Reply to Critics in Nature Magazine

A Reply to Critics in Nature Magazine

Sir:

I hope you will permit me to reply to critics of my recent letter [1] and of the Oct. 11th seminar I organised in the European Parliament on teaching about evolution in Europe. U. Kutschera [2] gives a summary of the contents of the seminar without citing any contradictory evidence.  Gabriela Lorenc-Plucińska [3] says that she rejects my views, but gives no reasons except to say that “creationism is not science”. I never claimed it is.  Joanna Rutkowska [4] asserts that there is no evidence to support the arguments presented at our seminar, but she cites no evidence to support her assertion. She only says my claims are unsubstantiated.  Gerdien de Jong and Gert Korthof [5] dismiss our seminar solely on the grounds that there are no peer-reviewed papers supporting our point of view.  As evidence of the willingness of evolutionists to publish scientifically-valid papers critical of evolution they cite your willingness to publish my letter!  Sadly, they overlook the fact that discrimination against scientific authors critical of evolution theory is widespread and often vicious. Readers need only read the National Review article on the case of Dr. Rick Von Sternberg[6] of the Smithsonian Institution for a recent example.

Uwe Balthasar and Susannah Maidement [7] are the first of the published letter writers to cite any evidence against the arguments presented at our seminar.  Disappointingly, Dr. Balthasar writes that Hans Zillmer’s evidence for dinosaur and human coexistence was “presumably based on supposed human footprints found alongside those of dinosaurs in the Glen Rose Formation of Texas.”  It seems rather unscientific of Dr. Balthasar to presume knowledge of the evidence presented without making any effort to ascertain it for himself.  In fact, Zillmer presented a large body of archaeological (ancient drawings and sculptures of dinosaurs) and paleontological (human footprints in ancient strata)  evidence for the coexistence of dinosaurs and primates (see for example the paper of Simon Tavare [8]). He showed photos of living humans with sculls similar to Homo erectus or H. neanderthalensis.  He questioned dating techniques (e.g. see numerous records [9] of residual C-14 in material assigned more than 300,000 years).

Brian Charlesworth [10] and 34 others argue that my claim that microevolution entails a loss of genetic information is “nonsense.”  Races, whether produced in nature or by breeding work arise due to a) selection, natural or artificial, b) genetic drift, and c) isolation. Selection depends on rejecting some and leaving the select. No new genetic information is produced, yet much is abandoned. Genetic drift is the accidental loss of genetic information due to small size of the selected population. Isolation maintains the race. Without it mongrels result and the specificity of the race is lost. If following selection of races the original population no longer exists, the overall pool of genetic information for the species gets depleted. So where do you have increase in genetic information in race formation (microevolution)? You will find that in school textbooks the story about Bistona betularia, the moth that is whitish on clean birch bark and dark on soot covered bark, reigns. This is the main argument for evolution that the scientists care to feed to school children. For more details on this debate I refer interested readers to Dr. Lee Spetner [11] discussing of this point with Dr. Edward E. Max.

Charlesworth dismisses my statement that “No positive mutations have ever been demonstrated” with evidence for the existence of natural selection in nature, thus failing to make the crucial distinction between adaptations following recombination of genes from effects of mutations. The latter when on rare occasions are found to be useful defend existing functions against artificial chemicals (antibiotics, herbicides etc.) and do not create new ones. When the application of the chemical is discontinued the mutation is eliminated by natural selection. Thus these mutations are useless from the point of view of evolution. Perhaps someone can quote evidence for a positive mutation that supplies a new function. I would love to read about it. Mutations useful only to man (seedless oranges, dwarfs, flowers without some pigments) do not deserve the qualification as positive. Charlesworth asserts, but does not prove, that “the temporal ordering of rock layers by stratigraphy, and the extinction of dinosaurs some 65 million years before the existence of humans, are overwhelmingly established facts of geology and palaeontology.” But he does not acknowledge the fact that Guy Berthault’s experimental research calling into question the geologic time scale and the conventional interpretation of major rock formations such as the Tonto Group in the Grand Canyon has been published in peer-reviewed journals [12]. Instead of presenting evidence Charlesworth directs me to “any of the recent standard textbooks on the subject”. It is primarily the textbooks that I question. I object to feeding students with unproven ideas as facts.

Gary S. Hurd [13] dismisses as frauds some of the evidence presented by Hans Zillmer but without references and cites his internet articles refuting anti-evolutionary interpretations of Mary Schweitzer’s work on dinosaur tissue preservation.  Significantly, his own articles fail to provide any convincing explanation for Schweitzer’s findings in terms of an assumed extinction of all dinosaurs 65 million years ago. He dismisses reference to a major worldwide catastrophe as religious fundamentalism. How would he explain without a major catastrophe the presence of millions of suffocated mammoths with undigested plants in their alimentary canals in the permafrost of the whole of northern Siberia and Alaska?  Or the presence of human dwellings underneath the Black Sea and at similar levels East of the Caspian Sea?

 Jerzy Banbura [14] argues that the scientific illiteracy of the participants in the seminar is “self-evident” and repeats the argument that no peer reviewed papers support an anti-evolutionary point of view (see above). The fact that I sometimes participate in philosophical debates about evolutionism and its consequences is brought up as evidence disqualifying me as a scientist. I also have political and religious views which I do not hide, however I never include them in scientific debate. It is my opponents who cling to evolution as an untouchable revealed truth.

A pattern emerges here. Arguments from authority abound along with criticisms of anti-evolutionary interpretations of evidence as unscientific, but no convincing evidence is provided for the pillars of macro-evolutionary theory, such as abiogenesis, information-adding positive mutations, and the geologic time scale. 

Maciej Giertych
Institute of Dendrology
Polish Academy of Sciences
62-035 Kórnik, Poland

 


[1] Giertych M. Nature 444,by Maciej Giertych

[2] Kutschera U. Nature 444, 679; 2006

[3] Lorenc-Plucińska G. Nature 444, 679; 2006

[4] Rutkowska J. Nature 444, 679; 2006

[5] de Jong G. and Korthof G. Nature 444, 679; 2006

[6] http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/klinghoffer200508160826.asp

[7] Balthasar U. and Maidement S. Nature 444, 679-680; 2006

[8] Tavare S. Nature 416, 726-729; 2002

[9] http://www.grisda.org/origins/51006.htm

[10] Charlesworth B. and 34 others, Nature 444, 680; 2006

[11] http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner1.asp

[12] Berthault G. “Analysis of the Main Principles of Stratigraphy on the Basis of Experimental Data,” Journal of Lithology and Mineral Resources, Institute of Geology, Russian Academy of Sciences  37, 442-446; 2002.  See also www.geology.ref.ac/berthault

[13] Hurd G.S. Nature 444, 680; 2006  

[14] Jerzy Banbura J. Nature 444, 680; 2006

265; 2006