Copyright 1996 by the CREATION RESEARCH SOCIETY (CRS), Inc.
                       Gary Colwell, Ph.D.
          Creation Research Society Quarterly 33(2):127
                         September, 1996
Cf.  The Darwin upheaval.  One circle of admirers who said:  "Of 
course", and another circle [of enemies-R] who said:  "Of course 
not".  Why ... should a man say `of course'?  (The idea was that 
of monocellular organisms becoming more and more complicated 
until they became mammals, men, etc.)  Did anyone see this 
process happening?  No.  Has anyone seen it happening now?  No.  
The evidence of breeding is just a drop in the bucket.  But there 
were thousands of books in which this was said to be the obvious 
solution.  People were certain on grounds which were extremely 
thin.  Could not there have been an attitude which said:  "I do 
not know.  It is an interesting hypothesis which may eventually 
be well confirmed"?  This shows how you can be persuaded of a 
certain thing.  In the end you forget entirely every question of 
verification, you are just sure it must have been like that.
                         L. Wittgenstein
                        _Lectures & Conversations on Aesthetics, 
	                Psychology and Religious Belief_.
The year is 1995.  The place is an imaginary after-world from 
which all aspects of life on earth can be monitored.  A gigantic 
party is underway with all the famous thinkers of history in 
attendance.  Socrates, who is a little more boisterous than 
usual, weaves his way among the guests, calling out, "Darwin! ... 
Darwin! ... Where is that man?!"  Eventually Darwin hears his 
name being called and answers:
D	Socrates!  Over here!
S	Oh, there you are.  Look, I've got to have a talk with 
you.  The matter is serious.  I have been following the 
development of evolutionary thinking for over one hundred and 
thirty-five years and after listening to the experts I still 
cannot make head or tail of it.
D	What is your problem?
S	Well, first of all, I simply do not know what people mean 
when they say things like "man evolved" or "because of evolution 
this or that happened."  Now I realize that today even the 
earthly school children can say the word "evolution" with an air 
of confidence and understanding.  And I also see that the word 
appears in all manner of magazines and popular books on biology.  
But do these people really understand what they confidently talk 
about? I mean, it is possible to fit a supposedly technical word 
into an informal conversational sentence without making a 
grammatical mistake, and still not have a fig of a notion as to 
what one means by it. It seems to me that nothing but the vaguest 
of ideas is being traded in all this talk about evolution. 
D	You ought to realize, Socrates, that scientific words 
have a way of slipping their moorings in the technical 
disciplines and drifting into the mainstream of everyday 
conversation.  And when they do, not everyone who uses these 
words has a clear understanding of their meanings.  Practically 
every discipline suffers because untrained people use its jargon 
vacuously, usually because they want to impress their friends.  
But for every one hundred people who mindlessly parrot a 
scientific term like "evolution" there is probably at least one 
person who can explain its meaning.  Also, you must not assume 
that because a technical term comes tripping off the tongues of 
individual discussants in a conversation they do not know what 
the word means.  It would be very awkward indeed if a person 
always had to explain the underlying concepts of such terms in 
order to speak intelligibly.  It is precisely because some words 
stand for a whole cluster of concepts that they find their 
usefulness as shorthand notation in scientific discourse.
S	Well said, Darwin!  You are just the man to explain this 
whole business to me.  Please tell me then what evolution is.
D	You suggested that you are familiar with the literature.  
Surely you do not want me to start with the basics.
S	Yes, I do.  Be as simple as you can without sacrificing 
the truth, because I must have missed something at a very 
rudimentary level.
D	The word "evolution" simply means "change"; and the 
scientific theory of evolution is the theory which states that 
organisms have gradually changed from the most simple forms into 
the most complex forms, beginning with unicellular organisms and 
ending with man--at least ending for the time being.  This 
gradual change took place during the course of millions of years 
and its basis in fact has been established by the observations of 
science.  The best way to ...
S	But do not scientists today speak of evolution as a fact?  
You say it is a theory.  Which is it?
D	Yes, you can say that it is a fact.  The theory is based 
upon observed facts and ...
S	But is the process of change itself observable?  I mean 
that change to which, presumably, the word "evolution" refers.
D	Yes!  Now will you please stop interrupting and let me 
S	I'm sorry.  Please continue.
D	As I started to say, perhaps the best way to see this 
change is by examining some of the more important explanatory 
parts of the theory.  First, the structural explanations of the 
theory of evolution explain the similarities of body structure 
found among organisms of widely diverse species living today.  
For example, although the whale, the bat, the horse and man are 
members of quite diverse species, their appendages exhibit marked 
similarities.  The flipper of the whale, the wing of the bat, the 
leg of the horse, and the arm of man are all structurally alike, 
even though they are functionally different.  Evolution explains 
the presence of these structural similarities by pointing out 
that the organisms of these diverse species have an ancestor or 
ancestors in common from which they have descended.  Over many 
years of descent from a common ancestry these different organisms 
have changed; though not enough to erase the structural 
similarity we still observe today.  Descent, with change, from a 
common ancestry also accounts for the presence of vestiges in 
many different organisms.  You must have read that vestiges are 
remnants of larger and once useful body parts--organs, 
appendages, etc.--which have atrophied through lack of use as the 
whole body of the organism descended and changed.  For some 
reason these original parts did not disappear completely, 
although their functional contribution to the organism 
disappeared.  The vermiform appendix in man and the wings of 
flightless birds are two familiar examples commonly cited.
S	All of this sounds disturbingly familiar.  You see it is 
this business about descent and change that bothers me.  I asked 
you what evolution is; you said that it is the change of 
organisms from one form into another.  Further, you said that 
this change can be seen by looking at the structural similarities 
between members of diverse species, which presumably illustrate 
the change in question.  But since I have only the vaguest notion 
as to what this process of change is like, it is hardly 
enlightening to point to the perceived structural similarity 
between organisms and to their vestigial organs as evidence of 
this change.  In other words, the idea of descent with change is 
what I am asking you to explain; but you have presupposed it with 
your reference to similar structures and vestigial organs.  
Unless I have missed something, this looks like a subtle species 
of question begging.
D	Look, the evidence is as clear as the nose on your face.  
How else can we account for these similarities between life 
forms?  Why should these organisms exhibit a similar structure 
unless in fact they had descended from a common ancestry?
S	I can't see the nose on my face very well and neither can 
I see very well this vaguely conceived change you speak of.  If 
you are going to start asking "why" questions at the very general 
level of structural similarities between organisms can you not 
exercise your imagination and think of something which has 
greater conceptual definition than "descent, with change, from a 
common ancestry?"  Of course, I do not know the answer to this 
biological riddle, but I can think of at least one theory which 
will account for such similarities.  Perhaps the god which sent 
me on my philosophical mission to the people of Athens devised a 
good plan by which to make the species of his creation function 
well.  He may have used the same basic structural design in many 
diverse species, much the same as automobile manufacturers today 
on earth retain the same basic design for different models.  The 
same design, with modification, can serve many purposes.  Just as 
you asked your "why" question, so I can ask mine.  "Why should a 
creator throw away a perfectly useful basic design?"
D	You can't be serious!  That is a preposterous notion.  
The scientific community generally rejects such antiquated 
S	That may be a true statement about what most scientists 
believe, but you are not suggesting that truth in science is 
established by counting the beliefs of scientists, are you?
D	Even if I were so backward as to entertain the 
possibility of such a creation, your theory still would not work.  
Just because similarities between the structural designs of 
automobiles can be accounted for in terms of a modification of 
the ideas of the inventor or manufacturer, it does not 
necessarily follow that the structural similarities between 
organisms can be accounted for in the same way by referring to a 
creator of living organisms.  Change in complexity and in 
apparent design can be accounted for in more than one way.
S	True enough, but this establishes my point.  Just as it 
does not follow necessarily that the developmental changes in 
automobiles and the developmental changes in organisms are the 
result of essentially the same kind of process, neither does it 
follow necessarily that those changes are not the result of the 
same kind of process.  They both could be the result of creative 
planning.  And at this level of observation, where you seem to 
see evidence of evolutionary change I merely point out that there 
is a good alternative way of explaining the same perceived 
phenomenon of structural similarity.  But more importantly, my 
idea of creation gives an intelligible account of what the change 
is and how it is to be conceived:  namely, a creative change in 
the basic plan of the god.  Your notion, however, still lacks 
definition; it presupposes that some kind of change occurred 
within nature and among different organisms.  You have yet to 
conceptually identify for me what this change is which presumably 
is at the heart of evolutionary theory.
D	You might be able to conceive of possible alternatives to 
evolution but you cannot dismiss the facts which evidence 
evolutionary change.
S	But that is precisely the point of contention.  What is 
factual is not changing, at least not to the degree needed to 
transform one species into another.  All the organisms which you 
claim have descended from a common ancestry--the whale, the bat, 
the horse and man--have not changed into different species 
throughout the thousands of generations of their observed 
existence.  Furthermore, any of the organisms which you may 
imagine to have been their ancestors and which are still living 
today--some of the reptiles, for example--also have not changed 
throughout successive generations of their offspring.  The change 
which is supposed to distinguish evolution as an important 
scientific fact is precisely what is lacking when we examine it.  
And speaking of the facts, as your disciples today are wont to 
do, the evidence you adduce in support of this vaguely conceived 
notion of change is highly suspect.  In reference to your own 
example, I have noticed over the years that as the knowledge of 
animal physiology has increased, the number of vestigial organs 
so-called has dwindled drastically.  Earlier in the history of 
evolutionary theory some biologists writing on the topic listed 
more than one hundred and eighty of these rudimentary structures.  
The human body alone became a veritable museum of evolutionary 
remnants.  But today I see that most textbooks which treat the 
subject at all list only about six vestigial organs, with of 
course the vermiform appendix in man still being given the most 
prominent place.  Unfortunately, the category of "chief vestigial 
organ" has itself become vestigial; because immunologists now do 
not think that the appendix is a useless remnant.  The role of 
the appendix in human immunology is well established.
D	So, what are you ultimately saying Socrates:  that with a 
few examples like those you can overturn the scientific theory of 
evolution?  I suppose the next thing you will tell me is that the 
entire fossil record is also not a fact!  What do you propose we 
do with the countless fossils laid down in the strata of the 
earth's crust in such a fashion that only the most obtuse 
observer could fail to get their message?
S	I have always been slow to understand popular concepts.  
Will you please tell me what that unmistakable message is that 
you get from the earth?
D	Come now, my friend!  You must know that fossils have 
been laid down in the earth's strata in a clearly discernible 
pattern.  The pattern I refer to--as I think you already know--is 
the gradual and progressive change in complexity of the life 
forms which have been fossilized.  Beginning with very simple 
organisms fossilized in the Cambrian layers, you can see, as you 
move up through successive layers, a graduated complexity in the 
forms of life, until you reach the most complex organisms in the 
most recent layers at the top.  The unmistakable message is that 
simple organisms have progressively changed or evolved into 
highly complex organisms.
S	You asked me what I proposed to do with the fossil 
record.  I do not propose to do anything with it except seriously 
try to give it the most sensible interpretation, and I must say 
that your interpretation does not strike me as the most sensible 
one.  Your traditional account of the fossil record manifests the 
same weaknesses as your so-called structural explanations.  
First, the alleged facts upon which you construct your theory of 
evolutionary progression--whatever that is precisely--are not 
nearly so factual once you look carefully at them.  Second, given 
an account of the facts as they really are, there is a better 
alternative explanation than evolution:  as I said, a creative 
change in the basic plan of the god.
You claim that the fossils evidence a gradual progressive change 
in the complexity of life forms, beginning with simple organisms 
in the bottom layers and ending with complex organisms in the top 
layers.  But unfortunately the evidence cannot be made to conform 
to such a simple account.  In actual fact the change one observes 
is neither gradual, nor progressive, nor does it begin with 
simple organisms.
Whatever you wish to say about those life forms at the bottom of 
the evolutionary ladder, organisms such as sponges and protozoa, 
you ought not to say that they are simple.  Contrary to public 
opinion the story of evolution does not begin with simple 
organisms, but with very complex ones.  Even single-celled 
organisms exhibit a degree of complexity which is awe-inspiring.  
It seems to me that accounting for the composition, structure and 
sophisticated functions of such allegedly primitive organisms is 
a major problem for the theory of evolution.  As well, among the 
oldest fossils one can find evidence of prehistoric animals which 
seem to have been at least as complex as modern animals; perhaps 
more so.  Therefore, because the organisms whose remains are 
found in the deepest strata are not "simple" in any ordinary 
sense of the term, and because the remains of highly complex 
animals are found where they should not be found if evolution is 
true, it is a misrepresentation of the facts to simply say that 
the change which fossils exhibit begins with simple organisms or 
that it always progresses from simple organisms to complex ones.
But worse still, the changes from one organism to another which 
the fossils are supposed to exhibit cannot consistently be called 
gradual.  Within many important sections of the geological column 
where you find a succession of fossils, from less complex in the 
bottom layers to more complex in the top layers, the succession 
is not gradual!  At many junctures within these sections there 
are tremendously large jumps in the complexity of organisms, with 
no trace of a series of graduated intermediate forms to account 
for the alleged evolutionary change.  Doesn't evolution here 
become a kind of "god of the gaps?"  Where, for example, are all 
the intermediate forms between birds and reptiles?  I can see no 
way that such leaps in complexity can be accounted for by a 
theory which relies so heavily upon the "long - long - ago - over 
- a - long - long - time" theme in its scenario.  Even one 
hundred million years of sedimentary deposition cannot begin to 
account for the colossal jumps in the complexity of these life 
forms.  Is evolution consistent with its own canons?  Don't you 
see ...
D	Now hold on just a minute!  You talk so simplistically, 
as though evolutionary development were a simple linear 
progression laid out like beads on a string.  You will do much 
better if you think of it as a progression, using the model of a 
tree.  Granted, several of the branches are missing, which we 
shall probably be able to draw in some day, but the main outline 
is there.  Evolution has been a very complex process which we do 
not completely understand, but I am confident that eventually we 
shall understand it and thereby clear up the major problems that 
S	I wondered when you were going to use that old ploy.  You 
appeal to scientific ignorance of the workings of this allegedly 
complex evolutionary process, but at the same time assert the 
existence of that process by emphasizing its inscrutability--when 
all the while the very existence of the process itself is 
precisely what is in question!  It is in question because there 
is neither a clear referent for the phrase "evolutionary change" 
nor unambiguous evidence to support the evolutionary ideas of 
change even supposing the referent for "change" were clearly 
given.  How is it that although you do not have the requisite 
fossil evidence to support evolutionary theory you still know 
that evolution occurred?  And how does its occurrence gain 
existential status in the deep recess of your ignorance?  My 
response to your claim that there is so much about the workings 
of evolution that we don't  understand, is:  how do you know that 
it is evolution that has been working?
D	Obviously because we can see clearly the broad outlines 
of its work.
S	You are still begging the question.  The vital evidence 
you need to support the claim that it is evolution's work which 
is broadly outlined, and not the work of some other force, is 
missing.  Do you not see that by the same kind of reasoning you 
could say that a few different colored dots on a canvas are, 
without further evidence, the broad outlines of a Rembrandt?  
There is no disanalogy here because, contrary to popular belief, 
it is not in fact the case that just a few branches are missing 
from the tree of evolution--whole sections of the main trunk are 
missing!  The onus is not upon me to see how much I can exercise 
my imagination by filling the blanks; the onus is upon you to 
provide evidence which will support such an imaginative theory.  
It is your responsibility to produce the important missing 
pieces:  not mine to trail after your flights of imagination.
D	Socrates, I now think I see your problem.  You fail to 
make a distinction between the results of evolutionary change and 
the process of change itself.  Obviously we cannot observe the 
change which modified all those species in the past; but we can 
infer the existence of such a change from the fossil remains.
S	Be careful now.  You are wandering in a circle.  We have 
already discussed the gappy fossil record.  Let us not wander 
back to the fossil remains and what we are supposed to be able to 
infer from them; for we have seen large problems along that path.  
You seem not to be grasping the main point of my criticism.  When 
you say "results of evolutionary change," notice:  you assume 
that the "change" has taken place; when in fact it is precisely 
this change that I am asking you to substantiate.  What you 
desire to call the "results" of change I have argued are really 
the deficient beginnings of your case for evolution.  Logically 
you cannot call these weak beginnings "the results."  
Furthermore, it is not only that the fossil record is lacking in 
evidence--it presents contradictory evidence.  Not only are many 
fossils missing which should be present; there are many fossils 
present where they should be missing.
Let me illustrate the point.  Suppose that an earthling walks 
into his dining room in the morning and sees a beautiful vase on 
a table.  Later that afternoon he returns to the dining room, but 
this time he sees the vase smashed in pieces on the floor.  There 
has been a change all right, but the "how" of that change may not 
at all be clear.  Was it the cat, an earth tremor, a human hand, 
gravity, the wind, or something else?  Unless he has more 
evidence than just the memory of the unbroken vase in the 
morning, together with the spectacle of smashed pieces in the 
afternoon, it is presumptuous of him to single out any one of 
those agents as being responsible for the destruction.  Notice, 
however, that he can bridge the gap between his remembrance of 
the vase intact and his perception of the broken pieces before 
him, by using his imagination.  But if all that he uses to bridge 
the gap is his imagination, then the change which he proposes--
for example, the movement of the cat's tail against the vase--is 
merely a conceptual change, with no basis in fact.  He needs more 
than a jumping imagination to account for change in the world 
around him.
The need for evidence of a specific kind of change is much more 
acute in the case of evolution; because there you want to argue 
not only that a change took place in nature itself, but that 
simpler organisms changed into more complex organisms, by chance.  
Unlike the change in the vase, the notion of evolutionary change 
is counter-intuitive; it is especially important to fill in the 
gaps with something more than the imagination.
I am not denying, for example, that reptiles are different from 
mammals.  And there is of course a conceptual change which one 
must make in moving from his thoughts about fossils of reptiles 
to his thoughts about fossils of mammals.  But unless one has 
something more to offer than the catch phrase "because of 
evolutionary change," his ideas remain groundless.  The "how" of 
evolutionary change is not, as many scientists seem to think, a 
non-essential extra to be filled in at some later date.  It is 
the very heart of this putative process.  If the "how" of 
evolutionary theory cannot be identified and coherently 
described, and if clear non-contradictory evidence at the crucial 
points cannot be given in support of the theory, then, to speak 
of "evolutionary change" as a distinctive occurrence within 
nature is to speak vacuously.
D	You keep harping on this business of change, as though 
evolution had been discovered yesterday.  You said that you have 
been reading the literature.  Have you not read anything about 
natural selection and genetic variation?
S	Yes, I have - and you would have done as well if you had 
read Mendel instead of leaving him alone on your library shelf - 
he is, after all, the father of your theory, is he not?  But 
never mind, like the rest of evolutionary theory, I cannot make 
head or tail of natural selection and genetic variation.  Now, I 
will stop harping if you change your tune.
D	Speaking of "old ploys," that one of playing the dummy is 
wearing rather thin.  I remember your tricks.  Let me guess:  now 
you want me to give you a basic lesson in the mechanics of 
evolutionary change?
S	Yes indeed I do!  And let me assure you that my ignorance 
is not feigned--I really do not understand all this business.  
That is why I have come to you, the expert.
D	Well, when I first conceived of the theory of evolution I 
accepted the Lamarckian assumption that hereditary changes are 
produced by the environment.  In order to adapt to a particular 
environmental niche for which it was not viably suited, an 
organism acquired the characteristics necessary for survival.  
The environment, so to speak, urged upon the organism the 
acquisition of these characteristics--or, so we thought.  In 
addition, I also thought that, corresponding to this change in 
the organism's characteristics, hereditary changes were somehow 
produced, such that the newly acquired characteristics could be 
transmitted to succeeding generations.  All of this of course was 
before the advent of genetics.  It is now believed by those who 
still accept my basic evolutionary model that the mechanisms of 
change are different.  Neo-Darwinians hold that hereditary 
changes are the result of gene mutations.  Simply stated, instead 
of saying that the environment produces adaptive changes which 
are hereditary, it is now said that hereditary changes make 
adaptation possible.  Changes in the genetic makeup of an 
organism alter that organism in such a manner as to prepare it 
for an environmental niche into which it can emigrate.  This 
genetic preparation is sometimes called preadaptation.  Let me 
give you a simple illustration.  It is often discovered that the 
inhabitants of caves are blind and possess highly developed 
tactile sense organs.  According to my old view, the darkness 
forced the would-be cave inhabitants to give up using their eyes 
and acquire an acute sense of touch.  The revised Neo-Darwinian 
view says that this is putting the cart before the horse.  
Actually, the would-be inhabitants must be equipped to survive 
before they emigrate to the caves.  That is, they are preadapted 
by a genetic mutation which results in a heightened tactile 
S	Please forgive another simple-minded question, but why 
would anyone think in the first place that organisms adapt to 
their environments, either in the manner you first proposed or in 
the manner proposed by your followers today?
D	Well, obviously, because of the compatibility which 
exists between organisms and their environments.  It must surely 
be evident even to your critical mind how well organisms and 
their environments fit together:  the environment being suitable 
to accommodate the organism and the organism being fit to exist 
in its environment.  This harmonious state of affairs can be 
observed everywhere on earth.
S	But have these adaptations of new organisms to new 
environments ever been observed?  I do not mean just those 
changes in parts of an organism such as tails getting longer or 
fur changing color, etc., as a result of cross-breeding within 
the same species.  These confined changes were observed and well 
known to everyone hundreds of years before the word "evolution" 
gained any currency.  I mean, has anyone ever scientifically 
observed a radical change in an organism at the specific or even 
sub-specific level, such that the radically new organism could 
fit into a radically new environment?  Or, has anyone even 
observed an organism like the bat losing its sight, then gaining 
a heightened sense of touch and hearing, and then emigrating to a 
radically new environment like a cave where it continued to live 
and reproduce offspring similarly adapted?
D	Of course not.  Natural selection at the level you are 
asking about cannot be directly observed.  It is a very complex 
process which has taken a great deal of time.
S	But would you not agree that adaptation at that level has 
got to be established before evolution may be called an 
explanatory scientific theory about how organisms have radically 
D	Certainly the changes must have been radical but the ...
S	Well, if small changes such as the variations in the size 
of an appendage, or in the color of some body part, cannot 
provide the evidence needed for the appearance of these radically 
new organisms, upon what basis do you argue that such large scale 
changes have occurred which enable an organisms to adapt to a 
radically new environment?
D	I have already told you:  upon the basis of the 
harmonious interaction of organisms with their environment.  The 
organisms must have changed dramatically in order to fit into new 
environmental niches.
S	Let me understand what you are saying.  You say that 
organisms and their environments fit together?
D	Yes, that's right.
S	And they fit together because the organism adapts to its 
D	Correct.
S	And when I ask you how you know that the organism does 
adapt to a radically new environment you say, because the 
organism and its environment fit together.
D	Yes, that's my position.
S	Don't you see that you're arguing in a circle?  You jump 
from the observed harmony in nature to the mysterious conclusion 
that organisms change dramatically and then adapt to a radically 
new environment, providing no other factual support for this 
grand inductive inference than the obvious facts about harmony 
with which you started.  It seems that evolutionists use the 
notion of "fitness" both as a starting observation and as a 
concluding explanation.  The only facts involved in your case for 
natural selection are those which are obvious and agreeable to 
everyone before any inferences are drawn.  As a description of 
the way organisms and their environments are suited to one 
another, part of your account is unobjectionable; but as a 
putative explanation of how organisms have come into being, 
natural selection really does not provide an answer.  At best we 
may learn how some existing organisms survive a radical 
environmental change--such as black moths in sooty trees--but not 
how they radically change in surviving.  I repeat my former 
criticism of putative "evolutionary change":  the change that you 
need to demonstrate is precisely what you assume throughout your 
whole account.  And, if you are going to take such liberty with 
inductive inference you should not object to an alternative 
inference of no greater breadth which is drawn from the same 
observations about natural harmony.  Why not infer that the 
delicate balance of nature everywhere observed is the work of a 
god who ...
D	You might have gotten away with that kind of argument in 
your time, or even one hundred years ago, but not now.  I think 
that I have already made it plain that the idea of genetic 
variation forms an integral part of evolutionary theory as it is 
taught today.  No one any longer speaks about natural selection 
without saying or implying that genetic variations form an 
integral part of the evolutionary process.
S	Well then, are you now admitting that the main support 
for the belief in evolutionary change is found in genetics?  I 
should soon very much like to get to the foundation of this whole 
D	Yes, you could say that.  The evidence for change you so 
eagerly seek is found in the fact of gene mutations.
S	But is there really any scientific evidence--I mean solid 
data; not fanciful theorizing--which shows that a mutant form of 
an organism can change it into anything like what is needed to 
reproduce a new species?
D	Come now, you must surely have read about the mutant 
forms in plants, animals, and insects.  Are you not familiar with 
the fruitfly experiments?  Countless mutants of the Drosophila 
have been observed and written up in the literature.
S	It seems that you are not the only one who thinks he is 
not being heard.  I have just asked a question the thrust of 
which you seem to be completely ignoring.  The weakness of the 
genetic explanation for evolution lies precisely in the alleged 
evidence you advance in support of it.  Even if the highly 
improbable occurred, that is, even if a thousand of such mutants 
occurred in one and the same fruitfly, you would still not have 
an organism whose total change represented anything like a new 
species actually found in nature.  And what is important here of 
course is that such a large scale change never has been observed.
D	I do not know what literature you have been reading, but 
a mutation which can change an antenna into a leg is quite a 
powerful piece of evidence for the mechanism of evolutionary 
S	That is a very misleading description my friend.  What 
you are suggesting is the origination of a new complex structure, 
a leg, is really just the switching of an already genetically 
encoded structure to a new location, the place of the antenna, 
where it then develops.  What is worse, however, is that this 
sort of aberrant switching is disadvantageous to the fly, even 
if, hypothetically speaking, one could say that some new genetic 
material were being added to the blueprint of the fly, which 
definitely is not the case.  If you are going to gain any 
distance with the genetic argument you will have to show that an 
organism can create new genetic material which increases 
radically the complexity of the structure or function of the 
organism, thus enabling it to adapt to a radically new 
environment.  If, for instance, we have evolved from protozoa, 
where did the genes for a nervous system, bones, etc. come from?  
There is a huge gap here which needs to be filled.
D	Even so, the small genetic changes that we do observe 
provide us with a good working idea of how large scale changes in 
organisms could have occurred and thus produced radically new 
S	Has anyone ever observed these grand genetic changes 
which you imagine could have been the impetus for evolutionary 
D	No, of course not, but just because they have not been 
observed, it does not mean that they did not occur!  You have not 
shown that such changes could not have happened.
S	No it does not--but neither does it mean that they did 
occur.  But, since you are the one advancing the theory, the onus 
is yours to establish its truth.  It is not my responsibility to 
satisfy your impossible request, to show that some imagined 
events, such as large scale genetic changes which, as purely 
imagined events, are not logically impossible, could not occur.  
That kind of demonstration cannot be provided in any world, let 
along be provided in evolutionary theory.  Nor is it ever a 
reasonable request that it should be provided.  How, for example, 
would you ever demonstrate that a creator could not possibly 
exist?  You must base your case for evolution on positive 
available evidence--unless of course you decide to give your 
ideas, as they now stand, a more suitable title:  "a poetic 
vision" or "a secular faith" or something similar.  I am afraid 
that you have not yet felt how heavy the burden of proof is which 
rests upon your shoulders.
D	And you seem to have something against speculation in 
science.  In fact, you misrepresent the scientific process.  
Listen, it would be ridiculous for scientists to formulate only 
theories for which there was already confirming evidence.  Surely 
it is not necessary to present the confirming evidence for 
possible advantageous macromutations before I theorize that they 
have occurred?
S	I have nothing at all against speculation, in science or 
anywhere else.  I only wish that you--and especially your 
followers--would call it exactly that, instead of making 
grandiose claims about the evidence for evolution.  You give 
everybody the impression that evolution is firmly grounded on 
facts.  You claim that genetics has the answer to the questions 
of change which I have just been pursuing.  And yet when the 
truth is told, either, the changes which can actually be observed 
are small, not radical, and most often disadvantageous to an 
organism, thus providing no relevant evidence for the large scale 
changes required by evolution; or, the changes are large but non-
existent, purely products of your imagination, having no basis in 
fact.  So, in either case the foundational support for the claim 
that evolution has occurred has yet to be established.
D	I grant you that the theory may have some weaknesses in 
each of its various explanatory parts, but when the explanations 
are taken altogether, I think you will have to admit, they 
present a very convincing account.
S	That's like saying that although one leaky bucket will 
not hold water, ten leaky buckets will.
D	It depends on how far you want to carry the water!
S	Yes, and how big the holes are!  But to carry the 
progressive development of life forms all the way from 
noncellular organisms to man?  That is a very long way, my 
friend.  You began by discussing structural similarities and 
vestigial organs.  When I pointed out that your account not only 
contained factual mistakes but also presumed without 
justification the answer to my basic question of evolutionary 
change, you directed our discussion to the fossil record and the 
supposedly unmistakable pattern which is exhibited there.  When I 
pointed out further factual errors and emphasized again your 
persistence in assuming without warrant the very change in 
question, you then led us into a discussion of what are 
apparently the dual pillars of evolutionary theory, natural 
selection and genetic variation.  And now after I have once again 
pointed out that even in the genetic account radical change is 
being assumed, not evidenced, you still want to go back over this 
whole business and say that somehow all the missing supports for 
your theory are able to make it stand.  Is not that an odd kind 
of argument?
D	How else can we account for the existence of complex life 
S	Goodness gracious!  You are surely not suggesting that a 
bad theory is better than none at all?  Has it never occurred to 
you to say, "I do not know"?  You ought to read Wittgenstein.
D	But no intellectually respectable scientist today could 
doubt it!
S	That is the problem with you people.  You hold your 
theories with such religious fervour that you cannot detach 
yourself from them long enough to ask a few basic questions.
D	And the problem with philosophers is that they are always 
preoccupied with semantics.  Clever word play, that's all!
S	I have never pretended that philosophy is anything but 
the art of asking uncomfortable questions about fundamental 
assumptions.  Say what you like against philosophers, but that 
will not remove the serious criticisms which hound your theory.
D	Do you realize what you're suggesting?  Are you asking me 
to believe that all of these venerable men of science are 
misguided because they do not have any clear idea of evolutionary 
change?  One should not dignify the suggestion with a response.
S	I do not know this, but let me tell you what I think is 
the main reason for the perpetuation of this conceptual 
confusion.  The pseudo-explanatory force of evolutionary theory 
derives its psychological power from the fact that 
anthropomorphic terms within its narrative are readily understood 
in non-scientific speech contexts.
D	What in thunder does that mean!?
S	Consider the fanciful character of the stories that are 
spun around the fossil remains.  We read about vertebrates who 
left their aquatic environment and developed limbs by a happy 
accident.  And with their newly developed limbs these amphibians 
learned to linger about the drying pools.  In the story of the 
descent from the trees we read of men-like, tree-borne primates 
who became earth-borne creatures.  They assumed an erect posture, 
lengthened and strengthened their lower limbs; and the latter 
became organs of the mind.  A more anthropomorphic story would be 
difficult to write.  It is hardly a step at all to imagine a 
group of turtles getting together for a conference to make plans 
for an exploring expedition.  Of course if these action verbs and 
nouns are read anthropomorphically then the conclusion towards 
which the evolutionary argument moves is assumed at the outset.  
Presumably the lower forms of life somehow developed into the 
complex form called man.  Therefore, in the beginning they did 
not possess, even at the amphibian stage, the motivation and 
ability to direct their destinies, as man is able to do.  To 
smuggle into the language of explanation the suggestion that they 
did is to gain a psychological support for the central thesis of 
evolution which needs to be established legitimately by non-
semantical means.
This dramatic-scientific story of evolution is conceived so 
generally that it can accommodate almost any idea, which in fact 
it does.  Not only does it deposit in its store the scientific 
jargon of "fossils," "strata," etc., but it also incorporates 
with ease the anthropomorphic language of epic poetry.  The 
scientist learns to speak in one breath of "carbon dating," 
"developing limbs" and "happy accidents."  His narrative 
explanation admixes science and saga, with a strong emphasis upon 
the latter.  And the anthropomorphic action terms find ready 
acceptance in the minds of readers because their minds are 
accustomed to using such terms daily in ordinary sensible 
contexts.  For example, "the development of limbs" is thought to 
convey something intelligible because "the development of 
muscles" or "the development of talent" are perfectly sensible.
It is this practice of semantical borrowing which makes popular 
books on evolution so saleable.  People see beautifully colored 
charts and read in the captions below all about the saga of 
evolution.  Even the children can repeat with confidence the 
story of "amphibians developing limbs" and "reptiles taking to 
flight."  And all of this is done with an air of clear 
understanding, as if evolution were really being explained.
D	Socrates, I am afraid that you have now stepped out onto 
a very long limb from which, sadly, there is no return.  Don't 
you realize that no scientist in his senses would claim that 
these narrative accounts explain how evolution occurred?  They 
serve merely as an heuristic device, that's all.
S	Are you saying that these accounts are used only for 
teaching purposes and are not intended as explanations of the 
evolutionary process?
D	Yes, that's right.
S	That leads me to ask two questions.  If the narratives 
are meant to be taken only as a kind of grand mnemonic, then 
ought not the writers of these accounts say so unequivocally, to 
make clear the metaphorical nature of their language?  For it 
certainly seems that they intend for the narratives to be taken 
as explanations.  My second question, however, leads me to doubt 
your easy interpretation of these narratives.  In order for the 
story of evolution to represent the truth it must surely be based 
upon a knowledge of the mechanisms for evolutionary development--
otherwise there is no guarantee that the story corresponds to the 
actual developmental process which it merely wants to picture.  
But if that is the case, what are these known mechanisms of 
progressive radical change in the development of organisms?
D	Natural selection and genetic variation, of course!
S	But you're arguing in a circle again.  We have already 
seen that there is nothing in genetics which can account for the 
radical changes required by your theory.  And now you want to 
base the epic, "protozoa to man," on this foundationless support.
You know, Darwin, the longer I talk with you the more questions I 
have.  Could it be that the theory of evolution is not only a 
question-begging argument, but something even more problematic?  
Is it even empirically significant?  I mean to ask, does the key 
phrase "evolutionary change" have an empirical referent?
If one tries to discover how evolution works he is told that the 
causal factors involved are not observable, not repeatable, not 
simple, and not agreeable to all scientists.  And if one wants to 
see this negative qualification on a grand scale he need only 
look at the history of the subject.  When Lamarckism and 
Darwinism failed, evolution succeeded.  When Vitalism and 
Finalism failed, evolution still succeeded.[1]  Even though Neo-
Lamarckians and Neo-Darwinians have been at loggerheads about 
crucial matters, evolution supposedly stands above the confusion 
and contradictions.[2]  What is this change called "evolution" 
which survives all the vicissitudes of its vague and 
contradictory explanations?  How does this alleged process, which 
cannot be repeated or observed or even specified, and whose 
supporting explanations of natural selection and genetic 
variation crumble beneath the weight of logical-empirical 
analysis, differ from no process at all?
D	Enough!  I do not want to hear any more of this nonsense.  
What you are saying is silly!  Be gone!
Socrates calmly turned and walked away, and as he cleared a path 
among the guests he was heard muttering to himself, "I wonder if 
Freud is here.  Perhaps he can help me understand what Darwin 
[1]	"A theory may be described as `vitalistic' if it purports 
to give a systematic explanation of evolution in terms of some 
unique non-natural agency" such as "the `life force', `elan 
vital', entelechy, etc."  (Goudge, p. 80)
"Just as vitalism is not necessarily finalistic, so finalism is 
not necessarily vitalistic.  For the core of finalism is the 
contention that a necessary condition of evolution consists of 
its orientation towards an ultimate goal."  The goal may be 
reached by "mechanically determined processes."  (Goudge, p. 81)
[2]	Neo-Lamarkism holds "...that the effects of use and 
disuse [of parts of an organism], together with other 
environmentally induced changes, can become fixed in the 
hereditary equipment of species..."  (Goudge, pp. 85,86)
Neo-Darwinism, simply stated, is Darwinism without the Lamarkian 
assumption that hereditary changes are produced by the 
environment, and with the assumption that heredity changes stem 
from genetic variation in the organism.  A complete account would 
be much more complicated than this and would reveal that Neo-
Darwinians differ significantly in their evolutionary views 
according to the theory of mechanism for genetic variation and 
natural selection which they hold.
This dialogue descended from an unpublished paper of 57 pages 
written long ago, titled "The Language, Truth and Logic of 
Evolutionary Theory."  That paper in turn derived some of its 
nourishment from the following works.
Bonner, J.T.  1961.  Perspectives.  _American Scientist_ 49:240-
Davidheiser, B.  1969.  _Evolution and Christian Faith_.  The 
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Nutley, New Jersey.
Dewey, J.  1951.  The influence of Darwinism on philosophy.  In 
_Classic American Philosophers_, edited by Max H. Fisch.  
Appleton-Century-Crofts Inc., New York, pp. 336-344.
Dobzhansky, T.  1958.  Evolution at work.  _Science_ 127:1091-
Flew, A.  1955.  Theology and falsification.  In _New Essays in 
Philosophical Theology_, edited by A. Flew and A. Macintyre.  SCM 
Press, London, pp. 96-99.
Goldschmidt, R.B.  1952.  Evolution, as viewed by one geneticist.  
_American Scientist_ 40:84-98.
Goudge, T.A.  1961.  _The Ascent of Life_.  University of Toronto 
Press, Toronto.
Maatman, R.W.  1970.  _The Bible, Natural Science and Evolution_.  
Reformed Fellowship, Inc., Grand Rapids.
Moore, J.N. and R.J. Cuffey.  Paleontologic evidence and organic 
evolution.  _Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation_  
Simpson, G.G.  1949.  _The Meaning of Evolution_.  Yale 
University Press, New Haven.
Wittgenstein, L.  1972.  Lectures and conversations on 
aesthetics, psychology and religious belief, edited by C. 
Barrett, University of California Press, Berkeley.
Disclaimer and Acknowledgement
Over the past dozen years or so we have seen published a spate of 
books which challenge Neo-Darwinism.  Authors who come to mind 
are P.E. Johnson, D. Davis and D.H. Kenyon.  Spirited defenses of 
Neo-Darwinism have been mounted by many authors, two of the most 
prominent of them being S.J. Gould and M. Ruse.  Neither in 
writing this dialogue nor in revising it have I borrowed from 
these more recent authors, its main thesis having been written 
well before the relevant works of these authors appeared.
I must, however, thank Jon Buell for reading the unrevised 
dialogue and making several helpful suggestions for its 
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