Origins & Design 17:2

Ask the Professor Down the Hall

To the editors:

Your article on Colin Patterson's "famous question" reminded me of my own similar question, dating from about the same time, which I started asking when a careful examination of the available evidence forced me away from the evolutionary origins model I carried into grad school. I ask this question, explicitly or implicitly (i.e., by examining their published work), of anybody with a terminal degree in any field (which generally requires original research): What evidence in your field supports the evolutionary model better than the design model?" I adopted the policy of qualifying responses after hearing about what I was told was common practice in the entomolgy department of the state university where I held a faculty position (in an unrelated department): the professors tend to neglect telling undergraduates and M.S. students about the problems with evolution, but that omission could not be sustained for Ph.D students, whose own original research would be impeded by the ignorance. Whether this hearsay report is true or not, the fact remains that after some 15 years I have yet to get one single qualified answer. Even Dawkins (The Blind Watchmaker) makes his case from outside his own area of expertise -- and as I showed in Origins Research [Spring 1989], his reasoning is faulty.

In contrast, my own area (Information Science) has some interesting mathematical theorems that make atheistic evolution absolutely impossible. Even more interesting is that information theory has completely vanished from the research scene. Instead it has developed into the pseudo-science popularized by the "mathematician" hero of Jurassic Park; so-called Chaos Theory amounts to little more than a tacit admission that we don't know very much about cause and effect in the universe. Or as I think more likely, that if we did study it more thoroughly, we would find the results to be politically incorrect.

Thomas Pittman, Ph.D.
Spreckels, CA

Looking at the Fovea

To the editors:

I have taught Human Anatomy and Physiology for the past 25 years. During the study of the eye, I make it a point to reveal to my students that the light rays focus on the fovea centralis, which is the point of greatest visual acuity because the nervous tissue is "laid back" to form the depression shown in diagrams and photos [see Figure 1]. Therfore, the light rays fall most directly upon the photoreceptors (the cones) because the other nerve cells are laid back and out of the way of any incoming light rays. As we look at an object, the object that we focus on is the clearest. Our peripheral vision around our point of focus becomes less and less clear. Impressionist artists, like Monet and Renoir, used this observation in their paintings. You can always tell where the artist was focused because the "dots" in the painting are the closest together and become larger and farther apart as the "peripheral" view of the artist is revealed as the reduction in the resolution of images in the painting.

James Copi, Ph.D.
Madonna University
Livonia, MI

Paul Davies and Thermodynamics

To the editors:

Congratulations on your having produced a superior publication... There is one puzzling question, in regard to P. A. Nelson's review of the book Are We Alone? by Paul Davies. Nelson gives an extended quote beginning "The laws of physics have the remarkable property that they encourage matter and energy to evolve spontaneously from simple initial states toward highly complex states... Evidently stupid matter has a sort of innate ability to organize itself...."

Why does not Nelson point out that this statement of Davies's is pure fantasy? Has he never heard of the second law of thermodynamics? It is one of the very basic characteristics of matter and energy that, left to themselves with no organizing agency (e.g. DNA in life forms or blueprints in architecture) they become more diffused and random, not less so. Anyone who has ever dealt with practical matters, whether artist or engineer or housekeeper, knows this. Where is the evidence for the "inherent self-organizing tendencies that we find in matter and energy"? If Davies had such evidence it would be the sensation of the century! The review should have pointed out that Davies's statements are pure nonsense -- that it is not matter which is "stupid," but the people who do not know how matter behaves. I do not understand why the reviewer nevertheless pronounces the book as "well worth reading" -- unless it might be as a horrible example of how far afield from good sense some writers can stray and still win a Templeton Prize.

Carol Armstrong
Tampa, FL

Almost Reputable

To the editors:

A copy of Origins & Design (Volume 17, Number 1) recently crossed my desk and it does indeed look almost like a reputable publication. Unfortunately, it is filled with the same literary criticism as before and contains no scientific research....

What are the major discoveries of "scientific creationism"? What has "scientific creationism" discovered that will help us defeat new diseases, create new vaccines and antibiotics, or cure birth defects? The fact is that creationism has contributed nothing beneficial to humans in 6000 years and can be blamed for the inhuman treatment of women over the same 6000 years. But what I find more incredulous is that supposedly well educated people would still believe the addled stories of desert bedouin. Would that humans really were intelligent.

Mark A. Sholes
Montana Tech
Butte, MT

But Will He Check That Recycle Bin Again?

To the editors:

Volume 17, Number 1, of Origins & Design turned up in a hallway recycle bin recently and caught my eye. Though you try to disguise your bible-based creationism with euphemisms like "intelligent causation," it is clear that your "interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed quarterly" is just one more outlet for Christian apologetics and anti-evolution proselytization.

How can you claim to be a peer-reviewed journal when Phillip Johnson, one of your most prominent evolution-bashers, is not even a professional biologist, but merely a creationist lawyer who is incompetent to discuss on a scholarly level the methods and findings of biological science? Who are your reviewers, Morris and Gish?

As for your other authors, I presume from their departmental affiliations that Gordon Mills, Dean Kenyon, and George Ayoub may hold earned degrees in science, but by giving creationist theology priority over real science, they forfeit any claim to being legitimate, competent professionals. Since creationism is the very antithesis of science, creationist scientists are oxymoronic frauds....

Your magazine is a farce. Origins & Design is the same old creationist bullshit dressed up in new clothes. The recycle bin is a fitting place for it.

David K. Webb
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT

The editors reply:

We welcome critical letters. Those letters, however, should offer specific criticisms of the points and arguments in our articles, or specific commentary on the same.

Mark Sholes and David Webb object to the whole idea of Origins & Design. In effect, they invite us to cease publication. As we have no plans to do that, we encourage those with similar general complaints to take them to, the Usenet newsgroup on the Internet where blanket condemnations are customary fare.

We are interested in publishing correspondence of substance. Messrs. Sholes and Webb have spoken on behalf of the "shut yourselves down" constituency. No further letters in this vein will be published.

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File Date: 11.14.96