This was the next emailed response from Dr. Randall.
Dear Kylie, Craig, Paul and Joe,
This is what Aron has already said about us:-
After three days squabbling with the "Was Darwin Right?" group, where I repeatedly demanded some means to quantify "functional complexity" and "genetic information" in order to confirm their claim to having observed reductions in that, this is the whole and sole response to all those demands thus far: A slough of irrelevant quotes with no original text
from my opponent, who supposedly holds a Ph.D. in microbiology.
Before the debate has even started he has dismissed the quotes I sent him by top Nobel winning scientists (including Crick) about abiogenesis, fossil evidence etc. as "irrelevant", has called the time you kindly spent in responding to him as "squabbling" and has questioned whether I really hold a Ph.D. I wonder how things would have degenerated even further if we had taken the time to debate with him.
As he seems to be so strongly antagonistic to us and unwilling to accept the validity of quotes from top scientists, I really think it would have been pointless debating with him and I wonder if it is worth posting future posts from someone who obviously has an axe to grind against the possibility of Creation, although we have done nothing to offend him.
And I replied.
>Before the debate has even started he has dismissed the quotes I sent him by top Nobel winning scientists (including Crick) about abiogenesis, fossil evidence etc. as "irrelevant",
I didn't dismiss the quotes, I'm still researching them. But otherwise that is exactly right for several reasons. First and foremost being that whether abiogenesis occurred or not, it doesn't change the fact that all life has evolved since the first life began. Evolution is not dependant on abiogenesis, and that's what most of your quotes were concerned with, (including Crick) who more recently published this: "You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."
--The Astonishing Hypothesis
What do you think of your "top Nobel-winning scientist now? How does this quote support creationism? How does it condemn evolution? Or even abiogenesis? And this wasn't written decades ago. This is from a new book, a book in which he addresses other religious notions: "The single most characteristic human ability is that we can handle a complex language fluently. ... This ability leads to another strikingly human characteristic, one that is seldom mentioned: our almost unlimited capacity for self-deception."
The problem with your Crick quote is that he and his friend Carl Sagan were both fascinated by big BIG numbers, and evoked them whenever they could. Don't read into it what isn't there. I think he was saying how amazed he was that something so unlikely could really have happened. But I doubt very much that he disputes if it did happen. To find out, I'm picking up a copy of Crick's older book, "Life Itself", possibly tomorrow. Then I'll know the rest of the story.
And speaking of the rest of the story, have you seen this yet?
>has called the time you kindly spent in responding to him as "squabbling"
And I stand by that. 700 characters with spaces doesn't take much time, and go back and read the guestbook. What does that look like to you? To me, it looks like Craig making some very wild and clearly baseless assertions about things he obviously has no knowledge of, and only does so to insult me. And Kyle? Well, Kyle's just desperate to defend his position whether its true or not. What I got from your group in that forum is accurately defined as squabbling. Look it up.
All other responses are indeed irrelevant or incorrect altogether, and evasive as well. Even if the handful of quotes didn't contradict the life's work of most of these men (before and after these quotes) that still doesn't amount to a debate of any kind between yourselves and me. If you have legitimate scientists on your side, who will actually support your position right now, then bring 'em on and I'll debate them too on the merits of the evidence, not their names.
If you have the time to hunt around for anything you can find that might present a nice façade for your position, if you can amass all the nonsense I read on your site, or if you have the time to arrange your little high school circus debates, then you certainly can spare the time to test your claims in peer review, (sort of a requirement of any research claiming to be scientific) to see if they're really valid. And since you don't publish to any peer-reviewed journals, then you could still submit to peer-review by debating me in writing and in public forum. Something I think the lot of you are unable and unwilling to do given your mentor in all of this.
>and has questioned whether I really hold a Ph.D.
Well, with all due respect, "Dr. Dino" has a Ph.D. too, doesn't he? Did you pay some guy $100 for yours as he did? Or did you do the work in an actual accredited university and thus earn it? I don't know. But if your leader is only pretending to be a doctor, then maybe you are too.
"To be awarded a Ph.D., you have to write a thesis which contains a substantial original contribution to knowledge. And that's a very heavy requirement, and its very unnatural in a way, because you're supposed to produce this particular substantial original contribution to knowledge in a given three-year period."
--Denis Sciamal, Cambridge University supervisor,
Stephen Hawking's Universe; ep 2 "In the Beginning"
Now why don't you look up Hovind's thesis so you won't wonder why I question your credentials. Does it contain a substantial original contribution to knowledge? Was it completed in the given three years? Was it even begun before the degree was purchased?
>I wonder how things would have degenerated even further if we had taken the time to debate with him.
There's still time to find out, you know. Remember I said this would be a conclusive debate, not allowing for much interpretation about where either of us might be mistaken. And I respect honest efforts highly. But the denigration came from both sides beginning with your attempted projection of religion onto me in the guestbook. My inspiration to that now comes solely from the fact that you blocked my posts to your site, which you did only because you couldn't address my challenges, and said you would refuse to reply to any message I sent. Then you say "before the debate even began" as if you hadn't already refused to allow it. I react unfavorably to such dishonorable behavior.
>As he seems to be so strongly antagonistic to us and unwilling to accept the validity of quotes from top scientists,
Well let's look at that shall we? Some of these quotes were from people already bent toward a religious stance, and I have no problem with that if there is no scientific significance to their opinions. Some of the others were incomplete statements meant to imply something derogatory against the scientist themselves. [Blumenschine, Takahata, Gee, etc.]
The best example of this was the line from David Raup;
"The evidence we find in the geological record is not nearly as compatible with Darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be ....We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn't changed much. The record of evolution is surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than in Darwin's time."
[with the interjection "... so Darwin's problem has not been alleviated".]
But then when we put back the rest of the original statement;
"...we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information. What appeared to be a nice simple progression when relatively few data were available now appears to be much more complex and much less gradualistic."
The complete statement is an argument for evolution, not against it, just like the quote from Darwin himself, which I have already addressed on your guestbook when I said that he predicted that many transitional species would be found, and as I have already shown you, they have been.
But your site still says they haven't. Now is that honest?
The only quote in your whole list that bothered me was the one from Richard Leakey, especially in light of everything he's ever said before or since:
"it's not so much theories of evolution, but understanding the fact of evolution. What we're concentrating on today is what has actually happened on planet earth, not speculating on what might have happened. .... My parents had very similar ideas. We now have a lot more evidence than when they were alive, and we have a lot more confidence about what we know. ....The whole story is about change. We are very lucky that the earth's history is recorded in fossilized remains. And we can see the changes. Unfortunately, there will always be gaps in our knowledge, but there is no doubt that we and everything living today has evolved."
--Dr. Richard Leakey, TIME.com interview, 04/11/99
Care to make another false allegation, Luke? Do you dismiss these quotes? Do you oppose top Nobel laureate scientists? I think so. You'll question whatever you must so long as it doesn't require that you question your favorite old book of stories.
Still, the quote you provided came from an unnamed "PBS documentary", so I can't view that to check it for myself.
So instead, I decided to write to the source about it directly.
Dear Dr. Leakey
I'm an active proponent of the continued separation of church and state, and science education that is free from religious indoctrination. I'm trying to achieve a degree in paleontology, and have been researching and debating related issues on the Talk.Origins Usenet group for the last few years. In that time, I've seem many dishonest tactics employed by creationists trying to wedge their religion into the public classrooms, most recently under the guise of Intelligent Design, which many people in this country believe is an actual scientific Theory. One of these tactics is "quote mining" where the words of a respected scientist can be recorded out-of-context, or incomplete, implying a deceptive meaning.
Most recently, I was engaged in an informal debate with the proprietors of http://www.wasdarwinright.com . They wouldn't allow a formal public debate with me as I insisted that it be in writing rather than a live appearance in a high school full of faithful believers. When they heard my evidence and challenges, they blocked my messages from posting to their discussion board. But before doing that, they sent me an email with nothing on it but the quotes of several "evolutionists", [they insist that evolution is a religion based on faith in lieu of evidence] and among those was a very confusing quote from you.
I found that same quote on dozens of creationist propaganda sites, and copied a longer version of it from "Evolution Lie Faith web.com" offering "50 ways to leave your faith in evolution" Included are some of the surrounding comments of the creationist author- to show you how your work is being treated by these people.
"I didn't mean to exhaust so much space on Homo habilis, but I just can't stop. Let's talk about the dating of 1470. In 1969 samples of KBS tuft from just above the layer in which 1470 was found was sent to Cambridge University for potassium argon dating. Three different test gave an age of 220 million years old +or- 7 million years ! This was considered unacceptable for for this strata given its fossil content, so the errors were blamed on "extraneous" argon. Several more tests were done, and the best, most acceptable date was placed at 2.61 million years old. In National Geographic of June 1973 Richard Leakey stated," Either we toss out the 1470 skull or we toss out all our theories of early man. It simply fits no previous models of human beginnings. 1470 leaves in ruin the notion that all early fossils can be arranged in an orderly sequence of evolutionary changes." AGREED !!
What was the problem? The problem, given the age of 2.61 myo, made 1470 contemporaneous with Australopithecus, if not older--yet looked identical to modern man. (Aren't you glad I kept going?) This absolutely unseated Australopithecus as ancestor of modern man ! In later lectures, Richard Leakey never made reference to 1470, preferring perhaps, to sweep it under the rug. However, in a PBS documentary in 1990 he stated,"If pressed about man's ancestry, I would have to unequivocally say that all we have is a huge question mark. To date, there has been nothing found to truthfully purport as a transitional specie to man, including Lucy, since 1470 was as old and probably older. If further pressed, I would have to state that there is more evidence to suggest an abrupt arrival of man rather than a gradual process of evolving." This from the world's foremost paleoanthropologist !"
In the US today, there has been quite a resurgence in religious fundamentalism, and school boards across the country are seriously considering removing evolution from their biology courses, or affixing to their texts stickers that warn "evolution is just a theory, not a fact", and in some cases, they are even considering the teaching of Biblical creationism in "equal time" as a scientific option to evolution, and not just in private schools but the public, government-funded ones! And in some places, some of this has already come to pass! I think theocracy is a poor system of government and that unquestionable dogmatism in the classroom would be a national travesty. That's why I'm active in these debates. But I'm also honest with myself and others. I for one can attest that I do not "believe in" evolution. I don't promote evolution as "truth", and certainly not in any religious way. I'm objective and compelled by evidence, not faith. But it does appear that biological evolution is the truest, best explanation there is for the origin of our species. So I'm very curious as to the context of your quote. I've no doubt but that you've explained this many times to other people, but I must know what you meant in that unnamed 1990 documentary, and what lead you to say that? Is it misrepresented?
Any reply would be appreciated, and can also be posted directly to the Talk.Origins Usenet group available at Google.com. Otherwise, please permit me to post your reply intact to the appropriate information sources to clear this up.
Sincerely, L. Aron Nelson
Now since this has to go via snail mail to Nairobi, you'll understand if I have no response for at least a fortnight.
>I really think it would have been pointless debating with him
That may be, since you obviously have no intention of conceding any error on your behalf. Your site still denies all of the transitional species that have been recovered, and your allegation of "Theory being taught as fact" is still securely on your site, is it not? Whether you accept intermediate species or not, you know how misleading your inappropriate use of "Theory" is. But you've no intention of correcting that, do you? Or anything else I may prove to be in error. So you're right, debating me would be pointless.
>and I wonder if it is worth posting future posts from someone who obviously has an axe to grind against the possibility of Creation, although we have done nothing to offend him.
Thank you for admitting that you have already been blocking my posts rather than answering them honestly. And I have no axe to grind against any possibility. But Biblical creation doesn't happen to be one.
And Joe, you claim to have been lied to in school. Maybe you were, I don't know. But there's no doubt you've been duped since then, and are still being lied to by the very people you look to for the "truth" of your campaign. And you're returning the favor by deceiving many of your less-educated readers with a website full of false statements and misinformation that is as shallow and contrived as your butchered quotes from Darwin and Raub.
Maybe you've been hopelessly misinformed up to now, but you've still lied on your website, and are clearly uninterested in objective study of whatever the real truth might be, if your own preferred notion isn't implied. To that end, you misrepresent legitimate scientists and seek to undermine an already weak education system. You cite a charlatan with a publicized anti-American agenda as an "all-star" of your movement, and seem bent only on furthering your religion into schools and eventually government at the expense of everything this country was founded on, or seeks to achieve. Plus your staff has made demeaning statements about myself in particular and scientists in general when they kept trying to project their religious liabilities onto me. Yet Kyle accuses me of hypocrisy! I find that all ironic and highly offensive.
If creation were a valid possibility, you and your ilk wouldn't have to lie about it. Nor would you have to hide from people like myself and other critics, who offered you a chance to defend your claims of scientific validity. If you had that, I would have seen it by now, whether I wanted to or not. More importantly, if you had that, and chose to accept my challenge, everyone else would know that too.
It ain't over yet.