I was hoping to write a post about Charles Darwin on Darwin Day (February 12th), but ran out of time and missed the occasion. So I figured I’d just wait until next year. But then I read an article on phys.org and felt compelled to write a belated Darwin Day post.
Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, 205 years ago. He’s one of the most well-known and influential persons in history. In fact I found a Time article listing him as the 12th most significant figure in history (Not surprisingly Jesus Christ was #1).
The article was written by evolutionary biologist Rob Brooks, and he used the opportunity to mock creationists, extol the virtues of evolution, and praise those who share his beliefs. It was a typical anti-creationist rant, and, while I don’t like reading such rhetoric, it reminds me of the mentality we’re up against and demonstrates how much work is needed to counter this type of irrational thought.
It was difficult to get beyond the article’s headline, photo and caption. I felt like I was tripping over each one. The headline read, “It’s Darwin Day, a celebration of science and reason.”
Well, I like science and reason, but believing in evolution doesn’t make one enlightened. Nor does rejecting evolution make one anti-science and irrational. Darwin, the man whose name is synonymous with evolution, is responsible for a theory that has never been supported by the scientific method, and there’s nothing reasonable about this.
Next came the photo with its caption: “The white-bearded patriarch that haunts every creationist and reason-denier.” I found it slightly humorous- although my first reaction was actually a sigh of exasperation. Does this guy really believe this, or is he just trying to agitate creationists while getting a chuckle from evolutionists? I figure he was just trying to get a reaction, so I laughed it off. The sight of Darwin, instead of haunting me, makes me feel sorry for the troubled guy. Darwin himself was haunted by the death of his Daughter, Annie, and her death had a profound effect on Darwin’s life. He figured that, if his daughter died the kind of death she died, then God must not exist. I also feel sorry for Darwin because, instead of turning towards God, he shook his fist, ran away, and prepared for revenge.
Nonetheless I can see why evolutionists would want to celebrate the man they admire and give reverence to, as if he were some kind of deity. He’s the man most responsible for fueling a belief system that has been promulgated around the world with religious zeal.
But I have to admit that what bothers me the most about this event is the fact that they believe that such a belief system is the result of intellect and reason. I find it offensive that they co-opt these terms for themselves in order to reel in new believers. Evolution is less about reason, and more about winning converts. Their argument becomes, “If you don’t believe in evolution, then you’re anti- science and lack reason,” or, “If you believe in evolution, then you’re rational, reasonable, intellectual and enlightened.” It’s an appeal to emotion- who doesn’t want to think of themselves as rational, reasonable and intelligent? No one wants to be labeled a “reason-denier”! So they are compelled to accept evolution so as to be accepted by the “in-group” and avoid a perceived social stigma.
Brooks went on to consider the modern relevance of Darwin. He agrees with Philosopher Daniel Dennett that Darwin’s discovery of how natural selection works is the most important idea anyone ever had. But the problem is that natural selection has nothing to do with evolution. With natural selection, traits that already exist within an organism’s genome are being selected and passed along to their offspring. Those offspring best suited for their environment reproduce, while those unable to adapt to the environment die before they can reproduce. And even when mutations occur within the genome, those mutations don’t produce anything that would lead to completely novel traits- such as feathers from a featherless ancestor. Natural selection affects existing traits, such as the thickness and color of hair on an organism, but it can’t act on something that doesn’t already exist. So the evolutionist must rely on something else before natural selection can do its work. But relying on mutations to accidentally create- not just a feathered organism- but to create an organism that can utilize the feathers to fly, it must drastically alter the entire organism’s body (such as bone structure and lung system) by means of a specified genetic code that must be recognized, deciphered and initiated by an existing genetic code. The plausibility of this is beyond reason and intellect.
Brooks says that Darwin is infuriating for creationists because he discovered the process that made us who we are. But that doesn’t infuriate me or any creationist I know. Maybe frustrating would be a better word. And what I find frustrating is the rationale behind such evolutionary beliefs. Understanding how evolution works isn’t all that complicated, but the way evolutionists toss around terms, fail to produce any meaningful results, and claim for themselves the title of reason and rational thinking, becomes frustrating. Brooks, who’s an evolutionary biologist, uses the term “natural selection” as if it’s magic and can turn a dinosaur into a bird or an ape into a man. Natural selection doesn’t work like that. If the organism doesn’t have a genetic code for feathers, scales, lungs, or fingers, then it can’t pass any of those traits on to its offspring. Yet Brooks keeps lauding natural selection as if it is evolution or evidence for evolution and a thorn in the side to creationists, neither of which are true. And it’s frustrating how evolutionists like Brooks hijack the word science, which evolutionists are well known to do. He claims that there’s a cracked relationship between science and religion, but that’s not true either. Science was founded by Bible believing creationists, such as Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. Therefore science and religion are in complete harmony. The cracked relationship is only imaginary because they claim science exclusively for themselves. That’s not how science works.
Then Brooks moved on to analyze and criticize the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. And unsurprisingly he bestowed Nye with such admirable qualities as “pro-science” and “humility”, and Ken Ham with such disdainable qualities as “insufferable”, “reality-denier”, “smug”, and “actor”. I think he couldn’t wait to get to this point because he used the remainder of his article to bash Ham and creationists.
Oddly, he claims that creationists depend on Darwin. I’m sure he believes that, but it couldn’t be further from the truth, and it’s clear he wasn’t paying attention to the debate- otherwise he would have heard Ken Ham address this misnomer during his five-minute opening remark where he introduced Stuart Burgess, a real scientist dealing in reality- in fact Ham produced evidence of this throughout the entire debate. I think Brooks demonstrated the selective hearing that so many evolutionists employ.
I do find it humorous that Brooks described Nye as humble for admitting what he didn’t know. This is because these same evolutionists mock and deride creationists if they admit to not knowing something. But he also derided Ham for having all the answers. This is ironic because evolutionists typically claim that they have all the answers while creationists don’t. Yet when it came right down to it, it was creationists who had the answers while the evolutionists didn’t. Why wouldn’t creationists find such a contradictory worldview frustrating?
Brooks continued to laud natural selection, proclaiming it to be true, whether or not you choose to believe it. The main problem with this type of thinking is that creationists believe in natural selection. His failure to understand this is exactly what Ham was addressing during the debate- evolution is NOT the same thing as natural selection. Ham explained how evolution is a bait-and-switch, and Brooks is unwittingly deploying this strategy without knowing it. He doesn’t understand the distinction between the two terms. Creationists believe in natural selection, but not evolution.
Brooks claims that humanity owes a great debt to Darwin, but I profoundly disagree. It is Darwin’s ideas that lead to the Holocaust and the extermination of many millions of people under Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and even Margaret Sanger. Scientists don’t need evolution to do great science, and all the great science that has been accomplished doesn’t need to invoke the name of Darwin.
Lastly Brooks says that science doesn’t need deities or messiahs. However God created science and the laws of physics and set them in motion. Science, therefore, is in debt to God.
An excellent post on your part. I enjoyed reading this one. It is well-reasoned, and you articulate your points well.
Thanks, much appreciated!
While I can’t really challenge or disagree with the biographical data regarding Darwin, and I certainly would never condone the public mocking or an individual or a group of people regardless of their faith, I do take exception to one of your statements.
“It is Darwin’s ideas that lead to the Holocaust and the extermination of many millions of people under Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, and even Margaret Sanger.” I can’t necessarily agree with this. People can pervert science. There’s nothing intrinsic about the theory of evolution that lends itself to genocide of murder.
Couldn’t the same type of argument be made with regard to religion? Saying that Darwin’s ideas directly led to the Holocaust is like saying that the crusades, the inquisition, the Salem witch trials, etc never would have happened if Christianity never existed.
Delusional and psychopathic people will distort or pervert reality in order to justify actions, be it science or religion. That doesn’t, however, detract from the value of science or religion.
I don’t think we have much of a disagreement. My point about ideas that led to the Holocaust was meant to counter Brook’s statement that humanity owes a great debt to Darwin. That’s utter nonsense. If Darwin never existed, we’d still be able to accomplish all the great things we’ve accomplished because science doesn’t require a belief in evolution. My point was that, for all the good Brooks wants to attribute to Darwin, there’s plenty of baggage associated with his ideas as well.
Now I understand why you’d take exception my statement, but you’re right that we could make the same argument about the crusades and such. And that was another motivation behind why I wrote that; I don’t know how many times I’ve heard evolutionists argue that all the greatest atrocities in the world are the result of Christianity and religion. But I think there are some major differences- namely, the atrocities done in the name of evolution are consistent with evolution; survival of the fittest, red in tooth and claw, godless, subjective, amoral, natural, humans aren’t any more special than an amoeba or worm, etc. However the crusades and Salem witch trials were never consistent with Christianity or what Christ preached. And if we compare the atrocities associated with evolution and religion, far more people died as a result of the evolutionary ideas espoused by Darwin because it justified their actions.
This isn’t meant to excuse the atrocities done in the name of religion, but only to counter the thought that humanity owes anything to Darwin.