Happy 270th birthday, Jean-Baptiste!

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Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet was born on 1 August 1744 in Bazentin-le-Petit, Picardy, France. He was from a family of impoverished nobility, so he came to have the title Chevalier de Lamarck. He died at the age of 85 on 18 December 1829.

Jean-baptiste_lamarck2.jpg

He was probably the greatest invertebrate biologist, clarifying the classification of invertebrates greatly. For that matter he is the one who coined the terms “invertebrate” and “biology”. He also was the first major evolutionary biologist, arguing that species had evolved from common ancestors and putting forward his own theory of the mechanisms – an inherent complexifying force combined with inherited effects of use and disuse of organs. One thing he did not do was introduce the notion of inheritance of acquired characters. Everyone already believed it; he just made use of it. So it should not be called “Lamarckian inheritance”.

Happy birthday to Lamarck, not a crackpot, not a quack, but a great evolutionary biologist.

38 Comments

Well maybe he inherited his belief in the inheritance of acquired characteristics from his parents’ beliefs in inheritance of acquired characteristics.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

OK, it doesn’t make me think either.

Glen Davidson

Cultural inheritance of ideas often is described as following “Lamarckian inheritance”. It does have inheritance of acquired characters. It is less clear whether it has Lamarck’s supposed mechanism of “use and disuse”, or his inherent complexifying force. Except maybe in software projects.

Please tell me that he achieved the title of “Count”…

scienceavenger said:

Please tell me that he achieved the title of “Count”…

That’s really low-hanging fruit, but it’s on “La Marck”

I’m missing the pun.

Lamarck was of the impoverished nobility, whose only route to eminence was through the army, which is where he started. He was only a Chevalier and remained at that low rank.

Buffon inherited great wealth and was the Comte de Buffon. Cuvier was made a Baron although he was born of the bourgeoisie.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall for all the usual reasons – that Byers, our long-time troll, has never been willing to actually discuss biological evidence, but he only draws conclusions. Replies to him will also go to the BW. JF

His idea about a complexifying force does not seem to be mentioned in textbooks nearly as often as the idea about inheritance of acquired characters. I find this puzzling, since the c.f. idea was more uniquely his, as I understand it, and it was pretty nifty. It at once explained why there are ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ forms today, and it explained the glimmer of evidence of succession in the fossil record – that the oldest rocks only had invertebrates, then later rocks included fish, strange reptiles, and finally mammals.

Mark Sturtevant said:

His idea about a complexifying force does not seem to be mentioned in textbooks nearly as often as the idea about inheritance of acquired characters. I find this puzzling, since the c.f. idea was more uniquely his, as I understand it, and it was pretty nifty. It at once explained why there are ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ forms today, and it explained the glimmer of evidence of succession in the fossil record – that the oldest rocks only had invertebrates, then later rocks included fish, strange reptiles, and finally mammals.

However, the extinction of the dinosaurs presented a difficulty with the complexifying force in the early 19th century. The CF was failing in its job if these huge complex creatures passed away, while so many simple little animals are still with us.

Mark Sturtevant said:

His idea about a complexifying force does not seem to be mentioned in textbooks nearly as often as the idea about inheritance of acquired characters. I find this puzzling, since the c.f. idea was more uniquely his, as I understand it, and it was pretty nifty. It at once explained why there are ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ forms today, and it explained the glimmer of evidence of succession in the fossil record – that the oldest rocks only had invertebrates, then later rocks included fish, strange reptiles, and finally mammals.

On the other hand, the complexifying force has the problem that even if it existed it would not explain why the organism became well-adapted. If it is about the right size, getting bigger is not adaptive. The reason for emphasis on his other force, inherited effects of use-and-disuse, is that they do provide an explanation for adaptation. However, textbooks should provide an accurate account of Lamarck’s actual theory.

TomS said:

However, the extinction of the dinosaurs presented a difficulty with the complexifying force in the early 19th century. The CF was failing in its job if these huge complex creatures passed away, while so many simple little animals are still with us.

Strangely enough, Lamarck did not believe in extinction. In his tree, if a species went extinct, the forms below it would evolve and fill in the gap in the tree – thus evolving the extinct species again! His tree is both a genealogical tree and a set of channels along which evolution happens. If this sounds rather bizarre and inconsistent to us, that is a correct reaction – it is bizarre and inconsistent.

I think that Lamarckian biologists in the late 1800s and early 1900s de-emphasized Lamarck’s complexifying force because by then it sounded bizarre to almost everyone.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Strangely enough, Lamarck did not believe in extinction. In his tree, if a species went extinct, the forms below it would evolve and fill in the gap in the tree – thus evolving the extinct species again!

Which supplies the answer to how come there are still monkeys if they evolved into humans!

(I hasten to make it clear that I’m not being serious.)

There were a lot of people who did not believe in extinction. For one thing, it would represent a flaw in God’s creation. (Today’s creationists somehow or other have made their peace with that. Explain that!) Apparently Thomas Jefferson expected that expeditions like Lewis and Clark’s would find mammoths. (And that would show that America had megafauna to complete with Europe’s.)

Lamarck did not believe all species shared a common ancestor. While he believed in evolution, it was a version that would seem quite alien to any living evolutionary biologist. New simple species constantly appeared and they evolved upward in his version. It was not a tree but a bunch of parallel line segments. This was nonsense. One of Darwin’s big conceptual advances was to replace those lines with trees.

Joe Felsenstein said:

I’m missing the pun.

This should make everything clear:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sztf4hcGrB4

Childermass said:

Lamarck did not believe all species shared a common ancestor. While he believed in evolution, it was a version that would seem quite alien to any living evolutionary biologist. New simple species constantly appeared and they evolved upward in his version. It was not a tree but a bunch of parallel line segments. This was nonsense. One of Darwin’s big conceptual advances was to replace those lines with trees.

What’s actually nonsensical is to anachronistically judge early scientists for not being aware of later advances that their work paved the way for.

By this standard, Gallileo was an idiot for not anticipating Newton, Newton was an idiot for not anticipating Einstein, and so on.

And all current scientists are idiots because they can’t know what will be known one hundred years from now.

Lamarck is used as the embodiment of an incorrect view of evolution for two reasons.

1) It’s a common, indeed almost universal, initial human mistake, when first learning about evolution. Lamarck did believe in inheritance of environmental characteristics, but he believed that before evidence to the contrary was widely available. It’s the seeming intuitive credibility of the idea that makes it a good teaching mechanism to refute it.

2) In the UK, and to a lesser extent in other parts of the Anglosphere, anti-French bias plays a role. Lamarck happened to be a contemporary of the French Revolution and the regime of Napoleon Bonaparte. That was one of the greatest period of hostility between the nation state of France and England. Subsequently, in WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and the post-Cold War, the UK and France have been allies, but Lamarck is a figure from the days of enmity, and he has always received somewhat biased treatment as a result.

harold said:

What’s actually nonsensical is to anachronistically judge early scientists for not being aware of later advances that their work paved the way for.

See the Wikipedia article Whiggish historiography#In the history of science

TomS said:

harold said:

What’s actually nonsensical is to anachronistically judge early scientists for not being aware of later advances that their work paved the way for.

See the Wikipedia article Whiggish historiography#In the history of science

That was interesting.

Other readers should check the link, but briefly, “Whig history” refers to the portrayal of history as a progression toward some increasingly desirable state of affairs.

But, as it happens, I’m not so much criticizing Whig history above. I’m somewhat whiggish in this sense myself. And the history of science, in particular, is certainly the history of increasing amount and accuracy of scientific knowledge.

But I am defending Lamarck’s place as a very important contributor, even within a whiggish model. My point is merely that the vast majority of productive contributors won’t single-handedly generate a major theory, nor foresee major advances of the future. We could criticize Darwin for not foreseeing molecular genetics. But we should actually note that both Darwin and Lamarck made major advances, that later led directly to even more advances.

I also strongly agree with the point made in the article linked, that there is no actual organized “science” before some point in history. I would be inclined to push it back at least to the anatomists of the sixteenth century.

Yet science did grow out of pre-scientific scholarship and technology.

I think the importance of largely unwritten artistic and technological advances as ancestor to science is sometimes overlooked. At least by lay people like me.

How much the history of science should concern itself with things that happened before the term “science” is directly applicable is an interesting question.

Harold, I do not subscribe to the Whig Interpretation of History. I even read Butterfield’s book, which gave the name to that view, over two decades ago though admittedly I don’t remember much of the content.

Lamarck was absurd not merely absurd from our point of view (and some seem to think he was some sort of proto-Darwin), but from the standards of his own time.

As has been pointed out the did not believe in extinction. The evidence was already in for that by his time. His scheme was a conceptual mess especially when it tried to deal with the fossil record. That record does not show any sort of progression to us. The creationist George Cuvier make short work of Lamarck’s views. That we today know that Cuvier’s own views are incorrect will not change that. Other than keeping the idea that species could change in time out there, I would not consider his work to have been a necessary stepping stone for Darwin to do what he did.

Meanwhile the article is still wrong about Lamarck being an advocate of common descent. He was not. The only reason to just assume that he was, is the idea that he was some sort of less-perfect Darwin which is a bit Whiggish itself.

So it should not be called “Lamarckian inheritance”.

Why not? It’s associated with him, even though it was hardly unique to him, being shared with Darwin, for instance. Darwin didn’t invent the idea of natural selection, but is there any reason we should not call natural selection “Darwinian”?

Happy birthday to Lamarck, not a crackpot, not a quack, but a great evolutionary biologist.

How so? What did his theory really have going for it? The fact is that Lamarck is quite a fine counterpoint to the stupid, ignorant ID attacks on (good) evolutionary theory, that it exists in order to be rid of God. Why not just accept Lamarck’s ideas and get rid of God that way, except that he didn’t really explain much (like similarities between fairly well separated life forms) and relied on woo like the “complexifying force”? Buffon and Cuvier weren’t impressed by Lamarck’s evolutionary ideas.

Were they just bigoted (Cuvier was perhaps wedded to creationism, for all I know, although I don’t think Buffon was), was it because they knew a crock when they saw it, or some mix of the two? We aren’t likely to know this easily, and it’s just historic curiosity anyway, but Cuvier liked Lamarck’s work on invertebrates while seeing nothing of value in his evolutionary ideas, at least suggesting that at least it wasn’t the man he was rejecting.

Just as “Design” didn’t have much traction with biologists before Darwin, neither did Lamarckian evolution. I can’t say for sure, but I rather suspect that it was for good reasons in both cases.

Glen Davidson

Correction: I think now that Buffon died without seeing Lamarck’s evolutionary ideas, so it shouldn’t surprise (or mean anything) that he didn’t accept Larmarckian evolution.

Glen Davidson

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

So it should not be called “Lamarckian inheritance”.

Why not? It’s associated with him, even though it was hardly unique to him, being shared with Darwin, for instance. Darwin didn’t invent the idea of natural selection, but is there any reason we should not call natural selection “Darwinian”?

Glen Davidson

The Pythagorean theorem was not original to Pythagoras either. A lot of ideas are misattributed by tradition, and were often independently discovered. The advantage to keeping the most widely-used names is that people generally understand the concept you’re talking about, even if you’re getting your history wrong.

In a field as new as computer science, attributions change. A particular method for finding minimum spanning trees that I thought was called “Sollin’s algorithm” is now supposed to be called “Borůvka’s algorithm.” I don’t know which is actually used more commonly, but it’s recent enough that the change has a chance to stick.

Lamarck was a major contributor to evolutionary biology – his views were influential throughout the 1800s and continued to be a major competitor to Darwin’s and Wallace’s views until the time of the Modern Synthesis in the 1920s and 1930s. During the period after 1859 most biologists came to accept common descent, but many did not accept natural selection as a major evolutionary mechanism. Many of them were one form or another of Lamarckian. See Peter Bowler’s excellent history of this debate The Eclipse of Darwinism.

The reason not to name inheritance of acquired characters after him is to avoid the impression that this was something that he invented and tried to foist on people. If you asked an average person in his era whether this idea was Lamarck’s, they would say “La-who? I’ve always known that!” Lamarck’s idea was more specific – the effects of use and disuse as one type of inheritance of acquired characters. The distinction was important because use-and-disuse is capable, in principle, of explaining why the change is actually adaptive.

The somewhat mysterious nature of Lamarck’s forces such as the inherent complexifying force was common in scientific theories in the early 1800s. By later in the 1800s they appeared embarrassingly mystical and were quietly de-emphasized in “Lamarckian” theories.

Stigler’s law of eponymy

“No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.”

TomS said:

Stigler’s law of eponymy

“No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.”

Who originally discovered that law?

Joe Felsenstein said:

TomS said:

Stigler’s law of eponymy

“No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.”

Who originally discovered that law?

“Stigler named the sociologist Robert K. Merton as the discoverer”

TomS Wrote:

There were a lot of people who did not believe in extinction. For one thing, it would represent a flaw in God’s creation. (Today’s creationists somehow or other have made their peace with that. Explain that!)

As you know, most of “today’s creationists” are clueless people on the street who haven’t given 5 minutes’ thought to anything they repeat. Unfortunately so are most people who claim to have no problem with evolution but don’t know an atom from a molecule, but I digress. If you mean that tiny subset of “creationists” that I prefer to call “anti-evolution activists,” they will keep or toss whatever anti-evolution arguments they think will sell, even if they contradict other anti-evolution arguments. Because they know that their target audience will either not notice, or, in the case of many critics who know better, take the bait and argue on their terms instead of asking the hard questions, as you and I do.

As for extinction, if one who believes in a Creator does not consider the death of an individual as a “flaw,” why would he consider multiple, simultaneous deaths one? Besides, the subset of believers that takes the Flood story literally has no problem with that mass extinction.

TomS said:

“Stigler named the sociologist Robert K. Merton as the discoverer”

Stigler apparently did this deliberately, so as to allow the law to be named Stigler’s Law.

Frank J said:

TomS Wrote:

There were a lot of people who did not believe in extinction. For one thing, it would represent a flaw in God’s creation. (Today’s creationists somehow or other have made their peace with that. Explain that!)

As you know, most of “today’s creationists” are clueless people on the street who haven’t given 5 minutes’ thought to anything they repeat. Unfortunately so are most people who claim to have no problem with evolution but don’t know an atom from a molecule, but I digress. If you mean that tiny subset of “creationists” that I prefer to call “anti-evolution activists,” they will keep or toss whatever anti-evolution arguments they think will sell, even if they contradict other anti-evolution arguments. Because they know that their target audience will either not notice, or, in the case of many critics who know better, take the bait and argue on their terms instead of asking the hard questions, as you and I do.

As for extinction, if one who believes in a Creator does not consider the death of an individual as a “flaw,” why would he consider multiple, simultaneous deaths one? Besides, the subset of believers that takes the Flood story literally has no problem with that mass extinction.

It’s hard to understand what they’re going to accept and what they’re going to find objectionable.

Are the dinosaurs saved from the Flood, only to go extinct later, or are the dinosaurs still with us? For that matter, were there dinosaurs, or are they just a figment of “historical science”?

Why is it OK for there to be naturalistic accounts of birth and death, but not for speciation and extinction; or OK for extinction, too, but not speciation; or OK for speciation but not for “baraminogenesis”? The Bible, and I don’t think that we can get much dissent on this, says nothing about extinction. (But then, the Bible doesn’t say anything about the taxonomy of microbes or their genesis.)

TomS said: It’s hard to understand what they’re going to accept and what they’re going to find objectionable.

Are the dinosaurs saved from the Flood, only to go extinct later, or are the dinosaurs still with us? For that matter, were there dinosaurs, or are they just a figment of “historical science”?

Why is it OK for there to be naturalistic accounts of birth and death, but not for speciation and extinction; or OK for extinction, too, but not speciation; or OK for speciation but not for “baraminogenesis”? The Bible, and I don’t think that we can get much dissent on this, says nothing about extinction. (But then, the Bible doesn’t say anything about the taxonomy of microbes or their genesis.)

For the average “creationist” on the street…eh, who knows.

For the activist creationists, they have all the explanations for everything. Dinosaurs were saved, but most of the big ones died out eventually from climate change, even though some species could have theoretically survived to this day. Speciation and extinction can happen, but genetic “information” can’t “increase”, so any given set of species must be groupable into original information-apex baramins.

david.starling.macmillan said:

TomS said: It’s hard to understand what they’re going to accept and what they’re going to find objectionable.

Are the dinosaurs saved from the Flood, only to go extinct later, or are the dinosaurs still with us? For that matter, were there dinosaurs, or are they just a figment of “historical science”?

Why is it OK for there to be naturalistic accounts of birth and death, but not for speciation and extinction; or OK for extinction, too, but not speciation; or OK for speciation but not for “baraminogenesis”? The Bible, and I don’t think that we can get much dissent on this, says nothing about extinction. (But then, the Bible doesn’t say anything about the taxonomy of microbes or their genesis.)

For the average “creationist” on the street…eh, who knows.

For the activist creationists, they have all the explanations for everything. Dinosaurs were saved, but most of the big ones died out eventually from climate change, even though some species could have theoretically survived to this day. Speciation and extinction can happen, but genetic “information” can’t “increase”, so any given set of species must be groupable into original information-apex baramins.

Oh, I know it is pointless to pretend that there is something worth investigation. But I have the vice of curiosity.

How much of that is told us in the Bible? How much is mere human guesses about when and where there were no human observers?

But I have the vice of curiosity.

Remember what that did to the cat!

Lamarck was absurd not merely absurd from our point of view (and some seem to think he was some sort of proto-Darwin), but from the standards of his own time.

This simply isn’t true. The standards of understanding of biomedical science circa 1800 were minimal. Lamarck was a major contributor.

Early contributors to fields often had ideas that were later shown to be wrong. The great early pathologist Virchow was a denier of both evolution and germ theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virchow (that article doesn’t touch much on his denial of germ theory). However, he also make major lasting contributions, and where he was wrong, as many others were, he was shown to be wrong by later conclusive evidence.

However, I give up. It’s a major cognitive leap for people to understand that things were different in the distant past. Medieval illustrations showing Bible characters in whatever medieval fashions were current at the time the illustration was made are more characteristic.

This leap is hard enough for people to make when there is no biasing factor, and in the case of Lamarck, a biasing factor has been at play for two centuries.

harold said:

This leap is hard enough for people to make when there is no biasing factor, and in the case of Lamarck, a biasing factor has been at play for two centuries.

The last time I saw any of this in a formal educational context was high school (over 30 years ago), and I felt the take-away was that Lamarck’s work was a step forward, not backwards from what was previously known. The same holds for experiments (Redi, Needham) involving spontaneous generation that reached incorrect conclusions due to incomplete sterilization. Outside biology, phlogiston theory was covered in a similar way.

But I agree that Lamarck is a sort of symbolic scapegoat for an error in thinking that has been repeated independently by many people. I don’t see why it should be hard to accept that many of his conclusions have been refuted, but he was still a brilliant thinker in his day.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Lamarck was a major contributor to evolutionary biology – his views were influential throughout the 1800s and continued to be a major competitor to Darwin’s and Wallace’s views until the time of the Modern Synthesis in the 1920s and 1930s.

Is that what Bowler said? If so could you provide a cite?

And for the third consecutive year in a row? we’ve had this dance concerning the description of Lamarck as advocating evolution.

http://www.victorianweb.org/science/lamarck1.html

David Clifford, Ph.D., Cambridge University, writes:

“In 1809 he published his most famous work, Philosophie Zoologique. This volume describes his theory of transmutation. The theory that Lamarck published consisted of several components. Underlying the whole was a ‘tendency to progression’, a principle that Creation is in a constant state of advancement. It was an innate quality of nature that organisms constantly ‘improved’ by successive generation, too slowly to be perceived but observable in the fossil record. Mankind sat at the top of this chain of progression, having passed through all the previous stages in prehistory. However, this necessitated the principle of spontaneous generation, for as a species transformed into a more advanced one, it left a gap: when the simple, single-celled organisms advanced to the next stage of life, new protozoans would be created (by the Creator) to fill their place.”

So Lamarckian “evolution” and evolution as we understand the concept since the rise of Darwinism are completely foreign to one another. Do you agree? And can we agree that Lamarck was actually a Creationist? If not, why not?

The reason not to name inheritance of acquired characters after him is to avoid the impression that this was something that he invented and tried to foist on people. If you asked an average person in his era whether this idea was Lamarck’s, they would say “La-who? I’ve always known that!” Lamarck’s idea was more specific – the effects of use and disuse as one type of inheritance of acquired characters. The distinction was important because use-and-disuse is capable, in principle, of explaining why the change is actually adaptive.

Did Bowler say that too? I’m NOT questioning your scholarship. I know exactly who you are. I’m just wondering, since you mentioned Bowler, if he said these things?

Ray, I’m frustrated too. Yes, we’ve been around and around on this one. I thought we made a little progress last time (see below) but here you come with the same old arguments.

1. What Bowler said: You can check out a copy from some library. Read Chapter 4. It’s entitled “Lamarckism” and is 49 pages long. That’s nearly a quarter of his book, which is about evolutionary thinking after 1860 that rejected the importance of natural selection. Its sections include “The Origin of Lamarckism”, “Lamarckism, 1890-1914” and “Lamarckism after the war” (he means after 1918).

2. Your often-used phrase “as we understand the concept since the rise of Darwinism” is, as I have said several times before, a ridiculous equivocation. By that standard Newton did not have any laws of motion “as we understand the concept since the work of Einstein”.

3. Last year we had these arguments out. You must have forgotten what happened. After I made arguments for Lamarck having had an evolutionary theory and not having been a creationist, you wrote (here):

Joe definitely has a valid point. I’ve argued Behe, Meyer, and Dembski not real Creationists based on acceptance (not possibility) of species mutability. Of course such argument pleases the aforementioned. They don’t want to be viewed as Creationists; seems they are ashamed of the Creator, the Father of their alleged Savior.

I’m willing to retract my identification of Lamarck to have been a Creationist for the time being. Obviously, all things considered, the issue at hand is complex, requiring more thought before conclusions can be made.

But here you are again with the same old Clifford quote, the same old absurd argument “as we understand the concept since”, and a refusal to notice what you said last year. For a while I thought you were willing to admit being wrong when you were shown to be wrong.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Ray, I’m frustrated too. Yes, we’ve been around and around on this one. I thought we made a little progress last time (see below) but here you come with the same old arguments.

We did in fact make progress. I forgot the degree of progress that was made. I should not have repeated; rather, I should have picked up where we left off (one year ago).

1. What Bowler said: You can check out a copy from some library. Read Chapter 4. It’s entitled “Lamarckism” and is 49 pages long. That’s nearly a quarter of his book, which is about evolutionary thinking after 1860 that rejected the importance of natural selection. Its sections include “The Origin of Lamarckism”, “Lamarckism, 1890-1914” and “Lamarckism after the war” (he means after 1918).

Thanks!

2. Your often-used phrase “as we understand the concept since the rise of Darwinism” is, as I have said several times before, a ridiculous equivocation. By that standard Newton did not have any laws of motion “as we understand the concept since the work of Einstein”.

Based on the fact that Darwin was the first to propose and explicate undirected processes to account for major phenomena (adaptation), your analogy to the work of Newton greatly improved upon by Einstein appears invalid. Newton thought his laws were designed; Einstein thought of them as not designed. Whether these laws in their current state are designed or not designed cannot be called upon as reflecting the relationship between species theories before and after 1859. Prior to 1859 species theories were directed. Post 1859 undirected. Said difference cannot be described in terms of improvement, unlike the relationship between Newton and Einstein. In biology the difference is best described as antonymic.

3. Last year we had these arguments out. You must have forgotten what happened. After I made arguments for Lamarck having had an evolutionary theory and not having been a creationist, you wrote (here):

Joe definitely has a valid point. I’ve argued Behe, Meyer, and Dembski not real Creationists based on acceptance (not possibility) of species mutability. Of course such argument pleases the aforementioned. They don’t want to be viewed as Creationists; seems they are ashamed of the Creator, the Father of their alleged Savior.

I’m willing to retract my identification of Lamarck to have been a Creationist for the time being. Obviously, all things considered, the issue at hand is complex, requiring more thought before conclusions can be made.

But here you are again with the same old Clifford quote, the same old absurd argument “as we understand the concept since”, and a refusal to notice what you said last year. For a while I thought you were willing to admit being wrong when you were shown to be wrong.

I retracted my identification of Lamarck to have actually been a Creationist based on an argument that you made the last time we had this dance. Again, I had forgot what I said since it was about a year ago. Now, as I indicated, I have thought about it sufficiently. I am ready to make some definitive conclusions.

In our last round (about a year ago) you said:

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/201[…]mment-312058

J. Felsenstein:

“Funny thing is, Ray is terribly picky about who, other than him, is a real creationist. He has been heard many times to say that people like Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, or William Dembski don’t qualify, as they admit the possibility of some evolution. In Ray’s book, almost everyone other than him are not true creationists. Except, apparently, Lamarck.”

The point of your argument is actually a demand for consistency. Lamarck, in my thinking, cannot be a Creationist while the big wigs over at the Discovery Institute are not.

Since Behe, Dembski, and Meyer accept the concept of natural selection and the concept of microevolution to exist in nature, that is, since they accept conceptual existence of Darwin’s main claim, as undirected, their acceptance of the concept of ID to also exist in nature, at the same time, renders all three men to hold a contradictory view of biological production. Acceptance of Intelligence, existing in nature, indicates metaphysical initiation of undirected processes. In short: Mind created mindless. By the rules of logic the proposition is impossible. The effect cannot be deduced or inferred to correspond with the alleged cause. All three men are therefore shown to be hopelessly confused. They are neither Evolutionist nor Creationist. But like I said, they are confused. Obviously, since all three men are highly educated, they possess an ulterior motive for holding a contradictory view of biological production.

Lamarck, on the other hand, by having a role for God IN biological production, by the standards of today he must be identified as a Creationist.

Ray, I reject the idea that Lamarck is not envisioning evolution because he does not invoke “undirected” processes. Directed or undirected, it is evolution. Just as you are too picky about who is a creationist, you are too picky about who is an evolutionist.

You have Lamarck a creationist because, in among his use-and-disuse mechanism he has a force filling in gaps in the tree of life, and you believe that this is by Divine Intervention. Behe et al. do the same, but you refuse to count Behe as a creationist!

As to whether Lamarck envisaged a divine intervention, there is a passage in Philosophie Zoologique that is telling. Lamarck is comparing the previous theory with his own.

Conclusion adopted hitherto: Nature (or her Author) in creating animals, foresaw all the possible kinds of environment in which they would have to live, and endowed each species with a fixed organisation and with a definite and invariable shape, which compel each species to live in the places and climates where we actually find them, and there to maintain the habits which we know in them.

My individual conclusion: Nature has produced all the species of animals in succession, beginning with the most imperfect or simplest, and ending her work with the most perfect, so as to create a gradually increasing complexity in their organisation;

Notice that the “conclusion adopted hitherto” (i.e., by everyone else) involves actions by “Nature (or her Author)”, but that when Lamarck makes his “individual conclusion” only Nature is acting.

I think that Lamarck was at most a deist, and was not a theist, hence certainly not a creationist.

Joe Felsenstein said:

Ray, I reject the idea that Lamarck is not envisioning evolution because he does not invoke “undirected” processes. Directed or undirected, it is evolution. Just as you are too picky about who is a creationist, you are too picky about who is an evolutionist.

You have Lamarck a creationist because, in among his use-and-disuse mechanism he has a force filling in gaps in the tree of life, and you believe that this is by Divine Intervention. Behe et al. do the same, but you refuse to count Behe as a creationist!

As to whether Lamarck envisaged a divine intervention, there is a passage in Philosophie Zoologique that is telling. Lamarck is comparing the previous theory with his own.

Conclusion adopted hitherto: Nature (or her Author) in creating animals, foresaw all the possible kinds of environment in which they would have to live, and endowed each species with a fixed organisation and with a definite and invariable shape, which compel each species to live in the places and climates where we actually find them, and there to maintain the habits which we know in them.

My individual conclusion: Nature has produced all the species of animals in succession, beginning with the most imperfect or simplest, and ending her work with the most perfect, so as to create a gradually increasing complexity in their organisation;

Notice that the “conclusion adopted hitherto” (i.e., by everyone else) involves actions by “Nature (or her Author)”, but that when Lamarck makes his “individual conclusion” only Nature is acting.

I think that Lamarck was at most a deist, and was not a theist, hence certainly not a creationist.

I have read your reply with great interest. Neither of us desire to create redundant replies. So I’ll let my last post stand, and your post above be the last word.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Felsenstein published on August 1, 2014 12:08 PM.

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