On Charles Darwin’s 200th Birthday, It’s A Battle of World Views
by Bill Sardi by Bill Sardi
The birthday of the man who once said: “My theology is a simple muddle: I cannot look at the Universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent Design” (Charles Darwin in a letter to Joseph Hooker, July 12 1870), who left the world on the precipice of indecision when it comes to the subject of the origin of man, will soon be honored throughout the world.
Charles Darwin parenthetically became mired in his own primordial soup. Did its recipe emanate from a creator or was it just an accidental prehistoric stew? Darwin seems to have left humanity like a teetering rock, never sure which way it will fall. A field goal here is not enough to break the tie. A recent Gallup poll (June 2007) shows 49% of Americans adamantly maintain only evolution holds high scientific ground while 48% say they don’t embrace evolution. Those percentages have stayed almost even for 25 years.
Certainly February 12th (Charles Darwin’s birthday) will not outrank December 25th as far as birthday parties go, but there will be worldwide celebrations marking 200 years since Darwin’s birth. Ironically the world is paying homage to Darwin (1809—1882 AD) at a time when his biological concepts — a tree of life, natural selection, origin of species — are being questioned, even abandoned and considered archaic. Yet the battle between Biblical creationists and those who embrace Darwinism goes beyond mere science.
Creationism, as seen by an opposing world view
There are two opposing world views involved in the debate about evolution or creation. The evolutionary world view is characterized by Jerry A. Coyne, a University of Chicago professor of ecology and evolution and author of the recently released text, Why Evolution Is True.
Professor Coyne begins his book by recounting December 20, 2005, a day when he says he awoke feeling anxious.
The reason for the anxiety was John Jones II, a federal judge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was due to issue his ruling in the case of Kitzmiller et al., vs Dover Area School District et al. This case would decide how American school-children would learn about evolution, says Coyne.
Judge Jones could rule that teachers would be required to read a statement to 9th graders saying evolution is a theory, not a fact, that there are gaps in this theory, and that a book describing creationism rather than evolution is available for students to read.
Professor Coyne’s world view was threatened. Like many evolutionists (and creationists), his measure of how to view the world — the scientific method — is sacred above all, and cannot be separated from who Professor Coyne is — a scientist.
Professor Coyne’s anxiety was eventually relieved. The courts ruled in favor of censoring statements about gaps in evolutionary theory.
Embodiment of science
Professor Coyne is more than a man steeped in science, he embodies it. He isn’t just a teacher of evolution, he wears its armor and never takes it off.
Science is so closely embraced by Professor Coyne and other evolutionists that he quotes Michael Shermer, executive director of The Skeptics Society, at the front of his book:
"Darwin matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matters. Science matters because it is the preeminent story of our age, an epic saga about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going."
Shermer’s statement represents circuitous reasoning and arrogance that the theory of evolution should be self-evident and therefore unchallenged. Any competition to evolution is an affront to science, and to him. In the mind of those who embrace Darwinian evolution, Biblical creation is a step back in time that would give fables a superior footing over scientific experiments, like radioactive dating of rocks, or fossil analysis.
However, when the blanks are filled in on Shermer’s questions of "who we are, where we came from, where we are going," the stark answer is that the immediate ancestry of homo sapiens are apes and that humans evolved in a mindless, accidental fashion that has nothing but random and accidental change to look forward to.
In reality, the word scientist, or plumber, or baker, or cab driver, simply explains one’s line of work, it does not answer the question, "Who am I?"
The only cogent answer to the question of "Who am I?" that I have ever heard is "I am a child of God," or as Dr. Laura Schlesinger of Los Angeles talk radio fame says, "I am my kid’s mom."
Creation is also self-evident
Like evolutionists, creationists also assert creation is self-evident, that humans are unique among all life forms and have a "God-breathed soul." Humans cry, laugh, blush, and can be tickled, traits that are not shared with any mammals.
Recently a young college student shot and killed innocent students in classrooms at an American university, an institution of higher learning that teaches evolution. The shock of the killings brought teachers and students to mourn the dead. Tears flowed. Students and teachers flocked to churches. Many asked why this had to happen. But if truly embracing evolution, then the slaughter of these students shouldn’t have been of any greater importance than an ant getting stepped on and killed. Humans are evolved from lower animals and that is that. In the evolutionary scheme, humans are of no greater importance than ants.
Darwinian evolution is the road to….
It is important to see what evolutionary thinking really is and where it leads. Jerry Bergman PhD, professor of biology at Northwest State College, in Ohio, in his report entitled "Darwinism: Survival Without Purpose," has done the best job of revealing what evolution embraces — insignificance. His report is found at the Institute for Creation Research website and (Bergman, J. 2007. Darwinism: Survival without Purpose. Acts & Facts. 36 (11): 10.)
Bergman says the ultimate purposelessness of evolution, and thus of the life that it produces, was eloquently expressed by Professor Lawrence Krauss as follows: “We’re just a bit of pollution… If you got rid of us…the universe would be largely the same. We’re completely irrelevant.”
Bergman goes on to say: "Orthodox evolution teaches that the living world has no plan or purpose except survival, is random, undirected, and heartless. Humans live in a world that cares nothing for us, our minds are simply masses of meat, and no divine plan exists to guide us. These teachings are hardly neutral, but rather openly teach religion — the religion of atheism and nihilism" (the idea that life is without meaning, without objective morality).
Nick Spencer, writing in the London Times, recently said: "Creationists dislike Darwin and regularly criticize him for supposedly undermining their religious beliefs. In the other trench lie the militant Godless who — bizarrely — wholly agree with the creationists. Darwinism, they proclaim, does indeed undermine religious belief and a good thing too. Darwin is their icon and they frantically genuflect before his image." It’s the battle of two world views.
Biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, goes further than a rhetorical battle. Dawkins asserts God-believers are not rational and therefore dangerous.
Many teachers of biology are wary that the encroachment of creationism into the classroom represents the practice of religion, which they say the Constitution forbids. But the Constitution mandates freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, which is a prevalent misinterpretation. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," says the 1st Amendment.
Arguments over science or world view?
Nancy Pearcey’s book, Total Truth, says: "Evolutionists cling to their theory because it is the very basis for the way they look at the world, not because it has been proven accurate."
Indeed, Darwinian evolution’s litany of fallacious evidence that it has served up over the past century should be an embarrassment. Pseudoscience is to be expected from time to time. But it comprises most of the historical evidence to support Darwinian evolution, and it remained in biology textbooks long after scientific deceits were exposed. Phony fossil finds, such as Piltdown man, Nebraska man and Java man, as well as Haeckel’s fake embryo drawings, the contrived peppered moths evolution, and the failed Miller-Urey primordial soup experiment in 1953, are examples.
More so, it is absurd to think Darwinian evolution extends to inanimate objects, as widely described, such as the formation of the cosmos, the atmosphere, the continents, and the earth’s rock layers, as if driven by some unexplained force outside of DNA. This is because Darwinian evolution is a world view, not science per se.
Darwinian evolution preposterously proposes that life ascended to more complex forms over time, which goes against the 2nd law of thermodynamics — things decay, they don’t improve.
The absence of evidence for progressive evolutionary change brought about punctuated equilibrium, the never-observed idea that there are rapid jumps in genetic material that explain gaps in the fossil layer.
With all this said, Christians appear to have capitulated to bad science.
The striking problem, despite the title of his infamous text, The Origin of Species, is that Darwin never identified the common ancestor that evolutionists claim preceded humans, and never addressed what first caused life to begin, only what caused variation within species. Darwin later surmised, fashioning a drawing of an evolutionary tree, humans evolved from apes, with black-skinned races as intermediates between apes and modern humans.
While it may seem that Christians have circled their wagons around doctrines of creation, in fact, the Christian church "is plagued with relativism, post-modernism, Darwinism, and any number of other secular philosophies," says Rachel Robinson in her essay entitled "In Search of the Right Worldview." (CaliforniaRepublic.org, August 30, 2004)
Members of church denominations have been indoctrinated in evolution in public schools for more than a generation and may find it difficult to face ridicule over the idea of a six-24-hour day Biblical creation, and therefore have largely moved to embrace some form of evolution.
The Catholic Church generally accepts evolutionary theory as the scientific explanation for the development of all life. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has not issued a definitive statement on evolution, but does contend that “God created the universe and all that is therein, only not necessarily in six 24-hour days, and that God actually may have used evolution in the process of creation.” The Presbyterian Church’s governing body amended its previous position on evolution to affirm that evolution and the Bible do not contradict each other.
The wide incompatibility of creationism and evolution is not apparent to many, even Christians. Biblical creation is super fast, six days. Darwinian evolution is slow, millions of years required. These are explanations of man’s origin that are severely opposed on speed alone. The punt position has been to say the Bible’s six days represent spans of time, not six 24-hour days.
While 48% of the American public agrees that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life, surprisingly even more Catholics (58%) and people who align themselves with mainline churches (51%) agree to this statement. (Pew Research)
Author and researcher George Barna made waves by citing statistics that show just 9 percent of all adults in America who claim to be "born again" have a biblical worldview. Protestants as a whole only manage 7 percent with a biblical worldview (The Barna Research Group, January 12, 2004).
Social Darwinism: the aftermath
The full title of Darwin’s book is "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life." Without question, it is a racially charged document.
Darwin’s book eventually led to the shameful capture and display of primitive dark-skinned African or aboriginal people in "human zoos." Such displays sprung up around the world to show a continuum between the great apes and human beings, such as Ota Benga who was caged with monkeys and shown at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.
Darwin’s book also served as the impetus for social Darwinism and served as the drawing board for Hitler’s idea of fashioning a master Aryan race. Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, coined the term eugenics in 1883 to promote the ideal of perfecting the human race by getting rid of its "undesirables" while multiplying its "desirables." In the following century Darwin’s idea spawned the greatest modern act of inhumanity to man, Hitler’s mass murder of Jews, the Holocaust.
Of course, none of this reprehensible history of Darwinism is included in biology textbooks. Of course not, it’s not science.
A professor defends Darwin
The latest text that defends Darwinism, professor Jerry A. Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True, endorsed by many prominent evolutionists, attempts to settle the argument over the failings of Darwinian evolution once and for all.
Flipping through the pages of professor Coyne’s book one will find the same worn out ideas and drawings similar to what Darwin first offered two centuries ago. On page 50 Coyne eloquently displays drawings of whales which attempt to show how they evolved from terrestrial animals to aquatic mammals with the gradual loss of legs and the development of fins. But this does not demonstrate new kinds of animals.
On page 103 Coyne shows adaptations in bird beaks among Hawaiian honeycreepers, reminiscent of Darwin’s drawings of finch beaks in his 1859 text Origin of Species. But adaptation and variation are not examples of the appearance of new species (kinds). Biology loosely calls a bird with an evolved beak, altered wing pattern or different coloration, a new species, when it is just a variant. Similarities are shown between fish and human embryos, but similarity can also speak for a unified designer. Similarities don’t prove cause and effect any more than the assumption that evolution was responsible for the changes between a 1976 and a 1977 Thunderbird automobile.
The scientific method
Hypotheses which can not be disproved are elevated to the exalted position of a theory. Yet there is so much evidence that disproves Darwinian evolution. The need for neo-Darwinism, and punctuated equilibrium, serves as a tacit admission to the failings of the Darwinian hypothesis.
Good science is not based on authority and is testable, repeatable, universal, measurable, observable and narrowly simple.
An example of good science is an overlooked paper published in Science magazine in 1969 by Jack Lester King and Thomas H. Jukes, then at the University of California at Berkeley. The paper, entitled "Non-Darwinian evolution," proposed that evolution at the molecular level is being driven by random mutations and genetic drift and not by natural selection (heritable traits which become more common in successive generations) and that a great deal of the gene mutations over many generations occur in junk DNA which produce no observable changes. (Science 1969; 164: 788—89) This paper has stood without correction for 40 years.
What gaps remain?
Upon the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, New Scientist magazine asked leading evolutionary biologists to identify the biggest gaps remaining in the evolutionary hypothesis. Kenneth Miller, professor of biology at Brown University, says "the most profound unsolved problem in biology is the origin of life itself." Chris Stinger of the department of paleontology at the Natural History Museum, London, says "we still don’t know what the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees looked like."
In its January 24, 2009 issue, New Scientist magazine’s cover-story headline screamed loudly: "Darwin Was Wrong." Their report centered on the realization that Darwin’s tree of life drawings have no substantiation.
"We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality," said Eric Babteste, evolutionary biologist at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. "The tree of life, one of the iconic concepts of evolution, has turned out to be a figment of our imagination," says science journalist Graham Lawton. "If you don’t have a tree of life, what does it mean for evolutionary biology?" asks Bapteste.
Yet how do these statements correlate with a report by Newsweek which said "scientists say evolution is no longer u2018just a theory.’ It’s an everyday phenomenon, a fundamental fact of biology as real as hunger and as unavoidable as death." (Newsweek July 29, 2002) Growing legions of evolutionists adamantly claim evolution is a self-evident fact.
If evolution is an indisputable fact as the theory of gravity, why is there still public debate about it more than a century and a half after it was first proposed?
Do 9th-grade students in biology class hear any of the dissenting voices within science? Are students learning critical thinking when Darwinian evolution is presented as fact? Students are likely to relent. Students must make peace with their instructors to get a grade.
How will you evaluate the evidence?
Regardless of the evidence pro or con involving Darwinian evolution, your world view predetermines how you will react to contrary information. No amount of evidence is likely to change one die-hard creationist’s or unrepentant evolutionist’s mind. In the many online discussions about evolution/creation, I have yet to read something like "well, you’ve got me there, I concede that evolution/creation is the most plausible explanation to the origins of man." A complete turn around is not likely to ever happen.
There are unconvinced masses, seekers of truth, who haven’t had time to delve into this subject and haven’t made up their minds. Those who have never made up their mind are likely to be unsure how to resolve the differences between evolution and creation and more willing to adopt parts of both human origin frameworks in an effort to cover the bases and avoid humiliation at the hands of professors who outrank the public.
A 1999 Fox News poll of registered voters offered respondents the explicit option to say that both Darwin’s theory of evolution and the biblical account of creation were true: 26% said both were.
Should you begin to evaluate Darwin’s theory of evolution on your own, just remember your starting point. Your world view will dictate strongly in your interpretation of information. Humans tend to disregard information that doesn’t agree with their position.
Where did Darwin leave us?
With the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, the evolution/creation debate is heightened. Camps on both sides of the issue are becoming more visible. Hundreds of buses in England display an advertisement by the Freedom From Religion Foundation which says “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” But Charles Darwin wasn’t ready to go that far.
Charles Darwin said "I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic." (Autobiography) According to Darwin, there is no hand of God in the creation of man. But Darwin couldn’t quite bring himself to deny the existence of God. ("In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God." (Letter to John Fordyce, May 7, 1879)
The Bible says: "He (God) …hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." (Book of Ecclesiastes 3:11) The Apostle Paul once said "we know in part and we prophesy in part." (I Corinthians 13:9) Paul acknowledged no man has all available knowledge. One has to make judgments about his origins based upon the best available evidence.