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Re: PE 10.1.1 "Fossil Record ... Not Darwinian... Not gradualistic" (was Quotations out of context ...)

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  • Stephen E. Jones
    Group On Fri, 30 Jan 2004 15:01:17 +1300, Donald Nield wrote: DN Laurie has just used a citation from Ager to support a YEC viewpoint. ... I would point out
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2004
      Group

      On Fri, 30 Jan 2004 15:01:17 +1300, Donald Nield wrote:

      DN>Laurie has just used a citation from Ager to support a YEC viewpoint.
      >Anyone who looks at the preface of Ager's book will find an explicit
      >disclaimer, in bold type, by the author that "in view of the misuse that
      >my words have been put to in the past, I wish to say that nothing in
      >this book should be taken out of context and thought in any way to
      >support the views of the 'creationist' (who I refuse to call
      >'scientific')."
      >
      >There is no doubt whatsoever that Laurie has quoted out of context --
      >not only has he quoted from the same book, but he has quoted from the
      >same part of the book (the preface) as this disclaimer!

      I would point out that immediately before his "disclaimer", Ager wrote :

      "For a century and a half the geological world has been dominated,
      one might even say brain-washed, by the gradualistic
      uniformitarianism of Charles Lyell. Any suggestion of 'catastrophic'
      events has been rejected as old fashioned, unscientific and even
      laughable. This is partly due to the extremism of some of Cuvier's
      followers, though not of Cuvier himself." (Ager D.V., "The New
      Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological
      History," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.xi)

      (After I had written almost all of this post, I checked what was the quote
      from Ager that Laurie used that Don claimed was "out of context" and it
      was this one! I had not read all of Laurie's message, or even Don's where he
      quoted Laurie, being only concerned as Moderator at that stage with the
      principle. But obviously I agree with Laurie against Don that this is not an
      out-of-context quote.)

      Now any creationist, YEC or OEC, would be entitled to regard that as an
      *in context* quote that a senior Professor of Geology, would at the end of
      his life (Ager died before the book was published), when there was no
      chance of retaliation, would come out and say that "For a century and a half
      the geological world has been ... brain-washed, by the gradualistic
      uniformitarianism of Charles Lyell". Especially when Ager himself points
      out it was the same "gradualistic uniformitarianism of Charles Lyell" that
      was an underpinning of Darwin's theory of evolution by the "accumulation
      of successive slight favourable variations" (see also tagline):

      "The day before the publication of The Origin of Species, Thomas
      Huxley wrote to Charles Darwin: 'You have loaded yourself with an
      unnecessary difficulty in adopting Natura non facit saltum so
      unreservedly.' (quoted in Gould & Eldredge 1977). In other words,
      though Huxley was the great defender of Darwin, he was criticizing
      him for presuming that 'Nature does not make jumps'. One of the
      most fundamental changes that have happened in recent years in our
      thoughts about the geological past was again one towards concepts
      of episodicity, this time in the evolution of life. Thus the doctrine of
      what is called 'punctuated equilibria' replaced that of 'phyletic
      gradualism', which had been the almost subconscious presumption
      of palaeontologists since the days of Darwin. This intellectual
      revolution was brought about chiefly by Stephen J. Gould of
      Harvard and his colleague Niles Eldredge. The first epoch making
      paper by Eldredge & Gould (1972) put forward the idea that Nature
      did indeed make jumps. They maintained that evolution proceeded
      by short, sharp changes, punctuating long periods of stasis, rather
      than by slow progressive changes, which had been assumed since
      Darwin (1859) wrote of `descent with slow and slight modifications'
      and the 'accumulation of successive slight favourable variations'. On
      the other hand Engels, that remarkable capitalist who supported
      Karl Marx, said that 'nature is composed entirely of leaps'. I regret
      to say that I prefer the view of one of the founding fathers of
      communism to that of one of the founding fathers of evolution by
      natural selection." (Ager D.V., "The New Catastrophism: The
      Importance of the Rare Event in Geological History," Cambridge
      University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.129)

      Nor would it be "out of context" for a creationist (YEC or OEC) to quote
      Ager pointing out that Darwin's (and Darwinists') reliance on the claimed
      *extreme* imperfection of the fossil record, to explain away the fact that
      the fossil record did not support his (their) gradualistic theory, is
      "unduly pessimistic", i.e. simply *wrong*:

      "Darwin repeatedly apologized for the inadequacy of the fossil
      record and palaeontologists; have continued to do so ever since, but
      I think they are unduly pessimistic. It is obviously inadequate if we
      are concerned with some popular group such as the birds, whose
      skeletons make their preservation highly unlikely, but the
      pessimism is not so justified if we consider the less showy marine
      invertebrates, especially if we consider them on a world-wide basis
      and not just in our own back-yards." (Ager D.V., "The New
      Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in Geological
      History," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK, 1993, p.151)

      So presumably, knowing he had made some legitimate criticisms of Darwinism,
      that creationists would be sure to use, Ager tried to cover himself by
      issuing his "disclaimer":

      "That is why I think it necessary to include the following
      'disclaimer': *in view of the misuse that my words have been put to
      in the past, I wish to say that nothing in this book should be taken
      out of context and thought in any way to support the views of the
      'creationists' (who I refuse to call 'scientific')* (Ager D.V., "The
      New Catastrophism: The Importance of the Rare Event in
      Geological History," Cambridge University Press: Cambridge UK,
      1993, p.xi. Emphasis in original)

      But this is absurd. Clearly if *Ager* criticises Darwinism, then *anyone*
      (creationist or not) who accurately quotes Ager, where he criticises
      Darwinism, is making an *in context* quote!

      Steve

      PS: Here is an update of my PE 10.1.1 "Fossil Record ... Not Darwinian
      ... Not gradualistic":

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
      http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/pe10fsrc.html#ntdrwntgrdl
      "PROBLEMS OF EVOLUTION": 10. FOSSIL RECORD
      1. Not Darwinian
      1. Not gradualistic
      The fossil record fails to reflect the gradual change one would expect if
      Darwinian evolution was true (Mayr, 2001, p.14). Two features of the fossil
      record that are particularly inconsistent with gradualism are sudden
      appearance fully formed, and stasis (Gould, 1977a, p.14). Yet for over a
      century and a half paleontologists had been "brain-washed, by the
      gradualistic uniformitarianism of Charles Lyell." (Ager, 1993, p.xi).
      Darwin himself had been greatly influenced by Lyell's gradualistic
      uniformitarianism (Davidheiser, 1969, pp.60-61) and based his theory of
      evolution by the "accumulation of successive slight favourable variations"
      on it (Ager, 1993, p.129). This caused paleontologists to publicly claim that
      the fossil record supports the Darwinian interpretation of the fossil record,
      while privately knowing all along that it does not (Eldredge, 1985, p.144)!
      [...]
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      "Lyell's book [`Principles of Geology'] contained facts which would be of
      importance to Darwin during his travels, and Professor Henslow
      recommended that he read it for that reason. However, he advised Darwin,
      `on no account to accept the views therein advocated.' (Darwin F., ed., `The
      Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,' D. Appleton and Co., 1888, Vol. 1,
      p.60) But this advice was not heeded, and Darwin's acceptance of Lyell's
      theory marked the turning point in his life. One of Darwin's biographers
      says, `Darwin's point of departure from orthodoxy on this voyage was, of
      course, his reading of the first volume of Lyell's Principles of Geology.'
      (Haber F., in Glass B., ed., `Forerunners of Darwin, 1745-1859,' Johns
      Hopkins Press, 1959, p.259) Another biographer calls it `the book which
      influenced him more than any other.' (Ward H., `Charles Darwin,' Bobbs
      Merrill Co., 1927, p.61) Still another biographer remarks, `Possibly,
      without Lyell's Principles of Geology, Darwin would not have written his
      Origin of Species' (Dorsey G.A., `The Evolution of Charles Darwin,'
      Doubleday Page & Co., 1927, p.152) Darwin himself acknowledged his
      indebtedness to Lyell. He dedicated to Lyell his report of the voyage of the
      Beagle `as an acknowledgment that the chief part of whatever scientific
      merit this Journal and the other works of the author may possess has been
      derived from studying the well-known and admirable Principles of
      Geology.' (Ward H., `Charles Darwin,' Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1927, p.67) In
      1844 Darwin wrote, `I always feel as if my books came half out of Lyell's
      brain, and that I never acknowledge this sufficiently... for I have always
      thought that the great merit of the Principles [of Geology] was that it
      altered the whole tone of one's mind... ` (Darwin F., ed., `More Letters of
      Charles Darwin,' D. Appleton and Co., 1903, Vol. 2, p.115). At the time of
      Lyell's death in 1875 he said, I never forget that almost everything which I
      have done in science I owe to the study of his great works." (Darwin F., ed.,
      "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin", D. Appleton and Co., 1888, Vol.
      2, p.37) (Davidheiser B., "Evolution and the Christian Faith", Presbyterian
      & Reformed Publishing Co: Nutley NJ, 1969, pp.60-61)
      Stephen E. Jones http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones
      Moderator: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreationEvolutionDesign
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