Darwinian dissent

November 28, 1997

Darwinian evolution is easy to understand but difficult to accept, since mere mortals are as intimately bound by the same basic processes to secure survival as everything else and most inevitably view their world within the space/time frames of common experience.

That Phillip E. Johnson (THES, November 21) is unimpressed by the examples of microevolution he has come across indicates that he has failed to appreciate the immensity of time available for such tiny changes to accumulate into the macro, that the microevolutionary changes recorded are by no means cyclical, and that the species involved are anything but stable. What of the army of pest species now resistant (via accumulated genetic modification over generations) to a plethora of chemical pesticides?

More difficult to comprehend is his dismissal of all those "intelligent people" who accept the mechanisms of evolution when "it (evolution) is so clearly at war with the evidence". It is inadequate simply to label them as wrong, naive, misled, anti-God, or fearful of alternative explanation. In any case, there is a mass of evidence - how much is needed? Furthermore, complex issues ought to be debated fully and widely, but debate should be informed. Evolution is not the province only of those who toil over fossils or those who speculate over the subtleties of natural selection, but such contributors should not be considered lightly, selectively or not at all by the champions of alternatives.

Graham Walters

Department of biological and applied sciences University of North London

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