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|02 Jan 1999
D. M. Miller
|Subject: Getting a book reviewed
I would be pleased if you were to review a book I have recently published entitled
The Evolution of God - the Origins of Moral Behaviour.
This book is short - only 164 pages - and contains what I believe to be some original ideas on the evolution of morals. To assist you in deciding whether to undertake this task, may I suggest that you consult my web site at
Should you wish to obtain a free copy of this book for reviewal purposes, please let me know and I will arrange delivery.
D. M. Miller.
|23 Dec 1998
|Subject: website "Was Darwin Wrong?"
I found your web-site (Was Darwin wrong?) by chance yesterday and had a look at your reviews of various books. A very useful addition to your web-site would be reviews of the books by:
I wish you all the best for Christmas and New Year and a lot of visitors to your web-site.
Dr. Predrag Slijepcevic
Lecturer in Genetics
Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH
|17 Dec 1998
Subject: website "Was Darwin Wrong?"
Dear Gert --
I am enjoying your website "Was Darwin Wrong?" I have read many of the same books and I am interested in the same question, because I am advocating a theory that competes with Darwin's. It used to be known as panspermia, but the modern or "strong" version is different enough to deserve a new name -- Cosmic Ancestry. The main difference is that the modern theory deals with all of evolution, not just the origin of life on Earth. It holds that Darwinian evolution can produce microevolution, because that does not require lengthy new genetic instructions; but for macroevolutionary progress the genes must be supplied, just as, according to the old panspermia theory, bacterial life on Earth was originally.
I would like to invite your attention to the website, and I welcome your comments. I would be especially pleased if you would review it for your audience. I believe they would be interested. (About 100 people per day visit the site.)
In any case, thanks again for maintaining a fine Internet resource in "Was Darwin Wrong?"
|4 Nov 1998
Subject: Thanks for the great website !
Your wasdarwinwrong.com site is excellent. Please continue to review and synopsize creationist/Designist literature--you do a wonderful job. I hope you get a chance to look at William Dembski's The Design Inference and put it through the ringer. Since I refuse to pay ~$60.00US for a ~260 page book of vague and arbitrary generalities, I hope you will save me the trouble by critiquing it!
|14 Oct 1998
Subject: Dr Lee Spetner
I've enjoyed very much the thoughtful reviews that you've published on your website. I appreciate the fact that you try to evaluate Creationist claims fairly and that you engage the more reasonable anti-evolution writers whereas many scientists only take on the easy targets.
Anyway, I recently read a book called Not By Chance by a Dr. Lee Spetner. He claims that research has shown that bacteria has the ability to "switch on" portions of their genome based on environmental stimuli. Specifically, he mentions a bacteria which mutates to switch on lactose-processing enzyemes when in the process of lactose. In the book Spetner argues that this capability exists in animals as well. While this all seems crazy, Spetner states his argument clearly and logically. It's hard to imagine how a bacteria could evolve through natural selection the ability change it's own DNA in relation to a specific environmental impulse. Unfortunetely, I don't have enough knowledge of molecular biology to evaluate this claim. I would be interested to hear your opinion of this book or to know where I might find more information about this topic. Here are some link's to article by Dr. Lee Spetner that discuss some of the key issues in the book:
|10 Oct 1998
I would like to express appreciation for the excellent web site you are maintaining. Pointing visitors toward substative texts in a fair way on such a contentious issue is a great public service. I have some comments on Tippler, and on the alternatives to evolution.
You express uncertainty about Tippler's convictions, based on the book you reviewed. I have a copy of another book by him, The Physics of Immortality, which lays out his beliefs clearly. If life colonizes the whole universe, and the universe has a Big Crunch, then life can force the Crunch to a pancake shape, providing tremendous free energy through gravitational shear. As the Universe approaches the singularity, the free energy will aproach infinity. The plasma/software based life forms which will have long ago replaced us will approach infinity in power and intelligence (and time, as software based life experinces time by software clock cycle, and with infinite energy the clock cycle times could become infinitely small). Somehow, the necessity of their existence has called this universe which will spawn them into being. The book is interesting, and gets into the mechanics of how all this could take place. Tippler's motivation is to find a physical route to immortality of life.
In general, I think the references in your web disprove Darwinian evolution. Both Behe's irreducible complexity point and the stability/replacement of fossil forms show that small-step neo-Darwinian evolution could not have taken place. The lack of any coherent theory to achieve puntuated equilibrium and the simultaneous development of complementary enzymes is not fatal, but definitely hurts evolution. The weakness of the rebuttals of the specificity problem for early earth protiens (Hoyle didn't account for known allowable variants -- this only increases the probability by a few orders of magnitude, when he showed improbabilities of hundreds of orders), the failure of early earth experiments to generate the ingredients of the hypothesised soup, and lack of any theory for getting an RNA inside a membrane & taking control of it's metabolism all should be fatal.
The reason it has not been, you have pointed out yourself. I also found it stated explicitly in Climbing Mount Improbable, Consiousness Explained, and A Brief history of Time. There is not a coherent alternative. Theism, as defended by Swinburne, is an alternative, but the more general alternative is dualism. Although most people believe in dualism (every one of us experiences a strong case for it every waking moment), there are almost no philosophers publishing even the basic assumptions of a dualist metaphysics. Without any philosophical base, it is no surprise that virtually no scientific work is being done on dualist biology or dualist physics. The only reference I have found is in psyco-biology, The Mind and Its Brain by Popper and Eccles (Vitalism was a dualist biology, but I do not believe it has any published advocates for over half a century).
Dawkins, Dennett, and Hawkins all claim that there is no science which can be done if they abandon the assumtion of physicalism. Behe and other Design or Creation advocates support this claim, by failing to apply the scientific method to their solutions to the problems of evolution. But the tools of analytic philosophy and of science can be used on dualist claims. Swinburne attempts to do so, with the Hypothesis of Theism. I believe that it is the obligation of every scientist who notices the implausibility of abiogenesis, the illogic of consciousness being self-deception, and the ad-hoc nature of assumptions on the universe's origin (Occom's Razor is designed for just the sort of beast as imaginary time), to start seriously considering what a dualist alternative would look like.
You seem to still be a committed evolutionist, despite what you have read critiqueing the theory. Is that because of the lack of alternatives? That is my understanding, based on your praise for the non-Darwinian attempts to build an evolutionary theory (that a Scientist tries to construct a new theory when he/she finds a hole, where Creationists just abandon reason & assume God). Have you considered following Swinburne & Eccles, & trying to apply science to the alternative?
I hope this mailing has been interesting or useful to you. Your page has been both to
me, and I will order several of the books mentioned which I had not heard of before.
|25 Aug 1998
David Wayne Ussery
Subject: your review of Behe's Black Box
I've just now got around to looking at your web page (I've been busy attending a course here - you might be interested in the subject - Spontaneous Origins of Life ).
Anyway, I've read through your review of Behe's book. It sounds like you're saying more or less the same that I've heard from several other people - that Behe raises some good questions, but that he kind of goes off the track when he starts talking about "intelligent design". I just talked with James Shapiro over the weekend (he was visiting here in Denmark). He's also written a review of Behe's book, and he debated him at a small college in the U.S.
I noticed on your page that you lump Behe as a "creationist". I guess at one time I've called him a "neo-creationist", but I think he's a bit different. Anyway that's a small point. However, I've noticed that you put Brian Goodwin's book How the Leopard Changed Its Spots and Niles Elderidege under "anti-Darwinian". I think really you mean anti-GRADUALISM. I certainly wouldn't consider either of these two books to be against natural selection - they're saying that perhaps simplistic gradualism alone can't explain everything. I'd agree with that - I don't think they are "anti-Darwin", though. Have you seen "the third view" by James Shapiro? here's the URL:
I've also got a manuscript pre-print that he gave me, entitled "Genome System Architecture and Natural Genetic Engineering in Evolution", which was from the "Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution" meeting in New York. There's a review of this at the following URL:
Also, I've included a link to your page on my list of reviews of Behe's book: http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/dave/Behe_links.html
I'd be delighted if you'd put a link to my review page - I've seen a couple of web pages in the U.S. where they claim that there has never been a single review of Behe's book where anyone challenged his "science" - that all of the reviews were mostly philosophical....
with kind regards,
David Ussery, Ph.D.
Associate Research Professor
Center for Biological Sequence Analysis
Department of Biotechnology
The Technical University of Denmark
|12 Aug 1998
Subject: The Philosophical Scientists
I have also published an extensive critique of David Foster's book The Philosophical Scientists. I have included a link to yours, and was wondering if you might return the favor. See it at:
Richard C. Carrier,
Columbia University, NY
|7 Aug 1998
Subject: Reinventing Darwin|
I jus surfed on to your "reinventing Darwin" and found the diagram at the bottom (showing where various scientists stand on Darwinian issues) fascinating. I'd just like to make two comments:
1) In the sphere of Darwinians (you call them "evolution with natural selection") you have 2 sub-spheres: Ultra-Darwinians (geneticists) and Naturalists (paleontologists). I know you were just following Eldredge's convention from his book, but this is still a huge oversimplification. Even if we only address the scientists well known among the public, those divisions are not so simple. For example, paleontologist Phillip Gingrich would surely place himself with the Ultras. So would linguist Steve Pinker and philosopher Daniel Dennett (all well known defenders of the "UltraDarwinian orthodoxy" as Steve Gould likes to call it).
In the Naturalists (Gould likes to call them the "pluralists") we can add Geneticist Richard Lewontin, philosopher Mary Midgely, neurophysicist Steven Rose, and maybe embryologist Jack Cohen. Not so coincidentally, many of the people in this camp (Gould, Lewontin, Rose for example) have extensive Marxists backgrounds, which of course stresses "dialectical" reasoning. That is the main difference between the 2 camps: reductionism vs. holism (NOT vitalism!)
2) " 'Ultra-Darwinians are strangely silent about why adaptive change occurs when it does and why adaptive change does not seem to occur' (p6). It is not clear to me what naturalists like Eldredge have to offer as alternative explanations."
Eldredge and especially Gould have spent their entire careers arguing for the importace of NON adaptive change. What may appear to be quite puzzling from an Ultra Dawinian viewpoint can be easily explained as a nonadaptive change. Example: altruism exists. In the heady years of Sociobiology great effort was spent trying to explain this behavior as adaptive, when it is quite clearly Maladaptive (in humans anyway). Many of the Naturalists said," wait a minute. Our brains got bigger at some point allowing us to do all kinds of things, many of them not adaptive (overdosing on drugs, for example). There's no need to explain these behaviors as adaptive".
|5 Aug 1998
|You have a wonderful website. I just stumbled on it. I maintain a similar--although not nearly as focused--one. I'm going to be updating it as I bring it online at its new domain. I'll include several links to your site in the process if you don't mind. The new domain is http://www.2think.org|
|10 Jul 1998
subject: Nature's Destiny Michael Denton
Even if life requires supernatural intervention, or "special creation", the evidence for the existence of the creator is still there in the Fine Tuning Argument. There is no need to require that life is a natural consequence of the initial conditions; indeed, it may be extra proof of the existence of God, precisely because it is still unexplained otherwise. But the properties of water, carbon, etc. are still needed for the creation and sustenance of life.
But I don't think it's possible to design physical laws that make life inevitable anyway.
Subject: Evolutionary concepts in the nineteenth
Just visited your review of Dempster's book on Patrick Matthew. An interesting review, I thought, and very timely for me because it's a line of investigation I very much want to follow up on. Thank you.
By the way, if you're interested in stuff like Darwin's true forebears and the origins of "The Origin" you might like to visit
I'd be interested to read your comments
I am an academic philosopher, specialising in philosophy of science, logic and other bits and pieces but once I was a biologist. ... I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed and was interested by your site. If it is ok with you I shall direct my students in "Philosophy and Biology" to your site.
all the very best,
School of Philosophy
The University of New South Wales
William Scott Scherk
Subject: Darwin on Trial
Dear Gert Korthof,
I'm writing to congratulate you on a fine article online -- your review of Phillip E. Johnson's 'Darwin on Trial." I consulted it among other online sources, while writing a review for a class in Intellectual History at my college in Canada. It got me thinking, and even though my instructor was only looking for a 500 word essay, I spent a lot of time thinking about it.
thanks for posting your work, Gert.
My essay is posted at
|09 Feb 1998
Subject: Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
Denton's book is not only the best anti-Darwinist book, it may be the best book ever written on any topic. This statement comes from one who is untrained in biology, but has waded through many a book filled with self-serving complexity which reflects on the brilliance of the author but conveys little unambiguous information. (Incidently, this describes many of the beautifully written tomes of the Darwinists). Denton has taken the time not only to fully understand his topic, but more importantly, to put this information in an understandable form. His analogies, such as those using the alphabet and the evolution of words, are nothing less than brilliant. This technique is so rare that I can think of only one or two other books that are similar in quality. If other authors had the ability, or would take the time, to explain their topics in such a clear manner you can be sure that there would not be such a quantity of books that say essentially nothing, in such an eloquent manner. On a related subject I, too, am puzzled by claims that Denton is an agnostic. There appears to be no evidence of his beliefs in the book. But I have some web pages about Darwin, and occaisionaly get accused of being a creationist. When I reply that there are no beliefs expressed in these pages, most of the respondents apologize; so it might just be a knee-jerk reaction to anything anti-Darwinist. By the way, excellant web site.
|18 Jan 1998
Subject: Evolution without selection
I want to congratulate you for your site. And this is not false flattering, it's very true. There is a lack of good biology-oriented sites on the Net (besides those of Institutions, which are frequently a bit dry), and yours is very welcome, I'll surely place a link to it in my hp (once it gets ready, which won't be very soon). Evolution is one of the lacking areas, and the spread of anti-creationist unscientific pages (like some at talk.origins) can only help creationists, and neither of us wants that. So, keep up the nice work!
Thousands of scientists trying to improve "Darwinism" for 100 years have not been able to explain the key points of evolution. I like to see works that try to adress them, such as Goodwin's or Lima's, rather than avoid, which is what most neo-Darwinists do. BTW, I think Gould is a good scientist, Mayr also, Darwin was a very good and honest scientist, while people like Dawkins seem to me as mere anti-creationists, that is, people who seek scientific ideas to counter a non-science, producing a non-science themselves, just as a creationist would do.
|20 Sep 1997
Subject: Darwin on Trial
Thanks much for sending me the review, which I read with pleasure.
Here are my comments, which you are free to pass on to Gert Korthof and he is welcome to put on his web site... continue...
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