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The Tragic Legacy of Darwin, Part 3

June 13, 2021

Charles Darwin, age 51, Author Maull&Polyblank (PD)

Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, described himself as agnostic, stating:

“For myself, I do not believe that there ever has been any revelation.  As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities [1A].”

In his Origin of Species, Darwin allowed for the possibility of a First Cause.  In his Descent of Man, by comparison, Darwin repeatedly grouped religion with superstition/fetishism, writing:

“Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake [emphasis added][1B].”

Later, in the same book, he added:

I am aware that the assumed instinctive belief in God has been used by many persons as an argument for His existence. But this is a rash argument, as we should thus be compelled to believe in the existence of many cruel and malignant spirits…. [1C]”

Originally, however, Darwin planned to become a clergyman.  He had rejected Christianity by the time his Origin of Species was published [1D].  He had, also, by then lost his beloved daughter, a death which may have contributed to his loss of faith [2].

This bias is not widely known by the public.

Dissent from Darwinism

Though Darwinism has become scientific orthodoxy, there is growing scientific dissent from the theory of evolution [3].  Over 1000 scientists have publicly signed onto this dissent [4][5].

The respected Oxford mathematician and Christian apologist, John Lennox, in his own book God’s Undertaker – Has Science Buried God? details some of the scientific shortcomings of the theory of evolution.

Lennox concludes:

“The likelihood of the spontaneous formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 noughts after it…It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution.  There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other; and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence [6].”

Ultimate Tragedy

What may be the ultimate tragedy is that countless millions have been deceived by Darwin’s theory of evolution into believing they are nothing more than brainier chimpanzees.

Denying the existence of a Creator denies us the possibility of a relationship with Him.

[1A through 1D]  Wikipedia, “Religious views of Charles Darwin”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Charles_Darwin.

[2]  The Guardian, “Darwin’s complex loss of faith” by Nick Spencer, 9/17/09, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/sep/17/darwin-evolution-religion.

[3]  Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, https://dissentfromdarwin.org.

[4]  Real Clear Education, “1000 Scientists Sign ‘Dissent from Darwinism'” by Britanny Slaughter, 2/14/19, https://www.realcleareducation.com/2019/02/14/1000_scientists_sign_039dissent_from_darwinism039_46821.html.

[5]  The Guardian, “Why everything you’ve been told about evolution is wrong” by Oliver Burkeman, 3/19/10, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/mar/19/evolution-darwin-natural-selection-genes-wrong.

[6]  John Lennox, God’s Undertaken – Has Science Buried God?, Oxford:  Lion Books (2007, 2009).

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

From → Christian, Faith, Religion

22 Comments
  1. Very interesting! Also, yes, very sad that so many have been deceived because of his theory and his book. My friend from England wrote a book responding to this theory, his book is called “The God solution” and can be found on Amazon. God bless 😊

  2. Dear Anna,

    I would like to add that the real tragedy is that those who indeed believe or conclude that “they are nothing more than brainier chimpanzees” have grossly misunderstood, misrepresented and/or rejected (the theory of) evolution, regardless of whether or not they have been “[d]enying the existence of a Creator [and] the possibility of a relationship with Him”. It is all too often and too easy for many biased, misguided and/or misinformed folks to conflate the issues and also cherry-pick data or evidence to force some arguments or conclusions.

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

  3. Dear Anna,

    Evolution has long advanced far beyond what On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man encompass. Moreover, be careful about the enormously numerous ways in which (mis)readings and (mis)interpretations of these two books (or indeed any book or source for that matter) can take place.

    In my post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity“, the section called “Authentication : Quotation and Information Checklist“, provides a composite 20-point Checklist for verifying the validity and reliability of any information, sources and references.

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    • Thank you for your input, SoundEagle.

      • Dear Anna,

        Thank you for your acknowledgement. Unfortunately, I do not have the time and energy to unpack a lot of the issues and problems. In any case, I am forking out time now to deal with just one as follows.

        The article entitled “Why everything you’ve been told about evolution is wrong” by Oliver Burkeman is highly problematic in many ways. First of all, the title of the article is sensationalist, alarmist and misleading, not to mention that if one actually reads the whole article, one can see that he himself has conceded that Jerry Fodor [and his co-author] are unfortunately so mistaken that “[i]t would be jaw-droppingly surprising, to say the least, were Fodor to be right.”

        Be careful of using or quoting any source because it has a very appealing or even devastatingly earth-shattering title. And be even more careful about using or quoting any source that cheery-picks words, sentences, paragraphs and/or data to fit certain ideology or putative claim.

        In addition, neither Oliver Burkeman nor both the authors of the book are trained as ecologists or evolutionary scientists. As a result, their understandings and claims are prone to various errors, inaccuracies and/or oversights, as can be summarized as follows on Wikipedia about the said book (and for that matter, these issues are also applicable to the other five references cited as endnotes in your post):

        Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini published a short summary of their book in New Scientist.[20]

        The philosopher Mary Midgley wrote that What Darwin Got Wrong “strikes an outsider as an overdue and valuable onslaught on neo-Darwinist simplicities”.[21] The journalist Oliver Burkeman wrote an article entitled “Why everything you’ve been told about evolution is wrong” in The Guardian[22] but concludes “It would be jawdroppingly surprising, to say the least, were Fodor to be right. A safer, if mealy-mouthed, conclusion to draw is that his work acts as an important warning to those of us who think we understand natural selection”.

        The book received positive reviews from linguists Noam Chomsky and Norbert Hornstein, professor of evolutionary genetics Gabriel Dover, professor of cell biology and anatomy Stuart Newman, Philip Ball (The Sunday Times), and Ray Olson (Booklist).[23]

        The book also received a positive review from intelligent-design proponent William Dembski.[24]

        The philosophers Michael Ruse,[25][26] Philip Kitcher (writing with philosopher of mind Ned Block)[27] and Massimo Pigliucci[28] have written reviews critical of the book.

        Pigliucci criticises the first part of the book for claiming that ‘Darwinism’ “put[s] far too much emphasis on external causes of biological change, namely natural selection, and has ignored internal mechanisms”, whilst failing to acknowledge that biology has long addressed such internal mechanisms, with Darwin himself “explicitly referring his readers to ‘the laws of correlation of growth’ – that is, to the fact that the internal structure of living organisms imposes limits and direction to evolution”. He criticises the second part of the book for raising correlated traits as a new issue when “Biologists have long known about the problem” and have dealt with it:

        This is why hypotheses about natural selection are usually tested by means of functional analyses rooted in physiology, genetics and developmental biology, and why observations of selection in the field are whenever possible coupled with manipulative experiments that make it possible to distinguish between, say, flies and ‘dark spots moving in front of your tongue’ kinds of objects.[28]

        Pigliucci observes that the authors argue “how on earth could natural selection be specifically for capturing flies? How can biologists exclude the counterfactual possibility that frogs evolved to catch dark spots dancing in front of them which happen to resemble flies, instead of catching flies per se?”[28] However Pigliucci argues that biologists determine which traits are being selected for via functional analyses rooted in biology, physiology and development biology, along with observational evidence. Furthermore, Pigliucci argues that Fodor and Piatelli-Palmarini’s discussion of the intensionality problem is easily solved by distinguishing between select of and select for:

        In the case of the frogs, we can say that there is selection for capturing flies, but as a byproduct, there is also selection of the propensity to catch whatever small dark objects come within the frog’s field of view which look sufficiently like flies. Incidentally, this difference is why, contrary to popular belief, natural selection is not an optimizing process – why it makes mistakes and is inefficient, yielding whatever outcome is good enough for survival and reproduction.[28]

        In a rejoinder to the authors, Kitcher and Block argued that the authors were demanding a form of mechanism that would distinguish between adaptive traits and those correlated with it, yet this is a standard that no one else had ever required in evolutionary thinking. Kitcher and Block argue that the distinction between adaptive traits and free-riders is done by causation itself; in the case of coloured moths, a dark colour promotes reproductive success, with no further mechanism required to explain this. Block and Kitcher suggest that the authors mistakenly believe that there can be no “theory” of natural selection without this supposed mechanism, yet in the view of Block and Kitcher, no-one ever believed such a mechanism existed and thus this argument is irrelevant since scientists are able to determine how traits contribute to reproductive success in organisms (which is what natural selection is all about) regardless of whether or not a “theory” exists in the sense that Fodor and Piatelli-Palmarini understand it.[29]

        In a talk delivered at the University of California Santa Barbara, Fodor responds to Kitcher and Block’s argument that the distinction between adaptive traits and free-riders is done by causation itself. Fodor suggests that such a position is “crazy” and offers an analogy regarding phone-ringers to demonstrate the problem with Kitcher and Block’s position. Incoming calls cause the ringer on a phone to ring. Fodor suggests that, if Kitcher and Block are correct, then this would work because if incoming calls didn’t cause the ringer to ring, then the ringer wouldn’t be a ringer. Being a “ringer” and being “caused to ring by incoming calls” are inter-defined. Therefore, there doesn’t need to be a mechanism that causes the ringer to ring in response to incoming calls – the job is done “by causation itself.” Fodor suggests that this position is simply untenable because although it is true that a ringer is something that rings for incoming calls, it doesn’t follow that there doesn’t need to be a theory, mechanism, or explanation that describes how it is that some thing that is sensitive to an incoming call is also a cause of ringing.[30]

        Ruse makes the following suggestion for the motivation for the book:

        At the beginning of their book, they proudly claim to be atheists. Perhaps so. But my suspicion is that, like those scorned Christians, Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini just cannot stomach the idea that humans might just be organisms, no better than the rest of the living world. We have to be special, superior to other denizens of Planet Earth. Christians are open in their beliefs that humans are special and explaining them lies beyond the scope of science. I just wish that our authors were a little more open that this is their view too.[25]

        The evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne describes this book as “a profoundly misguided critique of natural selection”[31] and “as biologically uninformed as it is strident”.[32] Coyne argued that while Fodor and Piatelli-Palmarini may claim that there is no way to tell whether or a trait was selected for or was merely a correlate, in reality biologists have different ways of determining which is the case. Coyne further gives the famous peppered moth as a classic example of biologists being able to conduct tests and studies to confirm it was the moth’s colour that was the trait being selected.

        The authors respond that the position Coyne ascribes to them is “preposterous”, stating that they do not endorse the view that when traits are coextensive, there is no way to tell which of them is a cause of fitness, or that science cannot determine which trait is selected for and which is merely correlated.[33] Fodor argues that while he has often been accused of believing that there is no fact of the matter about the causes of fitness or that determining the cause of fitness is epistemologically inaccessible, he does not believe either of these things and that his argument would be useless if he did, as his criticism of natural selection is that it does not provide a mechanism to allow one to determine the cause of fitness, which only makes sense if there was a difference between fitness and non-fitness producing traits and if knowledge of such a thing was epistemologically accessible to humans.[34] The authors thus argue that their issue with the theory of natural selection is that while there is a fact of the matter about what traits are selected for and that such facts are accessible via empirical inquiry, they maintain that the theory of natural selection does not offer a means by which to determine these facts.[35] In a discussion with Sober, Fodor argued that he and Piattelli-Palmarini accept that there is a matter of fact about what is selected for (for example, he agrees that it is the heart’s pumping of blood rather than its making thumping noises that increases an organism’s relative fitness) rather they deny that the theory of natural selection is capable of demonstrating which traits are selected for;[36] Fodor argued that the theory of natural selection is not generating these explanations but rather it is ancillary theories doing this, as the theory of natural selection does not specify which traits will be selected for, rather these are provided by other theories such as experimental biology and accumulated knowledge about how the natural world functions.[37]

        In a review in Science Douglas J. Futuyma concluded:

        Because they are prominent in their own fields, some readers may suppose that they are authorities on evolution who have written a profound and important book. They aren’t, and it isn’t.[38]

        Peter Godfrey-Smith also reviewed the book negatively, arguing that the authors, while criticising the idea that natural selection was an agent, seemed to be making the same mistake; Godfrey-Smith argues that the authors demand to know how natural selection can distinguish between traits if it has no agency (hence their demand for laws), despite the fact that if a trait is causing reproductive success, then it is being selected for. Thus Godfrey-Smith argues there is no need for laws because selection-for is determined by contribution to reproductive success. Furthermore, experimental evidence can determine whether or not a trait contributes to reproductive success or if it is merely a free-rider.[39]

        In response to Godfrey-Smith’s criticism, the authors suggest that he has reduced the theory of natural selection to a definitional truth when it is supposed to be an explanatory theory. The authors offer the following reply:

        The theory of natural selection claims that a trait’s having been selected for causing reproductive success explains why a creature has it. But then it can’t also claim that ‘in a sense that matters’ ‘a trait was selected for’ means that it is a cause of reproductive success. For, if it did mean that, then the theory of natural selection would reduce to a trait’s being a cause of reproductive success explains its being a cause of reproductive success which explains nothing (and isn’t true)….Psychologists who hoped to defend the ‘law of effect’ by saying that it is true by definition, that reinforcement alters response strength, made much the same mistake that Godfrey-Smith does.[40]

        Evan Thompson points out that the empirical argument in the book does not complement the conceptual argument in the book. He points out that Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini suggest that natural selection plays a minor role in evolution (in their words “We think of natural selection as tuning the piano, not as composing the melodies”); they also believe that natural selection is impossible. Thompson argues that it makes no sense for Fodor and Piattelli-Palmarini to argue that other causal factors are more important in evolution than natural selection if they also believe that natural selection is impossible for logical or conceptual reasons.[41]

        Adam Rutherford also reviewed the book negatively in The Guardian.[42]

        Happy mid-June to you!

      • My dear SoundEagle —

        I sincerely appreciate the time and effort you put into commenting on these posts at such length. Darwinism is clearly a topic on which you feel strongly. Though I regard you highly and have read your comments w/ care, this remains a subject on which we differ. Let me try and explain why.

        Science in all its forms – geology, paleontology, botany, zoology, biogeography, comparative anatomy and physiology, genetics and the rest – is a legitimate area of human inquiry. While I have a BS in biology, I do not claim to be an expert in all these specialties. Nor am I so arrogant as to dismiss them out of hand.

        To conclude that “a miracle occurred” when man cannot for the moment explain how a particular process or event took place is to abandon reason. The abandonment of reason is not something I advocate. Nor does faith require it.

        We were given intelligence by God so that we might exercise that gift to His glory. In fact, scientific inquiry often points us directly at God, as numerous scientists of the past would attest – Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Newton, and Mendel among them.

        But reason has its limitations. We err. We stumble. There may be mysteries beyond our comprehension — particularly since a spiritual aspect of our experience exists, alongside the physical.

        God could as easily have brought the universe into existence over uncounted millenia as He could in seven 24-hour days (or, for that matter, an instant). Frankly, I was not there. Neither, w/ all due respect, were you.

        Can we and should we probe the physical processes God put in place? Certainly. As far as I have been able to ascertain, however, there are serious flaws in the theory of evolution. I am not satisfied w/ it as an explanation.

        Those flaws relate, among other things, to the development of life from non-life; the coding of information; and the timeline necessary for development of the complexity of life by random chance alone. The evidence on which you rely is, in my opinion, far from conclusive. You are, of course, at liberty to disagree.

        In any case, I have touched on those flaws only in passing, my primary focus being the application of evolution to political theory and race. That application has not been the aberration you suggest.

        Darwin’s views regarding the inequality of the various races were not a side thought. They are the logical conclusion of the theory of evolution when applied in the absence of a belief in God, and are embraced wholeheartedly by socialists/communists and eugenics supporters to this day.

        Creation is the point at which science and religion/philosophy converge. Science attempts to answer the question “How?”. Religion/philosophy attempts to answer the question “Why?”.

        Science cannot substitute for religion, any more than religion can substitute for science. To the extent the theory of evolution has for some become a religion (or replaced religion), it has strayed outside its proper realm.

        Materialism has failed. History demonstrates that.

        Your friend,

        A.

      • Dear Anna,

        Thank you for your detailed reply. Again, I would like to apologize right away as I do not have the time to unpack the many problematic issues contained in many of your statements. Though, I would attempt to summarize for you here.

        Your statement “We were given intelligence by God so that we might exercise that gift to His glory. In fact, scientific inquiry often points us directly at God, as numerous scientists of the past would attest – Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Newton, and Mendel among them.” is neither borne out by science nor by religion via any concrete proof or evidence, especially regarding intelligence being given by God. Furthermore, Galileo suffered terribly at the hands of the Church as a result of his scientific observations and findings. Even Darwin had had a great deal of attacks, pressures and derisions from the religious and conservatives. It is not until quite recently that Christianity, and in particular, the Catholic Church, has had to acknowledge the validity, veracity and reliability of (the theory of) evolution, just as it has acknowledged and apologized for its deplorable treatment of Galileo, who represents just one of the most prominent examples of those who have been wronged and persecuted by religions.

        Your statement “But reason has its limitations. We err. We stumble. There may be mysteries beyond our comprehension — particularly since a spiritual aspect of our experience exists, alongside the physical.” is also highly problematic on many fronts. There are many factors and reasons as to why we err and stumble, including but not limited to those contributed by religions. As for “[t]here may be mysteries beyond our comprehension”, that goes without saying, and is no better than uttering “God works in mysterious ways”, for they are just two of the platitudinous ways of saying that one doesn’t know what one is dealing with, effectively a euphemism for ignorance, or even a sanctimonious or self-satisfied way of proclaiming humility without any benefit of knowledge, insight and wisdom.

        As for your statement “God could as easily have brought the universe into existence over uncounted millenia as He could in seven 24-hour days (or, for that matter, an instant). Frankly, I was not there. Neither, w/ all due respect, were you.”, do you really know that for a fact that God could do this, or even wanted to do this whether or not He could, would or should?

        Now, the statement “Can we and should we probe the physical processes God put in place? Certainly. As far as I have been able to ascertain, however, there are serious flaws in the theory of evolution. I am not satisfied w/ it as an explanation.” easily let any reasonable person who is well-versed in science in general and evolutionary sciences in particular to conclude that the “serious flaws” are not so much in the theory of evolution as in the person by the name of Anna Waldherr, who has been seriously flawed in her rather piecemeal, problematic and/or erroneous knowledge, assumptions and conclusions about the theory.

        Regarding your statements “Those flaws relate, among other things, to the development of life from non-life; the coding of information; and the timeline necessary for development of the complexity of life by random chance alone. The evidence on which you rely is, in my opinion, far from conclusive. You are, of course, at liberty to disagree.”, I would strongly suggest that it is highly prudent for you to steer clear of what you have been doing and intend to do more, lest you want to continue to add to the burgeoning volumes and problems of Infodemic and Misinformation, both of which are discussed in great detail in my post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity“.

        Regarding your two short paragraphs “In any case, I have touched on those flaws only in passing, my primary focus being the application of evolution to political theory and race. That application has not been the aberration you suggest.” and “Darwin’s views regarding the inequality of the various races were not a side thought. They are the logical conclusion of the theory of evolution when applied in the absence of a belief in God, and are embraced wholeheartedly by socialists/communists and eugenics supporters to this day.”, my advice to you is that your research and what you have been presented so far are far too narrowly based on certain perspectives and assumptions, and since impartiality, multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and consilience are and have been well beyond your knowledge, understanding, research purview and analytical approach, what you produce will continue to be flawed and problematic, and a significant portions will not withstand intellectual scrutiny and evidential verification well, not to mention that the misuse and/or perversion of religious ideas, rituals, practices, beliefs, dogmas and/or doctrines have also led to countless discriminations, segregations, warfare, conflicts, tragic atrocities and crimes against humanity, the examples of which have been numerous, worldwide and ongoing for thousands of years. Both science and religion can be and have been misused in many ways.

        As for your last three paragraphs lumped together here as follows: “Creation is the point at which science and religion/philosophy converge. Science attempts to answer the question “How?”. Religion/philosophy attempts to answer the question “Why?”; Science cannot substitute for religion, any more than religion can substitute for science. To the extent the theory of evolution has for some become a religion (or replaced religion), it has strayed outside its proper realm. Materialism has failed. History demonstrates that.” I would like to inform you that your simplifications, conflations, mischaracterizations and misrepresentations are as astounding as your having made a series of highly problematic sweeping statements, whose standard, quality, problems and assertions, like those of your three-part expositions on “The Tragic Legacy of Darwin”, are not likely to be admissible or acceptable even as an undergraduate research project, regardless of what your specific persuasions are regarding science, religion and philosophy.

        Please be informed that I am unlikely to comment any further should there be further parts to the series, or indeed any other series pertaining to Darwin, evolution, or even science in general, or for that matter, any subjects under the sky or in heaven, if and when any of them are being broached in such problematic manners, whether or not you are aware of them.

        All said, I am certain that you have always meant well and possessed a very kind spirit.

        I do not require a reply to this comment.

        Mid-June has arrived!

        Yours sincerely,
        SoundEagle

      • I can only hope that you are satisfied to have vented your spleen, SoundEagle. Since you are convinced that I am either ignorant, misguided, intellectually dishonest, or worse, I see no point in further discussion. I wish you well.

        A.

  4. Thanks again for your post on this important subject, Anna. I’m planning to share the info with my grandchildren (and others), it’s nice and concise – I’m sure they’ll appreciate it! John Lennox is by far my favourite Christian apologist. Firm but gracious and Christ-like in every way. Greetings across the ocean.

  5. Anna,
    What a sad and evil legacy Darwin left in his wake, a legacy still used to justify the most inhumane deeds by those who consider themselves the global “elites” and to justify an atheism that is as irrational as it is deceptive, leading to amorality and self-destruction. This post is such a healthy reminder of the history behind what we’re told to take for granted, namely evolution.
    pax,
    dora

    • P.S. Are you familiar with The Story of the Cosmos (2019), a collection of essays written by Christian scientists? It’s intriguing how many new discoveries every day are proving the improbability of life occurring merely by chance.

  6. The last act in this tragedy is standing before one’s creator and sentence handed down.

  7. Allan Halton permalink

    Anna, Darwin’s legacy is dealt with in The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl R. Trueman. I don’t have time to read it myself but it comes with high reviews. I suspect you would enjoy it.

    How foolish not to believe in God when we have all around us a creation staring us in the face and speaking of Him.

    I love John Lennox. He demolished atheist Richard Dawkins in a debate.

  8. So sad the legacy he inflicted others with…very good read, thank you for posting.

  9. Petrina permalink

    For someone who denies the existence of God, does not worship God or believe in him or that He is Creator, it is not surprising that he held so many messed up views.

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