*Darwin explicitly rejected the Darwinism of Dawkins, Dennett and the 38 Nobel Laureates*
There is a particular sub-species of atheists that likes to trace the rationale of their thinking back to Charles Darwin. Darwin, as we see in this quote from his 1859 book, ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES BY MEANS OF NATURAL SELECTION: OR, THE PRESERVATION OF FAVOURED RACES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE, did not reject a * plan of creation *, which he considered to be *a fact*, but held that it was the task of science to provide natural causal explanations:
A "cottage industry".
There is a particular sub-species of atheists that likes to trace the rationale of their thinking back to Charles Darwin. Zoologist, Prof. Richard Dawkins, for example, is a conspicuous and vocal proponent of this position:
"We have seen that living things are too improbable and too beautifully
'designed' to have come into existence by chance. How, then, did they
come into existence? The answer, Darwin's answer, is by gradual,
step-by-step transformations from simple beginnings, from primordial
entities sufficiently simple to have come into existence by chance.
Each successive change in the gradual evolutionary process was simple
enough, relative to its predecessor, to have arisen by chance." (THE BLIND
Prof. Daniel Dennett, of Tufts University, subscribes to a similar view-point:
"The process of natural selection feeds on randomness, it feeds on accident
and contingency, and it gradually improves the fit between whatever organisms
there are and the environment in which they're being selected. But there's no
predictability about what particular accidents are going to be exploited in this
"Whereas people used to think of meaning coming from on high and being
ordained from the top down, now we have Darwin saying, No, all of this design
can happen, all of this purpose can emerge from the bottom up, without any
direction at all." (http: //184.108.40.206/
The only difficulty with this line of reasoning is that its key component cannot be found in Darwin. Yes, Darwin believed that the great variety of species came about, in his own words, "by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations"; but what he did not believe was that this evolutionary process could in any way happen "by chance." Darwin, in fact, was a consistent enemy of the idea of chance as a cause.
38 Nobel Laureates.
One of the latest attempts to introduce randomness and blind chance into evolution comes from a group of 38 Nobel Laureates. In a letter, dated September 9, 2005 and appearing on the stationary of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, the Nobelists, not all biologists or even scientists, sent to the Kansas State Board of Education a declaration regarding evolutionary theory and its rights in schools.
The immediate purpose of the statement was to help block the mention of the theory of "intelligent design" in the classroom, that is to say, in precisely the place where various theories about a subject are suppose to be mentioned and discussed, and to inspire, according to the common expression: "a free and open exchange of ideas".
Let's take a look at the Laureates statement:
"We, Nobel Laureates, are writing in defense of science.
We reject efforts by the proponents of so-called ³intelligent
design² to politicize scientific inquiry and urge the Kansas
State Board of Education to maintain Darwinian evolution as
the sole curriculum and science standard in the State of Kansas. . . .
We are also concerned by the Board's recommendation of August
8, 2005 to allow standards that include greater criticism of evolution. . ."
The great impetus for the scientific method began with Francis Bacon rejecting the dependence of science upon the argument from authority; and now this is where it has all ended up: 38 Nobel Laureates demanding that Darwinian evolution be the "sole" version of a theory presented in biology class! The signers claim that they want the kids of Kansas to be taught exclusively Darwinian evolution, but actually the Nobelists themselves have crafted their own particular version of evolution that strays in major points from Darwinian orthodoxy. When it is looked at, it will be found that the Laureates' understanding of evolution contradicts that of Charles Darwin and, for that matter, current thinking. So it is hard to see how the Laureates' recommendation can be helpful to the students of Kansas from the perspective of either history or science.
The statement in part reads thus:
"Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution
is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned
process of random variation and natural selection."
Darwin and the "Creator".
The Nobels' formulation of evolution cannot be found in Darwin. The first and most consequential manipulation of his theory of evolution is its description as "the result of an unguided, unplanned process".
Darwin, as we see in this quote from his 1859 book, ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES BY MEANS OF NATURAL SELECTION: OR, THE PRESERVATION OF FAVOURED RACES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE, did not reject a "plan of creation", which he considered to be "a fact", but held that it was the task of science to provide natural causal explanations:
'It is so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as
the ³plan of creation² or ³unity of design,² &c., and to think that
we give an explanation when we only restate a fact.'
". . . may we not believe that a living optical instrument might thus be
formed as superior to one of glass, as the works of the Creator are to
those of man?" (ibid.)
Actually in the end, Darwin felt that in his system of the classification of species he had identified a "plan of creation":
"Our classifications will come to be, as far as they can be so
made, genealogies; and will then truly give what may be called
the plan of creation." (ibid.)
The English naturalist did not hold that evolution was an "unplanned process", but only that the knowledge of certain purposes of the Creator in such a "plan of creation" would not be within the "scope" of science to explore, as we see here where Darwin declines to pass judgment on a certain aesthetical belief held by some thinkers regarding a specific motive of the Creator:
". . . many structures have been created for the sake of beauty, to delight
man or the Creator (but this latter point is beyond the scope of scientific
discussion)." (Darwin, Charles; ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES BY MEANS OF NATURAL SELECTION: OR, THE PRESERVATION OF
FAVOURED RACES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE; Modern Library, 1859)
Creation: a belief and a theory.
While Darwin does not challenge Creation as a fact, he does not, unlike the dogmatists of today's court decisions and self-appointed "watch-dogs" of the separation of church and state, exclude, as a proper subject of scientific analysis, the discussion of Creation as a theory:
". . .it is almost as much opposed to the theory of natural selection as
to that of special creation." (ibid.)
"Why, on the theory of Creation, should there be so much variety and
so little real novelty? Why should all the parts and organs of many
independent beings, each supposed to have been separately created
for its proper place in nature, be so commonly linked together by
graduated steps? Why should not Nature take a sudden leap from
structure to structure? On the theory of natural selection, we can
clearly understand why she should not; for natural selection acts
only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can
never take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short and
sure, though slow steps." (ibid.)
Darwin challenges the separate creation of each individual species; he does not consider Creation in general as incompatible with his theory, although incidentally, from this passage, he does consider the "theory of punctuated equilibrium" as incompatible with his theory. Elsewhere also he says: "weighty evidence can be opposed to the admission of great and abrupt modifications" (ibid).
The courts and the ACLU are trying to keep creationism out of the classroom, but that would mean keeping Darwin out of the classroom because the argumentation of his whole book is weighing the relative value of his thesis and that of the "theory of creation".
Darwin, the one time divinity student, included in his book a letter by Canon Charles Kingsley, expressing some theological reflections on a nobler concept of God that evolutionary theory suggested at least to him:
"I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock
the religious feelings of any one. It is satisfactory, as showing how transient
such impressions are, to remember that the greatest discovery ever made by
man, namely, the law of the attraction of gravity, was also attacked by Leibnitz,
'as subversive of natural, and inferentially of revealed, religion.' A celebrated
author and divine has written to me that 'he has gradually learnt to see that it is
just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original
forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe
that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action
of His laws.'" (ibid.)
Does the theory of evolution mean an "unguided process"?
Likewise there is no reason to believe that Darwin held evolution to be "an unguided" process.
"I am aware that the conclusions arrived at in this work will be denounced
by some as highly irreligious; but he who denounces them is bound to shew
why it is more irreligious to explain the origin of man as a distinct species by
descent from some lower form, through the laws of variation and natural
selection, than to explain the birth of the individual through the laws of ordinary
reproduction. The birth both of the species and of the individual are equally
parts of that grand sequence of events, which our minds refuse to accept as
the result of blind chance. The understanding revolts at such a conclusion,
whether or not we are able to believe that every slight variation of structure,-
the union of each pair in marriage, the dissemination of each seed,- and other
such events, have all been ordained for some special purpose."
Note also the following statement in which Darwin speaks of a God whose "works" are such that their appearance corresponds to the reality:
"He who believes that each equine species was independently created,
will, I presume, assert that each species has been created with a tendency
to vary, both under nature and under domestication, in this particular manner,
so as often to become striped like the other species of the genus; and that
each has been created with a strong tendency, when crossed with species
inhabiting distant quarters of the world, to produce hybrids resembling in their
stripes, not their own parents, but other species of the genus. To admit this
view is, as it seems to me, to reject a real for an unreal, or at least for an
unknown, cause. It makes the works of God a mere mockery and deception;
I would almost as soon believe, with the old and ignorant cosmogonists,
that fossil shells had never lived, but had been created in stone so as to
mock the shells living on the seashore." (ibid.)
If the works of God were not to be a deception, as Darwin's argument runs, the reality of things, indeed, must be as they appear, or as elsewhere he says:
". . . certainly we ought not to believe that innumerable beings within
each great class have been created with plain, but deceptive, marks
of descent from a single parent" (ibid.).
That Darwin did not oppose his theory to creation, can be seen from numerous quotes, such as the following:
"Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view
that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords
better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator,
that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the
world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining
the birth and death of the individual." (ibid.)
Often times authors are wont to end their works on a lofty note or with a noble thought. The usually very taut and sober thinking Darwin perhaps reveals his heart when in the final paragraph of his work, he leaves us with this reflection:
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers,
having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms
or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on
according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning
endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been,
and are being evolved." (Ibid.,)
Compare that passage to Dennett's version:
"When we replace the traditional idea of God the creator with the idea of the
process of natural selection doing the creating, the creation is as wonderful as
it ever was. All that great design work had to be done. It just wasn't done by an
individual, it was done by this huge process, distributed over billions of years."
Oddly enough Dennett writes:
"The first and obvious sense in which Darwin's idea is dangerous is that
there's just no denying that it attracts fans who don't understand it and
misuse it in all sorts of bad ways. This has always been the case since
the early social Darwinists - which means that those of us who are lovers
and admirers of this theory have to protect it from some of its friends. . .
In the beginning there must have been a cogitative being, as John
Locke said. Darwin turned that round and said all the mind, all the
creativity in the world can itself be the effect not the cause - it can
be created with mindless processes." (Interview on harikunzru.com)
"Dan Dennett", according to M.I.T.'s Marvin Minsky, "is our best current philosopher. He is the next Bertrand Russell." No doubt he probably is a very intelligent man, but it does seem that he should be able to make the simple distinction between what he says and what Darwin said.
An "unplanned universe" has no scientific meaning.
When the Laureates define evolution as an "unplanned process", it may accord with the ideological purposes of the manifesto, but it has no meaning scientifically. If, indeed, evolution is planned, you may discover the plan; if, on the other hand, evolution has no plan, there would be no way of knowing that. So it is, in any case, a philosophically pointless statement. This realm outright on the other side of eternity, they could, at least, have politely declared, as Darwin did, to be "beyond the scope of scientific discussion", or beyond the limits of the method which scientists adopt. Isn't the science of which they presume themselves to be the defenders, suppose to be, after all, about "falsifiable statements"?
Darwin clearly recognized, what the Nobel Laureates do not, namely, that, although a "plan of creation" was, in his words, "beyond the scope of scientific discussion", it does not logically follow that there is not such a plan.
Are variations "random"?
The first principle of evolution mentioned in the declaration is "random variations". As in the case of describing the process as "unplanned", so also in the case of variations, it is the purpose of the Laureates to close out any mention of "intelligent design" in the classroom by characterizing it in a way that would in principle exclude the search for design. The idea of "random variations", however, does not form part of Darwin's theory, nor does he even use the expression. In fact, it is a concept that Darwin explicitly denounces as "wholly incorrect":
"I have hitherto sometimes spoken as if the variations- so common
and multiform with organic beings under domestication, and in a
lesser degree with those under nature- were due to chance. This,
of course, is a wholly incorrect expression, but it serves to
acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of each particular
"Whatever the cause may be of each slight difference between the
offspring and their parents- and a cause for each must exist- we
have reason to believe that it is the steady accumulation of beneficial
differences which has given rise to all the more important modifications
of structure in relation to the habits of each species." (ibid.)
Darwin divides variations into "definite variability" and "indefinite variability", neither of which are "random variations":
"The direct action of changed conditions leads to definite or indefinite
results. In the latter case the organisation seems to become plastic, and
we have much fluctuating variability. In the former case the nature of the
organism is such that it yields readily, when subjected to certain conditions,
and all, or nearly all the individuals become modified in the same way." (ibid.)
Darwin also speaks of "spontaneous variations", repeatedly calling them "so-called spontaneous variations", because of his belief that, for this category also, "there must be some efficient cause":
"In the third place, we have to allow for the direct and definite action of changed
conditions of life, and for so-called spontaneous variations, in which the nature
of the conditions apparently plays a quite subordinate part. Bud-variations, such
as the appearance of a moss-rose on a common rose, or of a nectarine on a
peach tree offer good instances of spontaneous variations; but even in these
cases, if we bear in mind the power of a minute drop of poison in producing
complex galls, we ought not to feel too sure that the above variations are not
the effect of some local change in the nature of the sap, due to some change
in the conditions. There must be some efficient cause for each slight individual
difference, as well as for more strongly marked variations which occasionally
arise; and if the unknown cause were to act persistently, it is almost certain that
all the individuals of the species would be similarly modified." (ibid.)
"Under domestication we see much variability, caused, or at least excited,
by changed conditions of life; but often in so obscure a manner, that we
are tempted to consider the variations as spontaneous. Variability is
governed by many complex laws. . . " (ibid.)
In a later edition of his work, Darwin assigns greater importance to "spontaneous variability", but always within the context of his over-all philosophy of science that such a designation is only "provisionally" accurate, indicating not the lack of a knowable cause, but rather the present incomplete state of scientific knowledge:
In the earlier editions of this work I underrated, as it now seems probable,
the frequency and importance of modifications due to spontaneous variability.
But it is impossible to attribute to this cause the innumerable structures which
are so well adapted to the habits of life of each species. I can no more believe
in this than that the well-adapted form of a race-horse or greyhound, which
before the principle of selection by man was well understood, excited so much
surprise in the minds of the older naturalists, can thus be explained." (ibid.)
As Darwin concludes:
"A grand and almost untrodden field of inquiry will be opened, on the causes
and laws of variation, on correlation, on the effects of use and disuse, on the
direct action of external conditions, and so forth." (ibid.)
Chance and "by chance".
Very often Darwin speaks of "the chance" or "the chances" of a particular species surviving. In these cases he is not referring to variations happening "by chance", but to the likelihood of a species surviving under a given set of circumstances or conditions.
Actually in very few cases does Darwin refer to the concept of "chance", meaning "by chance". In this instance, for example, he even finds the need to qualify it by the expression "as we may call it":
"Mere chance, as we may call it, might cause one variety to differ in
some character from its parents, and the offspring of this variety again
to differ from its parent in the very same character and in a greater
degree; but this alone would never account for so habitual and large a
degree of difference as that between the species of the same genus. . . .
It will be admitted that the production of races so different as short-horn
and Hereford cattle, . . . &c., could never have been effected by the mere
chance accumulation of similar variations during many successive
Randomness and the scientific method.
The Laureates' definition of variations as "random" attacks the nature itself of scientific pursuit as a search for causes and natural explanations of observable phenomena. Quite apart from the fact that Darwin does not hold this view, it is not even something that science could prove anyway. Any scientific explanation presenting "chance" as the cause of something, is not science but anti-science. It is the task of science to uncover the laws or regularities that govern natural phenomena, not to declare that they happen "by chance". If science cannot tell us what the cause of something is, then it keeps looking. We know for example that radiation can mutate genes, and there is no reason to believe that other gene mutations don't have specific causes as well.
You don't search for something unless you believe that it may be found. Randomness as an explanation is not true science and, as a matter of fact, does not come from actual scientific work, actual scientific research by actual biologists; randomness comes not from the research of biologists but from the philosophizing speculations of ideological believers in evolution.
Randomness is, in fact, a derived or negative concept that can only be known in relation to its opposite: pattern. Often times what today appears random, is, tomorrow, found to be an integral and necessary part of a larger pattern. The most that can be said by science is that this or that phenomenon right now appears to us to be random, but further study may determine its exact causal nature. The scientific search has no time limit. We can't say, for example, that unless we uncover a reason for something by next Wednesday at 10:30, we are going to declare it a "random phenomenon". This problem is more than evident in the present case since we have seen that at each level as molecular biology has rolled back the mystery of life, the place of randomness has had to be revised backwards. The methodological assumption of underlying and knowable causal laws is clearly held by Darwin as we can see in this passage:
"Besides the variations which can be grouped with more or less
probability under the foregoing heads, there is a large class of
variations which may be provisionally called spontaneous, for to
our ignorance they appear to arise without any exciting cause. It
can, however, be shewn that such variations, whether consisting
of slight individual differences, or of strongly-marked and abrupt
deviations of structure, depend much more on the constitution of
the organism than on the nature of the conditions to which it has
been subjected." (Ibid.)
". . . variations which seem to us in our ignorance to arise
The affirmation of variations as being "random" is totally different from the affirmation, made by Darwin, that some variations are the result of "unknown causes".
Darwin's assertion follows the practice of true scientific methodology as opposed to the bogus science of "pure chance".
Despite repeated and clear statements of Darwin regarding his belief in knowable causes as opposed to randomness or "blind chance", we do find in his correspondence the affirmation that he was:
". . . inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws,
with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what
we may call chance."
Even here we see the basic belief that "everything" results "from designed laws". "Everything" is, of course, everything, namely, a universal that admits of no exceptions, and therefore would necessarily include "details". Such details traceable to, rooted in, or flowing from, "designed laws" ultimately can not be equated with the absolute blind chance of the Dawkins, Dennett and the Laureates. If it seems inconsistent then to try to subtract "details" from his general principle, we must point out that Darwin does not, in truth, say that details are "left to the working out of chance", but that they are left to the working out of "what we may call chance".
Darwin and "cosmic evolution".
Although Darwin's principle works do not consider the question of a larger application of his theory to the cosmos in general, he did state an opinion that would give very little encouragement to those attempting to project into Darwin the idea of "blind chance" in relation to the origin of the universe:
"Considering that these several means of transport, and that other means,
which without doubt remain to be discovered, have been in action year after
year for tens of thousands of years, it would, I think, be a marvellous fact if
many plants had not thus become widely transported. These means of
transport are sometimes called accidental, but this is not strictly correct: the
currents of the sea are not accidental, nor is the direction of prevalent
gales of wind." (ibid.)
Darwin and "intelligent design".
That Darwin was opposed to design detection is not accurate since he did affirm the "unity of design" to be "a fact" that he was "inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws", and there can as well be found in his works many passages such as the following:
"Thus to adapt a species to new habits of life, many co-ordinated
modifications are almost indispensable, and it may often have happened
that the requisite parts did not vary in the right manner or to the right
Evolution and natural selection.
In his work, Darwin, following an idea he borrowed from English Economist Thomas Malthus, outlines life as a "struggle for existence" during which only the fittest survive. This contentious or aggressive paradigm of Darwin's fundamental evolutionary principle is generally substituted today by it's more neutral sounding variant: "natural selection", an equivalency Darwin himself maintained.
Darwin made the case for evolution by means of natural selection and that has remained a fixture of evolutionary theory. Natural selection, in fact, is what many would consider to be the unifying concept, not only of evolutionary theory but, of biology itself. Central as this "unifying concept" is claimed to be, however, there is as little unanimity today as to its meaning as there was in the time of Darwin. A. R. Wallace himself, who along with Darwin, jointly presented the idea of "natural selection" in 1858, very soon thereafter began differing from Darwin on its meaning, and Darwin himself retreats from his own understanding as we see in this passage from a later work:
". . .I now admit, . . . that in the earlier editions of my Origin of Species
I perhaps attributed too much to the action of natural selection or the
survival of the fittest." (THE DECENT OF MAN; 1871)
Although rather matter-of-factly listed by the 38 Laureates, "natural selection" has never been understood in a common way. Almost 150 years after the publication of Darwin's seminal work, evolutionary theorists are further apart than ever on the meaning and role of natural selection. Definitions of the principle are not only different but outright contrary, ranging the gamut from having a positive role, all the way to having merely a negative role. On one extreme, natural selection has been made (i.e. Towle) the equivalent of adaptation. To others (i.e. Ruse), it has a "creative role"; "it is much more than a purely negative process, for it is able to generate novelty". On the other extreme, it has (i.e. Gould) no creative, but only an eliminative role. Science should be cautious about a principle that can mean everything and its opposite.
The consequence of the concept of natural selection for evolutionary theory is great, most especially for its atheistic interpreters. The case for a self-propelled evolution based on material or mechanistic causality, whereby lower stages of matter gradually travel through time passing on to greater and greater organization and organisms, could only hold true in so far as the principle or mechanism were acting out of a single point of origin. Once you have a second principle or mechanism, physically separate and distinct from that causal sequence, then you must admit of a co-ordinating principle, and "a co-ordinator", as you can imagine, would be no less taboo or no more palatable to the Laureates than "a designer".
Beyond natural selection, the mechanisms held today as the causes of evolution, although by no means with any unanimity, are variously augmented by any number of other contributing principles, such as migration, isolation, adaptation, "gene flow" and "genetic drift". The multiplication of principles, however, does not make less, but more, the need of co-ordination.
Adaptation and "coadaptation".
The fact of the matter is that Darwin believed not only in adaptation but in "coadaptation". Darwin believed in the "coadaptations of organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life" (ibid.):
"Nevertheless, such a conclusion [that species. . . had descended,
like varieties, from other species], even if well founded, would be
unsatisfactory, until it could be shown how the innumerable species
inhabiting this world have been modified, so as to acquire that
perfection of structure and coadaptation which justly excites our
admiration. . . . it is preposterous to attribute to mere external
conditions, the structure, for instance, of the woodpecker, with its
feet, tail, beak, and tongue, so admirably adapted to catch insects
under the bark of trees. In the case of the mistletoe, which draws
its nourishment from certain trees, which has seeds that must be
transported by certain birds, and which has flowers with separate
sexes absolutely requiring the agency of certain insects to bring
pollen from one flower to the other, it is equally preposterous to
account for the structure of this parasite, with its relations to several
distinct organic beings, by the effects of external conditions, or of habit,
or of the volition of the plant itself." . . . It is, therefore, of the highest
importance to gain a clear insight into the means of modification and
"The coadaptations of organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life", would obviously require a principle beyond that of natural selection of variations within individual organisms.
Darwin also believed in "correlation":
"Many laws regulate variation. . . I will here only allude to what may
be called correlated variation. Important changes in the embryo or
larva will probably entail changes in the mature animal. In monstrosities,
the correlations between quite distinct parts are very curious; and many
instances are given in Isidore Geoffroy St-Hilaireıs great work on this
subject. Breeders believe that long limbs are almost always accompanied
by an elongated head. Some instances of correlation are quite whimsical:
thus cats which are entirely white and have blue eyes are generally deaf;
but it has been lately stated by Mr. Tait that this is confined to the males.
Colour and constitutional peculiarities go together, of which many
remarkable cases could be given amongst animals and plants. >From facts
collected by Heusinger, it appears that white sheep and pigs are injured by
certain plants, whilst dark-coloured individuals escape. . . Hairless dogs
have imperfect teeth; longhaired and coarse-haired animals are apt to
have, as is asserted, long or many horns; pigeons with feathered feet
have skin between their outer toes; pigeons with short beaks have small
feet, and those with long beaks large feet. Hence if man goes on selecting,
and thus augmenting, any peculiarity, he will almost certainly modify
unintentionally other parts of the structure, owing to the mysterious laws of
correlation. The results of the various, unknown, or but dimly understood
laws of variation are infinitely complex and diversified." (ibid,)
Darwin and the "origin of life".
Darwin' work attempts to explain the "origin of species"; he does not go into the question of "the origin of life" a question which he considers to be "the far higher problem" and about which "science as yet throws no light":
"I may here premise that I have nothing to do with the origin of the
mental powers, any more than I have with that of life itself." (Darwin, Charles;
ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES.)
Most biology texts today include this added step of life's origins under the notion of evolution. The most basic and primordial stage in the evolutionary journey, namely the passage from inorganic matter to organic matter should be the most easily verifiable and commonly witnessed, and yet that remains unverified. There is simply no experimental support for such a passage, notwithstanding the forced evolutionistic interpretation of viruses. This is where the claim that evolution is "logically derived from confirmable evidence" is most factually deceptive.
Is science about regularity or randomness?
"Intelligent design", declare the Laureates, "is fundamentally unscientific; it cannot be tested as scientific theory because its central conclusion is based on belief in the intervention of a supernatural agent."
The contention that proponents of 'intelligent design" put forth, however, is not a conclusion based upon a supernatural belief; it is simply that design in biological phenomena can be empirically known and its detection is a valid activity of science. There is nothing strange about this contention from a scientific point of view, indeed, scientists of many branches do look for design, as when they routinely digitalize their raw data for the purpose of facilitating the task of spotting design or patterns by means of computer analysis. In other words the "search for design" is already a perfectly legitimate and recognized scientific activity.
Intelligent design, being a very limited, reasonable and perfectly valid scientific position, has gained adherents from among evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, creationists as well as people not committed to any position on the subject.
If one thing is clear, it is that Darwin's fundamental assumption in regard to science (and it should be the assumption of all true scientists) is that everything has a cause. This general principle of Darwin would apply independently of whether something were trait based or genetic or resulted from natural selection. Darwin even had, you might say, a certain disdain for the contrary position, as we see coming through in this passage:
"When we look at the plants and bushes clothing an entangled bank,
we are tempted to attribute their proportional numbers and kinds to
what we call chance. But how false a view is this!" (Darwin, Charles; ON THE ORIGIN
"No one will pretend that so perfect a structure as the abnormal double
uterus in woman could be the result of mere chance." (The Descent of Man, 1871)
Darwin explicitly rejected the fashionable Darwinism of Dawkins, Dennett and the 38 Nobel Laureates. To assume and search for causes, laws, regularities, patterns and design, as "intelligent design" theorists attempt to do, is true science. It is the labeling of natural phenomena as "random" that is, in fact, not science.
The Nobel Laureates, as well as certain other figures in the scientific establishment, in their effort to block the mention of "intelligent design", have had to misrepresent not only the true position of the proponents of intelligent design, but ironically also that of Darwin, who rejected the notion of randomness propounded by many of his theory's popularizers today, creating out there what earth scientist, Terry Hughes, calls a certain "establishment Darwinism", making it institutionally hard for an opposing view-point to be heard.
When the National Academy of Sciences inserts "chance" into the definition of evolution, they are endorsing an understanding of evolution fashioned by atheists for philosophical reasons that have nothing to do with science. It provides another compelling reason why the proper course of action would be to allow students to hear the position of intelligent design. In any case, if, according to law, teachers (volente or nolente) must present only Darwinism, then they might wish to present to their students some of the quotes about God and the Creator from Darwin's work. Contrast, for example, the generally low esteem expressed by many atheists for the intellectual endowment of those who believe in God, with this opinion expressed by Darwin:
"The question [of Theistic belief in primitive cultures] is of course wholly
distinct from that higher one, whether there exists a Creator and Ruler
of the universe; and this has been answered in the affirmative by some
of the highest intellects that have ever existed." (ibid.)
Darwin consistently capitalizes "Creator" and distinguishes, by use of capitalization, "God" from "god" or gods", namely, the true God from false gods, as in these passages:
"Professor Braubach goes so far as to maintain that a dog looks on his
master as on a god.
The same high mental faculties which first led man to believe in unseen
spiritual agencies, then in fetishism, polytheism, and ultimately in monotheism,
would infallibly lead him, as long as his reasoning powers remained poorly
developed, to various strange superstitions and customs. Many of these are
terrible to think of- such as the sacrifice of human beings to a blood-loving god. . .
To do good in return for evil, to love your enemy, is a height of morality to which
it may be doubted whether the social instincts would, by themselves, have ever
led us. It is necessary that these instincts, together with sympathy, should have
been highly cultivated and extended by the aid of reason, instruction, and the love
or fear of God, before any such golden rule would ever be thought of and obeyed."
(THE DECENT OF MAN; 1871)
The moral thinking found here and there in Darwin's works is, in keeping with his set method, expressive of a noble, albeit, natural ethics. It is also interesting that, not-with-standing his own unshakable belief in progress "by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations", he nevertheless believes that man's "moral sense" may be "the best and highest" way to distinguish man from lower animals:
"The ennobling belief in God is not universal with man; and the belief in spiritual
agencies naturally follows from other mental powers. The moral sense perhaps
affords the best and highest distinction between man and the lower animals; but
I need say nothing on this head, as I have so lately endeavoured to shew that the
social instincts,- the prime principle of manıs moral constitution - with the aid of
active intellectual powers and the effects of habit, naturally lead to the golden rule,
³As ye would that men should do to you, do ye to them likewise²; and this lies at
the foundation of morality." (ibid.)
Evolution: fact or theory?
Some consider evolution to be, not a theory but, a fact, and some of those attempt, by means of the educational system and the captive audience of the classroom, to indoctrinate everybody into that opinion. Darwin, however, never considered his ideas on evolution by natural selection to be any more than a "theory" which had man "objections", not just of opinion, but of facts, and he variously described these "objections" as "many", "obvious", "great", and "serious":
"That many and serious objections may be advanced against
the theory of descent with modification through variation and
natural selection, I do not deny." (Darwin, Charles; ON THE ORIGIN
In the Introduction ot his work, Darwin states:
"For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed
in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently
leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have
In Darwin's final conclusion he admits:
"There are, it must be admitted, cases of special difficulty opposed
to the theory of natural selection." (ibid.)
We need "to weigh the evidence on both sides".
In their letter the Nobel Laureates, state:
"We are also concerned by the Board's recommendation of
August 8, 2005 to allow standards that include greater
criticism of evolution. . ."
This attempt to use the State and the legal system to isolate his theory from, not only religious but, even scientific criticism is (to use a couple of non-materialistic terms) so animated by a spirit of intellectual dishonesty, as to need little comment. We need only compare the Laureates fear of criticism with these passages from Darwin:
"A distinguished zoologist, Mr. St. George Mivart, has recently
collected all the objections which have ever been advanced by
myself and others against the theory of natural selection, as
propounded by Mr. Wallace and myself, and has illustrated them
with admirable art and force. When thus marshalled, they make a
formidable array; and as it forms no part of Mr. Mivartıs plan to give
the various facts and considerations opposed to his conclusions, no
slight effort of reason and memory is left to the reader, who may
wish to weigh the evidence on both sides."
"A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and
balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each
question. . . ." (ibid.)
Father Thomas Carleton