An E-mail Dialogue with the Proprietors of http://whyevolution.com/

(At the time of this exchange, the only information on the whyevolution website was "3 Principles Why Evolution Makes No Sense.")

1. Original Message from Whyevolution (11/14/03)

How about adding to your links the category

Anti-Evolution/Anti-YEC   or maybe
Anti-Evolution/Old Earth   or maybe
Anti-Evolution-Intelligent Design
There are a number of web sites in this categories also you know!  YECs are not the only Anti-Evolution prople [sic] on the web

Thank you for your time and consideration

2. My Reply (11/17/03)

Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't have time to deal with all the categories of religion-induced cognitive dissonance suffers who deny the reality of evolution.  The creationists whom I have been debating for the last several years are all YECs.  That is why I have focused my attention on that brand of Bible-thumper.

I realize that there are other types of self-deluded anti-evolutionists out there.  Perhaps I should change my heading to something like Anti-Evolution/Anti-Critical Thinking or Anti-Evolution/Pro-Miraculously Poofed Into Existence.  Those would cover all the bases.  I'll have to give it some thought.

Freethoughtfully,

JRD

3. Whyevolution’s Response (11/18/03)

To aid you in your thought you might look at http://home.planet.nl/~gkorthof/
Thank you

4. My Reply (11/18/03)

What was the point of directing me to the Korthof website?  Was it to show that anti-evolutionists can write coherent sentences and use fancy scientific jargon in their efforts to discredit one the best-substantiated scientific theories in existence?  Have you ever heard of junk science? If you want a good example, simply take a look at any of the anti-evolution articles listed on Korthof's website. These articles are written by individuals who, in the vast majority of cases, lack adequate training in and knowledge of the biological sciences, shamelessly misconstrue the evidence to fit their agenda, blithely ignore contradictory evidence, and/or are strongly motivated by religious presuppositions.

As an indication that the evolution deniers lack objective critical thinking skills, I quote from Korthof: "Some critics of evolution propose alternative theories. I will not ignore the problems of those alternative theories. The failure of alternatives has given me new insights as well as a stronger confidence in evolution as an indispensable paradigm for the biological sciences." Korthof considers all the anti-evolution theories presented on his website to be failures. So, as impressive as the arguments from the anti-evolutionists may sound to the layman, they do not fool those who have expertise in the pertinent areas of study.  That is why fewer than a mere 0.15% of all life and earth scientists in this country have jumped on the creationist bandwagon. (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA111.html)

Or, by sending me to Korthof's website, were you trying to show that evolution deniers are not necessarily motivated by religious belief? Surely, you are not claiming that religious beliefs are not a major factor in shaping the opinions of the vast majority of evolution deniers, are you? How about yourself?

Incidentally, of the four authors listed in the "Non-religious" section of the website, Senapathy is characterized as a "crank" by Korthof, Schwabe is a chemist who lacks expertise in relevant disciplines, A. Lima-de-Faria accepts certain aspects of evolution, and Michael Denton has now seen the light and has evolved into an evolutionist. (http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/kortho29.htm)

To add a dose of reality to your thinking on the subject, I highly recommend
you spend some quality time at http://www.talkorigins.org.

5. Whyevolution’s Response (11/18/03)

A little TESTY aren't we.
Ok, have it your way, just a suggestion,
any way talkorigins has www.talkorigins.org/origins/other-links-cre.html

Have a good day.

6. My Reply (11/18/03)

When someone urges me to go to a website "to aid in your thought," I take that as an insinuation that they think my "thoughts" are somehow inferior to their own and that I have not done my homework in developing my website.  I think that gives me the right to be at least "a little TESTY."

Do you really believe that the inclusion of links to creationist sites at talkorigins gives the evolution deniers any credibility? All this demonstrates is that mainstream science, unlike creation pseudoscience, involves examination of all the evidence - the good, the bad, and the ugly. How many creationist sites have a comparable number of links to pro-evolution sites?  Why are they so reluctant to call attention to the evidence that supports the opposition viewpoint?

By the way, you have not answered my question regarding what part religious belief plays in your own opposition to evolution. I could make a wild guess.

Freethoughtfully,

JRD

7. Whyevolution’s Response (11/19/03)

Of course we are Religious, and so are you !
"The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology, and biology is thus in the
peculiar position of being a science founded on an unproved theory---is it
then a science or a faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly
parallel to belief in special creation---both are concepts which believers know
to be true but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof."
A quote from
L Harrison Mathews, Introduction to the "The Origin of the Species"
(reprint London: J.M. Dent & Sons, ltd 1971) p. XI.

A little outdated, but still relevant, don't you think?

In our old worn out Websters dictionary, the fourth definition of religion is
"Devotion or fidelity; conscientiousness."
Note the underlined portion which seems to us to reinforce our proposal
that you "devotion, fidelity and conscientious" support of naturalistic evolution
is a "Religion"!
Believe that there are a number of "religious" people who have the
belief that "guided evolution" was the way in which their God created
our present life system.  So as with all things people examine the evidences
and reach many differing conclusions.  And as you say diligent study
"involves examination of all the evidence - the good, the bad, and the ugly."
Including the following from
 
—*R. Milner, Encyclopedia of Evolution (1990), pp. 159-180.

"1. Origin of life. How did living matter originate out of non-living matter? . .
"2. Origin of Sex. Why is sexuality so widespread in nature? How did maleness and femaleness arise? . .
"3. Origin of Language. How did human speech originate? We see no examples of primitive languages on Earth today; all mankind’s languages are evolved and complex.
"4. Origin of Phyla. What is the evolutionary relationship between existing phyla and those of the past? . . Transitional forms between phyla are almost unknown.
"5. Cause of Mass Extinction. Asteroids are quite in vogue, but far from proven as a cause of worldwide extinctions . .
"6. Relationship between DNA and Phenotype. Can small steady changes (micromutations) account for evolution, or must there be periodic larger jumps (macromutations)? Is DNA a complete blueprint for the individual? . .
"7. How Much Can Natural Selection Explain? Darwin never claimed natural selection is the only mechanism of evolution. Although he considered it a major explanation, he continued to search for others, and the search continues."

But we really had no intention of entering a "debate" with you.
Your sophomoric bluster is a real turn-off.

Have a good day

8. My Reply (11/22/03)

You did not answer the question I asked you. I did not ask if you are religious. Considering the content of your website, there was little doubt that you were. I asked what role your religious beliefs play in influencing your attitude toward the theory of evolution. To be more specific, have you arrived at your opinion after an honest and comprehensive examination of the all the relevant lines of evidence that support evolution? Or have you reflexively dismissed the relevance of such evidence because it clashes with fervently held religious beliefs? As you point out, many people have been able to reconcile their religious views with an acceptance of the theory of evolution. I have no problem with that way of thinking. I am curious why you apparently do.

No, I do not think Matthews’ out-of-date quotation is still relevant, nor do I think it was even relevant at the time he wrote it. In the first place, science does not claim to produce absolute "proof" of anything. Science is a dynamic process of data gathering and hypothesis testing whose theories are strengthened and modified as new evidence and investigative techniques supplant the old. All science attempts to do is to provide the best explanations for natural phenomena that can be developed based on the current state of knowledge. It strives to progress ever closer to the ultimate explanation, but it harbors no illusions that the ultimate answer will ever be attained. (As far as I know, only certain religious sects are arrogant and naive enough to claim they have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.) If Matthews actually thought that science was ever capable of providing Proof with a capital "P" for evolution, then he was wrong in his expectation.

Secondly, a plethora of evidence in support of evolution has arisen in the thirty years since Matthews made his statements. The new discoveries that have emerged from the recent revolution in molecular genetics are of particular significance. Ancestral relationships, which hitherto could only be speculated about, have now been confirmed by molecular genetic techniques. For a summary of some of the new supportive evidence that has come to light from this and other branches of the biological sciences, look here.

I do not think Matthews was correct in putting special creation and evolution on an equal footing in 1971. Certainly, anyone who would do so now, in light of the wealth of convincing evidence* that has been uncovered in support of evolution since that time, would either have to be uninformed about that evidence or living in a state of self-imposed denial. Meanwhile, the amount of scientific evidence that supports special creation has remained that same as it was in 1971 – none. (* At least convincing to those scientists who are most qualified to interpret that evidence.)

You obviously had to dig pretty far down the list of definitions of "religious" to come up with one that has as generalized a meaning as the one you gave.  According to your definition, such things as stock market investing, poker playing, and nude sunbathing could all presumably qualify as religions.  The first definition of religion given by my dictionary (The American Heritage, third edition) reads as follows:  "Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe."  I think most people understand religion to involve a belief in supernatural entities and/or spiritual influences of some sort or another.  Evolution, quite obviously, does not fit the standard definition.  Attempting to characterize an acceptance of evolution as a religious belief is an old trick that creationists have tried to pull in the courts of law.  For obvious reasons, they have lost this frivolous argument in every instance where they have used it.

I am not sure what kind of semantic games you are trying to play by underlining "scien" in conscientious. "Scien" is derived from the Latin word which means "to know." So what? One of the definitions of conscientious is principled. If I underline the "princ" in principled does that mean all princes are conscientious? I guess, according to creationist logic, it does?

You specifically mention "naturalistic evolution" as if the theory of evolution were somehow unique in being described only in naturalistic terms. Before you launch into a criticism of the naturalistic aspects of evolution, you should take some time to educate yourself about the basic principles of scientific methodology. ALL SCIENTIFIC THEORIES INVOKE ONLY NATURALISTIC CAUSES AND EFFECTS. My acceptance of "naturalistic evolution" is no more a religious belief than is my acceptance of "naturalistic gravitation." By definition, science is restricted to naturalistic explanations; supernatural/miraculous explanations are strictly forbidden in this context. That is one of the reasons why science has become the most successful system ever devised by man for promoting invention and discovery – because it doesn’t have to concern itself with the whims of imaginary entities that are beyond experimental control. If you doubt that this naturalistic requirement is real, then I challenge you to identify even one legitimate scientific theory that invokes supernatural forces as part of its explanatory process.

I agree with you that, when different people examine the evidence, they often arrive at differing conclusions. But that does not mean that all such conclusions are logically coherent and carefully thought out. Clearly, all conclusions are not created equal. One person may see a streak of light in the night sky and correctly conclude that it is a meteor. Another person may see the same thing and forcefully argue that it is an ominous sign from the gods. And yet another person may view the same sight and insist that it is a flying saucer flown by little green men who have been conducting all manner of embarrassing medical experiments on them. Not all of these conclusions should be taken seriously. In the scientific sense, only those that can be explained in naturalistic terms and can be corroborated with hard evidence should be given serious consideration. Theories that invoke such things as miraculous acts of creation do not meet those criteria.

As far as Milner’s questions are concerned, I once again direct your attention to talkorigins.org. All of these questions have been addressed at this site, some in considerable detail.

Of course science has not fully answered all the questions that have arisen concerning the natural phenomena that it investigates. The study of evolution is no exception. But just because all the questions have not been completely answered does not mean that the theory of evolution is not a well-established and strongly-corroborated scientific concept. Science still does not know exactly what causes gravitational effects. But that is no reason to deny that gravity exists and attempt to "prove" it by jumping off a ten-story building. The questions that Milner raise represent fruitful areas for continued research in the evolutionary sciences. But if you think scientists do not have a basic understanding of such things and that they represent some kind of insurmountable problems for evolutionary theory, you are sadly mistaken. If you have further questions along these lines, I suggest you submit them to the experts who often frequent this website. I am sure that they would be more than happy to handle your inquiries.

Since when does simply relating the facts qualify as "sophomoric bluster?" From that sort of retort, one gets the distinct impression that you are becoming "a little TESTY."

Freethoughtfully,

JRD

P.S. – Your website’s quotation-laden polemic against evolution contains little in the way of original commentary on your part. It also lacks a clear description of a viable alternative to evolutionary theory. If your theory of species diversification, whatever it is, has superior explanatory power compared to the theory of evolution, then please enlighten me on how it accounts for the observations discussed in sections 3. through 6. at this website. (I have eliminated the observations specific to YECs since I gather their young-earth nonsense is even too much for you to swallow.) Please elaborate on the key elements of your theory and explain how it does a better job of providing a scientific rationale for each of those observations than does the theory of evolution. Substitute your brand of creationism for "YEC" wherever it appears in the text. The theory of evolution makes predictions that have been born out by subsequent observations. (For example, the predicted existence of feathered dinosaurs has now been confirmed.) Please discuss the predictive value of your theory and explain how predictions derived from it would be expected to differ from those derived from the theory of evolution. I look forward to your response (unless, of course, it fails to address the specific points in a meaningful way and consists primarily of cut and paste citations and/or a list of links to other creationist websites).

9. Whyevolution’s Response (11/24/03)

"I asked what role your religious beliefs play in influencing your attitude
toward the theory of evolution. "

Really don't know how to address this!
Do not try to separate any of our knowledge base into categories such as, this is science, and this is religion! Based on all of the knowledge we have acquired during our short life time simply cannot accept as "scientific" any proposals that
a) Our universe came from nothing !
b) Life came from dead stuff !
c)  That the increase of complexity of our life system over time was due to random processes.
Really its just that simple!
Firmly propose that anyone who says these theories are "scientific" is a charlatan.  

10. Whyevolution’s Response (11/25/03)

Here is some stuff off the internet on evolution and sex. 

We read this sort of stuff and conclude Charles Darwin was a simpleton and wrong.

Assume you read the same stuff and conclude differently.

We read some statements that to us are totally ridiculous, such as

"Recombination probably evolved ~ 3 billion years ago as a mechanism of DNA repair;
sex evolved ~ 1-2 billion years ago in the early eukaryotes; the reason is unclear
but it its likely that it is maintained in the current day by selection."

Like we are to believe that a Mr. DNA one day ~ 3 billion years ago
said to himself, "I need a repair mechanism, I will develop recombination" !!

Obviously we agree with "the reason is unclear"  !!

[[I have omitted a rather long cut-and-paste job from this message that was copied from two websites (here and here) that discuss the theoretical origins of sex from the evolutionary standpoint.]]

11. My Reply (11/26/03)

In response to my question regarding what role your religious beliefs play in influencing your attitude toward the theory of evolution, you reply – "Really don’t know how to address this."

Here are some questions for you to ponder. What is the alternative to the theory of evolution that you are promoting, what is the scientific evidence that supports it, and why do you find it so compelling? Which of those factual observations in my "Challenge to Creationists" do think are better accounted for by your model and why? Why is opposition to a theory that is endorsed by every major scientific organization in the world limited almost exclusively to those who have a religious axe to grind? Perhaps if you honestly reflect on these questions, it will help you answer my original question.

You say, "Do not try to separate any of our knowledge base into categories such as, this is science, and this is religion."

Surely you are not implying that science and religion represent comparable ways of knowing, are you? The truth is, they don’t even ask the same questions. Science deals with "how" our naturalistic world operates. Religion and some branches of philosophy deal with "why" they operate as they do – which quite frankly is anyone’s guess. Science attempts to formulate answers through critical thought and a rational examination of the factual evidence obtained from naturalistic sources. Religion relies for its insight on traditional authority, mystery, miracles, parable, the supernatural, and revelation. Whereas science values intellect and reason, religion favors faith – a belief in something for which there is no persuasive evidence. I do not have to try to separate our knowledge into these two categories because, in most cases, it is already very well demarcated. Witch doctoring (or faith healing if you prefer) is religion. Modern medicine is science. If you think they do not fall under distinctly different categories of knowledge, then it is no wonder you have confused creationism with legitimate science.

"Acceptance without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western religion. Rejection without proof is the fundamental characteristic of Western science." – Gary Zukav

You say, "Based on all of the knowledge we have acquired during our short life time [we] simply cannot accept as "scientific" any proposals that a) Our universe came from nothing! b) Life came from dead stuff!"

These two subjects are not dealt with by the theory of evolution. Evolution only concerns itself with the mechanisms that have lead to the diversity of life on earth after the origin of the first replicator(s). (Who knows, maybe some god or alien being produced them.) You will have to take your concerns regarding these matters up with the cosmologists and those studying abiogenesis. Furthermore, the scientific evidence on which modern theories are built did not accumulate just during "our short life time." It has been acquired, tested, and refined through the centuries.

c) That the increase of complexity of our life system over time was due to random processes."

Nor can I accept the fact that the complexity of life was due to purely random processes. As far as I know, neither can any other evolutionist. The process of mutation and natural selection, which is one of the fundamental mechanisms involved in the evolutionary process, is not random. Natural selection is a cumulative acquisition of changes that represents the antithesis of randomness. Adaptive selection of those traits that confer reproductive advantage in various and changing environments is anything but random. That is why computer analogs of this mutation/natural selection process are now used to solve all manner of difficult industrial problems ranging from drug design to the design of water distribution systems. (See here.) You have erected a straw man argument by claiming evolution is solely dependent on random causes and effects. To see why it is a straw man see here.

You say, "Really its [sic] just that simple. [We] Firmly propose that anyone who says these theories are "scientific" is a charlatan."

Certainly you are entitled to your opinion on the matter. But what your argument boils down to is nothing more than an argument from personal incredulity. Arguments from personal incredulity are often the last resort of those who lack meaningful evidence to refute the opposition viewpoint. Much of what we have learned from quantum mechanics and relativity theory seems quite counter-intuitive, but that does not mean that these theories are without strong evidential support. And, just because you and a small cadre of Darwin doubters harp on the fact that you believe evolution is improbable, it does not necessarily mean that the theory is invalid. You have to produce solid evidence to demonstrate that it is invalid – something that you and every other creationist has failed to do.

Evolution is accepted by virtually every life and earth scientist in the world – particularly by those who have spent the most time seriously studying it. These are dedicated scientists who have made an honest effort to understand how species diversification has arisen. Anyone who would refer to them as "charlatans," needs to reflect on Matthew 7: 3-5 and take a long introspective look at himself in a mirror.

I have just received your latest diatribe regarding the evolution of sex. Before I waste any more time responding to your anti-evolution canards, I request that you provide the following information.

What are your qualifications for critiquing the theory of evolution? To develop informed opinions about the theory, it is important to have a firm grounding in the biological sciences. I have a B.S. in chemistry, an M.S. in biochemistry, and a Ph.D. in experimental oncology. My class work included studies in biology, metabolic mechanisms, general genetics, and molecular genetics. I do not consider myself an expert in any aspect of evolutionary theory. However, I do have a background that enables me, in most cases, to obtain a basic understanding of what the experts have to say about it. So, I am asking you, what training in the biological sciences do you have that is relevant to the study of evolution. If you do not have a reasonable level of training in this area, then explain why anyone should give a hoot what you have to say about evolution?

As previously requested, explain in some detail the scientific theory that you are presenting as an alternative to the theory of evolution. Remember, a legitimate scientific theory involves only naturalistic explanations and is predictive, testable, and falsifiable. Describe how your theory satisfies these requirements. If you really want to make strong case for your theory, describe also how it provides a better explanation for the applicable observations in my "Creationist Challenge."

Herman, until you address these issues up front so that I can gain an understanding of what it is you actually believe and why, I see no reason to continue this dialogue with you. So far, all you have done is take potshots at the theory of evolution. It is now time for you to present a target so that I have something to shoot at as well.

Freethoughtfully,

JRD

12. Whyevolution’s Response (12/4/03)

well, the following quote sure says a lot about where you are coming from!
"then explain why anyone should give a hoot what you have to say about evolution?"
Believe we are not forcing you to reply to out messages!

when you were getting all that "training in the biological sciences"
did any of them mention the giraffe?
ref: "The Tallest Tale" by Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, May 1996)
"I raise this theme because I recently realized that the primary "old standard," the classic textbook illustration of our preferences for Darwinian evolution, arose in the same manner as an entrenched and ubiquitous example based on an assumed weight of historical tradition that simply does not exist...I made a survey of all major high-school textbooks in biology. Every single one -- no exceptions -- began its chapter on evolution by first discussing Lamarck's theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, and then presenting Darwin's theory of natural selection as a preferable alternative. All texts then use the same example to illustrate Darwinian superiority -- the giraffe's neck." (pp. 18-19)
"Giraffes, we are told, got long necks in order to browse the leaves at the tops of acacia trees, thereby winning access to a steady source of food available to no other mammal. Larmarck, the texts continue, explained the evolution of long necks by arguing that giraffes stretched and stretched during life, elongated their necks in the process and then passed the benefits along to their offspring by altered heredity."
"This lovely idea may embody the cardinal virtue of effort rewarded, but heredity, alas, does not operate in such a manner. A neck stretched during life cannot alter the genes that influence neck length and offspring cannot reap any genetic reward from parental striving." (pp 19-20)
"If we choose a weak and foolish speculation as a primary textbook illustration (falsely assuming that the tale possesses weight of history and a sanction in evidence), then we are in for trouble as critics properly nail the particular weakness and then assume that the whole theory must be in danger if supporters choose such a fatuous case as a primary illustration." (p. 56)
"In the realm of ideas, current use of the giraffe's neck as the classic case of Darwinian evolution does not grow from firm and continuous historical roots. The standard story, in fact, is both fatuous and unsupported...Why then have we been bamboozled into accepting the usual tale without questioning? I suspect two primary reasons, we love a sensible and satisfying story and we are disinclined to challenge apparent authority (such as textbooks)." (p. 57)

"scientists" now have access to many wonderful observational  tools
and recording devices, How many unaided by human intervention
"mutation/natural selection process" have YOU documented?

13. My Reply (12/5/03)

As stated in my previous message to you, I am not going to waste any more time dealing with your callow pseudo-arguments against evolutionary theory until you answer the two questions I asked of you: 1. What training in the biological sciences do you have that qualifies you to speak knowledgably about the theory? and 2. What is the scientific theory that you are offering as an alternative to the theory of evolution?

In the meantime, consider the following observation regarding the giraffe and describe how your theory provides a better explanation than does the theory of evolution.

"One example [of homologous structures] is a cranial nerve that goes from the brain to the larynx via a tube near the heart. In fish, this path is a direct route. What is interesting is that this nerve follows the same route in all species that have the homologous nerve. This means that in an animal like the giraffe, this nerve must make a ridiculous detour down the neck from the brain and then back up the neck to the larynx area.

So, the giraffe has to grow an extra 10-15 feet of nerve compared to a direct connection. This recurrent laryngeal nerve, as it is called, is clearly inefficient. It is easy to explain why the nerve takes this circuitous route if we accept that giraffes evolved from fish-like ancestors."

[[Editorial comment not part of my original reply: Creationists often comb the literature selectively snipping out parts that (read alone) appear to support their religious worldview while ignoring those parts that contradict it. The material from Gould cited by whyevolution is an example of the selective quoting that typifies creationist literature. In this case, they purposefully fail to inform the reader that Gould provided an evolutionary explanation in his article for the giraffes long neck based on the principles of mutation and natural selection. Giraffes developed long necks because the males of the species establish mating supremacy by trying to knock each other down. Like goats they charge at each other, except that their weapon is the neck instead of calcified hair. They usually end up neck-wrestling and, inevitably, the longer neck wins. Males with incrementally longer necks thus gained reproductive advantage, and the rest, as they say, is history.]]

14. Whyevolution’s Response (12/6/03)

Need a little more information.
What species do not have this laryngeal nerve?
Just checked the "evolution tree" and it would seem
to lead me to believe that all fish, amphibians, reptiles,
birds, and mammals have this nerve, is this true?

15. My Reply (12/6/03)

This nerve is present in all vertebrates and follows the same path in all of them. It originated from the 4th branch of the vagus nerve where, in fish, both ends make a direct connection through a tube near the heart.  As necks became longer in the higher vertebrates, the nerve retained its original orientation.  This resulted in the nerve looping down from the brain, through the tube near the heart, and back up to the larynx.  In the giraffe, this circuitous detour adds some extra 10-15 feet to the length of the nerve.  I hope this helps to clarify the matter for you.

16. Whyevolution’s Response (12/12/03)

A "ridiculous detour"  another evolutionists' "Tall Tale"

One researcher found the design to be quite good!

"What about longer-neck taxa? Among giraffe, larynges are actually smaller than the lighter weight horses, and the giraffe also have no laryngeal ventricles or vocal folds.
In other words, although capable to making some sounds, the giraffe is functionally voice-less, as it were. D.E. Harrison's laboratory work in 1981 on fiber size
frequencies of recurrent laryngeal nerves of the giraffe demonstrates that, despite extraordinary length, the RLNs of giraffe are quite healthy, idiopathic laryngeal
hemiplegia being unknown in spite of the taxon's moving neck during locomotion, the neck's rapid growth after birth. The axons of basal motor neurons to the deepest
laryngeal muscles are elongate."
http://www.cmnh.org/dinoarch/2002Jan/msg00616.html (Link appears to be no longer active.)

the following from http://publish.uwo.ca/~jkiernan/crncomp.htm
...
"X. Vagus - Motor to larynx, pharynx, and upper end of esophagus. Controls internal organs, including heart and much of alimentary canal. Several sensory components. In fishes, sensory from lateral line system of body and tail. The name (Latin, "wandering") is from the widespread distribution of the nerve's branches. Nuclei are in the medulla. (Has been named, pneumogastric nerve, from branches to lungs and stomach.)
 
The last two cranial nerves are absent in all fishes (except the Crossopterygii,which are considered by zoologists to be ancestral to limbed vertebrates) and in amphibians. Some fossil amphibians, however, had 12 cranial nerves.

  XI. - Accessory Motor to some muscles that move the head. The cell bodies of the motor neurons are in the spinal cord. (Also called the spinal accessory nerve.)
 XII. - Hypoglossal Motor to the muscles of the tongue. The nucleus is in the caudal half of the medulla"

Is it a valid Homology ??

Of course NOT !!

If nerves can come and go in the amphibians
they can come and go and modify in any other
phylum just as well!!

for more on homology see http://www.trueorigin.org/homology.asp

PS  Please explain the vampire bat;
obviously a descendent of the mosquito,
or wait, maybe a descendent of the leech,
or wait, maybe the tick,  all suck blood but
only the mosquito also flies ?

17. My Reply (12/14/03)

In quoting the work of D.E. Harrison, you have engaged in a typical form of creationist subterfuge - selective quotation. The first part of this article, which you conveniently failed to reproduce, describes how the circuitous arrangement of the recurrent laryngeal nerve (LRN) does indeed cause problems for the horse. This sub-optimal design also makes it vulnerable to damage during thyroid, lung, and heart surgery in humans.

The question I raised regarding the giraffe did not concern the ability of the RLN to function properly. It dealt specifically with fact that some extra 10 to 15 feet of unnecessary nerve fibers are present in the neck and thoracic cavity of that animal. This extension is unnecessary from an optimal design standpoint because most of the nerve could have been eliminated if had been connected directly via the shortest route between its proximal and distal ends (as it is in the fish). The fact that it normally functions properly in the giraffe is beside the point. (If it didn’t, giraffes wouldn’t exist.) Producing extra tissue requires an extra expenditure of energy and exposes the additional tissue to potential damage. Evolutionary theory can readily explain this extravagance based on the anatomy of the ancestral species from which the giraffe descended. I asked you to describe how your theory (which you have steadfastly failed to reveal) accounts for this wasteful design.

You say, "If nerves can come and go in the amphibians they can come and go and modify in any other phylum just as well."

You are starting to sound like an evolutionist. Yes, if anatomical features are no longer necessary for survival and reproduction they can "go" away by means of evolutionary processes. The loss of eyes in certain cave-dwelling animals is an example of such an evolutionary change. And if new features arise as the result of processes such as mutation/natural selection, then these features can "come" into existence as well. The evidence indicates that eyes have arisen a number of times throughout evolutionary history.

Again, your question is irrelevant to the subject at hand. The fact is, giraffes have a RLN that is, by all reasonable design criteria, much longer than it needs to be to carry out its function. The RLN has "come" in the case of the giraffe and it has stayed. Please explain to me how your theory accounts for that fact. While you are at it, you can also explain the following: The fossil evidence shows that higher vertebrates descended from the Crossopterygii fish. These fish are the only ones that have the same number of cranial nerves as the higher vertebrates - 12. Why does this correspondence exist between the number of cranial nerves in the higher vertebrates and the fish group from which they are descended?

I’m already familiar with the pseudoscientific hack job that the evolution deniers have done on the subject of homology at the trueorigins website. For a discussion of the subject from the mainstream science perspective see http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~bio336/Bio336/Lectures/Lecture5/Overheads.html .

You say, "Please explain the vampire bat; obviously a descendent of the mosquito, or wait, maybe a descendent of the leech, or wait, maybe the tick, all suck blood but only the mosquito also flies?

You know, if you really want to be taken seriously, you would be well advised to refrain from engaging in such puerile humor. I’m sure this kindergarten-level misrepresentation of evolution has your fellow creationists rolling in the aisles. However, to infer that evolutionists would ever consider any of these descendant relationships to be viable possibilities demonstrates that either a) you lack even a rudimentary understanding of evolutionary processes or b) you have a seriously warped sense of humor. My guess is, it is a mixture of both.

By the way, bats do not suck blood. They pierce the skin of their victims with their teeth and lap up the blood with their tongues. Can you think of any other mammals that bite their prey and eat their flesh and blood? Could it be that bats are more closely related to these animals than they are to mosquitoes? If you are seriously interested in what mainstream scientists think about the evolution of the vampire bat (which I frankly doubt), see http://bss.sfsu.edu/geog/bholzman/courses/fall99projects/vampire.htm.

Vampire bats occur naturally only in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Americas. How does your theory explain that fact that they are restricted to this geographical region and are not present in other tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world where environmental conditions are the same?

I have repeatedly asked what qualifies you to pass critical judgment on the theory of evolution. I understand that one need not necessarily be an expert on the subject to offer cogent thoughts about it. However, it is one thing to provide supporting evidence for an accepted theory or to question certain aspects of it. It is quite another thing, when someone like you contends that they have insight that calls into question the underlying tenets of one of the best-documented theories in science. It is then incumbent on such a person to explain what expertise they have that enables them to carry out a meaningful analysis of the evidence. If someone claims that they have found serious shortcomings in a theory (like evolution) that is endorsed by every legitimate scientific organization in the world, they need to explain what training they have had in relevant disciplines that qualifies them to speak knowledgeably on the subject. If a plumber were to claim that angioplasty is not a viable treatment for atherosclerosis of the heart, why should anyone value his opinion over that of a cardiac surgeon? Similarly, why should anyone pay any attention to your diatribe against evolution if you lack the wherewithal to properly interpret the evidence that supports it.

I have also repeatedly asked you to share with me the details of the scientific theory that you are offering as an alternative to the theory of evolution. The silence has been deafening. I am not sure if you have no alternative theory, or if you have one, and are simply afraid to expose it to scrutiny. Whatever the reason, I refuse to continue our discussion any further until you have addressed these two issues. I have threatened the same thing before, but this time I refuse to give you any more slack.

18. Whyevolution’s Response (12/17/03)

The bat article was very interesting, but of course there were no real answers!

and you have given us no answers as to why sex ? and "How many unaided by human intervention "mutation/natural selection process" have YOU documented"

and Glad you enjoyed our humor!

and is this being kind ? "pseudoscientific hack job"

Actually not having considerable education, but only a rudimentary education in Biology, we consider as a plus since we have experienced a minimum of propaganda.  And we are proud that our college education, while quite extensive, including 6 major universities, Illinois, Bradley, Hawaii, Michigan, UCLA, and USC is rather general and covers many diverse fields, from chemistry, to engineering, to sociology, to business, to agriculture, to computer science.

We agree there is no need to continue this conversation! You seem to be content with your religion and we with ours.

Obviously we must agree to disagree in many areas, but we do agree that in many areas the YECs are on the wrong track, except for on evolution.

So long!

19. My Reply (12/117/03)

Since you appear to lack a background in the biological sciences that is required to conduct a meaningful discussion about the theory of evolution, and since you are unable to offer a viable scientific alternative to the theory, I agree that "there is no need to continue this conversation" with you.  However, I do want to thank you for providing me with additional material to add to my website.  A chronology of our communications will serve to emphasize the following points: a) Most creationists lack sufficient training in the biological sciences to comment meaningfully on the intricacies of the theory of evolution, let alone to be taken seriously when they proclaim that it is invalid, b) Creationists do not have a scientific theory to offer as viable alternative to the theory of evolution, c) Creationists erroneously equate an acceptance of scientific theory of evolution with religious belief in an attempt to justify the dominant role that religion plays in their own opposition to evolution, e) Creationists often resort to selective quotation in an attempt to conceal evidence unfavorable to their cause, f) Creationists often avoid addressing issues by ignoring them or introducing new topics, and g) Creationists misunderstand how science operates, thinking that a scientific theory must rest on uncontestable proof in order for it to have useful explanatory properties. 

As for the matter of "why sex," see http://sunflower.bio.indiana.edu/~clively/Research/sex&recomb.html for the role that parasites may have played in the process.

And for examples of survival benefits that derive from the process of mutation/natural selection, see http://www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoMutations.html.

Sayonara!

[[Editorial comment not part of my original reply:  Like so many other creationists, those at whyevolution boast of their "rudimentary education in Biology."  They refer to the evidence-based knowledge and scientific information imparted to students of biology as "propaganda."  They seem to be blissfully unaware that, because they lack substantial training in the biological sciences, their sweeping denunciations of the theory of evolution will not be taken seriously by those who know better. Extensive training and years of research in the biological sciences are required to fully understand the intricacies of evolutionary processes. The creationists at whyevolution equate science with "propaganda." They brag about their own mediocre education in relevant disciplines. And they harbor the delusion that, in spite of their lack of a firm understanding of biological principles, they are still eminently qualified to conduct a meaningful assessment of the nuances of the theory of evolution. What more confirmation could one seek for the old adage that ignorance is bliss?]]        

Updated: 1/25/04