Ellis Washington’s Latest Sloppy Attack on Evolution

My longtime readers should remember Ellis Washington, the incredibly dishonest right-wing columnist and self-declared “intellectual.” I tangled with him many times, often over his highly dishonest use of quotes that were either out-of-context or just plain fake. So I decided to look up some of his recent columns just for fun. And he’s still got a problem with quotes, even ones that I corrected him on directly more than five years ago.

He has a two-part column called “On Darwin and the eternal lie of evolution atheism.” The phrase “evolution atheism” is, of course, gibberish. He begins by lying about the title of Darwin’s magnum opus, which was “On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.” And he captions an image of the book thusly:

Original title of Darwin’s book on evolution showing his invidious racist intent.

This is such a tired old lie. In that day, the term “races” was often used to mean “species” and that is how Darwin meant it. Darwin was, in fact, quite progressive on the subject of race for his day. He was a passionate opponent of slavery and a critic of racism. The primary support for racism at the time, in fact, was religion. But we’re just getting started on the dishonesty. He then offers this quote:

It [evolution theory] is a mere rag of an hypothesis with as many flaw[s] & holes as sound parts.

~ Darwin (letter to friend Asa Gray, June 1859)

Here’s why I find this amusing. First of all, this is from a letter to TH Huxley, not Asa Gray. Secondly, he pulls it out of context. Here’s the full quote:

My dear Huxley

I meant to have added one other word. You speak of finding a flaw in my hypothesis, & this shows you do not understand its nature. It is a mere rag of an hypothesis with as many flaws & holes as sound parts.— My question is whether the rag is worth anything? I think by careful treatment I can carry in it my fruit to market for a short distance over a gentle road; but I fear that you will give the poor rag such a devil of a shake that it will fall all to atoms; & a poor rag is better than nothing to carry one’s fruit to market in— So do not be too ferocious.

Ever yours | Most truly | C. Darwin

This was quite typical of Darwin, who was so insecure about the theory that he had come up with and so fearful that others would tear it down that he did not publish it for many years after he came up with it. He was asking Huxley to evaluate his hypothesis, which he did, of course. Huxley thereafter became perhaps the foremost proponent of common descent by natural selection, so much so that he is still to this day referred to as “Darwin’s bulldog.”

But here’s the kicker: Washington knows this. He knows that the quote was in a letter to Huxley, not Asa Gray. How do I know that? Because I told him that in an email and showed him the original letter. And yet here he is, more than five years later, still telling the same lie.

This is normal behavior for Ellis. I caught him many times using fake quotes in his column. I informed him of those fake quotes by email and he never once issued a correction and kept right on using them. To make this all the more hilarious, he pompously declared to me in an email, “I am not scientist, but a philosopher and an intellectual so the way I approach all bodies of knowledge is from reason and veritas (truth).” A man who has been caught lying repeatedly claims to approach everything from “veritas.” The punchline writes itself.

He then blathers:

On November 24, 1859, Darwin published On the Origin of Species explaining his theory of evolution with sophistic evidence in that his book tried to reconcile evolution based on spontaneous regeneration of the species with the numerous number of scientific denunciations of earlier conceptions of transmutation of species. By the 1870s Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and his second treatise on evolution, The Descent of Man (1871) many prominent members of the scientific community like Thomas Huxley, humanist intellectuals and much of the general public had accepted evolution as fact. On a macro-political level, Darwin’s book on evolution was viewed as the triumph of science over Christianity. Now Marxists, Socialists, Atheists and Progressives had a “scientific” foundation it could use to deconstruct America’s Judeo-Christian traditions in society and replace them with a Darwinian evolution atheist worldview which as the 1900s ensured, they would undertake to do with the zeal of an irredeemable fanatic.

I think this gives you some idea of the man’s intellect. He has nothing intelligent to say about Darwin’s theory, so he only offers false quotes and inane gibberish like claiming that Darwin “tried to reconcile evolution based on spontaneous regeneration of the species.” That he thinks that is an accurate description of what Darwin did shows you just how deep Ellis’ virulent ignorance goes. And since he has nothing intelligent to say, he just demeans his opponents as Marxists and socialists. As if that had anything at all to do with whether evolution is true or not.

Regarding Darwin’s precursors the problem of Social Darwinism and eugenics racism, natural selection and missing links, for example, the basis of analysis appears in his discoveries, his conceptions, and his theory and yet based on my decades of study of Darwin and to many other academics associated with the Intelligent Design movement, Creationism or origins of life ideas independent of Darwinism, his evolution atheist ideas seem inexorably connected to and inseparable from their personal, partisan political, philosophical, and religious expectations, thus having nothing substantive in common with legitimate scientific investigations. In other words, Darwin’s evolution atheism appears to be the fulfillment of the political Left’s overt Romantic longings dating back to the Enlightenment Age (1600-1800). Said another way, Darwinism wasn’t so much a new theory as it was a grand scientific rationalization for the origins of life based on atheism. (Remember, Aristotle, Lucretius and others beat Darwin by 2-3,000 years). Nevertheless, scientific justification or necessity which is the political Left’s reflexive and enduring hatred of Western Civilization’s 4,000+ year reliance on Judeo-Christian suppositions on the origins of life, was the principal reason the scientific establishment of the Victorian age so unthinkingly accepted Darwin’s evolution theory as religious fact.

He does toss a delightful word salad, don’t you think?

On the Origin of Species was the defining work that gave Darwin demigod status in the scientific community and in the highest circles of Victorian society, nevertheless the original title specifies it is not evolution as a comprehensive field theory of biological, or cosmic, history, but the origin of species with which Darwin appears to be primarily concerned. He is concerned with proving the fact that new species do evolve over the course of time, counter to those (including Christianity) who presuppose the species of living things to be fixed in number and unchangeable in kind from antiquity to the present age.

Uh, what? Why would he think that Christianity presupposes that species are fixed in number and are unchangeable? Even young earth creationists do not believe that, for crying out loud (in fact, they have to believe in hyper-evolution in order to get from two of every “kind” on the ark to the millions of species living today). Old earth creationists and ID-type theistic evolutionists don’t believe that either. Again, Washington is just babbling about things he has no knowledge of.

He just goes on and on like this, one incoherent and ignorant paragraph after another. After many years of paying no attention to this clueless dolt, it’s nice to see that he hasn’t changed a bit.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • grumpyoldfart

    And he’s still got a problem with quotes, even ones that I corrected him on directly more than five years ago.

    Perhaps his articles are written in stone.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    But he wears an I’m-an-intellectual bow tie, so he must be an intellectual. Veritas story.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    … Marxists, Socialists, Atheists and Progressives had a “scientific” foundation it could use …

    Noun-pronoun agreement?

    … Darwin’s precursors the problem of Social Darwinism …

    “Social Darwinism” preceded Darwin?

    … counter to those (including Christianity) …

    Christianity is a person?

    And that whole “word salad” paragraph (shudder).

    Isn’t there a rule somewhere that “a philosopher and an intellectual” should show ability to pass a freshman comp class?

  • Deacon Duncan

    Why would he think that Christianity presupposes that species are fixed in number and are unchangeable? Even young earth creationists do not believe that, for crying out loud (in fact, they have to believe in hyper-evolution in order to get from two of every “kind” on the ark to the millions of species living today).

    You are assuming creationism is a coherent position. You and Ellis are both right: creationists do resort to some kind of weird hyper-evolution in order to get millions of modern species out of a few thousands on the ark. But that’s only in the context of that specific problem with creationism. In other contexts—for example, during a sermon on Genesis 1, in the absence of critics—they have no problem believing that God created all the species that ever did, do, or will exist, each one divinely commanded to strict, fixed reproduction “after its kind.” They might believe that the number of species can go down, but in the absence of critics, a number of them are quite happy to believe it will never go up.

    You might also point out the creationist distinction between “species” and “biblical kind,” but again, that’s something creationists believe only when they need to, like when they’re addressing the arguments of critics. Left to themselves, they’ll happily go back to believing that kinds are species, and that every one of them owes their existence to God. They have no problem with the contradictions between their beliefs, since they only hold one of them at any given time, and can fluidly switch between them according to the need of the moment.

  • Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Only 12 comments over there and they are all highly critical of Washington’s bullshit.

  • John Pieret

    The man has never heard of “run-on sentences” … or, perhaps, he thinks making his writing as dense and unreadable as possible makes him seem smart.

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    He does toss a delightful word salad, don’t you think?

    I bet it tastes delicious with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper. Add either mashed or powdered garlic to taste.

  • Die Anyway

    Creationists quote bits and pieces of Darwin’s writings but I suspect that they mostly get those items from places like AiG and accept the AiG spin. I used to think that if creationists would actually read ‘Origins’ and ‘Voyage’, they would come to understand the painstaking research that Darwin performed, the evidence he accumulated, and the logic behind his conclusions. It is all very well laid out in those books. But, if Mr. Washington has studied Darwin for decades (his own claim above) and hasn’t seen the light then maybe that disproves my idea. Maybe getting most creationists to read 2 whole books is asking too much.

  • sugarfrosted

    Darwin: The original cabbage racist. On the origin of species doesn’t really deal much with humans.

  • Synfandel

    Die Anyway @8: “Maybe getting most creationists to read 2 whole books is asking too much.”

    I have the strong impression that most creationists haven’t even read their own mother of all books.

  • John Pieret

    Pierce R. Butler @ 3:

    Noun-pronoun agreement?

    Given how Washington “thinks,” he may consider Marxists, Socialists, Atheists and Progressives as identical and fungible … one big “it.”

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    …the basis of analysis appears in his discoveries, his conceptions, and his theory and yet based on my decades of study of Darwin and to many other academics associated with the Intelligent Design movement, Creationism or origins of life ideas independent of Darwinism, his evolution atheist ideas seem inexorably connected to and inseparable from their personal, partisan political, philosophical, and religious expectations, thus having nothing substantive in common with legitimate scientific investigations.

    Talk about projection.

     

    After many years of paying no attention to this clueless dolt, it’s nice to see that he hasn’t changed a bit.

    It should make you sad.

     

    Die Anyway “Creationists quote bits and pieces of Darwin’s writings but I suspect that they mostly get those items from places like AiG and accept the AiG spin.”

    ♪ ♫ Come on, everybody, do the AiG spin! ♪ ♫ ♪

    [energetic 20-somethings hop up on stage, do the AiG spin]

  • blf

    In Wingnuttersland, there is no evilution — no change — so words have always meant the same thing, just like species are fixed, xians are always persecuted, the climate doesn’t change, tithes increase, and flying saucers leave/enter their base in the centre of the Earth via the North pole.

  • frankgturner

    @ big #13

    And don’t forget how those wicked evevilutionistsilutionists are trying to legalize gay marriage and force everyone to marry someone of the same gender. Can’t give up on trying to stop God’s plan of making humans his chosen people. Oh right yeah God’s gonna end the world, end time and take his children back then you’ll see.

  • NitricAcid

    #3- I think he’s using “precursors” as a verb.

  • Numenaster

    his … ideas seem inexorably connected to and inseparable from their personal, partisan political, philosophical, and religious expectations, thus having nothing substantive in common with legitimate scientific investigations

    When you put the ellipsis where it belongs in this sentence, the projection is immediately clear. This is a guy whose reality model is flawed.

  • psweet

    “Why would he think that Christianity presupposes that species are fixed in number and are unchangeable?”

    While modern Creationists don’t believe this, Darwin’s writings were aimed at an orthodoxy of “fixity of species”. (Many biologists of the time didn’t accept that species could change over time, either.)

  • Chiroptera

    Pierce R. Butler, #3: “Social Darwinism” preceded Darwin?

    Yes. It was obviously not called “social Darwinism”, but the fear that too much charity would allow the lower classes to breed too much and pollute the human race with their inferior traits predates Darwin by at least a century.

    On the other hand, Washington may, like many creationists, be confusing the term with “eugenics” (actively using techniques from animal husbandry to promote good traits or even “improve” the human race) — it’s hard to tell from the quoted passage — and I don’t know how long a history that idea has.

  • eric

    Now Marxists, Socialists, Atheists and Progressives had a “scientific” foundation it could use to deconstruct America’s Judeo-Christian traditions in society

    And they did! The publication of OOS happened in 1859. A mere two years later progressives in the US started deconstructing one of America’s greatest Judeo-Christian traditions in society. Coincidence? I think not! :)

  • colnago80

    It should be pointed out that the influence of Darwin and his Wedgwood inlaws on the British Government was significant on keeping Britain from intervening on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Said another way . . .

    If only.

  • cheesynougats

    @3 & 15:

    Parts of speech and noun-pronoun agreement are cultural Marxist fictions.

  • blf

    Isn’t there a rule somewhere that “a philosopher and an intellectual” should show ability to pass a freshman comp class?

    Perhaps, but “standards” are very flexible — follow the money! — at “Liberty” “University” and other such “schools” of “renown”…

  • https://plus.google.com/107095827599382907783 NS Alito

    Die Anyway @8: “Creationists quote bits and pieces of Darwin’s writings but I suspect that they mostly get those items from places like AiG and accept the AiG spin.”

    If only someone would make a project of collecting all of those mined quotes….

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/project.html

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    Now Marxists, Socialists, Atheists and Progressives had a “scientific” foundation it could use to deconstruct America’s Judeo-Christian traditions in society and replace them with a Darwinian evolution atheist worldview which as the 1900s ensured, they would undertake to do with the zeal of an irredeemable fanatic.

    I’m also enjoying the Americano-centrism of that statement. Because it was first and foremost in America where the battles involving marxists, socialists, atheists and progressives were fought in Darwin’s day.

  • whheydt

    Re: coinago @ #20…

    You might read up on the CSS Alabama and that the British government paid reparations to the US after the CIvil War for permitting her construction and allowed her to sail.

    The British government had a lot more problems with any interestin helping the Confederacy that the Darwin and the Wedgewood family. Britain had abolished slavery in the 1840s and public sentiment was heavily anti-slavery. (Read up on sugar boycotts.)

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    whheydt, Sugar Boycotts was my stage name, back when I was an abolitionist stripper.

  • dingojack

    whheydt – see Slavery Abolition Act 1833

    Dingo

    ———

    Also Somerset v Stewart (1772)

  • skinnercitycyclist

    The likelihood of spontaneous generation was first conceived in antiquity, particularly in the writings of Aristotle (384-322 BC) and later Lucretius (99-55 BC), and the Middle Ages, and was even assumed to be understood by observation and experimentation, for example Gregor Mendel (1822-94), the father of modern genetics, and his famous experiments with maggots developing from decaying matter.

    Just to pound a further nail in the coffin, he seems to be confusing Gregor Mendel for Francesco Redi concerning the meat/maggot/spontaneous generation experiments

  • colnago80

    Re whheydt @ #26

    I am well aware of the issue of the Alabama. However, there was considerable interest in British military circles in having the USA divided into several smaller entities. Many in Britain were concerned about the probability of a united America eventually challenging British supremacy on the high seas, given the rapidly increasing population and industrialization taking place.

    This concern was well merited. After the Battle of Jutland in WW1, the commander of the Grand Fleet, Admiral Jellicoe gave as one of his explanations for his less then aggressive tactics against the German High Seas Fleet that he had to preserve as many of his ships as he possibly could, even at the cost of a drawn battle because he was looking over his shoulder at the possibility that the US Navy might intervene in the war on the side of Germany. He pointed out that the size of the US dreadnaught fleet then extant was already considerable and that Wilson’s pronouncement of a fleet second to none would, if united with the German High Seas Fleet, pose a dire threat to British naval superiority.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    colnago: if you’re going to talk about British intervention in the US Civil War, perhaps you could answer a question I’ve had for some time: Did Queen Victoria have anything to say about her country’s intervention? I read a bio of her that said absolutely NOTHING about the Civil War, even though she was Queen at the time her country was mucking about in it.

    The Wikipedia article about her doesn’t mention the Civil War either; though it does note that Victoria was in self-imposed isolation during much of that time, mourning the death of her husband. So that self-isolation could have kept her apart from any role in policymaking during that time.

  • colnago80

    Re Raging Bee @ #31

    That would depend o how much influence Victoria had on British foreign policy vs Parliament at the time. I don’t know the answer to that. However, in addition to the British naval theorists, the British textile industry, which depended on the import of Southern cotton, was lobbying for at least using the British Navy to break the Northern blockade of Southern ports. Certainly Lincoln was greatly concerned about the possibility of British intervention and essentially instituted an appeasement policy to head off any such intervention, knowing that such intervention would probably lead to a Confederate victory.

  • Kermit Sansoo

    Darwinism wasn’t so much a new theory as it was a grand scientific rationalization for the origins of life based on atheism.

    .

    Huh. Is he saying that Darwin’s troublesome idea was based on atheism because it doesn’t mention God’s magical and inexplicable stage magic? Let’s see how these sound:

    Electricity wasn’t so much a new theory as it was a grand scientific rationalization for the origins of electricity based on atheism.

    Chemistry wasn’t so much a new theory as it was a grand scientific rationalization for the origins of different substances based on atheism.

    .

    Shrug. Works for me. Some Christians might object, however. My Christian workout partner in university said that “science is studying how God does things.” His religion required him to compartmentalize, but it didn’t require him to be stupid. He got his PhD in microbiology.

  • dingojack

    For how cotton affected the American Civil War see ‘Cotton Diplomacy’.

    For how Prince Albert affected the American Civil War see The Trent Affair (Esp. British Reaction November 27 – December 31, 1861).

    Dingo