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Why Joe Schmoe Doesn’t Buy Evolution

Most of the American population do not buy conventional evolutionary theory. Yet many evolutionists regard it as a sign of stupidity when someone doesn’t buy their theory. What follows is a beautiful example of why a reflective layperson, when confronted with the inflated claims of evolutionists, is unlikely to be persuaded. The layperson in this case was an engineer and friend of mine whose son was being encouraged to drop his reservations about evolution:

In the school year beginning in the fall of 1996, my son [hereafter AW], at that time a Sophomore in High School, attended a course in Oceanography at Orange Coast College. (Being home-schooled, it was to AW’s advantage to take some of his High School classes at the local community college in order to qualify for admission to a University later on.) AW was doing so well in his studies that we thought it would work for him to take this class, even though he was so young. He only took the lecture course, not the lab. We thought he should do that in his Junior year. As it turned-out, he earned the 3rd highest score in a class of about 300 students, which, combined with his young age, attracted the keen interest of Dr. G.

Dr. G is a well known professor of oceanography, having authored a commonly-used text book on the subject. He is always on the lookout for promising young students, hoping to steer them in the direction of a career in the field of Marine Science.

In the summer of 1997, Dr. G invited AW to join the Honors Lab students in a field trip to the Scripps Institute for a “behind the scenes” tour of the research facility there. Because he was a home-schooled student, Dr. G invited my wife NW, and I [hereafter DW] to join them as well, and we did.

The Scripps marine institute in La Jolla, CA is a research facility engaged in the study of Oceanography and marine history. They collect and examine core samples from the ocean floor, as well as a number of other projects. One of their labs, run by Dr. Michael Latz, is involved in the study of bioluminescence. Dr. Latz and Dr. G are good friends, and so Dr. Latz’s lab is a highlight in the “grand tour” of the facility.

Dr. Latz had the lab ready for us, with beakers of glowing plankton, videos of his work on dolphin studies using bioluminescence, and a microscope displays of dinoflagellates.

During the course of his presentation, Dr. G made a point of interrupting to proudly point out to his students that Dr. Latz was working on a new hypothesis regarding the evolution of bioluminescence. It was Dr. Latz’s belief that bioluminescence had evolved as follows: Radiolarians, or some other such single-celled creature, originally did not have the ability to produce light chemically. When such a capacity evolved, it would seem on the face of it, that such a feature would be a detriment to survival, since the individual(s) that had such a feature would draw special attention to themselves by a predator, for example the copepod. It was Dr. Latz’s innovation however to suggest that the bioluminescent glow would also attract the copepod’s predator, the vertebrate fish, which would have an easier time locating copepods because they would be near glowing radiolarians. So, in fact, bioluminescence was a survival trait after all!

After the lecture, Dr. Latz stepped into the hall, and invited anyone with questions to join him out to discuss them with him. I went up to him at a convenient time, and asked him if he could clear-up one confusing point for me. How, I asked, could vertebrate fish provide the solution for the usefulness of bioluminescence, when according to Darwinian theory, it would have taken many millions of years for the vertebrates to show up? His reply was that this was all just speculation anyway!

Another related incident occurred about a year later. That year, AW took Dr. G’s Honor’s Lab. At the completion of that course, Dr. G had an informal meeting with AW, during which Dr. G pressed him on his beliefs. Paraphrasing:

  • “So, AW, do you enjoy Marine Science?”
  • “Yes, I do.”
  • “Do you think that you might be interested in pursuing a career in it?”
  • “Maybe. I’m not sure.”
  • “What do you think about the theory of evolution?”
  • “I think it is interesting, and something I really need to learn.”
  • “Yes, but do you believe that it’s true?”
  • “Not really, not all of it.”
  • “Well AW, you know, you are going to have to get past those reservations if you want to pursue a career in this field. It just isn’t possible to succeed in Marine Science if you do not accept the theory of evolution.”
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    4 Responses to Why Joe Schmoe Doesn’t Buy Evolution

    1. [...] ; Test Uncommon Descent » Why Joe Schmoe Doesn’t Buy Evolution Uncommon Descent » Why Joe Schmoe Doesn’t Buy Evolution This ent [...]

    2. Goodness. Is that how Darwinists do it these days?
      “Either you believe in evolution or you won’t have a sucess in the scientific comunity!”

      I find this interesting:
      “It just isn’t possible to succeed in Marine Science if you do not accept the theory of evolution.’”

      The question is:
      a) Is succeeding in the Marine Science impossible without knowledge of Evolutionary biology
      or
      b) Is succeeding in the Marine Science impossible without AGREEING with Evolutionary biology?

      Seems to me that what Dr. G meant is the 2nd one. You have to agree with evolutionism (publicly) or you won’t go far in Science.

    3. >How, I asked, could vertebrate fish provide the solution
      >for the usefulness of bioluminescence, when according to
      >Darwinian theory, it would have taken many millions of years
      >for the vertebrates to show up?

      I’m confused. Is there any reason, according to Darwinian theory, to think that bioluminescence evolved before the vertebrates showed up?

    4. [...] the case of Nathaniel Abraham with the case of a high school student reported a long time ago here. These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web [...]

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