I don’t know much about the science, which reflects my classroom day interests more than the quality of teaching at the time. Luckily I have a 10 year old granddaughter who loves this stuff so I can always ask her when I need to know something scientific.
My only exception is the whole question of evolution versus creation. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a lifelong Lutheran and we take the Bible at face value, including the Genesis account of creation. So I begin any analysis of the theory of evolution with a fair amount of skepticism. Even after ruling out this bias, I simply cannot agree with the incredible leap of faith evolution requires to accept it prima facie. It sounds too much like a house of cards to me.
As with Tom Bethell, whose latest published book is aptly titled “Darwin’s House of Cards: A Journalist’s Odyssey through the Darwin Debates” (Discovery Institute Press 2017, 257 pages plus notes, $ 22 paperback). Bethell, who died last February, was a renowned journalist who also wrote what I consider to be the seminal book on property rights.
Bethell learned about Darwinism during his years at Oxford, but didn’t think much about it until he came to America and read his first book which furthered the thesis of intelligent design. This sparked his journalistic interest and therefore he did what journalists do or should do, which is to read published literature and interview leading thinkers in the field. This book is the result of his years of research and contains many quotes from their writings and interviews. In fact, he quotes extensively from Darwinists, some of whom themselves criticize much of evolutionary theory.
The book covers the well-known facets of evolution: natural selection, the fossil record, speciation, extinction, etc. It also examines some of the more esoteric areas of evolutionary study: homology, systematics, cladism, genomics, and sociobiology. Much of this is beyond my prior knowledge, but his testimony is clearly stated and I could follow it. Still, I needed to read the book twice just to be sure I had it.
Bethell’s point of departure is that Darwinism stems from an uncritical and total adherence to the philosophy of materialism, that is, only matter exists, therefore everything that exists must come from another matter. existing. Bethell points out that Darwin refused to publish his evolutionary theories for about 20 years, requiring a full acceptance of materialism by the British scholarly class in order to have a basis that would not be questioned. Was it a matter of self-confidence or just savvy marketing?
What neo-Darwinists succumb to is the logical error of asking the question. This term, often mistakenly used to mean asking the obvious question, actually refers to the assumption of the conclusion as a premise to prove the conclusion. (Although I avoided science classes, I took two in logic from the philosophy department. It was on a test and luckily I remember the answer.) Bethell provides many examples of this argument.
What disgusts me is the abandonment of science for politics; Witness all the allegations and counterclaims during the COVDI proceedings that had more to do with what Donald Trump said than honest scientific conclusions. The same has happened in so-called climate science; that is, “the debate is closed”. This is now happening in sociobiology, with Darwinists fighting a losing battle against the proponents of intelligent design. How do they counter them? By the proven method of the left of “canceling” them in university faculties, academic publications and the media. The unpardonable sin is giving ammunition to the enemy, as one of these scientists accused. Another called Darwin’s attack “the sin on the Holy Spirit,” using a rather ungodly analogy with Christian doctrine, but still doing the trick very well.
Where macroevolution falls flat is its inability to convincingly explain the origin of life or show transitional life forms that document the change from one species to another. Remember the Tree of Life diagram used in many publications. This graphic is frequently presented to show a common ancestor to all life on earth, but none of the nodes connect. This is an example of a begging question parade.
One thing we hear over and over is the rapid extinction of species due to the behavior of mankind. The facts, as Bethell points out, are that only around 860 extinctions have been recorded since 1650, or two per year on average. This runs counter to a total speciation ranging from 8.7 million to one trillion, and who knows how many more remain to be discovered. Even here Darwinists face a paradox: natural selection is recognized for the rise of species, but it must also fail due to extinctions.
Someone with a more scientific background than me, and that includes almost all sentient beings, will find Bethell’s discussion of DNA, amino acids, and proteins quite informative. These are the building blocks of life and the key to evolutionary theory … except that math doesn’t add up. According to a scientist cited by Bethell, the odds against all of these pieces of arranging in an appropriate complex order are in the order of 1 × 10 at the 74th power. These odds are slightly better than my odds of winning the Indiana Lottery, but I never bought a ticket.
Darwin can be classified as a philosophical traveling companion with Marx, that’s right, but Darwin also viewed his theory as a biological brother of Adam Smith’s theory of laissez-faire economics. I found this point disturbing at first glance, but the obvious question helped me get past it: if natural selection is simply free enterprise in nature, then what explains its other ‘invisible hand’ that intelligent design?
This can be the touchstone for the ID alternative to natural selection. Even Darwin admitted that he couldn’t explain the origin of matter. He simply assumed its existence and then launched his theory of evolutionary progress. So I ask: where did the original matter come from that somehow combined with astronomical probabilities to create a simplistic life form, and then billions of years later evolve into Human being? Bethell says evolutionary biology cannot provide the answer.
It is important to note that intelligent design does not necessarily equate to biblical creation. Most of the proponents that Bethell cites do not believe in the Genesis narrative but at the same time cannot offer a cohesive alternative. I imagine this means that they leave the door open but admit that they will never “prove” God by any scientific means. Plus, they shouldn’t; He is above and outside of it.
Bethell’s chapter on fossilization is interesting even to a non-scientist. Apparently, most Darwinists believe the fossil record is nearly complete but cannot be used to explain Darwin’s theory. In fact, as more and more fossils are discovered, the expected evidence for transitional life forms not only does not appear, but is in fact refuted by new fossil discoveries.
The simple fact remains that Darwinists cannot point to any transitional life form in the fossil record or in observation in the present world. There was also no successful creation of life or consciousness in the laboratory. Despite the glowing claims for artificial intelligence, robots still cannot think for themselves. And they never will, at least as Bethell’s human intelligence tells him.
Bethell attributes Darwinism’s stubborn support to an unholy alliance of progressivism and materialism during the 19th century. The irony is that progressivism, which postulates that humanity continues towards perfection, has been utterly rejected by the radical environmental movement, which views humanity as an evil species that must become extinct to save the planet. Thus, the fittest species, humans, cannot or must not survive in contradiction to Darwin’s beloved theory of natural selection.
In the final analysis, Darwinism is unable to answer several fundamental questions. How did the original question come about? Where are the fossil records of life forms in transition? Why haven’t we observed a single species evolving into another, different? Why has modern science not been able to recreate (pun intended) the origin of first life on earth?
If we are all honest with ourselves, we will accept that both evolution and creation are based on premises that are not empirically provable, but able to infer from our own observations and inherent biases. Either is a matter of faith. I am simply unable to have enough faith to worship at Darwin’s altar.
Mark Franke, MBA, Indiana Policy Review associate researcher and book reviewer, was previously Associate Vice Chancellor at Indiana-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Send your comments to [email protected]