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So You Think You Are a Darwinian?
Royal Institute of Philosophy ^ | 1994 | D. C. Stove

Posted on 02/08/2003 7:54:52 AM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode

Darwinism's Dilemma (part I: Cave Man)

Darwinism's Dilemma (part II: Hard Man)



So You Think You Are a Darwinian?

David Stove

 Most educated people nowadays, I believe, think of themselves as Darwinians. If they do, however, it can only be from ignorance: from not knowing enough about what Darwinism says. For Darwinism says many things, especially about our species, which are too obviously false to be believed by any educated person; or at least by an educated person who retains any capacity at all for critical thought on the subject of Darwinism.

Of course most educated people now are Darwinians, in the sense that they believe our species to have originated, not in a creative act of the Divine Will, but by evolution from other animals. But believing that proposition is not enough to make someone a Darwinian. It had been believed, as may be learnt from any history of biology, by very many people long before Darwinism, or Darwin, was born.

What is needed to make someone an adherent of a certain school of thought is belief in all or most of the propositions which are peculiar to that school, and are believed either by all of its adherents, or at least by the more thoroughgoing ones. In any large school of thought, there is always a minority who adhere more exclusively than most to the characteristic beliefs of the school: they are the "purists" or "ultras" of that school. What is needed and sufficient, then, to make a person a Darwinian, is belief in all or most of the propositions which are peculiar to Darwinians, and believed either by all of them, or at least by ultra-Darwinians.

I give below ten propositions which are all Darwinian beliefs in the sense just specified. Each of them is obviously false: either a direct falsity about our species or, where the proposition is a general one, obviously false in the case of our species, at least. Some of the ten propositions are quotations; all the others are paraphrases. The quotations are all from authors who are so well-known, at least in Darwinian circles, as spokesmen for Darwinism or ultra-Darwinism, that their names alone will be sufficient evidence that the proposition is a Darwinian one. Where the proposition is a paraphrase, I give quotations or other information which will, I think, suffice to establish its Darwinian credentials.

My ten propositions are nearly in reverse historical order. Thus, I start from the present day, and from the inferno-scene - like something by Hieronymus Bosch - which the "selfish gene" theory makes of all life. Then I go back a bit to some of the falsities which, beginning in the 1960s, were contributed to Darwinism by the theory of "inclusive fitness". And finally I get back to some of the falsities, more pedestrian though no less obvious, of the Darwinism of the 19th or early-20th century.

1. The truth is, "the total prostitution of all animal life, including Man and all his airs and graces, to the blind purposiveness of these minute virus-like substances", genes.

This is a thumbnail-sketch, and an accurate one, of the contents of The Selfish Gene (1976) by Richard Dawkins. It was not written by Dawkins, but he quoted it with manifest enthusiasm in a defence of The Selfish Gene which he wrote in this journal in 1981. Dawkins' status, as a widely admired spokesman for ultra-Darwinism, is too well-known to need evidence of it adduced here. His admirers even include some philosophers who have carried their airs and graces to the length of writing good books on such rarefied subjects as universals, or induction, or the mind. Dawkins can scarcely have gratified these admirers by telling them that, even when engaged in writing those books, they were totally prostituted to the blind purposiveness of their genes. Still, you have to hand it to genes which can write, even if only through their slaves, a good book on subjects like universals or induction. Those genes must have brains all right, as well as purposes. At least, they must, if genes can have brains and purposes. But in fact, of course, DNA molecules no more have such things than H20 molecules do.

2 "it is, after all, to [a mother's] advantage that her child should be adopted" by another woman.

This quotation is from Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, p. 110.

Obviously false though this proposition is, from the point of view of Darwinism it is well-founded, for the reason which Dawkins gives on the same page: that another woman?s adopting her baby "releases a rival female from the burden of child-rearing, and frees her to have another child more quickly." This, you will say, is a grotesque way of looking at human life; and so, of course, it is. But it is impossible to deny that it is the Darwinian way.

3. All communication is "manipulation of signal-receiver by signal-sender."

This profound communication, though it might easily have come from any used-car salesman reflecting on life, was actually sent by Dawkins, (in The Extended Phenotype, (1982), p. 57), to the readers whom he was at that point engaged in manipulating. Much as the devil, in many medieval plays, advises the audience not to take his advice.

4. Homosexuality in social animals is a form of sibling-altruism: that is, your homosexuality is a way of helping your brothers and sisters to raise more children.

This very-believable proposition is maintained by Robert Trivers in his book Social Evolution, (1985), pp. 198-9. Professor Trivers is a leading light among ultra-Darwinians, (who are nowadays usually called "sociobiologists"). Whether he also believes that suicide, for example, and self-castration, are forms of sibling-altruism, I do not know; but I do not see what there is to stop him. What is there to stop anyone believing such propositions? Only common sense: a thing entirely out of the question among sociobiologists.

5. In all social mammals, the altruism (or apparent altruism) of siblings towards one another is about as strong and common as the altruism (or apparent altruism) of parents towards their offspring.

This proposition is an immediate consequence, and an admitted one, of the theory of inclusive fitness, which says that the degree of altruism depends on the proportion of genes shared. This theory was first put forward by W. D. Hamilton in The Journal of Theoretical Biology in 1964. Since then it has been accepted by Darwinians almost as one man and has revolutionized evolutionary theory. This acceptance has made Professor Hamilton the most influential Darwinian author of the last thirty years.

6. "no one is prepared to sacrifice his life for any single person, but everyone will sacrifice it for more than two brothers [or offspring], or four half-brothers, or eight first-cousins."

This is a quotation from the epoch-making article by Professor Hamilton to which I referred a moment ago. The italics are not in the text. Nor are the two words which I have put in square brackets; but their insertion is certainly authorized by the theory of inclusive fitness.

7. Every organism has as many descendants as it can.

Compare Darwin, in The Origin of Species, p. 66: "every single organic being around us may be said to be striving to the utmost to increase in numbers"; and again, pp. 78-9, "each organic being is striving to increase at a geometrical ratio". These page references are to the first edition of the Origin, (1859), but both of the passages just quoted are repeated in all of the five later editions of the book which were published in Darwin's lifetime. He also says the same thing in other places.

But it would not have mattered if he had not happened to say in print such things as I have just quoted. For it was always obvious, to everyone who understood his theory, that a universal striving-to-the-utmost-to-increase is an essential part of that theory: in fact it is the very "motor" of evolution, according to the theory. It is the thing which, by creating pressure of population on the supply of food, is supposed to bring about the struggle for life among con-specifics, hence natural selection, and hence evolution. As is well known, and as Darwin himself stated, he had got the idea of population permanently pressing on food, because of the constant tendency to increase, from T. R. Malthus's Essay on Population (1798).

Still, that every organism has as many descendants as it can, while it is or may be true of most species of organisms, is obviously not true of ours. Do you know of even one human being who ever had as many descendants as he or she could have had? And yet Darwinism says that every single one of us does. For there can clearly be no question of Darwinism making an exception of man, without openly contradicting itself. "Every single organic being", or "each organic being": this means you.

8. In every species, child-mortality - that is, the proportion of live births which die before reproductive age - is extremely high.

Compare Darwin in the Origin, p. 61: "of the many individuals of any species which are periodically born, but a small number can survive"; or p. 5, "many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive". Again, these passages, from the first edition, are both repeated unchanged in all the later editions of the Origin.

Proposition 8 is not a peripheral or negotiable part of Darwinism. On the contrary it is, like proposition 7, a central part, and one which Darwinians are logically locked-into. For in order to explain evolution, Darwin had adopted (as I have said) Malthus's principle of population: that population always presses on the supply of food, and tends to increase beyond it. And this principle does require child-mortality to be extremely high in all species.

Because of the strength and universality of the sexual impulse, animals in general have an exuberant tendency to increase in numbers. This much is obvious, but what Malthus's principle says is something far more definite. It says that the tendency to increase is so strong that every population, of any species, is at all times already as large as its food-supply permits, or else is rapidly approaching that impassable limit. Which means of course that, (as Malthus once put it), the young are always born into "a world already possessed". In any average year, (assuming that the food-supply does not increase), there is simply not enough food to support any greater number of the newborn than is needed to replace the adults which die. But such is the strength of the tendency to increase that, in any average year, the number of births will greatly exceed the number of adult deaths. Which is to say, the great majority of those born must soon die.

Consider a schematic example. Suppose there is a population, with a constant food-supply, of 1000 human beings. Suppose - a very realistic supposition, in fact a conservative one - that 700 of them are of reproductive age. Suppose that this population is already "at equilibrium", (as Darwinians say): that is, is already as large as its food can support. According to Malthus's principle, people (or flies or fish or whatever) will reproduce if they can. So, since there are 350 females of reproductive age, there will be 350 births this year. But there is no food to support more of these than are needed to replace the adults who die this year; while the highest adult death-rate which we can suppose with any approximation to realism is about 10%. So 100 adults will die this year, but to fill their places, there are 350 applicants. That is, there will this year be a child-mortality of 250 out of 350, or more than 70%.

It was undoubtedly reasoning of this kind from Malthus's principle which led Darwin to believe that in every species ?but a small number? of those born can survive, or that "many more" are born than can survive. What did Darwin mean by these phrases, in percentage, or at least minimum-percentage, terms? Well, we have just seen that Malthus's principle, in a typical case, delivers a child-mortality of at least 70%. And no one, either in 1859 or now, would dream of calling 30 or more, surviving out of 100, "but a small number" surviving. It would be already stretching language violently, to call even 23 (say), surviving out of 100, "but a small number" surviving. To use this phrase of 30-or-more surviving, would be absolutely out of the question. So Darwin must have meant, by the statements I quoted above, that child-mortality in all species is more than 70%.

Which is obviously false in the case of our species. No doubt human child-mortality has often enough been as high as 70%, and often enough higher still. But I do not think that, at any rate within historical times, this can ever have been usual. For under a child-mortality of 70%, a woman would have to give birth 10 times, on the average, to get 3 of her children to puberty, and 30 times to get 9 of them there. Yet a woman's getting 9 of her children to puberty has never at any time been anything to write home about; whereas a woman who gives birth 30 times has always been a demographic prodigy. The absolute record is about 32 births. (I neglect multiple births, which make up only 1% of all births.) As for the last 100 years, in any advanced country, to suppose child-mortality 70% or anywhere near it, would be nothing but an outlandish joke.

It is important to remember that no one - not even Darwinians - knows anything at all about human demography, except what has been learnt in the last 350 years, principally concerning certain European countries or their colonies. A Darwinian may be tempted, indeed is sure to be tempted, to set all of this knowledge aside, as being of no "biological" validity, because it concerns only an "exceptional" time and place. But if we agreed to set all this knowledge aside, the only result would be that no one knew anything whatever about human demography. And Darwinians would then be no more entitled than anyone else to tell us what the "real", or the "natural", rate of human child-mortality is.

In any case, as I said earlier, Darwinians cannot without contradicting themselves make an exception of man, or of any particular part of human history. Their theory, like Malthus's principle, is one which generalizes about all species, and all places and times, indifferently; while man is a species, the last 350 years are times, and European countries are places. And Darwin's assertion, that child-mortality is extremely high, is quite explicitly universal. For he said (as we saw) that "of the many individuals of any species which are periodically born, but a small number can survive", and that "many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive". Again, this means us.

9. The more privileged people are the more prolific: if one class in a society is less exposed than another to the misery due to food-shortage, disease, and war, then the members of the more fortunate class will have (on the average) more children than the members of the other class.

That this proposition is false, or rather, is the exact reverse of the truth, is not just obvious. It is notorious, and even proverbial. Everyone knows that, as a popular song of the I 930s had it,

The rich get rich, and
The poor get children.

Not that the song is exactly right, because privilege does not quite always require superior wealth, and superior wealth does not quite always confer privilege. The rule should be stated, not in terms of wealth, but in terms of privilege, thus: that the more privileged class is the less prolific. To this rule, as far as I know, there is not a single exception.

And yet the exact inverse of it, proposition 9, is an inevitable consequence of Darwinism all right. Malthus had said that the main "checks" to human population are misery - principally due to "famine, war, and pestilence" - and vice: by which he meant contraception, foeticide, homosexuality, etc. But he also said that famine - that is, deficiency of food - usually outweighs all the other checks put together, and that population-size depends, near enough, only on the supply of food. Darwin agreed. He wrote (in The Descent of Man, second edition, 1874), that "the primary or fundamental check to the continued increase of man is the difficulty of gaining subsistence", and that if food were doubled in Britain, for example, population would quickly be doubled. But now, a more-privileged class always suffers less from deficiency of food than a less-privileged class does. Therefore, if food-supply is indeed the fundamental determinant of population-size, a more-privileged class would always be a more prolific one; just as proposition 9 says.

William Godwin, as early as 1820, pointed out that Malthus had managed to get the relationship between privilege and fertility exactly upside-down. In the 1860s and '70s W. R. Greg, Alfred Russel Wallace, and others, pointed out that Darwin, by depending on Malthus for his explanation of evolution, had saddled himself with Malthus's mistake about population and privilege. It is perfectly obvious that all these critics were right. But Darwin never took any notice of the criticism. Well, trying to get Darwin to respond to criticism was always exactly like punching a feather-mattress: "suddenly absolutely nothing happened".

The eugenics movement, which was founded a little later by Darwin's disciple and cousin Francis Galton, was an indirect admission that those critics were right. For what galvanized the eugenists into action was, of course, their realisation that the middle and upper classes in Britain were being out-reproduced by the lowest classes. Such a thing simply could not happen, obviously, if Darwin and Malthus, and proposition 9, had been right. But the eugenists never drew the obvious conclusion, that Darwin and Malthus were wrong, and consequently they never turned their indirect criticism into a direct one. Well, they were fervent Darwinians to the last man and woman, and could not bring themselves to say, or even think, that Darwinism is false.

A later Darwinian and eugenist, R. A. Fisher, discussed the relation between privilege and fertility at length, in his important book, The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection, (1930). But he can hardly be said to have made the falsity of proposition 9 any less of an embarrassment for Darwinism. Fisher acknowledges the fact that there has always been, in all civilized countries an inversion (as he calls it) of fertility-rates: that is, that the more privileged have always and everywhere been the less fertile. His explanation of this fact is that civilized countries have always practised what he calls "the social promotion of infertility". That is, people are enabled to succeed better in civilized life, the fewer children they have.

But this is evidently just a re-phrasing of the problem, rather than a solution of it. The question, for a Darwinian such as Fisher, is how there can be, consistently with Darwinism, such a thing as the social promotion of infertility? In every other species of organisms, after all, comparative infertility is a sure sign, or even the very criterion, of comparative failure. So how can there be if Darwinism is true, a species of organisms in which comparative infertility is a regular and nearly-necessary aid to success?

Fisher's constant description of the fertility-rates in civilized countries as "inverted", deserves a word to itself. It is a perfect example of an amazingly-arrogant habit of Darwinians, (of which I have collected many examples in my forthcoming book Darwinian Fairytales). This is the habit, when some biological fact inconsistent with Darwinism comes to light, of blaming the fact, instead of blaming their theory. Any such fact Darwinians call a "biological error" an "error of heredity", a "misfire", or some thing of that kind: as though the organism in question had gone wrong, when all that has actually happened, of course, is that Darwinism has gone wrong. When Fisher called the birth-rates in civilized countries "inverted", all he meant was that, exactly contrary to Darwinian theory, the more privileged people are the less fertile. From this fact, of course, the only rational conclusion to be drawn is, that Darwinism has got things upside-down. But instead of that Fisher, with typical Darwinian effrontery, concludes that civilised people have got things upside-down!

Fisher, who died in 1962, is nowadays the idol of ultra-Darwinians, and he deserves to be so: he was in fact a sociobiologist "born out of due time". And the old problem for Darwinism, to which he had at least given some publicity, even if he did nothing to solve it, remains to this day the central problem for sociobiologists. The problem (to put it vulgarly) of why "the rich and famous" are such pitiful reproducers as they are.

Of course this "problem" is no problem at all, for anyone except ultra-Darwinians. It is an entirely self-inflicted injury, and as such deserves no sympathy. Who, except an ultra-Darwinian, would expect the highly-privileged to be great breeders? No one; just as no one but an ultra-Darwinian would expect women to adopt-out their babies with maximum expedition. For ultra-Darwinians, on the other hand, the infertility of the privileged is a good deal more than a problem. It is a refutation.

But they react to it in accordance with a well-tried rule of present-day scientific research. The rule is: 'When your theory meets with a refutation, call it instead "a problem", and demand additional money in order to enable you to solve it.' Experience has shown that this rule is just the thing for keeping a "research program" afloat, even if it leaks like a sieve. Indeed, the more of these challenging "problems" you can mention, the more money you are plainly entitled to demand.

10. If variations which are useful to their possessors in the struggle for life "do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive), that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed."

This is from The Origin of Species, pp. 80-81. Exactly the same words occur in all the editions.

Since this passage expresses the essential idea of natural selection, no further evidence is needed to show that proposition 10 is a Darwinian one. But is it true? In particular, may we really feel sure that every attribute in the least degree injurious to its possessors would be rigidly destroyed by natural selection?

On the contrary, the proposition is (saving Darwin's reverence) ridiculous. Any educated person can easily think of a hundred characteristics, commonly occurring in our species, which are not only ?in the least degree? injurious to their possessors, but seriously or even extremely injurious to them, which have not been "rigidly destroyed", and concerning which there is not the smallest evidence that they are in the process of being destroyed. Here are ten such characteristics, without even going past the first letter of the alphabet. Abortion; adoption; fondness for alcohol; altruism; anal intercourse; respect for ancestors; susceptibility to aneurism; the love of animals; the importance attached to art; asceticism, whether sexual, dietary, or whatever.

Each of these characteristics tends, more or less strongly, to shorten our lives, or to lessen the number of children we have, or both. All of them are of extreme antiquity. Some of them are probably older than our species itself. Adoption, for example is practised by some species of chimpanzees: another adult female taking over the care of a baby whose mother has died. Why has not this ancient and gross "biological error" been rigidly destroyed?

"There has not been enough time", replies the Darwinian. Well, that could be so: perhaps there has not been enough time. And then again, perhaps there has been enough time: perhaps even twenty times over. How long does it take for natural selection to destroy an injurious attribute, such as adoption or fondness for alcohol? I have not the faintest idea, of course. I therefore have no positive ground whatever for believing either that there has been enough time for adoption to be destroyed, or that there has not. But then, on this matter, everyone else is in the same state of total ignorance as I am. So how come the Darwinian is so confident that there has not been enough time? What evidence can he point to, for thinking that there has not? Why, nothing but this, that adoption has not been destroyed, despite its being an injurious attribute! But this is palpably arguing in a circle, and taking for granted the very point which is in dispute. The Darwinian has no positive evidence whatever, that there has not been enough time.

Mercifully, Darwinians nowadays are much more reluctant than they formerly were, to rely heavily on the "not-enough-time" defence of their theory against critics. They have benefited from the strictures of philosophers, who have pointed out that it is not good scientific method, to defend Darwinism by a tactic which would always be equally available whatever the state of the evidence, and which will still be equally available to Darwinians a million years hence, if adoption (for example) is still practised then.

The cream of the jest, concerning proposition 10, is that Darwinians themselves do not really believe it. Ask a Darwinian whether he actually believes that the fondness for alcoholic drinks is being destroyed now, or that abortion is, or adoption - and watch his face. Well, of course he does not believe it! Why would he? There is not a particle of evidence in its favour, and there is a great mountain of evidence against it. Absolutely the only thing it has in its favour is that Darwinism says it must be so. But (as Descartes said in another connection) "this reasoning cannot be presented to infidels, who might consider that it proceeded in a circle".

What becomes, then, of the terrifying giant named Natural Selection, which can never sleep, can never fail to detect an attribute which is, even in the least degree, injurious to its possessors in the struggle for life, and can never fail to punish such an attribute with rigid destruction? Why, just that, like so much else in Darwinism, it is an obvious fairytale, at least as far as our species is concerned.

It would not be difficult to compile another list of ten obvious Darwinian falsities; or another one after that, either. But on that scale, the thing would be tiresome both to read and to write. Anyway it ought not to be necessary: ten obvious Darwinian falsities should be enough to make the point. The point, namely, that if most educated people now think they are Darwinians, it is only because they have no idea of the multiplied absurdities which belief in Darwinism requires.

 



TOPICS: Chit/Chat
KEYWORDS: crevolist
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To: TightSqueeze
At least you are honest enough to admit you are proud of being dishonest for the cause.-me-

It is all relative my boy, someday you will learn that dishonesty is in the ear of the receiver. Honesty is wasted on people like you

Well, that's another quality of evolutionists (besides dishonesty) to say and do no matter how foul or dishonest to promote your agenda. Thanks for showing the lack of character in those who support evolution.

151 posted on 02/11/2003 4:31:51 AM PST by gore3000
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To: tortoise
There are some 300 amino acids in a medium sized gene. At each position there are 22 posible values.-me-

Errrrmmm... This doesn't really follow, chemistry-wise. You might want to revise your math.

Of course it does. In case you had not heard the 'stop' codon can sometimes code for two other amino acids. The impossibility of evolution has been shown abundantly by modern science.

152 posted on 02/11/2003 4:34:26 AM PST by gore3000
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To: tortoise
That said, no one (least of all ID folk) has been able to attack the fundamentals of evolution hypothesis, primarily because everyone accepts that the necessary premises exist (selection and variation).

Of course they have. First of all selection is a destructive force. Selection kills, it does not create new organisms. Selection thins out the gene pool, it does not create new variations. So right there the whole basic argument of evolution is false. Yes there is variation in species, but that does not prove the source of it in any way. In fact the variations are so great between species that they cannot be accounted for by evolution. Organisms are very much integrated and chance mutations cannot account for such integration. Worst of all though, we do not see, have not seen any species in the process of transforming themselves into new more complex species. If evolution were true we would indeed be seeing many species in the process of transforming themselves into new ones at present, we do not see that anywhere. In other words, there is absolutely no evidence to back up the hypothesis of evolution.

153 posted on 02/11/2003 4:43:02 AM PST by gore3000
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To: tortoise
You are arguing that intelligent design of a program proves random chance. Can't you see the absurdity of what you are saying?-me-

Evidence for, not proof. That said, he was using the correct mathematical definition of "program".

Semantics and more nonsense. You are admitting that it takes a program to make something that works like an organism. Have you seen a program ever write itself? Programs are the product of intelligent design and that evolutionists have been forced to admit that organisms are programmed shows quite well that the theory of evolution has already been disproven.

154 posted on 02/11/2003 4:48:10 AM PST by gore3000
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode
Surely, if I tell you that I have proven there is no sumo wrestler in my bedroom, you will understand me without going off into the weeds about mathematical proofs and deductive proofs, no?

You need to realize that evolutionists allways fall back on semantics when they are shown that their theory has no scientific evidence to back it up.

155 posted on 02/11/2003 4:51:03 AM PST by gore3000
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To: gore3000
Thanks for showing the lack of character...

Please excuse my lack of character, it is an evolutionary thingy, Darwin isn't through with me yet! He-he, Ho-ho!

156 posted on 02/11/2003 6:20:20 AM PST by TightSqueeze (From the Department of Homeland Security, sponsors of Liberty-Lite, Less Freedom! / Red Tape!)
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To: and the horse you rode in on
>>In todays's context, as the article stated, Darwinism means a belief than man descended from animals without divine intervention, and that is believed by most educated people.<<

No, it's not. Maybe just those in your circles.

Of course, last week I heard a guy who said that everyone he knows is against war in Iraq. I guess it all depends on who you run around with.
157 posted on 02/11/2003 6:35:02 AM PST by RobRoy
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To: and the horse you rode in on
>>No one can first tell me what I believe and then tell me I am wrong. They must ask me what I believe and then try to convince me that is wrong.<<

I didn't see your name in the article anywhere.
158 posted on 02/11/2003 6:35:49 AM PST by RobRoy
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To: balrog666
Who pays these guys to spread their propaganda?
159 posted on 02/11/2003 6:36:28 AM PST by cinFLA
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To: cinFLA
>>Who pays these guys to spread their propaganda? <<

On both sides...
160 posted on 02/11/2003 7:21:08 AM PST by RobRoy
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To: RobRoy
On both sides...

One side has the truth, the other propaganda.

161 posted on 02/11/2003 7:33:32 AM PST by cinFLA
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To: gore3000
In other words, there is absolutely no evidence to back up the hypothesis of evolution.

Why do these propagandists keep coming back here and recycling their false propaganda?

162 posted on 02/11/2003 7:35:14 AM PST by cinFLA
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To: gore3000; tortoise; js1138
I’m sure both sides of the evolution debate tire from having to argue the same points de novo each time a new thread is posted. The discussion you are having with tortoise and js1138 is a case in point.

On this very long thread we exhausted thousands of posts exploring information theory and molecular biology. The emphasis was autonomy and self-organizing complexity. Somewhere along the way I offered the hypothesis that algorithm at inception is proof of intelligence design and provided several methods of falsification. The debate on that thread is particularly informative because of contributions of many Freeper experts and thinkers. There is a lot of useful information to be “had” – but it cannot be realistically copied into this thread.

I don’t wish to argue the case again here, but I do suggest anyone interested in the particulars of the debate might want to click on the above link.

163 posted on 02/11/2003 7:58:45 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: gore3000
You've proven yourself time and again incapable of understanding the theory of evolution (even positing your own, strawman, version). You've also shown you have a shaky grasp of astronomy ("wildly-elliptical orbits") and geometry ("a circle is not an ellipse"). Your grasp of basic science is woefully inadequate -- otherwise you wouldn't bandy about the word "proof" the way you do. To top it off, you cannot grasp the difference between theories and laws. You are, basically, an embarrasment to the creos and anyone reading your posts who has the least bit of scientific education can see this.
164 posted on 02/11/2003 9:06:54 AM PST by Junior (I stole your tag line)
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To: Alamo-Girl
I’m sure both sides of the evolution debate tire from having to argue the same points de novo each time a new thread is posted.

Indeed. It was for that very reason that I prepared my much-reviled "List-o-Links," so that we could begin each new thread with some references to an ever-growing backlog of previously-discussed material. But the creo side kept complaining to the mods, so I gave it up. I understand their gripe. It's much better for their side if each new thread starts with an empty slate. That way they can repeat the same often-refuted material over and over.

165 posted on 02/11/2003 9:07:31 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas)
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To: PatrickHenry
Thank you for your post!

You and I have tried to come up with a method to summarize but we couldn't find one. So, it appears de novo arguments and on-subject linking is all we can offer at the moment. Sigh...

166 posted on 02/11/2003 9:20:35 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Junior
Evolution is a choking vine on the tree of life // science // society . . . only the monkeys like = = = play in it !
167 posted on 02/11/2003 10:39:43 AM PST by f.Christian (( Orcs of the world : : : Take note and beware. ))
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode
How would any of this not apply to those who merely accept "micro-evolution?"
168 posted on 02/11/2003 11:13:13 AM PST by MattAMiller
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode
You don't understand because you still don't understand what falsification has to do with science.
169 posted on 02/11/2003 3:53:50 PM PST by I got the rope
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To: gore3000
I'm very open to discussion as long as you are. Present your evidence and I'll present mine. Just because we have not figured out the mechanism for evolution to occur does not mean that there is no evidence for evolution. Unlike you I have no problem believing evolution because I think God set it into to motion that way. Do you think he was trying to trick us...or just giving us an appreciation for the fragileness of earth in all it's diversity.
170 posted on 02/11/2003 4:01:17 PM PST by I got the rope
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To: f.Christian
Is that you Maya Angelou?
171 posted on 02/11/2003 4:04:11 PM PST by I got the rope
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To: cinFLA
>>One side has the truth, the other propaganda. <<

I would agree, except I have to say that I have seen TONS of propaganda on both sides. I have been studying this issue from both sides of the fence since 1986 and off and on before that. I did pick a side after a great deal of investigation of claims and the veracity of same.

I became a creationist that believes in micro evolution.

172 posted on 02/11/2003 4:13:52 PM PST by RobRoy (So, what is the truth?)
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode
>>What's your beef with the word "proof"? It's a perfectly good word. There's nothing wrong with it. There's no reason to avoid it like leprosy.<<

Prove to me that your house was designed and didn't evolve.
173 posted on 02/11/2003 4:16:07 PM PST by RobRoy (So, what is the truth?)
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To: I got the rope
You don't understand

Tell me, has it been proven yet that manned airplanes can fly faster than sound? I have no Popperian angst concerning the proposition "The Bell X-1 proved that manned airplanes can fly faster than sound." Do you?

174 posted on 02/11/2003 5:49:21 PM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode
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To: cinFLA
n other words, there is absolutely no evidence to back up the hypothesis of evolution.-me-

Why do these propagandists keep coming back here and recycling their false propaganda?

For the same reason that all tyrants repeat lies on and on ad infinitum - in the belief that repetion will make their lies true.

175 posted on 02/11/2003 7:14:20 PM PST by gore3000
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To: Junior
You've proven yourself time and again incapable of understanding the theory of evolution (even positing your own, strawman, version).

Have you no shame? You call my posting of Darwin's definition of evolution my own strawman version? How disonest can you be??????

Here it is again, the definition of evolution as Darwin said it. Posted here because the evolutionists are too dishonest to even state what their theory is and constantly attack those who oppose it by saying 'that is not evolution'. It is the evolutionists who do not wish to be 'tied down' to a specific description because that way they can dance and shuffle their way out by saying 'that is not evolution, you are ignorant' (without ever saying what the theory is of course):

"It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse;. a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows."
From: Charles Darwin, "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life"


176 posted on 02/11/2003 7:22:35 PM PST by gore3000
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To: Alamo-Girl
I offered the hypothesis that algorithm at inception is proof of intelligence design and provided several methods of falsification.

Thanks for posting the link to the thread, it should be read by those interested in the problem of information theory. It also has lots of links for even more information.

I think the question of algorithm at inception is pretty much of a closed book by now. Since all living things known to man have DNA and that DNA symbolic code is translated completely arbitrarily into amino acids by RNA, it is impossible to say that there was no algorithm at the inception of life. Unless materialists can show that rocks, carbon and other inert matter started a school to teach RNA how to read the code, a materialist origin for life is utter nonsense.

However, the question here goes further. The materialists are tyring to work backwards as one could say. They are trying to prove by saying that life can arrange itself intelligently to save the theory of evolution now that it is obvious that the complexity of organisms require intelligent programming to change it and make those changes work. The evolutionists have no evidence for such a thing of course. It is also an obvious fact that until recently not even man could genetically change itself - whether he wished to or not. So to say that species have been intelligently modifying themselves since the beginning of life is to me totally absurd and without any validity.

177 posted on 02/11/2003 7:34:38 PM PST by gore3000
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To: gore3000
Another evolutionist which is ashamed of the founder of the theory! Wow, you guys are really losing.

At least we have a name for the founder which is a lot more than one can say for the Creationists. Your founder was some bronze age story teller. LOL

178 posted on 02/11/2003 8:11:30 PM PST by Jeff Gordon
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To: gore3000
Thank you so much for your post!

I suspect you are speaking about autonomy and self-organizing complexity.

It is possible to write a program (and presumably a genetic code) which self-organizes and creates more code. But it is not as simple as it sounds and even then, there's the enormous problem of original algorithm at inception that could give rise to such a thing. For lurkers, I recommend these links:

The Physics of Symbols: Bridging the Epistemic Cut

Syntactic Autonomy: Or Why There is no Autonomy Without Symbols and how Self-Organizing Systems Systems Might Evolve Them


179 posted on 02/11/2003 8:55:17 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: general_re; I got the rope; gore3000; RobRoy; CyberCowboy777
LOL - you really are a Stove fan, aren't you? Go ahead, post his critique of Popper - blowing holes in that one ought to be fun, too ;)

Here's something for you.

http://www.maths.unsw.edu.au/~jim/stovehelp.html

Neutralizing success words, after the manner of the best authorities

(From David Stove, Popper and After, chapter 1)

How to rewrite the sentence: Cook discovered Cook Strait.

 

Lakatos:
Cook `discovered' Cook Strait.

 

Popper:
Among an infinity of equally impossible alternatives, one hypothesis which has been especially fruitful in suggesting problems for further research and critical discussion is the conjecture (first `confirmed' by the work of Cook) that a strait separates northern from southern New Zealand.

 

Kuhn:
It would of course be a gross anachronism to call the flat-earth paradigm in geography mistaken. It is simply incommensurable with later paradigms: as is evident from the fact that, for example, problems of antipodean geography could not even be posed under it. Under the Magellanic paradigm, however, one of the problems posed, and solved in the negative, was that of whether New Zealand is a single land mass. That this problem was solved by Cook is, however, a vulgar error of whig historians, utterly discredited by recent historiography. Discovery of the Strait would have been impossible, or at least would not have been science, but for the presence of the Royal Society on board, in the person of Sir Joseph Banks. Much more research by my graduate students into the current sociology of the geographical profession will be needed, however, before it will be known whether, under present paradigms, the problem of the existence of Cook Strait remains solved, or has become unsolved again, or an un-problem.

 

Feyerabend:
Long before the constipated and boneheaded Cook, whose knowledge of the optics of his telescopes was minimal, rationally imposed, by means of tricks, jokes, and non-sequiturs, the myth of Cook Strait on the `educated' world, Maori scientists not only `knew' of the existence of the Strait but often crossed it by turning themselves into birds. Now, however, not only this ability but the very knowledge of the `existence' of the Strait has been lost forever. This is owing to the malignant influence exercised on education by authoritarian scientists and philosophers, especially the LSE critical rationalists, who have not accepted my criticisms and should be sacked. "No doubt this financial criticism of ideas will be more effective than [...] intellectual criticism and it should be used". (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. LVIII, 1978, p. 144).

180 posted on 02/11/2003 9:09:47 PM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode
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To: gore3000
For the same reason that all tyrants repeat lies on and on ad infinitum - in the belief that repetion will make their lies true.

Thanks. I am glad you are helping me alert everyone to the propaganda of the druggists.

181 posted on 02/11/2003 10:32:37 PM PST by cinFLA
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To: gore3000
The difference between a creationist and an "evolutionist". The evolutionist is always looking for truth and the meaning of life. The creationist knows all and is similar to the three monkies; only if they would "speak no evil".
182 posted on 02/11/2003 10:38:17 PM PST by cinFLA
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To: gore3000
Let's see. If we all started from one set of genes (Adam's) how in the heck did we get where we are now?
183 posted on 02/11/2003 10:39:42 PM PST by cinFLA
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To: gore3000
What's Darwin's definition got to do with the modern theory of evolution? You see, this shows your complete ignorance of science. You seem to think science is caught 150 years in the past, whereas in reality the science of evolution has moved beyond that period. Evolution is now defined as the change in allele frequency over time. The mechanics of evolution are still debated, but the fact of evolution is not. Of course, you being mired in the past cannot see that. But, the lurkers and those who actually understand science can.
184 posted on 02/12/2003 5:44:10 AM PST by Junior (The New World Order stole your tag line)
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode
Not exactly the most rigorous critique one might hope for. Please tell me there's more to it that that. If not, I take it back - don't bother posting any more...
185 posted on 02/12/2003 5:46:47 AM PST by general_re (APOLOGIZE, v.i.: To lay the foundation for a future offence.)
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To: Junior; gore3000
Evolution is now defined as the change in allele frequency over time.

Not by these two evolutionists:

"I pointed out more than a decade ago (1977) that `the reductionist explanation, so widely adopted in recent decades - Evolution is a change in gene frequencies in populations - is not only not explanatory, but is in fact misleading. Far more revealing is the definition: `Evolution is change in the adaptation and in the diversity of populations of organisms.'" [Mayr, Toward a New Philosophy of Biology, 1988]

"Evolution is a process which has produced life from non-life, which has brought forth man from an animal, and which may conceivably continue doing remarkable things in the future. In giving rise to man, the evolutionary process has, apparently for the first and only time in the history of the Cosmos, become conscious of itself. ... Evolution comprises all the stages of the development of the universe: the cosmic, biological, and human or cultural developments. Attempts to restrict the concept of evolution to biology are gratuitous. Life is a product of the evolution of inorganic nature, and man is a product of the evolution of life." [Dobzhansky, Changing Man, 1967]


186 posted on 02/12/2003 7:19:32 AM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode
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To: general_re
Please tell me there's more to it that that.

Are you too lazy to follow the link?

187 posted on 02/12/2003 7:24:54 AM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode
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To: Alamo-Girl
I don't think my post from Scientific American was a repeat. I know there was a short-lived thread devoted to the concept, but apparently it wasn't worthy of a thread of it's own.

One of the key issues in these debates has been whether random events plus selection can produce something new. I concede that the computer program under discussion does not model biological evolution. I granted this up front. The issue is whether the process of selection can build new things without specifying their structure.

Regardless of the long term utility of this programming "trick", it has demonstrated once and for all that design can occur in the absence of preconceived ideas about structure. Only the behavioral outcome needs to be specified. It is critical to point out that the circuit being patented could not have been designed by the programmers, because they still don't understand how it works.

It is really quite amazing that so little attention is being paid to this.

188 posted on 02/12/2003 7:25:39 AM PST by js1138
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode
Number one, any web search on these quotes only brings up creationist sites, so they're suspect to begin with. Secondly, evolution does not deal with the "process which has produced life from non-life." That is a creationis canard, which makes the quotes doubly suspect.
189 posted on 02/12/2003 7:25:44 AM PST by Junior (The New World Order stole your tag line)
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode
I presume you chose that point because you felt it was one of the strongest. If, on the other hand, you're the sort of person who has a habit of putting his weakest foot forward...then I don't know quite what to tell you...
190 posted on 02/12/2003 7:36:55 AM PST by general_re (APOLOGIZE, v.i.: To lay the foundation for a future offence.)
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To: Junior
Number one, any web search on these quotes only brings up creationist sites, so they're suspect to begin with.

You can find them here. Defining Evolution, John Wilkins

191 posted on 02/12/2003 7:41:28 AM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode
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To: general_re
I don't know quite what to tell you...

You could tell me that you're going to quit waffling and follow the link. But apparently you're too lazy for that. I guess a few vigorous mouse-clicks would exhaust you.

192 posted on 02/12/2003 8:10:43 AM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode
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To: js1138
The SA article was interesting but not very informative. Injection of random choices into computation is good way of exploring regions of interest (in the space covered by the computation) that would not be obvious. (This gives me an idea about how to do this much better.)

Random proposes, selection disposes.
193 posted on 02/12/2003 8:14:10 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode
Then you must've missed this one:

"… evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next. (Curtis and Barnes 1989, p974)"

194 posted on 02/12/2003 8:31:26 AM PST by Junior (The New World Order stole your tag line)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
I am not claiming this is the be-all, end-all of computing. It does demonstrate that selection can build things in unanticipated ways. You could, of course, argue that the "things" were already there, like the statue in the stone.

But isn't that a given? Or how do you determine that something is really new is everything is "in the space covered by the computation"?

It seems to me that in traditional computational algorithms, you follow a predictable, repeatable set of rules, and assume that the rules guarantee the correctness of the result.

In genetic programming, the transformational rules are irrelevant (more on this). Only the fitness function matters. (The rules for making attempts do matter, but only to the extent that they speed up the process. Can anyone say for certain that the rules for biochemistry aren't also rigged? I'm pretty sure that evolutionists are concerned with process, not with how the rules originated.)

195 posted on 02/12/2003 8:57:39 AM PST by js1138
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To: balrog666
Okay

The theory of a non-flat earth has been proven to be fact.

Good Science takes theory to fact. If you can't do that then you are only a theorist and as we all know a theory can last for hundreds of years and still be wrong.

I am always amazed with how much we know and more importantly how much we do not know.

Arrogance will be the downfall of the Macro-Evolution theory. The theorist refuse to admit all the wrong hypotheses and thus never really move beyond the failed foundation as laid by Darwin.
196 posted on 02/12/2003 9:20:07 AM PST by CyberCowboy777 (Extremism in the Pursuit of Liberty is no Vice!)
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To: tortoise
It is mathematically possible for the Egyptians from 500 BC to have traveled to the "new world".

That proves nothing, nor does the fantasy better mankind.

I have seen enough biological, circumstantial and mathematical counter theories and facts to know not to buy into a theory that has not provided proof of species change, the heart of the theory.

I can also see the negative effect the theory has cause, intentional or not, to societies, ideologies and science.

Lastly - no observation, no recreation - no fact.

If the veil of arrogance could be torn from the rod we might get some real science done.
197 posted on 02/12/2003 9:34:16 AM PST by CyberCowboy777 (Extremism in the Pursuit of Liberty is no Vice!)
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To: Junior
"… evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next. (Curtis and Barnes 1989, p974)"
"I pointed out more than a decade ago (1977) that the reductionist explanation, so widely adopted in recent decades - Evolution is a change in gene frequencies in populations - is not only not explanatory, but is in fact misleading. Far more revealing is the definition: 'Evolution is change in the adaptation and in the diversity of populations of organisms.'" [Mayr, Toward a New Philosophy of Biology, 1988]

198 posted on 02/12/2003 9:35:12 AM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode
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To: js1138
Right.

Of course, predictable at each step don't guarantee that the whole computation is predictable.
199 posted on 02/12/2003 9:42:25 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode

Since the quote I pulled is dated 1989, and the one you pulled is dated 1988, one could make the point that your quote is outdated in light of new evidence.

However, we can also pull the working definition of the theory of evolution straight off The Ultimate Creation vs. Evolution Resource.  It only goes back to 2001:

Working Theory of Evolution (contributed by Physicist)

At some finite time in the past, life began somehow. (How it began is beyond the scope of the theory, but the observational evidence strongly suggests that only one such beginning on Earth has left descendants to the present day.) As life reproduces and multiplies, mutations occur with small but finite probabilities, causing new genes to be added, and creating new alleles of existing genes. The different alleles confer different traits upon their owners, rendering them more or less successful in coping with their environments. The organisms that are more successful in coping with their environments consequently have a slightly greater probability of passing their genes to the next generation of organisms than do the less successful organisms. This causes allele frequencies to change over time.

Because mutations are random according to their probabilities, there is essentially a zero probability that two non-interbreeding populations will get the same set of mutations. (Even if they somehow do, there is essentially a zero probability that the frequencies of the alleles will end up the same in both populations.) The alleles and new genes available in each population will therefore diverge, with the result that the populations become genetically more distant from each other over time. Eventually, the two populations will become genetically so distant that they lose the ability to produce viable hybrids between them. This is the cause of the origin of species.


200 posted on 02/12/2003 9:42:36 AM PST by Junior (The New World Order stole your tag line)
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