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Letter received

My response

Your page on the design of the eye (
evo/evoeye.htm) contains a quote from Darwin (I've left out the middle):

"To suppose that the eye, ....... absurd in the highest degree."

Shame on you for taking quotes out of context to support your view. Is this your idea of a balanced, accurate presentation?

If quotes are important to you, how about this one from Stephen J. Gould ("Common Pathways of Illumination," Natural History, Dec 1994, p. 10):

"Anti-evolutionists continually cite this passage [the sentence YOU quote] as supposed evidence that Darwin himself threw in the towel when faced with truly difficult and inherently implausible cases. But if they would only read the very next sentence[s], they would grasp Darwin's real reason for speaking of absurdity 'in the highest possible degree.' (Either they have read these following lines and have consciously suppressed them, an indictment of dishonesty; or they have never read them and have merely copied the half quotation from another source, a proof of inexcusable sloppiness). Darwin set up the overt 'absurdity' to display the power of natural selection in resolving even the most difficult cases -- the ones that initially strike us as intractable in principle."

So, which are you, dishonest or sloppy?

For more info on eye evolution see Kenneth Miller's article on eye evolution, "Life's Grand Design" (Technology Review, v. 97, no. 2, Feb/Mar 1994, pp. 24-32)."

Thanks for your input on my site. My intent isn't to be sloppy or dishonest but rather to challenge people to think for themselves and to search on both sides of this important issue.

In response to your comments, I've added the following text to my site immediately following the quote from Darwin:

"Now, in the following paragraphs, Darwin postulates how the eye might have evolved through numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect. But is this the most likely or reasonable explanation?"

It's a small change, but I hope it gives the sense of fairness that you seek, while keeping it simple and challenging to the reader. As you probably sensed if you looked at much of my site, I've tried to address each topic in an easy-to-digest, graphical, non-technical approach. This generally allows me only to go into enough detail to challenge one's own observations and interpretations. While I don't want to go into lots of detail, I do want the site to be accurate and truthful and have responded to input such as yours on a number of occasions by making changes to the site, even if they don't reflect my personal beliefs or best support the point I was trying to make. I thank you for taking the time to write and challenge me, as those who write with such specific feedback help to make the site better.

It's ironic that you would quote Gould to me in making a point about accuracy and balance, as I find him to be one of the most biased there is on this subject. As an example, in a recent (August 23) article in Time evolution, Gould states,

"Evolution is as well documented as any phenomenon in science, as strongly as the earth's revolution around the sun rather than visa versa. In this sense, we can call evolution a "fact." (Science does not deal in certainty, so "fact" can only mean a proposition affirmed to such a high degree that it would be perverse to withhold one's provisional assent.)"


If what he say is TRUE, why do we see so much controversy and disbelief regarding evolution, even among scientists*, but find no Time articles, no books, no web sites, etc., about whether or not the Sun revolves around the Earth? And then he labels anyone who disagrees with his interpretation as perverse.

In the quote you provided, Gould similarly asserts that anyone who doesn't agree with HIS interpretation is sloppy or dishonest. He seems to turn to self-righteousness and name-calling when his logic falls short, which to me offers no basis to assume that anyone who holds a different opinion than Gould is, by necessity, guilty of any of the labels he would try to attach to them. Certainly, in the quote your referenced, the labels he uses aren't the only two logical possibilities, and to suggest so is perhaps sloppy or dishonest in itself. In my reading of "The Origin of Species" I never once thought that anyone would interpret the quote I used to mean that Darwin "threw in the towel" on this issue, as Gould presumes. To me it just provides a great insight into the giant leap of faith that we make in entrusting all that we see to natural selection and how improbable it seems that all the complexities required for the eye, and for life, could have evolved on their own in small steps. Isn't it odd that Gould quotes Darwin's foundation on gradual evolution while his entire claim to fame is based on punctuated equilibrium, which denies that gradualism occurred? Can Gould have it both ways? Is he being consistent or is he being sloppy or dishonest himself?

A question for you: Did you find ANYTHING in my site that provides a basis in logic and observable evidence to consider intelligent design or Divine Creation a reasonable possibility? If so, why is that information or viewpoint never presented in science classes or publications? Is the scientific and academic community giving the "balanced, accurate presentation," that you seek? Or, in applying the same standard that you applied to my presentation of the information, would you find our current teaching sloppy or dishonest?

I do appreciate your efforts to insist on accuracy and balance, and I hope that you are holding both sides accountable to the same standard of a balanced and accurate presentation. Maybe you could write to Gould as well!

I'm genuinely interested to know your thoughts on the questions I asked above. Thanks again for writing. Keep searching and pressing for the truth. We'll all benefit in the long run.

Best regards,



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