What Is “Liberal” or “Progressive” Christianity?

A friend asked the following: “Question… Can you tell me what Liberal Christian means. In short form so Lisa can understand….” The Gospel Coalition defines it thus:

  • Liberal theology is rooted in modern, secular theories of knowledge and has moved towards participation in the work of the church as the priority for Christians at the expense of delineating theological belief, which has led to the abandonment of many orthodox beliefs in many mainline denominations.

Likewise, a friend noted, “I understand liberal theology as subscribing to the Enlightenment presuppositions concerning naturalism. Thus, liberal theology is skeptical concerning supernaturalism. Like Occam, they look for a logical/natural explanation for everything, including the 10 plagues of Egypt, the virgin birth, and the resurrection.”

But this seemingly short definition is followed by a larger article discussing it’s origins. The enlightenment and the differing forms it took were also heavily influential on liberalism both in religious and political reals, as well as “critical theory” stressed by Jacques Derrida:

Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was the founder of “deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architectural theory, and in political theory. Indeed, Derrida’s fame nearly reached the status of a media star, with hundreds of people filling auditoriums to hear him speak, with films and televisions programs devoted to him, with countless books and articles devoted to his thinking. Beside critique, Derridean deconstruction consists in an attempt to re-conceive the difference that divides self-consciousnes (the difference of the “of” in consciousness of oneself). But even more than the re-conception of difference, and perhaps more importantly, deconstruction attempts to render justice. Indeed, deconstruction is relentless in this pursuit since justice is impossible to achieve.

(STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY)

What follows below will travel between the theological aspects of liberalism, as well as the attacks on our Founding documents (political).

Ravi Zacharias does a decent job in showing the basics of liberalism in it’s “questioning” aspect, and that this has been around a long time — that is — the postmodern tendency:

(I deal with the postmodernism of the church and the Emergent Church in my chapter, “Emergen[t]Cy – Investigating Post Modernism In Evangelical Thought“)

The following quotes by the author who put a warning shot across the bow of the modern “liberal” attack of the church… J. Gresham Machen. However, these quotes can in some sense be applied to the Constitution as well (more on this in a bit).

  • The chief modern rival of Christianity is “liberalism.” An examination of the teachings of liberalism in comparison with those of Christianity will show that at every point the two movements are in direct opposition.
  • Here is found the most fundamental difference between liberalism and Christianity–liberalism is altogether in the imperative mood, while Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative; liberalism appeals to man’s will, while Christianity announces, first, a gracious act of God.
  • It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men.
  • The movement designated as “liberalism” is regarded as “liberal” only by its friends; to its opponents it seems to involve a narrow ignoring of many relevant facts.
  • According to the Christian conception, a creed is not a mere expression of Christian experience, but on the contrary it is a setting forth of those facts upon which experience is based.
  • But if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words it was based upon doctrine.
  • Faith is essentially dogmatic. Despite all you can do, you cannot remove the element of intellectual assent from it.

So here is a “Basic” rundown… but a good definition comes from IMPACT 360 INSTITUTE (a long article):

Theology matters because beliefs are connected with behavior. In addition to this fact, one’s theology also reveals the true source of authority serving as the ultimate foundation. Am I going to be faithful to Scripture or conform to what is culturally comfortable? A recent example of this is the book, Untamed, by Glennon Doyle, which is #1 on Amazon’s “Christian self-help” category and currently #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. It is written from a loosely Christian perspective, utilizes Scripture, and speaks about God, faith, Christianity, and morality. It also teaches that you can find God within yourself, promotes moral relativism, teaches that sexuality and gender are fluid, and blames the Bible for creating a culture that oppresses women.

Blogger, speaker and apologist Alisa Childers (author of the IMPACT 360 article [linked] above) talks to us about a dangerous form of Christianity invading our churches.  (Alicia has a YouTube Channel HERE)

Liberal Christianity does not mean a “politically leftist form” of the Christian Faith. Although, the same “sickness” applies that lead to similar outcomes, whether in religious beliefs or political beliefs.

That is, true conservatives conserve ideas born from natural rights, as immutable and objective —  written in stone so-to-speak… the liberal progressive sees things not “in situ” (situated in the original, natural, or existing place or position) but in flux.

Changing in that, modern definitions and understandings supersede the previous outdated ideas and definitions as applied by those earlier thinkers. Dennis Prager talks about a popular saying when he was going to college in the 60’s/70’s, it was,  “don’t trust anyone over 35 [years old].”

What do I mean about the same sickness?

Here is a must read (a bit long) for the avid fan of Dr. Norman Geisler who enumerates the founding “in situ” nature of the political conservationist. He deals with our countries Founding ideas:

THE CONSERVATIVE AGENDA: ITS BASIS AND ITS BASICS

The Conservative Agenda:

Its Basis and Its Basics

by Norman L. Geisler

Take for instance Joe Biden’s saying that he won’t be “satisfied” until half of the U.S. Supreme Court is filled with women who hold a “living document” view of the Constitution. To wit, a poll taken by C-SPAN a few years back notes “that 48 percent of voters overall agree that ‘the Constitution is a living document which should evolve to recognize ‘new rights’ and changing circumstances.’ That includes 80 percent of liberals and 66 percent of Democrats — but only 22 percent of conservatives and 26 percent of Republicans. Another 42 percent of voters overall say that the Constitution “should be interpreted according to its original words and meaning.” The survey found that 15 percent of liberals and 23 percent of Democrats agree with this, compared to 68 percent of conservatives and 64 percent of Republicans.”

To read the Constitution through an originalist framework means we seek to interpret and apply it in the way people understood it at the time of ratification. Human nature was no different or advanced then as now. In other words, we look at what supporters said each provision meant as they were “selling” the Constitution to the people and trying to overcome intense opposition to ratification. The assertions of supporters served as the basis upon which the ratifiers – the elected representatives of the people – agreed to adopt the Constitution.

The U.S. Constitution is essentially a contract forming a union of states. In any contract, provisions have a fixed meaning. [One author notes that The U.S. Constitution is a Contract, Not a Rule Book] When you sign on the dotted line, you expect them to remain constant over time. When disputes arise, you always attempt to ascertain what the parties believed they were agreeing to. The ratifiers acted with this expectation.

James Wilson was a Pennsylvania lawyer and politician. He was a key member of the Philadelphia Convention that drafted the Constitution, and one of its most influential supporters during the ratification process. His State House Yard Speech laid the foundation for the ratification effort. In 1790 and 1791, Wilson delivered a series of lectures titled Of the Study of Law in the United States. In one of these lectures, he asserted this was the proper way to interpret legal documents.

✦ “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.”

Think about it. Would you sign a living, breathing mortgage? Would you enter into a living, breathing employment contract? Would you sign a living, breathing agreement with a builder to build an addition on your house?

Of course not! Because you would have no idea what that contract really means. And you certainly wouldn’t agree that the other party to the contract gets to decide how it will be interpreted.

[….]

Progressives want a living, breathing Constitution because they want to mold society into their own image. They crave power. Originalism constrains power. And despite their lip-service to constitutional fidelity, conservatives want the same thing – power.

But the rule of law requires consistency. Otherwise, government becomes arbitrary. When the limits on government power become subject to reinterpretation by the government itself, it becomes limitless in power and authority…..

(TENTH AMENDMENT SOCIETY)

The same with Christianity, and how “leftist” progressive Christians see Christianity (even if they do not word as well):

  1. True religion is not based on external authority….
  2. Christianity is a movement of social reconstruction….
  3. Christianity must be credible and relevant….
  4. Truth can be know only through changing symbols and forms….
  5. Theological controversy is about language, not about truth….
  6. The historical accuracies of biblical facts and events are not crucial, so long as we meet Jesus in the pages of Scripture….
  7. The true religion is the way of Christ, not any particular doctrines about Christ….

(THE GOSPEL COALITION)

Here is another excellent article entitled “5 Signs Your Church Might be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity

  1. There is a lowered view of the Bible….
  2. Feelings are emphasized over facts….
  3. Essential Christian doctrines are open for re-interpretation….
  4. Historic terms are re-defined….
  5. The heart of the gospel message shifts from sin and redemption to social justice.

LONG PRESENTATIONS:

We are living in a day when liberal theology has made deep inroads in the church. Many professing Christians and even ordained ministers no longer believe in the authority of Scripture or the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How can people deny these essential doctrines and still call themselves Christians? In this message, Dr. Sproul explains that liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. It is nothing more than unbelief.

In this in-person interview, I sit down with Alisa Childers to discuss “Progressive Christianity.” Is this new movement dangerous to Christianity?

What was the infectious inroad into Democrats thinking about the Constitution being alive and breathing? Darwinism and his evolutionary view of biology, via Woodrow Wilson’s impact on progressivism. This is a large excerpt from Gary Demar’s article, Charles Darwin, Woodrow Wilson, And The Evolving Constitution


APPENDIX


“In Wilson’s book, Constitutional Government (1908), he came out in favor of implementing a Darwinian view of evolution to civil government.

Constitutional Government praised the presidency as the central political office: head of the party. This was a self-conscious break from the Constitution’s view of the office. The Constitution does not mention political parties, and the Framers had hated political factions in 1787. Wilson, having switched to Progressivism, had to undermine this older political faith. He turned to Darwin as the solution.

“The framers had been Whigs because they had been Newtonians, he correctly argued. This Newtonian Whig worldview is incorrect, he insisted, and so is the Constitutional order that assumes it. ‘The government of the United States was constructed upon the Whig theory of political dynamics, which was a sort of unconscious copy of the Newtonian theory of the universe. In our own day, whenever we discuss the structure or development of anything, whether in nature or in society, we consciously or unconsciously follow Mr. Darwin; but before Mr. Darwin, they followed Newton.

Some single law, like the law of gravitation, swung each system of thought and gave it its principle of unity’ (pp. 54-55). The checks and balances built into the Federal government by the Constitution are now a hindrance to effective political action, he said. This language of balances reflects mechanism. We need to overcome this mechanical way of thinking, Wilson wrote.

“The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other as checks, and live. On the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick cooperation, their ready response to the commands of instinct or intelligence, their amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day of specialization, but with a common task and purpose. Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without leadership or without the intimate, almost instinctive, coordination of the organs of life and action” (pp. 56-57).

Does any of this sound familiar? The Constitution is a “living, evolving document” to be directed in its evolutionary development by leaders who believe that government is the divine force for change.

So the next time you hear someone talk about how the Constitution is a living document, think of Woodrow Wilson, but more specifically, think of Charles Darwin.

Scientific Explanations, To Be True Need Also To Be Falsifiable

(Post’s thumbnail picture is of Karl Popper) Even though I use the neo-Darwinian theory as my prime example, this applies just as readily to the conspiracy theories revolving around the New World Order, and the like. You can visit my “Conspiracy Mantras” page to go to some of my posts on the various topics, there.

“Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.”

Skell, P.S., Why do we invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology, The Scientist 19(16):10, 2005; quoted by Jonathan Sarfati in Creation 36(4):1 September 2014.

Charles “The Hammer” Krauthammer makes this point in regards to the Climate Change frenzy:

Here are some examples (via the CORBETT REPORT)

The following is one of the reasons I reject Darwinian evolution (and, frankly, conspiracy theories like WTC-7 being a conspiracy), and any scientist would reject anything for.

“Insofar as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable: and insofar as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”

K.R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (London, England: Hutchinson & Co, 1959), 316; found in, Werner Gitt, Did God Use Evolution? Observations from a Scientist of Faith (Portland, OR: Master Books, 2006), 11. (See also: SCIENCE AS FALSIFICATION)

That is to say, if a theory explains everything it explains nothing:

“The underlying problem is that a key Darwinian term is not defined. Darwinism supposedly explains how organisms become more ‘fit,’ or better adapted to their environment. But fitness is not and cannot be defined except in terms of existence. If an animal exists, it is ‘fit’ (otherwise it wouldn’t exist). It is not possible to specify all the useful parts of that animal in order to give an exhaustive causal account of fitness. [I will add here that there is no way to quantify those unknowable animal parts in regards to the many aspects that nature could or would impose on all those parts.] If an organism possesses features that appears on the surface to be an inconvenient – such as the peacock’s tail or the top-heavy antlers of a stag – the existence of stags and peacocks proves that these animals are in fact fit.

So the Darwinian theory is not falsifiable by any observation. It ‘explains’ everything, and therefore nothing. It barely qualifies as a scientific theory for that reason….

The truth is that Darwinism is so shapeless that it can be enlisted is support of any cause whatsoever…. Darwinism has over the years been championed by eugenicists, social Darwinists, racialists, free-market economists, liberals galore, Wilsonian progressives, and National Socialists, to give only a partial list. Karl Marx and Herbert Spencer, Communists and libertarians, and almost anyone in between, have at times found Darwinism to their liking.”

The above is from an article by Tom Bethell in The American Spectator (magazine), July/August 2007, pp. 44-46.

Another Quote

DARWIN CONCEIVED OF EVOLUTION in terms of small variations among organisms, variations which by a process of accretion allow one species to change continuously into another. This suggests a view in which living creatures are spread out smoothly over the great manifold of biological possibilities, like colors merging imperceptibly in a color chart.

Life, however, is absolutely nothing like this. Wherever one looks there is singularity, quirkiness, oddness, defiant individuality, and just plain weirdness. The male redback spider (Latrodectus hasselti), for example, is often consumed during copulation. Such is sexual cannibalism the result, biologists have long assumed, of “predatory females overcoming the defenses of weaker males.” But it now appears that among Latrodectus hasselti, the male is complicit in his own consump­tion. Having achieved intromission, this schnook performs a character­isti somersault, placing his abdomen directly over his partner’s mouth. Such is sexual suicide—awfulness taken to a higher power.

It might seem that sexual suicide confers no advantage on the spider, the male passing from ecstasy to extinction in the course of one and the same act. But spiders willing to pay for love are apparently favored by female spiders (no surprise, there); and female spiders with whom they mate, entomologists claim, are less likely to mate again. The male spider perishes; his preposterous line persists.

This explanation resolves one question only at the cost of inviting another: why such bizarre behavior? In no other Latrodectus species does the male perform that obliging somersault, offering his partner the oblation of his life as well as his love. Are there general principles that specify sexual suicide among this species, but that forbid sexual suicide elsewhere? If so, what are they Once asked, such questions tend to multiply like party guests. If evolutionary theory cannot answer them, what, then, is its use? Why is the Pitcher plant carnivorous, but not the thorn bush, and why does the Pacific salmon require fresh water to spawn, but not the Chilean sea bass? Why has the British thrush learned to hammer snails upon rocks, but not the British blackbird, which often starves to death in the midst of plenty? Why did the firefly discover bioluminescence, but not the wasp or the warrior ant; why do the bees do their dance, but not the spider or the flies; and why are women, but not cats, born without the sleek tails that would make them even more alluring than they already are?

Why? Yes, why? The question, simple, clear, intellectually respect­able, was put to the Nobel laureate George Wald. “Various organisms try various things,” he finally answered, his words functioning as a verbal shrug, “they keep what works and discard the rest.”

But suppose the manifold of life were to be given a good solid yank, so that the Chilean sea bass but not the Pacific salmon required fresh water to spawn, or that ants but not fireflies flickered enticingly at twi­light, or that women but not cats were born with lush tails. What then? An inversion of life’s fundamental facts would, I suspect, present evo­lutionary biologists with few difficulties. Various organisms try various things. This idea is adapted to any contingency whatsoever, an interesting example of a Darwinian mechanism in the development of Darwinian thought itself.

A comparison with geology is instructive. No geological theory makes it possible to specify precisely a particular mountain’s shape; but the underlying process of upthrust and crumbling is well understood, and geologists can specify something like a mountain’s generic shape. This provides geological theory with a firm connection to reality. A mountain arranging itself in the shape of the letter “A” is not a physically possible object; it is excluded by geological theory.

The theory of evolution, by contrast, is incapable of ruling anything out of court. That job must be done by nature. But a theory that can confront any contingency with unflagging success cannot be falsified. Its control of the facts is an illusion.

David Berlinski, The Deniable Darwin & Other Essays (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2009), 45-47. 

So too is the conspiratorial view of history (Bilderbergers, Council of Foreign Relations, Banking Institutions, Rosicrucians, The Knights Templars, on-and-on). It is used as an over-arching meta-narrative by Marxists, libertarians, anarcho-leftists, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, druggies (stoners), to Christian Evangelicals.

Illuminati - New World order

If someone or something disproves an aspect of this theory that person is branded a “shill” ~ or the fact has been “planted” by those in power who wish people to believe this “counter-point.” It explains everything and therefore nothing.

It becomes a metaphysical explanation… religious, so-to-speak. God, or theism, while having evidential aspects, IS ultimately a metaphysical program, and thus, outside of material explanations. So is evolutionary naturalism as well as the New World Order — taking into account the above.


Post-Script


Before getting to two fun videos, I want to give an example of the depth of people not self-reflecting on what they are saying… applying it to themselves to see if their sweeping statements are true or just platitudes. After explaining via another site’s excellent work refuting yet another convoluted “matrix” of conspiratorial shenanigans regarding World Trade Tower Seven (WTC-7),  I got this “challenge”?

  • Shaun your proof that Chemtrails are working!

Besides spelling my name wrong, here is my response (reformatted for ease of reading… but response 100% intact):

Jeffrey M.C., you believe in chem-trails?

As with other issues, like with an atheist saying Christianity is a crutchnot realizing that this argument cuts both ways and that atheism can be a crutch to escape judgement and wanting to live under an umbrella of full autonomy in the universe [being your own god]this argument cuts both ways.

If chemtrails were a program to control one’s thinking in some way, why would it be proof if someone rejected “conspiracies”? Why couldn’t people who believe in whatever conspiracy theory be evidence for the program?

Like I point out in my “Alex Jones Section,” and elsewhere conspiracy people think Jones is being controlled by the New World Order to spread misinformation — leading people away from the more important conspiracies.

And that is the pointsmall phrases like “pull-it” are taken [ripped] from their context, the evidence from the two parties involved in those [actual] conversations are ignored, and a matrix of unfounded and false evidence is then laid on top of this phrase and then after this is distorted… people move on to the next myopic point to do the same.

MUCH LIKE when skeptics or the cults come in and rip a small portion of the text out of context, ignore the clear testimony of those involved in the verse itself, and lay a false history or hermeneutic over the textmoving on to do the same with another verse. [Like Jehovah’s Witnesses as an example with John 1:1]

In other words

  • your contention,
  • or the person who says these programs are to obfuscate the “real conspiracies,”

use the same amount of evidence [hint, inference only] and the competing contentions raised by conspiracy theorists are not provable of disprovable. BECAUSE there will always be another contention [twisted as discussed inferred] to explain away the refutation.

For instance, I make good arguments against the main propositions used to support the deliberated destruction of WTC-7and I am tricked by chemtrails. You see, there is no winning

…[and I linked to this post]…

And thus, no information [truth] is passed on.

I further explain for people who cannot pick-up what I am laying down:

In other words

I could simply respond to Vytas S. when he said,

  • “Sean, I remember watching a CNN video of the countdown to when Building 7 came down,”

by saying:

  • Vytas, you’re proof that Chemtrails work!

[“Proof” ~ as used above ~ should be in quotation marks signifying another intent for it.]

Here is M.C.’s response (try not to laugh):

On the same Note Sean how do you know your information is correctthink about it. Most media information is impregnated with NWO progressive Liberal Spinbull. Alex has dedicated his life exposing mainstream media no matter who is in White House. If he is only right 30% of the time we are screwed. I will say he is right about 83% of the time and have watched his truths come to the forefront. ChemTrails are real…. and a threat to all of us. Weather Manipulation IS FOR REAL!. The Fight between Republicans and Democraps is a manipulated NWO Farce to keep us occupied and seperated…. WAKE UP AMERICA!

There is no way to argue reasonably with such a person… he will explain e v e r y t h i n g as a conspiracy — so I tap out — as truth is unknowable in his scenario.


Movie Time


The Alt-Right and Evolutionary Superiority

What a great post by David Kilnhoffer at EVOLUTION NEWS:

…..You won’t be startled to hear that alt-right believers were more inclined to dehumanize, in evolutionary terms, their disfavored racial and ethnic groups, rating “White people” as more “evolved” than, say, “Mexicans, Nigerians, and Blacks.” Or rather you won’t be startled if you’ve been paying attention to our reporting here on the role of evolutionary thinking among racist right-wingers. (The left has its own racialists, but that’s a different discussion.)

Before anyone was talking about the alt-right, the racialist right was enamored with Darwinian theory as a justification for its prejudices. Not unlike some more conventional conservatives, they were impressed by its academic prestige and the way that it seemed to give support to preferred opinions.

As of a couple of days ago, white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups were being pulled offline by their web hosts. One of those groups is Stormfront.org. Back in 2009, in the wake of a shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, I described Googling the phrase “natural selection” as it appeared among writings of the website’s users. The shooter, James von Brunn, had composed a manifesto, highlighting his idea that “Natural Law: the species are improved through in-breeding, natural selection and mutation. Only the strong survive. Cross-breeding Whites with species lower on the evolutionary scale diminishes the White gene-pool.” Such thinking, more or less sophisticated in how it presents itself, finds an audience on the less extreme right.

Even the most respectable conservatives have to be wary. In 2012, I wrote about how National Reviewhad acted correctly in cleaning out two contributors with racialist or white nationalist ties. One was John Derbyshire, long known to us as a vitriolic critic of intelligent design. The other, Robert Weissberg, had spoken at an event that, I pointed out, was “heavy with evolutionary, Darwinian and eugenic themes, sponsored by a group [American Renaissance] with similar interests.” See “With Concerns about Darwinist Racialism in Mind, National Review Cleans House.”

In 2015, another white nationalist shooter, Dylann Roof, contributed his own manifesto, complete with a nod to pseudoscientific racism. Media reports tied Roof through a series of associations to activists who lean on scholarly sounding evolutionary racial theory. See “In Explaining Dylann Roof’s Inspiration, the Media Ignore Ties to Evolutionary Racism.”

In 2016, when the alt-right came to light under that now familiar name, I noted that, “Though this has escaped focused attention, the alternative right draws heavily on themes of evolution-based racism,” including eugenics, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary “race realism,” and more. I pointed to alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s Radix Journal (also now shut down by its web host) as the “mother lode of pseudo-conservative, pseudo-scientific racism.” See “Evolution and the Alt-Right.”

Of Spencer and his journal, National Review noted the other day that “The Alt-Right Carries on Margaret Sanger’s Legacy of Eugenics.” The evolutionary backdrop to this is, though, typically missed. Darwin himself, of course, a kindly figure, was no proto-Nazi. However, Darwinian theory and Darwin’s own writings have fueled racial and eugenic thinking for more than a century and a half, including that of Margaret Sanger, as John West has detailed at The Stream (“The Line Running from Charles Darwin through Margaret Sanger to Planned Parenthood”) and as we have noted here repeatedly. In his books, historian and Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Richard Weikart meticulously describes the intellectual descent from Darwin to Hitler. Ranking the human races in relationship to gorillas is straight out of Darwin’s Descent of Man…….

What is the alt-right? What is its worldview? How big is it? Michael Knowles, bestselling author and host of The Michael Knowles Show, took a deep dive into alt-right culture. Here’s what he learned.

Complexity of the Genetic Code Just Got More Complex

BEFORE getting to the main story meant to be read via PROSLOGION (click here to jump to it if you wish), the book mentioned is partly a book about how an evolutionary specialist came to believe in God. Some scientists/specialists in their field are convinced by science and complexity that God exists (studies from their own field), but yet others are influenced by other “arguments” — like in the case of Dr. Wayne Rossiter. He acknowledged the logical conclusions of his atheism, and was disturbed by them… here is a post about the book: ANOTHER ATHEIST WHO BECAME A CHRISTIAN

…but I did want to point out what I have found to be the most interesting part of the book so far: the conversion story of its author, Dr. Wayne D. Rossiter.

Dr. Rossiter earned his Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Rutgers University in February of 2012 and is currently an assistant professor of biology at Waynesburg University. One thing I found so fascinating about his conversion story is that it is rather different from mine. Science caused me to doubt my atheism, and an investigation of the evidence led me to a belief in Christianity. For Dr. Rossiter, however, it was not science itself that caused him to doubt his atheism. Instead, what he saw as the consequences of atheistic science caused him to fall into the Savior’s arms. Here is how he begins his conversion story:

…I had developed into a staunch and cantankerous atheist by the time I got to Rutgers to pursue a Ph.D. This was aided by an equally atheistic advisor who was of Dawkins’s ilk. Advanced education at our best universities is surprisingly insular. Like bobbleheads, we tend to read and agree on the same things, and give little to no countenance to critics of our views. (pp. 3-4)

I couldn’t agree more with his take on the insular nature of advanced education in the U.S. I vividly remember several instances from my early years in academia where a “senior” member of a research group would make fun of a position with which he disagreed, and the rest of us would bob our heads in agreement without even trying to suggest that there might be good reason to at least examine that position seriously. At the time, I didn’t understand how anti-science such actions were, but now that I look back on them, I shake my head at the sorry state of our advanced education system.

What caused Dr. Rossiter to doubt his atheism? After achieving an important milestone in every academic’s life (publication in a major journal of his field), he and his wife celebrated. He stayed up after his wife went to bed, and he became plagued by the “big questions” about life:

On what rational grounds could I care about the state of the planet (or even my family) after I’m gone? And what did I even mean by “good” or “bad”? I couldn’t argue that any objective morality existed apart from our subjective experiences. Any moral laws that might objectively exist – whether or not anyone ascribes to them – would be beyond our grasp, and we would have no objective or rational reason to obey them if they did exist. Nothing mattered. This is Dennett’s “universal acid,” and Darwin’s ideas applied that acid to the human condition. If molecules led to cells, and cells to organs, and organs to bodies, then the “molecules-to-man” hypothesis was true. We really were just wet computers responding to external stimuli in mechanical and unconscious ways. No soul, no consciousness. Just machines. I was completely and utterly devastated. (pp. 4-5)

This led to some serious soul-searching, which included psychiatric counseling. His counselor was a Christian, and that intrigued him, so he read some intellectuals who found belief in God to be both rational and compelling. This caused him to doubt his atheistic view of science, and eventually, he became a Christian. The university at which he now teaches is a Christian university….

OKAY, here is the excerpt I wish to highlight, and mind you, the ENTIRE post is well worth reading. It is in regard to the supposition based on little evidence in the classic neo-Darwinian theory (which is crumbling mind you) that the genetic code is universal… as is discussed, it is not. Here is the introduction to the information from a group via Facebook:

  • Hi guys, this is an extremely interesting article and the links in there too, it shows that there is not a universal genetic code, but about 19 of them, that makes a universal common ancestor impossible, one of the links takes us to the NCBI website where all the codes are listed (by the way, two members of our group made comments there, Philip C. and Otangelo G.

Here is the post: UNIVERSAL GENETIC CODE? NO!

I am still reading Shadow of Oz by Dr. Wayne Rossiter, and I definitely plan to post a review of it when I am finished. However, I wanted to write a separate blog post about one point that he makes in Chapter 6, which is entitled “Biological Evolution.”He says:

To date, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which houses all published DNA sequences (as well as RNA and protein sequences), currently acknowledges nineteen different coding languages for DNA…

He then references this page from the NCBI website.

This was a shock to me. As an impressionable young student at the University of Rochester, I was taught quite definitively that there is only one code for DNA, and it is universal. This, of course, is often cited as evidence for evolution. Consider, for example, this statement from The Biology Encyclopedia:

For almost all organisms tested, including humans, flies, yeast, and bacteria, the same codons are used to code for the same amino acids. Therefore, the genetic code is said to be universal. The universality of the genetic code strongly implies a common evolutionary origin to all organisms, even those in which the small differences have evolved. These include a few bacteria and protozoa that have a few variations, usually involving stop codons.

Dr. Rossiter points out that this isn’t anywhere close to correct, and it presents serious problems for the idea that all life descended from a single, common ancestor.

To understand the importance of Dr. Rossiter’s point, you need to know how a cell makes proteins. The basic steps of the process are illustrated in the image at the top of this post. The “recipe” for each protein is stored in DNA, and it is coded by four different nucleotide bases (abbreviated A, T, G, and C). That “recipe” is copied to a different molecule, RNA, in a process called transcription. During that process, the nucleotide base “U” is used instead of “T,” so the copy has A, U, G, and C as its four nucleotide bases. The copy then goes to the place where the proteins are actually made, which is called the ribosome. The ribosome reads the recipe in units called codons. Each codon, which consists of three nucleotide bases, specifies a particular amino acid. When the amino acids are strung together in the order given by the codons, the proper protein is made.

The genetic code tells the cell which codon specifies which amino acid. Look, for example, at the illustration at the top of the page. The first codon in the RNA “recipe” is AUG. According to the supposedly universal genetic code, those three nucleotide bases in that order are supposed to code for one specific amino acid:methionine (abbreviated as “Met” in the illustration). The next codon (CCG) is supposed to code for the amino acid proline (abbreviated as Pro). Each possible three-letter sequence (each possible codon) codes for a specific amino acid, and the collection of all those possible codons and what they code for is often called the genetic code.

Now, once again, according to The Biology Encyclopedia (and many, many other sources), the genetic code is nearly universal. Aside from a few minor exceptions, all organisms use the same genetic code, and that points strongly to the idea that all organisms evolved from a common ancestor. However, according to the NCBI, that isn’t even close to correct. There are all sorts of exceptions to this “universal” genetic code, and I would think that some of them result in serious problems for the hypothesis of evolution….

Great stuff Maynard. Another blow to naturalistic theories and another gift to the ever growing catalog of the complexity of life.

Evolution is “Evolving” ~ The Failure of Neo-Darwinism (UPDATED)

This is not to suggest that new paradigms triumph ultimately through some mystical aesthetic. On the contrary, very few men desert a tradition for these reasons alone. Often those who do turn out to have been misled. But if a paradigm is ever to triumph it must gain some first supporters, men who will develop it to the point where hardheaded arguments can be produced and multiplied. And even those arguments, when they come, are not individually decisive. Because scientists are reasonable men, one or another argument will ultimately persuade many of them. But there is no single argument that can or should persuade them all. Rather than a single group conversion, what occurs is an increasing shift in the distribution of professional allegiances.

At the start a new candidate for paradigm may have few sup­porters, and on occasions the supporters’ motives may be sus­pect. Nevertheless, if they are competent, they will improve it, explore its possibilities, and show what it would be like to belong to the community guided by it. And as that goes on, if the paradigm is one destined to win its fight, the number and strength of the persuasive arguments in its favor will increase. More scientists will then be converted, and the exploration of the new paradigm will go on. Gradually the number of experi­ments, instruments, articles, and books based upon the para­digm will multiply. Still more men, convinced of the new view’s fruitfulness, will adopt the new mode of practicing normal science, until at last only a few elderly hold-outs remain.

Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd Edition (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1970), 158-159

A great definition of the Modern Synthesis can be found HERE

The first two articles are a report about the Royal Society meeting in regards to the failure of the neo-Darwinian model. The Royal Society is the world’s most distinguished and historic scientific organizations. The first article is an introduction to the upcoming event, the second is a partial description of it. What follows it are articles from scientific literature calling into question the General Theory of Evolution (GTE/NDT).

  • SCIENCE ALERT, “The world’s top biologists have met to discuss whether we should update evolution: Bringing Darwin’s theory into the 21st century,” Nov. 28, 2016

The world’s top biologists have met to discuss whether we should update evolution: Bringing Darwin’s theory into the 21st century. (Science Alert)

Evolutionary biology has helped scientists understand why the world looks the way it does for more than 150 years, since Charles Darwin released On the Origin of Species back in 1859.

But a team of researchers has now proposed an update to our current understanding of evolution – one that could completely shift our understanding of how species evolve.

Some of the world’s best known biologists just converged in London as part of a Royal Society meeting to discuss if it’s time to upgrade one of the most fundamental theories in science.

[….]

The researchers also argue that natural selection isn’t necessarily the primary force in evolution – the limitations of development and the environments organisms live in can also play a role.

  • MINA, “Scientists see the obvious, confirm Darwinism is Broken,” Dec. 14, 2016

Darwinian theory is broken and may not be fixable. That was the takeaway from a meeting last month organized by the world’s most distinguished and historic scientific organization, which went mostly unreported by the media. 

The three-day conference at the Royal Society in London was remarkable in confirming something that advocates of intelligent design (ID), a controversial scientific alternative to evolution, have said for years. ID proponents point to a chasm that divides how evolution and its evidence are presented to the public, and how scientists themselves discuss it behind closed doors and in technical publications. This chasm has been well hidden from laypeople, yet it was clear to anyone who attended the Royal Society conference, as did a number of ID-friendly scientists.

[….]

The opening presentation at the Royal Society by one of those world-class biologists, Austrian evolutionary theorist Gerd Müller, underscored exactly Meyer’s contention. Dr. Müller opened the meeting by discussing several of the fundamental “explanatory deficits” of “the modern synthesis,” that is, textbook neo-Darwinian theory. According to Müller, the as yet unsolved problems include those of explaining:

-Phenotypic complexity (the origin of eyes, ears, body plans, i.e., the anatomical and structural features of living creatures);

-Phenotypic novelty, i.e., the origin of new forms throughout the history of life (for example, the mammalian radiation some 66 million years ago, in which the major orders of mammals, such as cetaceans, bats, carnivores, enter the fossil record, or even more dramatically, the Cambrian explosion, with most animal body plans appearing more or less without antecedents); and finally

-Non-gradual forms or modes of transition, where you see abrupt discontinuities in the fossil record between different types.

As Müller has explained in a 2003 work (“On the Origin of Organismal Form,” with Stuart Newman), although “the neo-Darwinian paradigm still represents the central explanatory framework of evolution, as represented by recent textbooks” it “has no theory of the generative.” In other words, the neo-Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection lacks the creative power to generate the novel anatomical traits and forms of life that have arisen during the history of life. Yet, as Müller noted, neo-Darwinian theory continues to be presented to the public via textbooks as the canonical understanding of how new living forms arose – reflecting precisely the tension between the perceived and actual status of the theory that Meyer described in “Darwin’s Doubt.” 

Much of the conference after Müller’s talk did discuss various other proposed evolutionary mechanisms. Indeed, the prime movers in the Royal Society event, Müller, James Shapiro, Denis Noble, and Eva Jablonka – known to evolutionary biologists as the “Third Way of Evolution” crowd, neither ID theorists nor orthodox Darwinists – have proposed repairing the explanatory deficits of the modern synthesis by highlighting evolutionary mechanisms other than random mutation and natural selection. Much debate at the conference centered around the question of whether these new mechanisms could be incorporated into the basic population genetics framework of neo-Darwinism, thus making possible a new “extended” evolutionary synthesis, or whether the emphasis on new mechanisms of evolutionary change represented a radical, and theoretically incommensurable, break with established theory. This largely semantic, or classificatory, issue obscured a deeper question that few, if any, of the presentations confronted head on: the issue of the origin of genuine phenotypic novelty – the problem that Müller described in his opening talk. 

Indeed, by the end of Day 3 of the meeting, it seemed clear to many of our scientists, and others in attendance with whom they talked, that the puzzle of life’s novelties remained unsolved – if, indeed, it had been addressed at all. As a prominent German paleontologist in the crowd concluded, “All elements of the Extended Synthesis [as discussed at the conference] fail to offer adequate explanations for the crucial explanatory deficits of the Modern Synthesis (aka neo-Darwinism) that were explicitly highlighted in the first talk of the meeting by Gerd Müller.” 

[….]

Rather, these complex behaviors were taken as givens, leaving the critical question of their origins more or less untouched. While there is abundant evidence that animals can learn and transmit new behaviors to their offspring – crows in Japan, for instance, have learned how to use automobile traffic to crack open nuts – all such evidence presupposes the prior existence of specific functional capacities enabling observation, learning, and the like. The evolutionary accounts of niche construction theory therefore collide repeatedly with a brick wall marked “ORIGINAL COMPLEX FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY REQUIRED HERE” – without, or beyond which, there would simply be nothing interesting to observe.James Shapiro’s talk, clearly one of the most interesting of the conference, highlighted this difficulty in its most fundamental form. Shapiro presented fascinating evidence showing, contra neo-Darwinism, the non-random nature of many mutational processes – processes that allow organisms to respond to various environmental challenges or stresses. The evidence he presented suggests that many organisms possess a kind of pre-programmed adaptive capacity – a capacity that Shapiro has elsewhere described as operating under “algorithmic control.” Yet, neither Shapiro, nor anyone else at the conference, attempted to explain how the information inherent in such algorithmic control or pre-programmed capacity might have originated. …

So one should be aware, while almost all the info posted here are from evolutionists or journals and magazines in the evolutionary field of study, intelligent design theorists have been ringing this bell for a LONG time. The more recent line of thinking that has devestated neo-Darwinian thinking the most started in 1986 with Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory In Crisis. Then came Phillip Johnson’s 1990 book, Darwin on Trial. Then came Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe (1996). (I would include in the mix a 1993 book by a non-theist, Richard Milton entitled Shattering the Myths of Darwinism.)

Here are some key definitions defined and built upon by Dr. Jay Richards:


Scientific Journals/Magazines


Now, here are some journal or science magazine partial comments that call into question the Darwinian theory:

  • NEW SCIENTIST, “Evolution evolves: Beyond the selfish gene — For more than 150 years it has been one of science’s most successful theories, but we need to rethink evolution for the 21st century,” Sept. 21, 2016

…Some biologists are trying to shoehorn the new knowledge into traditional evolutionary thinking. Others, myself included, believe a more radical approach may be required. We don’t deny the roles of genetic inheritance and natural selection, but think we should look at evolution in a markedly different way. It is time for the theory of evolution to evolve.

  • NATURE, “Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?” Oct 8, 2014

Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? Yes, urgently

Without an extended evolutionary framework, the theory neglects key processes, say Kevin Laland and colleagues.

Charles Darwin conceived of evolution by natural selection without knowing that genes exist. Now mainstream evolutionary theory has come to focus almost exclusively on genetic inheritance and processes that change gene frequencies.

Yet new data pouring out of adjacent fields are starting to undermine this narrow stance. An alternative vision of evolution is beginning to crystallize, in which the processes by which organisms grow and develop are recognized as causes of evolution.

Some of us first met to discuss these advances six years ago. In the time since, as members of an interdisciplinary team, we have worked intensively to develop a broader framework, termed the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES), and to flesh out its structure, assumptions and predictions. In essence, this synthesis maintains that important drivers of evolution, ones that cannot be reduced to genes, must be woven into the very fabric of evolutionary theory.

We believe that the EES will shed new light on how evolution works. We hold that organisms are constructed in development, not simply ‘programmed’ to develop by genes. Living things do not evolve to fit into pre-existing environments, but co-construct and coevolve with their environments, in the process changing the structure of ecosystems.

The number of biologists calling for change in how evolution is conceptualized is growing rapidly. Strong support comes from allied disciplines, particularly developmental biology, but also genomics, epigenetics, ecology and social science. We contend that evolutionary biology needs revision if it is to benefit fully from these other disciplines. The data supporting our position gets stronger every day….

…Palaeoecologists like me are now bringing a new perspective to the problem. If macroevolution really is an extrapolation of natural selection and adaptation, we would expect to see environmental change driving evolutionary change. Major climatic events such as ice ages ought to leave their imprint on life as species adapt to the new conditions. Is that what actually happens?

[….]

“The link between environmental change and evolutionary change is weak – not what Darwinists might have predicted”

[….]

This view of life leads to certain consequences. Macroevolution is not the simple accumulation of microevolutionary changes but has its own processes and patterns. There can be no “laws” of evolution….

  • JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, “Epigenetics: Scope And Mechanisms | Evolution beyond neo-Darwinism: a new conceptual framework,”  2015 (218: 7-13); doi: 10.1242/jeb.106310.

Experimental results in epigenetics and related fields of biological research show that the Modern Synthesis (neo-Darwinist) theory of evolution requires either extension or replacement. This article examines the conceptual framework of neo-Darwinism, including the concepts of ‘gene’, ‘selfish’, ‘code’, ‘program’, ‘blueprint’, ‘book of life’, ‘replicator’ and ‘vehicle’. This form of representation is a barrier to extending or replacing existing theory as it confuses conceptual and empirical matters. These need to be clearly distinguished. In the case of the central concept of ‘gene’, the definition has moved all the way from describing a necessary cause (defined in terms of the inheritable phenotype itself) to an empirically testable hypothesis (in terms of causation by DNA sequences). Neo-Darwinism also privileges ‘genes’ in causation, whereas in multi-way networks of interactions there can be no privileged cause. An alternative conceptual framework is proposed that avoids these problems, and which is more favourable to an integrated systems view of evolution.

Denis Noble developed the first mathematical model of cardiac cells in 1960 using his discovery, with his supervisor Otto Hutter, of two of the main cardiac potassium ion channels. These discoveries were published in Nature (1960) and The Journal of Physiology (1962). The work was later developed with Dick Tsien, Dario DiFrancesco, Don Hilgemann and others to become the canonical models on which more than 100 cardiac cell models are based today. All are available on the CellML website

He was elected President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) at its Congress in Kyoto in 2009, and the opening speech is available as a pdf on this page. He was then elected for a second term at the 2013 Congress in Birmingham, UK. He also delivered the opening plenary lecture at the Congress (see Music of Life link) which is also published as an article in Experimental Physiology (2013). 

He is the author of the first popular book on Systems Biology, The Music of Lifeand his most recent lectures concern the implications for evolutionary biology. To follow the debate on this see the FAQ (Answers) pages on the Music of Life website. 

Denis Noble has published more than 500 papers and 11 books. A new book is in preparation. (SOURCE)

The Below presentation notes at the 40:40 mark he asks:

  • do we know what the precise mechanisms for speciation are?

Then he said:

  • I think the honest answer is that we don’t know yet.

And from Tome Bethal’s book (via UNCOMMON DISSENT):

  • “The science of neo-Darwinism was poor all along, and supported by very few facts. I have become ever more convinced that, although Darwinism has been promoted as science, its unstated role has been to prop up a philosophy—the philosophy of materialism—and atheism along with it.” (Page 20)
  • “The scientific evidence for evolution is not only weaker than is generally supposed, but as new discoveries have been made since 1959, the reasons for accepting the theory have diminished rather than increased.” (Page 45)
  • “Darwinian evolution can be seen as a way of looking at the history of life through the distorting lens of Progress. Given enough time, society in general, including human beings, would be transformed into something superior and perhaps unrecognizably different.” (Page 248)
  • “Lewontin’s worldview encouraged him to take a critical look at natural selection, which Darwinians have almost always been reluctant to do. Today, in fact, some of those who might well agree with Lewontin about natural selection are likely to remain silent lest their unorthodoxy should attract reprisals within the academy. Lewontin had no such fears, and he made an impression on me and many others for that reason.” (Page 69)
  • “Darwin might well have been dismayed if the meager evidence for natural selection, assembled over many years, had been presented to him 150 years after The Origin was published. ‘A change in the ratio of preexisting varieties? That is all you have been able to come up with?’ he might reasonably have asked. It is worth bearing in mind how feeble this evidence is, any time someone tells you that Darwinism is a fact.” (Page 79)

  • “Natural selection functions in the realm of philosophy, not science.” (Page 81)
  • “Evolutionists, of course, believe that they are appealing to science, in contrast to the religionists’ reliance on faith. But the truth is that when they utter their two-word incantation, ‘natural selection,’ they are not being remotely scientific. Nor are they expected to provide any details.” (Page 123)

Are Darwin’s Finches Are Evidence for Evolution?

Darwin’s Finches… The Galapagos finches are one of the most famous illustrations of natural selection in action. Michael Denton explains why these birds are a double-edged sword for Darwinian theory. For more information about Michael Denton, or to purchase his new book, “Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis.”

MORE Dr. Denton from his post on the matter (H/T Evolution News):

Darwin’s Finches Are Evidence for Evolution? Think Again

…The Galápagos finches put on display the two strict requirements that must be present in order for natural selection to work its magic. If these two factors are not present, natural selection is impotent to change any creature at all, much less create a new species.

First, the finches’ beaks are clearly adaptive. Each distinct variation gives the lucky individual a definitive leg-up in its specific environment. There is an obvious, practical reason why the differentiation is helpful to the species in question. This is absolutely essential in order for natural selection to pick between variations in species. Natural selection can only “see” those variations that are adaptive — causing one individual to live, and carry on its genes, and another to die and not leave offspring. If a variation is neutral or does not somehow increase fitness in the specific environment the creature lives in, Darwin’s mechanism cannot select it.

Second, there is a functional continuum among the finches’ beaks. That is, between a finch with a tiny beak and a finch with a large beak, there are tiny, step-by-step changes, and each change makes the creature slightly more fit in its environment. This is also essential for natural selection to work.

The problem for Darwinian theory comes in explaining evolutionary change where, unlike the case of Darwin’s finches, these requirements are absent. First, there may not be a continuum. That is, natural selection cannot make large jumps or drastic changes. There must be small steps. Secondly, each single step must be beneficial to the individual. It is not enough for the first and last versions of the adaptation to be helpful — all the intervening steps must increase fitness as well.

There are examples of creatures throughout the biological world that break one or both of these rules. Many creatures just don’t fit the natural selection story like the Galápagos finches do….

Michael Behe & Stephen Meyer Destroy Challenge to Flagellum Motor

The idea that Behe’s flagellum motor has been answered is wishful thinking at best, and corrupt science at it’s worst (scientism: which is an insertion of a metaphysical principle stating things like “the only quantifiable reality known is the one made up of atoms, and, science [thus defined] is the best means to understanding said reality”). Really, then, it is an “evolution-of-the-gaps” type thinking.

Ken Miller’s challenge can be read here;
Responses to it and derivatives to it can be found here.

But as one can see… these giants of I.D. did truly wipe the floor with their critics [full exchange].

By-the-way, all this just got WAY MORE complex. For instance, here is the fast-swimming magnetotactic bacterium MO-1… it has 7-flagellum motors… with counter gears:

Here is a basic animation:

bacterium-mo-1

One should see Malcolm Bowden’s presentation on YouTube of the bacterium MO-1 as well.

And NOW even more complex is the fact that quantum mechanics may play a role (unrelated to the DNA or RNA) that folds these proteins into the shape for pieces to the whole of the working part.

Phillip Johnson’s Classic Presentation on Neo-Darwinian Metaphysics

In this public lecture at the University of California, Irvine, Professor Phillip E. Johnson explains how ambiguous terminology, faulty assumptions, and questionable rules of reasoning have transformed a theory which explains minor evolutionary change into a dogmatic naturalistic religion.

Major topics include:

  • Darwinism as a New Religion
  • Assumptions and Terminology
  • Darwinism and the Blind Watchmaker Hypothesis
  • Logical and Empirical Problems in Darwinian Theory
  • Rules of Reasoning in Modern Science

Some consider this to be one of Professor Johnson’s finest lectures based on his first book “Darwin on Trial.”

Lively audience Q&A session follows the lecture.

Co-Founder of “Darwinism” Embraced Intelligent Design (Updated)

One of the most renowned biologists of the nineteenth century, Alfred Russel Wallace shares credit with Charles Darwin for developing the theory of evolution by natural selection. Yet one part of Wallace’s remarkable life and career has been completely ignored: His embrace of intelligent design. “Darwin’s Heretic” is a 21-minute documentary that explores Wallace’s fascinating intellectual journey and how it sheds light on current debates. The documentary features University of Alabama at Birmingham Professor Michael Flannery, author of the acclaimed biography, “Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life.” You can purchase a DVD of this video plus more than 30 minutes of bonus material at http://www.darwinsheretic.com.

Here is an excellent article by David Klinghoffer at Evolution News noting that in today’s vernacular, Wallace would be considered a creationist:

At the inception of the theory of evolution, Darwin and co-discoverer Alfred Russel Wallace represented two paths forward, one headed in the end to nihilism, atheism, and despair — basically, today’s ascendant culture — the other to a wondrous and hope-giving recognition that material stuff is not all there is in the universe. As Wallace argued, a source of intelligent agency lies behind the changing façade of nature:

Wallace expounded his views at length in two scientific books near the end of his life: Man’s Place in the Universe (1903) and The World of Life (1910). He saw evidence of purpose in the functional complexity of the cell, the exquisite design of biological structures, and the rare constellation of physical factors that allows life to exist on the earth in the first place. “Everywhere, not here and there, but everywhere, and in the very smallest operations of nature to which human observation has penetrated, there is Purpose and a continual Guidance and Control.”

In our own day, Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe and geneticist Michael Denton are prime examples of scientists who, like Wallace, see evolution as a fundamentally purposeful process. That they are regarded as beyond the pale by most current evolutionary biologists reflects the triumph of the metaphysics of Darwinism enforced by academic pressures of conformity that oppress dissent rather than consider evidence. The Church of Darwin is so narrow today that even the cofounder of the theory would have to be declared a heretic.

Let that sink in. If the co-discoverer of evolutionary theory were alive today, he would be attacked by the National Center for Science Education as a “creationist.”

[….]

It’s a sign of the times, an indication of the intellectual impoverishment of journalism and academia, that Darwin advocates are currently triumphant in convincing so many thoughtful people that evolution means Darwin, period, that Darwin is the only alternative to that ill-defined scare word, “creationism.” First Things deserves applause and thanks for reminding its readers that there is another way.

(Read it all)

As an aside,

  • First Things ran an article that was God Awful… apparently trying to give the other side of the issue a chance. The other side showed it’s true colors for believing in evolution: straw-men, red herrings, and supposition.

See more resources at Evolution News & Views, as well as the books, “The Heretic in Darwin’s Court: The Life of Alfred Russel Wallace” and “Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life,” ~ and especially the site, Alfred Russel Wallace.

I will end with this quote from a non-creationist/non-ID’er that deals with the history of the background of the suppositions involved in modern evolutionary theory that still cause “brooding” to this day:

The third reason why most naturalists around 1835 were slow to admit the fact of evolution was neither a religious nor a moral ob­jection. It was a purely intellectual one. By now it has been almost completely forgotten, no doubt because we labor under the hand­icap of hindsight. But it was a well-founded objection at the time.

If someone says a certain thing has happened, and it is of a kind which has never been actually witnessed by anyone, it is reasonable to doubt what he says, if no one can think of any ex­planation of what he says has happened. It is on this principle that you would doubt my word, if I were to tell you (for ex­ample) that electrical storms follow me wherever I go. Now this was exactly how matters stood with evolutionism around i835.

No naturalist claimed, of course, to have ever seen a new species evolve out of an older one. Yet the evolutionists said that, whenever new species do come into existence, that is the way they do it. But what could be the explanation of one species’ giving rise to another? What causes or forces are there, already known to exist in nature, which would make one kind of grass or fish or mammal evolve into a different kind? Where is the vera causa, as they used to say, or (as we would say), where is the mechanism, which could drive this alleged process of evolution?

It should go without saying that this was not only a purely in­tellectual objection, but a good objection, to evolutionism. The main evidence for evolution was the fossil record, which reveals in countless instances the arrival of a new species which is closely re­lated to an earlier one. In 1835 most naturalists regarded these new species as brought about by exercises of God’s creative power; whereas the evolutionists regarded them as developments or evolutions of the older species in question. No one had ever wit­nessed any of these exercises of Divine power, of course, but then exactly the same was true of evolutions of one species into another; no one had ever witnessed an instance of that, either. And then, to ascribe new species to God’s creative power is at least an explanation of a kind, though doubtless not of a very satisfactory kind. But the evolutionists, for their part, had no explanation of any kind to suggest for their alleged process of evolution.

Darwin, being a rational man, naturally felt the force of this objection, just as strongly as did his fellow naturalists who were not evolutionists. For several years around 1836, it weighed heavily on his mind. These were the very same years when the reality of evolution was being constantly impressed upon him, by the multitude of facts which would be explained if it were true. But the trouble, and a very big trouble, was that he could not think of anything which would explain evolution. That was the rub, and it seemed to Darwin that he was staring at a blank wall.

Given the intellectual circumstances of the time, it is not surprising that, just a few years later, another young naturalist found himself brought to a standstill by exactly the same blank wall. This was Alfred Wallace. Though neither of them knew it, his early intellectual career had been exactly the same as Dar­win’s. On the one hand, he had become convinced of the reality of evolution; but on the other, he was altogether at a loss as to how to explain it.

Why should there be any evolution at all? Why should not the species which exist at a given time exist forever, without any new ones ever being added, or old ones subtracted? But it is not the subtractions which are the problem: presumably climatic or topographical changes, and general wear and tear, will sometimes bring about the extinction of a species. The problem is the new additions. Why should any new species ever come into existence at all? That is the mystery of the origin of species, which both Darwin and Wallace long brooded over in vain.

To ordinary observation, of course, it does not look as though new species ever do come into existence. But it is clear from the fossil record that the reality is very different. In countless thousands of instances, new species of organisms have appeared on earth. Organic nature is in fact, whatever else it is, a gigantic species-generating engine. Now, why in the world would it be that? What force can it possibly be, which drives this gigantic engine? It might reasonably be thought to be some Divine force, in view of the irresistibility of its operations, and the length of time that those operations have been going on all over the earth. But if it is not a Divine force, what force is it?

David Stove, Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution (New York, NY: Encounter Books, 1995), 24-26. (Emphasis Added)

Evolutionary Assumptions (Carl F.H. Henry and G.A. Kerkut)

  • The FIRST QUOTE is Carl Henry (a Christian) quoting Dr. Kerkut’s book (an evolutionist). The SECOND QUOTE [jump to] is the raw, long excerpted quote from G.A. Kerkut.

What I am going to do is post a quote from one of Carl F. H. Henry’s books, then follow that quote up a larger quote from his source he uses. Context is king and I love Dr. Henry’s source A LOT!

The numbers from Dr. Henry’s quote correspond to the same numbers in Kerkut’s concluding chapter (to follow… jump to now instead by clicking here).

[p. 182>] A. Kerkut emphasizes that all seven basic assumptions on which evolu­tionary theory rests are “by their nature… not capable of experimental verification” (Implications of Evolution, p. 7). (1) The assumption that “non­living things gave rise to living material… is still just an assumption” (ibid., p. 150). (2) The assumption that “biogenesis occurred only once… is a matter of belief rather than proof” (op. cit.). (3) The assumption that “Vi­ruses, Bacteria, Protozoa and the higher animals were all interrelated” biologically as an evolutionary phenomenon lacks definite evidence (ibid., p. 151). (4) The assumption that “the Protozoa gave rise to the Metazoa” has no basis in definite knowledge (ibid., pp. 151 ff.). (5) The assumption that “the various invertebrate phyla are interrelated” depends on “tenuous and cir­cumstantial” evidence and not on evidence that allows “a verdict of definite relationships” (ibid., pp. 152 f.). (6) The assumption that “the invertebrates gave rise to the vertebrates” turns on evidence gained by prior belief (ibid., p. 153). Although he finds “somewhat stronger ground” for assuming that “fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds and mammals are interrelated,” (7) Kerkut con­cedes that many key fossil transitions are “not well documented and we have as yet to obtain a satisfactory objective method of dating the fossils” (ibid., p. 153). “In effect, much of the evolution of the major groups of animals has to be taken on trust” (ibid., p. 154); “there are many discrete groups of animals and… we do not know how they have evolved nor how they are interrelated” (ibid., p. vii). In short, the theory that “all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form,” says Kerkut, has insufficiently strong evi­dential supports “to consider it as anything more than a working hypothe­sis” (ibid., p. 157). He thinks “premature and not satisfactorily supported by present-day evidence,” therefore, “the attempt to explain all living forms in terms of an evolution from a unique source,” that is, from a common ancestor (ibid., pp. vii f.)

[p. 183>] It is therefore understandable why commentators speak more and more of a crisis of evolutionary theory. Establishment science’s long regnant view that gradual development accounts for the solar system, earth, life and all else is in serious dispute. Not in many decades has so much doubt emerged among scientists about the so-called irrefutable evidence that evolution is what accounts for life on planet earth. Although it was still taught long thereafter in high schools, Ernst Haeckel’s “biogenetic law” that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” had collapsed already in the late 1920s. The absence in recent texts of evolutionary charts depicting the common descent even of trees from a single form is noteworthy. Darwin’s insistence that nature makes no leaps, and that natural selection and chance adequately account for change in species, has lost credibility. Pa­leontologists and biologists are at odds over the significance of the fossil record, while gradualists and episodists disagree over the supposed tempo of evolution or whether the origin of species is consistent with microevolution or only with sudden gaps in the forms of life.

Gould, for example, opts for natural selection and, remarkably, combines it with saltation. He grants that “the fossil record does not support” the belief “in slow evolutionary change preached by most paleontologists” (and projected by Darwin); instead, “mass extinction and abrupt origination reign.. . . Gradualism is not exclusively valid (in fact, I regard it as rather rare). Natural selection contains no statement about rates. It can encompass rapid (geologically instantaneous) change by speciation in small popula­tions as well as the conventional and immeasurably slow transformation of entire lineages” (Ever Since Darwin, p. 271). Natural selection here becomes an elastic phrase that can accommodate to everything while re­quiring no significant empirical attestation.

University of Glasgow scientists Chris Darnbrough, John Goddard and William S. Stevely indicate problem areas that beset evolutionary theory: “The experiments demonstrating the formation of a variety of organic molecules from presumptive prebiotic soups,” they write, “fall far short of providing a pathway for chemical evolution. Again, it is self-evident that the fossil record leaves much to be desired and few biologists recognize the dependence of the geological column on radiometric dating methods based on questionable assumptions about initial conditions. The whole his­tory of evolutionary thought is littered with the debris of dubious assump­tions and misinterpretations, especially in the area of fossil ‘hominids.’ To come up to date, protein and DNA sequence data, generally viewed as consistent with an evolutionary explanation of diversity, are invariably interpreted using methods which presuppose, but do not demonstrate evolu­tionary relationships, and which use criteria that are essentially functional and teleological. Finally, there is a collection of isolated fragmentary pieces of evidence which are usually dismissed as anecdotal because they are irreconcilable with the evolutionary model” (“American Creation” [corre­spondence], by Chris Darnbrough, John Goddard and William S. Stevely, Nature, pp. 95 f.).

From ongoing conflicts and readjustments it is apparent that there never [p. 184>] was nor is there now only one theory of evolution. Many nontheistic schol­ars, to be sure, insist that evolution is and has always been “a fact.” Laurie R. Godfrey affirms that “there is actually widespread agreement in scien­tific circles that the evidence overwhelmingly supports evolutionism” and quotes Gould as saying that “none of the current controversy within evolu­tionary theory should give any comfort, not the slightest iota, to any cre­ationists” (“The Flood of Antievolution,” pp. 5-10, p. 10). If, as Godfrey insists, even the most sweeping revisions and reversals of scientific theory ought to be viewed not as weaknesses in evolutionary claims but rather as reflections of ongoing differences that inhere in “doing science—posing, testing and debating alternative explanations,” then the emphasis is proper only if Godfrey refuses to attach finality and a universal validity-claim to anticreationist evolutionary theses.

The history of evolutionary theory is far from complete and its present status ambiguous. Hampton L. Carson notes the difficulty of integrating the dual lines of study pursued by biological evolutionists when on the one hand they project the course of evolution that is held to produce contem­porary organisms, and when on the other they analyze supposed evolution­ary causation. Carson notes, moreover, that presentation of new approaches even to student audiences now requires an understanding of sophisticated computer techniques and an awareness of complex and sometimes esoteric theory; he ventures the bold observation that “new mutations and recom­binations” of evolutionary theory will themselves “be subject to natural selection” (“Introduction to a Pivotal Subject” [review of Evolution by Theodosius Dobzhansky and others, and of Organismic Evolution by Verne Grant], pp. 1272 f.).

Yet most secular evolutionists continue to assume that evolution is a complex fact and therefore debate only its mechanism. Appealing to con­sensus rather than to demonstrative data, G. G. Simpson states that “no evolutionist since [Darwin has] seriously questioned that man did originate by evolution”; he insists, moreover, that “the problem [the origin of life] can be attacked scientifically” (“The World into Which Darwin Led Us.” pp. 966-974). Simpson’s advance confidence in naturalistic explanation ex­udes a strong bias against theistic premises.

But Thomas S. Kuhn considers the physical sciences to be grounded less on empirical facts that on academically defined assumptions about the nature of the universe, assumptions that are unprovable, questionable and reversible (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). His approach differs somewhat from Michael Polanyi’s assault on the objectivity of human knowledge (Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy), a view that Christian theism disputes on its own ground. Yet both Kuhn’s emphasis and Polanyi’s tend to put a question mark after absolutist evolu­tionary claims.

Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, Vol VI: God Who Stands and Stays (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1983), 182-184.


Here is the extended quote from Dr. Henry’s source used,

G.A. Kerkut’s Implications of Evolution (pp. 150-157):


[p. 150>] WHAT conclusions, then, can one come to concerning the validity of the various implications of the theory of evolution? If we go back to our initial assumptions it will be seen that the evidence is still lacking for most of them.

(1) The first assumption was that non-living things gave rise to living material. This is still just an assumption. It is conceivable that living material might have suddenly appeared on this world in some peculiar manner, say from another planet, but this then raises the question, “Where did life originate on that planet?” We could say that life has always existed, but such an explanation is not a very satisfactory one. Instead, the explanation that non­living things could have given rise to complex systems having the properties of living things is generally more acceptable to most scientists. There is, however, little evidence in favour of biogenesis and as yet we have no indication that it can be per­formed. There are many schemes by which biogenesis could have occurred but these are still suggestive schemes and nothing more. They may indicate experiments that can be performed, but they tell us nothing about what actually happened some 1,000 million years ago. It is therefore a matter of faith on the part of the biologist that biogenesis did occur and he can choose whatever method of biogenesis happens to suit him personally; the evidence for what did happen is not available.

(2) The second assumption was that biogenesis occurred only once. This again is a matter for belief rather than proof. It is convenient to believe that all living systems have the same fundamental chemical processes at work within them, but as has already been mentioned, only a few representatives from the wide range of living forms have so far been examined and even [p. 151>] these have not been exhaustively analysed. From our limited experience it is clear that the biochemical systems within proto­plasm are not uniform, i.e. there is no established biochemical unity. Thus we are aware that there are systems other than the Embden—Meyerhof and the tricarboxylic cycles for the systematic degradation of carbohydrates; a total of six alternative methods being currently available. High-energy compounds other than those of phosphorus have been described; the number of vital amino-acids has gone up from twenty to over seventy; all these facts indicate that the biochemical systems may be very variable. The morphological systems in protoplasm, too, show consider­able variation. It is possible that some aspects of cell structure such as the mitochondria and the microsomes might have arisen independently on several distinct occasions. It is also probable that two or more independent systems have evolved for the separation of chromosomes during cell division.

It is a convenient assumption that life arose only once and that all present-day living things are derived from this unique experi­ence, but because a theory is convenient or simple it does not mean that it is necessarily correct. If the simplest theory was always correct we should still be with the four basic elements—earth, air, fire and water! The simplest explanation is not always the right one even in biology.

(3) The third assumption was that Viruses, Bacteria, Protozoa and the higher animals were all interrelated. It seems from the available evidence that Viruses and Bacteria are complex groups both of which contain a wide range of morphological and physio­logical forms. Both groups could have been formed from diverse sources so that the Viruses and Bacteria would then be an assembly of forms that contain both primitive and secondarily simplified units. They would each correspond to a Grade rather than a Subkingdom or Phylum. We have as yet no definite evidence about the way in which the Viruses, Bacteria or Protozoa are interrelated.

(4) The fourth assumption was that the Protozoa gave rise to the Metazoa. This is an interesting assumption and various schemes have been proposed to show just how the change could have taken place. On the other hand equally interesting schemes have been suggested to show the way in which the Metaphyta [p. 152>] could have given rise to both the Protozoa and the Metazoa. Here again nothing definite is known. We can believe that any one of these views is better than any other according to the relative importance that we accord to the various pieces of evidence.

(5) The fifth assumption was that the various invertebrate phyla are interrelated. If biogenesis occurred many times in the past and the Metazoa developed on several finite occasions then we might expect to find various isolated groups of invertebrates. If on the other hand biogenesis was a unique occurrence it should not be too difficult to show some relationship between all the various invertebrate phyla.

It should be remembered, for example, that though there are similarities between the cleavage patterns of the eggs of various invertebrates these might only reflect the action of physical laws acting on a restrained fluid system such as we see in the growth of soap bubbles and not necessarily indicate any fundamental phylogenetic relationship .

As has already been described, it is difficult to tell which are the most primitive from amongst the Porifera, Mesozoa, Coelenterata, Ctenophora or Platyhelminthia and it is not possible to decide the precise interrelationship of these groups. The higher invertebrates are equally difficult to relate. Though the concept of the Protostomia and the Deuterostomia is a useful one, the basic evidence that separates these two groups is not as clear cut as might be desired. Furthermore there are various groups such as the Brachiopoda, Chaetognatha, Ectoprocta and Phoronidea that have properties that lie between the Protostomia and the Deuterostomia. It is worth paying serious attention to the con­cept that the invertebrates are polyphyletic, there being more than one line coming up to the primitive metazoan condition. It is extremely likely that the Porifera are on one such side line and it is conceivable that there could have been others which have since died away leaving their progeny isolated; in this way one could explain the position of the nematodes. The number of ways of achieving a specific form or habit is limited and resemblances may be due to the course of convergence over the period of many millions of years. The evidence, then, for the affinities of the majority of the invertebrates is tenuous and circumstantial; not [p. 153>] the type of evidence that would allow one to form a verdict of definite relationships.

(6) The sixth assumption, that the invertebrates gave rise to the vertebrates, has not been discussed in this book. There are several good reviews on this subject. Thus Neal and Rand (1939) pro­vide a useful and interesting account of the various views that have been suggested to explain the relationship between the inverte­brates and the vertebrates. The vertebrates have been derived from the annelids, arthropods, nemerteans, hemichordates and the urochordates. More recently Berrill (1955) has given a detailed account of the mode of origin of the vertebrates from the urochord-ates in which the sessile ascidian is considered the basic form. On the other hand, almost as good a case can be made to show that the ascidian tadpole is the basic form and that it gave rise to the sessile ascidian on the one hand and the chordates on the other. Here again it is a matter of belief which way the evidence happens to point. As Berrill states, “in a sense this account is science fiction.”

(7) We are on somewhat stronger ground with the seventh assumption that the fish, amphibia, reptiles, birds and mammals are interrelated. There is the fossil evidence to help us here, though many of the key transitions are not well documented and we have as yet to obtain a satisfactory objective method of dating the fossils. The dating is of the utmost importance, for until we find a reliable method of dating the fossils we shall not be able to tell if the first amphibians arose after the first choanichthian or whether the first reptile arose from the first amphibian. The evidence that we have at present is insufficient to allow us to decide the answer to these problems.

One thing that does seem reasonably clear is that many of the groups such as the Amphibia (Save Soderberg 1934), Reptilia (Goodrich 1916) and Mammalia appear to be polyphyletic grades of organisation. Even within the mammals there is the suggestion that some of the orders might be polyphyletic. Thus Kleinenberg (1959) has suggested that the Cetacea are diphyletic, the Odontoceti and the Mysticeti being derived from separate terrestrial stocks. (Other groups that appear to be polyphyletic are the Viruses, Bacteria, Protozoa, Arthropoda (Tiegs and Manton 1958), and it is possible that close study will show that the Annelida and Protochordata are grades too.)

[p. 154>] In effect, much of the evolution of the major groups of animals has to be taken on trust. There is a certain amount of circum­stantial evidence but much of it can be argued either way. Where, then, can we find more definite evidence for evolution? Such evidence will be found in the study of modern living forms. It will be remembered that Darwin called his book The Origin of Species not The Origin of Phyla and it is in the origin and study of the species that we find the most definite evidence for the evolution and changing of form. Thus to take a specific example, the Herring Gull, Larus argentatus, does not interbreed with the Lesser Black-backed Gull, Larus fuscus, in Western Europe, the two being separate species. But if we trace L. argentatus across the northern hemisphere through North America, Eastern Siberia and Western Siberia we find that in Western Siberia there is a form of L. argentatus that will interbreed with L. fuscus. We have here an example of a ring species in which the members at the ends of the ring will not interbreed whilst those in the middle can. The separation of what was possibly one species has been going on for some time (in this case it is suggested since the Ice Age). We have of course to decide that this is a case of one species splitting into two and not of two species merging into one, but this decision is aided by the study of other examples such as those of small mammals isolated on islands, or the development of melanic forms in moths. Details of the various types of speciation can be found in the books by Mayr, Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942), and Dobzhansky, Genetics and the Origin of Species (1951).

It might be suggested that if it is possible to show that the present-day forms are changing and the evolution is occurring at this level, why can’t one extrapolate and say that this in effect has led to the changes we have seen right from the Viruses to the Mammals? Of course one can say that the small observable changes in modern species may be the sort of thing that lead to all the major changes, but what right have we to make such an extrapolation? We may feel that this is the answer to the problem, but is it a satisfactory answer? A blind acceptance of such a view may in fact be the closing of our eyes to as yet undiscovered factors which may remain undiscovered for many years if we believe that the answer has already been found.

[p. 155>] It seems at times as if many of our modern writers on evolution have had their views by some sort of revelation and they base their opinions on the evolution of life, from the simplest form to the complex, entirely on the nature of specific and intra-specific evolution. It is possible that this type of evolution can explain many of the present-day phenomena, but it is possible and indeed probable that many as yet unknown systems remain to be dis­covered and it is premature, not to say arrogant, on our part if we make any dogmatic assertion as to the mode of evolution of the major branches of the animal kingdom.

Perhaps it is appropriate here to quote a remark made by D’Arcy Thompson in his book On Growth and Form. “If a tiny foraminiferan shell, a Lagena for instance, be found living today, and a shell indistinguishable from it to the eye be found fossil in the Chalk or some still more remote geological formation, the assumption is deemed legitimate that the species has ‘survived’ and has handed down its minute specific character or characters from generation to generation unchanged for untold millions of years. If the ancient forms be like rather than identical with the recent, we still assume an unbroken descent, accompanied by hereditary transmission of common characters and progressive variations. And if two identical forms be discovered at the ends of the earth, still (with slight reservation on the score of possible ‘homoplasy’) we build a hypothesis on this fact of identity, taking it for granted that the two appertain to a common stock, whose dispersal in space must somehow be accounted for, its route traced, its epoch determined and its causes discussed or discovered. In short, the Naturalist admits no exception to the rule that a natural classification can only be a genealogical one, nor ever doubts that ‘ ‘the fact that we are able to classify organ­isms at all in accordance with the structural characteristics which they present is due to their being related by descent.'”

What alternative system can we use if we are not to assume that all animals can be arranged in a genealogical manner? The alternative is to indicate that there are many gaps and failures in our present system and that we must realise their existence. It may be distressing for some readers to discover that so much in zoology is open to doubt, but this in effect indicates the vast amount of work that remains to be done. In many courses the [p. 156>] student is obliged to read, assimilate and remember a vast amount of factual information on the quite false assumption that know­ledge is the accumulation of facts. There seems so much to be learnt that the only consolation the student has is that those who come after him will have even more to learn, for more will be known. But this is not really so; much of what we learn today are only half truths or less and the students of tomorrow will not be bothered by many of the phlogistons that now torment our brains.

It is in the interpretation and understanding of the factual information and not the factual information itself that the true interest lies. Information must precede interpretation, and it is often difficult to see the factual data in perspective. If one reads an account of the history of biology such as that presented by Nordenskiold (1920) or Singer (1950) it sometimes appears that our predecessors had a much easier task to discover things than we do today. All that they had to do was realise, say, that oxygen was necessary for respiration, or that bacteria could cause septicaemia or that the pancreas was a ductless gland that secreted insulin. The ideas were simple; they just required the thought and the experimental evidence! Let us have no doubt in our minds that in twenty years or so time we shall look back on many of today’s problems and make similar observations. Everything will seem simple and straightforward once it has been explained. Why then cannot we see some of these solutions now? There are many partial answers to this question. One is that often an incorrect idea or fact is accepted and takes the place of the correct one. An incorrect view can in this way successfully displace the correct view for many years and it requires very careful analysis and much experimental data to overthrow an accepted but incorrect theory. Most students become acquainted with many of the current concepts in biology whilst still at school and at an age when most people are, on the whole, uncritical. Then when they come to study the subject in more detail, they have in their minds several half truths and misconceptions which tend to prevent them from coming to a fresh appraisal of the situation. In addition, with a uniform pattern of education most students tend to have the same sort of educational background and so in conversation and dis­cussion they accept common fallacies and agree on matters based on these fallacies.

[p. 157>] It would seem a good principle to encourage the study of “scientific heresies.” There is always the danger that a reader might be seduced by one of these heresies but the danger is neither as great nor as serious as the danger of having scientists brought up in a type of mental strait-jacket or of taking them so quickly through a subject that they have no time to analyse and digest the material they have “studied.” A careful perusal of the heresies will also indicate the facts in favour of the currently accepted doctrines, and if the evidence against a theory is over­whelming and if there is no other satisfactory theory to take its place we shall just have to say that we do not yet know the answer.

There is a theory which states that many living animals can be observed over the course of time to undergo changes so that new species are formed. This can be called the “Special Theory of Evolution” and can be demonstrated in certain cases by experi­ments. On the other hand there is the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form. This theory can be called the “General Theory of Evolution” and the evidence that supports it is not sufficiently strong to allow us to consider it as anything more than a working hypothesis. It is not clear whether the changes that bring about speciation are of the same nature as those that brought about the development of new phyla. The answer will be found by future experimental work and not by dogmatic assertions that the General Theory of Evolution must be correct because there is nothing else that will satisfactorily take its place.

G.A. Kerkut, Implication of Evolution (International series of monographs on pure and applied biology. Division: Zoology) (New York, NY: Pergamon Press, 1960), 150-157.