Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Disingenuous Argument

In Steve Mirsky's article An Immodest Proposal in the Opinion section of the June 2009 Scientific American (p. 37), Mirsky quotes from Jonathan Wells' article Darwin's Straw God Argument on the Discovery Institute web site (http://www.discovery.org/a/8101) without the courtesy of naming the article and with the discourtesy of insulting the name of the web site. The quote:

Darwinism depends on the splitting of one species into two, which then diverge and split and diverge and split, over and over again, to produce the branching-tree pattern required by Darwin’s theory. And this sort of speciation has never been observed.

Then, apparently pretending to be ignorant of the fact that most creationists, and Wells in particular, make a distinction between macroevolution and microevolution, Mirsky goes on to waste an entire page of ink to propose that the breeding of dogs is proof that the sort of speciation that created all of the species has indeed been observed.

The first part of Wells' paragraph from which Mirsky quotes reads:

The best way to find “evolution’s smoking gun” would be to observe speciation in action. There actually are some confirmed cases of observed speciation in plants -- all of them due to an increase in the number of chromosomes, or “polyploidy.” But observed cases of speciation by polyploidy are limited to flowering plants, and polyploidy does not produce the major changes required for Darwinian evolution.

Later in Wells' article, he writes:

So although Darwinists believe that all species have descended from a common ancestor through variation and selection, they cannot point to a single observed instance in which even one species has originated in this way. Evolution's smoking gun is still missing, and Dobzhansky’s working assumption that macroevolution equals microevolution remains nothing more than an assumption.

So it is obvious that Wells makes a distinction between macroevolution and microevolution. For the sake of readers not familiar with these terms, I will briefly explain: Microevolution refers to the small genetic changes as observed within the various 'kinds' of life. Macroevolution assumes that larger genetic changes or an accumulation of small genetic changes has produced all the species from a common ancestor. Microevolution postulates many genetic trees, and macroevolution postulates one tree. In both cases, the details of the tree branching are only estimates, and for microevolution the division of 'kinds' is also estimated.

Microevolution, creationists admit, has been observed. (So has the continual breaking of world records. But does that even suggest, let alone prove, that one day athletes will jump across the Hudson River from Nyack to Tarrytown?)

So Mirsky's disingenuous proposal does not disprove Wells' statement. His line of argument needs an observation that breeding of dogs has produced cats or lizards or anything other than more dogs.