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Was Darwin Wrong?

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23.03.2009 13:24, Curt Fischer E-mail :
Great site! I plan on visiting regularly in the near future to get ideas on what books to read. You might be interesting in reviewing <a href=" om/Echoes-Life-Fossil-Molecule s-History/dp/0195176197"& gt;"Echoes of Life"</a>, a new book about the impact of "biomarkers" or molecular fossils on the study of life, evolution, and geobiology.

23.03.2009 12:25, gert korthof Homepage :
Beste Agaath Arends,
ik heb vandaag een plaatje op
Is dat wat U zoekt?
met vriendelijke groeten,
Gert Korthof

PS: ik neem aan dat het plaatje auteursrechten heeft.

23.03.2009 08:27, Agaath Arends E-mail :
Geachte mijnheer Korthof, Ik ben op zoek naar een tree of life waarin naast de "afstamming" ook de onderlinge relaties tussen organismen (bacteriën, virussen, parasieten, planten, dieren) tot uiting komen. Dus niet een boom met steeds verder uiteenlopende takken, maar ook parallel lopende en vergroeiende takken. Bestaat iets dergelijks of moet ik het zelf maken? Ik ben bioloog en bezig met mijn tweede boek, het vervolg op Het land (Zwerk, 2008). Misschien kunt u mij wat verder helpen? Bij voorbaat dank en vriendelijke groeten, Agaath Arends

06.03.2009 13:00, gert korthof :
Dear Edwin,
thank you very much for your interesting remarks.
I agree with "Biologists are not theologians and theologians are not biologists."
I agree with nobody prove or disprove the existence of god.
I agree with "Darwinism does not defeat Christianity".
why the scientists can't stick to science is 1) because scientists are also people with their own beliefs. 2) Darwinism tends to contradict end overrule Genesis. There you have the conflict between Darwinism and religion. OK?

Why do we not see spontaneous origin of life today? is a good question. I think, because we didn´t look for it. 2) it has a low probability, so it should be rare, so difficult to find even we would search hard. 3) It would quickly be consumed by bacteria because it would be defenseless, vulnerable.

Why is there only one "wise" species?
I would object to "wise" and prefer "brainy".
I think the probability of a species with all the properties of humans (bipedal, large brain, cerebral cortex, flexible tongue, right larynx, language, opposable thumbs, living in pairs and groups, social learning, intelligence, capable of killing any predator, adaptable) occurring in one species is very low. Furthermore, evolution did not stop. Evolution has million years to go. In the future, if there is any, other intelligent species could evolve. Maybe far more intelligent than us.

06.03.2009 04:53, Edwin Holton E-mail :
I came across your site through a long series of searches on evolutionary theory and Darwinism and I am very glad I found it. I have read a number of the books you review and I appreciate your work on them. I do have a couple of questions with which I hope you can help me with either information or a nudge toward some source. The first if my frustration with the bickering of many people who write in this area about atheism, creationism, theism, etc. I have taught both philosophy and comparative religions and have advanced degrees in information science as well. Biologists are not theologians and theologians are not biologists (usually!). Neither can PROVE the existence or non-existence of either a god or a creative intelligence. Darwinism does not defeat Christianity, Buddhism, Shinto, meditation, or any other spiritual practice nor do the spiritual practices defeat Darwinsim (or evolution). So, why can't the scientists stick to science and the folk interested in spiritual practices stick to their concerns? I am certain (because I know them) that there are biologists who believe in evolution who are also very spiritual people. I continue to be baffled by this, to my mind, adolescent squabble about things that are beyond the reach of the human mind.

My other questions are more directly concerned with some problems I perceive in evolutionary theory. First, if life originated spontaneously from some combination of minerals and environmental conditions, why do we not see new life forms emerging from the oceans or volcanic or thermal areas...or some such...even today? Or do we find new spontaneous life in places on the globe? I can't see why new life stopped spontaneously appearing. Second, why is there only one "wise" species: homosapiens? Why didn't some additional species reach the status of being wise as well and so produce their own scientists, artists, musicians, etc.? Seems strange that there is only us.

Have you any reflections on these matters?

16.02.2009 09:23, Steven Sullivan E-mail :
If you call the question Was Darwin Wrong? a straw man, then you are not open to revisions of (neo)Darwinism and you are making a Saint of Darwin.

That's a radical misreading of what I actually wrote, nor is it logical. It's quite possible to question the wisdom of your old title without making a 'Saint' of Darwin.

Not that it matters, since my complaint isn't about the science here, but I am a biologist/bioinformatician. Also a regular reader of PZ Myers' 'Pharyngula' blog and a longtime observer of the anti-evolution creationist/'intelligent design' movements.

I certainly do not believe in or worship a 'St. Darwin' -- how could I, since I accept what's been known since even before the neoDarwinian synthesis was formalized: that some of Darwin's conclusions certainly were wrong -- but I do believe, from long experience watching the crazy anti-evolutionists in my country, that 'Was Darwin Wrong?' was an unfortunate choice of name for a site intended to air and review valid scientific questions about the neoDarwinian synthesis (which incorporated both Darwinian and post-Darwinian models and data). (I like the new title much better, for that reason -- the site's thrust was always more 'Is the NeoDarwinian Synthesis Wrong?" than "Was Darwin Wrong?")

If you'd actually intended to focus on Darwin's own models, a more pertinent question less redolent of creationist/ID rhetoric would have been '*What* was Darwin Wrong (and Right) About?". But evolutionary biology has grown vastly since Darwin's day. Yes, those of Darwin's own hypotheses which still survive intact are certainly valid subjects for testing, as in the Nature article. But in 2009 it is not 'ultimately' about which of *Darwin's* ideas were right or not, any more than physics today is 'ultimately' about which of Newton's ideas were right. With your original title, *you* seemed to be the one elevating Darwin as a strawman to be knocked down -- which, unfortunately, happens to be an all too common creationist tactic.

14.02.2009 08:37, gert korthof :
Dear Steven Sullivan,
thank you very much for the feedback. Could you introduce yourself? You know a lot about me (from my website) but I don't know you. Thank you very much.

I do not worship Darwin. He is not a saint. Every scientific theory is open to criticism and revision. You write "On some stuff, yes, on much important stuff, no. And he was certainly right that evolution occurs, and that species are related by common descent." Related by common descent is too simple. Today we know about horizontal gene transfer and symbiosis, which greatly complicate the simple picture of the tree of life. If you call the question Was Darwin Wrong? a straw man, then you are not open to revisions of (neo)Darwinism and you are making a Saint of Darwin. In fact studying evolution today ultimately is nothing else than answering the question on which issues was Darwin wrong and on which issues was he right?

A recent example was published in Nature 11 Feb 2009:
"In the 1960s, guided by the prevailing anthropological orthodoxy, Paul Ekman, now retired, set out to prove Darwin wrong by asking for interpretations of facial expressions from the farthest flung people he could get to".

"Isn't it perhaps time to rename the site? ": as you can see it has already a new title. The domain name is a technical question, I don't like wasting time on that, I prefer to study evolution in stead.
All the best,
Gert Korthof

13.02.2009 20:09, Steven Sullivan E-mail :
Dr. Korthof,
This has always been a website of great potential to summarize and examine current issues in evolutionary biology, but I think you crippled it from the start -- by calling it 'Was Darwin Wrong' (the answer to which has been known for *decades*: "On some stuff, yes, on much important stuff, no. And he was certainly right that evolution occurs, and that species are related by common descent") you mainly attracted all manner of 'intelligent design' and creationist kooks, as well as the occasional pseudoscientist crank, rather than the community of reality-based investigators and readers.

Really, what were you thinking??? Your site's titular question, from its inception, was a 'strawman'. From your new introduction to the site, I suspect you've had some misgivings too about this. Isn't it perhaps time to rename the site?

15.01.2009 22:05, Shi Huang :
I enjoyed your website very much. I am a mainstream faculty member doing research on epigenetics. My research on this topic, which is essentially unknown to the genetists of the 1940s who invented Neo-Darwinism, had led me to know for a fact that Neo-Darwinism is just a theory of microevolution and is completely wrong for macroevolution. It is contradicted by many facts, which is plain obvious from the fact that it is irrelevant to molecular evolution. Molecular evolution is explained by the molecular clock hypothesis or the neutral theory, which must negate the selection idea of Darwinism and has countless contradictions of its own. The coexistance of two non-connected and opposite theories suggests that neither is complete or can escape contradiction by numerous facts.

I have now come up with a more complete theory termed the maximum genetic diversity hypothesis. Its unique virtues are: 1, it is self evident and is really an axiom. It makes biology a normative science on a par with mathematics or physics, 2, it explains all facts and has no factual exceptions, 3, it grants the proven virtues of all existing theories.

I invite you to review my theory here: ocuments/1751/version/2

I would be really grateful if you can find flaws in this theory. The ultimate test of the validity of a theory is whether it can explain more facts than competing theories and has no contradictions. It is easy to tell which theory is the correct one now that there really exists a scientific alternative to the NeoDawinism/clock theory.

Best regards,
Shi Huang

I found this quote from you website, which I agree fully:
"The creation of novel organisms, which is an epigenetic phenomenon and not controlled by natural selection"
-Soren Lovtrup

14.01.2009 20:46, Kelly :
This is a great initiative! I really like this website because you try to demonstrate arguments for and against evolution and seriously, this is what I call Intellectual honesty! you see things with a critical eye and that is great! I know it is not easy, but you are motivating me to do the same for my personal researches. Keep the good work!

09.01.2009 23:02, flepsie :
Zoals elk jaar maken wij, wetenschappers in hart en ziel, een filmpje. Noem het een parodie, zelfspot, humor of kwetsend. Wij noemen het teambuilding op de werkvloer van het laboratorium. Daar waar de geheimen van het leven ontrafeld worden....

"Submission to Nature"
speciaal omdat 2009 het jaar van Darwin wordt. 7ng2sIOA&fmt=18

Theo van Gogh zou zich al lachend nog een keertje omdraaien in zijn graf.
En waar is trouwens Ayaan gebleven?

veel plezier,

09.01.2009 22:09, Enezio E. de Almeida Filho from Brazil E-mail Homepage :
I can't. I'm married, and have three children!!!

Cheers from Brazil,


05.01.2009 13:42, gert korthof :
Congratulations Enezio E. de Almeida Filho !
Now you can become a bishop!

04.01.2009 15:24, Enézio E. de Almeida Filho from Brazil E-mail Homepage :
Dear Gert,

Just to inform that finally I finished my History of Science Master Degree Program at Pontifical Catholic University, PUC-Sao Paulo, Brazil, on October 2008.

Best regards from Brazil,

Enezio E. de Almeida Filho

15.12.2008 08:38, gert korthof :
You can find a short bio on this page: f/kortho13.htm

15.12.2008 06:51, Kevin W Kelley from The Home Planet E-mail Homepage :

Interesting site!

Where can I find out more about you?

I am the author of the book The Home Planet and you can find out more about me and my work on

Thanks Kevin

09.11.2008 09:35, Wim Ahlers E-mail :
Bij de Tinbergen lezing (in Leiden) van dit jaar was ik teleurgesteld dat de zaal niet gevuld was.

Op dinsdag 25 november geeft Richard Leakey een publieke lezing eveneens op het universiteits terrein in Leiden (zie onderstaande link!).

Ik heb het tot mijn persoonlijk doel gesteld om dit keer wel de zaal volledig vol te krijgen. Bij deze nodig ik dan ook iedereen uit, meneer Korthof en andere belangstellenden, inclusief leken zoals ik, om deze publieke lezing bij te wonen.

Registreren is gratis en eenvoudig, zie:
Klik hier voor info en registratie!

Die zaal moet vol!

Verspreid deze publieke invitatie aan potentiële andere belangstellenden.

MvG, Wim Ahlers.

p.s. Ik heb zelf een persoonlijke invitatie gehad via mijn contact in Leiden. Deze universiteits medewerker heeft expliciet bevestigd dat de invitatie ongelimiteerd naar alle (potentiële) belangstellenden doorgestuurd kan worden.

08.11.2008 03:11, wayne E-mail :
I just read your review of Darwinism, Science or Philosophy. Ruse said," philosophically one should be sensitive to what history shows, that evolution,akin to religion, involves making certain a priori or metaphysical assumptions, which at some level cannot be proven empirically." That Sir, is a philosophical statement!

30.10.2008 09:19, lauran E-mail Homepage :
This is a very nice and interesting site, I convey lot of useful information.

Link Building

03.10.2008 09:11, Jasper Winkel from Primordial Soup E-mail Homepage :
Beste Gert Korthof,

Ik ben hier terecht gekomen via uw (leuke!) blog Ik wilde u graag uitnodigen het CONGres te bezoeken dat ik op 10 december organiseer vanuit studievereniging CONGO (levenswetenschappen, UvA). Het congres heet Science and Religion, 'the Meaning of Life Science'.
De sprekers zijn Bas Haring, Bert Theunissen, David Linden, Jan van Hooff, Cees Dekker, Dick Swaab en Alister McGrath.
Als u het programma interessant vindt, wilt u misschien ook een link op uw site plaatsen?
Onze website is

Vriendelijke groeten,

Jasper Winkel
CONGrescommissie 2008

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