The cure for cults that want to deny others
their freedom of speech is more freedom of speech
-- Fredric Rice

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Creationist Cults

Kansas Board Votes To Bar Evolution From Classroom

From: David Rice
To: [school board]
Date: Tuesday, June 15, 1999 11:51 PM
Subject: Evolutionary Sciences in Kansas

Greetings. I read in the Associated Press that some Creationists are opposing the teaching of the evolutionary sciences in Kansas public schools. I consider myself well informed on the subject, and I offer my time and skills to answer any question on the subject if the Kansas School Board wishes explanations or details upon the subject.

I consider it an abomination for Creationists to oppose the teaching of the evolutionary sciences. Evolution is an observed fact, no more "speculative" than gravity; evolutionary theory explains that fact. The two (evolution and evolutionary theory) as as separate and distinct as an apple pie and the recipe for making an apple pie.

Evolutionary theory has predictive power: it yielded predictions that were later demonstrated correct--- the very definition of a valid theory. However, even if evolutionary theory were not so validated and robust as it is, that would still leave the fact that evolution is observed to occur and to have occured. Take away evolutionary theory, and evolution would still exist.

The Reuters news article of 11 June 1999, has Reverend Bill Hoesch asserting that scientists are "skeptical" of evolution itself occuring, not just "skeptical" of the theory that describes and defines evolution. That is emphatically =NOT= the case. While scientists depate some of the mechanisms by which evolution occured and occurs, scientists do not debate the fact that evolution itself occured and occurs. The Creationists who assert otherwise are deliberately taking advantage of the fact that the uninformed lay public does not know the difference between evolution (an observed fact) and evolutionary theory (which describes the fact of evolution).

All scientific inquiry upon weather evolution occured and occurs has already been settled by the middle of this century (1950s and 1960s) in the affirmative: it is no longer subject to debate any more than heliocentrism, photosynthesis, gravity, and special relativity. For the Creationists to assert otherwise is absurd beyong belief. It is equal to asserting that Santa Claus delivers presents at Christmas time and that he does so on a flat Earth.

If members of the Kansas School Board have questions for me on the issue, or wish me to present a "Friend of the Court" document explaining details on the issue, the member(s) may contact me

Thank you for your time.


From: "Steve Abrams" <sabrams@hit.net>
To: "David Rice"
Subject: Re: Evolutionary Sciences in Kansas
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 08:26:06 -0500

Mr. Rice,

You made some claims in your message and then at the end you indicated that you would send a more detailed account of your claims if someone requested. Having read and studied evolution for some time, I am interested in your "document explaining detail" concerning the claims you made in your message.

Thank you.

Steve E. Abrams
sabrams@hit.net


From: "Steve Abrams" <sabrams@hit.net>
To: "David Rice"
Subject: Re: Evolutionary Sciences in Kansas
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 20:13:40 -0500

Mr. Rice,

I will cut and paste the message to clarify which comments I would like clarification on.

>>> .... Evolution is an observed fact, no more "speculative"
>>> than gravity; evolutionary theory explains that fact. The two
>>> (evolution and evolutionary theory) as as separate and distinct
>>> as an apple pie and the recipe for making an apple pie.

What facts are you referring to? What is the evolutionary theory to which you refer?

>>> Evolutionary theory has predictive power: it yielded
>>> predictions that were later demonstrated correct--- the
>>> very definition of a valid theory.

Again, what is the theory to which you refer? Which predictions are you refering to?

>>> However, even if evolutionary theory were not so
>>> validated and robust as it is, that would still leave the fact that
>>> evolution is observed to occur and to have occured. Take away
>>> evolutionary theory, and evolution would still exist.

>>> The Reuters news article of 11 June 1999, has Reverend Bill Hoesch
>>> asserting that scientists are "skeptical" of evolution itself
>>> occuring, not just "skeptical" of the theory that describes and
>>> defines evolution. That is emphatically =NOT= the case. While
>>> scientists depate some of the mechanisms by which evolution occured
>>> and occurs, scientists do not debate the fact that evolution itself
>>> occured and occurs. The Creationists who assert otherwise are
>>> deliberately taking advantage of the fact that the uninformed
>>> lay public does not know the difference between evolution (an
>>> observed fact) and evolutionary theory (which describes the
>>> fact of evolution).

Again, what observed facts are you referring to and what is the theory of evolution to which you refer?

>>> All scientific inquiry upon weather evolution occured and occurs
>>> has already been settled by the middle of this century (1950s and
>>> 1960s) in the affirmative:

Again, how is evolution defined? There have been several articles in "Science" and "Nature" that would seem to contradict your assertion that the issue of evolution was settled in the 50's and 60's (depending upon how you define evolution).

>>> it is no longer subject to debate any more than
>>> heliocentrism, photosynthesis, gravity, and special
>>> relativity. For the Creationists to assert otherwise
>>> is absurd beyong belief. It is equal to asserting that
>>> Santa Claus delivers presents at Christmas time and
>>> that he does so on a flat Earth.

Mr. Rice,

By asking these questions I am not trying to be impertinent or obstinate. But, I have discovered (through these many weeks of discussions with dozens of people) that not all of us have the same definition of theory, evolution, fact, and even science. Therefore, before trying to have a discussion, I try to make sure we are all on the same page as far as definitions go.

Steve E. Abrams


>From shydavid:

>>>> Evolution is an observed fact, no more "speculative" than
>>>> gravity; evolutionary theory explains that fact. The two
>>>> (evolution and evolutionary theory) as as separate and
>>>> distinct as an apple pie and the recipe for making an
>>>> apple pie.

> What facts are you referring to?

The fact of evolution occuring and having occured. The body of facts are generally listed under "Evidences of evOlution," of which I will be happy to provide a list, with summations, on demand.

> What is the evolutionary theory to which you refer?

The evolutionary theory, which explains evolution, is generally stated as "Differential reproductive success through mutation and natural selection." A more technical definition is "A change in a population's genome's alleles over time."

>>>> Evolutionary theory has predictive power: it yielded
>>>> predictions that were later demonstrated correct--- the
>>>> very definition of a valid theory.

> Again, what is the theory to which you refer?

Differential reproductive success coupled with natural selection, i.e. the body of knowledge that defines and explains evolution.

> Which predictions are you refering to?

The specific one I had in mind was DNA. Before Darwin, it was known that some sort of evolution had occured: it took Charles Darwin to figure out the mechanisms and to properly explain how evolution works. In 1859 he stated many objections to his theory in his book "On the Origins of Species." Those many objections also stated possible solutions, which he was confident scientific knowledge would varify as it was acquired. (As you know, a scientist does not demonstrate a hypothesis correct: she or he attempts to prove it false.) In his book he said, correctly, that in order for his theory of natural selection to be correct, heritability must be "granular" (i.e. very discrete units that are phenotypically expressed), and yet very nearly 100% accurate in replication. That is, he realized that there must be a small chance of mutation occuring in order for natural selection to have something to work with.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s that mechanism was discovered in DNA. It has PRECISELY the traits Darwin said it must have had. Its replication is very nearly 100% accurate. Of the mutations, most are phenotyically neutral. The majority of the rest are detrimental. The tiny few that remain are benificial. Darwin's prediction of the heritability mechanism paned out in spade. It is also interesting to note that natural selection has itself selected for the optimum amount of mutation; too much and a population is too unstable to exist; too little, and natural selection does not have enough to work with. As in every thing else in biology, trial-and-error appears to have been the means upon which a working solution was achieved.

His next greatest prediction, the fossil record, was an even greater success. At the time he published his first book, no transitional and intermediate fossils were known. He stated in his book that they must exist, otherwise he theory was not true. Six years later four seperate fossil finds of Archyoptrix were made, but as the fossils were intermediary between Aves and Reptilia, they were classified as a reptile. A few years later it was, of course, recogized as being feathered as well. Since that time, tens of thousands of transitional and intermediate fossils have been found. I have a list of some 300 of the more well-known ones: ask and I'll send it.

>>>> However, even if evolutionary theory were not so validated
>>>> and robust as it is, that would still leave the fact that
>>>> evolution is observed to occur and to have occured. Take
>>>> away evolutionary theory, and evolution would still exist.

>>>> The Reuters news article of 11 June 1999, has Reverend Bill Hoesch
>>>> asserting that scientists are "skeptical" of evolution itself
>>>> occuring, not just "skeptical" of the theory that describes and
>>>> defines evolution. That is emphatically =NOT= the case. While
>>>> scientists depate some of the mechanisms by which evolution occured
>>>> and occurs, scientists do not debate the fact that evolution itself
>>>> occured and occurs. The Creationists who assert otherwise are
>>>> deliberately taking advantage of the fact that the uninformed
>>>> lay public does not know the difference between evolution (an
>>>> observed fact) and evolutionary theory (which describes the
>>>> fact of evolution).

> Again, what observed facts are you referring to and what is
> the theory of evolution to which you refer?

The observed facts of evolution occuring is direct observation of evolution. Would you like a list of observed speciation events? That would fill an encyclopedia, but I'll be happy to send a brief summary.

Also the observed fact that evolution has occured in the past. The fossil record is one such evidentiary fact; genetic drift among a species is another; sililarity between species is another.

Yet another brilliant prediction that evolutionary theory made and later passed was genetic similarity. Before DNA was discovered, cladists (nearly all of whom were Creationists and Christian clergy, oddly enough) worked out relationships between species by the way they looked. Mammals together; birds together; etc. They also grouped organisms into family, species, etc. They did this with no knowledge of evolutionary theory, nor with the knowledge that evolution had occured.

Along came DNA "distancing" techniques. For long clains of proteins, one can combile DNA sequences from two seperate species and then measure the amount of heat required to pull the two strands apart. The more heat required, the stronger the bonds, and the similar the DNA sequence. It turned out that what the taxonomists built as their clades is very, very close to how DNA distancing would have built them. Evolutionary theory explains why they are similar; it also explains WHEN they had common ancestors, by the amount of mutation.

>>>> All scientific inquiry upon weather evolution occured and
>>>> occurs has already been settled by the middle of this
>>>> century (1950s and 1960s) in the affirmative:

> Again, how is evolution defined? There have been several
> articles in "Science" and "Nature" that would seem to contradict
> your assertion that the issue of evolution was settled in the
> 50's and 60's (depending upon how you define evolution).

You have confused evolution with evolutionary theory. The two are not the same, as I pointed out previously. I know of no article in _Nature_ that even remotely suggests that evolution has not and does not occur. The issue is how certain mechanisms of evolution occured and occurs.

You probably know that Grandualism has all but been replaced as the best explanation for speciation. That debate was won by Gould et al, who has shown that Punctuated Equilibrium fits the evidence better. While some still have debates about these two mechanisms, the issue of evolution itself occuring is no longer debated.

Interestingly enough, gradualism in geology was also replaced some 30 years before I was born by a somewhat similar mechanism. It is known that the geology we observe is the result of not only gradual orogenic / errosional mechanisms, but also it is by punctuated events such as floods, vulcanism, glaciation, and extraterrestrial boloid impacts. Strict geologic gradualism was therefore replaced long before I was born. Oddly enough, many Creationists insist that gheologists are all "Strict gradualists," whereas one would be hard pressed indeed to find one who is.

>Mr. Rice,

> By asking these questions I am not trying to be impertinent or
> obstinate. But, I have discovered (through these many weeks of
> discussions with dozens of people) that not all of us have the
> same definition of theory, evolution, fact, and even science.
> Therefore, before trying to have a discussion, I try to make > sure we are all on the same page as far as definitions go.

I use the same definition of "evolution" as the evolutionary scientists use. "Differential reproductive success with modification and natural selection." Embodied within that differentiation is the shuffling of a population's genome's alleles.

I use the word "theory" to mean "The body of knowledge, statements, and proofs that define and describe a natural phenomenon or group of phenomena." A "theory" is not some kind of "guess" or hierarchy above "guess" or "hypothesis:" I use it as it should be used, i.e. as scientists use it. A good theory explains a large body of observed or inferred phenomena. A good theory must also be predictive. It must also be falsifiable. Evolutionary theory is all of these.

I define "fact" to mean "That which is objectively real."

I define "science" as "The objective inquiry of natural phenomena." I conceed with the philosophers of science that much of science is subjective, but objectivity is what scientists strive for, so I am comfortable with that definition.

> Steve E. Abrams


From: "Steve Abrams" <sabrams@hit.net>
To: "David Rice"
Subject: Re: Evolutionary Sciences in Kansas
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 10:09:12 -0500

Mr. Rice,

>>>>> Evolution is an observed fact, no more "speculative" than
>>>>> gravity; evolutionary theory explains that fact. The two
>>>>> (evolution and evolutionary theory) as as separate and
>>>>> distinct as an apple pie and the recipe for making an
>>>>> apple pie.

>> What facts are you referring to?

> The fact of evolution occuring and having occured. The body of
> facts are generally listed under "Evidences of evolution," of
> which I will be happy to provide a list, with summations, on demand.

I would like a brief summary of some of the "Evidences of Evolution" to which you refer.

Steve E. Abrams


Shy David:

[Sent several documents that show evolution to be a fact and evolutionary theory valid.]



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"You can lie about ICR all you want." -- Jason Daniel Henderson

"Thank you for your permission however there's never any need to. Creationist propaganda is already self-debunking." -- Fredric L. Rice

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