Christian apologists have a secret weapon against evolution: confidence. This isn’t the confidence you’re familiar with, grounded in evidence, the consensus of experts, and all that. No, this is the empty, groundless kind. Still, it’s confidence just the same, and it can sound pretty compelling.
I started my path to atheism with the evolution/Creationism debate, so I like to check in occasionally. I recently critiqued the recent young-earth Creationist movie Is Genesis History? here.
Status update on evolution
Let’s move on to a recent podcast by Christian apologist Greg Koukl, “Why Neo-Darwinism Is Dead.” He was all abuzz from a recent meeting with Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, an anti-evolution think tank, and Koukl quickly made clear his conclusion:
The Darwinian model of biological evolution is dead. It is dead. (@9:05)
Why should I care? Should I reject the consensus view of science from someone who is no expert in the field he’s rejecting?
Koukl doubles down on his claim:
The academic crowd on the inside at the highest levels know the facts and know that it’s dead. When I say “the Darwinian project,” I mean very precisely what has come to be known as the neo-Darwinian synthesis, okay, and that is simply that evolution is driven forward by genetic mutation being acted on by natural selection. (9:15)
Let me first get a quibble out of the way. What the hell is “the Darwinian project”? Who says that? You could call it the “modern synthesis,” but that term comes from a 1942 book, and it refers to the integration of Darwin’s ideas with other pioneers’ work from even earlier in the twentieth century.
I assume that the attraction of the word “Darwinism” is that it has that scary -ism suffix like other wicked terms such as “Marxism” or “Maoism.” Tell you what, Greg—let’s follow the lead of the people who actually understand the science and call it “evolution.” How does that sound?
But back to the point of the quote: Koukl tells us that the biologists who really understand evolution see not just unanswered questions, not just gaps—no, they know that the theory is completely dead.
Call me skeptical, but I’ll wait to hear about that from someone who’s not a Christian apologist who gives every indication of having an anti-evolution agenda. Y’know, like a biologist. Even better: the consensus view of the entire field of biology. Last time I checked, evolution was still firmly in place (see the appendix at this post). If Koukl knows that the biggest names within biology are on his side, I wonder why he doesn’t list them. It’s almost like that list doesn’t exist.
Liars gonna lie
Koukl is way ahead of us. He says we can’t trust the biologists to honestly follow the evidence.
They’re not letting go of their presuppositions. They’re not letting go of their metaphysical religion. (10:40)
Hmm—methinks the lady doth protest too much. Perhaps you should look in a mirror, Greg. I share your concern about people who let their religion constrain what they can think, but are you sure it’s the biologists who have the problem?
Koukl tells us that Stephen Meyer said that:
In the academic circles and among the professionals in the know and who work closely with the facts, they see the serious, debilitating problems of the Darwinian model of origins. (11:20)
Stephen Meyer, you say? Is that the Stephen Meyer who rejects evolution but whose doctorate is in history and philosophy of science, not biology? The one who works for an organization whose mission statement begins, “The mission of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is to advance the understanding that human beings and nature are the result of intelligent design rather than a blind and undirected process”? Yeah, I’m sure he’s a reliable, unbiased source.
I always question “research” that comes from a person or an organization bound by a faith statement. My approach is that the research should come first and then the conclusion, not the other way around, but maybe that’s just me.
Evolution in schools
He moves on to rant that criticism of “Darwinism” isn’t allowed in textbooks.
I wonder what kind of criticism he’s thinking of. I’m just guessing here, but I suppose a current debate might be the various approaches in physics to unify the four fundamental forces. If string theory is explained, for example, I’d expect that the textbook would make clear that it is just one of several approaches.
But there is no equivalent within biology. Evolution is the consensus. There is no other side of the issue.
In the rejection of criticism of evolution in textbooks, Koukl sees a clue. “When someone tries to silence opposition” or when they use the power of the system (courts, legislature, the school system, media), you know they have a weak case.
Knowing they had no scientific case, legislatures and school boards have tried to slip Creationism into public school classrooms in myriad ways—is that what you’re referring to, Greg? Since your opposition actually has the science on their side, I don’t think it works in the other direction.
If the battle were within the scientific community, then Greg would have a point, and we should let the facts decide the issue. But he’s already lost that battle, so he wants to fight in the court of public opinion. But when organizations like the National Center for Science Education respond in kind, pointing out the tricks used to slip Creationism in where it doesn’t belong, he cries foul and cites it as a clue that they’re trying to “silence the opposition.”
In a final example of the pot calling the kettle black, he tells us that the not-Christian position warns that the Creationist arguments mustn’t be read (16:50). By contrast, he’s happy to have Christians read the other side. “Our case can take it.”
Let’s just say that I have a different view on the matter.
To be concluded in part 2 with Koukl’s explanation of evolution’s failings here.
Insanity is believing your hallucinations are real.
Religion is believing that other peoples’ hallucinations are real.
— seen on the internet
Image credit: Dmitry K, flickr, CC