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Letters to the Editor

Kern’s ‘huge book of quotes’

Steve Kern September 13th, 2011

My response to David Grow “Kern is wrong” (Letters, July 27, Gazette):

Mr. Grow referred to “quote mining” by creationists as if they are looking for snippets to prove their arguments against evolution theory. Sir, not only do I have a huge book of quotes, I have books written to explain what the snippets mean and why they are important in understanding the evolution vs. creation debate.

Grow mentioned Steven J. Gould’s anger over so-called misuse of his “punctuated equilibria” theory. Sure, he would get upset because he was a leading evolution paleontologist who tried to explain why there are few or no transitional forms where they need to be most, that being the species. His theory suggests that change between species had to happen in small parts of one species by a random mutation in a parent that then developed into another species.

That being the case, the new change would happen rapidly in time and not leave vast transitional forms in the fossil that Charles Darwin predicted. It is a roundabout way of admitting that the slow, simple to complex development of different species is not supported by the fossil record. He could get upset all he wanted, but the fact remains that his theory gave support to the creationist’s argument. He stated that there was abundant evidence of transitions in the higher levels, but that is referring to microevolution not Darwinian macroevolution.

The creation model says God created all living things in the last two days of creation week according to their own kind and then all those different kinds were rapidly buried in a worldwide flood that produced the fossil record we now have. The model predicts that you will find billions of different kinds of animals with no transitional forms that were buried rapidly at different levels of strata based on mobility and means of escape for the longest period of time before finally being overcome by the catastrophe.

That is exactly what the fossil record gives as evidence, too. Punctuated equilibrium actually admits there are no transitional forms, which is what creationists have predicted. Gould was upset because the creationists understood the implications of his theory and used it to support their model.

—Steve Kern
Oklahoma City

Kern, husband of state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is pastor of Olivet Baptist Church.

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09.13.2011 at 10:56 Reply

Perhaps it's time we agree to disagree, since we both think the other is ignorant.


09.15.2011 at 06:52 Reply

Steve Kern has really out did himself here.  He repeatedly says Gould admitted there are no transitional fossils.  That is funny given that Gould on multiple occasions described transitional fossils telling us that they are "more than enough to convince any fair-minded skeptic about the reality of life's physical genealogy" and "abundant between larger groups."  One could fill many issues of the Gazette with paleontologists saying transitions exist.

Punctuated equilibria (PE) is not about turning a reptile into a bird (something very well supported by the fossil record).  It is about one species into another: one species of squirrel into a very similar species of squirrel something that Kern clear accepts.

Anything actually described by PE would be discounted by Kern as "microevolution." Gould and his co-author Niles Eldredge said that genetic basis of evolution worked out by non-fossil people like Ernst Mayr implied PE.   They basically took evolutionary theory seriously and applied it to the fossil record.   Mayr's ideas, which were based on his studies of bird populations plus  theoretical genetics, suggested that a new species usually formed in a small isolated population.  Eldredge and Gould pointed out that if that is the case,  the implication for the fossil record are obvious.   And they asserted that is exactly what is seen: transitions between two immediately-related species are indeed rare (not absent).  Transitions between the large groups say mammals and the synapsid reptiles involved many species over millions of years and they can be expected to be found and they are found.  The evolution of mammals is very well supported by fossils.  It might be pointed out that very few fossil people prior to Gould and Eldredge had studied the ideas about how evolution worked that were based on living populations and theoretical genetics.

Maybe when Gould was discussing PE, he should have instead of saying "transitional" have said "transition between two immediately-related species."   But that would have been clunky.  And unnecessary.  The context being PE is enough to establish that.  Gould certainly did not write as if the audience was a bunch of ignorant morons.  Nor should an author have to put in a bunch of unnecessary clunky phrases in his writings to make it harder for someone to misquote them decades later when they are famous.  And putting an introduction to PE in every month's essay would have been tiresome.  It would not have prevented the misuse any ways.  The leading creationist of the time, Henry Morris, thought nothing not mentioning that the previous or next sentence contradicted what he said an author was trying to.  Creationists authors are usually unable or unwilling to consider the context of the fragments which they quote.

Kern says that animals are found in the fossil record based how they could flee the waters of the Deluge.   I guess Kern thinks that old, the infirm, and the already dead could flee with the most mobile of their species.  Why is T. rex only in the Cretaceous and Allosaurus only in the Jurassic?  It is amazing that some turtles and all slothes could out flee both of them as well as the Pterodactyls.  What about plants?  Corals?  Microorganisms?  Could they run too?  They show the same sort of patterns in the fossil record.  Flowering plants did not exist during the Paleozoic.  Does Kern really expect us to think that pre-Flood there were no flowering plants (most of the plants today) in low areas?  You need to explain all the data.   The fossil record is not sorted by the ability to run. 

Anti-science people really don't care about data or fact checking.  In the current  Mickey McVay's "Mistaken Environmentalists" tells us that the 95% of the atmosphere is water when _any_ attempt to check  will reveal that in reality about four-fifths nitrogen with most of the rest being oxygen.  There is really very little difference between these two crank-"science" positions. They argue in the same way.