Darwin-L Message Log 22: 71–93 — June 1995
Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences
Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.
This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during June 1995. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.
The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”
------------------------------------------- DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 22: 71-93 -- JUNE 1995 ------------------------------------------- DARWIN-L A Network Discussion Group on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu is an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Darwin-L was established in September 1993 to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among academic professionals in these fields. Darwin-L is not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin but instead addresses the entire range of historical sciences from an interdisciplinary perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical anthropology, historical geography, and related "palaetiological" fields. This log contains public messages posted to Darwin-L during June 1995. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and some administrative messages and personal messages posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster. The master copy of this log is maintained in the archives of Darwin-L by firstname.lastname@example.org, and is also available on the Darwin-L gopher at rjohara.uncg.edu. For instructions on how to retrieve copies of this and other log files, and for additional information about Darwin-L, send the e-mail message INFO DARWIN-L to email@example.com, or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server at http://rjohara.uncg.edu. Darwin-L is administered by Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org), Center for Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A., and it is supported by the Center for Critical Inquiry, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the Department of History and the Academic Computing Center, University of Kansas. _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:71>From brunson@Okway.okstate.edu Tue Jun 27 09:57:26 1995 Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 09:50:01 -0500 From: brunson@Okway.okstate.edu (Darin Brunson) Subject: Re: Creationism as science ? To: email@example.com The interesting thing about Gosse's model is its contrary application, viz., Bertie Russell's argument that there is nothing you can do towards proving that the world, all your memories, etc. wasn't poofed into existence 3 minutes ago. This type of epistemological argument is at the root of the positivistic tradition that is essentially responsible our use today of those sharp lines of demarcation between science and everything else--namely creationism Darin Brunson firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:72>From sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU Tue Jun 27 12:37:55 1995 From: Prof Vince Sarich <sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 10:41:24 -0700 To: email@example.com Subject: Gosse As I tend to be Lederberg, rather than Eisenstadt and Nadler, on Gosse and Omphalos, I thought I'd offer 2 longish pieces resurrected from my files and used when this topic was raised last year. One is from Omphalos itself; the other from the best piece on Gosse's scenario that I have ever read. Finally, I suggest that no matter what we do, there is ultimately going to be an untestable assumption at its base. It will be different for different enterprises, but there will inevitably be one there, nonetheless. Vincent Sarich _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:73>From sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU Tue Jun 27 12:39:19 1995 From: Prof Vince Sarich <sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 10:42:47 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: from Omphalos I was encouraged to see Gosse's Omphalos taken somewhat seriously by both Phillipson and Winsor. I have, ever since being introduced to it more than 40 years ago by Martin Gardner's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, considered Omphalos to be of the more ingenious creations of the human intellect. Phillipson comments that <It would be irreligious not to the best science we can, trying to make it better. Why did God put fossils there, if not for us to dig up and perform science upon?> Gosse, on pg 369-71 of his 372-page work, comments: "Finally, the acceptance of the principles presented in this volume, even in their fullest extent, would not, in the least degree, affect the study of scientific geology. The character and order of the strata; their disruptions and displacements; the successive floras and faunas; and all the other phenomena, would be facts still. They would still be, as now, legitimate subjects of examination and inquiry. I do not know that a single conclusion, now accepted, would need to be given up, except that of actual chronology. And even in respect of this, it would be rather a modification than a relinquishment of what is at present held; we might still speak of the inconceivably long duration of the processes in question, providing we understand ideal instead of actual time -- that the duration was projected in the mind of God, and not really existent. The zoologist would still use the fossil forms of non-existing animals, to illustrate the mutual analogies of species and groups. ..... He would still use the stony skeletons for the inculcation of lessons on the skill and power of God in creation; and would find them a rich mine of instruction, affording some examples of the adaptation of structure to function, which are not yielded by any extant species. Such are the elongation of the little finger in Pterodactylus, for the extension of the alar membrane; and the deflection of the inferior incisors in Dinotherium, for the purposes of digging or anchorage. ...... In short, the readings of the "stone book" will be found not less worthy of the God who wrote them, not less worthy of man who deciphers them, if we consider them as prochronically, then if we judge them diachronically, produced." Winsor comments that: "This unassailable, pure, perfect reconciliation was satisfying to neither camp, and still is not, because it implies that God has no compunction about deceiving us." Gosse was not unaware of this sort of objection, and he addressed it on pp 347 et seq: "It may be objected, that, to assume the world to have been created with fossil skeletons in its crust -- skeletons of animals that never really existed -- is to charge the creator with forming objects whose sole purpose was to deceive us. The reply is obvious. Were the concentric timber-rings of a created tree formed merely to deceive? Were the growth lines of a created shell intended to deceive? Was the navel of the created Man intended to deceive into the persuasion that he had a parent? These peculiarities of structure were inseparable from the adult stage of these creatures respectively, without which they would not have been what they were. The Locust-tree could not have been an adult Hymenoea, without concentric rings; -- nay, it could not have been an exogenous tree at all. The Dione could not have been a Dione without those foliations and spines that form its generic character. The Man would not have been a Man without a navel. To a physiologist this is obvious; but some unscientific reader may say, Could not God have created plants and animals without these retrospective marks? I distinctly reply, No! not so as to preserve their specific identity with those with we are familiar. A Tree-fern without scars on the trunk! A Palm without leaf-bases! A Bean without a hilum! A Tortoise without laminae on its plates! A Carp without concentric lines on its scales! A Bird without feathers! A Mammal without hairs, or claws, or teeth, or bones, or blood! ..... If, then, the existence of retrospective marks, visible and tangible proofs of processes which were prochronic, was so necessary to organic essences, that they could not have been created without them, -- is it absurd to suggest the possibility (I do no more) that the world itself was created under the influence of the same law, with visible tangible proofs of developments and processes, which yet were only prochronic." In a separate posting I send along a long excerpt from an essay by Dorothy Sayers in which she comments on Gosse (without mentioning him by name), and also the nature of reality and creativity. _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:74>From sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU Tue Jun 27 12:41:11 1995 From: Prof Vince Sarich <sarich@qal.Berkeley.EDU> Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 10:44:39 -0700 To: email@example.com Subject: Sayers on Gosse From Creative Mind by Dorothy Sayers (an essay in Creed or Chaos? Methuen, London, 1947): Or take again the case of the word <reality>. No word occasions so much ill-directed argument. We are now emerging from a period when people were inclined to use it as though nothing were real unless it could be measured; and some old-fashioned materialists still use it so. But if you go back behind the dictionary meanings -- such as "that which has objective existence" -- and behind its philosophic history to the derivation of the word, you find that <reality> means "the thing thought." Reality is a concept; and a real object is that which corresponds to the concept. In ordinary conversation we still use the word in this way. When we say "those pearls are not real," we do not mean they cannot be measures; we mean that the measurement of their makeup does not correspond to the concept <pearl>, that, regarded as pearls, they are nothing more than an appearance; they are quite actual, but they are not real. As pearls, in fact, they have no objective existence. Professor Eddington is much troubled by the words <reality> and <existence>; in his Philosophy of Physical Science he can find no use or meaning for the word <existence> -- unless, he admits, it is taken to mean "that which is present in the thoughts of God." That, he thinks, is not the meaning usually given to it. But it is, in fact, the precise meaning, and the only meaning, given to it by the theologian. I have taken up a lot of your time with talk about words -- which may seem very far removed from the subject of creative mind. But I have two objects in doing so. The first is to warn you that my use of words will not always be your use of words, and that the words of the common poet -- the creator in words -- must never be interpreted absolutely, but only in relation to their context. They must be considered as fields of force, which disturb and are disturbed by their environment. Secondly, I want to place before you this passage from the works of Richard Hard -- an eighteenth-century English divine. "The source of bad criticism, as universally of bad philosophy, is the abuse of terms. A poet they say must follow nature; and by nature, we are to suppose, can only be meant the known and experienced course of affairs in this world. Whereas the poet has a world of his own, where experience has less to do than consistent imagination." It was the Royal Society who announced in 1687 that they "exacted from their members a close, naked, natural way of speaking ..... bringing all things as near the mathematical plainness as they can." Words, they imply, are not to be metaphorical or allusive or charged with incalculable associations -- but to approximate as closely as possible to mathematical symbols: "one word, one meaning." And to this Hard retorts in effect that, for the poet, this use of language is simply not "natural" at all. It is contrary to the nature of language and to the nature of the poet. The poet does not work by the analysis and measurement of observables, but by a "consistent imagination." Poets create, we may say, by building up new images, new intellectual concepts, new worlds, if you like, to form new consistent wholes, new unities out of diversity. And I should like to submit to you that this is in fact the way in which all creative mind works -- in the sciences as every where else -- in divine as well as in human creation, so far as we can observe and understand divine methods of creation. That is, that within our experience, creation proceeds by the discovery of new conceptual relations between things so as to form them into systems having a consistent wholeness corresponding to an image in the mind, and, consequently, possessing real existence. .............................. For the next instance of consistent imagination, I will ask you to wander with me down a very curious, little bypath. It was during the last century that the great war was fought between churchmen and men of science over the theory of Evolution. We need not fight afresh every battle in that campaign. The scientists won their battle chiefly, or at any rate largely, with the help of the paleontologists and the biologists. It was made clear that the earlier history of the earth and its inhabitants could be reconstructed from fossil remains surviving in its present, and from vestigial structures remaining in the various plants and animals with which it is now peopled. It was scarcely possible to suppose any longer that God had created each species -- to quote the text of Paradise Lost -- "perfect forms, limb'd, and full grown," except on what seemed the extravagant assumption that, when creating the universe, he had at the same time provided it with the evidence of a purely imaginary past that had never had any actual existence. Now, the first thing to be said about this famous quarrel is that the churchmen need never have been perturbed at all about the method of creation, if they had remembered that the Book of Genesis was a book of poetical truth, and not intended as a scientific handbook of geology. They got into their difficulty, to a large extent, through having unwittingly slipped into accepting the scientist's concept of the use of language, and supposing that a thing could not be true unless it was amenable to quantitative methods of proof. Eventually, and with many slips along the way, they contrived to clamber out of this false position; and today no reasonable theologian is at all perturbed by the idea that creation was effected by evolutionary methods. But, if the theologians had not lost touch with the nature of language; if they had not insensibly fallen into the eighteenth-century conception of the universe as a mechanism and God as the great engineer; if, instead, they had chosen to think of God as a great, imaginative artist -- then they might have offered a quite different interpretation of the facts, with rather entertaining consequences. They might, in fact, have seriously put forward the explanation I mentioned just now; that God had at some moment or other created the universe complete with all the vestiges of an imaginary past. I have said that this seemed an extravagant assumption; so it does, if thinks of God as a mechanician. But if one thinks of him as working in the same way as a creative artist, then it no longer seems extravagant, but the most natural thing in the world. It is the way every novel in the world is written. Every serious novelist starts with some or all of his characters "in perfect form and fully grown," complete with their pasts. Their present is conditioned by a past that exists, not fully on paper, but fully or partially in the creator's imagination. And as he goes on writing the book, he will -- especially if it is a long work, like The Forsyte Saga or the "Peter Wimsey" series -- plant from time to time in the text of the book allusions to that unwritten past. If his imagination is consistent, then all those allusions, all those, so to speak, planted fossils, will tell a story consistent with one another and consistent with the present and future actions of the characters. That is to say, that past, existing only in the mind of the maker, produces a true and measurable effect on the written part of the book, precisely as though it had, in fact, "taken place" within the work of art itself. If you have ever amused yourselves by reading some of the works of "spoof" criticism about Sherlock Holmes (e.g., Baker Street Studies, or H. W. Bell's Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson), you will see just how far pseudoscientific method can be used to interpret these fossil remains scattered about the Sherlock Holmes stories, and what ingenuity can be used to force the indications into an apparent historical consistency. As regards the past of his characters, Conan Doyle's imagination was not, in fact, very consistent; there were lapses and contradictions, as well as lacunae. But let us suppose a novelist with a perfectly consistent imagination, who had contrived characters with an absolutely complete and flawless past history; and let us suppose, further, that the fossil remains were being examined by one of the characters, who (since his existence is contained wholly within the covers of the book just as ours is contained wholly within the universe) could not get outside the written book to communicate with the author. (This, I know, is difficult, rather like imagining the inhabitant of two-dimensional space, but it can be done,) Now, such a character would be in precisely the same position as a scientist examining the evidence that the universe affords of its own past. The evidence would all be there, it would all point in the same direction, and its effects would be apparent in the whole action of the story itself (that is, in what, for him, would be "real" history). There is no conceivable set of data, no imaginable line of reasoning, by which he could possibly prove whether or not that past had ever gone through the formality of taking place. On the evidence -- the fossil remains, the self-consistency of all the data, and the effects observable in himself and his fellow characters -- he would, I think, be forced to conclude that it had taken place. And, whether or no, he would be obliged to go on behaving as if it had taken place. Indeed, he could not by any means behave otherwise because he had been created by his maker as a person with those influences in his past. I think that if the churchmen had chosen to take up that position, the result would have been entertaining. It would have been a very strong position because it is one that cannot be upset by scientific proof. Probably, the theologians would have been deterred by a vague sense that a God who made his universe like this was not being quite truthful. But that would be because of a too limited notion of truth. In what sense is the unwritten past of the characters in a book less true than their behavior in it? Or if a prehistory that never happened exercises on history an effect indistinguishable from the effect it would have made by happening, what real difference is there between happening and not happening? If it is deducible from the evidence, self-consistent, and recognizable in its effects, it is quite real, whether or not it was actual. .............. You will probably be tempted, by your habit of mind, to ask -- what does all this prove? It does not, in the scientific sense of the word, prove anything. The function of imaginative speech is not to prove, but to create -- to discover new similarities and to arrange them to form new unities, to build new self-consistent worlds out of the universe of undifferentiated mind-stuff. Every activity has its own technique; the mistake is to suppose that the technique of one activity is suitable for all purposes. In scientific reasoning for example, the poet's technique of metaphor and analogy is inappropriate and even dangerous -- its use leads to conclusions that are false to science, that build it new unities out of quantitative likenesses, and things that are numerically comparable. The error of the Middle Ages, on the whole, was to use analogical, metaphorical, poetical techniques for the investigation of scientific questions. But increasingly, since the seventeenth century, we have tended to the opposite error -- that of using the quantitative methods of science for the investigation of poetic truth. But to build poetic systems of truth, the similarities must be, not quantitative, but qualitative, and the new unity that will emerge will be a world of new values. Here, metaphor and analogy are both appropriate and necessary -- for both these processes involve the arranging of things according to some quality that the dissimilars have in common: thus (to go back to my earlier simile) common language and an infuriated cat, though in quantitative respects very unlike, have in common a certain quality of intractability. And thus, too, the associative values of words, which make them such bad tools for the scientist, make them the right tools for the poet, for they facilitate the establishment of similarities between many widely differing concepts, and so make easy the task of the creative imagination building up its poetic truths. _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:75>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Jun 27 14:10:13 1995 From: Mary P Winsor <email@example.com> Subject: Gosse's Omphalos To: firstname.lastname@example.org (bulletin board) Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 15:10:03 -0400 (EDT) Joshua Lederberg introduced my favorite anti-evolution argument, which Philip Gosse expounded in his book Omphalos. I find this a very valuable bit to include in my college lectures, because the "moral of the story" emerges by itself. Indeed it is such a favorite that come to think of it, I wrote about it to this list already, a year or so ago. "Omphalos" is Greek for bellybutton. PH Gosse assumes his readers share his vivid image of Adam (Gosse was very literalist believer in the Bible; his son Edmund wrote a loosely autobiographical book "Father and Son" recalling how even novels were excluded from household reading (they are fiction, that is, not True)); well, as the ideal of humankind, Adam of course had a belly button. ....! To you and me, just to think of it exposes the childishness of special creation, but to Gosse, the symbolic umbilicus exposes the poverty of historical reasoning. Sometimes bellybuttons are evidence of a placental attachment, but other times they are not, they are just evidence that that is how the maker chose to make things. From this it follows that fossils might be evidence of shells from long ago, or they might not. Gosse was not the first to suggest this, it goes back to St. Augustine (or another Early Church Father, I forget...) but he was very pleased with himself. Most to the point, though, is this is NOT creationism. Gosse's view, I agree with Lederberg, does have a certain elegance to it, but much to Gosse's chagrin, other Christians did not thank him. They ignored him, and did not adopt it. That kind of metaphysical game is not representative of mainstream theology. interesting historical footnote: Omphalos came out BEFORE the Origin, evolution was enough in the air that like Louis Agassiz he saw the danger coming and hoped to nip it in the bud. Polly Winsor email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:76>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Wed Jun 28 00:29:41 1995 Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 01:29:30 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Administrative notes (from the list owner) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Several subscribers' mail systems seem to have just installed a new "feature" (some would call it a bug) that sends automatic acknowledgements of every message the person reads. This is the cause of the several acknowledgement messages that have appeared here in the last few days by accident. The solution is for the parties concerned to turn this feature off; I have unsubscribed them in the mean time, so it shouldn't happen too much more. (Things like this can cause nasty mail loops, and if you've never seen one of those happen on a listserv group you should consider yourself blest; imagine coming in in the morning and finding 500 messages in you box all identical and all saying "Your message has been received and read." The thought is too terrible to contemplate.) I would also like to remind posters to please sign their messages with a name and email address. Different mail systems work differently, and some only display "Darwin-L" as the source in the message header. Without a signature block of some kind many readers will have know way of knowing the original authors of many posted messages. I'd also like to encourage people to maintain as high a degree of decorum as they can muster, even when talking about things like creationism. The few times the subject has come up here before it's been rather striking how quickly the quality of discourse drops from reasoned academic discussion to something rather less noble. Creationism is certainly a topic that touches on the historical sciences that are our domain, but there are special internet fora, like the usenet group talk.origins, that deal specifically with these issues. In my experience teaching Darwin and the _Origin_ to American college freshmen, the biggest problem is simply to encourage them to think critically and carefully about anything. I worry about getting them to write coherent sentences and paragraphs, and about getting them to look up words they don't know (like "archipelago") in the dictionary instead of just skipping over them. If I'm lucky, some of the facts and theory will come along as well. But if you go into a freshman class and tell them they are stupid for believing their religion you will neither advance science nor your students' education. I take an historical approach in my teaching of Darwin (and am increasingly inserting comparisons to the history of linguistics, thanks to the many things I've learned from our linguistic members here), and it isn't possible for me to teach the _Origin_ without teaching about the difference between natural and revealed theology. I just read a magnificent memorial poem to one of the great nineteenth century writers on the two theologies, Hugh Miller, and I think I'll pass it along in a moment as a separate message. Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (email@example.com) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:77>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Wed Jun 28 01:00:10 1995 Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 01:59:55 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Epitaph on Hugh Miller (1802-1856) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro I just came across this magnificent memorial poem that I was going to hold for a "Today in the Historical Sciences" message, but it's too good not to pass on. Hugh Miller (1802-1856) was one of the most graceful scientific writers of the nineteenth century. He began his life as a stonemason in Scotland, and became a serious student of fossils, travelling all over his country collecting and describing new material. He found what were then the oldest vertebrate fossils, I believe, in the Old Red Sandstone. His popular writings on geology and Scottish life and customs made him one of the most widely-read men of his day. He was a devout member of the Scottish Free Church, and wrote widely on purely religious matters as well as on the relation between science and religion: he had no use either for the biblical literalists of his day, nor for the atheistic advocates of "development" hypotheses. One of his books, _Footprints of the Creator_, was written in response to Robert Chambers' _Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation_ (1844), a widely-read pre-Darwinian evolutionary work. In his middle years, Miller began to suffer from a mental illness of uncertain type. He began to experience hallucinations, and to think that people were coming in the night to his house to break into his museum and steal his collections. He would awake in the morning convinced that he had gone out in the night to chase the intruders away, but no one else in the house had seen any intruders nor seen him go out. He would check his clothes to see if they we wet or dirty from having been walking outside, but they never were; and yet he had repeated hallucinations about chasing off intruders in the night. On Christmas Eve morning of 1856, less than a week after he finished correcting the proofs his last book, _The Testimony of the Rocks_, he took the gun he had bought to defend his home and shot himself through the chest. On the table in his room he had written out this note to his wife: Dearest Lydia, -- My brain burns. I _must_ have _walked_; and a fearful dream rises upon me. I cannot bear the horrible thought. God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon me. Dearest Lydia, dear children, farewell. My brain burns as the recollection grows. My dear, dear wife, farewell. This memorial was written shortly after his death, and appears as an epigraph in _The Testimony of the Rocks_. I think it's really something. Unknown he came. He went a Mystery -- A mighty vessel foundered in the calm, Her freight half-given to the world. To die He longed, nor feared to meet the great "I AM." Fret not. God's mystery is solved in him. He quarried Truth all rough-hewn from the earth, And chiselled it into a perfect gem -- A rounded Absolute. Twain at a birth -- Science with a celestial halo crowned, And Heavenly Truth -- God's Works by His Word illumed -- These twain he viewed in holiest concord bound. Reason outsoared itself. His mind consumed By its volcanic fire, and frantic driven, He dreamed himself in hell and woke in heaven. Robert J. O'Hara (email@example.com) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:78>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Jun 28 07:50:21 1995 From: Mary P Winsor <email@example.com> Subject: Gosse again To: firstname.lastname@example.org (bulletin board) Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 08:50:15 -0400 (EDT) I should have stated explicitly why the "Omphalos" or fossils-created-in-place idea finds so little favor in theology, because it is key to this two-domains-of-knowledge notion: it requires a God who is willing to deceive us, whereas goodness, along with existence and power, are essential elements in God's nature. Founders of modern science, including Galileo and Descartes, built their confidence in reason and observation upon their trust in Him who made their eyes and mind. (which put Darwin in an odd position, as he realized: he was doing his science equipped only with eye and mind inherited from an ape!) all this is to endorse heartily the widening of the issue beyond evolution vs Garden of Eden: historical scholarship (example of the Holocaust has been mentioned) is very similar to paleontology in its commitment to reasoning from evidence, and surely in teaching it is an understanding of that process, rather than particular conclusions, even one as huge as evolution, we hope to instill. Polly Winsor email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:79>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Jun 28 10:09:19 1995 Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 10:09:17 -0500 To: email@example.com From: Andrew Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Is anti-evolutionism only American? >So a question to our European colleagues or others with European >experience, and likewise to those on other continents. Is there any >_serious_ opposition to the theory of evolution in your country's education >at any level, or is anti-evolutionism a US American isolate? > >Peter Simons >University of Salzburg >Philosophy Department >email@example.com Creationism is a very small crank movement in this country, with no serious pressure on the school curriculum. From time to time, I go to their conferences, to see if anything is growing there, and it really does not seem to be. And all the creationist material I have seen in this country originated in America. On the other hand, there is a surprisingly widespread loathing of Richard Dawkins for his attacks on religion, and a couple of influential evangelicals have been heard to refer to evolution as "just a theory". The Kensington Temple, a pentecostal church in West London which may have the largest congregation of any church in London (largely black) is dodgy on creationism. But this is something they keep mostly to themselves: it is not remotely respectable. Andrew Brown Religious Affairs Correspondent The Independent, London Tel: +44-171-293-2682 _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:80>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Jun 28 10:41:17 1995 Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 10:41:15 -0500 To: email@example.com From: Andrew Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Is anti-evolutionism only American? >Creationist ideas may be true and they may be false but >their not scientific. > >Mark A. Nadler Internet: email@example.com >Ashland University Phone: (419) 289-5912 >Ashland, OH 44805 Fax: (419) 289-5949 I'm sorry if this apears rude, but the quote above seems a disturbing copout. What is the point of doing science if it not a method to approach truth? Creationism is a historical doctrine contradicted by practically everything else we know reliably enough to rely on. Why pretend it could be true? Andrew Brown Religious Affairs Correspondent The Independent, London Tel: +44-171-293-2682 _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:81>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Jun 28 12:48:47 1995 Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 12:24:51 -0400 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: we rage In respect to the Anti-empirical stance, especially the claim that evidence for evolution was planted in the earth to confuse or is a misunderstanding, I do not agree that this position is essentially unassailable. It contradicts all science, not just evolutionary biology. The biblical scholars are caught in a contradiction in that they cannot explain the efficacy of science outside the domain of evolutionary biology. They are unable to explain why science is illusory in only this one area. I wonder how the creationists can, on the one hand, deny archeological and paleontological evidence in respect to human evolution, but on the other hand use archeology to support biblical history. spencer turkel email@example.com department of life sciences new york institute of technology _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:82>From firstname.lastname@example.org Wed Jun 28 17:33:28 1995 Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 15:31:22 -0700 From: email@example.com (Ron Roizen ) Subject: Re: Gosse To: firstname.lastname@example.org Following is a copy of a brief commentary on Gosse I wrote in 1982--which, I would wager, nary a soul on this list has ever seen before! Incidentally, its text retains a half-dozen or so typos that appeared in the published version--partly because I couldn't figure out exactly what a [sic]'s meaning would be if I had sprinkled them in. Hope this isn't bending the list's netiquette too badly. Ron Roizen in Berkeley email@example.com Ron Roizen, "Comment: The Rejection of _Omphalos_: A Note on Shifts in the Intellectual Hierarchy of Mid-Nineteenth Century Britain," _Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion_ 21:365-369, 1982. _Omphalos_ (which is Greek for navel) is the title of an ill-fated book published in Great Britain in 1857--in the period just preceding the publication of Darwin's _On the Origin of Species_ in 1859. The book presented Philip Henry Gosse's attempt to resolve one of the great contradictions bedeviling naturalists of his day, namely, the apparent disagreement between the enormous age of the earth suggested by the geological record and the comparatively much shorter six-thousand-year age suggested by the book of Genesis (*1). Gosse proposed an ingenious and thought-provoking theory, a theory that seemed (to him at least) to resolve the great contradiction and at the same time to leave geology and Genesis intact. But _Omphalos_ was very badly received, and Gosse's theory mercilessly rejected. Some years later, on the occasion of Gosse's death, an obituary writer in _Nature_ would suggest that "perhaps no work since _Vestiges of Creation_ was received with a greater tempest of adverse criticism....Neither Gosse's friends nor foes seemed to have any appreciation for it" (*2). As might be guessed, the book has been almost completely ignored and forgotten in our own century. In this brief essay I would like to consider some of the reasons for this rejection. My hunch is that the rejection of _Omphalos_ provides us with an intriguing window on the shifting intellectual priorities and matrix of values in the mid-nineteenth century. First, it is necessary briefly to examine the essence of the theory Gosse advanced. Fortunately, this is easily accomplished merely by considering a little thought experiment. Suppose that Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was sitting next to a big pine tree twenty minutes after his own creation. Suppose he took a saw and cut the tree down, and then examined the stump: Would it have tree rings? Being a big tree, it would be expected to. On the other hand, tree rings accumulate year by year as trees grow, and this tree had been created less than a week before. Gosse pondered the problem, and he came to the conclusion that, yes, the tree would have to have rings. In fact, he argued that any and all living things show the marks of past development as a matter of course and in many different ways. Martin Gardner wrote of Gosse's case: "This is not as ridiculous as it may seem at first. Consider, for example, the difficulties which face any believer in a six-day creation. Although it is possible to imagine Adam without a naval, it is difficult to imagine him without bones, hair, teeth, and fingernails. Yet all these features bear in them the evidence of past accretions of growth. In fact there is not an organ or tissue of the body which does not presuppose a previous growth history....The same is true of every plant and animal. As Gosse points out, the tusks of an elephant exhibit past stages, the nautilus keeps adding chambers to its shell, the turtle adds laminae to its plates....In short--if God created the earth as described in the Bible, he must have created a 'going concern.'" (1957:126) Gosse had simply pointed out, then, that the traditional notion of the Creation contained within it the necessity that God would give to living things the appearances of a history that in fact they had not experienced. And from this premise Gosse drew his important inference: It followed, therefore, that the geological strata, the fossils, and all of the other observations scientists had collected suggesting a vast antiquity for the globe were, just as the pine tree's rings, evidence of a gradual history that in fact the world had never had. On its face, then, Gosse had resolved the great contradiction. Why, then, the theory's history of complete rejection? Perhaps the simplest answer is that Gosse's was a silly idea, and it got the reception it deserved. After all, it _is_ a silly idea. But what, exactly, is silly about it? And how does it stack up against competing ideas in Gosse's day? There were, of course, a great variety of proposed reconciliations for Genesis and geology available in Gosse's time. One of the best known of these was the "interval theory" first suggested by Archbishop Sumner of Canterbury in his _Treatise on the Records of Creation_ (1816). Sumner suggested that the language of Scripture allowed for the possibility of a huge interval of time between the _first verse_ of Genesis and the account of the Six Days Work _in the following verses_. If one felt uncomfortable about cramming the whole of geological time into this tiny textual space, there was Reverend John Pye Smith's theory that the creation story was _local_ to Eden and did not encompass the whole of the earth. In fact this sort of adjustment was a byproduct of the theory of the localness of the Flood of Noah, an idea originally suggested to account for the origins of the flood waters. If neither the interval theory of Sumner nor the local-creation idea of Smith struck one's fancy, then one might consider the idea that by "days" the Holy Author had meant eras, each perhaps of great and unknown duration--as in, "A thousand years are as a day in His sight." (As it happened, this theory might have enjoyed more popularity in Britain in this period had it not been associated with a Frenchman, Buffon.) Another thinker suggested that millions of years might have gone by while the earth was still in its _paradisical_ period. Because Adam would not technically age during this time, the biblical reference to Adam's lifespan of 930 years no doubt referred to his lifetime _after_ leaving the Garden. While still in the Garden, though, there would be no limit on the time elapsed. Finally, if one did not care for any of these suggestions, there was always J. Mellor Brown's observation that if God wanted to do the work of vast ages of time in a single moment, what was to stop him (*3)? In short, in this company of ideas it seems hard to account for Gosse's poor reception on grounds of silliness alone. What is more, Gosse's theory can be said to have had the comparative advantage of not requiring critical redefinitions of the Biblical text, as for example the local-creation idea seemed to require. Protestantism has long contained within its tradition a basic commitment to the "plain meaning" of sacred texts and the accessibility of those meanings to the lights of ordinary men. Thus, to the extent that reconciliatory efforts to patch up Genesis and geology involved freewheeling reinterpretations of the holy writings, such efforts also would undercut a fundamental premise of Protestantism. Perhaps Gosse's theory seemed particularly objectionable because it seemed to involve God in an embarrassing situation. Gosse's proposal also seemed to deny the God of England, that sane, gradual, sensible Diety who patiently watched over and governed British souls. In his place was put God-the-Wizard, tricky unreliable, the creator of illusions for misleading the faithless. Perhaps some readers reasoned that if the Book of Nature were that misleading, what then would insure that the Bible itself was free of deception? The religionist, Charles Kinsley, objected that Gosse's theory made God lie. (Quoted in Edmund Gosse's _Father and Son_, 1888: 333-334. Philip Gosse might have countered, of course, that the apparent contradiction between Genesis and geology also seemed to make God lie, He being equally the author of Genesis and nature.) Scientists rejected _Omphalos_ as vigorously as theologians had. As science, of course, Gosse's theory had a number of notable difficulties. First, it ran up against the prevailing orthodoxy of Charles Lyell's uniformitarianism. This doctrine--which placed at the base of modern geology the methodological assumption that present-day geological forces provide the preferred materials for the explanation of geological phenomena occurring long ago--had been the reigning orthodoxy since the 1830s. Of course, it was a doctrine that assumed and depended on a high antiquity for the earth. Gosse's idea also put the world of observable phenomena into a compromised status. What, given the truth of _Omphalos_, would be the point of geological research at all all? Merely to study the arrangements of a fantasy history on God's mind? Moreover, Gossian theory seemed neither to provide directions for future research nor to preserved the authority and autonomy of science out-from-under the hegemony of theology. This position of subordination for science had grown less and less comfortable with the advancing professionalization of the British scientific community. Finally, a Victorian A.J. Ayer or Karl Popper would certainly have suggested that Gosse's theory was going to be very difficult to test or to falsify. In the audience receiving Gosse's book there was a large, middle-of-the-road group that clung to the position there was no really serious breach between Genesis and geology in the first place. "And even if the opinion of the moment seems to suggest a little misunderstanding," their position might go, "were not both science and Genesis vehicles of Truth, and was not Truth ultimately unitary and consistent with itself, and thus would not the apparent disagreements ultimately resolve themselves when the right time came?" It was a position that emphasized the modesty of human knowledge and the danger of too much pride in the emergence of science. To this slightly unctuous camp Gosse doubtlessly appeared to be a hand-wringer and a bit of a hysteric. But perhaps there were deeper sources of the book's rejection. Jorge Borges (1964:24-5) suggested that in attempting to save the Genesis story Gosse had in fact ended up demonstrating its final absurdity. After Gosse the biblical account could no longer be read without an awareness of the dilemma he had raised. We know know that the subsequent histories of science would tend toward increasing secularization and away from the still strongly theological matrix of scientific and popular thought in the first half of the nineteenth century. Perhaps the rejection of _Omphalos_ is a measure of how much--even before the publication of Darwin's earthshaking book--the theological system of assumptions had already waned. Gosse, after all, had merely offered a method for saving Genesis _at the expense of the literal truth of scientific observation_. Where in orthodox Protestantism did it say that the geological record had to be interpreted literally, or that geologists had to read the record of the rocks in their plainest meaning? Where did the Holy Book suggest that natural knowledge was as accessible and as important as Revealed Knowledge? Gosse's theory committed the _faux pas_ of making explicit a junior status for the data of the senses. The unacceptability of his theory, then, was probably a sign that the underlying intellectual order had already changed. Perhaps Gosse encountered a fury not unlike that of a seven-year-old who has begun to suspect that Santa doesn't really exist. Beneath the maintenance of appearances and the routine gestures of faith, many pious citizens in mid-century Britain had begun to doubt. Gosse had come along offering a clever way to make Santa come back. He showed an embarrassed audience how to go on believing. But that only made them feel ashamed, and they reacted in fury. It would take until almost the middle of the next century before Gardner and Borges might look again at Gosse's paradigm, and appreciate its curious unity. It is interesting to consider the light _Omphalos's_ rejection may shed on the today's creationist controversy. My argument has been that the main lesson to be learned from the _Omphalos_ episode is that both camps--perhaps unsuspectingly--placed empiricism high up in their respective hierarchies of explanatory values. Neither side, it seems, wanted God to fake the data: one side, because it did not that sort of God; the other, because it did not want that sort of data. Gosse's central point--that some sort of fakery was inherent in the _creatio ex nihilo_ idea--was rejected as mere armchair rationalism. In the present creationist controversy it is notable how much, this time around, the creationist cause is being advanced by creationist _scientists_, that is to say, by advocates who claim to share a hierarchy of explanatory values with their adversaries in a larger scientific community (see Morowitz, 1982). It seems to be the case, then, that the creationists struggle to conduct their conflict on commonly accepted epistemological ground, the implications being that the controversy is to occur in a scientific theater of discourse and not a theological one. Thus, science's capacity to define our "norm of truth," as Susan Faye Cannon (1978) termed it, would seem to be tacitly reaffirmed in the contemporary skirmish between the two adversaries. But claiming the mantel of science is not without risk for creation scientists. It provides critics with the opportunity specifically to undercut and belittle this claim, one good way being to draw attention to particularly discreditable predecessors who seem to have made the same claim. Obviously, if the tradition of creation science contatins "silly" science, then its case for scientific standing is weakened. In fact, precisely this rhetorical motif cropped up in a recent edition of _Science 82_, a science magazine for a general audience (Morowitz, 1982). In an article on _Omphalos_ the author places the blame for Gosse's silly theory on a fundamental illogic inherent in Gosse's (and by implication, anyone's) attempt to be both scientist and creationist at the same time (*4). Poor, poor Gosse! One hundred twenty-five years after publication, his daring theory is reduced to providing a convenient device for shaming creationists. FOOTNOTES: (*1) The book's full title is _Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot_. (*2) The writer is identified simply as E.P.W. The other book referred to is Chalmers (1844). (*3) See Milton Millhauser's _Just Before Darwin_ (1959) for the source of my short discussion of reconciliatory efforts. The notion that vas stretches of time may have passed during the earth's paradisical period is taken from _Omphalos_ itself, in Gosse's literature review. (*4) It is noteworthy that Gosse is employed in this article as if his thesis reflected a view commonly accepted by the "creation scientists" of his time. Of course, this was not the case. REFERENCES Borges, Jorge Luis 1964 "The creation and P.H. Gosse." Pp. 22-25 in _Other Inquisitions 1937-1952_, translated by Ruth L.C. Simms. Austin: University of Texas Press. Brown, James Mellor (cited in Millhauser) 1838 _Reflections on Geology_, Edinburgh. Cannon, Susan Faye 1978 "Science as norm of truth." Pp. 1-28 in _Science in Culture: The Early Victorian Period_. New York: Dawson and Science History Publications. Chalmers, Robert 1844 _Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation_. 1st ed., London. E.P.W. 1891 [Obituary] _Nature_ 43:605. Gardner, Martin 1957 _Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science_. New York: Dover Publications. Gosse, Edmund 1888 _Father and Son_. London: W. Heinemann. Gosse, Philip H. 1857 _Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot_. London: John Van Voorst. Millhauser, Milton 1959 _Just Before Darwin: Robert Chambers and Vestiges_. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press. Morowitz, Harold 1982 "Navels of Eden." _Science 82_ 3: 20, 22. Smith, John Pye (cited in Millhauser) 1852 _The Relation between the Holy Scriptures and Some Parts of Geological Science_. 5th ed., London. Sumner, John Bird (cited in Millhauser) 1816 _Treatise on the Records of Creation_. 2nd ed., London. _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:83>From I.Pitchford@sheffield.ac.uk Wed Jun 28 18:34:11 1995 From: Ian Pitchford <I.Pitchford@sheffield.ac.uk> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 00:33:30 +0100 Subject: Re: Is anti-evolutionism only American? Dear Andrew, you wrote: I'm sorry if this apears rude, but the quote above seems a disturbing copout. What is the point of doing science if it not a method to approach truth? REPLY: Science has nothing to do with truth. It's about modelling the universe in ways that are meaningful to human perception. All of its conclusions are eternally provisional. Creationism is a historical doctrine contradicted by practically everything else we know reliably enough to rely on. Why pretend it could be true? REPLY: Creationism is improbable, but not logically impossible. It doesn't seem to be a useful model or to yield many useful conclusions about the nature of things. I suppose we are dealing with very different levels of meaning and emotional reaction. Best wishes Ian ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ian Pitchford, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, SHEFFIELD, S10 2TN, United Kingdom, E-mail I.Pitchford@Sheffield.ac.uk ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:84>From email@example.com Wed Jun 28 22:34:57 1995 Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 23:35:06 -0400 (EDT) From: "Mark A. Nadler" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Is anti-evolutionism only American? To: email@example.com On Wed, 28 Jun 1995, Andrew Brown wrote: > >Creationist ideas may be true and they may be false but > >their not scientific. > > > >Mark A. Nadler Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org > >Ashland University Phone: (419) 289-5912 > >Ashland, OH 44805 Fax: (419) 289-5949 > > > > > I'm sorry if this apears rude, but the quote above seems a disturbing copout. > What is the point of doing science if it not a method to approach truth? > Creationism is a historical doctrine contradicted by practically everything > else we know reliably enough to rely on. Why pretend it could be true? Andrew, I don't take your comments as being rude. My personal opinion of creationism is that it's nonsense (this is part of my metaphysics). When I talk to my fellow citizens as a scientist I feel constrained by two strictures: first, I have to admit the possibility that nonscientific statements can be "true;" second, I admit that science has no way of rejecting nonscientific statements. This causes me to "copout" in my public pronouncements. If I said that creationism is "bullshit," and if someone asked me to prove scientifically that it is "bullshit" I couldn't do it. Mark A. Nadler Internet: email@example.com Ashland University Phone: (419) 289-5912 Ashland, OH 44805 Fax: (419) 289-5949 _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:85>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Thu Jun 29 00:28:20 1995 Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 01:28:09 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: June 29 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro JUNE 29 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1895 (100 years ago today): THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY dies at Hodslea, Eastbourne, England. The youngest of seven children, Huxley had little formal schooling in his youth, but read widely in science and philosophy and received a scholarship to Charing Cross Hospital. After completing his medical studies he entered the Royal Navy and spent four years as a surgeon aboard H.M.S. Rattlesnake on its voyage to survey the coasts of Australia. The comparative studies of invertebrates he conducted on that voyage earned him election to the Royal Society in 1850. In 1854 he was appointed lecturer in natural history in the Government School of Mines, the primary position he held throughout his career. Huxley's vigorous defense of evolutionary ideas immediately following the publication of the _Origin of Species_ in 1859 earned him the nickname "Darwin's Bulldog", and he continued through his life to be one of Darwin's strongest advocates. From the 1860s on, most of Huxley's zoological work was directed at the comparative anatomy and evolution of vertebrates, and he published important papers on the avian skull (1867), the fossil fishes of the Devonian (1861), dinosaurs (1869), and mammals (1880). An indefatigable lecturer and controversialist, Huxley had an exceptionally wide impact on educational reform at all levels, publishing widely and serving on many government boards and commissions. He was elected President of the Royal Society in 1883, and will later be remembered by his student E. Ray Lankester as "the great and beloved teacher, the unequalled orator, the brilliant essayist, the unconquerable champion and literary swordsman." 1919: KARL FRIEDRICH BRUGMANN dies at Leipzig, Germany. One of the leading members of the Neogrammarian school, Brugmann studied philology at Halle and Leipzig, and eventually became Professor of Indogermanic Linguistics at the University of Leipzig. His extensive comparative studies of Indo-European grammar led to the publication with Delbruck of the influential _Grundriss der vergleichenden grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen_ (Berlin, 1893), and to the view that it was only by discovering shared innovations that the history of languages could be reconstructed. Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to email@example.com or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:86>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Jun 29 16:34:02 1995 Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 18:21:03 -0300 (GRNLNDST) From: Charbel Nino El-Mani <email@example.com> To: Darwin-L <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Subject: creationism Eugenie Scott writes: < Mike is absolutely right about Scopes losing, and evolution disappearing from textbooks until the mid 1960's. There was a brief flurry, and then evolution disappeared from textbooks again until the early 1990's; modern high school biology textbooks have more evolution in them than their predecessors - but a lot of the time the authors get it wrong> I really want to know more about the Scopes trial. The messages in the list lead me to the conclusion that teaching evolution is nearly un-PC in USA today. This is really dangerous. Are you saying, Eugenie, that evolution disappeared from US textbooks for nearly 30 years? Or am I misunderstanding you? This is strange, since most of the papers I read about evolution are from US authors. Is there some kind of abyss between universities and schools? Here in Brazil, we have such a difference, not related to the presence or absence of topics, but rather to the quality of high school textbooks. In Brazil, there is no creation science organized movement, as far as I know, let alone some small groups of fundamentalist christians(large churchs but with little combat against evolution). There is also no pressure on government to take evolution away from schools and textbooks. But it is true that textbooks doesn't help much. Reading is also a lost art in Brazil. Maybe something could be done using the fascination of children for computers, I guess. I think that creationism is stronger in USA because, historically, US religious formation is related to christian fundamentalism. In Brazil, catholic church was far more important than protestant ones (which are now in expansion. Creationism in the horizon?...). It seems catholic church was not so dedicated to combat evolution. Am I right, or is this a kind of false impression, arising from the fact that post-darwinian debates in England were between fundamentalist protestant christians and evolutionists? Charbel Nino El-Hani Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. Charbel@ufba.br _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:87>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Jun 29 17:05:44 1995 Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 18:55:16 -0300 (GRNLNDST) From: Charbel Nino El-Mani <email@example.com> To: Darwin-L <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Subject: an information Could someone please furnish me the address of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology. Charbel Nino El-Hani Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. Charbel@ufba.br _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:88>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Jun 29 17:17:30 1995 Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 18:58:33 -0300 (GRNLNDST) From: Charbel Nino El-Mani <email@example.com> To: Darwin-L <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Subject: Occam's razor Could someone, please, tell me something about the connection between parsimony and Occam's razor? What is the first source, in the history of phylogenetic systematics, where parsimony is introduced as an application of Occam's razor? Charbel Nino El-Hani Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia. Charbel@ufba.br _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:89>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Jun 29 19:34:54 1995 Subject: Re: Is anti-evolutionism only American? To: email@example.com Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 20:34:48 -0400 (EDT) From: "Bayla Singer" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Gentlefolk, There are several statements (S) about which one may make a claim of truth or falsehood, but which are not scientific. The most notorious of these is, perhaps, "I love you." Other examples of such Ss are Euclidean axioms, and their analogs in other similarly constructed systems. Science is -one- means of approaching truth; and only one sort of truth, at that. Used on its proper substrate, science is an extremely powerful tool. Shall we go dancing through Popperian 'falsification' yet one more time? --bayla independent scholar email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:90>From michaels@SciFac.usyd.edu.au Fri Jun 30 01:11:34 1995 Date: Sat, 1 Jul 1995 04:12:50 +0000 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu From: michaels@SciFac.usyd.edu.au Subject: More on Hugh Miller Excellent to find Hugh Miller appearing on the network. At last!! The epitaph is indeed wonderful. If readers will permit me, may I mention a couple of new publications on Miller that (modesty to the side) are likely to bring him back into recognition? Miller's hitherto unpublished early autobiography, written in 1829-30, and full of his characteristic zest and pugnacity, has now been published: Michael Shortland (ed.), HUGH MILLER'S MEMOIR (Edinburgh University Press, 1995, pbk), with an 80 page introduction which presents a radical reinterpretation of his life and work, and speculative scholarship on his illness, imagination and suicide-- and his science and religion, of course. Later this year, Oxford University Press is publishing a collection of new essays on Miller: HUGH MILLER AND THE CONTROVERSIES OF VICTORIAN SCIENCE, which will do more than satisfy the appetites of those curious about Miller. Contributors include John Brooke (M's religion), John Henry (M and Chambers), Roy Porter (Miller's madness), David Oldroyd (Miller and geology), Jim Paradis (Miller and the romance of nature). The collection features many other essays on Miller's autobiographical writings, his style (much admired, e.g. by Carlyle, Ruskin, Dickens, etc), his Scottish roots, his journalism, his role in the Free Church, etc. The book also includes a piece on Miller's self-fashioning and sexual valencies, a list of his work for THE WITNESS newspaper, and a comprehensive bibliography. The volume is edited by Michael Shortland. Excuse the apparent self-promotion. Hope you enjoy the books. PS. The National Museums of Scotland are planning a major exhibition on Miller. A conference on him, and on science and local contexts in Victorian Britain, is planned for Cromarty (Miller's birthplace in Scotland, and a quite wonderful site) in 1996. Those who may be interested in the meeting, which will include geological walks, an exhibition, and excellent papers: please contact Dr John Henry on JHENRY@afb1.ssc.ed.ac.uk. Thanks Michael Shortland ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Michael Shortland Email : firstname.lastname@example.org Unit for the History and Philosophy of Science F07 _--_|\ University of Sydney / \ Sydney NSW 2006 \_.--._ /* Australia Fax : 02 351 4124 Tel : 02 351 4801 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:91>From email@example.com Fri Jun 30 11:15:57 1995 Date: Fri, 30 Jun 1995 09:14:18 -0700 (PDT) From: "Eugenie C. Scott" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: creationism Sorry to mislead! Perhaps because of my familiarity with this issue I spoke (wrote) in shorthand. (I run a nonprofit organization that is a clearing house for information on the creation\evolution controversy.) I was referring to the teaching of evolution in the pre-college (Kindergarten - 12 grade) level, not the college level. And, indeed, after the Scopes Trial, the amount of evolution in K-12 books (and conseqnently, in the curriculum) declined precipitiously, until by the 1930's, one scholar could claim that fully 70% of students graduating from high school had not been taught evolution. The situation continued until the late 1950's, when because of the shock of the Soviets beating the US into space with Sputnik, the federal government began pouring money into science research and science education. Textbooks for high school science (chemistry, physics, earth science, and biology) were written -- finally! -- by university scientists instead of publishing house hacks, and evolution came back into biology books in a big way. This (we are into the middle to late 1960's now) tendency to include evolution in biology books spread to commercial publishers and by the early 1970's, most books included evolution, though few made it the centerpiece of biology. But this was sufficient to re-invigorate opposition to evolution by biblical literalist Christians, and by the late 1970's, many state legislatures found themselves contemplating "equal time" legislation ("if you teach evolution, you must also teach creation 'science'"). These efforts resulted in two states passing such legislation, and both going to trial. The law passed in Louisiana eventually reached our Supreme Court, which ruled that equal times laws of this sort violated the First Amendment of the constitution, which prescribes against the state establishment of religion. We still have many situations where creation science is suggested for inclusion in local school district curricula (American education is highly decentralized -- there is no national curriculum). More freqent, however, is pressure against individual teachers to leave evolution out, or water it down, or qualify it inordinately as "just a theory" that students shouldn't really take seriously. At the university level, however, evolution continued to be taught, even if it weren't taught at the K-12 level. Recently, however, I am receiving more reports from university professors who are encountering students who are, while not belligerant, at least forceful about expressing their opinions that evolution didn't happen. They have been taught this, in some cases, in their high schools. Thank your for your information on Brazil. There is indeed a big difference between Catholic theology and Protestant fundamentalism regarding evolution. Perhaps it is the influence of Teilhard de Chardin (doubtless others, too!) but official Catholic doctrine is not hostile to evolution. Maybe the word "official" is important here: a hierarchical institution like the Catholic church, which sets theology from on high, is in a better position to control the beliefs than the more congregational organization of most Protestantism. Eugenie ***************************************************************** SUPPORT SCIENCE EDUCATION! Eugenie C. Scott NCSE 925 Kearney Street El Cerrito, CA 94530-2810 510-526-1674 FAX: 510-526-1675 1-800-290-6006 firstname.lastname@example.org ***************************************************************** _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:92>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Fri Jun 30 11:20:38 1995 Date: Fri, 30 Jun 1995 12:20:23 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: June 30 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro JUNE 30 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1709: EDWARD LHUYD, Welsh antiquarian, philologist, and naturalist, dies in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University, after "sleeping in a damp and close room...which he chose to sleep in, for the convenience of pursuing his studies." Born in 1660, Lhuyd studied as an undergraduate with Robert Plot at Jesus College, and he succeeded Plot as Keeper of the Ashmolean in 1690. Lhuyd traveled extensively throughout his career collecting natural history specimens and antiquities for the Museum, and gathering comparative materials on the Celtic languages. His best known work, _Archaeologia Britannica: An Account of the Languages, Histories, and Customs of Great Britain, from Collections and Observations in Travels Through Wales, Cornwall, Bas-Bretagne, Ireland, and Scotland_ (Oxford, 1707), contained the first comparative Celtic dictionary ever published, and an earlier work on the fossils in the Ashmolean collection, _Lithophylacii Britannici Iconographia_ (London, 1699), was one of the earliest illustrated works in paleontology. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1708, a year before his death. Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to firstname.lastname@example.org or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <22:93>From email@example.com Fri Jun 30 15:24:29 1995 Date: Fri, 30 Jun 1995 16:28:36 -0400 (EDT) From: William Montgomery <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: darwin-l <email@example.com> Subject: creationism For biologists dealing with students it may sometimes be useful to treat creationism as a folk belief in the same sense that we regard the "local" species of rural peoples as folk species. Such concepts are adequate enough for the purposes of life within a confined area but lead to contradictions when one begins to travel in the big world and interact with people and landscapes far away. I have always been charmed by Darwin's observation in "Voyage of the Beagle" that for the Catholic people of Chile he was not a "true Christian." It has always seemed to me to be one of the beginning steps on his way to evolutionary thought. What makes the story significant was his adoption, however humorous, of the perspective of strangers. It is true that American undergraduates get exposed to knowledge about the world outside their own country, but the wealth and power of the United States may tend to blind them to the potential importance of alternative world perspectives. Our local God seems like a mighty fellow indeed--best not to insult him with talk about a science tainted by foreign ideas. After all, his servant Ronald blew the trumpet that brought down the Berlin Wall and the Communist Empire. Why should we quibble about Creation in seven days? It is difficult to measure such attitudes directly since they hardly ever come out in explicit form, but I think they represent a real, if unarticulated, part of the mindset of many American students. They have a hard time reflecting along with Darwin that in other people's eyes they may not in fact be "true Christians," let alone true Muslims, true Hindus, true Taoists or whatever. Accordingly, the local "kinds" of "God's creatures" have an unchallengeable reality guaranteed by the prior efficacy of the American Way of Life. It is hard to see other lights when yours burns so brightly. Bill Montgomery North Adams State College North Adams, MA WMontgom@nasc.mass.edu _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 22: 71-93 -- June 1995 End
© RJO 1995–2016