With all this intelligent design and duplicitous “teach the controversy” stuff floating around, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a good old-fashioned, unadulterated creationist screed. I recently came across a prime specimen, however, and I thought it might be fun to go back and take a look, for old time’s sake. The author, one A J Castellitto, is a freelance writer who has a BS in Counselling and Human Services, and whose research has been published in such well-respected science journals as The Christian Post, Intellectual Conservative and Reformed Perspective Magazine. His current paper made it through peer review and was accepted for publication by renewamerica.com.
He begins with a traditional quote mine.
“Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Charles Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” – Richard Dawkins
This single statement lays out the implicit theme of the whole piece. If Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, then it stands to reason that demolishing Darwin will leave atheists without any way to be intellectually fulfilled. Darwin delenda est!
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution provided the extra bit of fuel needed to propel Karl’s godless Marxism (or Blind Naturalism). Overall, a strong case can be made for the powerful impact Darwin’s ideas have had on the embrace and promotion of Atheism both then and now.
But how did Charles Darwin come upon his ‘evidence’? How much of his theory was actually founded on sound scientific principles?
Our intrepid creationist has found a way to Godwin without Godwinning—simply blame Darwin for Marxism instead of Hitler, and you can avoid setting off the Godwin alarms. Clever. And he has also correctly identified the keystone of Darwin’s appeal: his scientific evidence. If he can show that the evidence fails to live up to scientific standards (for example, by showing that Darwin failed to document his sources correctly, failed to report the data accurately, and/or arrived at conclusions that are unverifiable and inconsistent with material reality), then he will have made significant progress towards achieving his goal.
So which bit of evidence does he think is Darwin’s weak spot? Will it be his catalog of variations from the Galapagos? His systematic comparisons from the fossil record? His analysis of natural versus artificial selection? Nope.
Darwin’s father and grandfather were both wealthy physicians who held to a form of evolutionary thought. These were men of the freethinking, pantheistic sort. Charles was raised Unitarian and the extent of young Darwin’s Christian faith must be called into question as very soon into his extended trip (five years across the globe on the H.M.S. Beagle) he had already laid a foundation for his naturalized theory of origins that left little room for a supreme deity.
The “scientific weakness” of Darwin’s work is that his upbringing failed to indoctrinate him in the practice of superstitiously attributing everything to the miraculous hand of God? Maybe I don’t have a BS in Counselling like AJ does, but it looks to me like he just walked up to the foul line, dribbled the ball a couple times, and then chucked it as hard as he could at a couple old geezers sitting in the back bleachers. Not exactly a three-point shot.
Darwin’s observations, which even AJ admits “were not wholly unique” to Darwin, were “enthusiastically embraced by the masses of the Enlightenment Era” because of two things: they were verifiably consistent with the real-world evidence, and they explained so much more than creationism did. AJ, however, addresses neither of these points, and instead seems to think that Darwin’s conclusions are suspect because they were so popular among “the masses of the Enlightenment.”
AJ continues his social critique by linking Darwin to Thomas Huxley, who “heavily promoted the infamous concept of man’s descent from apes.” And if the “infamy” of being primates weren’t enough, AJ gleefully quote mines Darwin thusly:
The most prominent and aggressive defender of Darwin’s theories, Huxley was once referred to as ‘My good and kind agent for the propagation of the Gospel – i.e. the devil’s Gospel,’ by Darwin.
Darwin’s use of irony apparently went completely over AJ’s head, causing him to conclude that Darwin literally did worship Satan and plotted, like a cartoon villain, to maliciously spread atheism just to be evil. And yet, in the very next breath, he claims that Darwin withheld publication of “On the Origin of Species” because he was afraid of the consequences of its atheistic implications. That’s a bit out of character for someone who allegedly “was ultimately promoting atheism” with the “shameless” and “enthusiastic” help of his good and kind agent Huxley.
So his critique of Darwin’s evidence so far has consisted of ignoring the actual content of that evidence and focusing instead on Darwin’s assumed religious deficiencies and godless companions, plus the atheistic implications of his discoveries. No word yet on whether there’s any valid reason to challenge the scientific validity of that evidence, but let’s proceed.
AJ’s next critique centers on natural selection, which he describes as being the idea that “a creature’s ability to adapt to it’s [sic] environment directly influenced it’s [sic] ability to thrive and ultimately survive over time.” This implies that creatures which survive longer will probably produce more offspring, resulting in a greater prevalence of those traits in succeeding generations. Not a too-terrible summary of the concept, and in fact AJ concedes that “Most of the evidence used by Darwin to confirm these considerations was consistent with his ideas.”
So far so good. Darwin is a man who looked at the evidence, relatively free from religious indoctrination, and arrived at conclusions that are consistent with the evidence. So what’s the problem?
Where Darwin enters the realm of presumption and blind assumption is his ideas related to common ancestry and progressive mutations. These are the areas of consideration that are used to propose a godless creation.
Why, exactly, is Darwin presumptuous and blind? Apparently it’s because he fails to presume that God is the Creator, and fails to blindly assume that all species were created at once, during a literal seven-day creation period. The distribution of traits and of species varies from the older strata to the newer ones, so the most logical conclusion would be that as older species go extinct, newer species evolve to replace them, as would naturally result from the kinds of variability and selection that Darwin observed and documented. But because he did not arbitrarily and superstitiously reject these conclusions in favor of blindly assuming a dogmatic fixity of species, he has (in the topsy-turvy world of “creation science”) entered “the realm of presumption and blind assumption.”
To further demonstrate Darwin’s blind presumption, AJ next offers us that most compelling of creationist evidences, the personal anecdote.
I have been repeatedly told with great assertion that the scientific community has moved on from the concepts put forth by Charles Darwin. Personally, I am quite pleased with this assertion. However, my follow-up question is often met with either silence or indignance. That question being:
What aspects of evolution do they now deem disposable?
Has Darwin been wholly discredited by modern science?
Is any aspect of his considerations beneficial or shall we wholly discard his theory?
What were his expectations for natural selection and does today’s evolutionist hold to those same expectations?
I have yet to hear an honest answer to such inquires.
One suspects he is failing to hear the answers because he’s wearing headphones that are blasting “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” into his eardrums at maximum decibels. Even elementary introductions to evolutionary theory point out that since Darwin’s time we have identified genetics, rather than Lamarkian inheritance, as one of the primary the mechanisms by which variation and selection operate on a population, and have identified a number of other mechanisms as well. If AJ has indeed never heard an honest answer to his question about science after Darwin, it’s not because there’s any great mystery about it. Perhaps they don’t have Google where AJ lives.
Now things begin to get interesting. AJ’s next maneuver is to admit that evolution is correct, and that “change over time” and “survival of the fittest” are all phenomena that are readily observed and confirmed in the real world. Then, just when we’re all ready to congratulate him for taking a reasonable view of the evidence, he casually informs us that this is not what On the Origin of Species” is about!
There are very few that fail to acknowledge these concepts. But that’s not what Darwin’s Origin of the Species was proposing.
In reality, natural selection does not bring about the wholesale changes Darwin hypothesized. There is no real evidence for the theorized level of progressive change proposed by Darwin and still promoted by the science of today. This is the unfounded, further application that drives the skeptic of blind evolution to cry ‘foul!’
Having been a creationist myself, I can vouch for how he arrives at this conclusion. It’s easy. You simply assume, blindly, that the number and characteristics of the species were fixed at Creation, and that any evidence which contradicts this assumption is not real evidence. Once you have rejected all the evidence suggesting that species do evolve and arise over time, you then announce that there is no evidence of evolution. No matter how much evidence there is, there is no real evidence, just like there are no true Scotsmen.
Our genetics are fixed and remain ‘in kind.’ The establishment would do well to stick with the facts until they can be proven to be expanded upon. Any further proposal is nothing more than ‘wishful thinking.’ What evolution proposes is crossing the line of science into the realm of creative fiction.
Fixed how? What physical mechanism exists that prevents ordinary biochemical mutations from altering the “fixed” definition of what a species is? Any physical mechanism would double or triple the amount of genetic information that would need to be carried by each and every individual, since each trait would need to be represented not only by the current value for the individual, but also the maximum possible value for the species, and the minimum possible value, so that the specification for the species as a whole would be retained across successive generations. And then you would need a physical mechanism for monitoring the variable individual value and then taking appropriate actions, if necessary, to ensure that it remains within the fixed boundaries for that species.
So where is any of this? What peer-reviewed scientific papers have been published documenting the mechanisms by which a species propagates an additional set of parameters that define the fixed limits beyond which individual offspring cannot deviate from the original traits of all of their ancestors? No such evidence exists. It’s purely wishful thinking on AJ’s part, which is why he accuses evolutionary scientists of “wishful thinking” for failing to assume that it must be there regardless of whether or not there’s any plausible mechanism for it.
Instead of scientific evidence, AJ has the three c’s: common creationist canards.
Ultimately, the overall problem with blind evolution both in process and acceptance is the non-skeptical adherence to a contrived, ideologically-based foundation. Especially since a sinless, godless form of evolution is arguably a building block of communism, apathy and moral decay.
Once again, he deftly avoids overt Godwinning by substituting communism for Nazism, but you get the point. Even though, as AJ himself declares, “No rational human being argues the basic concept of evolution,” it makes you an evil person and somehow dictates your political philosophy regarding government ownership of property. By failing to arbitrarily reject any evidence inconsistent with Genesis, by refusing to assume the existence of complex and hitherto undetected genetic mechanisms for enforcing strict limits on species variation, and by abjectly failing to superstitiously attribute virtually everything to the magical hand of an invisible deity, science has become “scientism,” and “resembles religious dogma.”
And why is religious dogma bad? “True science,” AJ loftily informs us, “should leave no lasting place for unsupported assumptions, unfounded speculations and insurmountable barriers”—except when those assumptions and speculations come from the Bible, and the barriers come from real-world genetics (i.e. the kind scientists study outside the Counseling and Human Services curriculum).
He ends as he began, with a quote mine from Richard Dawkins.
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”
Sorry Dick, I have faith, but not enough to believe in evolution!
He might have missed the point, but what Dawkins is actually saying is that faith is very often a bad thing, not something to brag about, and certainly not something to use as the basis for believing that evolution is real.
So all in all, a fairly typical creationist screed: emotional arguments, ad hominems, thinly-veiled Godwinning, quote mines, anecdotal evidence, projection, aggressive ignorance of the evidence, patronizing self-righteousness, and a complete lack of awareness concerning the fundamental difference between science and superstition. He did do one thing right, though. In a probably accidental bit of truth in advertising, he labelled his article as being “The ignorance of blind faith.” In that one label, he was spot-on.