A distinguished evolutionary biologist, a prominent geneticist, and a devout theist walk into a bar

A distinguished evolutionary biologist, a prominent geneticist, and a devout theist walk into a bar October 16, 2018


T. Dobzhansky, geneticist
Professor Theodosius Dobzhansky


And they’re the same guy.


(Whether he ever actually went to bars, I have no idea whatever.)


Theodosius Grygorovych Dobzhansky (1900–1975) was a prominent Ukrainian-American geneticist and evolutionary biologist — he came to the United States in 1927, at the age of 27 — who taught successively at Columbia University, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and Rockefeller University, and then — after the death of his wife, Natasha, and his own retirement — went out to join his former student Francisco J. Ayala at the University of California at Davis.   He was a central figure in developing the so-called “modern synthesis” in the field of evolutionary biology.


Dobzhansky was also a firm believer in a personal God, as well as a communicant member of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  He believed that God used evolution to create life in all of its varieties.


Here are some of his thoughts on both evolution and religious faith:


“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” 


“Seen in the light of evolution, biology is, perhaps, intellectually the most satisfying and inspiring science. Without that light it becomes a pile of sundry facts — some of them interesting or curious but making no meaningful picture as a whole.” 


“The evolution of life, and the evolutionary origin of mankind, are scientifically established as firmly and completely as any historical event not witnessed by human observers. Any concession to anti-evolutionists, suggesting that there are scientific reasons to doubt the facticity of evolution, would be propagating a plain untruth.” 


“Does the evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith? It does not. It is a blunder to mistake the Holy Scriptures for elementary textbooks of astronomy, geology, biology, and anthropology. Only if symbols are construed to mean what they are not intended to mean can there arise imaginary, insoluble conflicts. As pointed out above, the blunder leads to blasphemy: the Creator is accused of systematic deceitfulness.” 


“Nature’s stern discipline enjoins mutual help at least as often as warfare. The fittest may also be the gentlest.”




Again today, an anonymous critic has claimed that, no matter how much I deny it, I’m a young-earth creationist.


Now, of course, this is the same critic who has invented bogus quotations that he attributes to me online in an effort to embarrass me; invented demonstrable falsehoods about my appearance for his trusting audience; falsely claimed to have traveled with me and to have observed my allegedly bizarre behavior in Israel; repeatedly apologized to the world, online, for my cruelty, dishonesty, and absurdity; and so forth.  Moreover, since at least 2012 I’ve received a very large number of crude, personally insulting, anonymous emails, all recognizably from the same author, and, for whatever it’s worth, if I had to guess, he would (for several reasons) be my choice as the person most likely to have written them.


In my August 2018 remarks at the annual FairMormon conference, I apparently misspoke, identifying my Malevolent Stalker as the most probable candidate for the authorship of those emails.  (It’s possible, though not likely, that the transcription of my talk, which is extremely rough, got me wrong at that point.)  I’ve long thought, however, that, while the Stalker has plainly been engaged in an oddly focused personal vendetta against me for well over a decade, he’s also too highbrow (in his curious way) to have written such emails.  By contrast, his wannabe imitator shares that vendetta or even exceeds him in that department and, significantly, isn’t as bright.  Furthermore, his hostility seems more visceral — I have literally no idea why — and there are some distinct and specific thematic parallels between his online comments about me and the contents of the emails sent to me.


But don’t write him off yet, merely because he has a bizarre fixation on me and no scruples against lying.


He’s actually right.  I do believe in a young earth.


I believe that the earth is approximately 4.543 billion years old, which is very young compared to the approximately 13.8 billion years that have elapsed since the Big Bang.


And, once I’ve admitted that, there evidently isn’t any significant difference between me and, say, Ken Ham or Archbishop Ussher.





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