Creationist Wisdom #101: The Polymath

FOR our first entry in this series to start the new year, we present to you, dear reader, a column titled The Myth of Evolution , which appears at a website calling itself Right Side News, about which we can find no information other than the fact of its existence. Judging from the quality of today’s column, we wouldn’t regard it as a reliable source of information on any topic.

The author is John Leonard. At the end of his column we are told:

John Leonard is’s newest Contributing Author. Other articles by John may also be found on His first book, titled Hybrid Theory: Reconciling Creationism and Evolution Theory, is pending publication by epress-online.

So we went looking for epress-online, which we assume is a vanity publisher, and found their website. They require the author to submit his book in their format, and it seems that they put it online and share the revenue with the author. It doesn’t appear that they pay anything in advance, as is customary in the publishing world, so they seem to be a publisher of last resort.

We also found Introducing our new author, John Leonard, where we learn, among other things:

He is married, have [sic] two children and two (one pending) grandchildren, live in Alpharetta, Georgia, developed computer software for twenty years, dabbled in real estate investment until he decided as a writer at least he wouldn’t lose money.

This intellectual titan has now turned his considerable talents to demolishing the theory of evolution. Here are a few excerpts from his column in Right Side News, with some bold added for emphasis and our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. Here we go:

What is evolution? The term is actually a conglomeration of four separate and distinct theories, each of which must be successfully addressed in order to explain our existence. The Big Bang theory attempts to explain the origin of the universe. The theory of abiogenesis attempts to explain the origin of life and how inanimate matter became a living organism. The theory of speciation attempts to explain how the first simple, single celled life forms evolved to become every known species of plant and animal life we know today. Finally, Darwin’s theory of natural selection defines the process by which a given species mutates over time through “descent by modification”.

Where have we seen such a spectacularly bone-headed description of evolution? Ah yes, we discussed it here: Creationist Comic Books from Jack Chick, and in particular, something close to Mr. Leonard’s misinformation is found in Big Daddy.

From "Big Daddy"

Let’s read on from Mr. Leonard’s column:

Without God’s involvement in creation, the conglomeration of theories known as evolution falls completely apart. Scientific evidence for abiogenesis flat out does not exist. In fact, the dictionary defines abiogenesis as “the now discredited” scientific theory to explain the origin of life. No further elaboration is necessary.

Ah, science research via the dictionary. Profoundly convincing. We continue:

Likewise, there is no credible evidence for speciation. The much touted fossil record only proves the existence and extinction of life forms before modern life came into being.

Yeah, just a buncha bones. On the other hand this author has no problem with natural selection. But he has a perfectly logical reason:

Darwin’s theory of natural selection is also logical to accept by those who believe in the Bible because it explains the expansion of life since Noah, the Ark and the great flood. Noah took two of every kind of animal; not two black bears, two brown and two Grizzlies, just two bears total. Natural selection is a logical explanation for how life propagated over the earth again.

There are other goodies in the column, as the author reveals himself to be not only a better biologist than virtually all now in that field, but he’s also an expert on American history and constitutional law. Behold the insights of this prodigiously learned polymath:

The phrase “separation of church and state” originated from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists. It is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution.

Jeepers, he’s right! Hey, “separation of powers” isn’t mentioned either. Nor is “checks and balances,” “limited government,” or “popular sovereignty.” Everything we ever learned is a fraud!

Here’s more:

The incredible bias and animosity against the theory of creationism stems from a thinly veiled objection to religion in general and God in particular. … It appears the primary objection to creationist theory is the perceived duration of the Creation week.

Uh … actually, there are other objections. Anyway, here’s the final paragraph:

The theories collectively known as evolution should be honestly and fairly taught in school against competing theory, not as gospel truth. Each individual theory should be examined and judged on merit, not given shared credibility by implying all have evidence comparable to Darwin’s famous observations.

If you can figure out this guy’s position on anything, please help your Curmudgeon out. We can’t make any sense out of any part of it.

Update: Another Leonard column is discussed here: Global Warming & Creationism: Yet Again.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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61 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #101: The Polymath

  1. “…evolution should be…taught in school against competing theory, not as gospel truth.”

    I don’t remember ever hearing anybody say that evolution was the “gospel truth.” Isn’t that more of a creationist claim?

  2. So much low hanging fruit; so little time….

  3. Gonna buy his book, Longie?

  4. I didn’t realize you could disprove a scientific theory by looking it up in the dictionary. Boy, haven’t we been wasting our time. Oh and who forgot to send the memo that the Theory of Evolution now encompassed “Life, the Universe, and Everything.”

  5. John Leonard

    Good sarcasm…but the only problem is you aren’t able to refute any of the points I made in the article I wrote. What is evolution? Can you define it for me? Can you give me one example to prove abiogenesis or speciation are true? From where did the matter in the Big Bang originate?

    You can mock and ridicule me all you want but it doesn’t matter because until you successfully refute any statement made in the article, or in my book for that matter. Question my credentials, insult my publisher, I don’t care – I write to make my point, and I will sell books whether you buy them or not.

    Shooting the messenger doesn’t destroy the message. The same shallow intellectualism that led to the lemming-like acceptance of “global warming” as fact because consensus and Al Gore told us to believe…or, are you one of those who don’t believe Climategate disproves anything?

    I was inspired to write my book by Richard Dawkins because of his book The God Delusion. His P.O.V. is that you can’t disprove God, but His existence is improbable. I did a year of research to examine how more probable evolution was. I was surprised at what I found. Just for the record, making your point with bluster and bravado doesn’t give it legitimacy. Like Joe Friday used to say “Just the facts, ma’am”.

    BTW, in your “analysis” of my article, there was one factual inaccuracy, for the record. You said separation of powers is not “mentioned” in the Constitution, which is technically accurate specifically in regard to the term, but the separation of powers are defined by the Constitution, Articles 1-3.

  6. Good of you to drop in, John. We usually don’t debate with creationists here, but I’ll set that tradition aside in this case. If any of our regular visitors want to deal with your points, that’ll be fine.

  7. Define evolution? How about “descent with modification in the hereditable traits of a population”. Examples of speciation are plenty: I would note that many creationists have conceded that, and prefer to speak of “created kinds”. Here’s an example of a new genus: <i?Triticale.

    Now, can anyone define any “alternative to evolution”? No “privative definitions”, please, something positive. Even just a partial description, something which comes up to the standard of an expository essay. For example, you might be able to tell us the difference between something that is designed and something that is not designed. Or, even, just give us a couple of examples of each.

  8. Hi John,

    Like you I think that God is the ultimate cause. I am curious about your “theory” though. How many years ago does it claim that thefirst life on Earth was created? Does it agree with Michael Behe’s “theory” that humans share common ancestors with other species? If you have any disagreements with Behe’s “theory” have you challenged him directly, or if not do you plan to do so?

  9. John Leonard: “Opponents of the theory paint all creationists as people who believe in a “young earth” only 5,000 to 10,000 years old.”

    You need to clarify that only some opponents make that mistake. As you can see I do not, and I can assure you that at least TomS and the Curmudgeon go out of their way to counter that misconception.

    So, since you are apparently an OEC, have you challenged any YECs? If it’s only about the science, it should’t matter that you have the same political/philosophical views. When a testable claim is wrong, it’s wrong.

  10. Maine Operative

    Mr. Leonard: Following Karl Popper’s criteria, in order for a scientific hypothesis to be valid, it must be falsifiable. Please explain how you would test and disprove your hypothesis using sound scientific methodology.

  11. The learned Mr. Leonard announces

    I did a year of research to examine how more probable evolution was. I was surprised at what I found.

    A whole year, Mr Leonard? One whole, entire twelve-month year? Man, that is quite a credential (although it pales just a tad against the 20 years + Darwin spent developing his notes from the 5 year Beagle voyage, but never mind).

    Let’s assume you’re a fast reader and covered a lot of ground in your whole entire year of research. It would be useful and instructive if you could kindly provide a bibliography of titles of books and periodicals you read during your exhaustive research? This is a serious request, I hope you will oblige me here. Thanks.

  12. I ought to say a thing or two. First, regarding evolution, ten years ago I started assembling the List-O-Links, for the specific purpose of providing reliable information about evolution and all the usual creationist objections, and to avoid having to repeat the same things for each new creationist who comes along. Virtually all of Mr. Leonard’s points are addressed there, and in thousands of other sources. There’s also the well-known and rather exhaustive Index to Creationist Claims at TalkOrigins. I think the readily-available information is sufficient.

    Creationists either never learned such things, or if they’ve encountered them they prefer to ignore them and rely on long-debunked arguments. There’s nothing to be done in such cases.

    As for the phrase “separation of church and state,” people with theocratic tendencies love to point out that it’s not in the Constitution — as if that “proves” such separation is a fiction. It’s true — trivially true — those specific words aren’t there, nor are the other phrases I mentioned in my post (e.g., “checks and balances”). Those phrases are nevertheless accurate descriptions of the Constitution.

    Madison wrote the First Amendment. He and Jefferson were almost intellectual clones when it came to such matters. It was Madison who got Jefferson’s Virgina Statute on Religious Liberty passed by the Virginia legislature, over the objections of Patrick Henry. Jefferson knew exactly what Madison’s First Amendment meant. Madison himself used Jefferson’s phrase to describe it. See: Jefferson, Madison, and the “wall of separation” in Wikipedia.

  13. On the one hand, I do think that the origins of the cosmos allow room for theological speculation in ways that the origins of various specific life-forms don’t. The origin of life is a trickier question because we don’t really have a good handle on just exactly life is. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on Stu Kauffman and the self-organizing complexity people, but that’s a big pill to swallow.

    So, sticking to biology:

    (1) in fact, speciation has been observed in several cases, if we stick with a technical definition of “species”;

    (2) although most major animal phyla did emerge during the so-called “Cambrian explosion,” the same cannot be said for orders, classes, etc. (Likewise sub-phyla, super-orders, etc.) Our phylum, Chordata, is represented in the Burgess shale by Pikaia, although the classification of Pikaia as a chordate is not definite. (Interestingly enough, there are Cambrian fossils much older than the Burgess shale.)

    (3) Punctuated equilibrium is a theory about the tempo of evolutionary change, as distinct from gradualism — it is not a replacement for natural selection.

    (4) while there’s nothing (or not much) philosophically amiss with Leonard’s synthesis of evolution and creation — though such syntheses are hardly original — what is at stake in the Controversy is not whether views of this kind are even plausible, let alone true. What is at stake is whether any of the alternatives to evolution should be taught alongside evolution as science in public school classrooms.

  14. It will be interesting to see if Leonard is actually interested in engaging in some real debate. Doubtful. It looks like he’s deposited his drive-by comments and likely is retreating back to his cave. Too bad.

  15. Mr. John Leonard exhibits many of the more common symptoms of the common crank. His science is non-existant, his history is superficial and flawed, his logic muddled, and . . . . .

    His writing is really only deserving of ridicule and a good laugh.

  16. Keelyn says: “It looks like he’s deposited his drive-by comments and likely is retreating back to his cave.”

    Maybe. He knocked and I opened the door, assuring him of considerate treatment. He may be back. If not, then it was just hit & run. But it’s too early in the day to decide.

  17. It’s no wonder that he hasn’t gone to a scientific journal. His phrase “until you successfully refute any statement made in the article” shows he doesn’t have a clue that the burden of proof is really his. Anyone can make a claim, put a few facts to support it, and proudly proclaim they have the ANSWER, but its much harder to bring actual convincing evidence to the table and have it survive peer review. If he’s this upset by a few bloggers with varying amounts of experience upsetting his little book, imagine what would happen in the brutal world of peer review.

  18. waldteufel: “His writing is really only deserving of ridicule and a good laugh.”

    It would be if it didn’t fool millions who aren’t completely hopeless. If he truly believes his claims, he would want to correct creationists whose claims contradict his own. If he insists on challenging only “Darwinists,” at least some of us will suspect that he has no confidence in his alternate explanation, and promotes it only because he’s truly afraid that the “masses” must reject evolution or else they would behave as if all is permitted.

  19. I’m sorry but, why are we talking to this Leonard guy? Does he bring something new to the debate? If so, I missed it.

    “Good sarcasm…but the only problem is you aren’t able to refute any of the points I made in the article I wrote.”

    Uh, that’s because they have all been refuted better elsewhere and we don’t feel the need to rehash them here. For all his “year of research” he seems to have missed or ignored them.

    I have no doubt he’ll find some suckers to buy his book (just look at all the Astrology books that get sold every year) but, I don’t think he’ll be making any waves in the scientific world.

  20. John Leonard,

    So many creationists have made the claim that the theory of evolution describes and includes the Big Bang. You have read here that the Curmudgeon and many of the commenters here feel otherwise. My understanding is that most, if not all, evolutionists separate the Theory of Evolution from the Big Bang Theory.

    I would like to hear, from your research, of any evolutionist who claims that the theory of evolution includes the big bang or the start of the universe.

    I would even like to hear about creationists and ID proponents who make that claim, although I would like that list to confirm my opinion that they are dishonest or ignorant of the theory they attack. With that in mind, you might reasonably ignore my request for this second list.

    I will grant you that the Theory of Evolution, particularly when described for a lay-audience, does seem to have a variety of definitions, but I have never heard, from evolutionists, of it going beyond biology.

    Thanks for your time.

  21. Trying to smuggle cosmology into the Theory of Evolution is nonsensical, if for no other reason than Biological Evolutionary Theory is independent of whatever cosmological theory one chooses, so long as it provides sufficient time for natural selection to act on heritable traits.

    Think of it this way: what difference could it possibly make if Big Bang Cosmology were replaced with Steady State Cosmology, in so far as it pertains to the validity of the theory of Biological Evolution?

    To argue that cosmological theory is subsumed by Evolutionary theory is tantamount to arguing that The Theory of Moisture Creation is subsumed by meteorological Theory.

    Meteorology stands and falls on its own merits regardless of how moisture came into being, and Biological Evolutionary Theory stands or falls on its own merits, regardless of cosmology.

    Smuggling cosmology into the Debate serves only as a device to cloud the issues where clarity is the enemy of someone’s position.

  22. Gabriel Hanna

    One thing John Leonard should have uncovered in his annus mirabilus is that laws of nature form a hierarchy.

    Physics is the fundamental one. Other disciplines like biology and geology rely on physics to get its job done and takes it for granted. Physics won’t tell you how to make an elephant–a description of an elephant in terms of what its component quarks are doing would be extremely tedious and pointless–but elephants can’t do anything to break the laws of physics.

    If the Steady State theory were proved tomorrow, or relativity and quantum mechanics disproved, biology would go on with probably no further adjustment. As long as chemistry and thermodynamics works so does biology. Doesn’t matter what the whole universe was doing 15 billion years ago or where the earth came from.

  23. Gabriel Hanna says: “Physics is the fundamental one.”

    For now. But wait until I publish my General Theory of Curmudgeonism.

  24. You know……… We must start telling these dumb Krixstian Mo-fo’s that they can’t prove their imagiunary ‘ghourd’ exists………. by denying SCIENCE!!! We have the proof…. they have nothing but their imaginations!!!!!

  25. John Leonard Writes: “I did a year of research to examine how more probable evolution was. I was surprised at what I found.”

    Well, you certainly didn’t learn how the probability of null and alternate hypotheses are calculated. What a surprise!

    I’m sick and tired of this irreducible complexity crap (I’m sure that’s what you are hinting at), so here is how it works: You can’t just calculate the probability of just one alternative hypothesis and call it done, you calculate ALL of them (approximately) and add them up. That assumes you have a null hypothesis in the first place, which you don’t, so even then it is nonsense. Irreducible complexity is not based on any sort of statistical probability, it is merely arithmetic, and pointless arithmetic at that.

    Stats are sort of my thing, sorry for the mini-rant.

  26. Sorry your comment got moderated, Tomato Addict. Nothing personal (despite my aversion to tomatoes). I should have relaxed the filters because of this discussion.

  27. The Curmudgeon’s aversion to tomatoes is because they disprove “Darwinism.” According to “Darwinism” a tomato is a fruit. But anyone can see that it’s a vegetable “kind.” 😉

  28. Just as I expected; Leonard is a coward. The Curmudgeon made a good faith gesture to allow Johnny to defend his nonsense, but so far he has refused the offer. But really, Leonard has no interest in debating with anyone who actually knows something about science. That’s because his bottom line is just as he stated:

    “…I will sell books …”

    And a gullible and science illiterate public will buy them. Unfortunately, “gullible and science illiterate” accurately describes the majority of the public. That’s good for sales – and profits.

    Of course, I’m sure Leonard isn’t really interested in money. What true servant of god ever is? No doubt he believes every one of the long ago refuted arguments, multiple conflations, misrepresentations, misconceptions, quote mines, and every other piece of creationist nonsense he is recycling. And – it sells.

    Really, nobody cares. Except, that it’s slightly irritating that as one trashes good science (such as evolutionary biology) at every opportunity, they just as quickly without any qualms exploit it as personally needed. But, I’m sure Leonard never takes personal advantage of the benefits of modern medicine or agriculture. But if he did, it would seem to me to be a bit hypocritical of him. But, I suppose I can live it.

    What I won’t live with, though, is Leonard and his ilk attempting to cram their creationist claptrap into a public school science class by conning ignorant politicians in positions of authority into believing that their junk has scientific validity and usefulness. It doesn’t.

    Anyway, it’s unlikely Leonard will be back to defend any of his cesspool waste. As others have said, the burden of evidence is on him – and he doesn’t have any. Like the proverbial flatulence in a light breeze, he has raised his stink and is now gone with the wind.

    Although, any good scientist will always admit that they might be wrong. Are you out there, Johnny? Hello?

  29. That’s right Frank, and I won’t stop until “Tomatoism” is taught along side evolution in every science class! 😉

  30. Keelyn says: “Just as I expected; Leonard is a coward.”

    It looks that way. Or maybe charlatan/would-be bully. Or perhaps the victim of some mental disorder. Maybe something else. Their motivations vary.

    I’ve been dealing with creationists for years, which is why I won’t tolerate their nonsense here. It’s one thing to chat with uninformed or misinformed young people who sincerely want to learn. It’s quite another to confront an adult in the throes of full-blown creationism. There’s no hope for the latter, and it’ll drive you crazy to try to get through to them.

    I don’t know why I gave Leonard the welcome I did. Maybe I was testing a long-held conclusion. Anyway, the results are not at all unexpected.

  31. I’m glad that I didn’t put out much effort in responding to him. I could have looked up stuff in Wikipedia for him, but, as it turns out, that would be a waste of effort.
    But I will mention that I will welcome a description of an alternative to evolution from anyone. Provided that it comes up to the standard of a secondary-school expository essay.

  32. TomS: “But I will mention that I will welcome a description of an alternative to evolution from anyone.”

    Heck, I’d appreciate if if they at least critically analyzed other anti-evolution positions and stated clearly where they fail in terms of “what happened when. That would give them some credibility, even if they can’t support an alternate theory.

    Anyway, it’s Sunday morning, so I think we should be patient for another day or so.

  33. Frank, I agree that we should give him enough time. Well, here it’s Monday afternoon, and still nothing.

  34. I note this Monday morning that Mr. Leonard has added a reply to comments to his article. It’s pretty much a rehash of what he dropped on us here.

    I noticed a rather odd censorship in the comments. Some examples: a*sure, a*sume, pa*s, or any variation of these words. If they hadn’t inserted the asterisks, I wouldn’t have known these words would offend anyone. Though they don’t have a problem asking for a “password” or allowing Mr. Leonard to use words like “mass” or “classroom”.

  35. TomS: “Frank, I agree that we should give him enough time. Well, here it’s Monday afternoon, and still nothing.”

    So you’re the one who keeps “expelling” these people who disappear just when it gets interesting. 😉

  36. John Leonard posted this comment in a different thread, which I’m copying here:

    [John’s comment begins:] Your comments on the article asking me to come back for a debate seem to be turned off. I had to leave one here.

    You have my email address – if you’d like me to come back, I’ll be happy to do so. I am busy and cannot monitor your site constantly to see if you’re interested in speaking with me.

    It must be my bad – I see the check boxes below and must have not checked them last time. Most people comment on my article where it was posted, but I don’t care where we debate if you’re interested in a serious discussion.

    I see you like referring to me as a creationist polymath (I assume sarcasm is behind the polymath comment, but I’m ok with that). I have four projects in the works at the moment, so without further ado, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions to start the debate…

    1. Do you believe in the paranormal or supernatural?

    2. What do you think happens when we die? Do you believe in any sort of life after death?

    Curious to see how this is going to work. This comment isn’t associated with the “bait” article because comments aren’t turned on there.


  37. I assume John Leonard‘s questions were directed at me. My beliefs aren’t the issue. I posted about his beliefs, not mine. If John believes something, the burden of proof is on him. If he wants to defend what he said in his letter, he’s free to do so. He won’t accomplish that purpose by interrogating me.

  38. Mr. Leonard asks, “1. Do you believe in the paranormal or supernatural?

    2. What do you think happens when we die? Do you believe in any sort of life after death?”

    Is that the direction he wants to go when we’re discussing evolution? It isn’t worth the BS to talk with him then.

  39. John,

    I, for one, am glad to hear you’re interested in continuing the discussion. I’m going to repeat my question from an earlier comment and feel it would be polite to answer your questions first:
    “1. Do you believe in the paranormal or supernatural?”
    In short, No. I suspect you will provoke discussion on the meaning of ‘believe’. I would love to believe in the paranormal but have seen no evidence for it. I don’t believe it because I haven’t seen any evidence.

    “2. What do you think happens when we die? Do you believe in any sort of life after death?”

    I think our bodies rot away. I don’t think there is any sort of life after death as I understand your question. I am a parent and a teacher; I do hope my teaching lives on after I have died, and I expect my DNA to continue for some time.
    My question:
    I would like to hear, from your research, of any evolutionist who claims that the theory of evolution includes the big bang or the start of the universe.

    I would even like to hear about creationists and ID proponents who make that claim, although I would like that list to confirm my opinion that they are dishonest or ignorant of the theory they attack. With that in mind, you might reasonably ignore my request for this second list.

  40. RogerE says: “Is that the direction he wants to go when we’re discussing evolution?”

    He says evolution is a myth. That’s his claim, and that’s the subject.

  41. Just to remind him that we still haven’t heard about what happened and when.

    And any attempt to change the subject to things like the paranormal or life after death will be ignored. Unless you want to answer questions about who will win the Superbowl or whether P=NP.

  42. John Leaonard:

    Thanks for returning to the discussion. To answer your questions:

    1. I believe in God in the general sense, and that there’s a lot that we don’t know. I’m reluctant to use the word “supernatural” because it’s poorly defined. As for “paranormal” I find it normally associated with people making claims that they don’t properly support. So I don’t accept it, yet at least.

    2. I do not know what happens after we die. But just in case I may be judged (I like to think we are) I try to be decent and honest. As a scientist who has studied claims for and against evolution for decades, I am convinced that I would be bearing false witness if I claimed that evolution was a “theory in crisis” or that there was a better explanation that scientists are “expelling.”

    Now, would you be so kind as to answer my questions of Jan. 2?

  43. TomS: “And any attempt to change the subject to things like the paranormal or life after death will be ignored. ”

    I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was unable to post comments here and that he was unable to re-read the questions that he left unanswered. I won’t do it again.

  44. Frank J says: “I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was unable to post comments here and that he was unable to re-read the questions that he left unanswered.”

    He was never banned, nor was he placed on moderation. He has always been able to read and post here.

  45. The Curmudgeon says: “He (John Leonard) says evolution is a myth. That’s his claim, and that’s the subject.”

    Wonderful. Then he rejects 150 years of solid, tested, evidentiary based science that is accepted by an overwhilming consensus of experts in the field of biology. As such, the burden of presenting evidence to the contrary is on Leonard. So far, the only thing he has done is to rehash the same old sickening, long debunked creationist claptrap – a typical run-of-the-mill anti-science crackpot. If Leonard wants to debate, then I insist he introduce new arguments and evidence never seen before. Otherwise, he’s just one more nitwit seeking attention.

    You have the ball, John. Give us something NEW and keep it within the realm that science can investigate – and that does not include the supernatural or “life after death.” Evolutionary biology is science, John, so you need to present scientific evidence demonstrating that it is incorrect. (And remember, gaps in knowledge does not neccesarily mean incorrect) Before you start, you may want to read this (it’s optional – just a thought to help you out):

  46. Curmudgeon: “He was never banned, nor was he placed on moderation. He has always been able to read and post here.”

    I don’t mean to imply in any way that it was your doing. Maybe it was a glitch on his computer. Whatever the case, I think that any reasonable reader can see that we are all bending over backwards to give him a forum, and that the ball is in his court.

    There’s always Talk.Origins if he wants to have a discussion with “evolutionists” and anti-evolutionists representing a wide range of opinions.

  47. Keelyn wrote:”As such, the burden of presenting evidence to the contrary is on Leonard.”

    I suggest that there is a “burden” dating back to 1852 (yes, even before “On the Origin of Species”) which is not so “onerous” as presenting evidence:

    If they have formed a definite conception of the process, let them tell us how a new species is constructed, and how it makes its appearance. Is it thrown down from the clouds? or must we hold to the notion that it struggles up out of the ground? Do its limbs and viscera rush together from all the points of the compass? or must we receive the old Hebrew idea, that God takes clay and moulds a new creature? If they say that a new creature is produced in none of these modes, which are too absurd to be believed, then they are required to describe the mode in which a new creature may be produced—a mode which does not seem absurd; and such a mode they will find that they neither have conceived nor can conceive.
    Should the believers in special creations consider it unfair thus to call upon them to describe how special creations take place, I reply that this is far less than they demand from the supporters of the Development Hypothesis. They are merely asked to point out a conceivable mode.

    Herbert Spencer, “The Development Hypothesis”
    Originally published in The Leader, March 20, 1852.
    Reprinted, slightly modified, in:
    Essays: Scientific, Political, and Speculative. Library Edition, containing Seven Essays not before republished, and various other Additions (London: Williams and Norgate, 1891). Volume 1, pages 1-7.

    Online at:

    Also online at:

  48. Good quote, TomS. Sorry you were delayed in moderation. It was the number of links that did it.

  49. Alright John here’s my answers:

    1. No I don’t really believe in Supernatural or Paranormal events, since science and progress has an amazing record of showing how all sorts of things that were “of the gods” a little while ago are readily explainable today. So if its unexplained today, I am very sure that it won’t be tomorrow.

    2. When we die, brain functions cease and our bodies start to decay. Anything other than that is pure speculation and/or wishful thinking.

    Given that you seem to be trying to include supernatural causes into our world, I’d like to ask you to who you would attribute these events to. It would seem obvious, but it leads to my next question of what criteria do you use to ascribe it to said personage, and not say Zeus? Or Vishnu? Or Odin? Or The Flying Spaghetti Monster? How exactly do you take events which are beyond normal explaination and give it a certain origin? That would probably be a most revealing answer.

  50. Interesting. kwandongbrian and Albanaeon gave roughly similar answers to John’s 2 questions. I gave a very different one. Had Ken Miller or Francis Collins answered, they would have given very different answers still. These are not really simple questions – there are many shades of meaning to the words involves – so there’s an almost endless discussion that could proceed from them.

    But let’s not forget that John was asked the questions first, and they are indeed simple questions. I already withdrew one (John clearly answered that he is an old-earth-old-life creationist) but the others still stand.

  51. How does any of this help John Leonard to establish that evolution is a myth?

  52. Curmudgeon: “How does any of this help John Leonard to establish that evolution is a myth?”

    I’d like to help, but I can’t think of any way without bearing false witness. Oh I could cheat and help him show that a “naturalistic evolutionism” caricature is a myth, maybe even bait-and-switch evolution and abiogenesis, redefine “species” to assure that speciation has not been observed, etc. There are hundreds of tricks I could use (see “Index to Creationist Claims”). But God might not approve, so I better not.

  53. I’m slowly getting the feeling that John isn’t coming back.

  54. Jobn Leonard

    Mr. Curmudgeon,

    I asked a couple of questions because you expressed an interest in debate so I wanted to establish a frame of reference, an understanding of relative positions. Apparently you have no wish to debate, only to critique.

    Why did you want me back?

  55. Jobn Leonard asks: “Why did you want me back?”

    I thought you might have something to say. My mistake.

  56. Jobn Leonard

    I appreciate everyone taking the time to post comments about my article here, but I don’t monitor this site constantly – or ever, for that matter. I stumbled across it when I was my article was reprinted here and looked to see by whom, since permission wasn’t requested. I find the conversation interesting and wish I had time to respond individually, but time constraints (I assure you, it’s not a lack of courage – feel free to email me directly – my email is posted with the article on right side news – and as soon as I have time I will respond, provided the conversation is civil. I won’t respond to insults, I just ignore them. It only reflects poorly on the source for lacking something more intelligent to say.

    But I will respond to one question that caught my attention, because it’s been asserted more than once that my year of research was inadequate. For the following three reasons I reject and refute that premise:

    1. I stand on the shoulders of giants. Darwin’s already established natural selection, I’m not debating it. I’m saying there is not only no proof, it is more logical to believe in creation than speciation.
    2. I am not challenging the fossil record, only the conclusions one has drawn based on the evidence provided in the fossil record. There are a lot of petrified bones and skeletons of extinct animals including and predating the dinosaurs. These animals are dead and no longer exist. What that means is subject to argument. Since when is anyone unqualified to have and express an opinion?
    3. I only referred to the last year of most recent study. If you want to be technical, I have well over forty years experience in studying the related subjects discussed in my book.

    Thank you again for your interest and comments,


  57. Was it something we said?

  58. Longie asks: “Was it something we said?”

    As I said, this whole thing was my mistake. You’d think after all this time that I should know better.

  59. The thing is, Mr. Leonard doesn’t really want a debate. He has already said that he does not believe the evidence and yet expects us to prove evolution based on the evidence. If hundreds of experts who have spent decades studying this and have written thousands of books and articles can’t convince him, how are we supposed to do that here in some blog comments? What would he accept as proof? It seems obvious that nothing will convince him.

    Mr. Leonard ask, “Since when is anyone unqualified to have and express an opinion?” A rather strange turn of phrase. Sure, he is ‘qualified’ to give an opinion and he has been given free reign to express it both here and elsewhere. However, his ‘opinions’ are presented as fact and fly in the face of almost all modern science. He wants us to base science on opinion?

  60. John Leonard: “I’m saying there is not only no proof, it is more logical to believe in creation than speciation.”

    I will be emailing you. I am still waiting for your answers to my questions (regarding Behe and common descent, and whethere you have challenged/debated other anti-evolutionists). But I think an email excahnge will be more productive, because we need to be clear on the definitions of terms such as “creation” and “speciation” to avoid talking past each other.

    As I mentioned before, there is also Talk.Origins if you want to have a discussion with those of a wide range of opinions. Please do ignore anyone whom you find rude or who attack your religion, politics or philosophy. I’m only interested in your thoughts of what happened when with respect to biological systems.

  61. Great, another person that’s totally convinced that things “poofing” into existence is more logical, only John doesn’t seem to realize the implications of all those fossils and extinct animals. If you are truly standing on the shoulders of giants, why don’t you update to ones in the 19th century and realize exactly what that means to your “theory.”