> What's at stake in...
> The battle over evolution
> April 1, 2005 | Page 8
> DAVID WHITEHOUSE explains what's important about the theory of evolution.
and R Mann inserts comments
> POLITICIANS IN 19 states are trying to force biology teachers to sow
>doubts about the theory of evolution. Doubts are all they can manage for
>now, since the alternative view--"creation science," which has also been
>repackaged as something called "intelligent design theory"--finds little
>support among people who actually study living things.
"Creation science", a term now largely supplanted by "creationism",
holds that all spp were created at once, in a completed creation. In the
most extreme version, Young Earth Creationism (e.g Answers® in Genesis
Inc.), there were 6 literal days of creation, less than 10,000 y ago. In
the less extreme Old Earth Creationism, e.g Hugh Ross's 'Reasons to
Believe' of S. Calif, the 'days' of creation are held to be much longer,
but evolution is still denied.
IDT is a loosely (if not furtively) connected newer sect, asserting
far less - stuck on Paley's 1802 point that the complex machinery so
evident in organisms cannot have resulted from chance but must have been
designed. Its leaders Dembski, Behe stand pat on this one point, as if
waiting for rabid materialists like Dawkins, Wolpert, S Weinberg to admit
it; they will evidently wait till hell freezes over, so defective is the
reasoning of those aggressive atheists. IDT is an aggressive sect more or
less led by polemical rtd Berkeley law prof Phil Johnson. Their 'wedge' is
being driven in with intent - mistaken, in my view - to overthrow the
methodological materialism of scientific method.
IDT is sometimes called a stalking horse for "creationism". I
suspect that's its main role.
Theistic evolutionists e.g Broom, Nield, Sheldrake and myself,
carry on the thread never referenced by Dembski - J E Morton, Wm Temple,
Sir Alister Hardy, etc. traceable back to Aristotle. This line of
scholarship propounds creation - as distinct from materialism - but
fully acknowledges that billions-of-years evolution is real and has indeed
been the 'how' of creation. But we then go further and insist that 'why'
must also be asked.
> Virtually all biologists believe that material processes, not divine
>intervention, account for the origin of life from inanimate matter --and
>for the adaptive "fit" between organisms and their environments.
That is a typical example of wishful thinking by materialists.
What fraction of biologists are anti-materialism (like Broom, Morton,
Sheldrake, myself, etc)? So many Yank biologists must be Christians that I
don't see how the stats could be as Whitehouse claims - "virtually all
biologists believe ... ". He is making this up, isn't he?
> As a result, courts have ruled since 1968 that mandating creation
>"science" in public schools is an unlawful imposition of a religious view.
I have previously pointed out the ludicrous exaggeration &
falsehood entailed in these court rulings. What the USA Constitution
prohibits is *establishment* of any religion, which is vastly more than the
mere discussing of theology in schools which so threatens the insecure
> Faced with these setbacks, creationists now propose teaching the
>"controversy" over evolution as a matter of free speech. This new
>strategy resembles the tobacco companies' four-decade attempt to convince
>people that there was a "controversy" over the connection between smoking
This is a misleading analogy. There exists no significant
controversy over the causation of diseases by smoking. There exists
long-standing, unresolved, highly respectable controversy over the
Darwinist notion that evolution can be explained by random mutation
followed by selecting out the less fit mutants. Broom & I, for example,
call (neo)Darwinism the biggest con-trick in intellectual history.
Megatime is no substitute for purpose in the creation of coordinated
ecology. All 4 causes, not just material and efficient causes, are needed
to explain evolution.
> As with the corporate-sponsored tobacco "researchers," creationists have
>a hidden motive for pushing discredited ideas. The companies were after
>profits--and the creationists are pushing a conservative social agenda.
It is difficult to ascertain the social agenda of the
"creationists", let alone the much more diplomatic if not downright coy
IDTers. I doubt they have any tight agenda. Their leaders probably look
no further ahead than their own totalitarian power over their duped,
mind-buggered followers chanting "the first 3 chapters of the Bible, and
plus you get your Noah story, are literally true" - a statement that
cannot be genuinely believed by any informed person. Phil Johnson fiercely
protects them, and refuses to tell me how old he thinks the Earth is.
> THE ATTRACTION of creationism for conservatives is that it presents a
>static, unchanging view of nature--a view they use to justify the social
I have noticed them doing little of that, at least overtly. Mind
you, I'm in an export market, far from the wellsprings of Orange County
Calif and Lubbock, Tex. And one has now to add Seattle, Wash, a channel
for funding by Rev Sun Myung Moon thru Wells in the Discovery Inst, where
Dembski is also affiliated. 'Teach the controversy' they intone - yet
Dembski refuses to put anything from me on his well-funded www.iscid.org.
It does look as if IDT is Creaionism Lite, but the links are few &
>A God that produces an unchanging natural order would, of course, produce
>a similarly "perfect" social order and prescribe the proper function of
>everything in both.
"Creationists" are a variety of fundamentalist Christian. They
believe little more than anyone else that a perfect social order has been
produced. They do of course, like all theists, believe that the Creator
has let us know how he wants us to live.
Theists could not possibly desire the social status quo. They
deplore its many depravities and work in various ways to improve society.
> Creationists claim that their God prescribes a social structure in which
>some people must be subordinate to others--just as humans must obey God.
>Further, the nuclear family--with a man in command--is supposed to be the
>eternal social unit for rearing children. The creationists also say that
>God created sex only for reproduction. That way, they can condemn
>abortion and gay sexuality without having to make a real argument.
These social attitudes don't come along as part of the
"creationist" package. There would be many "creationists" who aren't
particularly concerned let alone bigotted about homosexuality. To the
extent that they oppose PC ideologies, their reasons will be essentially
unrelated to their wonky beliefs against evolution.
> Unfortunately for the creationists, 150 years of investigation has
>strengthened Charles Darwin's arguments that species change--and even
>change into new species.
> As Darwin pointed out, the resemblance of fossils to today's species
>indicates that some species give rise to changed versions of themselves.
>Genetic and other physical similarities between species indicate how
>closely related they are to each other. Human genes, for example, are 99
>percent the same as a chimpanzee's.
If Whitehouse means to imply that these facts prove common descent,
I'll point out they don't quite do so.
> The geographic locations of different species confirm these judgments.
That is a very disputable claim. Biogeography contains many
> Related species, even ones that are adapted to different ways of life,
>tend to be found in adjoining areas--as we should expect if they have a
> For these and a thousand other observations, creationists have only
They ignore as many of them as they can get away with - the vast
majority of the evidence.
This is one of the several ways in which they are dishonest.
> Lacking support from the evidence, creation "science" is propped up by
>political-religious fervor--and by the money that flows to those who
>promise to make backward views seem respectable.
> IF CREATIONISM lends support to the political right, does evolution
>confirm left-wing ideas? Lots of people have thought so.
But they are deluding themselves. In fact, as well as in theory,
evolution is consistent with both right- and left-wing beliefs. The
question of how the millions of spp came to be (9/10 now extinct) at
successive times over 4 By has little to do with the left-right spectrum
which so concerned Churchill, Stalin, etc during C20 but is now scarcely
visible in the fog of PR, PC, etc: state ownership v. capitalism.
Public ownership for the purpose of democratic control of major
utilities, especially natural monopolies, was endorsed by all significant
political parties in New Zealand, 1950-75. There was ample scope for
corporate enterprise, some of which was NZ-owned. And producers'
cooperatives developed - e.g the NZ Dairy Board was the largest
international trader of dairy products.
The Yugoslav experiment was perhaps the least unpleasant version of
communism - family firms could employ a half-dozen non-family. Across at
the far end of the R-L spectrum loom the state terrorist nightmares of
Lenin, Mao, Hoxha, Kim ... And around the R extreme of this still
significant spectrum, the nominees are ... ? new Russia? USA? typical
USA puppet regimes in Latin Amer ...
I contend that the L-R spectrum is today
* still important
* proven by expt to be needlessly nasty at both extremes
* proven to be at about the right point in mixed economies, New Zealand &
If so, theorising in favour of one extreme or the other is
unrealistic, evasive, and bloody tiresome.
> If nature has a history, they've reasoned, then human relations can
>change, too. What's more, if the changes in nature come from processes
>that are internal to nature itself--and not from an outside force, like
>God--then changes in society may be possible through the actions of humans
>themselves. In other words, humans created oppressive institutions, and
>humans could change them.
It is a misleading caricature to make out that even fundamentalists
such as "creationists" deny the possibility of changing human relations.
Christ preached radical changes such as have not yet been fully
implemented, and his followers today are anything but frozen but are still
toiling for change. The Amish etc may be the nearest to an exception. But
typical theistic evolutionists are also eager for social change.
> Ideas like these--including some of the first scientific ideas of
>biological evolution--inspired many leaders of the French Revolution of
>1789, 60 years before Darwin published his theory. Some favored a
>thoroughly materialist outlook, dispensing with talk of gods and spirits
>in order to seek a natural understanding of everything.
Only in an ill-educated society could a materialist try on that
nightmare of state terror as an example of progress.
> Although Darwinism and Marxism are compatible and even kindred theories,
>the truth of Darwinism doesn't come close to proving that socialist
>revolution could work. Certainties belong to those who have a pipeline to
>an "absolute" authority. Materialists, however, have to prove their ideas
- and have so utterly failed to do so that materialism should be
by now disreputable. However, its current vigorous advocates e.g Dawkins,
Wolpert, S Weinberg, etc get far more publicity than theistic evolutionists
who represent the mainstream of scholarship.