Thursday, February 26, 2009

Darwin's Proof

I'm reading Darwin's Proof, subtitled The Triumph of Religion over Science. It's by Cornelius G. Hunter, molecular biophysicist and science historian. Like me, he has a biologist's--an insider's, if you will--understanding of how meagre is the evidence in favor of neo-Darwinian evolution. And his contribution (in this and two other books) is to show how the vast majority of arguments offered in support of evolution are not scientific ones but religious ones, ones that presuppose a caricature of God that is little like the biblical portrayal.

I long ago came to see the modern acceptance of Darwinism as the real-life equivalent of the people in Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Emperor's New Clothes." I cannot remember whether I came to that realization independently, or whether I once heard an evolution skeptic draw the comparison. But now I've come across it again in Hunter's book (which I haven't read before), and so thought it worthwhile to share his version of the analogy.
The story is about an emperor who is fooled into wearing no clothes and the mob mentality that overtakes his subjects as they too are led to go along with the charade. All the people in the kingdom are told that the emperor has beautiful new clothes, and the emperor is convinced as well. When the people see the smiling emperor with no clothes, no one wants to point out the obvious.
More accurately, the people are told that only sophisticated people can appreciate the splendour of the new clothes, and so each of the onlooking mob dares not say that he sees nothing for fear of being labelled a rustic. Hunter continues...
When I first read the story, I was unimpressed. What was the point? The story certainly had no bearing on the real events of the world. Such an obviously false and absurd charade could never actually take place, and if it did, large numbers of people would never go along with it.

But now I appreciate Andersen's tale. It is indeed possible for people to go along with bizarre explanations. The problems with evolution are evident in nature itself. Biology is full of amazing designs whose evolution would apparently constitute nothing less than a miracle.
Yes, indeed. And those who look closely at the evidence will conclude--unless that have lost all use of a healthy 'baloney detector'--that the emperor is stark naked.


Anonymous said...

The big problem is how to win that mob over to reason and reality. Biology teachers in America's high schools need a way out that will still save face. Intelligent design is not yet robust enough to provide cover. And the Supreme Court has banned creationism from the science classroom. In an increasingly secular culture there is little hope for a political change.

Rick Gerhardt said...


I agree with you, and it's frustrating. All I can see to do is to educate those whom we can in whatever venues are available to us. There's really a whole lot of other things about which I'd rather blog (for example), but the presence of so much of this bad philosophy in our culture seems to demand a response.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick:

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was reading The Origin of Species, and, as I noted, I am actually quite shocked at how weak the whole thing is. Your "caricature" comment is so very true. Origin reads like a bad Philosophy of Religion textbook, with a little science and some guess work thrown in for cover. Truly amazing.