On Celebrating Darwin
This year we have an important double anniversary of Charles Darwin: the 200th anniversary of his birth, and the 150th anniversary of his classic work, The Origin of the Species. Already plenty of celebrations and commemorative events are under way.
With February 12 being his birthday, even more attention will be drawn to the man. So what is one to make of Darwin? In truth, there is a real mix of opinion in regards to Darwin and his thought. Many applaud his life and work while others find much which is problematic.
Plenty of aspects can be canvassed. I won’t here directly discuss his theory of evolution. Instead I just want to focus on one part of his legacy – the social and political outworking of his views. How did his teachings and beliefs get played out in society?
Of course there is plenty of debate about how much Darwin should be credited – or blamed – for the way in which his theories were translated into social realities. Some argue that any negative outcomes from his work should not be pinned on the man. Others argue that Darwin is indeed to blame for a whole raft of negative consequences of his theories.
To keep this topic brief, I will here examine two authors who look at the unhelpful outcomes of Darwinism. The first author is historian Richard Weikart. His very important 2004 book, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics and Racism in Germany, is an eye-opening look at how Darwinian thinking fed the flames of racist and dehumanising practices in Germany, including Nazism.
Weikart documents how many Darwinians sought to rework traditional ideas about morality and society. He examines how Darwinian thinking led to eugenics, theories of racial superiority, and finally the Holocaust. He especially questions how Darwinian thinking affects one’s understanding of the sanctity of human life.
In this careful study he looks at a number of leading German thinkers who embraced and applied the Darwinian worldview to social, cultural and political issues. Consider just one influential German Darwinist, Ernest Haeckel. He keenly took Darwin’s views on natural selection and applied them to the struggle of human existence.
He and other Darwinists argued that “natural processes could account for all aspects of human society and behaviour, including ethics”. Since he viewed natural selection and the struggle for existence as positive features of human society, “he worried that helping the weak, sickly, and unintelligent might have ill effects, favouring them over the strong, healthy, and intelligent”.
He advanced racism, arguing that some races were more primitive than others, and favoured the elimination of the unfit. Thus he readily advocated infanticide and other radical measures to weed out the inferior stock. He was not alone in this type of thinking. Says Weikart, “even though not all Darwinists and eugenicists went along with Haeckel’s program of ‘rational’ extermination of the disabled, it is striking that the vast majority of those who did press for abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were fervent proponents of a naturalistic Darwinian worldview.”
Haeckel felt all this was the logical outcome of the Darwinian worldview. Such caustic thinking in Germany of course nicely fed into the program of the Nazis. Weikart is judicious in his reasoning and conclusions, and does not draw a direct line from Darwin to Hitler. But he does not deny the connection: “In philosophical terms, Darwinism was a necessary, but not a sufficient, cause for Nazi ideology. But however logical or illogical the connections are between Darwinism and Nazism, historically the connections are there and they cannot be wished away.”
He continues, “Darwinism by itself did not produce the Holocaust, but without Darwinism, especially in its social Darwinist and eugenics permutations, neither Hitler nor his Nazi followers would have had the necessary scientific underpinnings to convince themselves and their collaborators that one of the world’s greatest atrocities was really morally praiseworthy.”
And as for Hitler, “Darwinian terminology and rhetoric pervaded Hitler’s writings and speeches, and no one to my knowledge has ever even questioned the common assertion by scholars that Hitler was a social Darwinist. It is too obvious to deny.”
He concludes his important work by arguing that both “the naturalistic worldview in general [and] biological evolution and Darwinism in particular” contributed to the devaluing of human life in Germany, resulting in both the eugenics movement and the Final Solution.
The second writer I wish to focus on is John West, who has argued in a recent book that the unhelpful social implications of Darwinism are part and parcel of his worldview. His 2007 volume, Darwin Day in America (Intercollegiate Studies Institute) is well worth examining in this regard.
‘Social Darwinism’ is a term which refers to the social and political ramifications of biological Darwinism and the materialism which it is imbedded in. Darwin regarded humans as basically higher animals, and as the social sciences became more and more tinged by the Darwinian outlook, humans increasingly began to be treated as mere animals, or machines.
The volume by West looks at how the materialistic worldview of Darwinism has impacted on a wide range of fields. As academics, scientists and politicians apply the Darwinian view of man to various social sciences, some very negative outcomes have ensued. We have steadily become dehumanised and depersonalised as we have taken on board the logical implications of evolutionary materialism.
West offers a far-reaching and profound look at numerous areas clouded by the Darwinist mindset. He examines the fields of law, education, business, economics, sociology and ethics to see how the revolutionary ideas of Darwin have penetrated every aspect of Western culture. Scientific materialism, flowing forth from Darwin and the Neo-Darwinists, today underpins much of public policy in the West.
Consider how extensive scientific materialism has become in public life. The title of this book refers to the move to make February 12 Darwin Day in the US, a date usually associated with the birth of Abraham Lincoln. But so great has the influence and impact of Darwin’s ideas become that he has now risen to the status of a secular saint in many quarters.
West is certainly right to argue just how far and deep the influence of Darwin has been. Consider the issue of crime and punishment. For much of human history crime was about punishment and restitution, based on the belief that humans had free will and were morally responsible for their actions.
But with the advent of Darwin – in part – academics and elites increasingly began to view humans as simply animals who needed treatment, not punishment. After all, if we are simply the products of our biology, how can we be held accountable for our actions? Such thinking flows directly out of Darwin’s materialistic account of evolution.
Thus Clarence Darrow, for example, took materialistic Darwinism to its logical conclusion and argued that criminals are basically programmed by material forces. If men are simply machines, powerfully determined by their heredity and background, then crime and punishment must be radically redefined.
Crime began to be studied not only in terms of one’s biology, but also in psychosocial terms. Crime was seen as a mental illness, not wilful immorality. Criminals came to be seen as victims, and punishment was replaced with rehabilitation and therapy. If crime is just an illness, then cure, not punishment, was required.
West also reminds us that the ugly eugenics movement also flowed very nicely out of the Darwinian worldview. Eugenics was the idea that man could “take control of his own evolution by breeding a better race”. The father of the eugenics movement, Francis Galton, happened to be a cousin of Darwin, and was inspired by The Origin of the Species to “improve” the human race.
Of course the rest of the title of that book reads, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. People like Margaret Sanger – who founded Planned Parenthood – simply took all this to its logical conclusion. Compulsory sterilisation of the “unfit”, lobotomies, electric shock treatments and other coercive measures were all features of the eugenics movement. And it found its fullest and most ghastly expression in the Nazi death camps.
West shows how the materialism of Darwinism leads to the Nazi worldview. Hitler argued that eugenics had a scientific basis, and that race betterment was a result of the biological principles articulated by Darwin. Indeed, the three great genocidal regimes of last century – Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Communist China – were all firmly grounded on the principles of scientific materialism.
Mention can also be made of Alfred Kinsey and the radical sex education movement which also finds its roots in the Darwinian view of humanity. West covers this in sordid detail, along with other contentious social issues of the day. For example, some evolutionary psychologists are now arguing that rape and adultery can be fully explained, if not excused, on a biological basis. All sexually deviant behaviour is simply the outworking of our evolutionary adaptation and programming. Kinsey sought to scientifically justify all sexualities, including bestiality and paedophilia.
West makes a solid case for how all such ugly social and cultural radicalism finds solid ideological grounding in the ideas of Darwin. For too long there have been apologists for Darwin who have sought to argue that a large gulf looms between the biological ideas of Darwin and Social Darwinism. West very capably demonstrates that there is in fact very little distance between the two.
Of course to make the link between Darwin and social Darwinism is not to ignore other sources for the latter. For example, the man most associated with social Darwinism, Herbert Spencer, was an evolutionist before Darwin, and he was the one who actually coined the phrase “survival of the fittest”.
But Darwin certainly was aware of the anthropological implications of his 1859 study of animals and natural selection. Indeed, his 1871 volume, The Descent of Man, looks at how man fits into this evolutionary framework. In it he argues that there are no crucial differences between man and animals. He argued that animals were capable of mental reasoning, imagination, emotions and self-consciousness. He insisted that “there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties”.
As noted, there is a division of opinion on the question of how much of the thinking of Darwin can be directly attributed to the negative outcomes mentioned here. West points out that in his revised edition of Descent Darwin tried to play down some of these more distasteful ramifications. But West notes that Darwin’s later, private views seemed to contradict these concerns.
Even if Darwin did not favour all the negative out workings of his theory, as West reminds us, an “idea’s consequences may not be fully anticipated by its proponents”. So that does not mean that he avoids all responsibility for how those ideas panned out. And West shows that the scientific materialism of Darwin and his colleagues led to plenty of destructive consequences, such as technocracy, utopianism, dehumanisation, and relativism.
In truth, ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences. West and Weikart superbly make the case that Darwin had plenty of bad ideas, and we are seeing plenty of ugly consequences today as a result. Their two very important books deserve to be widely read and discussed. They clearly inform us that perhaps our Darwinist celebrations this year need to be substantially tempered.
32 Replies to “On Celebrating Darwin”
On the subject of anniversaries I mention that on 6th June next, Queensland celebrates 150 years of Statehood.
John FG McMahon, Kolonga, Qld
We could also mention that this year (July 10), we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. Of course, the amount of celebrating will greatly depend upon one’s theological point of view. Hey, I think feel an article coming on!
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Sadly 1509AD was the year Henry VIII was crowned. He and I are very distantly related through Brian Boru, King of Ireland who died defeating the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf on Good Friday 23rd April 1014. Dear Henry was a great, great, great grandson of Brian Boru.
But on a brighter or should it be sweeter note, 1509AD was the year the first sugar mill was established in the Americas. I wonder what major anniversaries also occur this year.
John FG McMahon, Kolonga, Qld
You seemed to have attacked a great scientist by quoting two obscure books and invoking Hitler. The theory of Evolution and survival of the fittest are not laws created by Darwin, they are reality. Perhaps you should read some other books with an opposing view to your own to get a better balance to future articles.
Of course I attacked no one. I cited two noted academics with PhDs – who only seem obscure to you – pointing out the ramifications of a worldview. Instead of dealing with their arguments, you simply shoot the messenger and throw out unhelpful clichés (‘they are reality’). And yes I do read the other side. The question is, do you?
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
It’s true that logical people don’t attack people but attack arguments, and so I would call upon you to identify an argument put forward by a well-qualified scientist who does not believe in Darwinism, and refute it.
Well qualified scientists have been opposing Darwin since Darwin first proposed his theories, and they still do so today, but Darwinists simply will not pay attention to them. Rather, they attack, without any knowledge about them, the motives of these scientists, or try to “disqualify” them, again, without any knowledge.
In Darwin’s time, the scientists who instantly opposed him were equally qualified to do so. And never has there been a time that well-qualified scientists have not refuted Darwin’s ideas.
However Darwin’s ideas were so well-loved (and by non-scientists more than by scientists, to be sure), that his followers began to dominate many academic societies and forums. This went hand in hand with the attitudes existing in the wake of the French enlightenment of the 1700’s. Their ideas had already spread the idea of evolution to the public long before Darwin came on the scene, as well as the long-earth theory, and atheism.
Puffed up with what they thought was mind-boggling scientific wisdom (things any clever schoolboy or nerd would think up thesedays), many began to indulge in a sort of humanistic vanity. But all the while, scientists like Newton, whose credentials were as good as any other’s, did not see any call for this atheism, nor for long ages evolution of earth or creatures.
As time has passed, the scientific expertise and qualification of those refuting Darwin’s theory has increased. With genetics, for example, a science Darwin knew nothing about.
I was talking to such a geneticist scientist who lectures about the inadequacy of Darwinism just three weeks ago, as he was visiting Australia. It reminds me of the fact that as a non-believer, he does not have an equal voice in the mainstream scientific material.
It is much the same as “man-made climate change”. If you are not in the club, you don’t get any opening to speak your views. Science is a religious club. If you are the world’s best scientist and dont’ believe in man-caused climate change, you are just a skeptic.
So it is for scientists who don’t believe in Darwinism. What intrigues me is the fact that pro-Darwinists never respond to any of the arguments of anti-Darwinist scientists. They avoid reading their science, thus they remain ignorant.
They merely use the method of discrediting the people who make the assertions. Saying things like “they base their ideas in blind faith”, and the like. Whereas they have no idea what those scientists believe, because they have not read it and therefore cannot refute it.
In vain many non-religious anti-Darwinists have tried to attract the attention of scientists to themselves by pointing out their ongoing commitment to rationality and the suspension of any religious belief, but to no avail.
The reason is that, like the followers of any cult, for Darwinists it is sacrilege to “attack” the holy leader, or suggest that his pipe-dream idea is “not fact”.
There are plenty of scientists who can prove to any Darwinist that Darwin’s theory of the origin of species is not only not fact, but is very irrational nonsense.
But one has to be brave, brave enough to become a blasphemer, and be rejected by the sect, to read it and evaluate it, honestly, and to seek advice from one’s great theologians on the enlightening claims and assertions they will find therein.
I’m afraid that, like most creationists, all you’ve offered is an extremely elaborate conspiracy theory. It’s very much like the ‘911 Truthers’ who will tell you that anybody can see that the terrorist attack upon the US in 2001 was an inside job, but a massive conspiracy involving the media prevents the truth from getting out, and that people just refuse to look at the evidence.
You assert on numerous occasions that ‘Darwinists’ refuse to respond to the arguments of creationists. Do you really believe this? Only the slightest bit effort is required to find mountains of literature, online and in print, which takes creationism head-on. Creation ‘science’ does not fare well in these confrontations.
You mention Darwin’s lack of knowledge related to genetics, as if this weakens the validity of his theory of evolution by natural selection. This is ironic, given that perhaps the world’s most famous geneticist (and a committed Christian to boot), Francis Collins, is a scathing critic of creationism, and yet when he says…
“Evolution by descent from a common ancestor is clearly true. If there was any lingering doubt about the evidence from the fossil record, the study of DNA provides the strongest possible proof of our relatedness to all other living things.”
…you would say he has it all wrong.
Your article is a great reminder of the consequence of world views in the flow of history. Currently the world hates ‘racism’ almost as much as paedophilia and pointing out the logical consistency of Darwinian belief in evolution with racial persecution is timely.
In reading articles by Christians making this point, however, I have a concern that we sometimes get close to sacrificing the intellectual high ground by using language a bit too loosely.
What I mean is that in such articles the Nazis are usually described as being racist. Fair enough, but in general use, this term is very vague and can mean anything from holding a belief that some races differ (usually in terms of cognitive ability) to a belief that persecution is justified on the basis of race.
The first belief is actually one which is entirely consistent for a Christian to hold (if indeed there is scientific evidence for such differences). If races have been largely separated since the dispersion from Babel then differences in the initial genetic material and/or elimination of genetic material by natural selection over the subsequent 4,000 years could well mean that some races, on average, have less cognitive ability than others. The second belief, however, is not one that is consistent for a Christian to hold.
These meanings of the same word are very different and consequently Christians should be very careful. In future I wish I would see authors not taking the world’s bait by implicitly condemning ‘racism’ wholesale, but openly acknowledging that a Biblical world view can logically lead to the same position as the Nazis (that races differ). Of course, the main point should then be made that the Christian response to this information will be radically different from that of the Nazis.
Mansel Rogerson, Melbourne
If, as you claim, the “laws” of evolution are “reality,” why is it still called a theory?
From the CMI article Arguments we think creationists should NOT use:
Heather Bates is wrong again to claim that evolutionists properly address the arguments of creation scientists. What happens more often than not is that evolutionists use straw-man tactics and address not creationist claims but rather the evolutionist’s caricatures of what creationists believe as this article demonstrates.
The “world’s most famous” is always hard to prove, but another geneticist who must be up there or thereabouts is Dr John Sanford who was a professor at Cornell University for more than 25 years. In addition, he published over 70 scientific publications and was granted over 25 patents. He developed the biolistic (“gene gun”) process which is the basis of most genetically engineered crops grown today. So, his credentials are reasonably impressive.
His view on the topic is diametrically opposed to that of Collins in your quote, and Sanford has written a book (after he retired – a not insignificant issue when looking at ‘science’), Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, that sets out to demonstrate the impossibility of mutation and natural selection adding information to DNA. The relationship with this to Darwin is that without the addition of minute changes in each generation, his theory fails.
Presumably, you would also say that Sanford has it all wrong.
Roger, so if information can not be added to DNA by genetic mutation, can it be lost?
I heard Dr. Sanford speak on the topic of genetic entropy during his recent speaking tour of Australia. The basic message is, it is now possible to measure and calculate the number of new genetic mutations that occur in each generation. These mutations accumulate in the genome at a rate that far exceeds the ability of natural selection to eliminate them. We are talking about harmful mutations here. So natural selection as a mechanism is not even able to keep on top of the job of eliminating harmful mutations, let alone being able to select for the extremely rare beneficial mutations. The result is irreversible genetic entropy – the exact opposite to that postulated by evolution. This is an example where empirical science directly invalidates the basic claim of Darwinian evolution, and yet most people in the West still believe in it including, amazingly, many Christians.
On evolution, yes, Dr Sanford has it wrong. Of Dr Sanford’s peer reviewed scientific publications how many attempt to disprove evolution or prove creation? I suspect a large majority of his peer-reviewed work was completed prior to his rejection of Darwinian evolution in 2000. Having a PhD and publications in peer reviewed literature does not automatically add weight to any ideas one may put forward. Dr Sanford may well know a great deal about plant biology, but his views on evolution and genetic entropy have virtually no support within the scientific community. If he thinks these ideas have merit he should submit them to peer review instead of avoiding it and writing books about it Michael Behe style. Scientists are much more interested in convincing their peers of the validity of their ideas. Creationists, on the other hand, are primarily interested in convincing the public.
It is well worth while getting Sanford’s book because it contains a lot of information on the relative probability of positive and negative mutation (something approaching a million to one in favour of negative) and the ability of natural section to propagate those mutations (basically impossible in a positive case even in six million years). For those being subjected to, and maybe even believing the evolutionary propaganda, it is also a useful book in that it can arm them with questions to pose, if they are game, when being subjected to the typical indoctrination.
Ewan has basically given the answer, but I might add that the title of Sanford’s book, Genetic ENTROPY and the mystery of the genome, also gives you your answer, i.e. ENTROPY implies the degeneration of the genome and hence the degeneration of man. Sanford asserts this is biologically inevitable and it tends to be supported by what we see in nature whereby changes within species is associated with information loss, not addition.
I’m sorry, but you are falling into the same old meaningless excuse of peer-review. You offer no proof of Sanford’s error other than your own assertion – and yet complain about creationists being popularist.
To repeat ad nauseam the issue of peer review, ‘science,’ by definition, is materialistic and so rejects any invocation of God and creation has that implication. So, the ‘academy’ rejects any material that is not materialistic which means creationist material CANNOT be ‘peer reviewed’ then, because it is not peer reviewed, it is not science. This is circular logic.
There are plenty of ‘scientists’ who have lost their jobs by admitting a belief in creation, and so I find no contradiction in Sanford only ‘coming out’ after he retired.
So, your assertions that Sanford’s views carry virtually no weight in the scientific community are nothing more than stating the obvious and demonstrate your own particular bias but add nothing to the issue at hand. What would be far more useful is to show where his ideas are wrong.
I’m not asking you to take my word for it, I’m asking you to take the word of the scientific community.
You do realise that science is based upon methodological naturalism? Science does not, and cannot, deal with the supernatural. Science is done this way because it achieves results. If you believe there is an area where human knowledge of the natural world would have been better advanced if we’d deferred to a supernatural explanation instead of rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work of real science then please show us.
Others are better at explaining Sanford’s shortcomings than I am. See here.
Heather, thanks for your response. Yes indeed I would say that Francis Collins has it all wrong on that point. It is easy for someone to make a sweeping statement like that. But there are many scientists who disagree with him on that point.
They would point out that the “relatedness” of all creatures does not mean they evolved from a common source. Diamonds are made of atoms, and humans are made of atoms — different atoms, but in general design, very similar atoms. However, we did not evolve from them, did we? Intelligence produces patterns, beauty, mathematics, and wonderful perfection. So, of course there is relatedness between created creatures — we are made of a common substance and by a common designer. Since creatures must reproduce through seeds in which the pattern for the next creature is encoded, why wouldn’t there be a common system? Does anyone really think God would have created each creature so diversely different that there was no commonality between them? That would be absurd.
As for your point about conspiracy theories, although it’s great that you know how a conspiracy theory develops, it is an inappropriate analogy here. For a start, I don’t believe there is any contrived intention of Darwinists to distort truth. I believe they all sincerely believe they are right. The reason they tend to shun anti-Darwinists from their faculties, boards, etc, is not because they have conspired together, but because they genuinely take exception to people who don’t accord with the Darwinian dream. (Perhaps because they perceive it as an insult to their own intelligence) So, there is no conspiracy. It is just very widespread because of the way Darwinists tend so stereotypically to be.
Now, finally, you seem to have mistakenly thought that I mentioned “Creationists” in my previous post, but I didn’t. You replied, “only the slightest … effort is required to find mountains of literature… which takes creationism head-on”. But hang on: I was not talking about “creationism”. What I referred to was “scientists who do not believe in Darwinism”, not Creationists.
Anyone can make philosophical points about Creation. But when pop-Darwinists attack “creationism” they are usually not being scientific, just expressing their Darwinist conclusions and some would be trying to throw their academic weight around.
But since you and I are not scientists, we are forced to defer to other people who are experts. I can see that you do exactly that, but do you understand that there are expert scientists on both sides of the debate?
Your comments make me think you may find the film / documentary ‘Expelled’ very relevant to resolving some of the issues you have raised if you would condescend to watch it. Its primary theme is the sacking / marginalisation of academics and journalists who have attempted to discuss or publish material on Intelligent Design. It also has a number of interviews with leading proponents of the Darwinian status quo.
You can buy a copy from:
If you have objections to purchasing from Creation Ministries, I will happily buy you a copy – ring them to order and ask them to contact me to arrange payment – they have my details.
Mansel Rogerson, Melbourne
Hello again Harvey!
Exactly. But tell me, why is it that you defer to the tiny minority of experts who don’t accept evolution, rather than the massive majority who do? You seem to agree that the people best qualified to assess and interpret the evidence are the experts in the relevant field, yet when a huge majority of those experts believe ‘X’ is true you reject that consensus and go for ‘Y’. One could say there is a ‘debate’ going on over whether the holocaust really happened, and that there are historians on ‘both sides of the argument’ – should we therefore take holocaust deniers seriously?
I’ve heard all about Expelled and I’m familiar with the cases of “persecution” it is supposed to document. Upon closer inspection, these claims of persecution crumble. If you think there’s a convincing case to be made that a creationist and ID advocates are being systematically eliminated from academia feel free to bring it up.
Thanks for your offer on the DVD, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with any money winding up in the pockets of this film’s producers, not just my own. Your hard earned dollars could be far better spent!
But we have been over all this before, and you keep rehashing old objections that we have already dealt with. The history of science reveals that the majority can and do get it wrong. This is part of the theme of Thomas Kuhn’s important 1962 work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he spoke of paradigm shifts in the scientific community, and how fiercely the reigning paradigm can be clung to despite newer, rival paradigms.
And we have previously provided quotes from many Darwinists who have admitted that a prior faith commitment to naturalism, and not so much the evidence, is why they will not give Darwinism away. But this is old ground as I mention, and it seems that true believers will not budge, regardless of what we say.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Thanks again Heather
Another great example Heather: you dismiss out of hand a documentary that you have not even bothered to view. If I had dismissed Dawkin’s The God Delusion without even bothering to read it, the atheist cheer squad would be up in arms – and rightly so. Yet because you are a true believer, you don’t even need to read or view what the other side is saying. As I said, you already have your mind made up (in true unscientific fashion) and simply will not allow the evidence to be followed. Indeed, you simply suppress the evidence, and shoot the messengers who bring any countervailing evidence. In other words, you do the very things so well-documented in Expelled.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
In response to your challenge to identify one area of the natural world where we would be better advanced if we had taken a supernatural view (such as the Bible being true) rather than the assumption of methodological naturalism, allow me to nominate medical science. In particular let me nominate the study and knowledge of the so-called vestigial organs.
Taking a methodological naturalist approach it is perfectly consistent to assume that they have no function because they are left-overs from evolution. And this is what was assumed by the scientific establishment for decades past, because of their adherence to evolution.
If we start from the position that the Bible is true, however, we must assume that they do (or at the very least did, only a few thousand years ago) have a purpose because they were designed by God.
Now, over the past few decades new purposes keep being found. The human appendix, for example, is now thought to act as a trap for bacteria to “reboot” the gut after infections. And we would have known of this sooner if we had looked for a use we knew it must have, rather than assumed naturalism all-the-way-down.
Medical procedures and patients’ health would have been more advanced as people would not have had their appendices removed as a precaution under the false notion that it was just a useless leftover.
What is to be concluded from all this? It is that knowing and applying the truth (i.e. the Bible) has real, positive implications for all of man’s endeavours (including applying the scientific method).
Mansel Rogerson, Melbourne
….of course, a very small problem with your analogy of the Holocaust is that there are photos and a fair amount of credible testimony from eyewitnesses, some who are still alive today.
I trust you will be forthcoming with a similar level of evidence for your assertions about evolution in order to maintain the validity of that analogy?
Sorry, but, as Bill has pointed out, and Jonathan, and Roger, etc. etc., for a while now across a few posts, your ‘peer-reviewed’ mantra has no credibility because – well, let me use an analogy that would actually have some value as an illustration:
What you are basically advocating is this – Team 1 plays Team 2 in a sporting match. But Team 2 gets to choose the umpires (from their own team, mind you), the players on Team 1, and write up the post-match report as well. And even gets to change the rules if Team 1 still manages to start scoring goals. But all that is considered fair in your view, and in the view of others. Is it really surprising that many on Team 1 just end up forgetting about that match altogether? And just how valid is any ‘victory’ of Team 2?
You’re not a Collingwood supporter perchance? 😉
By and large, the game is rigged, Heather. (Not as a conspiracy, btw, but as a result of the common rebellion against God and truth in people’s hearts.) Why can’t you see that?
And that excuse not to check out Expelled is really exceptionally lame. As Bill has pointed out, ironically you are imitating the very behaviour the doco uncovers! I actually haven’t seen it yet either – I might just get Mansel to offer to buy me a copy too! 😉
I suspect you think it good enough for creationists to buy evolutionists materials, but you won’t even accept a freebie? Let the readers of this thread decide what to make of your position.
“It’s (EXPELLED) going to appeal strongly to the religious, the paranoid, the conspiracy theorists, and the ignorant –– which means they’re going to draw in about 90% of the American market.”
-Atheist blogger and fabulist PZ Myers, on a film he has not yet seen.
– From the movie’s website.
Funny how much of that quote sounds awfully similar to what you write, Heather. Doesn’t it bother you even just a little the company who you effectively agree with?
Is this Heather Bates another misotheistic fifth columnist? If anyone still doubts the bigoted persecution of dissenters from the evolutionary faith, see the case of Dr Michael Reiss, UK Royal Society’s director of education. He is even an evolutionist himself, but was turfed out merely for the suggestion that ID might be discussed in the classrooms.
See also Creationism, Science and Peer Review.
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
Your confirmation in your post of 6 Feb (1 am) that science excludes God merely restates my comment but also confirms the criticisms of the circular logic you apply to creationists and your meaningless request for peer review. It was therefore no surprise to see the link you provided contained similar dismissive statements and ad hominem attacks.
In what, sadly, tends to be typical of such ‘academic’ responses, they are arrogant, just as illogical and have a very disturbing tendency to only apply the ‘rules’ of criticism in one-way, i.e. if a creationist makes a single error (in the mind, or worldview of the person making the assessment), then the whole work is dismissed, or if material is published after the production of the book that again apparently contradicts it (even when that is still very much open to question), then it is classified as ‘embarrassing.’ If the same thing happens to a ‘real’ scientist – i.e. someone towing the official party line – then it is called ‘research’ or ‘progress.’
It is appropriate to observe further illogical comments in your post whereby you set up what is essentially a straw-man argument regarding the supernatural. Creation scientists also ‘roll up their sleeves and do hard work.’ Believing in the supernatural does not mean all the answers come by divine decree!
The advances in modern science started in the Western world based on a belief that God was consistent and so His creation could be studied. Initially, the belief was that such findings would not be inconsistent with theology, but that overlooked the problem that the humanists would highjack the ‘academy’ and change the rules.
Although others have basically responded to your comments on advancement of knowledge in the scientific world, I would add that this is also a flawed question. Creationists may have different views to your own naturalistic ones, but in many cases they are very well educated – and have the benefit of understanding both sides of the argument – the naturalistic, atheistic position as well as their own. They also have to know the ‘rules’ if they are to have a career in the scientific world – one of which is to hide one’s belief! So, how do you know that many advances (such as those developed by Sanford) are not coming from closet creationists?
A bigger issue to your question about advancement of knowledge is why is it that the scientific ‘academy’ wishes to exclude potential areas of research, avenues to pursue in that research or even who can do research? This ’ban’ is based purely a philosophical issue. If the biases and prejudices of your side of the debate and, in many cases, the ignorance of your opponents’ views could be removed, then who knows what could be achieved?
I’d dearly love to respond to Mansel, Mark and Roger but let’s face it – there isn’t any point is there? I’ll spend valuable time explaining how Mansel’s appendix example does not support his case, how Mark’s sporting match analogy fails and Roger’s glib dismissal of my source as ‘arrogant’ and ‘illogical’ is pretty much all I expected from him, and I’ll visit your website in a few days to find my comments still ‘awaiting moderation’….
Sorry, but we are not buying your bluff here. Wasting our time whining about how I only print comments of those who agree with me is certainly a good way to ensure comments will not appear. With 17 of your comments on this website, you have had a very good run here, as have hundreds of other atheists, Darwinists, secularists, and so on. So please spare us this silliness about censorship.
As I have said on numerous occasions, I am more than happy to debate those who are honest seekers and diligent enquirers. But I am not going to spend all my time with those who are true believers, who have already made up their minds, and simply want to push their own agendas. As my rules state, such people are welcome to set up their own websites and pontificate to their heart’s content.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Great article Bill. I am a dummy re this stuff but your article + some of the comments have broadened my understanding of these issues. Thanks again.
Ryan Foley, Melbourne.
Since Bill penned this article, it has come to light that even in Melbourne we have an example of a compromising church that is going out of its way to celebrate Darwin:
Here too is CMI’s appropriately entitled response: Compromising churchians in self-destruct mode
This is the same Anglican diocese that recommended the Victorian government decriminalise abortion. It figures.
Yes I should have mentioned this earlier. Ryan Foley of Melbourne sent me this email on January 29:
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch