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William Paley  Colin Patterson  Nancy Pearcey  Alvin Plantinga  Karl Popper  William Provine  

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William Paley  (1743 - 1805)  Web  GBS

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer that for anything I knew to the contrary it had lain there forever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admissible in the second case as in the first? For this reason, and for no other, namely, that when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive -- what we could not discover in the stone -- that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g., that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. To reckon up a few of the plainest of these parts and of their offices, all tending to one result; we see a cylindrical box containing a coiled elastic spring, which, by its endeavor to relax itself, turns round the box. We next observe a flexible chain -- artificially wrought for the sake of flexure -- communicating the action of the spring from the box to the fusee. We then find a series of wheels, the teeth of which catch in and apply to each other, conducting the motion from the fusee to the balance and from the balance to the pointer, and at the same time, by the size and shape of those wheels, so regulating that motion as to terminate in causing an index, by an equable and measured progression, to pass over a given space in a given time. We take notice that the wheels are made of brass, in order to keep them from rust; the springs of steel, no other metal being so elastic; that over the face of the watch there is placed a glass, a material employed in no other part of the work, but in the room of which, if there had been any other than a transparent substance, the hour could not be seen without opening the case. This mechanism being observed -- it requires indeed an examination of the instrument, and perhaps some previous knowledge of the subject, to perceive and understand it; but being once, as we have said, observed and understood -- the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker-that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.    Natural Theology


Blaise Pascal  (1623 - 1662)  Web  GBS

God, wishing to create a holy people whom he would separate from all the other nations, whom he would deliver from its enemies and bring to a place of peace, promised to to it and foretold though his prophets the time and manner of his coming. And yet, to strengthen the hope of his chosen in every age, he showed them an image of it, never leaving them without assurances of his power and his will for their salvation. For, in the creation of man, when men were still so close to the Creation that they could not have forgotten their creation and fall, Adam was the witness and guardian of the promise of a savior, who would be born of woman. When those who had seen Adam were no longer in the world, God sent Noah and saved him, and drowned the whole earth by a miracle that clearly showed his power to save the world and his will to do it, and to cause the one he had promised to be born from the see of a woman... The memory of the deluge being so fresh among men while Noah was still alive, God made promises to Abraham, and while Shem was still alive, he sent Moses, etc.    Pensees  (2005)  p.3  S11

Why should Moses make men's lives so long, with so few generations?

Because it is not the length of years, but the multitude of generations that makes things obscure.

For truth is altered only by the change of men.

And yet he puts the two most memorable things ever imagined, namely, the Creation and the Flood, so close they can be touched.    Pensees  (2005)  p.90  S324

Shem, who saw Lamech, who saw Adam, also saw Jacob, who saw those who saw Moses. Therefore the Flood and the Creation are true. This is conclusive among certain people who understand it properly.    Pensees  (2005)  p.91  S327

The creation of the world beginning to be distant, God provide a single contemporary historian and entrusted a whole people with custody of this book, so that this history would be the most authentic in the world and all man might learn form it something necessary to know that could not be known any other way.    Pensees  (2005)  p.237  S711

For, although these events had taken place some 2,000 years before, so few generations had passed that they were as new to the men of those times as events occurring some 300 years ago are to us today. This is because the earliest men lives so long. So that Shem, who saw Lamech, etc.

This proof is sufficient to convince reasonable people of the truth of the flood and the Creation. And it shows God's Providence, for, seeing that the Creation was beginning to recede into the past, he provided a historian who can be called contemporary and entrusted a whole people to the care of his book.    Pensees  (2005)  p.265  S741 

There have always been signs of him throughout the ages. Ours are the prophecies. Other ages had other signs.

These proofs all support one another. If one is true, so is the other. Thus every age, having proofs proper to itself, has known the others though them.

Those who saw the Flood believed in the Creation, and believed in the Messiah who was to come. Those who saw Moses believed in the Flood and the fulfillment of the prophesies.

And we who see the prophecies fulfilled should believe in the Flood and Creation.    Pensees  (2005)  p.289  S785


Louis Pasteur  (1822 – 1895)  Web  GBS

The more I study nature, the more I am amazed at the Creator.


William Patten  (1861 - 1932)  Director of the Freshman Course in Evolution at Dartmouth  GBS

Science rightly demands of all her teachers sincerity and humility; but above all, a desire to know the truth, a willingness to submit to the truth and the ability to use it rightly. 

At Dartmouth, on Saturday night, I saw no evidence of these qualities in Mr. Bryan. I shall offer no defense against his attacks on the biologists and on the world in general. I came away from the exhibition of misdirected and self destructive effort with an overwhelming feeling of sadness, and as little inclined to ridicule as a visitor to an insane asylum.    New York Times  December 23 1923  VIII p.8

Is it not, therefore, evident, Mr. Bryan, that in this business of living we are all penned up together in the same cattle boat, adrift in dangerous waters? Would it not be wiser to think about these questions of evolution and fundamentalism a little longer, a little more carefully and with a little more tolerance and open-mindedness before arousing beyond control the latent hatreds and religious prejudices of the common people you so ably represent and against the so-called  intellectuals and progressives? These are very complicated and dangerous questions to play with. You are assuming terrible responsibilities. Are you sure you are not a false witness and a dangerous disturber of the peace?    New York Times  December 23 1923  VIII p.8


Colin Patterson  (1933 – 1998)  Senior Palaeontologist at British Museum of Natural History  Amazon  GBS  QMP

These gaps might be due to failure in fossilization, or to mistakes in the genealogy, or to wrongly identified fossils; or they could be (and have been) taken to show that the theory of evolution is wrong.    Evolution  (1978) p.133

Just as pre-Darwinian biology was carried out by people whose faith was in the Creator and His plan, post-Darwinian biology is being carried out by people whose faith is in, almost, the deity of Darwin. They've seen their task as to elaborate his theory and to fill the gaps in it, to fill the trunk and twigs of the tree. But it seems to me that the theoretical framework has very little impact on the actual progress of the work in biological research. In a way some aspects of Darwinism and of neo-Darwinism seem to me to have held back the progress of science.    The Listener  October 8, 1981  p.392

One of the reasons I started taking this anti-evolutionary view, or let's call it a non- evolutionary view, was last year I had a sudden realization for over twenty years I had thought I was working on evolution in some way. One morning I woke up and something had happened in the night and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That's quite a shock to learn that one can be so misled so long. Either there was something wrong with me or there was something wrong with evolutionary theory. Naturally, I know there is nothing wrong with me, so for the last few weeks I've tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people.

Question is: Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, "I do know one thing - it ought not to be taught in high school."     "Evolutionism and Creationism"  November 5, 1981  p.1     1  2  3 

I want to consider the way in which these two alternative world views-evolutionism and creationism have affected or might affect systematics and systematists.

Gillespie's book is a historian's attempt explain the amount of space that Darwin gave to combating the creationist arguments. Gillespie shows that what Darwin was doing was trying to replace the creationist paradigm by a positivist paradigm, a view of the world in which there was neither room nor necessity for final causes. Of course, Gillespie takes it for granted that Darwin and his disciples succeeded in this task. He takes it for granted that a rationalist view of nature has replaced an irrational one and of course, I myself took that view about eighteen months ago. Then I woke up and realized that all my life I had been duped into taking evolutionism as revealed truth in some way.    "Evolutionism and Creationism"  November 5, 1981  p.2

"Frequently, those holding creationist ideas could plead ignorance of the means and affirm only the facts."

That seems to summarize the feeling I get in talking, to evolutionists today. They plead ignorance of the means of transformation but affirm only the facts, knowing that it's taken place.    "Evolutionism and Creationism"  November 5, 1981  p.3

Now I think that many people in this room would acknowledge that during the last few years, if you had thought about it at all, you’ve experienced a shift from evolution as knowledge to evolution as faith. I know that’s true of me, and I think it’s true of a good many of you in here.    "Evolutionism and Creationism"  November 5, 1981  p.4

So what about the tree here and the numbers on the branches? As Steve said, it is produced by a program. Those numbers don't pop out of the data in any way, so I suppose those come from massaging the data with evolutionary theory. It is a program that assumes evolution to be true and tells the computer to find a tree. So my question will be: What is the tree telling us about? Is it telling us something about nature or something about evolutionary theory?    "Evolutionism and Creationism"  November 5, 1981  p.10

The last quote is from Gillespie again and it concerns Hooker. If you think about it, Hooker was the only professional systematist amongst the Darwin coterie. He was also Darwin's oldest confidant in reading all of Darwin's manuscripts and talking to him solidly since 1840 and yet he remained unconverted to evolution until 1859. Here is Gillespie on the reason Hooker was not converted.

"Hooker adopted a view that species were immutable and each descended from a single parent. It was not necessarily his belief but a methodological postulate to make classification possible...Hooker believed that a taxonomist, who was an evolutionist, must ignore his theory and proceed as if species were immutable."

In other words, evolution may very well be true but basing one's systematics on that belief will give bad systematics.    "Evolutionism and Creationism"  November 5, 1981  p.14

I mentioned a question (‘Can you tell me anything you know about evolution?’) that I have put to various biologists, and an answer that had been given: ‘I know that evolution generates hierarchy.’ In the framework of phylogenetic reconstruction and our current problems with it, another answer comes to mind: ‘I know that evolution generates homoplasy’ [or “convergence,” in the older jargon of systematics]. In both cases, the answer is not quite accurate. It would be truer to say, ‘I know that evolution explains hierarchy’ or ‘I know that evolution explains homoplasy.’ We must remember the distinction between the cart—the explanation—and the horse—the data. And where models are introduced in phylogenetic reconstruction, we should prefer models dictated by features of the data to models derived from explanatory theories.    “Null or minimal models”  (1994)

Darwin devoted two chapters of The Origin of Species to fossils, but spent the whole of the first in saying how imperfect the geological record of life is. It seemed obvious to him that, if his theory of evolution is correct, fossils ought to provide incontrovertible proof of it, because each stratum should contain links between the species of earlier and later strata, and if sufficient fossils were collected, it would be possible to arrange them in ancestor descendent sequences and so build up a precise picture of the course of evolution. This was not so in Darwin's time, and today, after more than another hundred years of assiduous fossil collecting, the picture still has extensive gaps.    Evolution  (1999) p.106

But there are still great gaps in the fossil record. Most of the major groups of animals (phyla) appear fully fledged in the early Cambrian rocks, and we know of no fossil forms linking them.    Evolution  (1999) p.109

Fossils may tell us many things, but one thing they can never disclose is whether they were ancestors of anything else.    Evolution  (1999) p.109

If we accept Popper's distinctions between science and non-science we must ask first ask whether the theory of evolution by natural selection is scientific or pseudo-scientific (metaphysical). That question covers two quite separate aspects of evolutionary theory. The first is the general thesis that evolution has occurred -- all animals and plant species are related by common ancestry -- and the second is a special theory of mechanism, that the cause of evolution is natural selection (in fact Darwin accepted the first idea a couple years before he thought of the second). 

The first, general, theory (that evolution has occurred) explains the history of life as a single process of species splitting and progression. That process must be unique and unrepeatable, like the history of England. Before Darwin, species were generally thought to be fixed and immutable, each with some discoverable and universal essence, like the elements or chemical compounds. Darwin explained species as temporary, local things, each with a beginning and an end depending on contingencies of history. He converted biology from a study of universals, like chemistry to a study of individuals, like history. So the general theory of evolution is a historical theory,  about unique events -- and unique events are, by some definitions, not part of science for they are unrepeatable and so not subject to test. Historians cannot predict the future (or are deluded when they try) and they cannot explain the past, but only interpret it. And there is usually no decisive way of testing their alternative interpretations. For the same reasons, evolutionary biologists can make few predictions about the future evolution of any particular species, and they cannot explain past evolution but produce only interpretations or stories about it. Yet biologists have enormous advantages over historians. First they have a coherent, and scientific, theory of genetics. Second, they have one basic tool, homology. And third, they have the universal scientific principle of parsimony, or economy of hypothesis, also known as Occam's razor: the simplest story is the best. Despite these advantages for the evolutionist it remains true that there are no laws of evolution comparable to the laws of physics, just as there are no laws of history. 

The general theory of evolution is thus neither fully scientific (like physics, for example) nor unscientific like history). Although it has no laws it does have rules, and it does make general predictions about the properties of organisms. It therefore lays itself open to disproof.     Evolution  (1999)  p.117  see also: Fark

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William Paley  Colin Patterson  Nancy Pearcey  Alvin Plantinga  Karl Popper  William Provine  

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