the evolution thread
Steven D. Jamar
sjamar at LAW.HOWARD.EDU
Fri Mar 6 16:07:32 PST 1998
Rick Duncan and I agree on at least one thing regarding this topic - the
limits of scientific understanding of evolution should be taught when
teaching evolution (or at least we agreed on this point last year when this
topic came up).
But I disagree most strenously with Philip Johnson's contention that to
teach evolution is to teach a sort of unguided materialism - which Johnson
all but identifies as establishing a religion (and indeed probably does
explicitly consider it to be such, but I have not seen him say it in just
those words) - just like teaching humanistic values without using Biblical
sources establishes secular humanism. And which materialism Johnson
considers to be anti-religious. Johnson contends that the majority should
be able to tell the evolutionists to stay out of school and that evolution
not be taught at all.
As to Mike McConnell's point of irreducible complexity - this is mostly a
bogus argument, especially when coupled with really bad use of statistical
probability calculations. Evolution has come up with many, many things
gradually and by chance and some things in a punctuated fashion. The fact
that some changes are made which do no harm (and hence survive) and then
become really useful when another change happens - and thus create a really
good thing - does not mean that the complex had to be created all at once.
The cell did not come into being all at once. Some life forms are not
cells. And not all cells are of the same complexity.
The irreducible complexity argument is something like saying you can't have
a mouse trap without all the elements of it - which may be true - but this
does not imply that all the things in the mouse trap were created
originally to make a mouse trap. The spring was made long before mouse
traps were made. Same with lever triggers and metal rods and wires. So
things which had purposes other than mouse-trap building can arise, even if
a mouse trap is something which is (almost) irreducably complex.
Steven D. Jamar
President, Legal Writing Institute
Professor of Law
Director LRW Program
Howard University School of Law
2900 Van Ness Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
vox: 202-806-8017 fax: 202-806-8428
email: sjamar at law.howard.edu
The more you know, the more you know you don't know.
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