Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Christadelphian magazine and evolution. Part 5 - John Morris

John Morris’ article “The way God works” [1] in the June 2015 edition of The Christadelphian continues the less than edifying spectacle of poorly-researched, factually inaccurate, theologically dubious articles being granted cover-article status in The Christadelphian’s reckless endeavour to make accepting one of the best-attested facts in science a doctrine to be rejected.

Morris’ article makes the common mistake of confusing a theology of creation with a science of creation, one which completely ignores the fact that God works through secondary causes. He also misrepresents evolutionary creationists by asserting that they believe God micromanages the evolutionary process, a view which represents a long-dead alternative theory of creation that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but rejected in favour of the modern evolutionary synthesis. Ultimately, Morris’ article is based on fideism, in which a logical, rational approach to the evidence is ignored, and a fundamentalist distortion of the Bible is privileged above factual evidence. Articles such as that by Morris merely confirm that the militant anti-evolution movement in our community simply has no credible answer to the evidence for evolution and the non-fundamentalist interpretations of the creation narrative, and are simply resorting to misrepresentation of their opponents’ view, and the generation of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Introduction – demonising randomness and the God who uses chance

Once again, the anti-evolutionary article has been promoted to cover status, and is advertised with a blatantly manipulative sentence which is little more than a fusion of fallacious arguments:
If everything happens by chance, there is no future hope. God’s created earth is full of promise.
Implicit in this sentence are the following fallacies:
  • Attacking a straw man version of evolution by claiming it is a theory of chance
  • Appealing to consequence - if evolution is true, then we have no hope
  • Creating a false dilemma - either special creation or a random, hopeless, atheistic universe
Evolution, contrary to what Morris and other evolution denialists in our community allege is not a theory of chance. Mutation is random. Natural selection is not. It is a deterministic process in which populations evolve in response things such as environmental change. The reference to ‘stormy wind fulfilling His word’ should immediately raise in the mind of the perceptive reader the possibility that if God controls the environmental factors, then a population that evolves and changes in response to this has hardly ‘evolved by chance’. It should also remind people of the concept of divine agency, where God acts through secondary causes, though ultimate causation is attributed to him.

One of the more disturbing aspects of the anti-evolution series has been the fundamentalist reading of the Bible championed, even more than the poorly informed, misleading attacks on evolution. The attempt by Morris to demonise chance ignores the fact that random events are portrayed as being ultimately under God’s superintendence. For example, the account of King Ahab’s death in 1 Kings 22:34-37 explicitly links the fulfilment of a prophecy (Ahab’s death) with a random event:
But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.” All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died. As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: “Every man to his town. Every man to his land!” So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared. (Emphasis mine)
More pithily, the writer of Proverbs 16:33 states, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” a view that points out that not only is God greater than randomness, but that random decisions can be used by God to effect his will. In demonising evolution for being random and antithetical to God, Morris is not only ignoring what the Bible states about the relationship between God and chance, but is diminishing the power and glory of God. God's hope is not thwarted by anything, and even chance is used to achieve His goals.

A theology of creation is not a science of creation – understanding Divine agency

One of the more commonly used approaches evolution denialists in our community use is to confuse a theology of creation with a science of creation. Now, it is true that the exact mechanism employed by God to create is irrelevant to the theological message. C.C. Walker, in combating a flat-Earth believing Christadelphian who thought belief in a spherical Earth undermined the authority and inspiration of the Bible pointed out that:
Moses’ testimony is not so “plain” that it cannot be misinterpreted or misunderstood. He speaks of “the heaven and the earth” as being in existence “in the beginning;” and therefore it does not seem to be inadmissible to suppose that “the host of heaven” was likewise then in existence. Moses’ testimony was given to Israel in what might be called the infancy of the world, when men did not know the extent of the earth, let alone that of the sun, moon, and stars. And, as we believe, it was given (by God through Moses), not so much to instruct Israel in cosmogony in detail, as to impress upon them the idea that The Most High God is the Possessor of Heaven and Earth (Gen. 14:22). And this against the claims of the gods of the nations, as was abundantly proved in Israel’s history. [2] (Emphasis mine)
While Walker rejected evolution, he fully accepted the great antiquity of the Earth and rejected creation in six literal days. Furthermore, as this comment shows, he recognised that the main point of the creation narratives was not to provide a science of creation, but a theology of creation, one that was by implication independent of the precise details of creation. In fact, Walker freely admited that if the scientific evidence demanded a change in our interpretation of the creation narratives, then the only intellectually honest option would be to change:
The professors tell us for instance that some of these ancient birds, whose strides we can see for ourselves from their footprints were from four to six feet long, were like gigantic ostriches. Supposing that it were ever established that they were the actual progenitors of our smaller forms (“There were giants in the earth in those days” might apply to to birds and beasts), would the credibility of the Mosaic narrative suffer? Not at all, in our estimation. We should indeed have to revise somewhat our interpretation of the brief cosmogony of Gen. 1.; but should not waver as concerning its divinity, nor await with less faith and patience the reappearance of Moses in the land of the living. [3] (Emphasis mine)
In fact, the clear references to a solid firmament in Genesis 1 [4] should have been enough to remind Morris and other evolution denialists that providing scientifically accurate accounts of the world in which we live, let alone a scientific theory of how creation happened was the last thing the Bible was intended to teach.

Going further, there are major problems with any belief that the generic references to God creating are to be taken as a science of creation. Certainly, it is possible for God to micromanage every subatomic particle in real time and control the universe. However, the implication of this view of God as creator is that every natural disaster, every birth defect, and every example of suboptimal design in nature is a direct result of God's action. This leaves the special creationist uniquely open to the Epicurean trilemma:
  1. If God cannot prevent suffering and evil, then he is not omnipotent
  2. If God is unwilling to prevent suffering and evil, then he is not a loving deity
  3. If God is willing and able to prevent suffering and evil, then why do they exist?
A partial resolution to this problem is the free-will defence, in which God grants humans free-will. This defence however fails to cover natural evil, but by using a cost of creation / evolutionary theodicy which analogically extends the concept of free will to the natural world, the logical problem of evil is answered. The implication of this is that God uses human agency to bring about His purpose in the kingdoms of men, in which individual humans are free to do good or do evil, God will work through natural laws. Proof of God working through secondary causes to effect his will is not hard to find in the Bible. For example, in Ex 7:4-5, God states:
When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.
In fact, God explicitly states in verses 17-18 that he would strike the water with the staff in his hand in order to turn it to blood:
Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood. The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.
God however did not literally strike the Nile, but employed secondary methods (Aaron) to achieve his aims. Likewise, God did not literally stretch out his hand to smite Egypt, but rather employed secondary methods - the plagues - to achieve these ends. Critically, as the example cited earlier of the archer whose random shot killed Ahab in order to fulfil a prophecy, random acts are entirely comparable with specific divine intention. Morris' argument that random chance and divine plan are irreconcilable is false, just on Biblical grounds alone.

There is no such thing as theistic or atheist evolution - it's all just evolution

Morris opens his attack on evolution with a deeply misleading paragraph:
Bible believers have had long experience of contending with atheistic evolution. Now, we are also faced with the challenge of theistic evolution – the idea that evolution was the mechanism God used to create living species. This, however, is surely contrary to what we know about the way God works. God acts and intervenes according to a clear plan, starting with creation and culminating in the kingdom. Evolution, on the other hand, depends on chance processes with no pre-determined outcome.
Actually, Bible believers have had long experience of incorrectly conflating a minority of vocal atheists abusing evolutionary biology to justify their non-belief with the scientific community in general, some of whom are devout Christians who combine expertise in evolutionary biology with a profound Christian faith, while others are non-theists who are embarrassed by the hijacking of science for atheistic polemics. Morris does his readers a disservice by neglecting to remind them of this fact.

Right from the very beginning, many defenders of evolutionary biology were theologically conservative Christians. Historian of science David Livingstone points out how:
Darwin’s cause in America was championed by the thoroughgoing Congregationalist evangelical Asa Gray, who set himself the task of making sure that Darwin would have “fair play” in the New World. Let us be clear right away that this cannot be dismissed as capitulation to the social pressure of academic peers. To the contrary, Gray had to take on one of the most influential naturalists in America at the time to maintain his viewpoint – none other than Louis Agassiz, a Harvard colleague who vitriolically scorned Darwin’s theory. But Gray was not alone. Many of his countrymen, associates in science and brothers in religion took the same stand. And indeed even those who ultimately remained unimpressed with if not hostile to Darwin were quite prepared to admit that evolution had occurred. It is surely not without significance that Christian botanists, geologists, and biologists – that is to say, those best placed to see with clarity the substance of what Darwin had proposed – believed the evidence supported an evolutionary natural history. [5] (Emphasis mine)
Livingstone's reference to acceptance of evolution but hostility towards Darwin reflects the acceptance of the fact of evolution, but scepticism over Darwin's proposed explanation for evolution, namely his theory of natural selection. The lack of a robust mechanism of heredity in no small part led to the decline in Darwin's theory of natural selection from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries, with alternative theories of evolution such as mutationism, neo-Lamarckianism, theistic evolution (i.e.: God-guided evolution) and orthogenesis holding sway until natural selection was rehabilitated and brought back as the core part of the modern synthetic theory of evolution.

A number of the pioneers of population genetics (the reconciling of mendelian genetics with natural selection) and the modern synthetic theory were Christian. Geneticists Ronald Fischer, Sewall Wright, and Theodosius Dobzhansky were Christian, with Dobzhansky, in his famous article "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" making his deep Christian faith and acceptance of evolution clear in no uncertain terms:
The organic diversity becomes, however, reasonable and understandable if the Creator has created the living world not by caprice but by evolution propelled by natural selection. It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God's, or Nature's method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way. [6] (Emphasis mine)
Even today, the overwhelming majority of biologists and geologists who are Christians accept the fact of evolution and an ancient Earth, and see no conflict between both. New Zealand cell biologist and cancer researcher Graeme Finlay in an elegant article showing how comparative genomics confirms the reality of human-ape common ancestry declares:
So how did this demonstration of human evolution fit in with my Christian faith? The biblical concept of creation emphasized that all of reality is given existence by God. This biblical understanding was very important for the development of science during the Middle Ages, because it entailed that creation was ordered and behaved lawfully (and therefore was worthy of investigation). It also meant that the entire universe was creation, distinct from God (and therefore was amenable to investigation). The concept of an independent and lawful creation was foreign to polytheistic or pantheistic worldviews. On the biblical account, biological evolution is merely the history of life, and an aspect of God’s created world. [7] (Emphasis in original)
Cell biologist Kenneth Miller, famous for his testimony in the 2005 Kitzmiller versus Dover trial which declared that Intelligent Design was not science, but merely the discredited concept of special creationism in a new guise likewise sees no conflict between faith and evolution, and in words which are directly applicable as a refutation of Morris' false dilemma about chance and Divine purpose reflects:
It is often said that a Darwinian universe is one in which the random collisions of particles govern all events and therefore the world is without meaning. I disagree. A world without meaning would be one in which a Deity pulled the string of every human puppet, and every material particle as well. In such a world, physical and biological events would be carefully controlled, evil and suffering could be minimized, and the outcome of historical processes strictly regulated. All things would move towards the Creator's clear, distinct, established goals. Those who find discomfort in evolution often say that lack of such certainty in the outcome of Darwin's relentless scheme of natural history shows that it could not be reconciled with their faith. Maybe so. But certainty of outcome means that control and predictability come at the price of independence. By being always in control, the Creator would deny His creatures any real opportunity to know and worship Him. Authentic love requires freedom, not manipulation. Such freedom is best supplied by the open contingency of evolution, and not by strings of divine direction attached to every living creature.  
The common view that religion must tiptoe around the findings of evolutionary biology is simply and plainly wrong. [8] (Emphasis mine)
Miller is of course correct - a world which was micromanaged by God would eliminate suffering and inexorably drift towards His goal, but it would come at the cost of having all its participants mere robots, whose desire to follow God would be completely illusory. More to the point, the fact that considerable suffering exists in this world shows that if God is indeed micromanaging, He is deliberately inflicting considerable suffering on the innocent, and responsible for deeply flawed design, a fact on which I will touch later.

Geneticist Fransisco Ayala expands on this theme of how evolution provides an answer to the problem of suffering in his book Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion:
Later, when I was studying theology in Salamanca, Darwin was a much-welcomed friend. The theory of evolution provided the solution to the remaining component of the problem of evil. As floods and drought were a necessary consequence of the fabric of the physical world, predators and parasites, dysfunctions and diseases were a consequence of the evolution of life. They were not a result of deficient or malevolent design: the features of organisms were not designed by the Creator. 
Evolution by natural selection is Darwin’s answer to Paley. It is also the solution to the last prong of the problem of evil. Theology professors in Salamanca saw in the theory of evolution a significant, even definitive, contribution to theodicy. I was, therefore, much surprised when I became aware of the creationist movement in the United States and the pervasive reservations against the theory of evolution. [...]
I have sought over the years to persuade my readers and listeners that evolution is here to stay, as a well-corroborated scientific theory, but that Christians need not see evolution as a threat to their beliefs. My conviction is that the theory of evolution is theology’s disguised friend, not its enemy. This also is the message of this book: There need not be conflict between religion and science. Apparent contradictions only emerge when either the science or the religious beliefs, or very often both, are misinterpreted. [9] (Emphasis mine)
Finally, as Simon Conway Morris, a respected invertebrate palaeontologist who is also a devout Christian reminds us, there are many features of evolution which are consistent with a creator:
In essence, we can ask ourselves what salient facts of evolution are congruent with a Creation. In my judgement, they are as follows:  
  1. its underlying simplicity, relying on a handful of building blocks; 
  2. the existence of an immense universe of possibilities, but a way of navigating to that minutest of fractions which actually work; 
  3. the sensitivity of the process and the product, whereby nearly all alternatives are disastrously maladaptive; 
  4. the inherency of life whereby complexity emerges as much by the rearrangement and co-option of pre-existing building blocks as against relying on novelties per se; 
  5. the exuberance of biological diversity, but the ubiquity of evolutionary convergence; 
  6. the inevitability of the emergence of sentience, and the likelihood that among animals it is far more prevalent than we are willing to admit. [10]
Such a sample is necessarily incomplete, but it is enough to show that Morris, like his fellow evolution denialists is misleading his readers by perpetuating the tired argument that believers have been combatting 'atheistic evolution', when in reality they have been for years attacking a straw man version of evolution, and neglecting to point out that the vast majority of believing scientists not only accept evolution, but have been quite critical of attempts by atheists to hijack evolution for polemic purposes, a point that moderate atheists have pointed out on more than one occasion. Biophysicist and theologian Alister Mcgrath notes:
One of the greatest disservices that Dawkins has done to the natural sciences is to portray them as relentlessly and inexorably atheistic. They are nothing of the sort; yet Dawkins’ crusading vigour has led to the growth of this alienating perception in many parts of North American conservative Protestantism. Is there any better way to ensure that the sciences are seen in a negative light within this community, as interest in and commitment to religion resurges throughout much of the world? Little wonder that many Darwinians have expressed alarm at this attempt to brand the outlook as atheist. They are being discredited in the eyes of a vast constituency—needlessly and recklessly.

I have already criticized the Intelligent Design movement, a conservative Christian anti-evolutionary movement whose ideas are also lambasted in The God Delusion. Yet ironically, this movement now regards Dawkins as one of its greatest assets. Why? Because his hysterical and dogmatic insistence upon the atheist implications of Darwinism is alienating many of the theory of evolution’s potential supporters. William Dembski, the intellectual architect of this movement, constantly thanks his Intelligent Designer for Dawkins. As he put it recently in a somewhat sarcastic e-mail to Dawkins: ‘I regularly tell my colleagues that you and your work are one of God’s greatest gifts to the intelligent-design movement. So please, keep at it!’ I think he’ll be delighted by The God Delusion.

Small wonder that Ruse (who describes himself as a ‘hardline Darwinian’) commented in a leaked e-mail to Daniel Dennett that he (Dennett) and Dawkins were ‘absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design’.
What we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues—neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas—it is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard [Dawkins] claims—more than this, we are in a fight, and we need to make allies in the fight, not simply alienate everyone of good will.
Aha! Now we understand why Dawkins has cast Ruse into outer darkness. Don’t worry, Michael—you’re in good company. [11]
By quoting Dawkins as he was the spokesmen for all evolutionary biologists, Morris not only is guilty of ignoring theists and atheists who regard him as an embarrassment, but is perpetuating the myth that there is something intrinsically atheistic about evolutionary biology. This may make for cheap apologetics, but it is not how one approaches a difficult subject in a mature, informed manner

Returning to Dobzhansk's point about creation being a continuous process, this is a powerful and insightful remark that neatly undercuts Morris' assertion that God hand-crafted all the species 6000 years ago in a single creative act. Speciation has been going on ever since life began, and is a process that is observable today:

1. Homoploid hybrid speciation in plants has been documented [12] in eight cases: 
  • Helianthus anomalus
  • Helianthus deserticola
  • Helianthus paradoxus
  • Iris nelsonii
  • Peaonia emodi
  • Peaonia species group
  • Pinus densata
  • Stephanomeria diagensis
2. Incipient speciation has been documented in yeast via divergent adaptation and antagonistic epistasis. This was shown in an experimental population of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae: 
Unlike natural species, our experimental populations have an evolutionary history that is known with certainty. We can therefore conclude that divergent adaptation caused the reproductive isolation observed in this investigation. Experimental evolution of reproductive isolation has been studied in a few eukaryotes (mainly Drosophila) with mixed results. Previous research has focused mostly on prezygotic isolation, and we are aware of only a single study that reported successful evolution of postzygotic isolation by means of divergent selection. We present the most striking example of experimental evolution of postzygotic isolation observed in any organism, and the first for the fungal kingdom. 
Although the isolation that evolved de novo in our short-term experiment is partial, it represents incipient speciation. Given more time, complete reproductive isolation is likely to evolve. [13]
3. Incipient speciation in populations of Drosophila melanogaster via sexual isolation has been documented. [14] The authors note that “The results shed light on the population genetic processes underlying the formation of nascent species, as well as modes of speciation.”

4. Seehausen et al demonstrated [15] speciation within island populations of cichlid fish in Lake Victoria. The mechanism for this speciation is female preference for different male colouring, with differences in the light gradients in the lake being important in effecting speciation. As the authors note, this also explains why cichlid fish species collapsed during human-induced eutrophication.

5. The Rhagoletis apple fly provides an example of sympatric speciation occurring in the context of a shift from its native host to an introduced apple species. [16]

Examples could be readily multiplied, but the point has been made. Speciation has been repeatedly observed, and more importantly, we can work out how it happens. Therefore, just we we know the science behind thunderstorm formation and embryogenesis, two events which the Bible explicitly states are due to the hand of God, we are in a position to understand how God created, where he created, and when he created. Morris' special creationism in which he argues for a 'hands-on God' who created in the past has therefore been falsified.

Unravelling the Confusion about Theistic Evolution

After his attack on the bogeyman of 'atheist evolution', Morris creates another illusory adversary, the theistic evolutionists:
Now, we are also faced with the challenge of theistic evolution – the idea that evolution was the mechanism God used to create living species. This, however, is surely contrary to what we know about the way God works.
Morris is of course flat-out wrong when he asserts that evolution is 'contrary to what we know about the way God works. We know that He uses secondary causes to effect His purpose. We know that random processes are used by God to fulfil His word. And, given that we can see species being created in real-time today, can reconstruct evolutionary history from the fossil and molecular data, and can peer into the very molecule mechanisms by which evolutionary change occurs, we know much about where, when, and how God works when he creates. [17] Morris' assertion therefore can be readily discounted.

His failure to properly define what evolutionary creationists in our community believe is readily apparent in his reference to theistic evolution, a term which can refer both to a theory of evolution which was popular during the time natural selection fell out of favour in the scientific community, as well as a term for Christians who accept that God created via evolution, irrespective of their views on the precise details of that theoretical mechanism.  

The term 'theistic evolutionist' when used to describe those who accept the fact of an evolutionary natural history is very broad, and can include those such as:
  • Michael Behe, who accepts common descent but believes that the modern synthetic theory is incapable of explaining some aspects of the natural world, putting his views closest to the classic theistic evolutionist 
  • Francis Collins, who accepts common descent and the modern synthetic theory, but regards aspects of human evolution such as altruism as a problem. However, Collins, who has coined the term BioLogos as an alternative to theistic evolution denies that it is intended as a scientific theory. [18]
  • Kenneth Miller, who accepts common descent and the modern synthetic theory, stating "I don't think there are basic “gaps” in the theory of evolution, which has proven to be a remarkably flexible scientific framework, brilliantly accommodating new data and even new fields of science, like molecular genetics." [19]
Needless to say, this is a broad group of people, united by their Christian faith and acceptance of the fact of evolution, but whose views on the mechanism used by God to effect evolutionary falls on a spectrum. Morris' attempt to refute evolutionary creation is fatally undermined by:
  1. His failure to acknowledge that the evidence for common descent is so strong that even many in the intelligent design community such as Michael Behe accept it: "[t]he same mistakes in the same gene in the same positions of both human and chimp DNA...It's hard to imagine how there could be stronger evidence for common ancestry of chimps and humans." [20] The evidence for command descent is overwhelming, and that fact alone destroys his entire article. Evolution happened. The only intellectually honest approach is to accept that fact, take Walker's advice, and revise the brief cosmogony of Genesis.
  2. His failure to differentiated between the theory of theistic evolution, and the term 'theistic evolution' used to describe Christians who accept evolution, irrespective of their views on how it happened
  3. His failure to ask evolutionary creationists what they believe, Morris has certainly never approached me to find out what I believe, so his article definitely does not reflect my views)
This can be seen when he summarises Francis Collins' views and declares:
This summary appears to represent the understanding of a large body of theistic evolutionists. When it comes to details, however, there are (as Collins states) a number of divergent views, particularly in relation to the role of God.
Certainly, Collins' view that:
...humans are also unique in ways that defy evolutionary  explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God  that characterizes all human cultures throughout history.
is one that many evolutionary creationists would reject (myself included) so Morris is making unwarranted assumptions here by citing Collins' views as normative for all Christians who accept evolution. They are not.

Morris makes a spectacular, unforgivable blunder in his attack on evolutionary creationism when he attempts to contrast a random, directionless evolutionary process with special creation. Certainly, his claim that:
Evolution depends on chance happenings, which, as we have suggested, are uncharacteristic of our heavenly Father.
not only mischaracterises evolution, as natural selection is anything but a random process. Having said that, as I've pointed out earlier, the Bible points out that God can use random events to fulfil his purpose (the death of Ahab) so any attempt to place chance and God as irreconcilable founders completely. Certainly, comments such as Proverbs 16v33: "[t]he lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" alone are enough to fatally undermine Morris' position. In passing, the most amazing and depressing aspect of the attacks on evolutionary creationism by the evolution denialists in our community are not so much the scientific ignorance, but the marked errors in exegesis.

Damning though this mistake may be, his major error is to assert that 'non-serious' evolutionists promote a view of evolution driven by progress:
The traditional image conveyed by evolution, at least in popular presentations, is that of a ‘ladder’ of progress, a ladder at the base of which are the simplest organisms and at the top, man. Writings on evolution are, moreover, often peppered with words like ‘thrust’, ‘drive’ and ‘direction’ as if the ‘evolving’ natural world is seen as having an agenda, some inherent cosmic design, with a goal of steady and constant improvement and advancement. This popular view probably suits theistic evolutionists because, if (as they claim) God entrusted the development of life to evolution, it would have to be on the assumption that the process would produce increasingly complex organisms, and ultimately man.
Morris blunders badly here, as the 'ladder of progress', 'great chain of being' or 'Scala Naturae' predates modern evolutionary theory by at least two millennia, dating back to Plato and Aristotle. It was refined in the Middle Ages, temporarily co-oped by early non-Darwinian evolutionary thinking in the 18th and 19th centuries, but was eventually abandoned as the implications of evolution by descent with modification, in which evolution was seen to be a branching tree, rather than a ladder with amoeba at the bottom and humans at the top.

1579 drawing of the Great Chain of Being from Didacus Valades, Rhetorica Christiana. (Source)
Contrary to Morris' assertion, the great chain of being has never been a part of modern evolutionary theory, although its persistence in popular literature unfortunately complicates public education, if only because it allows the fallacious concept of the 'missing link' to persist, a point Louise Meade ably makes:
The concept of a “missing link” is an “archaic expression” tracing back to the Great Chain of Being, a view of the physical and metaphysical world as an unbroken chain. It was later temporalized by the evolutionary thought of the eighteenth and nineteenth century to the idea of evolution as a progressive climb up a ladder. These views of evolution create the false expectation that there should be fossil evidence showing “a complete chain of life from simple to complex”. Creationists rely on such views to support their arguments against macroevolution, in particular by pointing out the “conspicuous” absence of “large numbers of intermediate fossil organisms”, using what is still unknown to question whether evolution has occurred. [21]
Certainly, after Darwin's introduction of the concept of descent with modification, the concept of the ladder of evolution, or chain of progress lost all validity:
Thinking of evolution as a progression from simple to complex, or ladder-like, furthers the idea that evolution is lineal and that it should be possible to reconstruct a direct line of ancestors. However, the evolution of life, instead of resembling a ladder, is more similar to a branching bush. Darwin’s (1859) contribution to phylogenetic analysis indeed was to introduce the concept of a branching tree of life, with organisms related 
through common ancestry. [22]
Far from being the 'traditional view of evolution', the chain or ladder of progress represents both a long-abandoned, pre-Darwinian view, as well as the deliberate special creationist distortion of evolution for polemical purposes. 

Morris' misrepresentation of evolutionary biology continues when he alleges that evolutionary biologists (and evolutionary creationists) believe in an inner drive to evolution:
Writings on evolution  are, moreover, often peppered  with words like ‘thrust’, ‘drive’ and  ‘direction’ as if the ‘evolving’ natural world is seen as having an agenda, some inherent cosmic design, with a goal of steady and constant improvement and advancement. This popular view probably suits theistic evolutionists because, if (as they claim) God entrusted the development of life to evolution, it would have to be on the assumption that the process would produce increasingly complex organisms, and ultimately man.
Damningly, Morris never provides any citations to justify his claims. In the absence of such evidence, it is impossible to tell whether Morris is citing the primary literature and badly misunderstanding it, or appealing to popular literature on the subject, and taking seriously metaphors and figures of speech. Certainly, Morris is claiming that evolutionary biologists believe that there is an inner drive to evolution, and if he is, yet again he is blundering badly. One of the non-Darwinian theories of evolution popular before the modern evolutionary synthesis was accepted was orthogenesis, the belief that evolution proceeds according to an inner drive. Orthogenesis was abandoned long ago, so Morris is simply wrong to ascribe orthogenetic thinking to modern evolutionary biologists. Furthermore, most evolutionary creationists (myself for example) are quite mainstream in their views on evolution, and definitely reject orthogenesis as it is incompatible with the evidence from natural history. [23] 

Having misrepresented what evolutionary biologists (and evolutionary creationists) think about progress in evolution, Morris then makes a clumsy attempt to undermine their position by appealing to what 'serious evolutionists' believe:
Serious evolutionists, however,  are more guarded about progress,  and do not promote the notion of  an evolutionary ladder and the idea of forces which drive the process ‘upwards’.
Serious evolutionists since the early 20th century, when the idea of evolution as a ladder was finally abandoned, and the mid-20th century, when orthogenesis and its ideas of evolution being driven by an inner force or drive, have long since rejected the views that Morris erroneously ascribes to them.

A clumsy attempt to turn the tables - Morris on suboptimal design and evolution

Unsurprisingly, Morris continues to blatantly misrepresent evolutionary creationist, this time by claiming that they believe in a God who actively directs the process of evolution. This is nothing more that the long-abandoned theory of theistic evolution, and Morris is seriously in error if be believes contemporary evolutionary creationists believe this. Once again, my views on evolution (along with many other Christadelphian evolutionary creationists) are quite mainstream. Therefore, when he says:
Having considered the view that  God initiated life and then let  evolution take its course, we now focus on a very different variant of theistic evolution: the view that God did not merely start but was then actively involved in directing the process of evolution. Those holding such a view would, of course, point out that it accords with the characteristic of God as One who acts and intervenes. But the idea of divinely guided evolution remains at odds with the Genesis account of creation, and poses other difficulties for its adherents.
As I've already pointed out, Morris errs greatly by ascribing to contemporary evolutionary creationists a dated, long-rejected interventionist view of evolution, one that they specifically reject. Furthermore, Morris makes the major mistake of thinking that the creation narrative is a scientifically accurate account of creation, a literal reading of which can be used to refute evolutionary creationism. We've already seen that C.C. Walker warned his readers against thinking that the creation narratives were written primarily to establish a detailed understanding of the mechanism of creation. Furthermore, we've seen that the creation narratives specifically state that God created a solid firmament separating waters above from waters below, a view which even evolution denialists such as Morris do not take literally. Genesis 1 polemicises against ancient creation mythology. It establishes a functional ontology of creation. However, what it does not do is provide a scientifically accurate account of creation, so irrespective of one's views on the mechanism of evolution, such a reading cannot be used as a means of rebutting evolution, unless one has the honesty to accept the premodern cosmogeography taught in Genesis, and insist that all Christadelphians believe in a flat Earth covered by a solid firmament.

Arguably the most risible part of Morris' attack on evolutionary creationists is when he attempts to use the problem of suboptimal design against them:
Theistic evolutionists draw attention to alleged ‘genetic errors’  and ‘useless features’ which are  said to have been discovered in a variety of species. In man, for example, there are apparently: (1) nerve tracts which are far longer than they need to be to reach the target organ; (2) sinus canals which are not ideally placed for an upright-walking biped; (3) design imperfections in the human spine – and other such ‘anomalies’. These ‘defects’ are alleged to prove evolution “because no intelligent designer would make such errors”. Yet by claiming that God directed the evolutionary process, theistic evolutionists are, in effect, charging God with responsibility for the alleged defects and errors. This, of course, challenges the perfection we associate with God’s work and flatly contradicts the statement in Genesis: “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good” (1:31). [24]
It is not 'theistic evolutionists' who draw attention to suboptimal design and vestigial features. Evolutionary biologists, irrespective of their theological stance recognise that the natural world is replete with examples of such features. This is exactly what one would imagine in a process in which populations, and not individuals evolve, and in which traits that promote survival of genes irrespective of whether they result in maladaptive features. Speaking as a medical doctor, the human body is indeed riddled with such examples of maladaptive design which make sense from an evolutionary point of view.  As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, there is nothing imagined about any of them:
  • The recurrent laryngeal nerve takes a wasteful, pointless detour past the larynx, down the neck, under the aorta, and back to the larynx. There is no reason for it to to this as the nerve could easily innervate its target structure directly. This feature is one that is inherited by all mammals, which means that the giraffe has several wasted metres of laryngeal nerve.
  • The vertebrate retina has the light sensing cells pointing back to front, meaning the retina is prone to detachment, and susceptible to damage from blood vessel proliferation in diabetes, and retinal haemorrhage. A retina like that of the octopus in which the light sensing cells pointed towards the light would not be susceptible to such defects.
  • The prostate is prone to hypertrophy in middle to old age. As the urethra is routed through the prostate, this means men are susceptible to urinary retention when the urethra is compressed or blocked by an enlarged prostate. If the urethra did not run through the prostate, then this problem would not exist
  • Testes descend during embryogenesis from the abdomen down to the scrotum. The reason for this is that spermatogenesis needs to take place in a slightly cooler environment. Unfortunately, when the testes leave the abdomen, they leave a weak spot in the abdomen making men prone to hernias. Furthermore, the placing of such sensitive organs in an exposed spot leaves men vulnerable to crippling trauma. By ensuring that spermatogenesis is able to take place at body heat, the testes would never have to exit the body, and the abdominal weak spot making men susceptible to hernias would not exist
Whole books have been written on the bizarre features of human anatomy [25] which make sense only in the light of evolution, so it is entirely misleading to say that these are features to which evolutionary creationists have drawn our attention. This is common knowledge among mainstream evolutionary biologists, and these 'scars of evolution' are widely regarded as some of the most compelling arguments for evolution, as well as being insuperable problems for special creationism.

By far the most compelling examples of flawed, suboptimal design are found at the genomic level, and I will spend some time once again reiterating these features. The most celebrated example is the fact that unlike many animals, we cannot synthesise our own vitamin C. This inborn error of metabolism means we need to find a reliable source of dietary vitamin C; if we do not get enough vitamin C, we will contract the potentially lethal disorder known as scurvy. Vitamin C is synthesised through the action of a number of enzymes on pre-existing chemicals. We have all the enzymes except for the last one: GULO, the gene that codes for L-gulonolactone oxidase, the final enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway is a pseudogene.

Other animals such as apes, monkeys, some fish, and guinea pigs also have a crippled L-gulonolactone oxidase gene. However, humans, apes, and monkeys have exactly the same error in GULO, a fact consistent with the pseudogenisation of GULO in the common ancestor of humans, apes, and monkeys. Special creationists have many problems to answer just on this point:
  • Why were humans created with a biosynthetic pathway for vitamin C, an essential nutrient, that was broken?
  • Why are other animals created with a functioning GULO gene?
  • Why are humans, apes, and monkeys created with a GULO gene broken in exactly the same way, and with exactly the right pattern of point mutations that one would expect from a model of common descent?
Evolutionary biologist John Avise, in a recent PNAS paper has shown that genomic suboptimal design can be found right through to the very architecture of the genome, and the method by which genetic data is turned into proteins.

Contrary to what many laypeople would imagine, most of the gene does not consist of protein-coding genetic material. In fact, genes consist of small protein-coding sections (exons) that are interleaved with much larger non-coding sections known as introns. When the cell needs to make a protein, the DNA copy is transcribed to an RNA copy. The intronic sections are removed, with the remaining exonic RNA spliced together, where, if it is a protein-coding gene, will be used as a template to make a protein at the ribosome. This extra genetic overhead comes at a significant metabolic cost of transcribing DNA that will eventually be snipped out and not used to directly code for a protein. While the existence of separate exons allows for the creation of some genetic novelty, this is far outweighed by the many genetic errors that are directly attributed to this process. Avise notes:
Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, let us assume that the metabolic costs imposed by introns are negligible. Do introns otherwise provide evidence of optimal genomic design? No, because premRNA processing also has opened vast opportunities for cellular mishaps in protein production. Such mishaps are not merely hypothetical. An astonishing discovery is that a large fraction (perhaps one-third) of all known human genetic disorders is attributable in at least some clinical cases to mutational blunders in how premRNA molecules are processed. For example, it has long been known that mutations at intron-exon borders often disrupt premRNA splicing in ways that alter gene products and lead to countless genetic disabilities, including various cancers and other metabolic defects. There is also good evidence that the number of introns in human genes is positively correlated with a gene’s probability of being a disease-causing agent. Avise summarizes many of the human genetic afflictions that have been documented (in particular clinical instances) to molecular errors in mRNA splicing at specifiable loci. These range from a variety of neurodegenerative diseases to debilitations of the circulatory, excretory, and other body systems. Many of these genetic disorders begin in infancy or early childhood; others are deferred to the elderly. The devastating symptoms of many such disorders, such as Lou Gehrig disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), are simply horrible by any human standard. [26]
By eliminating introns, not only would one have enough space (and then some) to directly code for proteins produced by alternative splicing, one would eliminate the problems of genetic disease directly related to intron-expon border mutation.

The main location of energy production in the cell is the mitochondrion, which is unique in being the only structure outside of the nucleus to have its own DNA (mtDNA). One would imagine that if the mitochondria have been given their own DNA, then the mtDNA would code for all the proteins involved in energy metabolism. This however is not the case:
A remarkable fact is that four of these five enzyme complexes are composed of combinations of polypeptides from the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. In complex IV, for example, 3 of the 13 polypeptides are encoded by mitochondrial loci (COI, COII, and COIII), whereas the remaining polypeptides are encoded by nuclear genes. Only in complex II are all the necessary enzymatic subunits (four in this case) encoded by just one genome (the nuclear). Nuclear genes are also intimately involved in other basic mitochondrial functions. Indeed, mtDNA does not encode any of the proteins that are directly involved in its own replication, transcription, translation, surveillance, or repair. In short, mtDNA is just a tiny snippet of DNA that by itself would be absolutely helpless to itself and to the organism in which it is housed. [27]
Furthermore, the genetic code in mtDNA is subtly different from nuclear DNA. Furthermore, mtDNA endures up to ten times more mutations in a time interval than nuclear DNA. None of this makes any sense from the point of view of intelligent design, but is perfectly explicable from an evolutionary biology point of view, as Avise notes:
None of this makes any biological sense, except in the light of evolutionary science (which has discovered that modern mitochondria are remnants of a microbe that invaded or was engulfed by a protoeukaryotic cell in an endosymbiotic merger that took place billions of years ago). [28]
The utility of evolutionary biology to medicine cannot be overestimated, as an understanding of the evolutionary origin of the human body allows us to understand why it fails. Avise correctly notes that "an emerging paradigm is that many of the degenerative diseases of aging have their etiologies in mitochondria, either as deleterious mutations in the mtDNA molecules themselves or as operational flaws in nuclear-mitochondrial interactions." Understanding how and why such genetic diseases occur allows one to work out how to ameliorate the suffering arising from them, but also raises the very real problem of why, if the human genome was intelligently designed, is so much subioptimal design hard-wired into it. Avise again:
"The serious health problems that arise from mtDNA mutations immediately challenge any claim for omnipotent perfection in mitochondrial design. Perhaps these mutational aberrations can be viewed as unfortunate but inevitable byproducts of molecular complexity. However, the intellectual challenges for ID go much deeper. Considering the critical role of cellular energy production in human health and metabolic operations, why would an intelligent designer entrust so much of the production process to a mitochondrion, given the outrageous molecular features this organelle possesses? Why would a wise designer have imbued mtDNA with some but not all of the genes necessary to carry out its metabolic role (and then put the remaining genes in the nucleus instead)? Why would a wise engineer have put any crucial genes in a caustic cytoplasmic environment in which they are exposed routinely to high concentrations of mutagenic oxygen radicals? Why would he have dictated that the mitochondrial genetic code must differ from the nuclear genetic code, thereby precluding cross-translation between two genomes for which effective communication would seem to be highly desirable? Why would an intelligent designer have engineered mtDNA structures (e.g., closed-circular genome, no introns, no junk DNA, lack of binding histones) and mtDNA operations (e.g., little or no genetic recombination, production of a polygenic transcript, limited ability to mend itself, no self-sufficiency in transcription or translation) to differ so fundamentally from their counterpart features in the nuclear genome? In a nutshell, the underlying design of the whole mitochondrial operation seems to make no (theo)logical sense. Not only is the overall design of mtDNA suboptimal, but it appears downright ludicrous!" [29]
Avise is correct. Many genetic diseases directly arise from mitochondrial genetics, and if what we see is the result of intelligent design, it poses major problems for theology.

The metaphor of human genome as encyclopaedia is commonly advanced, but to be honest, it is an unhelpful one, given that the genes consist mostly of non-coding DNA which is spliced out during the process of creating a RNA copy from which a protein can be made. The encyclopaedia would actually consist of page after page of gibberish, interleaved by small snippets of useful text. In fact, most of the human genome consists of non-coding DNA, with at least two thirds of the human genome junk that is not essential for life. Around 45% of the human genome consists of mobile genetic elements called retrotransposons, that do nothing but copy and paste themselves randomly through the genome. As one can imagine, random pasting of genetic material into the genome is not good idea, as the potential exists for writing over essential genes, causing genetic disorder:
Mobile elements have the potential to cause human diseases by several mechanisms. When a mobile element inserts into a host genome, it normally does so at random with respect to whether or not its impact at the landing site will harm the host. If it happens to land in an exon, it can disrupt the reading frame of a functional gene with disastrous consequences. If it jumps into an intron or an intron-exon boundary, it may cause problems by altering how a gene product is spliced during RNA processing. If it inserts into a gene’s regulatory region, it can also cause serious mischief. The potential for harm by such insertional mutagenesis is great. It has been estimated, for example, that an L1 or Alu mobile element newly inserts somewhere in the genome in about 1–2% and 5%, respectively, of human births. Another problem is that when a mobile element lands in a functional gene, genetic instabilities are sometimes observed that result in deleted portions of the recipient locus. Several genetic disorders have been traced to genomic deletions associated with de novo insertions of mobile elements. Finally, mobile elements (or their immobile descendents that previously accumulated in the human genome) can also cause genomic disruptions via nonallelic homologous recombination. Serious metabolic disorders can result.  
Despite the relatively recent discovery of mobile elements, the list of genetic disorders associated wholly or in part with their activities already is long. Still, any such list provides only a minimum estimate of these elements’ collective toll on human health. This is because some of the most serious medical difficulties probably arise so early in ontogeny as to cause miscarriages that normally will remain of unknown etiology. Indeed, most mobile elements are especially active in the germ line; thus, many of their deleterious effects probably register in gametic deaths and lowered fertility. [30]
Any minor benefit that arises from the emergence of genetic novelty from co-option of retrotransposon elements (and this benefit presupposes evolution, so it is not available for the special creationist to use) is far outweighed by the fact that inside the human genome are parasitic elements which can copy and paste themselves around the genome, causing disease in the process. 

What is truly remarkable is that Morris thinks that these and other examples of objectively flawed, maladaptive design are a problem for evolutionary creationism. If anything, they post major insoluble problems for special creationism:
  • These suboptimal design features are real. They are not imaginary.
  • They cause morbidity and mortality
  • They are perfectly explicable from an evolutionary point of view as evolution
  • Special creationists however have to answer why a deity who hand-crafts each species down to the level would do such a poor task in creating design flaws from the gross anatomical to the genomic
Morris' attempt to make this a problem for evolutionary creationism has backfired spectacularly. Not only does it confirm that he has misrepresented what evolutionary creationists believe, it has shown that in the desire to trap evolutionary creationism, he has instead created a far bigger problem for special creationists who have no answer for why an interventionist, omnipotent deity would create life riddled with such maldaptive design.


Contrary to what evolution denialists allege, we know much about the evolutionary history of life, details of the broad sweep of natural history, and have a robust theory of evolution that has been remarkably powerful in its explanatory and predictive power. Furthermore, we have seen creation in real time, with the documented evidence of speciation. Evolution denialists who claim that we do not or cannot know how God works are merely attempting to hide God in gaps that reflect their ignorance of natural history, which is even more damning than the standard God of the Gaps argument, which at least reflects known lacunae in human knowledge.

Morris' failure to accurately represent what evolutionary creationists believe is disappointing given that he has not bothered to ask them what they believe. Furthermore, his failure to offer a cogent defence for the problem suboptimal design poses for special creation is made even more blatant by his amateurish attempt to make it a problem for evolutionary creationism. It cannot be emphasised enough that evolutionary creationists do not argue that "suboptimal design proves evolution", but rather that these features are completely incompatible with the sort of intelligent design advanced by special creationists such as Morris, but however perfectly explicable by evolution.

Truth be told, only an evolutionary theodicy is able to solve one of the most pressing problems for Christian theology. John Avise puts it perfectly:
Evolution by natural causes in effect emancipates religion from the shackles of theodicy. No longer need we agonize about why a Creator God is the world’s leading abortionist and mass murderer. No longer need we query a Creator God’s motives for debilitating countless innocents with horrific genetic conditions. No longer must we anguish about the interventionist motives of a supreme intelligence that permits gross evil and suffering in the world. No longer need we be tempted to blaspheme an omnipotent Deity by charging Him directly responsible for human frailties and physical shortcomings (including those that we now understand to be commonplace at molecular and biochemical levels). No longer need we blame a Creator God’s direct hand for any of these disturbing empirical facts. Instead, we can put the blame squarely on the agency of insentient natural evolutionary causation. From this perspective, the evolutionary sciences can become a welcome partner (rather than the conventionally perceived adversary) of mainstream religion.

The evolutionary-genetic sciences thus can help religions to escape from the profound conundrums of ID, and thereby return religion to its rightful realm—not as the secular interpreter of the biological minutiae of our physical existence but, rather, as a respectable philosophical counselor on grander matters, including ethics and morality, the soul, spiritualness, sacredness, and other such matters that have always been of ultimate concern to humanity. [31]

1. Morris J “The way God Works” The Christadelphian (2015) 152:260-263

2. Walker C.C. "Is it 'Wrong' to Believe that the Earth is a Sphere?" The Christadelphian (1913) 50:348

3. Walker C.C. "Genesis" The Christadelphian (1910) 47:501

4. Enns P "The Firmament of Genesis1 is Solid but That's Not the Point." BioLogos Blog Jan 14 2010

5. Livingstone D.N. Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders (Eerdmans 1984) p xi-xii

6. Dobzhansky, T "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution", American Biology Teacher (1973) 35: 125–129

7. Finlay G "Human Evolution: Genes, Genealogies, and Phylogenies" Biologos Blog May 27, 2014
8. Miller K Finding Darwin's God (2000: HarperCollins) p 289

9. Ayala F Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion (2007: Joseph Henry Press)

10. Conway Morris S Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe (2003: Cambridge University Press) p 329

11. McGrath, Alister, and Joanna Collicutt McGrath. The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine. (2007: London: SPCK) p 25-26

12. Rieseberg L.H. “Hybrid Origins of Plant SpeciesAnnu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. (1997) 28:359–89

13. Dettman J.R. et al “Incipient speciation by divergent adaptation and antagonistic and antagonistic epistasis in yeastNature (2007) 447:585-588

14. Ching C, Takahashi A, Wu C “Incipient speciation by sexual isolation in Drosophila: Concurrent evolution at multiple lociProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (2001) 98:6709-6713

15. Seehausen O et al “Speciation through sensory drive in cichlid fishNature (2008) 455:620-627

16. Bush G.L., Smith J.L. “The Genetics and Ecology of Sympatric Speciation: A Case StudyRes. Popul. Ecol. (1998) 40:175-187

17. See for example Evolution Basics, an excellent series by evangelical Christian and evolutionary geneticist Dennis Venema on the evidence for evolution.

18. Collins F The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006: Free Press) p 204

19. "Evolution's Final Frontier" New Scientist (2009) 201:41-43

20. Behe M The Edge of Evolution. The Search for the Limits of Darwinism (2007, Free Press) pp 71-72

21. Meade L.S. "Transforming Our Thinking about Transitional Forms" Evo Edu Outreach (2009) 2:310-314

22. ibid, p 311-312

23. Convergence in evolution, such as advanced by Simon Conway Morris and others is not the same thing as classic orthogenesis.

24. Morris' list of design anomalies - recurrent laryngeal nerve, vertebrate spine, and sinus drainage - are remarkably similar to the list of anomalies outlined in an earlier ECACP article, raising the possibility that he has read this article and is aware of the website. If so, his failure to accurately describe what evolutionary creationists believe is regrettable.

25. Held L.I., Quirks of Human Anatomy: An Evo-Devo Look at the Human Body (2009: Cambridge University Press)

26. Avise J.C., "Footprints of nonsentient design inside the human genome" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (2010) 107:8969-8976

27. ibid., p 8974

28. ibid., p 8974

29. ibid., p 8974

30. ibid., p 8975

31. ibid, p 8976