Letter to The Glasgow Herald

The following is a letter I wrote to The Glasgow Herald. - Shydavid

I am astonished that The Glasgow Herald would publish (July 29, 1998) such ignorant tripe. MacLeod's knowledge of evolution and evolutionary theory, judging by his many errors in his article, is non-existant. He has repeated falsehoods that have been known to be false for many, many decades. What were you thinking when you published such nonsense without bothering to check his false assertions?

His first gross error is to assert that acknowldging the fact that evolution occured and occurs says something about the non-existance of a "god." It does not: evolutionary science is neutral on the issue. That some people believe otherwise bears no reflection on the issue.

His second gross error is to assert that the acknowledgement that evolution occured and occurs somehow effects humanity's moral and ethical behavior. This is blatently absurd. Has MacLeod somehow forgotten the Crusades? The Inquisition? The "witch" burings? Or the hundreds of thousands of acts of brutality man has inflicted upon man for the past ten thousand years ---- long before evolution was discovered? Acknowledging the fact that evolution occured and occurs has and had no effect on human behavior, any more than the acknowledgement that Earth orbits Sol and not the other way around.

MacLeod's third gross error is that science has "proven" evolutionary theory: that is false. Science has proven evolution, not evolutionary theory ---- the latter describes the former. Evolution is the fact that allele frequencies in a population's geneom changes over time: an observed fact. Evolutionary theory explains and describes the fact that evolution occured and occurs. The two as as different as an apple pie and the recipe for making apple pie.

MacLeod's fourth gross error is that science has "proven" Christianity wrong. That is absurd. Since Christianity makes assertions that cannot be tested and falsified, it therefore resides outside the venue of science. The fact that science has disproven some false claims that Christian dogma asserts shouldn't bother anyone: as human knowledge increases, ancient beliefs are corrected. Science has not only corrected some Christian beliefs, but also Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Shinto, Voo Doo, and a host of other religion's beliefs. That is the nature of society as it grows up. Would MacLeod bewail the very same scientific method that feeds him, shelters him, and gives him the very tools he uses to write and spread his falsehoods?

The fifth gross falsehood of MacLeod's is that evolution is not a fact. Since evolution is an observed fact, MacLeod's assertion is blatently absurd.

The sixth gross error of MacLeod's is that evolutionary theory is not a theory. This is absurd: evolutionary theory meets every requirement for a valid theory ---- it is testable; it is open to falsification; it yields predictions that have been later found to be correct.

MacLeod's seventh gross falsehood is that evolution somehow counters thermodynamics. This is blatently false, and any idiot would know better. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that "in a closed system within thermo-equilibrium, the heat budget of the system decreases or remains the same." Does MacLeod ever step outside on a bright, warm day? Does he ever look up and see the sun? Earth is NOT A CLOSED SYSTEM. The Second Law of Thermodynamics therefore is not violated.

The eighth false hood of MacLeod's is that mutation is always defective. This is demonstrated false by direct observation. Most mutations are neutral: they occur in codons that are not expressed (phenotypically). Of the mutations that are expressed, most are harmful to the individual. A small minority of mutations are beneficial to the individual, and if the mutation is dominate, it spreads throughout the population. BENEFICIAL MUTATION IS OBSERVED. Humanity's need for ever-changing anti-biotics is one fine example of a species mutation being beneficial.

MacLeod's ninth falsehood, and one that is silly to the point of being absurd, is the claim that evolutionary theory claims that humans "evolved from monkeys." Humans did not, nor does evolutionary theory state that humans did. Humans and the apes have a common ancestor.

The tenth falsehood, related to the ninth, is that MacLeod seems to believe that there should not be contemporary monkeys if humans "evolved from monkeys." Did MacLeod's parents drop dead as soon as he was born? Did MacLeod's cousins, aunts, and uncles drop dead when he was born? There is no reason for a daughter species to supplant a parent species when the environment can support both.

The eleventh falsehood of MacLeod's is that there are no transitional or intermediate fossils. This is blatently false! There are tens of thousands of known transitional species, represented by hundreds of thousands of fossils. Anyone who is educated on the subject, unlile MacLeod, would know this fact. At my fingertips, I can produce a list of hundreds references to known intermediate fossils.

There are fossils that show transitions from primitive jawless fish to sharks, skates, and rays; from primitive bony fish to holostean fish; from primitive bony fish to amphibians; from amphibians to reptiles; from reptiles to mammals; and so on. These intermediates show characteristics of more than one family; so much so that cladists often cannot agree on how to classify them.

The twelfth falsehood is that 14C dating dated a snail to be 3,000 years old. Sources of old C14 (especially carbonate ion in water from C14-inactive limestone, but also carbon from organic detritus) can enter the shells of these, and thus provide an explanation for the error. This is KNOWN to be the case before such tests are made. 14C is a valid method of dating organics, when the samples being dated are approprate for 14C testing.

MacLeod's thirteenth falsehood concerns the dating of pillow lava in Hawaii. The results were expected by the scientists that did the K-Ar dating: they were measuring the effect of trapped argon in the lava, NOT THE LAVA'S RADIOCHONOLOGY. The scientists already knew the date would be wrong before they performed the tests.

MacLeod's fourteenth falsehood is that there are Lunar rocks that have been dated to 28 billion years. This is absurd: that is roughly twice the age of the universe.

The fifteenth falsehood MacLeod states is that all hominid fossils so far found would "barely cover a billiard table." This is false. I have photographs of a tiny fraction of known hominid fossils, and the pictures show enough fossils to cover at least a soccor field; and new discoveries are being catalogued every day.

The sisteenth falsehood MacLeod uttered is that evolution is like a religion; such a blatently stupid assertion is known as such by anyone who bothers to learn the facts. Acknowledging the fact that evolution occured and occurs is not predicated upon belief or faith (as religion is): it is predicated upon direct observation.

One is left wondering in amazement why MacLeod would write such an article when he clearly has no knowledge of the subject. One is also left to wonder why The Glasgow Herald would publish such falsehoods.