[From Chris Cherpas (2001.04.07.0900 PT)]
I tried to reply to Ferit Guleryuz's post on CSGNet by emailing
him directly, but it bounced (see message below). So, although
my comments may have little relevance to this list, I hope nobody
finds it a problem that I'm going to post the reply here...
This Message was undeliverable due to the following reason:
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Reason: relaying mail to GULERYUZ.COM is not allowed
Reading just a few pages from Yahya's web site
convinces me that many lines of reasoning refute his
The claim that evolution is based on materialism is a
"straw man" -- set up by Yahya because it diverts attention
from relevant arguments. The fact that evolution does not
make use of a theory of spirits and ghosts is hardly a basis
for its illegitimacy. We should ask, instead, if theism is defensible.
Yahya's argument is based on the assumption of the existence
of supernatural powers -- i.e., one or more gods. It is the obligation
of the theist to argue for the existence of God. The atheist has no
need to disprove the self-deceptive doctrine of theism any more
than s/he is obliged to disprove the existence of Santa Claus
or Zeus. See http://www.americanatheist.org for resources.
Yahya also wants to say that to be an evolutionist is to be a
communist, a guilt-by-association ploy. This is easily refuted
by reference to the volumes written (e.g., by Adam Smith)
that are consistent with evolution and are generally considered
antithetical to communism. Darwin was not a communist,
nor did he have an agenda to incite a communist revolution.
In any event, an evolutionist's political ideas are not logical
arguments against evolution. Until very recently, religion and
politics have been inseparable -- a fact that can easily lead us to
critically question the political interests of anyone who uses
theism to claim anything outside their presumed realm of spirits,
including the motivations of scientists. This game can be
played both ways (if it is to be played at all).
The claim that random events cannot produce order is
a false dilemma. We do not have to choose between
randomness and an all-knowing, all-powerful creator.
Evolution involves the CUMULATIVE process of
variation and differential reproduction. The process is
easily demonstrated with even simple computer programs
that operate over a relatively small range of variation and
a scope of relatively few generations. The writings of Richard
Dawkins (e.g., The Blind Watchmaker) make this argument
abundantly clear. It is the theist who believes that in a single
fantastically improbable act of creation, order arises out
of randomness. The evolutionist, by contrast, respects both
the variations and the stabilities observed in nature and
seeks to explain both.
Yahya's view that there is "incomprehensible order" in a
protein molecule is apparently uninformed by the field of
chemistry, that does comprehend far more about molecules than
all the dreams of Allah. No scientist believes that there is
no order in molecules -- protein or otherwise. Quantum
mechanics, which makes explicit use of probabilities,
does so in the interests of clarifying the order in nature,
not to perpetuate a philosophy of randomness, anarchy,
or any other philosophy presuming perfect knowledge
(as theism does).
Yahya's view is, in short, a dead end. Knowledge will
not cumulatively build on religious doctrine, which claims
to have absolute Truth, pre-packaged for instant and eternal
acceptance. There is no experimental research program
that can improve Yahya's knowledge base, because it is
already structured to remain static. By contrast, evolution
provides the most productive framework yet devised to
continue humanity's hard-won search for knowledge about
ourselves. Science is not only open to revision -- it builds
a bridge across the generations to allow each of us to question
and reason over ever-increasing stores of arguments,
counter-arguments, evidence, and opinion. Just as evolution
is a cumulative process, so is science. Science does not claim
absolute knowledge. It is not a political conspiracy. And
it allows us to make choices about what we believe -- an
option that Yahya's fundamentalist doctrine cannot risk.