Darwin’s Dark Side

Small scale evolution has always been accepted by everyone.  From animal husbandry to horticulture, breeders are creating new varieties among specific species.  Microevolution is like an ant jumping over a grain of sand, Macroevolution (forming completely new body forms and functions) is like an ant jumping over the Grand Canyon at its widest point.  As paleontologist Robert Carroll explains, the fossil record “emphasizes how wrong Darwin was in extrapolating the pattern of long-term evolution from that observed within populations and species.  As Darwin himself observed, new species appear fully formed, as though planted there, and remain unchanged.

The facts behind the dark side of Darwinism may not reflect the history naturalists wish to remember, but they do reveal a reality which is central to our understanding of Darwinism.  As I chronicle the shortcomings of Darwinism, I must not puff myself up with pride and fall into the very arrogance that is characteristic of Darwinism at its worst.  As scientist William A. Dembski writes:

“How can a scientist keep from descending into dogmatism?  There’s only one way, and that’s to look oneself squarely in the mirror and continually affirm:  I am a fallible human being…  I may be wrong…  I may be massively wrong and mean it.”

With this in mind, we all have a “dark side”, if we try to police the thoughts of reasonable people.  I am a reporter, presenting the facts from scientists.  Reasonable people will examine the ideas that I present and have a healthy skepticism and then do their own browsing through the scientific record.

Out of intellectual curiosity, Edward Sisson, a partner at a large WashingtonD.C. based international law firm, started to investigate the Scopes Monkey Trial.  He noticed that whenever evolution is challenged, Darwinists bring up the Scopes Trial and Darwinist’s favorite movie, Inherit the Wind (Stanley Kramer , 1960).   After all, if Darwinist’s ratify the evolutionary material in the textbook from which Scopes taught, nobody should object to the content in that book.  Sisson purchased a copy of the textbook from which Scopes taught, A Civic Biology, and a copy of the companion lab guide to that textbook.   As Sisson reviewed these source materials he found them very different from the biased picture presented by the movie, Inherit the Wind.

A Civic Biology and its companion lab book both contain sections on eugenics – introduced by the statement that “the science of being well born is called eugenics.”  Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, notes that A Civic Biology divided humanity into five races and ranked them in terms of superiority, concluding with the highest type of all, the caucasians, represented by the “civilized” white inhabitants of Europe and America.   A Civic Biology taught school children that the failure to apply eugenics forced the State of New York to bear the cost of “over a hundred feeble-minded, alcoholic, immoral, or criminal persons.”

Ironically, the lab book contains little on evolution.  Apparently, the Darwinists who wrote the lab book, and the scientific establishment that applauded it, felt it was more important for the “receptive” young students to learn eugenics than evolution.  Edward Sisson writes that the lab book, at problem 160, asks students to use inheritance charts, “to determine some means of bettering, physically and mentally, the human race; so that students can answer the concluding question: should feeble minded persons be allowed to marry?”

Edward Sisson says the scientific establishment of today would denounce eugenics.  Thus, the very textbook from which Scopes taught – the very book that the scientific establishment of today proclaims Scopes ought to have been able to use in 1925 without interference from the State of Tennessee – included materials that today the scientific establishment rejects.

Would it have been wise at the time for students, teachers and parents to question the “facts” presented in A Civil Biology?  Scientific evidence to the contrary should always be welcomed in a debate about a theory that produces new knowledge.   Some of the “facts” about evolution presented and implied in modern high school biology text books that have been shown to be false even by Darwinists such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen J. Gould are still being published as true.  In my fifth paper, Half-truths; Evolutions Recurring Themes, I concentrated  on five classic examples of evolution presented in textbooks that don’t stand up under empirical scrutiny.  They are:  Darwin’s Warm Little Pond; The Fossil Horses; The Miller-Urey Experiment; Haeckel’s Embryo’s; and the Peppered Moths.

Always look for details, the more details the better – in the form of experiments, measurement, research and observation.  The details of eugenics were examined and rejected by scientists and detailed research has also brought into question many of the classic examples of evolution.

Darwinists often cry out, “Why can’t we be treated like physicists and other hard scientists?  Why are we lumped together with psychologists, economists and other pseudo-scientists?”  This might foster an inferiority complex which makes Darwinists extremely defensive and hostile to any form of criticism, even when the criticism is backed by empirical facts.  The fact that opinion polls always show that a large majority of the public do not believe Darwin’s central idea of macroevolution make them even more irrational.  Darwinist Richard Dawkins gets red with anger and shakes visibly when he is challenged during a debate.  This was also true for another ultra Darwinist, Stephen Jay Gould, when he debated Phillip Johnson.

Phillip E. Johnson, a graduate of Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School (placing first in his class), wrote the book Darwin on Trial after extensive scientific research.  David Raup, a renowned paleontologist, had distributed Johnson’s work to his students at the University of Chicago and agreed that Johnson’s scholarship was fully accurate in scientific detail and contained a clear understanding of macroevolutions anomalies and empirical gaps.  Colin Patterson, a renowned British paleontologist, helped critique Johnson’s early draft in London and found it sound.

The debate between Gould and Johnson took place at the CampionCenter on the west side of Boston.  Gould immediately seized the floor and “donned the mantle of Darwin.”  Gould was agitated and shaking bodily and started vehement criticism.  Johnson conveyed a sense of having done his homework and remained calm.

Compare Gould’s rage to the friendly arguments that Einstein had with the great Danish physicist Niels Bohr.  Their discussions were so intense that they would forget about everything else.  However, they remained friends and stayed in contact with each other throughout their long careers.  They respected one another and often sought advice on new ideas.

Ultra-Darwinist Richard Dawkins, who holds the chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, wrote, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane.”  Dawkins also stated that, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pointless indifference.”

In his book, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, the Darwinist philosopher Dennett compares religious believers to “wild animals” who may have to be “caged” and says that parents should be prevented, presumably by coercion, from misinforming their children about the truth of Darwinian evolution, which is so evident to him.

Can you blame Dennett for going over the “edge” when his most formidable opponents are not clergy men, but fossil experts?  Darwin was so disillusioned by the fossil record that he said in The Origin, “I can give no satisfactory answer to the lack of intermediates.  Nature may almost be said to have guarded against the discovery of transitional forms.”   Would Dennett have “caged” Darwin for such doubts? It is ironic that Dennett is holding on to his religious faith in macroevolution without the empirical evidence of the rocks.

Richard Dawkins, Stephen J. Gould and Daniel C. Dennett have fashioned their reputations as defenders of a Darwinian orthodoxy.  Their words convey the impression of men who expect never to encounter criticism and are unprepared to deal with it rationally.  This is a deeply unhealthy state of affairs, especially when ordinary men and women are suspicious of Darwin’s theory.  Dennett, Dawkins, Gould, and many other Darwinists hardly go far in persuading them that their intellectual anxieties are misplaced.

There is no more disputed problem in biology than Darwin’s claim for macroevolution.  This is because the stubborn realities of nature keep coming up time after time: the Cambrian explosion; the sudden appearance and stasis of fossils; the absence of transitional forms; the cell’s breathtaking specified complexity; and the experimentally driven collapse of the confidence in the chemical soup scenarios for the origin of life.  Because Darwinists are left flying in the wind, without a firm anchor of empirical evidence, it might lead them to a type of complex that does not allow them to operate at “room temperature”.

Free-lance writer Nancy R. Pearcey notes that evolution is becoming a total worldview.  If you start with impersonal forces operating by chance, then over time you end up with naturalism in moral, social, and political philosophy.

Thus, in evolutionary psychology, new books keep appearing with titles such as; The Moral Animal and Evolutionary Origins of Morality, arguing that morality is a product of natural selection.  For politicians, there’s a book titled Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom.  For economists there’s Economics as an Evolutionary Science.  For educators there’s Origins of Genius: Darwinian Perspectives on Creativity.  In medicine, a slew of new books have appeared with titles such as Evolutionary Medicine, and Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine.  The next time you go to your physician, ask if he/she practices Darwinian medicine.  Knowing the Darwinian ideas on eugenics; if the answer is “yes”, run for your life, especially if you are elderly and sometimes forget your car keys.

The dark side of this evolutionary fundamentalism is that these books are said to be scientific without any actual evidence.  “The ugly fact”, says evolutionary geneticist H. Allen Orr, “is that we haven’t a shred of evidence that morality did or did not evolve by natural selection.”

In a book called The Natural History of Rape, the authors made the disturbing claim that rape is not a pathology, but rather is an evolutionary adaption.  In fact, the rape thesis has reappeared in a book by Steven Pinker of MIT titled: The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature.  Some years ago Pinker published an article in the New York Times applying evolutionary psychology to the topic of infanticide.  Pinker wrote that a capacity for neonaticide is built into the biological design of our parental emotions.

PrincetonUniversity professor Peter Singer published and article defending bestiality.  Singer insists; evolution teaches that “we are animals and the result is that sex across the species barrier…ceases to be an offense to our dignity as human beings.”

There are scientific problems with all of these books, beginning with the fact that there is no evidence that any of these traits have been selected by evolution.  “Where are the twin studies, chromosome locations, and DNA sequences supporting such a claim?” geneticist H. Allen Orr demands.  “The answer is we don’t have any.  What we do have is a story – there is undeniable Darwinian logic underlying the murder of newborns.”  Darwin himself was taken in by evolutionary logic when in the Descent of Man he argued that “the murder of infants has prevailed on the larger scale throughout the world and has met no reproach.”

Evolution proves to be so elastic that it can explain anything.  Evolution is said to account for mothers who kill their newborn babies.  But, of course, if you were to ask why most mothers do not kill their babies, evolution accounts for that, too.  A theory that explains any phenomenon and its opposite, too, in reality explains nothing.  The shame is that many of these books are being written at scientific research universities such as; MIT and Princeton without carefully controlled experiments as documentation.  To remain silent is the most useful service these “science“ writers can render to the public good.

Darwin’s idea of the survival of the fittest has been a dictator’s dream, because it has given them scientific cover for dark political theories.  Science writer Mark Ridley notes:

“Natural selection is, I agree, politically and morally unattractive.  Natural selection contains a selfish, competitive element that has inspired some nasty political theories, including, historically speaking, the social Darwinism of the eugenics movement, the robber barons of early capitalism and Hitler’s Third Reich.”

Darwinism, for 150 years, has been the weapon of choice of all those, both left and right, who wanted to undermine and annihilate the great tradition of religious humanism that has formed the foundations of Western Civilization.  On the left, Marx wanted to dedicate Das Kapital to Darwin.  On the right, the use of Darwin to promote military nationalism and racism, is also well known.  In reading Darwin’s Blind Spot: Evolution Beyond Natural Selection by science writer Frank Ryan, I found how society put into action some of Darwin’s ideas.  Ryan writes:

“Contemporary Darwinism was in perfect harmony with British Imperialism which was seen as the national expression of the evolutionary process.  Darwin’s evolutionary theory was being applied to the fields of education, law, philosophy, behavioral psychology, and politics.  Survival of the fittest, struggle, competition, and fitness became hallmarks of British society.  Some of Darwin’s contemporaries thought that unfit individuals should be eliminated.  Darwin assumed that western, especially Anglo-Saxon cultures, was superior to the inferior peoples.  Darwin even opposed vaccination of the lower class.  The Descent of Man portrayed men as more intelligent than women.  Darwin said that the careless, squalid Irishman multiplies like rabbits; the frugal, fore-seeing, self-respecting Scot is stern in his morality.”

Darwin’s son, Major Leonard Darwin, who became president of the Eugenics Education Society, called for the control of the lower class.  In Britain, the pauper class was perceived as the greatest threat to civilizations.  In the United States, social Darwinism became more firmly entrenched under Theodore Roosevelt and helped to support a militaristic foreign policy.  Darwinian-inspired American eugenicists considered the Nordic white race superior before the Nazis did.

Social Darwinism took a far greater potential for evil when it was adapted as policy in Germany.  Adolf Hitler said it is the struggle for existence that produces the selection of the fittest.

Christians and other groups should not be held blameless, because at times they were silent and would not stand up to the imperialist’s claims.  How easily one forgets that Jesus championed the poor, the unclean, and the outcasts of society.  The fact that Darwinists based their claims on scientific “facts” is even more unfathomable.

You must be a creationist!  Why else would you oppose macroevolution?  Being a creationist is essentially the only unforgiveable sin among Darwinists.  Sir Isaac Newton wrote in his Principa, “the most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.”

Eugenie Scott, an anthropologist who heads the NationalCenter for Science Education, has distinguished herself as an ardent critic of the scientific legitimacy of intelligent design, and tours high schools to “enforce” this view.  At a hearing of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, one of the commissioners asked Dr. Scott that given Newton’s views on intelligent design in physics, whether Newtonian physics would qualify as scientific in our present Darwinian educational climate.  Scott responded by saying that Newton did not take intelligent design seriously as a scientific argument.  Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, Director of the Haydon Planetarium, wrote in a recent book, Death by Blackhole that intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance and also said that Newton did not take intelligent design seriously.

In a letter that I quickly posted to Dr. Tyson, I reminded him that this is simply incorrect.  If one opens the General Scholium, the introduction to Principa, arguably the greatest book of science ever written, one finds an exquisite design argument by Newton in which he makes clear that the arrangement of the planets can only be explained by the contrivance of a most wise artificer.  He is very explicit about this!

How dare Dr. Tyson say that intelligent design is a “philosophy of  ignorance!”   Has any scientist gone farther to conquer ignorance than Newton did in 1666, when he holed up in his mother’s house, he developed calculus, an analysis of the light spectrum, and the laws of gravity?  Newton was Einstein’s foremost role model and he always kept Newton’s portrait tacked to the wall near his desk.  Einstein summarized the history of physics: “In the beginning God created Newton’s laws of motion together with the necessary masses and forces.”   As a man of God, did Newton ever imply that he would rather remain ignorant, than search for the truth?

I was re-reading Walter Isaacson’s Einstein when I came upon these quotes.  Einstein said, “I’m not an atheist… We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”  “The fanatical atheists,” he explained, “are like slaves who still feel the weight of their chains.”

Belief in the intelligent design hypothesis can be found in most of the leading scientists of western civilization: Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Maxwell, Ray, Linnaeus, Carvier, Agassiz, Boyle, Kelvin, Faraday, Rutherford – on and on the list would go.  Name just one who embraced ignorance over truth.

To say that Darwin would have changed their minds is pure speculation, because many of these scientists lived after Darwin.  The distinguished British cosmologist, Sir Fred Hoyle, an atheist, said, “Belief in the chemical evolution of the first cell from life-less atoms is equivalent to believing that a tornado could sweep through a junk yard and form a Boeing 747.”  Yet, Darwinists would accept Hoyle into their fold because he was an outspoken atheist; if they suspected otherwise he would be banished.  Much the same can be said about Lynn Margulis, a distinguished professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts who was chairperson of the Planetary Biology   and Chemical Evolution Committee of the Natural Academy of Science.  Lynn Margulis has written many books and papers and is not someone to trifle with.  Lynn Margulis said that “history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as a minor twentieth century religious Sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.”  At one of her talks she asks Darwin biologists in the audience to name a single, unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations.  Her challenge goes unmet.  Nevertheless, Margulis is accepted into the Darwinian club because she has no interest in organized religion as such, whether or not that religion is the Church of Darwin or some other Church.

Nicolaus Copernicus, Sir Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein are the three greatest physicists of all time and each of them had a working relationship with the designer.  Copernicus, as a working Catholic priest, dedicated his work, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestrium, to the Pope at that time; Newton, as the role model for Einstein, made a design argument in the Principa; and it was Einstein who said “when I am judging a theory, I ask myself whether, if I were God, I would have arranged the world in such a way.”

Einstein never felt the urge to denigrate those who believed in design; instead he distanced himself from outspoken atheists.  “What separates me from the so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos.”  All people who love science, myself included, should embrace this spirit of humility.

If Socrates taught us anything, it’s that we always know a lot less than we think we know.  Dogmatism deceives us into thinking we have attained ultimate mastery and that divergence of opinions is futile.

Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett are over-the-top in their enthusiasm for Darwinism and show animus to anyone who doesn’t share their opinion.  But what about the American Civil Liberties Union, when it threatens to sue school boards and teachers for allowing criticism of Darwinian evolution to be taught?  I’m not talking about an alternative to Darwin, like the theory of Intelligent Design.  I’m talking about teaching criticisms of the theory as they appear in peer-reviewed literature by recognized evolutionary biologists, such as the late Stephen J. Gould.  We now face a Darwinian thought police that, save for employing physical violence, is as insidious as any secret police at ensuring conformity and rooting out dissent.  To question Darwinism is dangerous to all professional scholars, but especially for biologists.  As professor of Biological Sciences Michael J. Behe points out in an interview with the Harvard Political Review, “There’s good reason to be afraid.  Even if you are not fired from your job, you will be passed over for promotions.  I would strongly advise graduate students who are skeptical of Darwinism not to make their views known.”

As I pointed out before, this is a deeply unhealthy state of affairs for science and tells of a deep and acute sense of personal inferiority among Darwinists that result in overcompensation, exaggeration, and aggressiveness.

Eshel Ben Jacob, Maguy-Glass Chair in Physics of Complex Systems at TelAvivUniversity writes, “Darwin, a free thinker who dared make far-reaching conclusions based on observation, would have been dismayed to see the petrified doctrine his brain-child has become.”  Darwin’s Origin of the Species has four chapters devoted to difficulties to his theory and most of these have only gotten worse in light of sudden appearance and stasis in the fossil record and the intricate structure of the cell that is found to be more breathtakingly complex on a daily basis.  Darwin would have welcomed critical observations of his theory based on scientific findings that have been observed and measured.  The dark side of Darwin will not allow this to happen.

Healthy and respectful skepticism and transparency helps science move forward.  There has always been a conflict of interest between scientists who command the dominant view and scientists who think they are misguided.  These tensions are good as long as both sides “operate at room temperature” and allow reasonable debate.  Galileo was severely censored by the church by expressing scientific views that proved to be empirically correct.  Is the church of Darwin now censoring the views of professional scholars in a similar way?

The simplest solution to the closing of the mind in favor of Darwinism or any other idea is to provide people with information; information that is gathered empirically.  Transparency is crucial.  Our institutions of higher learning must permit a culture of free speech that is motivated to question the status quo in light of sound science.

It is clear to me, that it’s acceptable and good to have a system of religious principles and beliefs that are based on faith.  It is not acceptable to pass this faith off as “science” and then police public teachers and schools who cast doubt on this “science” by presenting empirical facts based on direct observation of the fossil record and many other anomalies.  Darwinism should not be treated as a “sacred relic” that is closed to open investigation, especially in public institutions that are supported by everyone’s tax money.  The separation of church and state should also apply to the church of Darwin.

I have religious beliefs that are largely based on faith.  Darwinists should be absolutely free to have their religious principles as long as they also admit that much of macroevolutions’ claims stand largely on faith.  Then, the dark side of Darwinism would vanish and the light would pour in.

Lee Kleinschmidt

 

 

 
 

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