggest that you do. I
am not a religious person and I am committed to science and to evolution,
but I have read the Bible. It is by far and away the most important book
ever written, every educated person living in a Christian society must read
the Bible.

>
> Apparently the Creationists counter this by saying that people used to
> live for hundreds of years whenever there was no pollution. Funnily
> enough, that in itself contradicts the whole "three score and ten"
> thing.

Religion-bashing is not necessary, it is rude and mean-spirited, and it is
counter-productive to the purposes of swaying well-meaning but uninformed
people. Your post reveals you to be as ignorant of the Bible as the typical
creationist is about science. I suggest that you read the Bible and stay
away from well-meaning but uninformed contributions to talk.origins.

Frank Reichenbacher


Brendan Heading

unread,
Jul 18, 2001, 7:51:37 PM7/18/01
to
A certain Frank Reichenbacher, of soc.culture.irish "fame", writes :

>Duh. I can see that you have never read the Bible.

I've read it, but I'm not an expert on it. I don't think that effects my
right or ability to remark about the observations of others, does it ?

>Religion-bashing is not necessary, it is rude and mean-spirited, and it is
>counter-productive to the purposes of swaying well-meaning but uninformed
>people.

Tell me more about this "purpose" that you've found for yourself. Does
convincing people of the wrong-ness of creationism save lives or
something ? Tell me quick, before my nasty remarks about religion cause
someone to become a creationist and throw themselves from a cliff.

Gabh Mo Leitheid

unread,
Jul 18, 2001, 10:18:43 PM7/18/01
to

I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all.
Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism.
It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its flaws
and incompletenesses.

Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against
evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because
they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").
(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations")
that are totally random. But all they can say to support the claim that the
mutations are random is that no one can discern any pattern, or any process
guiding the direction of change. Just because it looks random to us at present
doesn't mean that it actually is random.
(3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't science,
it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable. True
scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about evolution.

brian wallace

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 5:47:59 AM7/19/01
to
"Gabh Mo Leitheid" <gabh.mo.l...@ireland.com> wrote in message news:<3b564383$1...@news.boards.ie>...

looking at the state of dublin bus drivers ,it looks like we are deevolving
but then the irish are a dysgenic exception to the human race.
irelan...@yahoogroups.com

Kae Verens

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 9:26:09 AM7/19/01
to
"Derek Bell" <db...@salmon.maths.tcd.ie> wrote in message
news:9j4kjp$21rr$1...@salmon.maths.tcd.ie...

> I was reading the Irish Times today when I came across the
> following:
> http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/2001/0718/opt3.htm
> (For those not familiar with the paper, they haven't published
> creationist articles that I remember - they often publish guest
> articles which they don't neccessarily agree with.)
>
> The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
> the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
> "no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known. I'd have looked
> up the quotes cited, but the library closes early outside of term
> time here.

He also mentions that no evidence exists of a new species ever evolving from
another, but isn't that how we got so many species of dogs? Also, wasn't
there a species of moth which changed colour over a few generations to black
during the industrial period in the UK, only to change back after the
pollution had gone?

I suppose that he would argue that both cases were initiated by our own
efforts, so therefore invalid.

Ah well... let him have his fantasy.

Kae

Wade Hines

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 9:52:54 AM7/19/01
to

"Féachadóir" wrote:
>
> Scríobh Gabh Mo Leitheid <3b564383$1...@news.boards.ie> :
>
> [since you posted through boards.ie, your post didn't make it to
> talk.origins. I suggest you use Google to follow this thread in
> talk.origins where it properly belongs, in the meantime this post is
> forwarded there]


>
> >I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all.
> >Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism.
> >It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its flaws
> >and incompletenesses.
> >
> >Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against
> >evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
> >(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
> >fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
> >Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because
> >they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").

Survival of the fittest is an observation, not a conclusion. That you
note it is a tautology conceeds that it is true. Tautologous conclusions
are rather trite but, again, survival of the fittest is one of the
observations that natural selection is based on, not a conclusion.

The conclusion is that the overall makeup of a population will change
based on the observations that survival to reproduce is skewed by
traits that enhance reproductive success. It is such a simple logical
step that it doesn't seem a profound bit of thinking even if it has
profound implications.

> >(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations")
> >that are totally random. But all they can say to support the claim that the
> >mutations are random is that no one can discern any pattern, or any process
> >guiding the direction of change. Just because it looks random to us at present
> >doesn't mean that it actually is random.

This is completely and utterly true. Well, mutations aren't completely random
but the biochemical basis of mutation is well understood and to the degree
that they are understood and that the available mechanisms bias the likelihood
of random chemistry producing an ensemble of mutations, mutation does indeed
appear to be completely understandable as a random chemical process. That
said, one cannot prove that there isn't a special someone playing behind
the scenes. Still, few scientists claim otherwise and I don't see the
point behind (2).


> >(3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't science,
> >it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable. True
> >scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about evolution.

Without specifics, nothing valuable has been said about and therefor there
really isn't anything there to consider beyond the vacuuous nature of
such an empty statement as (3). Agreeing or disagreeing with it are both
equivalent to agreeing or disagreeing with nothing.

Ken Cox

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 11:28:52 AM7/19/01
to
Kae Verens wrote:
> He also mentions that no evidence exists of a new species ever evolving from
> another, but isn't that how we got so many species of dogs?

No, dogs are all one species (and nowadays are considered
the same species as the wolf). If you want examples, try
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html.

--
Ken Cox k...@research.bell-labs.com

westprog++

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 11:28:46 AM7/19/01
to
Derek Bell <db...@salmon.maths.tcd.ie> wrote in message news:<9j4kjp$21rr$1...@salmon.maths.tcd.ie>...
> I was reading the Irish Times today when I came across the
> following:
> http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/opinion/2001/0718/opt3.htm
> (For those not familiar with the paper, they haven't published
> creationist articles that I remember - they often publish guest
> articles which they don't neccessarily agree with.)
>
> The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
> the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
> "no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known. I'd have looked
> up the quotes cited, but the library closes early outside of term
> time here.

It raises serious question marks about the judgement of the Times
ediotorial staff. There is nothing wrong in publishing a piece like
this if it is flagged as fringe pseudo-science from a religious
fundamentalist. This was presented as respectable scientific opinion.
I hope that they get a flood of letters telling them that they messed
up.

J/

Ken Cox

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 11:26:28 AM7/19/01
to
Frank Reichenbacher wrote:
> > Creationists are great laugh. I heard one the other day about some
> > investigations which had looked closely at the old testament and found
> > that the stories were inconsistent; for them to be true, some of the
> > people in the stories would have to be several hundred years old.

> Duh. I can see that you have never read the Bible.

"And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and
thirty years... And all the days of Seth were nine
hundred and twelve years... And all the days of Enos were
nine hundred and five years... And all the days of Cainan
were nine hundred and ten years... And all the days of
Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years..."

What makes you say that he has never read the Bible?

You might also consider the age of Mordechai in Esther,
for an example that is not quite as direct (i.e., would
require "investigations that looked closely at the old
testament").

--
Ken Cox k...@research.bell-labs.com

Pip R. Lagenta

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 11:34:16 AM7/19/01
to
On 19 Jul 2001 04:30:25 -0400, F嶧chad鏙r <F嶧ch@d.鏙r> wrote:
>Scr甐bh Gabh Mo Leitheid <3b564383$1...@news.boards.ie> :

>
>[since you posted through boards.ie, your post didn't make it to
>talk.origins. I suggest you use Google to follow this thread in
>talk.origins where it properly belongs, in the meantime this post is
>forwarded there]

Thanks.

>>I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all.

Ignorance is not bizarre to the ignorant.

>>Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism.
>>It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its flaws
>>and incompletenesses.

It argues against "Darwinian evolutionism" with deceit and pandering
to ignorance. The illusion of "flaws and incompleteness'" in the
Theory of Evolution is created by telling bald-faced lies. Is that
truly how Christians want to conduct themselves?

>>Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against
>>evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
>>(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
>>fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
>>Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because
>>they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").

Ha Ha! That's very funny. Too bad that it does not match reality.
The term "survival of the fittest" is a bit of a misnomer and is not
used much by people discussing actual evolution. Evolution is carried
on by those who live long enough to reproduce, and so pass on their
genes. If there is a condition in the environment that favors a
certain attribute, then, if the attribute is passed on to descendents,
the descendents will have better luck reproducing. The attribute
will, over time, be spread through the population. Evolution!

>>(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations")
>>that are totally random. But all they can say to support the claim that the
>>mutations are random is that no one can discern any pattern, or any process
>>guiding the direction of change. Just because it looks random to us at present
>>doesn't mean that it actually is random.

You have asserted a falsehood: "Darwinists" say no such thing.
A true statement might be "evolution is brought about partly by
changes ("mutations") that are partly random, and then, with luck
(which is random), the mostly non-random "natural selection" process
takes place". Evolution!

>>(3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't science,
>>it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable. True
>>scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about evolution.

Evolution has often been observed in many ways, fashions and forms.
By observation, evolution has been established as demonstrable fact.
I don't know what "evolutionism" is, but the "Theory" of Evolution is
better understood than the "Theory" of Gravity. The statement "much
of evolutionism isn't science, it is unverifiable speculation" looks,
on the surface, like a well calculated lie. Is that what it is?

Evolution has been well verified. It is easily falsifiable, but has
never been falsified. Strong evidence supports it. No real evidence
has ever brought the fact of evolution into doubt. Many people have
worked very hard for their whole lives trying to poke holes in the
Theory of evolution. The result is that the evidence for evolution
just gets stronger and stronger.

The opponents of evolution are left without evidence, facts, nor
reason. These days, the only tools that can be brought to bear
against evolution are ignorance and lies. These tools are effective,
but only for those who *want* to remain ignorant. God is not served
thus.

內躬偕爻,虜,齯滌`偕爻,虜,齯滌`偕爻,虜,齯滌`偕爻,虜,齯滌`偕爻,
Pip R. Lagenta Pip R. Lagenta Pip R. Lagenta Pip R. Lagenta
�虜,齯滌`偕爻,虜,齯滌`偕爻,虜,齯滌`偕爻,虜,齯滌`偕爻,虜,齯滌

-- Pip R. Lagenta
President for Life
International Organization Of People Named Pip R. Lagenta
(If your name is Pip R. Lagenta, ask about our dues!)

Frank Reichenbacher

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 12:19:20 PM7/19/01
to
Ken - you mean Brendan's paragraph below sounds like it might have been
written by someone who had read the passage you quoted??? I don't
understand, prithee enlighten me.

Frank

"Ken Cox" <k...@lucent.com> wrote in message
news:3B56FC13...@research.bell-labs.com...

Brian L

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 12:31:32 PM7/19/01
to
>Scríobh Gabh Mo Leitheid <3b564383$1...@news.boards.ie> :

>>Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against


>>evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
>>(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
>>fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
>>Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because
>>they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").

Hmmmm. What am I missing? If you say "survival of the fittest" is a
tautology you're not only saying it's true, you're saying it's
_necessarily_ true. Is that really what you're trying to say?

Ken Cox

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 12:48:02 PM7/19/01
to
Frank Reichenbacher wrote:
> Ken - you mean Brendan's paragraph below sounds like it might have been
> written by someone who had read the passage you quoted??? I don't
> understand, prithee enlighten me.

No, I mean that someone who *had* read the Bible would
conclude that it says people lived to be hundreds of
years old. Because it does, right there in Genesis 5.

Perhaps the problem is that *I'm* not understanding
what you mean. Why, when someone said "I heard that
the Bible says people lived to be hundreds of years
old", did you respond "I can see that you have never
read the Bible"? Usually that sort of response would
mean that you think that the Bible *doesn't* say that.

--
Ken Cox k...@research.bell-labs.com

Stephen F. Schaffner

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 1:33:54 PM7/19/01
to
In article <3B570F3E...@research.bell-labs.com>,

What Frank actually responded was "Duh", followed his
comment about not having read the Bible. The passage
he was responding to did report the long lifespans in
Genesis as if they had required some exegesis to
uncover, and as if they were a revelation to the poster.
In other words, the meaning was "If you had read the
Bible, you would have already known this." (And maybe
"you would have described it differently" too.)

--
Steve Schaffner s...@genome.wi.mit.edu
SLAC and I have a deal: they don't || Immediate assurance is an excellent sign
pay me, and I don't speak for them. || of probable lack of insight into the
|| topic. Josiah Royce

brian wallace

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 1:32:30 PM7/19/01
to
Wade Hines <wade....@rcn.com> wrote in message news:<3B56E5B6...@rcn.com>...

people who dont believe in evolution are in need of some
the fact that 97% of humanity are so stupid thet they believe in some
form of religeon is a consequence of game theory
-humans domesticated other humans as well as cattle

irelan...@yahoogroups.com

Brendan Heading

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 4:27:16 PM7/19/01
to
A certain Frank Reichenbacher, of soc.culture.irish "fame", writes :

>Ken - you mean Brendan's paragraph below sounds like it might have been
>written by someone who had read the passage you quoted??? I don't
>understand, prithee enlighten me.

Look Frank, I'm sorry about the intrusion. I didn't see your group on
the subject line the first time. I hope you get along just fine in your
wee world where people have to be academics or experts in order to
comment on something.

Brendan Heading

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 4:27:41 PM7/19/01
to
A certain Gabh Mo Leitheid, of soc.culture.irish "fame", writes :

>Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against
>evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
>(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
>fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
>Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because
>they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").

This is a bit of a straw man, is it not ? "the fittest" are not defined
simply as those who survive. The term suggests a number of varying
physical and mental attributes. It is quite easy to explain why a
species survives by examining it's attributes and their relationship to
the planet.

>(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations")
>that are totally random.

Erm...

Frank Reichenbacher

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 4:51:49 PM7/19/01
to
"Ken Cox" <k...@lucent.com> wrote in message
news:3B570F3E...@research.bell-labs.com...

> Frank Reichenbacher wrote:
> > Ken - you mean Brendan's paragraph below sounds like it might have been
> > written by someone who had read the passage you quoted??? I don't
> > understand, prithee enlighten me.
>
> No, I mean that someone who *had* read the Bible would
> conclude that it says people lived to be hundreds of
> years old. Because it does, right there in Genesis 5.
>
> Perhaps the problem is that *I'm* not understanding
> what you mean. Why, when someone said "I heard that
> the Bible says people lived to be hundreds of years
> old", did you respond "I can see that you have never
> read the Bible"?


No Ken, come on. He had only _heard_ someone say that the Bible says people
lived to hundred years old, obviously he had not read it himself and this
was the first he was hearing of it. A person that ignorant has no place
bashing religion or trying to contribute to a debate on the origins of
mankind/life.

Floyd

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 5:37:36 PM7/19/01
to

Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> wrote in article

<u95dlt0dm0qopkmr6...@4ax.com>...


> Scríobh Gabh Mo Leitheid <3b564383$1...@news.boards.ie> :
>
> [since you posted through boards.ie, your post didn't make it to
> talk.origins. I suggest you use Google to follow this thread in
> talk.origins where it properly belongs, in the meantime this post is
> forwarded there]
>

> >I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all.
> >Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism.
> >It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its
flaws
> >and incompletenesses.

Unfortunately for the author, and for your argument, the supposed "flaws
and incompletenesses" are not with evolutionary theory itself, but with
Tassot's understanding of the theory. In truth, he criticises Darwinian
theory mainly on the grounds that he simply doesn't understand it. He's
really just celebrating his own lack of knowledge, and I've never felt that
ignorance was something about which a person should be proud.

> >
> >Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points
against
> >evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
> >(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of
the
> >fittest".

Actually, no we don't. "Survival of the Fittest" was originally Herbert
Spencer's term, and he used it to describe the structure of capitalist
economic systems. Spencer wasn't a biologist, and his comments really have
no relevance to biological theory. Modern biologists, paleontologists,
anthropologists, etc. do not use this phrase, so your point is simply wrong
from an empirical perspective.

The "guiding force" of evolution, if such a thing can be said to exist at
all, must be "local adaptation." Animals and plants that are well-suited
to the environment in which they live will tend to have more offspring
("make more copies of themselves") than animals and plants that are not as
well suited. As environments change (due to drought, increased rainfall,
cooling, etc.), different traits will be advantageous in the same location.
As successful populations expand and move, members will encounter
different environments. Different traits will be advantageous in different
areas, or even in the same area, over the course of time. Those plants and
animals that posess more of the advantageous traits will produce more
offspring (who will also have those traits) so the traits will become
increasingly common. That's really all there is to it.

> > Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
> >Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive?
Because
> >they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious
circularity").

"Fitness" is measured post-hoc, not as "survival" but as reproduction. All
organisms die, fit and unfit alike. What "survives" in evolution are
traits (which are encoded in genes). Your assertion here also indicates
that you may need further study in biology and the other relevant sciences
before you can speak nowledgably about the subject.

> >(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes
("mutations")
> >that are totally random.

You are misrepresenting the facts to a dramatic degree, probably not
intentionally, but misrepresenting nevertheless. Mutations are very
predictable, from the perspective of chemistry and physics. It is only
their ultimate effect on reproduction that can not be predicted. That is,
mutations are only "random" with respect to the selective advantages or
disadvantages that result from them.
Further, genetic mutations are only the first step. They are followed by
the decidedly *non-random* process of selection.

> But all they can say to support the claim that the
> >mutations are random is that no one can discern any pattern, or any
process
> >guiding the direction of change. Just because it looks random to us at
present
> >doesn't mean that it actually is random.

Once again, you are misrepresenting the facts. There *are* patterns in
mutation. Some areas of some chromosomes are more prone to mutate than
others, and some spontaneous mutations are more common than others. The
"randomness" applies to individual genes, but statistically significant
patterns for large numbers are quite well known. Were you unaware of this?

Besides, you note that no one can detect a pattern. This is true. If no
one can detect it, it's because it has no measurable effects. What is the
practical difference between "no pattern" and "a pattern that no one can
detect, and that doesn't affect anything," in your opinion?

Further, if someone thinks they detect a pattern in apparently random data,
science can investigate it. However, we can no more investigate a pattern
that no one can detect than we can investigate the invisible dragon in Carl
Sagan's garage.

> >(3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't
science,
> >it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable.

Tassot made that assertion, but he provided not a single scrap of data to
support his claim. His claim is demonstrably wrong, and anyone with even a
basic knowledge of the subject can see through his debating tricks. I'll
give him the benefit of the doubt and just assume that he is completely
ignorant of the relevant sciences. The only alternative is that he is
lying.

True
> >scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about
evolution.

"Belief" isn't necessary. Evolution has been observed. Evolution by means
of natural selection has been observed. Reproductive isolation has been
observed. Your attempt to associate science with atheism is also a dirty
debating trick that is designed solely to force a gut reaction against
evolution. It's inappropriate. Please visit http://www.talkorigins.org
and learn what evolution is actually about, rather than what ignorant men
like Tassot think it's about. Slán;
-Floyd

Jon Fleming

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 6:56:10 PM7/19/01
to
On 19 Jul 2001 04:30:25 -0400, Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> wrote:

>Scríobh Gabh Mo Leitheid <3b564383$1...@news.boards.ie> :
>
>[since you posted through boards.ie, your post didn't make it to
>talk.origins. I suggest you use Google to follow this thread in
>talk.origins where it properly belongs, in the meantime this post is
>forwarded there]
>

>>I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all.
>>Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism.
>>It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its flaws
>>and incompletenesses.
>>
>>Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against
>>evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
>>(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
>>fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
>>Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because
>>they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").

From <http://icarus.cc.uic.edu/~vuletic/cefec.html>:

"4.16: Natural selection is tautological: the fittest survive, and
those who survive are the fittest. There are two problems with this
objection. First, fitness is never defined in terms of an organism's
ability to survive; rather, it is defined in terms of the organism's
reproductive success. Fair enough, the creationist might say, but it
is still tautological: the fittest have the most reproductive success,
and those who have the most reproductive success are the fittest.
But the second problem, which Robert Pennock reveals with a
penetrating analogy, afflicts this reformulated creationist complaint,
too:

'Consider the formula: May the best team win. It seems harmless, but
the creationist now points out that we determine which team is best by
seeing which wins. If that is what it means to be "best," then the
expressed wish seems to reduce to "May the team that wins be the team
that wins." It is thus vacuous dogma, objects the creationist, to
subsequently claim to explain who won in terms of one team's being
"better" than the other. However, we sports fans are not fooled into
abandoning the game by such arguments. Of course we do determine which
is the best team by looking at its record of wins, and we would
certainly explain why it won the trophy by noting its superior record
over its rivals. But we understand that this is not the end of the
story...even though we do judge on the basis of record, we do not
doubt that it is the physical traits of a team, its superior
characteristics and playing ability, that make it better than the
others. Understanding this, we also understand that it is possible
that the best team might not win...This parallels the distinction that
biologists make between evolution by natural selection and evolution
by natural drift, and the mere fact that we recognize such
distinctions is by itself sufficient to show that the tautology
objection does not hold in either sports or evolutionary theory.'
(Pennock, 1999, 101) (in "Tower of Babel" - JRF]

Pennock is pointing out what Mills and Beatty explicitly state: that
fitness is better described in terms of an organism's propensity to
leave offspring, than in terms of the actual number of offspring that
organism leaves. Quantitatively, fitness (relative to an environment)
should be understood as the expected number of descendants to be
left: "the weighted sum of [possible numbers of descendants], where
the appropriate weights are the probabilities of [leaving that number
of descendants]"(Mills, Beatty, 1979, 11). So fitness is best
understood as a propensity to leave offspring, which does not even
entail that an organism will in fact leave offspring at all, and hence
is not tautologous.

To put it another way, alleles that increase in frequency in a
population do not necessarily do so because they confer greater
fitness upon their hosts - some alleles increase in frequency because
of genetic drift and bottleneck effects. Organisms that reproduce more
than their peers due to sheer luck and happenstance are not
automatically fitter, even though they are the survivors.

>>(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations")
>>that are totally random. But all they can say to support the claim that the
>>mutations are random is that no one can discern any pattern, or any process
>>guiding the direction of change. Just because it looks random to us at present
>>doesn't mean that it actually is random.
>>(3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't science,
>>it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable. True
>>scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about evolution.

--
Change "nospam" to "group" to email

Jon Fleming

unread,
Jul 19, 2001, 8:06:09 PM7/19/01
to
On 18 Jul 2001 15:51:22 -0400, Brendan Heading
<TheGreat...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>A certain Derek Bell, of soc.culture.irish "fame", writes :
>> The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
>>the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
>>"no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known.
>
>Creationists are great laugh. I heard one the other day about some
>investigations which had looked closely at the old testament and found
>that the stories were inconsistent; for them to be true, some of the
>people in the stories would have to be several hundred years old.
>
>Apparently the Creationists counter this by saying that people used to
>live for hundreds of years whenever there was no pollution.

Oh, there are other counters. Radiation, for example.
<http://www.reasons.org/resources/faf/97q4faf/97q4news.html>.

(The author is a well-qualified astrophysicist, so he does not believe
in a young universe ... but he has difficulty with biology).

> Funnily
>enough, that in itself contradicts the whole "three score and ten"
>thing.

--

Gabh Mo Leitheid

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 2:57:16 AM7/20/01
to

Jon Fleming <jo...@fleming-nospam.com> wrote:
>the tautology objection does not hold in either sports
>or evolutionary theory.

The tautology objection does hold to a significant extent in sports: It’s
largely a mystery why some professional teams win more games than other professional
teams. Fuzzy psychological stuff seems to be a bigger factor than objectively
measurable traits. Why did the English and US national soccer teams do poorly
in the nineties while the Swedish and Romanian teams did well? It’s a scientific
mystery, as far as I know.

The tautology objection holds to a greater extent in evolutionary theory.
In terms of your analogy with winning sports teams: the evolutionists don't
provide a verifiable explanation of why some teams (species) perform better
than others. They can’t define the traits that make some lifeforms winners
and others loosers. They don't deliver an understanding of “natural selection”
(or “natural drift”) beyond their tautology.

Natural life contains an enormous amout of diversity. The evolutionists can't
say how any of the specifics came about, except by making unverifiable speculations.
Most types of diversity don’t have good plausible explanations from the natural
selection point of view, and where plausible explanations exist they aren’t
verifiable.


Brian L <do...@spam.me> wrote:
>If you say "survival of the fittest" is a
>tautology you're not only saying it's true, you're saying it's
>_necessarily_ true. Is that really what you're trying to say?

There's no doubt that many species used to be around that are now defunct.
(We don't know in most cases why they failed to survive.) There's no doubt
either that the Lord endowed life with the ability to mutate and evolve --
or, if you want to take the Lord out of the picture, that evolution of species
has been very well demonstrated, at least at the “micro” level. Take horses
for instance. Loads of fossil evidence demonstrates that horses lived in
North America around 40,000 years ago. But no horses were present when Europeans
arrived 500 years ago. Some horses brought by the Europeans escaped onto
the plains, and prospered so well in the wild that by the early 19th century
wild horses were so abundant on the plains that the Indian warriors were
mostly fighting on horseback using horses captured from the wild herds. The
horse fossils in America dating from 40,000 years ago are rather similar
to the horse fossils of Russia dating from the same period. They are smaller
than the smallest of today's horses. None of the horses from fossil records
from any ancient period or any geographic area are half as big as today's
racehorses. Yet the speed of today's racehorses didn't increase at all during
the 20th century despite intensive efforts at selective breeding for speed.

The theory of natural selection has no explanations for any this, nor explanations
for any other of the specifics in the record of evolution. The theory makes
the tautological claim of survival of the fittest, then follows it up with
the unverified & unverifiable claim that the fundamental process of change
is blind random mutations. So long as the latter claim continues to be unverifiable
I will continue to find it incredible. Basically I don't believe that a biological
system as complex and brilliant as a horse, or a horse's kidney, could have
evolved from blind randomness. I don't have an alternative explanation, but
believing in blind randomness calls for an act of faith I'm not capable of
making.


Keith G.Mills

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 4:23:43 AM7/20/01
to
"Dick Keable" <a@b.c> wrote in message news:<wXn57.1564$Ii1.3...@news1.cableinet.net>...

> However, Dr, Tassot's terminal handwringing concerning "The idea taught to
> students, that everything evolved, even religion, has led to a massive
> decline in faith and rampant materialism" seems to assume, firstly, that
> because a result is unpleasant, this invalidates the reasoning that led one
> to it. Secondly, that a decline in faith (presumably in opposition to
> reason) is a bad thing, and thirdly that a decline in faith is always
> concomitant with rampant materialism. As my old dad used to say, "Bollocks".

Too true. I consider the decline in faith in Ireland (we are currently
seeing the most rapid rate of decline in regular church going in the
World) as one of the most positive things that has happened to this
country in centuries.

Faith (or most correctly the sectarian nature of most christian
faiths) has only brought centuries of division and misery to this
island. It has left us with a legacy of represssion, child abuse and
poverty.

Give me "rampant matialism" anytime ;-)

Keith

Gabh Mo Leitheid

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 5:10:19 AM7/20/01
to

kei...@eircom.net (Keith G.Mills) wrote:
>I consider the decline in faith in Ireland (we are currently
>seeing the most rapid rate of decline in regular church going in the
>World) as one of the most positive things that has happened to this
>country in centuries.

*********************************************
The following copied and pasted from elsewhere
*********************************************

Weekly church attendance in the Republic of Ireland in the early 1990s was
not only the highest in the developed world, it was almost twice as high
as in the developed country that ranked in second place (not counting Northern
Ireland as a country). That's according to responses to questionnaires in
the World Values Survey of 1990-91. See the numbers at http://www.umich.edu/~newsinfo/Releases/1997/Dec97/r121097a.html

Some observers, mindful of the international convergence tendencies seen
in other areas of culture, have been expecting church attendance rates in
the RoI to tend to move towards the international average rather than stay
out on a limb. The evidence from the late 1990s is that these observers will
have to wait for a very long time for their expectation to come true. Religion
in the RoI is either not declining at all or is declining at a slower rate
than the international average.

There are several items of evidence for this. One comes from the results
of an international survey questionnaire conducted in 1998. The survey, which
was conducted by and for sociologists, had a focus on religious beliefs &
practices in 30 countries. In some countries this so-called "1998" survey
was not actually completed until 2000. The results for all countries were
finalised and published in January 2001. The following four paragraphs are
a synopsis of an article about the results of the survey in the RoI. The
full article appeared in the March 2001 issue of the largest-circulating
Catholic magazine in the USA. The article was written by Andrew M. Greeley,
a professor of sociology who participated in the design of the specialisations
of the questionnaire in the RoI.

**************************
ABRIDGEMENT OF http://www.americapress.org/articles/greeley-ireland.htm

Based on two surveys of the Republic of Ireland as part of
the International Social Survey Program (1991 and 1998), if
the proper measures of Catholicism are faith and devotion,
then the Irish are still Catholic. There has been no change
in their belief in God, heaven, miracles and life after death
in the last decade, and church attendance rates are still the
highest in Europe (and have not declined either). In 1998
63 percent of the Irish said they attend Mass at least once
a week and 73 percent said they attend at least two or three
times a month.

If, on the other hand, the proper measures of faith are
acceptance of church authority and adherence to the church’s
sexual and reproductive ethic, then the Irish are no longer
Catholic -- but then neither are any other Catholic people
in Europe, including the Italians and the Poles. Take
premarital sex for example. Only 30 percent if the Irish
say they believe that premarital sex is always wrong,
compared to 18 percent in Poland and 17 percent in Italy
and 19 percent among American Catholics.

Despite the rejection of the church's teachings on sex and
reproduction, it is clear that the Irish still think they're
Catholic, as evidenced by the high rate of Mass attendance
and the very high percentage who identify themselves as
Catholic. University education has very little impact on
these results. This refutes the popular notion that exposing
young men and women to an education that is largely secular
will have a negative impact on their faith. When presented
with a cafeteria of items that might be essential to a
Catholic identity, they give their top votes to help for the
poor, the presence of God in the sacraments, the presence of
Jesus in the Eucharist, the pope as the head of the church,
and Mary the mother of Jesus. Moreover the younger generation
(born since 1970 -- between 18 and 28 at the time of the
1998 study) score higher on all these items than do their
elders.

What about the sex scandals among the clergy that attract so
much attention in the Irish media? The 1998 International
Social Survey Program included some questions about confidence
in types of local leadership -- political, business, labor,
educational, police and priests. The first three scored low.
Teachers had the highest ratings, followed by the police,
followed by the local priest. However, when the responses
were tabulated by age, an astonishing finding emerged --
the highest level of confidence in the local priest
(70 percent) was among the youngest cohort. In fact, there
was a U curve by cohort -- high confidence among those
born in the 1920's and 30's and among those born in the
60's and 70's, lowest confidence among those born in the
40's and 50's. This U curve is in fact a paradigm for
generational differences among the Irish. The youngest
cohort is the most likely to say that it is "close" to
Catholicism, that Mary is essential to their religious
identity, that religion is important in their daily life
and that it affects their moral decisions large and small.

END OF ABRIDGED ARTICLE************************

More info about the 1998 international survey on religion is available at
http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/cgi/ab.prl?file=3065.

In a questionnaire survey in the RoI in 1999 by Irish Marketing Surveys,
which was reported in the Irish Independent newspaper on 16 December 1999,
94% of the population described themselves as Catholic, 2% Protestant, and
1% no religion, with the remaining 3% mostly declining to answer the question
and a small fraction giving non-Christian religions [no online ref]. In a
questionnaire survey in the RoI in 2000, reported in the Irish Times newspaper
on 27 December 2000, 87% of the population said that attending Sunday Mass
was of some importance to themselves personally. Of the remaining 13% who
said that it was of no importance, about half nevertheless identify themselves
as Catholic. (http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/front/2000/1227/fro2.htm).

According to all three of the surveys I've just quoted from, the young people
report going to church less frequently than the older people do. This has
been taken by some observers as a sign that the Catholic Church is in decline
in RoI. have three comments about that. (1) To repeat, the 1998 International
Social Survey indicates that young people in the RoI overwhelmingly identify
themselves as Catholic, are likely to say they are "close" to Catholicism,
say they have a high level confidence in the clergy, etc. The 1999 and 2000
surveys are consistent with that -- the overwhelming majority of the young
people state they are Catholic. (2) Young people a generation ago didn't
attend church as frequently as their elders, too. But they went back to church
more frequently as they matured, particularly after they had children. Many
of today's 20 and 30 year-olds will probably do the same thing in a few years.
(3) The data about church attendance is coming from self-reports, i.e., what
people say on questionnaires. Gathering data from self-reports is okay for
questions about beliefs and identifications, but it is seriously unreliable
for a question about actual behaviour such as frequency of church attendance.

The unreliability of self-reports has been demonstrated by studies that use
other ways to gather the church attendance data. Here's one type of study
that has been done in several non-metropolitan counties in the USA and also
in Canada: Count every adult entering every church in the county on a certain
Sunday, then later in the week ask a random sample of adults in the county
whether they attended church the previous Sunday. The studies show that,
in the USA and Canada, the number of people who *say* they attend church
weekly is quite literally twice as high as the number who *actually* attend
church weekly. (http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_prac.htm#poll ). In
Britain the number of people who *say* they attend church weekly fell sharply
during the decade of the 1990s. It was just 12% of the population in the
British Social Attitudes Survey of 1999 (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=3722
). But other indications suggest that the decline in actual attendances in
Britain was smaller -- more people in their self-reports stopped fooling
themselves and/or fooling the questionnaire.

Self-reports are unreliable. They are particularly unreliable in countries
where the population has relatively low levels of personal integrity and
scruples. Moreover an international statistical correlation exists between
high rates of church attendance (based on self reports) and low levels of
personal integrity and scruples. Objective international measures of integrity
and scruples include prevalence of using illegal copies of software programs,
prevalence of fraud in the ewe sheep subsidy scheme by farmers in the EU
countries, tax cheating in the building and construction industry, etc. (e.g.
http://www.BSA.org/usa/globallib/piracy/1999_Piracy_Stats.pdf). Statistically
speaking, as I said, countries in which the population scores relatively
low on measures of integrity and scruples also tend to have relatively high
rates of religious attendance and even higher rates of people *saying* they
frequently attend religious services. For instance, according to the World
Values Survey, the country with the world's highest rate of self-reported
religious attendance is Nigeria, a country that is notorious for the lack
of integrity and scruples at all levels of its society. The Arab countries
have high rates of religious attendance together with bad rates of software
fraud, bribery, tax evasion, etc. Whereas, e.g., Germany, the UK, Australia
and Japan rank among the lowest on religious attendance and among the highest
on measures of integrity and scruples. The RoI ranks highest in the developed
world in religious attendance while ranking near the bottom on measures of
integrity and scruples (though the RoI looks much better compared to most
of the developing world on measures of integrity and scruples -- that's one
of the things that defines the RoI as "developed"). We should suspect that
the self reports about church attendance contain substantial exaggerations
and falsehoods in the RoI. The exaggerations and falsehoods might well be
greater in the older generations. Due to the unreliability of self-reports,
a better indicator of church attendance is the reports from the communion
bread bakeries in the RoI concerning the demand for communion bread. The
bakeries are saying that demand has been going up recently. Considering the
demographic bulge around the young people in the RoI, I think it's hardly
possible that demand for communion bread could be going up if church attendance
by young people were going down. Source for trends in demand for communion
bread in the RoI: http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2001/05/06/stiireire02007.html


westprog++

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 6:21:46 AM7/20/01
to
"Gabh Mo Leitheid" <gabh.mo.l...@ireland.com> wrote in message news:<3b57d64c$1...@news.boards.ie>...
...

> The theory of natural selection has no explanations for any this, nor
> explanations
> for any other of the specifics in the record of evolution. The theory makes
> the tautological claim of survival of the fittest, then follows it up with
> the unverified & unverifiable claim that the fundamental process of change
> is blind random mutations. So long as the latter claim continues to be unverifiable
> I will continue to find it incredible. Basically I don't believe that a
> biological
> system as complex and brilliant as a horse, or a horse's kidney, could have
> evolved from blind randomness. I don't have an alternative explanation, but
> believing in blind randomness calls for an act of faith I'm not capable of
> making.

A significant point here - the fossil record, and contemporary
biology, can only be explained by evolution of one species into
another. The commonly accepted mechanism for this is natural
selection. Evolution and natural selection are two seperate things,
however, and while it is almost impossible to study biology and
disbelieve evolution, natural selection as the mechanism is much
harder to prove and observe.

It is a common rhetorical trick of creationists to misuse difficulties
with natural selection as evidence against evolution.


J/

SOTW: "Cadillac Walk" - Mink DeVille

"If physical force is ever to be used...it is there to be used by the
party that is returned by the people to use it, but not by anybody
else."

westprog++

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 6:39:54 AM7/20/01
to
F achadóir ach@d.óir> wrote in message ...
>Scríobh Gabh Mo Leitheid <3b57f57b$1...@news.boards.ie> :

>>Despite the rejection of the church's teachings on sex and
>>reproduction, it is clear that the Irish still think they're
>>Catholic, as evidenced by the high rate of Mass attendance
>>and the very high percentage who identify themselves as
>>Catholic. University education has very little impact on
>>these results. This refutes the popular notion that exposing
>>young men and women to an education that is largely secular
>>will have a negative impact on their faith.

>I wouldn't have thought it would. It does OTOH make them less
willing
>to accept authority without question, hence the rejection of church
>teachings, IMO.

A secular based education does not equate to teaching people to
question authority. Much of the secular education in the 20th century
was based around an unquestioning acceptance of authority.

brian wallace

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 7:24:03 AM7/20/01
to
"Gabh Mo Leitheid" <gabh.mo.l...@ireland.com> wrote in message news:<3b57d64c$1...@news.boards.ie>...
> Jon Fleming <jo...@fleming-nospam.com> wrote:
> >the tautology objection does not hold in either sports
> >or evolutionary theory.
>
> The tautology objection does hold to a significant extent in sports: It&#8217;s

> largely a mystery why some professional teams win more games than other professional
> teams. Fuzzy psychological stuff seems to be a bigger factor than objectively
> measurable traits. Why did the English and US national soccer teams do poorly
> in the nineties while the Swedish and Romanian teams did well? It&#8217;s a scientific

> mystery, as far as I know.
>
> The tautology objection holds to a greater extent in evolutionary theory.
> In terms of your analogy with winning sports teams: the evolutionists don't
> provide a verifiable explanation of why some teams (species) perform better
> than others. They can&#8217;t define the traits that make some lifeforms winners
> and others loosers. They don't deliver an understanding of &#8220;natural selection&#8221;
> (or &#8220;natural drift&#8221;) beyond their tautology.

>
> Natural life contains an enormous amout of diversity. The evolutionists can't
> say how any of the specifics came about, except by making unverifiable speculations.
> Most types of diversity don&#8217;t have good plausible explanations from the natural
> selection point of view, and where plausible explanations exist they aren&#8217;t

> verifiable.
>
>
> Brian L <do...@spam.me> wrote:
> >If you say "survival of the fittest" is a
> >tautology you're not only saying it's true, you're saying it's
> >_necessarily_ true. Is that really what you're trying to say?
>
> There's no doubt that many species used to be around that are now defunct.
> (We don't know in most cases why they failed to survive.) There's no doubt
> either that the Lord endowed life with the ability to mutate and evolve --
> or, if you want to take the Lord out of the picture, that evolution of species
> has been very well demonstrated, at least at the &#8220;micro&#8221; level. Take horses

> for instance. Loads of fossil evidence demonstrates that horses lived in
> North America around 40,000 years ago. But no horses were present when Europeans
> arrived 500 years ago. Some horses brought by the Europeans escaped onto
> the plains, and prospered so well in the wild that by the early 19th century
> wild horses were so abundant on the plains that the Indian warriors were
> mostly fighting on horseback using horses captured from the wild herds. The
> horse fossils in America dating from 40,000 years ago are rather similar
> to the horse fossils of Russia dating from the same period. They are smaller
> than the smallest of today's horses. None of the horses from fossil records
> from any ancient period or any geographic area are half as big as today's
> racehorses. Yet the speed of today's racehorses didn't increase at all during
> the 20th century despite intensive efforts at selective breeding for speed.
>
> The theory of natural selection has no explanations for any this, nor explanations
> for any other of the specifics in the record of evolution. The theory makes
> the tautological claim of survival of the fittest, then follows it up with
> the unverified & unverifiable claim that the fundamental process of change
> is blind random mutations. So long as the latter claim continues to be unverifiable
> I will continue to find it incredible. Basically I don't believe that a biological
> system as complex and brilliant as a horse, or a horse's kidney, could have
> evolved from blind randomness. I don't have an alternative explanation, but
> believing in blind randomness calls for an act of faith I'm not capable of
> making.


if only your abiities in breathing were as limited as your abilities in thinking

Mark Devlin

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 10:58:25 AM7/20/01
to
In article <o7uflt4sl3pmq5h4d...@4ax.com>, Féach@d.óir wrote:

> http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/letters/2001/0720/index.htm#8
> There are four letters to the Editor in today's Irish Times in
> response to this article. None supports Tassot's point of view.

Indeed, two of them are a good illustration of the evolutionary concept of
'convergence'.

--
Mark Devlin kr...@REVERSEocixotSMALL.edLETTERS www.toxico.de

Dawiyya Ifranj

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 11:45:23 AM7/20/01
to
On Fri, 20 Jul 2001 14:58:25 GMT, k...@emloam.mi (Mark Devlin) wrote:

>Indeed, two of them are a good illustration of the evolutionary concept of
>'convergence'.

Or the fact that only one person ever writes letters to the editor
under various psuedonyms.

I thought your nom de guerre of "Peter Hart" was most efficacious
myself.

Gavin Bailey

--

"This time, at Cowley's call, it was Doyle's turn to be aroused by Bodie."
- The Professionals: Where The Jungle Ends, by Ken Blake

Derek Bell

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 12:11:19 PM7/20/01
to
In soc.culture.irish Brendan Heading <TheGreat...@hotmail.com> wrote:
: A certain Derek Bell, of soc.culture.irish "fame", writes :
:> The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
:>the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
:>"no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known.
: Creationists are great laugh. I heard one the other day about some
: investigations which had looked closely at the old testament and found
: that the stories were inconsistent; for them to be true, some of the
: people in the stories would have to be several hundred years old.

The late Charles K. Johnson, president of the International
Flat Earth Research Society, would have easily given them a run for
their money. (Apparently he considered the round earth as
"anti-Christian" - he was a hardcore fundamentalist.)

Derek
--
Derek Bell db...@maths.tcd.ie |"Usenet is a strange place."
WWW: http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~dbell/index.html| - Dennis M Ritchie,
PGP: http://www.maths.tcd.ie/~dbell/key.asc | 29 July 1999.
|

Derek Bell

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 12:15:08 PM7/20/01
to
In soc.culture.irish Fiona Hyland <fi...@hylit.com> wrote:
:> The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
:> the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
:> "no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known. I'd have looked
: Funny for the IT to publish it! In a way it's kind of nice to see
: something that's fairly far outside the mainstream but they really
: should have published a short rebuttal as well.

I wouldn't be surprised if they will - Dick Ahlstrom is the
science editor and if nobody else writes a rebuttal, I'd say he will.

The article was in the opinion section - they've published
responses before.

Wayne Bagguley

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 12:36:29 PM7/20/01
to
"Gabh Mo Leitheid" <gabh.mo.l...@ireland.com> wrote in message news:<3b564383$1...@news.boards.ie>...

> I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all.
> Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism.
> It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its flaws
> and incompletenesses.
>
> Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against
> evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
> (1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
> fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
> Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because
> they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").

Utter bollocks. Those best suited to the environment are the fittest. Those
less well suited to the environment are the less fit. There's not circularity
at all.

> (2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations")
> that are totally random. But all they can say to support the claim that the
> mutations are random is that no one can discern any pattern, or any process
> guiding the direction of change. Just because it looks random to us at present
> doesn't mean that it actually is random.

If something looks random, it is random. You can actually statistically test
if something is random or not and mutations are random WRT improving the
genome of an organism.

> (3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't science,
> it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable. True
> scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about evolution.

There's no such thing as 'evolutionism'. It's a silly creationist concept
to group people together as the evil opposition.

The article, and your posting, are both utter bollocks. You probably can't
see why, but then again you are an intellectually poor, brainwashed cult
member.

-
Wayne

China Kate Sunflower

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 11:47:22 AM7/20/01
to
Goddamn, well I declare! Have you seen the like? Their walls are built on
cannonballs, k...@emloam.mi's motto is:

>
>In article <o7uflt4sl3pmq5h4d...@4ax.com>, Féach@d.óir wrote:
>
>> http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/letters/2001/0720/index.htm#8
>> There are four letters to the Editor in today's Irish Times in
>> response to this article. None supports Tassot's point of view.
>
>Indeed, two of them are a good illustration of the evolutionary concept of
>'convergence'.

Jesus! I didn't even notice Westie's name!

I wrote a letter to the IT (on a different topic) the other day, but they didn't
print it.


K.

--
"Boche had known a joiner who had stripped himself stark naked in the Rue Saint-
Martin and died doing the polka - he was an absinthe drinker." -- Emile Zola

http://www.celticweb.com/users/noracharles

Tom Walsh

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 1:03:08 PM7/20/01
to
Brendan Heading <TheGreat...@hotmail.com> writes:

> A certain Gabh Mo Leitheid, of soc.culture.irish "fame", writes :

> >(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations")


> >that are totally random.
>
> Erm...

Mutations are random; selection is non-random, or as Richard Dawkins puts it:

Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators.

Tom

Emmit Svenson

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 1:07:54 PM7/20/01
to
> Basically I don't believe that a biological
> system as complex and brilliant as a horse, or a horse's kidney, could have
> evolved from blind randomness. I don't have an alternative explanation, but
> believing in blind randomness calls for an act of faith I'm not capable of
> making.

I find it hard to believe that erosion carved the grand canyon. The
breathtaking outcome doesn't seem the result of an unguided (what some
would call "random") process. The lengths of time necessary boggle the
mind. But erosion is a compelling explanation, backed up with
mountains of evidence.

Ditto for natural selection. It's a compelling explanation for the
diversity of life on earth, and it's backed up by mountains of
evidence. I suggest reading "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins.
It's an excellent introduction to the facts. It helps the reader
understand and marvel at the immense span of time it took for
one-celled organisms to evolve into horses, horses' kidneys, and
horses' asses like the smug primates who feel threatened by the truth
of natural selection.

Derek Bell

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 2:08:57 PM7/20/01
to
Gabh Mo Leitheid <gabh.mo.l...@ireland.com> wrote:
: I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all.

: Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism.
: It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its flaws
: and incompletenesses.

I beg to differ - the strawmen arguments regarding thermodynamics
and transitional forms are definitely - the thermodynamic argument
assumes a closed system, with no energy entering or leaving it. However,
the Earth is not a closed system, as the Sun pours huge amounts of
energy into it.

As for the ending, it's a standard creationist ad-hominem,
so I wouldn't be surprised if the author had creationist leanings.

: Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against


: evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
: (1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
: fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
: Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive?
: Because they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology
: ("vicious circularity").

It's an observation. It's also *not* the definition of
evolution, which refers instead to change in genetic diversity.

: (2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes
: ("mutations") that are totally random. But all they can say to support


: the claim that the mutations are random is that no one can discern any
: pattern, or any process guiding the direction of change. Just because
: it looks random to us at present doesn't mean that it actually is random.

If you're arguing that any process could be something that
is other than it appears, then that applies to *anything*, not just
evolution.

Secondly, you missed out the other important aspect of evolution:
selection.

: (3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't science,


: it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable. True
: scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about evolution.

This is so vague as to be meaningless.

gabh mo leitheid

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 3:48:51 PM7/20/01
to

Tom Walsh <t...@bomba.dil> wrote:
>Life results from the non-random survival of randomly varying replicators.

Non-random survival amounts is a vacuous tautology on close inspection, and
randomly varying replicators is an unverifiable hypothesis (one which some
of us believe is false).

gabh mo leitheid

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 4:03:39 PM7/20/01
to

west...@hotmail.com (westprog++) wrote:
>F achadóir ach@d.óir> wrote in message ...
>>It does OTOH make them less willing
>>to accept authority without question, hence the rejection of church
>>teachings, IMO.
>
>A secular based education does not equate to teaching people to
>question authority. Much of the secular education in the 20th century
>was based around an unquestioning acceptance of authority.

Good point. Another point is that "questioning authority" and "rejection
of church teachings" is only in the area of sex and reproduction. The invention
of safe contraceptives has made previous morality in that area invalid and
unreasonable. The people in the Irish Republic were by far the slowest in
Europe to modernise and liberalise in that area, though they haven't been
as slow as the popes and cardinals and other Catholic authorities. But, to
get to the point, the "questioning authority" in the sex and reproduction
area is happening about equally at all education levels in RoI. Women who
went to university are not substantially more likely to refrain from using
contraceptives and having sex than are women who didn't go to university.


gabh mo leitheid

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 4:06:33 PM7/20/01
to

Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> wrote:
>Scríobh gabh mo leitheid <3b588b23$1...@news.boards.ie> :
>The above sentence is without semantic content.

It has a typo. I'll say it again. The "non-random survival" part is a vacuous
tautology on close inspection, and the "randomly varying replicators" part
is an unverifiable hypothesis.


gabh mo leitheid

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 4:20:19 PM7/20/01
to

Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> wrote:
>ScrĂ­obh Gabh Mo Leitheid <3b57d64c$1...@news.boards.ie> :
>>The tautology objection does hold to a significant extent in sports: It’s

>>largely a mystery why some professional teams win more games than other
professional
>>teams.
>
>Only to non-sports fans. The favourites usually win, and the bookies
>aren't in the business of losing money.

The main criterion -- in fact the only criterion -- that is used to pick
winners is past performance, particularly recent past performance. As I said,
we don't understand why some professional teams win more games than other
professional teams. The definition of a better team is just that it wins
more games, a tautology.

>[BTW, this only posted to soc.culture.irish, so the person you're
>responding to won't see it. You wouldn't be doing that deliberately
>now would you?]

It's reckless disregard, rather than deliberate. I'm posting from boards.ie,
which doesn't let me cross-post to talk.origins. I expect that talk.origins
has heard it all before, and I couldn't be bothered to take the trouble to
leave boards.ie and go someplace where I could cross-post.

"gabh_mo_leitheid"_gabh.mo.leitheid

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 10:38:05 PM7/20/01
to

west...@hotmail.com (westprog++) wrote:
>Evolution and natural selection are two seperate things,
>however, and while it is almost impossible to study biology and
>disbelieve evolution, natural selection as the mechanism is much
>harder to prove and observe.

I disagree. My understanding of "natural selection" is that it's just an
empty tautology. It doesn't have to be proved or observed, because it's true
by definition. When you boil it down, all it says is that those who survive
are the ones who survived. Those who survive are "naturally selected", but
the process natural selection is completely undefined (except for a circular
reference to surviving).

"gabh_mo_leitheid"_gabh.mo.leitheid

unread,
Jul 20, 2001, 10:49:37 PM7/20/01
to

snow...@snowbird.freeserve.co.uk (Wayne Bagguley) wrote:
>Those best suited to the environment are the fittest. Those
>less well suited to the environment are the less fit. There's
>not circularity at all.

There is, because you don't say what "best suited to the environment" is.

Those who survive are those who are best suited to the environment. Who are
best suited to the environment? Those who survive. What do they have that
makes the best suited? To answer that in a non-tautological way, you have
to get into unverifiable speculations about specifics. E.g., humans and sheep
have small litter sizes while pigs and dogs have large litter sizes. In keeping
with this, a female sheep has two teats while a female pig has about a dozen
teats. Then you go ahead and speculate why sheep with two teats were naturally
selected and pigs with 12 teats were naturally selected. But it's unverifiable,
worthless, useless, speculation, like speculating how many angels can dance
on the head of a pin.


Adam Marczyk

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 12:27:43 PM7/21/01
to
Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> wrote in message
news:pspiltg64nhdda6gp...@4ax.com...
> Scríobh gabh mo leitheid gabh.mo.leitheid <3b58edc1$1...@news.boards.ie>
> :
> [forwarded to talk.origins]

The best suited organisms, from a standpoint of evolutionary success, are
those who leave the most offspring. Simple, isn't it?

--
And I want to conquer the world,
give all the idiots a brand new religion,
put an end to poverty, uncleanliness and toil,
promote equality in all of my decisions...
--Bad Religion, "I Want to Conquer the World"

To send e-mail, change "excite" to "hotmail"

Morgoth's Cat

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 12:44:50 PM7/21/01
to
On 18 Jul 2001 19:40:03 -0400, "Frank Reichenbacher"
<fr...@bio-con.com> scribed:

>
><snip>


>
>> Creationists are great laugh. I heard one the other day about some
>> investigations which had looked closely at the old testament and found
>> that the stories were inconsistent; for them to be true, some of the
>> people in the stories would have to be several hundred years old.
>

>Duh. I can see that you have never read the Bible. I suggest that you do. I
>am not a religious person and I am committed to science and to evolution,
>but I have read the Bible. It is by far and away the most important book
>ever written, every educated person living in a Christian society must read
>the Bible.

Gently steaming piles of quivering bollocks. The Lord of the Rings is
the most important book ever written..

Best Regards,
Dave
High-Priest of the Church of Tolkien.


--
**************************************************************
* Supernovae, Supernova Remnants and Young-Earth Creationism *
* http://www.valinor.freeserve.co.uk/supernova.html *
**************************************************************

Morgoth's Cat

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 12:48:18 PM7/21/01
to
On 20 Jul 2001 09:35:30 -0400, Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> scribed:

>Scríobh westprog++ <c7dadbe0.01072...@posting.google.com>

>>>I wouldn't have thought it would. It does OTOH make them less
>>willing
>>>to accept authority without question, hence the rejection of church
>>>teachings, IMO.
>>
>>A secular based education does not equate to teaching people to
>>question authority.
>

>Secular schmecular. A good education should result in someone who can
>think for themselves


>
>>Much of the secular education in the 20th century
>>was based around an unquestioning acceptance of authority.
>

>Y'know, I know people who went to convent schools & church-controlled
>universities (who dares to speak of Notre Dame?) & are perfectly
>capable of thinking for themselves. I know people who attended state
>schools & will parrot back what their textbooks told them.
>
>I have nothing against a church-supported education, provided its a
>*good* education.
>
>--
>An Féachadóir abardubh at eircom dot net
>Read the FAQ: http://www.geocities.com/welisc/ifaq
>Seanfhocal na Seachtaine: "Géill Slí"
>

Look where it's got everyone in NI...

Best Regards,
Dave

P.S. that you Ger?

Morgoth's Cat

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 12:45:59 PM7/21/01
to
On 19 Jul 2001 20:06:09 -0400, Jon Fleming <jo...@fleming-nospam.com>
scribed:

>On 18 Jul 2001 15:51:22 -0400, Brendan Heading
><TheGreat...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>>A certain Derek Bell, of soc.culture.irish "fame", writes :
>>> The author trots out several arguments that are old hat:
>>>the fallacious appeal to the second law of thermodynamics and the
>>>"no transitional fossils" nonsense are well-known.
>>
>>Creationists are great laugh. I heard one the other day about some
>>investigations which had looked closely at the old testament and found
>>that the stories were inconsistent; for them to be true, some of the
>>people in the stories would have to be several hundred years old.
>>
>>Apparently the Creationists counter this by saying that people used to
>>live for hundreds of years whenever there was no pollution.
>
>Oh, there are other counters. Radiation, for example.
><http://www.reasons.org/resources/faf/97q4faf/97q4news.html>.
>
>(The author is a well-qualified astrophysicist, so he does not believe
>in a young universe ... but he has difficulty with biology).

Ross? He has loonie moments, as you said. His whole "Vela Supernova
was the cause of the fall" is sad though (see
http://www.valinor.freeserve.co.uk/supernova.htlm#BM8 for details)

Best Regards,
Dave

Morgoth's Cat

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 12:47:28 PM7/21/01
to
On 19 Jul 2001 13:32:30 -0400, briane...@hotmail.com (brian
wallace) scribed:

>Wade Hines <wade....@rcn.com> wrote in message news:<3B56E5B6...@rcn.com>...
>> "Féachadóir" wrote:
>> >
>> > Scríobh Gabh Mo Leitheid <3b564383$1...@news.boards.ie> :
>> >
>> > [since you posted through boards.ie, your post didn't make it to
>> > talk.origins. I suggest you use Google to follow this thread in
>> > talk.origins where it properly belongs, in the meantime this post is
>> > forwarded there]


>> >
>> > >I thought it was a nice piece, and not bizarre at all.
>> > >Note that the piece doesn't argue for biblical creationism.
>> > >It only argues against Darwinian evolutionism, pointing out some of its flaws
>> > >and incompletenesses.
>> > >

>> > >Besides the points raised in the piece, here are a couple more points against
>> > >evolutionism, specifically the Darwinian evolutionism.
>> > >(1) The Darwinists say that the force guiding evolution is "survial of the
>> > >fittest". Who survives? The fittest. Who are the fittest? Those who survive.
>> > >Why are they the fittest? Because they survived. Why did they survive? Because
>> > >they are the fittest. It's just a vacuuous tautology ("vicious circularity").
>>

>> Survival of the fittest is an observation, not a conclusion. That you
>> note it is a tautology conceeds that it is true. Tautologous conclusions
>> are rather trite but, again, survival of the fittest is one of the
>> observations that natural selection is based on, not a conclusion.
>>
>> The conclusion is that the overall makeup of a population will change
>> based on the observations that survival to reproduce is skewed by
>> traits that enhance reproductive success. It is such a simple logical
>> step that it doesn't seem a profound bit of thinking even if it has
>> profound implications.

>>
>> > >(2) The Darwinists say that evolution is brought about by changes ("mutations")
>> > >that are totally random. But all they can say to support the claim that the
>> > >mutations are random is that no one can discern any pattern, or any process
>> > >guiding the direction of change. Just because it looks random to us at present
>> > >doesn't mean that it actually is random.
>>

>> This is completely and utterly true. Well, mutations aren't completely random
>> but the biochemical basis of mutation is well understood and to the degree
>> that they are understood and that the available mechanisms bias the likelihood
>> of random chemistry producing an ensemble of mutations, mutation does indeed
>> appear to be completely understandable as a random chemical process. That
>> said, one cannot prove that there isn't a special someone playing behind
>> the scenes. Still, few scientists claim otherwise and I don't see the
>> point behind (2).


>>
>>
>> > >(3) As the man said in the opinion piece, much of evolutionism isn't science,
>> > >it is unverifiable speculation, with emphasis on the word unverifiable. True
>> > >scientists and true atheists shouldn't believe in theories about evolution.
>>

>> Without specifics, nothing valuable has been said about and therefor there
>> really isn't anything there to consider beyond the vacuuous nature of
>> such an empty statement as (3). Agreeing or disagreeing with it are both
>> equivalent to agreeing or disagreeing with nothing.
>
>people who dont believe in evolution are in need of some
>the fact that 97% of humanity are so stupid thet they believe in some
>form of religeon is a consequence of game theory
>-humans domesticated other humans as well as cattle
>
>irelan...@yahoogroups.com
>

I don't believe in evolution. I accept the theory of evolution just
like the theory of gravity and so on - on the basis of the
overwhelming amount of evidence supporting it.

Mark Devlin

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 1:11:34 PM7/21/01
to
In article <9jcah7$1ee4$1...@node21.cwnet.roc.gblx.net>, "Adam Marczyk"
<ebon...@excite.com> wrote:

> Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> wrote in message
> news:pspiltg64nhdda6gp...@4ax.com...
> > Scríobh gabh mo leitheid gabh.mo.leitheid <3b58edc1$1...@news.boards.ie>

> > >Those who survive are those who are best suited to the environment. Who
> > > are best suited to the environment? Those who survive. What do they have that
> > > makes the best suited? To answer that in a non-tautological way, you have

> > > to get into unverifiable speculations about specifics.[...]


> > > But it's unverifiable, worthless, useless, speculation, like speculating how many angels can
> > > dance on the head of a pin.
>
> The best suited organisms, from a standpoint of evolutionary success, are
> those who leave the most offspring. Simple, isn't it?

Well, yes, it is. G.M. Leithid's difficulty seems to be that (s?)he thinks
'natural selection' to be a driving principle, a more scientifically
presentable version of the specially-creating divinity or the élan vital. It
is not; it might better be described as a statistical principle.

His/her response to the notion of 'survival of the fittest' is to complain of
circularity: those who accept Darwinian theories cannot define 'fitness' more
helpfully than as 'anything that helps an organism survive long enough to
reproduce.'

(S)he is correct, of course. But this is not Darwinism's poverty; it is
Darwinism's point. There isn't some ideal factor called Fitness, possession
of more of which confers a reproductive edge. Rather, if in a given
population of organisms in a given environment, some one heritable
characteristic happens for any reason to confer a better chance of survival
on individuals with that characteristic than those without, that
characteristic will tend over time to become more prevalent, just as the
other tends to die out. And that's all we mean when we say that those
individuals with this characteristic are 'fitter'. There is nothing
inherently special about (say) a specific number of teats. Given the nature
of the specific organism in question and the environment it inhabits, two or
twelve or none might confer superior fitness (or make the organism less fit,
or have no effect whatever). 'Fitness' is not a value-judgement.

Now, if Mr/Ms Leithid wishes to continue this discussion, is there any hope
at all (s)he will do so in the confines of talk.origins? As a small
contribution to the fitness of this thread, I have set the follow-ups
accordingly.

Mark Devlin

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 1:28:21 PM7/21/01
to
In article <njejltgvabnjnade5...@4ax.com>, Féach@d.óir wrote:

> >There is nothing
> >inherently special about (say) a specific number of teats.
>

> I knew there was a downside to evolution.

Relax; I was speaking of the grand scheme of things. Down at species level,
I'd suspect there might be a fair bit of sexual selection involving number
(and perhaps some other parameters) among H.sapiens.

kfuzzbox

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 2:54:11 PM7/21/01
to
Morgoth's Cat <mango...@my-dejanews.com> wrote:


> I don't believe in evolution. I accept the theory of evolution just
> like the theory of gravity and so on - on the basis of the
> overwhelming amount of evidence supporting it.


Did ever see yer man David Blaine? He can levitate right off the ground.
Explain that one? You can't - except that he does it for real. Then the
next question must be; where does the gravity go when he is doing it?
For instance, I never bought the way gravity was explained to me in
school. They told us that the reason why we stay on the earth and not
float off into space can be demonstrated by swinging a bucket of water
around in a circle and the water remains inside even when the bucket is
upside down. I don't buy this because; A) the earth is a sphere and not
a bucket, B) we are on the outside of the sphere and not on the interior
of a bucket. So according to the standard theory we all should fly off
into space. Right? Another thing that makes me question gravity is that
everywhere is downhill when I come out of the pub with a few jars on me.
Mind you, I went to school in the Republic of Ireland where they told us
that Unionists in Northern Ireland are psychologically incapable of
recognising the advancement of human history beyond 1690 and as we all
now know that turned out to be bollox as well. But I still think that
gravity is open to question based on my own personal research into the
subject.

See, I am smarter than all you cunts.

QED

--
Professor Unki *puffing on his pipe with a smug look on his face*
University of Applied Narcotics
Southern California

Morgoth's Cat

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 2:56:41 PM7/21/01
to
On 21 Jul 2001 13:12:07 -0400, Féachadóir <Féach@d.óir> scribed:

>Scríobh Morgoth's Cat <3b59b28c...@news.freeserve.net> :


>
>>>I have nothing against a church-supported education, provided its a
>>>*good* education.
>

>>Look where it's got everyone in NI...
>

>I'm not from NI, I'm from the Republic. There are more state-sector
>schools in NI than in the Republic

Which are still influenced by the various protestant churches...

Witness the hoohah over integrated education.

Best Regards,
Dave


>
>--
>An Féachadóir abardubh at eircom dot net
>Read the FAQ: http://www.geocities.com/welisc/ifaq
>Seanfhocal na Seachtaine: "Géill Slí"
>

--

Morgoth's Cat

unread,
Jul 21, 2001, 6:18:45 PM7/21/01