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

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
listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, 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 listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu, or connect to the
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Darwin-L is administered by Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu), 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: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

     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


<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: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
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: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
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

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,

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: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
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

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 mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca Tue Jun 27 14:10:13 1995

From: Mary P Winsor <mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Gosse's Omphalos
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (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   mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca


<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: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
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 (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
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: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
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 (darwin@iris.uncg.edu)
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 mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca Wed Jun 28 07:50:21 1995

From: Mary P Winsor <mwinsor@epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Gosse again
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (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


<22:79>From abrown@lazy.demon.co.uk Wed Jun 28 10:09:19 1995

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 10:09:17 -0500
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: Andrew Brown <abrown@lazy.demon.co.uk>
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

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 abrown@lazy.demon.co.uk Wed Jun 28 10:41:17 1995

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 10:41:15 -0500
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: Andrew Brown <abrown@lazy.demon.co.uk>
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: mnadler@ashland.edu
>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 sturkel@acl.nyit.edu Wed Jun 28 12:48:47 1995

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 12:24:51 -0400
From: sturkel@acl.nyit.edu
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
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
department of life sciences
new york institute of technology


<22:82>From rroizen@ix.netcom.com Wed Jun 28 17:33:28 1995

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 15:31:22 -0700
From: rroizen@ix.netcom.com (Ron Roizen )
Subject: Re: Gosse
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

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

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

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.


(*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.


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.,

   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.,


<22:83>From I.Pitchford@sheffield.ac.uk Wed Jun 28 18:34:11 1995

From: Ian Pitchford <I.Pitchford@sheffield.ac.uk>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
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 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 mnadler@ashland.edu Wed Jun 28 22:34:57 1995

Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 23:35:06 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Mark A. Nadler" <mnadler@ashland.edu>
Subject: Re: Is anti-evolutionism only American?
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

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: mnadler@ashland.edu
> >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

Mark A. Nadler                            Internet: mnadler@ashland.edu
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: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


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

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 listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu or connect
to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information.


<22:86>From charbel@ufba.br Thu Jun 29 16:34:02 1995

Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 18:21:03 -0300 (GRNLNDST)
From: Charbel Nino El-Mani <charbel@ufba.br>
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

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

Charbel Nino El-Hani
Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil.


<22:87>From charbel@ufba.br Thu Jun 29 17:05:44 1995

Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 18:55:16 -0300 (GRNLNDST)
From: Charbel Nino El-Mani <charbel@ufba.br>
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.


<22:88>From charbel@ufba.br Thu Jun 29 17:17:30 1995

Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 18:58:33 -0300 (GRNLNDST)
From: Charbel Nino El-Mani <charbel@ufba.br>
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.


<22:89>From bsinger@eniac.seas.upenn.edu Thu Jun 29 19:34:54 1995

Subject: Re: Is anti-evolutionism only American?
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Date: Thu, 29 Jun 1995 20:34:48 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Bayla Singer" <bsinger@eniac.seas.upenn.edu>


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

--bayla    independent scholar


<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

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
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.


Michael Shortland

Michael Shortland                      Email :  michaels@scifac.su.oz.au
Unit for the History and
Philosophy of Science F07    _--_|\
University of Sydney       /       \
Sydney NSW 2006            \_.--._ /*
                                         Fax   : 02 351 4124
                                         Tel   : 02 351 4801


<22:91>From ncse@crl.com Fri Jun 30 11:15:57 1995

Date: Fri, 30 Jun 1995 09:14:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Eugenie C. Scott" <ncse@crl.com>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
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 C. Scott
                         925 Kearney Street
                     El Cerrito, CA 94530-2810
                        FAX: 510-526-1675


<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: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


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 listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu or connect
to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information.


<22:93>From wmontgom@nasc.mass.edu Fri Jun 30 15:24:29 1995

Date: Fri, 30 Jun 1995 16:28:36 -0400 (EDT)
From: William Montgomery <wmontgom@nasc.mass.edu>
To: darwin-l <darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu>
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

Darwin-L Message Log 22: 71-93 -- June 1995                                 End

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