RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 150 My May 15, 1994 letter to Stephen Jay Gould (Part C) Includes material on “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act” (Act 590) and the resulting trial on Creationism in Arkansas in 1981


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This is the third portion of my 5-15-94 letter to Stephen Jay Gould and last week I posted the second portion and next week I will post the fourth portion.

SECTION #2 If there is no Afterlife, how can there be any lasting meaning to our lives? Should people be asking themselves these types of Questions???

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Albert Camus:The fundamental question about life is meaning, anything else is secondary and until that question of meaning is dealt with I really cannot for what the answers are for the other queries.George H. Smith – Religions are successful, not because they provide the correct answers, but because they ask important questions—Questions that concern every human being. What is the nature of the universe? Is there a purpose, or plan, to human existence? …PESSIMISM FROM AGNOSTICS?Nathaniel Brandon: But twentieth-century philosophy has almost totally backed off from the responsibility of offering such a vision or addressing itself to the kind of questions human beings struggle with in the course of their existence. Twentieth-century philosophy typically scorns system building. The problems to which it addresses itself grow smaller and smaller and more and more remote from human experience. At their philosophical conferences and conventions, philosophers explicitly acknowledge that they have nothing of practical value to offer anyone. This is not my accusation; they announce it themselves.During the same period of history, the twentieth century, orthodox religion has lost more and more of its hold over people’s minds and lives. It is perceived as more and more irrelevant. Its demise as a cultural force really began with the Renaissance and has been declining ever since.But the need for answers persists. The need for values by which to guide our lives remains unabated. The hunger for intelligibility is as strong as it ever was. The world around us is more and more confusing, more and more frightening; the need to understand it cries out in anguish.The ENCYCLPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY on page 471 “When Fred Hoyle in his book THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE turns to what he calls ‘the deeper issues’ and remarks that we find ourselves in a ‘dreadful situation’ in which there is ‘scarcely a clue as to whether our existence has ourselves in a ‘dreadful situation’ in which there is ‘scarcely a clue as to whether our existence has any real significance.’ He is using the word ‘significance’ in this comic sense.”

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On Sunday April 11, 1920 in Chicago there was a debate on this question: Has life any meaning? The following 3 quotes were taken from that meeting:Percy Ward -How can life have any meaning at all, when all living things, along with the world on which they live, are doomed to destruction? What meaning can there be to life, when its dominant law is age-long and world-wide struggle for existence? What possible meaning can there be to life, when the chief experience of living things is suffering and pain? Percy Ward – “To what end is comic evolution moving? All this life which rises, step by step, from moneron to main is impotent effort; the road to nowhere. Imagine an artist devoting his entire life to the painting of a wonderful picture; and then, when his picture is completed, tearing it to ribbons, what could be the meaning of such a painter’s behavior? Arthur J. Balfour – “Man, so far as natural science by itself is able to teach us, is no longer the final cause of the universe, the heaven-descended heir of all the ages. His very existence is an accident, history a brief and transitory episode in the life of one of the meanest of the planets…Man will go down into the pit, and all his thoughts will perish, the uneasy consciousness, which in this obscure corner has for a long space broken the contented silence of the universe, will be at rest. Matter will know itself no longer. Imperishable monuments and immortal deeds, death itself, will be as though they had never been.”SHOULD TRUE HUMANISTS BE OPTIMISTS OR NIHILISTS?????????Paul Kurtz –

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“The universe is neutral, indifferent to man’s existential yearnings. But we instinctively discover life, experience its throb, its excitement, its attraction. Life is here to be lived, enjoyed, suffered, and endured…Again–one cannot ‘prove’ this normative principle to everyone’s satisfaction. Living beings tend instinctively to maintain themselves and to reproduce beyond ultimate justification. It is a brute fact of our contingent natures; It is an instinctive desire to live.”

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J.P. Moreland – “2 Objections to optimistic humanism: #1 There is no rational justification for choosing it over nihilism. As far as rationality is concerned, it has nothing to offer over nihilism. Therefore, optimistic humanism suffers from some of the same objections we raised against nihilism. Kurtz himself admits that the ultimate values of humanism are incapable of rational justification!!!!!!  #2 Optimistic Humanism really answers the question of the meaning of life in the negative, just as nihilism does. For the optimistic humanist life has no objective value or purpose; It offers only subjective satisfaction, one should think long and hard before embracing such a horrible view. If there is a decent case that life has objective value and purpose, then such a case should be given as good a hearing as possible.  

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R.C. Sproul:Nihilism has two traditional enemies–Theism and Naive Humanism. The theist contradicts the nihilist because the existence of God guarantees that ultimate meaning and significance of personal life and history. Naive Humanism is considered naive by the nihilist because it rhapsodizes–with no rational foundation–the dignity and significance of human life. The humanist declares that man is a cosmic accident whose origin was fortuitous and entrenched in meaningless insignificance. Yet in between the humanist mindlessly crusades for, defends, and celebrates the chimera of human dignity…Herein is the dilemma: Nihilism declares that nothing really matters ultimately…In my judgment, no philosophical treatise has ever surpassed or equaled the penetrating analysis of the ultimate question of meaning versus vanity that is found in the Book of Ecclesiastes


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J. Kerby Anderson– “The cynicism and skepticism in the arts, politics, commerce, and the media all testify to the futility of trying to find wisdom and meaning in a world without wisdom based on ‘the Fear of the Lord’ is folly.

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Ravi Zacharias – “Having killed God, the atheist is left with no reason for being, no morality to espouse, no meaning to life and no hope beyond the grave.”Arthur Ashe – (born in 1943, won U.S.Open in 1968, and Wimbledon in 1975) “If I am just remembered as an exceptional tennis player then my life really was not much.”The next two quotes by Kai Nielson and the next quote by J.P. Moreland were taken from a debate held at Ole Miss on March 24, 1988. This debate was later published by Prometheus Books by the title DOES GOD EXIST?
Does death ultimately take away the love we feel for others?Kai Nielson – “If you love someone, whether there is a God or not, that love can go on. It remains intact. It might even be more intact, because if death ends it all, the love relationships between people in life are all the more precious because that is all there is in that respect. So that’s perfectly intact, God or no God. Indeed, as I have just argued, it may even become more important.”

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Clarence Darrow – “I love my friends, but they all must come to a tragic end. Death is more terrible the more one is attached to things in the world.” Do we need a lasting purpose to our lives?Kai Nielson – “There are all those intentions, purposes, goals, and the like that you can figure out and can have. They are what John Rawls called life plans. You can have all these purposes in life even though there is no purpose to life. So life doesn’t become meaningless and pointless if you were not made for a purpose.”

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Francis Schaeffer – “The struggle for modern man is to begin with himself and find a meaning in life. Not just plans in life. It is nothing to have plans in life. Anybody can find plans in life. A child can fill up his time with plans of building tomorrow’s sand castle when today’s have been washed away. There is a difference between finding plans in life and purpose.”J.P.Moreland – “James Rachels says that we don’t need purpose in the sense of an over arching objective purpose to life, but we can have purpose in life, as Nielson says. And he means by that ‘subjective satisfaction,’ things that we find worthwhile to us. Now if this is true, what’s the difference, let’s say between becoming a doctor and feeding the poor and sitting around pinching heads off rats or being a Sisyphus and pushing a rock up and down a hill, or giving your time to flipping tiddlywinks? There is no difference since each of these options could be satisfying and worthwhile to someone.”Marvin Kohl – (Taken from an article in FREE INQUIRY, Spring 81 issue, article entitled, “The Meaning of Life and belief in God” ) “….Belief in beneficent providence is untrue. It is untrue because there is no evidence to warrant the claim that there is a benevolent force behind nature. Not only does the secular humanist deny that we have knowledge about a friend behind the universe; He also denies that we have knowledge about divine or cosmic purpose. The argument in its essential form is simple and, I believe, decisive. Purposes can only be correctly assigned to sentient beings; And since man does not have knowledge that God or other sentient beings govern the universe, He cannot on a cognitive level maintain that the universe has any purpose…The facts also indicate that many, like lady Katharine (Bertrand Russell’s Christian daughter who was quoted earlier in the article), are given insight about the meaning of life, about  the chief end of human living, when they believe God makes a disclosure about his own nature and purpose and gently embraces them in his absolute love. In short, it appears to be true that belief in God has had and still has the power to give comfort and consolation to millions of devout believers. Largely because of this, two important claims cannot be easily, if at all, dismissed. They are: (1) that in addition to other basic human needs, there is a need for psychological security, which includes the need to believe in God, or at least believe that the cosmos is guided by a loving purpose; and (2) that this need is often successfully met if a man genuinely recognizes that his goal for living is in, and given to him by, God.”Aldous Huxley – “Science does not retain the sovereignty over metaphysical pronouncements…Science does not have the right to give to me my reason for being and my definition for existence, but I am going to take science’s view because I want this world not to have meaning because it frees me to my own erotic and political desires.”

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He fought every ‘ism’ in the book

One of the most important cultural figures of our time never wrote about anything without showing his deep moral concerns

By Michael Ruse,
The Globe and Mail
Thursday, May 23, 2002; Page R9

In 1980, the then-governor of the State of Arkansas, one Bill Clinton, was thrown out of office after just one term. Chastened, Mr. Clinton mended his fences and regained office in 1982, a position he held until 10 years later when he was elected President of the United States of America. The governor during the interregnum was a man whose unsuitability for office was equalled only by his surprise at gaining it. He had no hesitation in signing into law a bill that demanded that the children of the state be taught, in their biology classes, what its supporters referred to by the oxymoron “Scientific Creationism,” and what is better known to the rest of us as the unfiltered, early chapters of the book of Genesis—six days of creation, 6,000 years ago, Adam and Eve miraculously up from the mud, and a worldwide flood a few years later when God grew disappointed with the product.

At once the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sprang into action, challenging the validity of this law. It would be hard to imagine a more direct and blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state. Genesis had to be shown to be religion and not science.

At the same time, the alternative world picture—the world picture that claims that organisms including humans are the end products of a long slow process of evolution—had to be shown to be science. But, who could speak for science at this time? One person above all stood out on everybody’s list: Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University.

Prof. Gould was a provocative and much-regarded paleontologist. At the same time, he was one of the best-known science writers in America. Every month, a whole generation of readers eagerly took up the magazine Natural History, turning to Prof. Gould’s column “This view of life,” ready to be amazed, amused, annoyed, and above all appreciative of his fascinating disquisitions on the world of organisms around us.

There was no one better able to explain evolutionary thinking and to defend the scientific approach. Thus it was that, at the end of 1981, Prof. Gould flew south to Arkansas to testify for the ACLU. And thus it was that I forged a friendship with one of the most remarkable people I have ever been privileged to know, for I too was a witness in Arkansas against the Creationist law, for the ACLU. At the time I was a professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ont., and, like Prof. Gould, I also had been called to testify on behalf of the science that we both loved.

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Steve Gould died earlier this week of cancer at his home in Manhattan. His last book, a collection of essays, was published at the beginning of this month. I Have Landed uses as its title a comment made in the diary of Prof. Gould’s immigrant grandfather, on arriving in 1904 at Ellis Island. Now, it refers poignantly to Stephen Jay Gould’s own life as his pen is laid down for the very last time. More precisely, as his manual typewriter, on which he composed everything, falls silent.

But what a flight. As a scientist, Prof. Gould is best known for the theory of “punctuated equilibrium,” formulated by him and his student Niles Eldredge. The theory is based on the claim that the history of life is not one of smooth unbroken change, progressing always in an orderly and controlled matter, but is rather one of continency and sharp breaks, as life moves in jumps from one form to another.

With this, Prof. Gould also mounted a decades-long attack on the dominant evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin, that supposes that natural selection is the main cause of change and that the result is the highly adapted nature of all organisms. Again and again Prof. Gould challenged this view, arguing in his most notorious essay that much of life has no function, no purpose, and is at best a by-product of other forces, as are the functionless areas at the tops of columns in medieval churches—”spandrels” that simply are, without intent or end.

Earlier this year, Prof. Gould published his magnum opus The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, in which he gave a full and detailed defence of his thinking. Moving from history to science, from science to literature, from literature to religion, and then back from religion to history, he laid out his vision of the history of life and of its causal processes. Whether or not this vision endures, no one can deny the synthetic grasp of the author and the greatness of his imagination and intent.

But there are many good and even great scientists. For me, what made Stephen Jay Gould a man above the ordinary was his ability to take science and to explain it to regular people. In person, he could be difficult and at times uncomfortably arrogant. Too often, he lost patience with questioners. But when writing, he was a man transformed. Never a hint of condescension. Never a hint of triviality. Never a hint of false modesty or trying to impress because he was an important man, more talented than most.

Prof. Gould would take an object or an idea and draw it out, turn it over, cut it into parts, rebuild it, and all the time explain and connect and instruct. Why is the zebra striped, and is it a white animal with black stripes or a black animal with white stripes—and who cares and why? How do animals (and plants, for that matter) go from A to B? Flying, walking, swimming, floating on air, slithering on the ground, swinging through the trees, and more. But why did they never invent the most efficient mode of transport of all, the wheel? (Or did they?) What was the Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin up to at the time of the Piltdown Hoax? Could it be that one of the most revered figures of the 20th century was himself involved in the greatest fraud of the century? (You can imagine the squawks that that particular column brought on!) And so the ideas flowed forth and excited all who turned to his pages.

What made Prof. Gould one of the most important cultural figures of our time was that he never wrote on anything—starting with the snails on which he wrote his doctoral dissertation—without showing his deep moral concerns. For him, there was no sterile distinction between fact and value. The practice of science for Steve Gould was a truly moral enterprise—using our talents to make out the nature of reality—and the product of science was likewise a force for good or ill. Throughout his life, he fought against racism and sexism and every other vile “ism” in the book.

Born into a totally secular Jewish family, he had no formal faith, but for me he was the epitome of the truly religious man. He would appreciate the irony—he knew more of the New Testament than most Christians—if I (a fellow non-believer) say that Stephen Jay Gould was the servant who used his talents wisely and found favour with his Lord.

I do not want to end on a pompous or formal or sad manner, for above all else Steve Gould was fun. By the end of the third day of the Arkansas Creation Trial, it was clear that the ACLU and its evolutionists were on the way to a smashing victory. We started to relax, and that night at dinner we dined well and not particularly wisely.

An angelic junior member of the law firm that was advising us broke into the beautiful hymn, Amazing Grace. Prof. Gould was a keen singer of oratorio and no voice was louder than his. We came to the line that speaks of worshipping God for 10,000 years. An idea a little too close for comfort. We drew to embarrassed silence, looking at each other. Then we started to laugh. It was a good moment.

Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. Previously, he was professor of history and philosophy of science at Ontario’s Guelph University.

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Gould grumbles about creationist ‘hijacking’

by Don Batten

‘Eminent biologist hits back at the creationists who “hijacked” his theory for their own ends’.

So says the headline of an article by Steve Connor, Science Editor in The Independent(UK), April 9, 2002, referring to the imminent release of Professor Stephen Jay Gould’s new book, a 1,400 page treatise called The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.1 Gould is a high-profile professor of zoology from Harvard University, well-known for promoting the controversial view that the fossil record contradicts the slow-and-gradual transformation idea of classical Darwinism. More recently, he has become more famous for revealing Darwin’s Real Message, but at the same time trying to pacify ‘religious’ people by asserting that religion and science have ‘non-overlapping magisteria’ (NOMA).2 The following quotes are from Connor’s article.

‘Professor Gould accuses creationists of having exploited the sometimes bitter dispute between him and his fellow Darwinists …’

I guess we’re ‘guilty as charged’ on this one. It seems that Gould would have it that only evolutionists be permitted to use the arguments of evolutionists. Only those ‘in the club’ can legitimately discuss these things, it would appear.

Ever since Darwin, evolutionists have almost universally maintained that the supposed change from one basic type of organism to another occurred slowly, gradually, in tiny steps. The fossils did not support this idea, and Darwin blamed incompleteness of the record. Others repeated this excuse, right up to the present day, including Richard Dawkins, the ‘archbishop of atheism’ at Oxford University in the UK.3

Gould and Niles Eldredge, a former student of Gould, actually faced up to the fossil record and decided it did not support the gradualist dogma.4 They argued strongly against some of the classical claims of gradual transformation. In doing this they were inadvertently agreeing with creationists. Naturally, creationists used their admissions.

In 1977 Gould wrote,

‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. … to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.’5

In 1980 Gould said,

‘The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.’6

It would be difficult to find franker admissions to the lack of evidence for gradual transitions in the fossil record.

Now it is a powerful and legitimate debating tactic, employed by all, to use the admissions of ‘hostile witnesses’. Clearly, Gould is not a creationist and has no sympathies whatsoever with us. He appeared on behalf of the evolutionary thought police, the ACLU (which incongruously contains the word ‘liberties’ in its title), at the 1981 trial over the teaching of origins in schools in Arkansas. Both he and Eldredge have used quite intemperate, insulting language in referring to creationists, especially since 1981. See a refutation of Eldredge’s latest anti-creationist foray.

We make no apology for using the admissions of evolutionists about the true nature of the fossil record. Other evolutionists have also admitted the problems. See, for example, Are there any Transitional Fossils?

‘Professor Gould says creationists have unwittingly misinterpreted or deliberately misquoted his work…’

Recognizing the non-gradualist nature of the fossil record, in 1972 Gould and Eldredge published a radical new theory of evolution that supposedly fitted the observations of the fossil record. They described the fossil record as representing long periods of equilibriumor stasis (things staying much the same), which are punctuated by the relatively sudden appearance of new forms. Hence they dubbed their new theory ‘punctuated equilibrium’ (PE). Fossils showing transitions from one form to another are missing, and to establish the need for the new theory of evolution, Gould and Eldredge argued very forcibly against supposed examples of gradual change in the fossils. For example, Eldredge had studied trilobites at length, looking for the classical gradual transformations, but without success—one of the many dead ends that evolutionary thinking has led to. (Nor did he solve the problem of how possibly the most sophisticated eye of all time could have evolved supposedly right at the beginning of complex animal life—see Trilobite Technology.)

Of course Gould and Eldredge are wedded to materialist philosophy (and self-servingly make this a defining characteristic of ‘science’—see The rules of the game), so the data cannot for them mean that evolution did not occur. It’s ‘a fact’.

They reasoned that evolution must have happened in such a way that transitional fossils are absent or very rare. They proposed that the changes must have occurred in small populations and relatively rapidly. The latter has to be understood in terms of the supposed mega-years of the evolutionary view—that is, the changes occurred over thousands of years, which, compared to the hundreds of millions of years of the fossil record, is a ‘rapid’ change. This new theory supposedly accounted for the origin of new species; it was claimed to not be about the origin of radically different body plans (such as phyla). Nevertheless, if PE and its proposed mechanisms are an accurate description of the basic mode of operation of evolution, as Eldredge and Gould originally argued, then it must also account for the origin of basic body plans, because evolution supposedly accounts for all the variation in living things. However, on several occasions Gould has suggested that some basically different mechanism must operate to account for fundamentally different body plans.

In this regard Gould spoke favourably of the ideas of Richard Goldschmidt,7 a German palaeontologist from the mid-1900s who also faced up to the lack of transitional fossils, and listed a number of complex structures that couldn’t have been built by small advantageous steps. Goldschmidt agonized over the big picture of the fossil record—where the major categories of living things, the phyla, appear fully formed, without any evidence of a graded series of transitions from some common ancestor of all. Goldschmidt proposed a ‘hopeful monster’ theory, where the major body plans were seen as arising suddenly, by some sort of macromutation. This was popularly portrayed as being like a bird emerging out of a reptile egg—a ‘hopeful monster’ theory.

Undoubtedly some creationists have misconstrued Gould’s work, conflating Gould’s writings on speciation and macroevolution, and then characterizing PE as a ‘hopeful monster’ theory. But some evolutionists have ‘misunderstood’ Gould too. Maybe this is not surprising, since Gould’s article had the term in its title, and he said:

‘I do, however, predict that during the next decade Goldschmidt will be largely vindicated in the world of evolutionary biology.’

However, I know of no mainstream creationists deliberately misquoting his work; that is something else. Evolutionists often make these sweeping claims, without substantiation.

For a detailed review of Gould and Eldredge’s PE, and how it has fared, see ‘Punctuated Equilibrium: Come of Age?’, originally published in TJ (the in-depth journal of Creation). This will demonstrate to any fair-minded reader that we have not misconstrued or deliberately misquoted Gould’s work.

‘”I had no premonition about the hubbub that punctuated equilibrium would generate,” Professor Gould said. Some “absurdly-hyped popular accounts” proclaimed the death of Darwinism, with punctuated equilibrium as the primary assassin, he says.

‘“Our theory became the public symbol and stalking horse for all debate within evolutionary theory. Moreover, since popular impression now falsely linked the supposed ‘trouble’ within evolutionary theory to the rise of creationism, some intemperate colleagues began to blame Eldredge and me for the growing strength of creationism.”

“Thus, we stood falsely accused by some colleagues both for dishonestly exaggerating our theory to proclaim the death of Darwin (presumably for our own cynical quest for fame), and for unwittingly fostering the scourge of creationism as well,” he said.

‘Not every scientist, however, would agree that Professor Gould was innocent in the dispute…’

Perhaps this explains the vitriolic denunciations of creationists since the 1981 Arkansas trial—Gould endeavouring to close ranks with other materialists, to repair the breach, to prove that he is just as caustic in his criticism of creationists as any of his colleagues in a competition to be ‘more anti-creationist than thou’. There is nothing like a common enemy to bring solidarity.

Gould protests about popular accounts that used PE to proclaim the death of Darwinism, but these accounts often simply reflected the enthusiasm Gould portrayed for his ideas on PE as an alternative to standard Darwinism. He was indeed proclaiming the death of orthodox (neo-) Darwinism. In recent years Gould and Eldredge have moderated their claims from PE being a new theory to replace gradualism to being an additional concept to be added to the grab bag of evolutionary tools used to ‘explain’ all and sundry observations. Evolutionist Levinton recognized this change, saying in response to Gould and Eldredge’s review of PE8 published in 1993:

‘Gould and Eldredge have devolved their claims of punctuation from an “alternative” to being “complementary” [to gradualism].’9

Also, Ernst Mayr, whom Gould critiqued as a representative of gradualism, dismissed Gould’s ideas as merely a variant of his own theory of allopatric speciation (i.e. geographical isolation leading to reproductive isolation).

The addition of PE to the evolutionist’s tool kit makes evolution even more untestable than ever as a pretender to be a scientific theory. Darwin predicted gradualism in the fossils. After 110 years of pretending that the fossils would be found, evolutionists were forced by Gould and Eldredge (mainly) to face up to the evidence. The transitional fossils had not been found. This contradicted the most basic prediction of Darwinism. It should have meant the death of the idea, if it were truly a scientific theory. However, Darwinism is part of the atheist / materialist worldview. Richard Dawkins, a vigorous critic of Gould, said that Darwinism made atheism intellectually respectable.10 On this point they undoubtedly agree. Karl Popper, the philosopher of science, said, ‘Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical [i.e., religious] research programme…’.11 As a well-known current philosopher of science, Michael Ruse, said,

‘Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. … Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.… Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.’12

This is especially significant because Ruse had also testified with the ACLU in the same trial as Gould, and at that time dismissed the idea that evolution was religion.

Consequently, Darwinism will not die while ever there are atheists wanting to be ‘intellectually respectable’. Darwinism / evolution has come to mean simply ‘naturalistic (that is, Creator-less) origins theory’. Since in the minds of Dawkins, Gould and co. there is no Creator in the real world, then ‘evolution’ (naturalism) is a fact.

Gould and Eldredge provided an escape route from the evidence against the normal gradualist concept of evolution—PE. As they said in their 1993 review, they gave ‘theoretical space’ to stasis and abrupt appearance. Long argued by creationists as evidence against evolution, stasis and abrupt appearance now became the evidence forevolution by PE! So how can evolution be refuted in the minds of its proponents? It can’t. If a series of fossils showing transformation can be found,13then this is claimed as evidence for ‘evolution’ (gradualism), but if such cannot be found, then this is also claimed as evidence for ‘evolution’ (PE). ‘Heads we [evolutionists] win; tails you [creationists] lose’!

Gould’s writings have encouraged many creationists. It’s nice that stasis and abrupt appearance, the actual data of the fossils, have been given ‘theoretical space’ by a prominent evolutionist. If it were not for the growth of the modern creation movement, many other evolutionists might have joined with Gould and Eldredge in facing up to the data. Initially some did, such as Vrba and Stanley. That’s much less likely since 1981. Darwinian fundamentalists like Dawkins (a non-paleontologist) continue to refuse to allow the fossil evidence to speak. As a biologist, Dawkins made his reputation on just-so story-telling for the slow-and-gradual neo-Darwinian myth. He probably also realizes that the information problem in living things is difficult enough to solve in neo-Darwinism, but it would be impossible with PE, so he fights the fossil experts such as Gould who would rock the boat (see also this critique of Dawkins’ attempt to solve the information problem).

It seems that the real data of the fossils has once again been pushed into the background. It just fits the Creation / Flood teaching of the Bible too well.


  1. Connor, S., Eminent biologist hits back at the creationists who ‘hijacked’ his theory for their own endsThe Independent, 9 April 2002; Web version last accessed 18 April 2002. Return to text.
  2. Gould provides nothing original in this idea—18th century ‘Enlightenment’ philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that religion and science were two separate domains that must be kept apart. Return to text.
  3. Dawkins actually occupies the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science, but he uses his position not to promote understanding of real operational science at all, such as physics or chemistry, but instead to flagrantly promote atheism. See also critiques of Dawkins at Countering critics’ attacks on creationist ‘design’ argumentsReturn to text.
  4. Eldredge, N. and Gould, S.J., Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism. InModels in Paleobiology, T.J.M. Schopf (ed.), Freeman, Cooper and Co., San Francisco, pp. 82–115, 1972. Return to text.
  5. Gould, S.J., Evolution’ erratic pace. Natural History 86(5):14, 1977. Return to text.
  6. Gould, S.J., Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging? Paleobiology 6:119–130 (p.127), 1980. Return to text.
  7. For example, Gould, S.J., The return of hopeful monsters. Natural History 86(6):22–30, 1977. Return to text.
  8. Gould, S.J., and Eldredge, N., Punctuated equilibrium comes of age. Nature 366:223–227, 1993. Return to text.
  9. Levinton, J., Scientific correspondence. Nature 368:407, 1994. Return to text.
  10. On this point alone it is strange indeed that various bishops in the Anglican Church in England have sided with the atheist Dawkins in advocating the teaching of evolution only to children in schools in the U.K. Do these bishops want the education system to turn out atheists? Return to text.
  11. Popper, K., Unended Quest p.151, 1976 (Fontana, Collins, Glasgow). Return to text.
  12. Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph, Canada (National Post, May 13, 2000, pp. B1,B3,B7). Return to text.
  13. Some transitional series of fossils are expected in creationist thinking, as animals and plants adapt to different environments in the post-Flood world, but the transformations seen will be limited to within the created kind, or ‘baramin’, e.g. horses. Transformations between major categories in design will not be found. Return to text.

McLean v. Arkansas

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McLean v. Arkansas
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
Full case nameMcLean v. Arkansas Board of Education
Date decidedJanuary 5, 1982
Citations529 F. Supp. 1255
TranscriptsMcLean v. Ark
Judge sittingWilliam Overton
Case holding
The Arkansas Balanced Treatment Act of 1981 requiring schools balance the teaching of evolution with the teaching of creation science violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution

McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education529 F. Supp. 1255 (E.D. Ark. 1982), was a 1981 legal case in the US state of Arkansas.[1]

lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas by various parents, religious groups and organizations, biologists, and others who argued that the Arkansas state law known as the Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act (Act 590), which mandated the teaching of “creation science” in Arkansas public schools, was unconstitutionalbecause it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Judge William Overton handed down a decision on January 5, 1982, giving a clear, specific definition of science as a basis for ruling that creation science is religion and is simply not science.[1] The ruling was not binding on schools outside the Eastern District of Arkansas but had considerable influence on subsequent rulings on the teaching of creationism.[2]

Arkansas did not appeal the decision and it was not until the 1987 case of Edwards v. Aguillard,[3]which dealt with a similar law passed by the State of Louisiana, that teaching “creation science” was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, making that determination applicable nationwide.[4]

Act 590 had been put forward by a Christian fundamentalist on the basis of a request from the Greater Little Rock Evangelical Fellowship for the introduction of legislation based on a “model act” prepared using material from the Institute for Creation Research. It was opposed by many religious organizations and other groups.



The plaintiffs in the suit, who opposed the “balanced treatment” statute, were led by the Reverend William McLean, a United Methodist minister.[5][6]

The other plaintiffs were:

The defendants were the Arkansas Board of Education and its members, in their official capacity, the director of the Department of Education, in his official capacity, and the State Textbooks and Instructional materials Selecting Committee. The Pulaski County Special School District and its directors and superintendent were named in the original complaint but were voluntarily dismissed by plaintiffs at the pre-trial conference on October 1, 1981.


Various state laws prohibiting teaching of evolution had been introduced in the 1920s. They were challenged in 1968 at Epperson v. Arkansas which ruled that “The law’s effort was confined to an attempt to blot out a particular theory because of its supposed conflict with the Biblical account, literally read. Plainly, the law is contrary to the mandate of the First, and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.”[7] The creationist movement turned to promoting teaching creationism in school science classes as equal to evolutionary theory.

Arkansas Act 590[edit]

Arkansas Act 590 of 1981, entitled the “Balanced Treatment for Creation Science and Evolution Science Act,” mandated that “creation science” be given equal time in public schools with evolution.

Creation science was defined as follows: “Creation science means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those evidences. Creation science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate:

  1. Sudden creation of the universe, energy and life from nothing;
  2. The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism;
  3. Changes only with fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals;
  4. Separate ancestry for man and apes;
  5. Explanation of the earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of worldwide flood;
  6. relatively recent inception of the earth and living.

Evolution science was defined as follows: “Evolution-science” means the scientific evidences for evolution and inferences from those scientific evidences. Evolution-science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate:

  1. Emergence by naturalistic processes of the universe from disordered matter and emergence of life from nonlife;
  2. The sufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of present living kinds from simple earlier kinds;
  3. Emergency [sic] by mutation and natural selection of present living kinds from simple earlier kinds;
  4. Emergence of man from a common ancestor with apes;
  5. Explanation of the earth’s geology and the evolutionary sequence by uniformitarianism; and
  6. An inception several billion years ago of the earth and somewhat later of life.

The Act was signed into law by Governor Frank D. White on March 19, 1981.

McLean v. Arkansas ruling[edit]

Judge William Overton‘s ruling handed down on January 5, 1982, concluded that “creation-science” as defined in Arkansas Act 590 “is simply not science”. The judgment defined the essential characteristics of science as being:

  1. It is guided by natural law;
  2. It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
  3. It is testable against the empirical world;
  4. Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word; and
  5. It is falsifiable.

Overton found that “creation science” failed to meet these essential characteristics for these reasons:

  1. Sudden creation “from nothing” is not science because it depends upon a supernatural intervention which is not guided by natural law, is not explanatory by reference to natural law, is not testable and is not falsifiable;
  2. “insufficiency of mutation and natural selection” is an incomplete negative generalization;
  3. “changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds” fails as there is no scientific definition of “kinds”, the assertion appears to be an effort to establish outer limits of changes within species but there is no scientific explanation for these limits which is guided by natural law and the limitations, whatever they are, cannot be explained by natural law;
  4. “separate ancestry of man and apes” is a bald assertion which explains nothing and refers to no scientific fact or theory;
  5. Catastrophism and any kind of Genesis Flood depend upon supernatural intervention, and cannot be explained by natural law;
  6. “Relatively recent inception” has no scientific meaning, is not the product of natural law; not explainable by natural law; nor is it tentative;
  7. No recognized scientific journal has published an article espousing the creation science theory as described in the Act, and though some witnesses suggested that the scientific community was “close-minded” and so had not accepted the arguments, no witness produced a scientific article for which publication has been refused, and suggestions of censorship were not credible;
  8. A scientific theory must be tentative and always subject to revision or abandonment in light of facts that are inconsistent with, or falsify, the theory. A theory that is by its own terms dogmatic, absolutist, and never subject to revision is not a scientific theory;
  9. While anybody is free to approach a scientific inquiry in any fashion they choose, they cannot properly describe the methodology as scientific, if they start with the conclusion and refuse to change it regardless of the evidence developed during the course of the investigation.

The creationists’ methods do not take data, weigh it against the opposing scientific data, and thereafter reach the conclusions stated in [the Act] Instead, they take the literal wording of the Book of Genesis and attempt to find scientific support for it. The Act took a two-model approach to teaching identical to the approach put forward by the Institute for Creation Research, which assumes only two explanations for the origins of life and existence of man, plants and animals: it was either the work of a creator or it was not. Creationists take this to mean that all scientific evidence which fails to support the theory of evolution is necessarily scientific evidence in support of creationism. The judgment found this to be simply a contrived dualism which has no scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose.

The judge concluded that “the Act was passed with the specific purpose by the General Assembly of advancing religion,” and that it violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

The test that Overton developed on the basis of Michael Ruse‘s testimony was later criticized by the philosopher of science Larry Laudan who argued that rather than call Creation Science “non-science” it would have been more cogent to show that it was “bad science”.[8] Chandra Wickramasinghe was the single scientist testifying for the defense of creationism.[9] He hypothesized on panspermia and on “the possibility of high intelligence in the Universe and of many increasing levels of intelligence converging toward a God as an ideal limit.” [10]


  1. Jump up to:a b McLean v. Arkansas529 F. Supp. 1255 (E.D Ark. 1982).
  2. ^ Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals. Archived May 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. (pdf) A Position Paper from the Center for Inquiry, Office of Public Policy Barbara Forrest. May 2007.
  3. ^ Edwards v. Aguillard482 U.S. 578 (1987).
  4. ^ Creationism/ID, A Short Legal History Archived August 23, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. By Lenny Flank, Talk Reason
  5. ^ Scott, Eugenie (June 30, 2004). Evolution vs. Creationism. Greenwood Press. pp. 1590–1628 Kindle ed. ISBN 978-0-313-32122-1.
  6. ^ Frank Spencer, ed. (1996). History of Physical Anthropology: An Encyclopedia (Garland Reference Library of Social Science) (illustrated ed.). Routledge. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-8153-0490-6.
  7. ^ Epperson v. Arkansas393 U.S. 97 (1968).
  8. ^ Laudan, L. (1982). “Commentary: Science at the Bar-Causes for Concern”Science, Technology and Human Values7 (41): 16–19.
  9. ^ Phy-Olsen, Allene. Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design
  10. ^ Fry, Iris. Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview, Rutgers University Press, February 1, 2000

Further reading[edit]

  • Overton, W. R. (1982). “Creationism in Schools: The Decision in McLean vs. the Arkansas Board of Education”. Science215 (4535): 934–943. doi:10.1126/science.215.4535.934PMID 17821352.
  • Overton, W. R. (1985). “Memorandum opinion of United States District judge William R. Overton in McLean v. Arkansas, 5 January 1982″. In Gilkey, L. Creationism on trial. New York: Harper & Row.

External links[edit]

showvteCreation science / Intelligent design vs. evolution
showvteCreation science


On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto


(Harry Kroto pictured below)

Image result for harry kroto

Stephen Jay Gould is the scholar I will look at today. In  the third video below in the 147th clip in this series are his words “If I were  a bacteria I would be quite satisfied that I was dominating the planet…I don’t know why consciousness should be seen as any state of higher being especially if you use the evolutionist primary criterion of success measured by duration” and I have responded directly to this quote in any earlier post.

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

This is the third part of the letter to Stephen Jay Gould, but the second part was posted last week on my blog and the fourth will posted next week.


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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 51 THE BEATLES (Part C, List of those on cover of Stg.Pepper’s ) (Feature on artist Raqib Shaw )

March 19, 2015 – 12:21 am

  The Beatles in a press conference after their Return from the USA Uploaded on Nov 29, 2010 The Beatles in a press conference after their Return from the USA. The Beatles:   I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Francis Schaeffer | Tagged George HarrisonJohn LennonPaul MacCartneyRaqib ShawRingo Starr | Edit | Comments (0)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 50 THE BEATLES (Part B, The Psychedelic Music of the Beatles) (Feature on artist Peter Blake )

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