This is with a hat-tip to Denyse O’Leary who notes this about UD’s post: “Is The Selfish Gene holding back medicine and cancer cures?” UNCOMMON DISSENT has the following:
LIVE DEBATE Oxford professor Denis Noble locked horns with Richard Dawkins in June at the How the Light Gets In UK conference. Is The Selfish Gene holding back medicine and cancer cures? The world’s most incendiary evolutionary biologist asks if we need to rethink DNA.
The debate was both cordial and revealing. One thing that is quite clear from this debate is that Dawkins’ knowledge of biology and genetics lags 20-30 years behind current research.
I watched this debate few weeks ago at Perry Marshall page […]some user commented as follows:
Dawkins really did get blindsided towards the end. When he asked “how many generations?” It was a dead giveaway. The only test of Darwinian evolution is that a genetic change lasts and alters the population frequency. But the population frequency is affected by the lasting genetic change. Noble has to be right… the cell utilizes the gene…not the gene the cell. There is no preferred biological frame of reference. It’s systems within systems within systems. All interdependent and all intimately involved in the cell’s informatics.
to which Perry Marshall replied as follows:
Yes sir. And, not on this video, there was some audience Q&A at the end where Dawkins was even more puzzled. Dawkins fans in the audience were incredulous that he fared so poorly.
Of course this would be a good time for a FLASHBACK:
(The following was originally published in July 2010 as well as July 2020… and today)
What exactly is the connection between Darwinian evolutionary theory and what is often called “social Darwinism” that emerged out of it—that includes eugenics and race based selection and preferences. Historian Richard Weikart has been with us before on the ideological roots of Naziism, and he extends his past work to connect the philosophy underlying Darwinian evolutionary theory and the race based implications coming out of it, both in Nazi Germany and the current white nationalist movement. Join Scott and Sean for this fascinating historical look at some of the ideas that came out of Darwin’s work on evolution.
Dr. Richard Weikart is Professor Emeritus of History at California State University, Stanislaus. He is also Senior Fellow for the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute. He is the author of several books including Hitler’s Religion.
Darwinian Racism with Richard Weikart Sean McDowell, Scott Rae — June 16, 2022
Consider the following excerpt from a letter written by Charles Darwin in 1881:
“I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit…. The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.”
Lest this be considered merely an aberration, note that Darwin repeated this sentiment in his book The Descent of Man, he speculated, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.” In addition, he subtitled his magnum opus, “The Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.”
“Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1850, but they have increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory”— Stephen Jay Gould[a]
And Darwin was not alone in his racist ideology. Thomas Huxley, who coined the term agnostic and was the man most responsible for advancing Darwinian doctrine, he argued that:
“No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilization will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest. But whatever the position of stable equilibrium into which the laws of social gravitation may bring the negro, all responsibility for the result will henceforward lie between Nature and him. The white man may wash his hands of it, and the Caucasian conscience be void of reproach for evermore. And this, if we look to the bottom of the matter, is the real justification for the abolition policy.”
Huxley was not only militantly racist but also lectured frequently against the resurrection of Christ, in whom “[we] are all one” (Galatians 3:28). In sharp distinction to the writings of such noted evolutionists as Hrdlicka, Haeckel, and Hooton, biblical Christianity makes it crystal clear that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” (Galatians 3:28). In Christianity we sing, “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” In the evolutionary hierarchy blacks are placed at the bottom, yellows and reds somewhere in the middle, and whites on top. As H. F. Osborn, director of the American Museum of National History and one of the most prominent American anthropologists of the first half of the twentieth century, put it:
“If an unbiased zoölogist were to descend upon the earth from Mars and study the races of man with the same impartiality as the races of fishes, birds and mammals, he would undoubtedly divide the existing races of man into several genera and into a very large number of species and subspecies. … This is the recognition that the genus Homo is subdivided into three absolutely distinct stocks, which in zoölogy would be given the rank of species, if not of genera, stocks popularly known as the Caucasian, the Mongolian and the Negroid. The spiritual, intellectual, moral, and physical characters which separate these three great human stocks are far more profound and ancient than those which divide the Nordic, Alpine and Mediterranean races. In my opinion these three primary stocks diverged from each other before the beginning of the Pleistocene or Ice Age. The Negroid stock is even more ancient than the Caucasian and Mongolian, as may be proved by an examination not only of the brain, of the hair, of the bodily characters, such as the teeth, the genitalia, the sense organs, but of the instincts, the intelligence. The standard of intelligence of the average adult Negro is similar to that of the eleven-year-old youth of the species Homo sapiens.”
Think of the historical consequences that are the direct and logical results of the naturalist worldview. For instance, Adolf Hitler, appealed to the people of his country to have a backbone to advance the logical outworking of their worldview. Now mind you, not all naturalists are racists or killers of the less fortunate… however, this is a logical outworking of philosophical [or, metaphysical] naturalism.
“The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”
Hitler referred to this dispensation of nature as “quite logical.” In fact, it was so logical to the Nazis that they built concentration camps to carry out their convictions about the human race as being “nothing but the product of heredity and environment” or as the Nazis liked to say, “of blood and soil.”
It is significant to note that some of the Crusaders and others who used force to further their creeds in the name of God were acting in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ. 
The teachings of Osborn, Huxley, Hitler and others like them, however, are completely consistent with the teachings of Darwinian evolution. Indeed, social Darwinism has provided the scientific substructure for some of the most significant atrocities in human history. For evolution to succeed, it is as crucial that the unfit die as the fittest survive. Marvin Lubenow graphically portrays the ghastly consequences of such beliefs in his book Bones of Contention:
“If the unfit survived indefinitely, they would continue to ‘infect’ the fit with their less fit genes. The result is that the more fit genes would be diluted and compromised by the less fit genes, and evolution could not take place. The concept of evolution demands death. Death is thus as natural to evolution as it is foreign to biblical creation. The Bible teaches that death is a ‘foreigner,’ a condition superimposed upon humans and nature after creation. Death is an enemy, Christ has conquered it, and he will eventually destroy it. Their respective attitudes toward death reveal how many light years separate the concept of evolution from Biblical creation.”
Adolph Hitler’s philosophy that Jews were subhuman and that Aryans were supermen (mirroring the beliefs Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood) led to the extermination of about six million Jews. In the words of Sir Arthur Keith, a militant anti-Christian physical anthropologist: “The German Fuhrer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consistently sought to make the practices of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.”
Karl Marx, the father of communism, saw in Darwinism the scientific and sociological support for an economic experiment that eclipsed even the carnage of Hitler’s Germany. His hatred of Christ and Christianity led to the mass murder of multiplied millions worldwide. Karl Marx so revered Darwin that his desire was to dedicate a portion of Das Kapital to him. In 1983, the dissident Soviet author Alexander Solzhenitsyn had been awarded the prestigious Templeton Prize for religious progress. In accepting the award, he gave a clear assessment of the tragedy that had been so devastating to his homeland:
“I have spent well-nigh fifty tears working on the history of our Revolution. In the process, I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own towards the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were to asked today the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that has swallowed up some sixty-million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened’.”
It should be noted as well that Darwinian evolution (man evolving from lower creatures) is sexist as well. Under the subheading “Difference in the Mental Powers of the Two Sexes,” Darwin attempted to persuade followers that…
“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by mans attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can women – whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands…We may also infer…[that] the average of mental power in man must be above that of women.”
In sharp contrast to the evolutionary dogma, Scripture makes it clear that all humanity is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; Acts 17:29); that there is essential equality between the sexes (Galatians 3:28); and that slavery is as repugnant to God as murder and adultery (1 Timothy 1:10).
Sir Arthur Keith, Evolution and Ethics (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1947).
“Meantime let me say that the conclusion I have come to is this: the law of Christ is incompatible with the law of evolution … as far as the law of evolution has worked hitherto. Nay, the two laws are at war with each other; the law of Christ can never prevail until the law of evolution is destroyed.”
“To see evolutionary measures and tribal morality being applied rigorously to the affairs of a great modern nation we must turn again to Germany of 1942. We see Hitler devoutly convinced that evolution produces the only real basis for a national policy.”
“Christianity makes no distinction of race or of color; it seeks to break down all racial barriers. In this respect, the hand of Christianity is against that of Nature, for are not the races of mankind the evolutionary harvest which Nature has toiled through long ages to produce? May we not say, then, that Christianity is anti-evolutionary in its aim? This may be a merit, but if so it is one which has not been openly acknowledged by Christian philosophers.”
“The law of evolution, as formulated by Darwin, provides an explanation of wars between nations, the only reasonable explanation known to us. The law was in existence, and wars were waged, for aeons of time before Darwin was born; he did not invent the law, he only made it known to his fellow men.”
Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, last paragraph.
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely the production of the higher animals, directly follows.”
Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, I, Letter to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, p. 316; cited in Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, by Gertrude Himmelfarb (London: Chatto & Windus, 1959), p. 343.
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed. (New York: A. L. Burt Co., 1874), p.178.
[a]Ontogeny and Phylogeny (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Press, 1977), 127.
Thomas Huxley, Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews (New York: Appleton, 1871), pp 20-1.
 Henry Fairfield Osborn, “The Evolution of Human Races,”Natural History (January/February 1926), reprinted in Natural History, vol. 89 (April 1980), p. 129.
 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy (New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942), pp. 161-162.
“The SS Blood and Soul,” one of four videos in a video series entitled, The Occult History of the Third Reich (St. Lauret, Quebec: Madacy Entertainment Group, 1998); Now in DVD – ISBN: 0974319465).
This is a side note for those who are of the Christian faith: The Bible does not teach the horrible practices that some have committed in its name. It is true that it’s possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the details it produces evil because the individual people [“Christians”] are actually living in rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it [religion] can produce evil, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism (non-religious practices) actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We’re talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of à God. For example: the Inquisitions (2), Crusades (7), and the Salem Witch Trials killed about 40,000 persons combined (World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Americana). A blight on Christianity? Certainty. Something wrong? Dismally wrong. A tragedy? Of course. Millions and millions of people killed? No. The numbers are tragic, but pale in comparison to the statistics of what non-religious criminals have committed; the Chinese regime of Mao Tse Tung, 60 million [+] dead (1945-1965), Stalin and Khrushchev, 66 million dead (USSR 1917-1959), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia 1975-1979) and Pol Pot, one-third of their respective populations dead; etc, etc. The difference here is that these non-God movements are merely living out their worldview, the struggle for power, survival of the fittest and all that, no natural law is being violated in other words (as atheists reduce everything to natural law – materialism). However, when people have misused the Christian religion for personal gain, they are in direct violation to what Christ taught, as well as to Natural Law.
Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1992), p. 47.
Sir Arthur Keith, Evolution and Ethics (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1947), p. 230. See appendix for more quotes by Keith.
This is a not-too-well-known subtitle of Charles Darwin’s work. I have an introduction to this idea entitled, “Racism and Evolutionary Thought“. Stephen Jay Gould notes the affects of Darwinism on culture:
“Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1850, but they have increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory”
Stephen Jay Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Press, 1977), 127.
Human Zoos tells the shocking story of how thousands of indigenous peoples were put on public display in America in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Above video description:
Often touted as “missing links” between man and apes, these native peoples were harassed and demeaned. Their public display was arranged with the enthusiastic support of the most elite members of the scientific community, and it was promoted uncritically by American’s leading newspapers. This award-winning documentary explores the heartbreaking story of what happened, shows how African-American ministers and other people of faith tried to push back, and reveals how some people today are still drawing on Social Darwinism in order to dehumanize others. The film also explores the tragic story of eugenics in America, the effort to breed human beings based on Darwinian principles.
Human Zoos was an official selection of the African World Documentary Film Festival and has won awards for Best Editing (Oregon Documentary Film Festival), Best in Show (Cinema WorldFest Awards) and Awards of Excellence from the Impact Docs Awards and the Hollywood Independent Documentary Awards.
Be sure to check out these other videos about social Darwinism.
Skull-hunters killed Aborigines and legitimized this act asserting that they were doing it for science. The skulls of the hunted natives were sold to museums after some chemical reactions that would make them look old. The skulls with bullet holes were filled in with utmost attention. According to Creation Magazine published in Australia, a group of observers that came in from South Galler were shocked when they saw that dozens of women, children and men were killed by evolutionists. Forty five skulls were chosen among the killed Aborigines, the flesh of them were set aside and boiled. The best ten were packaged to be sent to England.
Today, thousands of skulls of Aborigines are still in the warehouse of Smithsonian Institution. Some of these skulls belong to the corpses dug from the graves where as some others are the skulls of innocent people killed to prove evolution.
There were also African victims of the evolutionist violence. The most famous one was the pigmy Ota Benga who was taken to the world of the white men to be displayed as a transitional form. Oto Benga was caught in 1904 by a researcher Samuel Verner in Kongo then a colony of Belgium. The native whose name meant friend in his native language, was married and had two kids. Yet he was chained, put into a cage and sent by a boat to the evolutionist scientists who within the same year displayed him in the St. Louis World Fair together with other monkey species as the closest transitional form to humankind. Two years later, he was taken to Bronx Zoo in New York where he was, this time displayed as one of the ancestors of human beings together with a few chimpanzees, a gorilla called Dinah and an orangutan called Dohung. Dr. William T. Hornaday, the director of the zoo who was also a fanatical evolutionist delivered long speeches about how he was proud of having such a precious transitional form. The guests, on the other hand, treated Ota Benga as an ordinary animal. Ota Benga could not bear the treatment he received and committed suicide. (Here is a reggae song dedicated to Oto on A BITTA WORLD by BORROW SHANGO.)
….The many factors motivating Verner to bring Ota to the United States were complex, but he was evidently .much influenced by the theories of Charles Darwin” a theory which, as it developed, increasingly divided humankind into human contrived races (Rymer, 1992, p. 3). Darwin also believed that the blacks were an inferior race’ (Vemer, 1908a, p. 10717). Although biological racism did not begin with Darwinism, Darwin did more than any other man to popularize it among the masses. As early as 1699, English Physician Edward Tyson studied a skeleton which he believed belonged to a pygmy, concluding that this race was apes, although it was discovered that the skeleton on which this conclusion was based was actually a chimpanzee (Bradford and Blume, 1992, p. 20).
The conclusion in Vemer’s day accepted by most scientists was that after Darwin showed “that all humans descended from apes, the suspicion remained that some races had descended farther than others … [and that] some races, namely the white ones, had left the ape far behind, while other races, pygmies especially, had hardly matured at all” (Bradford and Blume, 1992, p. 20). Many scholars agreed with Sir Harry Johnson, a pygmy scholar who stated that the pygmies were “very apelike in appearance [and] their hairy skins, the length of their arms, the strength of their thickset frames, their furtive ways, all point to these people as representing man in one of his earlier forms’ (Keane 1907, p. 99). One of the most extensive early studies of the pygmies concluded that they were “queer little freaks” and
The low state of their mental development is shown by the following facts. They have no regard for time, nor have they any records or traditions of the past; no religion is known among them, nor have they any fetish rights; they do not seek to know the future by occult means… in short, they are… the closest link with the original Darwinian anthropoid ape extant” (Burrows, 1905, pp. 172, 182)….
There is documented evidence that the remains of perhaps 10,000 of Australia’s Aboriginal people were shipped to British museums in a frenzied attempt to prove the widespread belief that they were the ‘missing link.’2 A major item in a leading Australian weekly, The Bulletin, revealed other shocking new facts. Some of the points covered in the article, written by Australian journalist David Monaghan, make up much of this chapter.
Evolutionists in the United States were also strongly involved in this flourishing ‘industry’ of gathering specimens of subhumans. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington holds the remains of 15,000 individuals of various races.
Along with museum curators from around the world, Monaghan says, some of the top names in British science were involved in this large-scale grave-robbing trade. These included anatomist Sir Richard Owen, anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith and Charles Darwin himself. Darwin wrote asking for Tasmanian skulls when only four of the island’s Aborigines were left alive, provided his request would not ‘upset’ their feelings. Museums were not only interested in bones, but in fresh skins as well. These would provide interesting evolutionary displays when stuffed.3
Pickled Aboriginal brains were also in demand to try to prove that they were inferior to those of whites. It was Darwin, after all, who wrote that the civilized races would inevitably wipe out such lesser-evolved ‘savage’ ones.
Good prices were being offered for such specimens. There is no doubt from written evidence that many of the ‘fresh’ specimens were obtained by simply going out and killing the Aboriginal people. The way in which the requests for specimens were announced was often a poorly disguised invitation to do just that. A deathbed memoir from Korah Wills, who became mayor of Bowen, Queensland, in 1866,4 graphically describes how he killed and dismembered a local tribesman in 1865 to provide a scientific specimen.5
Edward Ramsay, curator of the Australian Museum in Sydney for 20 years starting in 1874, was particularly heavily involved. He published a museum booklet, which appeared to include Aborigines under the designation of ‘Australian animals.’ It also gave instructions not only on how to rob graves, but also on how to plug up bullet wounds in freshly killed ‘specimens.’ Many freelance collectors worked under his guidance. Four weeks after he had requested skulls of Bungee (Russell River) blacks, a keen young science student sent him two, announcing that they, the last of their tribe, had just been shot.6 In the 1880s, Ramsay complained that laws recently passed in Queensland to stop Aborigines being slaughtered were affecting his supply.
Angel of Black Death
A German evolutionist, Amalie Dietrich (nicknamed the ‘Angel of Black Death’) came to Australia asking station (‘ranch’) owners for Aborigines to be shot for specimens, particularly skin for stuffing and mounting for her museum employers.7 Although evicted from at least one property, she shortly returned home with her specimens.
A New South Wales missionary was a horrified witness to the slaughter by mounted police of a group of dozens of Aboriginal men, women and children.8 Forty-five heads were then boiled down and the 10 best skulls were packed off for overseas.
Darwinist views about the racial inferiority of Aborigines (backed up by biased distortions of the evidence since shown to be false) drastically influenced their treatment. In 1908 an inspector from the Department of Aborigines in the West Kimberley region wrote that he was glad to have received an order to transport all half-castes away from their tribe to the mission. He said it was ‘the duty of the State’ to give these children (who, by evolutionary reasoning, were going to be intellectually superior) a ‘chance to lead a better life than their mothers.’ He wrote, ‘I would not hesitate for one moment to separate a half-caste from an Aboriginal mother, no matter how frantic her momentary grief.’9
Such separation policies continued until the 1960s.
The demand has not entirely abated. Aboriginal bones have still been sought by major institutions in quite modern times.
Men Of One Blood
And where was the Church in all this? It was much more influential back then, but it had already begun to be influenced itself by the ‘new thinking’ about origins and was not prepared to take a stand on creation issues. However, the apostle Paul’s ringing declaration, backed up by the facts of human history revealed in Genesis, was that God had ‘made all men of one blood’ (Acts 17:26). This is now reinforced by modern biology as well.
The issue of these pilfered remains is becoming politically sensitive in Australia. There is now much pressure from Aboriginal leaders and others for the remains to be returned.
Aboriginal rage at this desecration of their ancestors would also be appropriately directed at the anti-biblical thought patterns of evolution responsible for this outrage.
This phenomenon of mild-mannered museum officials, respected scientists and mayors, for example, casually going about their daily respectable lives while they were involved in monstrous acts justified by a scientific doctrine, was unparalleled in history to that point.
A similar horror reappeared in the 1930s, when the blatantly evolutionary doctrines of Nazism allowed the consciences of hundreds of doctors, scientists, psychiatrists and other officials to be seared as they set up the machinery to help nature eliminate the unfit. First, it was the genetically ‘inferior’—the mentally and physically disabled. Next, gypsies, Jews and others. The rest of the story is well known.
Today, evolutionary thinking enables ordinary, respectable professionals, otherwise dedicated to the saving of life, to justify their involvement in the slaughter of millions of unborn human beings, who, like the Aborigines of earlier Darwinian thinking, are also deemed ‘not yet fully human.’
References and notes
1) Originally published in Creation14(2):16–18, March–May 1992.
2) Darwin’s Body Snatchers, Creation12(3):21, June–August 1990.
3) David Monaghan, The Body-Snatchers, The Bulletin, 12 November 1991, p. 30–38. (The article states that journalist Monaghan spent 18 months researching this subject in London, culminating in a television documentary called Darwin’s Body-Ssnatchers, which was aired in Britain on 8 October 1990.)
4) According to the records of the Bowen Shire Council.
5) Monaghan, The Body-Snatchers, p. 33. In this article, Monaghan quotes two long paragraphs from Korah Will’s five-page manuscript.
6) Ibid., p. 34. Monaghan identifies the student as W.S. Day.
7) Ibid., p. 33. Monaghan is here quoting Dr Rae Sumner, a lecturer at the Queensland Institute of Technology’s School of Language and Literacy Education.
8) Ibid., p. 34. Monaghan identifies the missionary as Lancelot Threlkeld.
A chap in a Facebook group posted a few points in a post, of which I took this point up to respond to.
…My moral values have a simple root…if an action causes harm to another person, that act is immoral. If my inaction causes harm to another person, that inaction is immoral…
I first posted this as a response:
You would have to define and then implement this definition in a way that non-theistic governments would accept (like the many Eastern-block countries of our past for example). Some countries would view the disabled and farmers as harming society, and thus view the moral rout for said society as a whole to rid themselves of these persons/groups. They would say to NOT do so causes harm.
BUT, I didn’t have to really do any heavy lifting… this person did it for me. After reading through the discussion, the same person said this:
…Morality actually derives from human self interest in preserving the group they needed to be part of to survive in a hostile world. It had to be a feature in the lives of the earliest human ancestor species…
To which I replied:
Oh, this comment refutes you OP [original post]. “Morality actually derives from human self interest in preserving the group they needed to be part of to survive in a hostile world.”
So another group’s morality to survive in a hostile world (say, Pol-Pot, Stalin, Hitler, Caesars, etc) are just as “moral” then. Unless you are saying that there is a universal code you are tapping into to compare/contrast, and put on a higher plane? Not only that, but you would need to argue that another person would have to have that same ability…. At least if you are expecting your OP to carry any weight.
Otherwise you are merely here expressing your preference (emoting), like my children telling me they prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla.
Not only that, but the majority group, whether in a country or in the world, would decide this ethos (what it “means” to survive). And thus, to speak out against this consensus (whether is science or in morality) would be immoral.
A couple examples of this ethos at work:
“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”
Mussolini, Diuturna (1924) pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.
“The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy (New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942), pp. 161-162; found in: Norman L. Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakeable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions About the Christian Faith (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001), 206.
“What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.” — Richard Dawkins
Stated during an interview with Larry Taunton, “Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist,” by Faith Magazine, Issue Number 18, December 2007.
Atheist Daniel Dennett, for example, asserts that consciousness is an illusion. (One wonders if Dennett was conscious when he said that!) His claim is not only superstitious, it’s logically indefensible. In order to detect an illusion, you’d have to be able to see what’s real. Just like you need to wake up to know that a dream is only a dream, Daniel Dennett would need to wake up with some kind of superconsciousness to know that the ordinary consciousness the rest of us mortals have is just an illusion. In other words, he’d have to be someone like God in order to know that.
Dennett’s assertion that consciousness is an illusion is not the result of an unbiased evaluation of the evidence. Indeed, there is no such thing as “unbiased evaluation” in a materialist world because the laws of physics determine everything anyone thinks, including everything Dennett thinks. Dennett is just assuming the ideology of materialism is true and applying its implications to consciousness. In doing so, he makes the same mistake we’ve seen so many other atheists make. He is exempting himself from his own theory. Dennett says consciousness is an illusion, but he treats his own consciousness as not an illusion. He certainly doesn’t think the ideas in his book are an illusion. He acts like he’s really telling the truth about reality.
When atheists have to call common sense “an illusion” and make self-defeating assertions to defend atheism, then no one should call the atheistic worldview “reasonable.” Superstitious is much more accurate.
Frank Turek, Stealing from God (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014), 46-47.
….Darwin thought that, had the circumstances for reproductive fitness been different, then the deliverances of conscience might have been radically different. “If… men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering” (Darwin, Descent, 82). As it happens, we weren’t “reared” after the manner of hive bees, and so we have widespread and strong beliefs about the sanctity of human life and its implications for how we should treat our siblings and our offspring.
But this strongly suggests that we would have had whatever beliefs were ultimately fitness producing given the circumstances of survival. Given the background belief of naturalism, there appears to be no plausible Darwinian reason for thinking that the fitness-producing predispositions that set the parameters for moral reflection have anything whatsoever to do with the truth of the resulting moral beliefs. One might be able to make a case for thinking that having true beliefs about, say, the predatory behaviors of tigers would, when combined with the understandable desire not to be eaten, be fitness producing. But the account would be far from straightforward in the case of moral beliefs.” And so the Darwinian explanation undercuts whatever reason the naturalist might have had for thinking that any of our moral beliefs is true. The result is moral skepticism.
If our pretheoretical moral convictions are largely the product of natural selection, as Darwin’s theory implies, then the moral theories we find plausible are an indirect result of that same evolutionary process. How, after all, do we come to settle upon a proposed moral theory and its principles as being true? What methodology is available to us?
Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, eds., Contending With Christianity’s Critics: Answering the New Atheists & Other Objections (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2009), 70.
Dawkins spells out the contradiction: “As an academic scientist, I am a passionate Darwinian, believing that natural selection is, if not the only driving force in evolution, certainly the only known force capable of producing the illusion of purpose which so strikes all who contemplate nature. But at the same time as I support Darwinism as a scientist, I am a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs.” A Devils Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2003), 10-11.
In another place, he admits to the logic of his own determinism (that people cannot be held responsible for their actions), but emotionally he cannot accept this. See the Dawkins interview by Logan Gage, “Who Wrote Richard Dawkins’s New Book?,”Evolution News (website), October 28, 2006:
Manzari: Dr. Dawkins thank you for your comments. The thing I have appreciated most about your comments is your consistency in the things I’ve seen you’ve written. One of the areas that I wanted to ask you about, and the place where I think there is an inconsistency, and I hoped you would clarify, is that in what I’ve read you seem to take a position of a strong determinist who says that what we see around us is the product of physical laws playing themselves out; but on the other hand it would seem that you would do things like taking credit for writing this book and things like that. But it would seem, and this isn’t to be funny, that the consistent position would be that necessarily the authoring of this book, from the initial conditions of the big bang, it was set that this would be the product of what we see today. I would take it that that would be the consistent position but I wanted to know what you thought about that.
Dawkins: The philosophical question of determinism is a very difficult question. It’s not one I discuss in this book, indeed in any other book that I’ve ever talked about. Now an extreme determinist, as the questioner says, might say that everything we do, everything we think, everything that we write has been determined from the beginning of time in which case the very idea of taking credit for anything doesn’t seem to make any sense. Now I don’t actually know what I actually think about that, I haven’t taken up a position about that, it’s not part of my remit to talk about the philosophical issue of determinism. What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do. None of us ever actually as a matter of fact says, “Oh well he couldn’t help doing it, he was determined by his molecules.” Maybe we should… I sometimes… Um… You probably remember many of you would have seen Fawlty Towers. The episode where Basil where his car won’t start and he gives it fair warning, counts up to three, and then gets out of the car and picks up a tree branch and thrashes it within an edge of his life. Maybe that’s what we all ought to… Maybe the way we laugh at Basil Fawlty, we ought to laugh in the same way at people who blame humans. I mean when we punish people for doing the most horrible murders, maybe the attitude we should take is “Oh they were just determined by their molecules.” It’s stupid to punish them. What we should do is say “This unit has a faulty motherboard which needs to be replaced.” I can’t bring myself to do that. I actually do respond in an emotional way and I blame people, I give people credit, or I might be more charitable and say this individual who has committed murders or child abuse of whatever it is was really abused in his own childhood. And so again I might take a…
Manzari: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?
Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable. But it has nothing to do with my views on religion it is an entirely separate issue.
Manzari: Thank you.
2 Peter 1:5-8:
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In other words, there is no absolute moral ethic, Dawkins wants to have a consensus of people agreeing what is “right” and “wrong” — he says as much in the audio above. Which means that rape and murder are only taboo… not really wrong.
Secondly, there can be no concept of “ought”
What about human actions? They are of no more value or significance than the actions of any other material thing. Consider rocks rolling down a hill and coming to rest at the bottom. We don’t say that some particular arrangement of the rocks is right and another is wrong. Rocks don’t have a duty to roll in a particular way and land in a particular place. Their movement is just the product of the laws of physics. We don’t say that rocks “ought” to land in a certain pattern and that if they don’t then something needs to be done about it. We don’t strive for a better arrangement or motion of the rocks. In just the same way, there is no standard by which human actions can be judged. We are just another form of matter in motion, like the rocks rolling down the hill.
We tend to think that somewhere “out there” there are standards of behaviour that men ought to follow. But according to Dawkins there is only the “natural, physical world”. Nothing but particles and forces. These things cannot give rise to standards that men have a duty to follow. In fact they cannot even account for the concept of “ought”. There exist only particles of matter obeying the laws of physics. There is no sense in which anything ought to be like this or ought to be like that. There just is whatever there is, and there just happens whatever happens in accordance with the laws of physics.
Men’s actions are therefore merely the result of the laws of physics that govern the behaviour of the particles that make up the chemicals in the cells and fluids of their bodies and thus control how they behave. It is meaningless to say that the result of those physical reactions ought to be this or ought to be that. It is whatever it is. It is meaningless to say that people ought to act in a certain way. It is meaningless to say (to take a contemporary example) that the United States and its allies ought not to have invaded Iraq. The decision to invade was just the outworking of the laws of physics in the bodies of the people who governed those nations. And there is no sense in which the results of that invasion can be judged as good or bad because there are no standards to judge anything by. There are only particles reacting together; no standards, no morals, nothing but matter in motion.
Dawkins finds it very hard to be consistent to this system of belief. He thinks and acts as if there were somewhere, somehow standards that people ought to follow. For example in The God Delusion, referring particularly to the Christian doctrine of atonement, he says that there are “teachings in the New Testament that no good person should support”.(6) And he claims that religion favours an in-group/out-group approach to morality that makes it “a significant force for evil in the world”.(7)
According to Dawkins, then, there are such things as good and evil. We all know what good and evil mean. We know that if no good person should support the doctrine of atonement then we ought not to support that doctrine. We know that if religion is a force for evil then we are better off without religion and that, indeed, we ought to oppose religion. The concepts of good and evil are innate in us. The problem for Dawkins is that good and evil make no sense in his worldview. “There is nothing beyond the natural, physical world.” There are no standards out there that we ought to follow. There is only matter in motion reacting according to the laws of physics. Man is not of a different character to any other material thing. Men’s actions are not of a different type or level to that of rocks rolling down a hill. Rocks are not subject to laws that require them to do good and not evil; nor are men. Every time you hear Dawkins talking about good and evil as if the words actually meant something, it should strike you loud and clear as if he had announced to the world, “I am contradicting myself”.
Please note that I am not saying that Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe in good and evil. On the contrary, my point is that he does believe in them but that his worldview renders such standards meaningless.
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.
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 Constitutionas 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 supersedethe 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:
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…..
Essential Christian doctrines are open for re-interpretation….
Historic terms are re-defined….
The heart of the gospel message shifts from sin and redemption to social justice.
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
“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.
Stephen C. Meyer, geophysicist, Vice President of the Discovery Institute, and author of the New York Time’s best seller “Darwin’s Doubt,” joins Ben to discuss philosophy, the origins of life, the overlap of science and religion, and much more. (Hat-Tip to WINTERY KNIGHT). See also RPT:
1:34What is your scientific background? Science undergraduate degree, professional geologist, later did a PhD in philosophy of science from Cambridge University.
2:39What is the difference between intelligent design and creationism? Creationism starts from the Bible and posits a shorter history of the universe. ID starts from the data of the natural world and is neutral about the age of the Earth / universe. Meyer accepts the old-Earth.
3:36 How is Intelligent Design a scientific theory? The discovery of DNA reveals that code is central to living systems. Intelligent design uses the method of “inference to the best explanation” in order to argue that the best explanation for the code is an intelligent agent.
6:10What evidence would have to arise to make Intelligent Design Falsifiable? If a naturalistic mechanism was discovered that could produce biological information using the probabilistic resources of the universe, and the time available, then intelligent design would be falsified.
7:26 Is religion separate from science or intertwined within it? There are three views: science is totally separate from religion, science is in total conflict with religion, science and religion agree on some issues, e.g. – the origin of the universe and Genesis 1:1. There are areas where science and religion overlap.
9:55 Why are the most prominent Darwinians also militant atheists? Evolution is a theory that tries to explain nature using naturalistic mechanisms, so it is compatible with atheism.
10:45What does the theory of evolution say? The term evolution has multiple meanings, and should be defined before discussions. It can refer to change over time. It can refer to animals changing slightly to adapt to enviromental changes. It can refer to the idea that all animals evolved from simpler life forms, and that there is a tree of life showing how different types of organisms share common ancestors. And it can refer to the idea that purely undirected processes can explain the history of life using purely materialistic forces. It’s that final view that intelligent design challenges.
13:15Where is the discontinuity in naturalistic processes in the development of life? The first discontinuity is the origin of simple life from non-living components. The second discontinuity is the sudden appearance of different body plans in a very narrow window of time in the Cambrian era.
15:42 Why does information theory suggest that code requires some sort of designer? DNA is a true information-bearing system identical to the software in computers, e.g. – operating system, applications.
19:45Can information be created by random mutation, and favorable mutations preserved by natural selection? Just as in software code, instructions must be added in order to develop new functionality. Random additions of characters will almost always degrade biological function. The number of possible sequences that do nothing useful is vastly higher than the number of sequences that perform biological functions. Doug Axe did research on this at Cambridge University, and he found that the number of functional sequences of amino acids is 1 in 10 to the 77th power. Given the probabilistic resources (replicating organisms)and the time available, it is extremely unlikely to find sequences that have functional information by chance.
25:05 What about Stephen Jay Gould’s model of punctuated equilibrium – doesn’t it explain the sudden jumps in information? Gould’s mechanism is accurate according to the fossil record, which shows a lot of jumps. But he did not have a naturalistic explanation for sudden jumps in biological function. Darwinian mechanisms work slowly and would (in theory) produce different body plans gradually. But this is not what the fossil record shows.
27:22 What is the mechanism for injecting information in the theory of intelligent design? The information comes in from an intelligence when new major body plans appear, and minor variations within types could be explained by evolution.
29:25Does the Miller-Urey experiment provide a naturalistic explanation for the building blocks necessary for the origin of life? The MU experiment only produced a few types of amino acids, it doesn’t say anything about how to sequence the amino acids in order to form protein folds that can perform biological functions. The MU experiment also pre-supposes conditions on the early Earth (reducing gases) that do not match what was there (oxidyzing or neutral gases).
32:00 Is the RNA world hypothesis is a good explanation for the origin of life? Evolution requires that replication already be in place, because evolution assumes that mutations appear during the replication. The RNA world hypothesis suggests that sequences contain information, but also catalyze origin of life chemistry. The problem with RNA world is that it starts with self-replicating systems. And those replicating systems require the scientist to inject information into the system to get even the simplest replication started.
34:56 How do scientists respond to the critiques of Darwinism proposed by intelligent design advocates? By and large, they accept them. They think that mutation and selection works once living systems are in place, but they realize it has no explanation for the origin of life or the sudden origin of body plans. (Tells about the conference of the Royal Society, where problems with Darwinian mechanisms were discussed, and the 2003 MIT Press book by Muller and Newman).
37:16 Why do people hold to Darwinian evolution in the face of these problems? Many scientists presuppose methodological naturalism, which requires that any explanation for the origin of life and the origin of major body plans involve materialist explanations only. No intelligent agents are allowed. The problems occur when assumption of naturalism causes scientists to propose incorrect explanations for what we observe in nature. It’s also not clear how naturalistic mechanisms could produce organisms who are capable of reason and free will.
40:43 Does naturalistic evolution have an answer for conscious minds, reasoning, free will? No, consider the work of atheist scholar Thomas Nagel, who argues in his book “Mind and Cosmos” (Oxford University Press 2012) that the existence of mind is a disproof of the neo-Darwinian explanation for life. Darwinism stops us from accepting the reality of minds.
42:06 So do naturalistic evolutionists have to explain away the mind as an illusion? First, we humans have immediate experience of consciousness, reason and free will. Second, our whole legal system is based on the idea free will, because you can’t hold someone guilty unless they chose to do something they knew was wrong. Third, we have an epidemic of suicide among young people. This is caused by a crisis of meaning. Intelligent design opens up the possibility of their being a mind behind the universe, who we could have a relationships with.
44:53 Why aren’t schools allowed to be honest about the problems with neo-Darwinian evolution? The intellignt design view is to that teachers should be allowed to teach all the vidence for Darwinian evolution, and also discuss some of the problems with the theory. Students learning science should not be told that everything is solved. Students learn science better when they are presented with peer-reviewed evidence for and against a theory, rather than being indoctrinated.
47:37 Is intelligent design theory connected to God? Intelligent design infers from the information content in nature that a mind with capabilities like ours injected information into living systems. Intelligent design is agnostic about the designer, because in principle, embodied or unembodied agents could inject information into living systems. Intelligent design is friendly to theism, because theists will immediately identify the mind as God. Furthermore, the fine-tuning in the initial conditions of the universe is another intelligent design argument. In that case, since the design occurs at the beginning of the universe, the intelligent agent acting prior to the creation of the universe would have to be supernatural, i.e. – God.
50:53 Can naturalists say that the imposition of “function” on a sequence is arbitrary, in the same way that the English language is arbitrary? This won’t work, because biological function is not arbitrary in the same way as language. Biological function is not arbitrary, because sequences can be tested for function objectively by observing whether sequences can perform functions necessary for life, e.g. – replication.
52:43 Doesn’t the multiverse explain away the improbabilities of the fine-tuning, the origin of life, and the development of life? No, because all models of the multiverse require fine-tuning in the mechanism that generates the different universes.
55:42 What about cosmological models that eliminate the beginning of the universe? The standard Big Bang model and the inflationary model both posit a beginning of the universe. There is also the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theory which proves that any universe that is expanding requires a beginning. The only chance for naturalists is quantum cosmologies, but this doesn’t work because 1) it requires an abstract reality of mathematics to actualize the physical universe, but this presupposes a mind. 2) The model requires an earlier input of information, which can only have come from a mind.
(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:
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.
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.
One last example via:
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.
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.
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 crutch… not 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 point… small 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 text… moving on to do the same with another verse. [Like Jehovah’s Witnesses as an example with John 1:1]
In other words…
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-7… and 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,”
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 correct… think 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.
(Originally posted in 2016 — UPDATED) What’s a greater leap of faith: God or the Multiverse? What’s the multiverse? Brian Keating, Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego, explains in this video.
Here are a couple of great articles to read on the “Multiverse” and the war on science, ala cultural atheism — I love Denyse O’Leary’s title of the first article excerpted:
Until recently, many were reluctant to accept this idea of the “multiverse”, or were even belligerent towards it. However, recent progress in both cosmology and string theory is bringing about a major shift in thinking. Gone is the grudging acceptance or outright loathing of the multiverse. Instead, physicists are starting to look at ways of working with it, and maybe even trying to prove its existence.
Maybe even trying to prove its existence? Yes because, remember, evidence is now superfluous. Methodological naturalism produced the Copernican Principle, which is an axiom. It axiomatically accounts for our universe’s apparent fine tuning by postulating — without the need for evidence — an infinity of flops. And cosmologists’ acceptance makes the multiverse orthodoxy.
…Ian Sample, science writer for Britain’s Guardian, asked Hawking in 2011, “What is the value in knowing ‘Why are we here?'” Hawking replied:
The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those Societies most likely to survive. We assign them a higher value.
Sample had no idea what Hawking meant. But we can discern this much: Philosophy and religion may not matter, but Darwin does.
How far has the multiverse penetrated our culture? Tegmark observes, “Parallel universes are now all the rage, cropping up in books, movies and even jokes.” Indeed, multiverse models can hardly be invented fast enough, with or without science. Cosmologist Andrei Linde has commented that a scenario that is “very popular among journalists” has remained rather unpopular among scientists. In short, popular science culture needs that scenario.
Multiverse cosmologists look out on a bright future, freed from the demands of evidence. Leonard Susskind writes, “I would bet that at the turn of the 22nd century philosophers and physicists will look nostalgically at the present and recall a golden age in which the narrow provincial 20th century concept of the universe gave way to a bigger better [multiverse] … of mind-boggling proportions.” Physicists Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez say their computer program shows that “universes with different physical laws might still be habitable.” And reviewing theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss’s Universe From Nothing (2012), science writer Michael Brooks notes that the multiverse puts laws of physics “beyond science — for now, at least.” Before methodological naturalism really sank in, undemonstrable universes, not the laws of physics, were beyond science….
War on science? Well, we hear about it more often than we see it. People—particularly naturalist atheists involved with progressive causes, who are flogging up some unverifiable thesis—are prone to claiming that their opponents are creationists (whether they are or not, in any meaningful sense), or else some other type of warriors against science.
There is, as it happens, an assault on the science concept of falsifiability as explained at PBS:
Does Science Need Falsifiablity?
Meanwhile, cosmologists have found themselves at a similar impasse. We live in a universe that is, by some estimations, too good to be true. The fundamental constants of nature and the cosmological constant, which drives the accelerating expansion of the universe, seem “fine-tuned” to allow galaxies and stars to form. As Anil Ananthaswamy wrote elsewhere on this blog, “Tweak the charge on an electron, for instance, or change the strength of the gravitational force or the strong nuclear force just a smidgen, and the universe would look very different, and likely be lifeless.”
Why do these numbers, which are essential features of the universe and cannot be derived from more fundamental quantities, appear to conspire for our comfort?
In fact, you can reason your way to the “multiverse” in at least four different ways, according to MIT physicist Max Tegmark’s accounting. The tricky part is testing the idea. You can’t send or receive messages from neighboring universes, and most formulations of multiverse theory don’t make any testable predictions. Yet the theory provides a neat solution to the fine-tuning problem. Must we throw it out because it fails the falsifiability test?
“It would be completely non-scientific to ignore that possibility just because it doesn’t conform with some preexisting philosophical prejudices,” says Sean Carroll, a physicist at Caltech, who called for the “retirement” of the falsifiability principle in a controversial essay for Edge last year. Falsifiability is “just a simple motto that non-philosophically-trained scientists have latched onto,” argues Carroll. He also bristles at the notion that this viewpoint can be summed up as “elegance will suffice,” as Ellis put it in a stinging Nature comment written with cosmologist Joe Silk.
“I think falsifiability is not a perfect criterion, but it’s much less pernicious than what’s being served up by the ‘post-empirical’ faction,” says Frank Wilczek, a physicist at MIT. “Falsifiability is too impatient, in some sense,” putting immediate demands on theories that are not yet mature enough to meet them. “It’s an important discipline, but if it is applied too rigorously and too early, it can be stifling.”
Astronomers are arguing about whether they can trust this untested—and potentially untestable—idea
Detailing the objections of those who want evidence, she then explains,
Other scientists say that the definitions of “evidence” and “proof” need an upgrade. Richard Dawid of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy believes scientists could support their hypotheses, like the multiverse—without actually finding physical support. He laid out his ideas in a book called String Theory and the Scientific Method. Inside is a kind of rubric, called “Non-Empirical Theory Assessment,” that is like a science-fair judging sheet for professional physicists. If a theory fulfills three criteria, it is probably true.
First, if scientists have tried, and failed, to come up with an alternative theory that explains a phenomenon well, that counts as evidence in favor of the original theory. Second, if a theory keeps seeming like a better idea the more you study it, that’s another plus-one. And if a line of thought produced a theory that evidence later supported, chances are it will again.
Radin Dardashti, also of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, thinks Dawid is straddling the right track. “The most basic idea undergirding all of this is that if we have a theory that seems like it works, and we have come up with nothing that works better, chances are our idea is right,” he says.
But, historically, that undergirding has often collapsed, and scientists haven’t been able to see the obvious alternatives to dogmatic ideas. For example, the Sun, in its rising and setting, seems to go around Earth. People, therefore, long thought that our star orbited the Earth. More.
With so many people rethinking evolution, the Darwinians could use a theory that doesn’t require physical support too.
Smug Lawrence Krauss taken back to school by physicist David Gross.
Religio-Political Talk (RPT) is proud to be a part of defending “manhood” from the wiles of the secular/evolutionary worldview.
Jerry Bergman is one of the most accomplished creationists around. His passion for his Lord and for sharpening his mind are, well, legend in the ID and creationist sub-culture. The few times I have written to him he has responded with humbleness — which is saying a lot considering his learning curve noted below. In the past I have responded to persons and articles based on his book he co-authored with Dr. Howe, “Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional: A History and Evaluation of the Vestigial Organ Origins Concept.” This book could use an update and republishing… which the article does in the micro.
The article in the Journal of Creation, vol. 31(2) 2017, entitled, “The Not-So-Intelligent Professor,” is a review Abby Hafer’s book, “The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not.” However, BEFORE going to her favorite example, let’s review Jerry Bergman’s academic background, which is useful for the article:
M.P.H., Northwest Ohio Consortium for Public Health (Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio; University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio; Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio), 2001.
M.S. in biomedical science, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, Ohio, 1999.
Ph.D. in human biology, Columbia Pacific University, San Rafael, California, 1992.
M.A. in social psychology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, 1986.
Ph.D. in measurement and evaluation, minor in psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1976.
M.Ed. in counseling and psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1971.
B.S., Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1970. Major area of study was sociology, biology, and psychology.
Okay, here is the excerpt:
Abigail (Abby’) Hafer has a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University and teaches human anatomy and physiology in the nursing programme at Curry College, a small private college of 2,100 students. Her goal for this book was to document what she argues are the many examples of poor design in the human body. From this evidence, she concludes that the body was not designed, but rather it evolved.
All of her examples have been carefully refuted in both the secular and creationist literature. Having taught anatomy for 30 years, I have reviewed many anatomy textbooks in preparation for my classes and am not aware of a single one that makes the claims she does. Rather, they consistently show most of her claims to be erroneous.
She also shows little evidence of reading the Intelligent Design (ID) or creationist literature, as indicated by her false claim that those “who are likely to be persuaded by ID arguments don’t read scientific journals, or lengthy books about evolution, and they never will [emphasis in original]” (p. 1). The irony here is unmissable.
She speaks widely to colleges, universities, and sadly even churches (although she’s a rabid atheist, listed as an American Humanist Association speaker). Her focus is consistently on mocking creationists and ID supporters, as is obvious from the titles of her talks, such as “Who does the Creator like better—us, or squid?” and “Why do men’s testicles hang outside the body, but elephants have their testes inside the body?” As usual, these are really pseudo-theological arguments rather than scientific ones. She spends much time on the mudskipper, which she claims ID advocates say could not exist. Her major poor design claims are reviewed below.
I wish to take a quick break in the text here and note that the best book I have read on Dr. Berman’s notation that Dr. Hafer’s arguments “are really pseudo-theological arguments rather than scientific ones,” is Cornelius Hunter’s book, “Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil.”
Her claim for human testicles is that
“…if testicles were designed, …why God didn’t protect them better. Couldn’t the Designer have put them inside the body, or encased them in bone, or at least put some bubble wrap around them? Is this the best that the Designer can do?” (p. 5).
Concluding that a structure is poorly designed instead of asking why the existing design exists is a science stopper. The ‘why’ question motivates research into the reasons for the design. When this approach was applied to the human appendix, the tonsils, the backward retina and other examples, good design reasons for the existing design were found in all cases.
She explained that when she was looking for new approaches to refute ID she knew she “had a winner when inspiration hit me in the middle of an Anatomy and Physiology lecture…. The male testicle is a great first argument against ID” (p. 2). She then stated that when she got what she needed for a “political-style argument”, she did “what any sensible woman would do”, email her minister (p. 2). As chance had it, her (Unitarian Universalist) `church’s’ Darwin Day celebration was that Sunday, and her minister used the testicles example to introduce his sermon in honour of Darwin (p. 2). Her main argument is that male testicles are outside of the body, thus are prone to injury, noting that for many animals, including reptiles, the testicles are inside of the body.
If the author were to apply just a modicum of logic, though, she (and her cohort) would realise that male testicles are outside of the body for several important reasons, such as to regulate scrotal temperature for optimal spermatogenesis development.1 When testicle temperature drops, a complex system causes the cremaster muscle to contract, which moves them closer to the warm body. When their temperature rises, the cremaster muscle relaxes, allowing them to move away from the body, insuring that their temperature is kept within a very narrow tolerance. Their temperature is also regulated by increasing or decreasing the surface area of the tissue surrounding the testicles, allowing faster or slower dissipation of their heat.2
A major reason for their close temperature regulation is because humans are fertile year round, and most animals with internal testicles are not. Most animals need to be fertile only for short times, often when outdoor temperature allows maintenance of their proper temperature.
She also ignores the fact that testicles are a secondary sexual trait, similar to female breasts, which are also prone to injury. A parallel argument is the claim that, for this reason, the female breast is poorly designed. Therefore, because its size does not affect either milk production or breast feeding ability, it would be advantageous not to protrude from the body. However, because the baby’s face is quite flat, it’s advantageous that the breast protrude somewhat so the baby can get good suction. Baby mammals with snouts can suckle on flat breasts with teats. That the breast is a major female secondary sexual trait is documented by the fact that mastectomy is a very traumatic operation for most women, and reconstructive surgery is often used to normalize the breasts’ appearance.
 Werdelin, J. and Nilsonne, A., The evolution of the scrotum and testicular descent in mammals, J. Theoretical Biology 196(1):61-72, 7 January 1999.
The article goes on to respond to Abby’s discussion of: the backward retina, the female birth canal, the human pharynx, blood clotting mechanisms, teeth, the appendix, and the like. Here is a good video mentioned on my Facebook by a friend (R. Ingles-Barrett) that deals with some of these supposed “bad designs”
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:
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 Life, and 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.
“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)
Biologist Jonathan Wells, author and M.D. Geoffrey Simmons, and molecular biologist Douglas Axe shed light on the problems with Darwin’s theory as they share what led each of them to their skepticism.
Jonathan Wells first became skeptical of Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection, but it was in his studies in embryology that he became skeptical of common ancestry. Dr. Wells takes a historical look at the impact of Darwin’s theory and discusses how unnecessary it is for modern science.
Geoffrey Simmons, M.D., explains how he became a Darwin skeptic after looking at the evidence and finding the evidence for evolution lacking.
And Molecular biologist Douglas Axe from Biologic Institute explains the problems genetic mutations pose for Darwin’s theory.
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 aunique 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.