Archive for Wednesday, March 24, 1999


March 24, 1999


To the editor:

Several LJW letters from creationists have misunderstood the difference between the FACT of evolution and THEORIES of evolution. I can't say that's a disgrace, since I once had trouble keeping it straight.

Mainstream scientists believe the fossil record shows massive evolutionary changes occurring over time. Creationists dispute their interpretation. But that dispute is largely irrelevant to the factuality of evolution.

The simple fact is that species sometimes evolve. Dogs and pigeons and tomatoes evolve at the hands of human breeders. Disease germs evolve on their own. For example, every so often there is a brand new type of influenza. HIV is dangerous because it evolves so fast that the immune system can't keep up. The same is true of malaria. There are many cases of natural evolution of higher life forms in response to civilization. For example, the moths that changed color from white to black for protective coloration after coal heating blackened the urban environment. There are well-documented modern cases of evolution of birds and reptiles in response to natural climatic and environmental changes in places such as the Galapagos islands.

"THEORIES of evolution" refers to scientific attempts to explain the FACT that species evolve. Lamarck had a theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics that is no longer accepted. Darwin's theory of natural selection was incomplete -- he didn't have a theory of genetic inheritance or a theory of mutation. Modern theories of evolution continue to evolve, as in the recent controversy over punctuated evolutionary equilibrium.

Creationists, on the other hand, don't have a theory of evolution. That's because they can't accept the FACT of evolution -- one of many reasons that creationism isn't a scientific theory.

David Burress

912 Holiday.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.