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University of Western Florida "Free Thinkers" Discussion
Evolution: Dawkins vs. Gould

By Jonathan Sampson

Recently I had attended a “Free Thinkers” open forum on evolutionary theory presented by Dr. Ferguson of the University of Western Florida. I will commend Dr. Ferguson for a well-put presentation that was very intriguing and educational. I feel she did a very wonderful job presenting the information provided by both men. Also present this evening was Dr. Jay E Gould who is an associate professor of Psychology and is also very intelligent. When Dr. Ferguson had finished her speech on the “tree of life” in regards to Steven J. Gould’s perspective, Richard Dawkins’ perspective, and additionally, Bart Simpson’s perspective (i.e. Protozoa’s evolving into newts; and newts into fig newton’s) the presentation had come to a conclusion and the Question and Answers session had begun.

As I sat in the back row and listened to the many questions that were wrapped and shipped with a presupposition that evolution (in the sense of protozoa’s to men) has occurred I was warm-hearted when a woman in the back of the room raised her hand and stated that she was a Christian. She then stated that she was uncomfortable with this “theory” being presented as a “fact” to our children and asked that the professors present her with “empirical facts” that would support such an idea. Gladly, Dr. Ferguson started explaining antibiotic resistance and it’s support for macroevolution. A couple other questions were then asked and answered by the professors just before I raised my hand and asked a question that went somewhat like the following:

“I had read much of Gould’s work and also Dawkins’ work and I understand that Gould with his theory of punctuated equilibrium has a small problem with stasis. For example the Coelacanth that was found not too long ago thought to have gone extinct some 250+/- million years ago is now found in colonies; more recently the Tuatara, which is also known as a “living fossil”. How does Dawkins approach such things?”

In response to my question, Dr. Ferguson made a comment somewhat like the following,

”Evolution is observed to happen in fluctuations, ups and downs, moving forward and backwards with mass extinctions and the like. For example we can observe Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands and the effect the atmospheric changes have on their beaks. During wet seasons they are smaller; and during dry seasons they are larger. So we can see that evolution is not always a constant uphill effect; often a down hill mechanism.”
(ed. Note: The above quote is not exact; paraphrased from memory)

Following her response I asked how this type of observation justifies us in concluding a colony of parameciums can eventually give rise to a colony of humans when all we observe are predominantly fluctuations within different types of creatures. It was about this time that Dr. Jay E. Gould entered into the discussion and made a comment to the effect of

“We don’t just see fluctuations within populations; we can look back through the fossil record and see actual changes. Lets take the evolution of the whale for example. We can see how it has changed over time and is now as we see today.”
(ed. Note: the above is a paraphrased version of Gould’s response)

With this I commented that no post-cranial skeletal structures were found when Pakicetus was discovered. Hardly anything was found at all to be completely honest. A few pieces of a wolf-like skull were found and the inner ear resembled that of a modern day whale’s inner ear. This was the evidence that Pakicetus is an ancestor to today’s whale. I then asked how we can logically come to the conclusion that Pakicetus is an ancestor to today’s modern whale when the findings were very scarce and actually resembling a wolf-like animal instead of an aquatic creature.

Dr. Gould then made the comment that I had obviously read into what we were discussing and was then interrupted by Dr. Ferguson who I do believe made the comment that we were getting off the subject or outside of biological discussion. I still to this point do not understand what I said that was outside of the parent topic of discussion but I was unable to get a clear answer from either of the two how they can logically come to such conclusions with such “evidence”.

Soon thereafter the presentation in a whole had ended and the audience was free to snacks and refreshments. I made my way over to Dr. Gould to speak more with him and unfortunately I cannot recall what exactly was said from either of us. I found myself speaking with another gentleman whose name was Scott. Scott was the organizer of the discussion and also an atheist from what I recall. Scott then went on to discuss religion and the like when I interrupted him and asked why he was talking about religion when I asked science-based questions. Apparently when I had asked my questions; I made it known where I work and that was enough to discredit everything I had asked. Other than stating my name and work location; I made no implications to religious or dogmatic ideas or theories. This however was enough for Scott to effortlessly attempt to drag the discussion to religious grounds over and over. Scott did make it known that he is more equipped to discuss religion on the spot as opposed to evolutionary history and “evidences” used to support it.

I stated clearly that I wasn’t at the evolutionary discussion to speak or defend religion; but instead to challenge evolutionary theory and the supporters of it. Nonetheless, Scott continued to change the subject to religion. Shortly there after, two Christians who also shared my view confronted me and we had a wonderful discussion. Both, familiar with Dr. Hovind and Creation Science Evangelism openly expressed their relief to see another Christian in attendance. We spoke for a few minutes and then we all left the conference room.

This was my first personal “debate” with professors and I honestly feel compelled to state that I am deeply unimpressed. Not only were my questions left unanswered; but also they were merely shrugged off in attempts to change the subject. Without making any religious implications (aside from my introduction) I was instantly stereotyped as being “religious” for simply and effectively questioning the “sacred cow” of evolution.

In short, evolution has become a god to many. It has adapted the first of the Ten Commandments that God gave to us, “Have no other Gods before me”. Evolutionists have taken this into effect with their pagan religion and when confronted with evidence against their theory; they fall upon this first commandment and rebuke any “free thinking”. This is a sad truth


Overview of Evolution