Islands, Science and Creationism

Les Kaufman lesk at BU.EDU
Wed Apr 3 09:05:46 CST 2002

somewhere along the way here I've definitely missed something.  It is
sufficiently vexing that resolution will require that I reveal my own ignorance.

a. methodology aside (and semantics as well!) are you saying that the
Galapagos were for some period of time in touch with some other large,
emergent land mass?
b. Is it somehow parsimonious to assume that the Hawaiian islands were
at some time in the past in contact with another land mass (not just an
island on an adjacent microplate that happened to be in line to run over
the hot spot)?

If the answer to a is yes, then you are right, that certainly modifies
our view of evolution in the Galapagos.  It is then important that we
(almost) all of us change the things that we are teaching.

If the answer to b is yes, then we have to have a debate over scientific
method, not WHICH scientific method is to be applied.

John Grehan wrote:
> >So ... their statement (below) is untrue, unproven, or what?
> >
> >"The Hawaiian Islands are far from any mainland or other islands, and on the
> >basis of geological evidence they never have been attached to other  lands."
> >
> >   Geoff Read < at>
> Their statement is one of geological conjecture where the evolutionary
> implications are contingent. One of the problems in traditional
> evolutionary biogeography is the treatment of historical geological
> narratives as some kind of 'factual' foundation on which to build
> evolutionary models whereas the geological narratives themselves are just
> models or theories that are open to potential refutation, rejection etc. In
> the case of Hawaii, acceptance of the view that the 'Hawaiian Islands' have
> never been 'attached' to other lands could be problematic. If one were
> referring to the extant Hawaiian islands the statement is unproblematic,
> but extended into the past within a mobilist plate tectonic theory that
> allows for the possibility of island arcs or 'microcontinental' or even
> 'continental' lands to have moved over the Hawaiian hotspot, then the
> statement would not be correct. The same kind of statement has been made by
> evolutionists for Galapagos, and yet the geological evidence I presented in
> the Galapagos article suggests that historical contact with other lands by
> ancestral Galapagos did indeed occur. I think if the statement had referred
> to extant or 'modern' Hawaiian or Galapagos islands there would be no such
> problem - although in the evolutionary context the statement would not have
> been relevant to the question of historical origin for the islands' biota.
> Whatever perspective one takes on this, the example illustrates the
> weakness of presenting evolution as doctrine. It might have been better to
> present the analytical methodologies used by evolutionists (and I mean
> biologists as well as geologists!) to reconstruct the history of these
> islands. But that would involve presenting non-Darwinian (panbiogeographic)
> methods as well, and that is something that will just never happen in the
> current political context of evolutionary biology.
> John Grehan

Les Kaufman
Biology Department
Boston University
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Boston, MA 02215
lesk at
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