Advisor Op-Ed: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Wants Libraries to do WHAT?

27Jan05

When the faculty do take responsibility, they sometimes do somewhat strange and unexpected things which it would not occur to librarians that they might do. Things we would surely advise against. Like creating a peer-reviewed Open Access encyclopedia – without a publisher.



One Response to “Advisor Op-Ed: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Wants Libraries to do WHAT?”

  1. COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT EVOLUTION STILL BEING TAUGHT

    There are common misconceptions concerning evolution which continue to be taught. For example, in November of ’04 articles had appeared in major U.S. newspapers in which journalists interpreted and claimed that according to research running may have contributed to the evolution of man.

    The simple fact is that physical traits and characteristics are determined and passed on by genes – not by running or any other form of exercise. Any exercises that are performed do not affect the genes.

    Traits or characteristics which are acquired from the environment simply cannot be passed on to offspring ( i.e. a woman who loses her finger will not cause her baby to be born with a missing finger; changing the color or texture of your hair will not affect the hair color or texture of your descendants, and etc. ).

    Thus, even if an ape ever did learn to walk and run upright it still would not be able to pass on this trait to its offspring. Only changes which occur in the genes of reproductive cells ( i.e. sperm and egg ) can be passed on to offspring. That is a simple fact of biology.

    Another misconception is that any kind of change is possible among living things. Modern science, however, has shown that there are genetic limits to evolution or biological change in nature. All biological variations, whether they are beneficial to survival or not, are possible only within the genetic potential and limits of a biological kind such as the varieties among dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.

    However, variations across biological kinds such as humans evolving from ape-like creatures and apes, in turn, evolving from dog-like creatures and so on, as Darwinian evolutionary theory teaches, are not possible unless Nature can perform genetic engineering so as to change the over-all genetic information and program in species.

    It is true that natural selection occurs in nature, but natural selection itself is not a creative force. Natural selection can only work with biological variations which are possible.

    The DNA molecule (or the genetic code) is actually a molecular string of various nucleic acids which are arranged in a sequence just like the letters in a sentence. It is this sequence in DNA that tells cells in the body how to construct various tissues and organs.

    The common belief among evolutionists is that random mutations in the genetic code over time will produce entirely new sequences for new traits and characteristics which natural selection can then act upon resulting in entirely new species. Evolutionists consider mutations to be a form of natural genetic engineering.

    However, the very nature of mutations precludes such a possibility. Mutations are accidental changes in the sequential structure of the genetic code caused by various random environmental forces such as radiation and toxic chemicals.

    Almost all true mutations are harmful, which is what one would normally expect from accidents. Even if a good mutation occurred for every good one there will be thousands of harmful ones with the net result over time being disastrous for the species.

    Most biological variations occur as a result of new combinations of previously existing genes – not because of mutations which are rare in nature.

    Furthermore, mutations simply produce new varieties of already existing traits (i.e. varieties of hair color, texture, etc.). Sometimes mutations may trigger the duplication of already existing traits (i.e. an extra finger, toe, or even an entire head!). But mutations have no ability to produce entirely new traits or characteristics (i.e. causing hair cells to turn into feathers, wings, etc.).

    It is not at all rational to believe that the gradual accumulation of random and chance mutations in the sequence of the genetic code caused by random environmental forces such as radiation will produce over time entirely new gene sequences to program for entirely new and more complex species.

    Would it be rational to believe that by randomly changing the sequence of letters in a cookbook that you will eventually get a book that teaches you how to build an atomic bomb? Of course not! And if the book were a living being it would have died in the process of such random changes.

    Such changes in a book or in the genetic code of species cannot occur by random or chance alterations. It would require intelligent planning and design to change one book into another or to change the DNA of a simpler species into the DNA of a more complex one. The random forces of the environment are simply not capable of doing the latter for the genetic code in species.

    Furthermore, a partially-evolved and useless organ waiting millions of years to be completed via random mutations would be a biological hindrance, obstruction, and liability – not exactly a suitable candidate for natural selection assuming, of course, that random mutations could ever get an organ to a partially-evolved stage.

    In fact, how could species have survived over supposedly millions of years while their vital organs were still evolving? There is no evidence in the fossil record of partially-evolved species (i.e. no half-evolved dinosaur, elephant, camel, etc.).

    Given that nature has no true ability to perform genetic engineering, it is more logical to believe that the genetic and biological similarities between species are due to a common Designer rather than a common evolutionary ancestry.

    Science cannot prove we’re here by creation, but neither can science prove we’re here by chance or macro-evolution. No one has observed either. They are both accepted on faith. The issue is which faith, Darwinian macro-evolutionary theory or creation, has better scientific support.

    The simple fact is that nature can only work with the already given genetic potential in species and no more. Before any tissue, organ, or biological structure can ever develop there must first exist the prerequisite genetic information and potential.

    Young people, and even adults, often wonder how all the varieties and races of people could come from the same human ancestors. Well, in principle, that’s no different than asking how children with different color hair ( i.e., blond, brunette, brown, red ) can come from the same parents who both have black hair.

    Just as some individuals today carry genes to produce descendents with different color hair and eyes, humanity’s first parents possessed genes to produce all the variety and races of men. You and I today may not carry the genes to produce every variety or race of humans, but humanity’s first parents did possess such genes.

    All varieties of humans carry the genes for the same basic traits, but not all humans carry every possible variation of those genes. For example, one person may be carrying several variations of the gene for eye color ( i.e., brown, green, blue ) , but someone else may be carrying only one variation of the gene for eye color ( i.e., brown ). Thus, both will have different abilities to affect the eye color of their offspring.

    There is, of course, much more to be said on this subject. Scientist, debater, writer, and lecturer, Dr. Walt Brown covers various scientific issues ( i.e. fossils, mutations, the origin of life, embryology, comparative anatomy/physiology, the issue of vestigial organs, the age of the earth, etc. ) at greater depth in his website at http://www.creationscience.com. Another excellent source of information from scientists who are creationists is the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, California.

    In his essay, Dr. Brown even discusses the possibility of any remains of life on Mars having originated from the Earth due to great geological disturbances in the Earth’s past which easily could have spewed rocks and dirt containing microbes into space.

    It is only fair that school students be exposed to the scientific arguments and evidence on both sides of the creation/evolution issue.

    Sincerely,
    Babu G. Ranganathan
    ( B.A. Theology/Biology)
    http://www.religionscience.com


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