In a particularly Dawkins-esque stroke, Shallit pounds the pulpit:
What we do see is evolution taking place today, and we have the fossil record that shows the changes in the past. You have to be particularly dense or dishonest to deny this.In other words, we already know that any limits to variation don't matter to macroevolutionary theory, because macroevolution must have occurred. We have these here fossils, and we know Mr. Darwin's speculations about them must be true because we observe limited variation now. Accept the extrapolation or be denounced as a "denier"! Shallit and his audience stand ready to punish the deniers by pointing and laughing while simultaneous shaking their fists in furious rage.
Shallit invokes speciation. I'm not certain if everyone would agree on his instances of speciation (none of which he offers--it is left as an exercise to the reader), but perhaps he would be surprised to know that even most "Young Earth" creationists believe in some limited form of speciation. In spite of considering himself an expert on pseudo-science, he doesn't even understand the nature of his favorite "pseudoscientific" bugbear, Young Earth Creationism. He might also be unaware that even though undirected speciation may be necessary for macroevolution, it is not sufficient to explain macroevolution. In fact, Cornelius Hunter, who is not a Young Earth creationist, does not deny ultra-fast adaptation or an old age of fossils. Shallit seems to consider him a run-of-the-mill creationist. It seems that Shallit does not recognize any significant differences among those he considers "creationists" (which for him includes ID advocates).
All of this is probably lost on evolutionary materialists who depend on a quasi-Newtonian metaphor in which evolution is moving with a sort of inertia. This is why Jerry Coyne can liken macroevolution to a train in motion (though it is also an artificially powered and directed machine) and Shallit can compare it to cosmological materials flying apart. (Although, the hypothetical drive powering the quasi-infinite variation of evolution is, in epistemological status, somewhat reminiscent of poorly understood "dark energy.")
|As natural as a train in motion... Give this choo-choo |
enough time and it just might reach the Galapagos Islands.