Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Breakpoint Says Darwinists Stonewall the Facts. Yawn.

Over at Breakpoint Charles Colson and Anne Morse have this to say about the evidence, such as it is, in support of evolution:


All well and good, but Darwinism, at least, has been empirically proven, right?

Wrong. Sure, there's evidence that evolution takes place within a species—but the fossil record has not yielded evidence of one species becoming another, as Darwin confidently predicted. This lack of evidence has not gone unnoticed by sociologist Rodney Stark. Stark calls himself neither an evolutionist nor an advocate of Intelligent Design; instead, he says, he is merely a scholar pursuing the evidence where it leads. In For the Glory of God (Princeton University Press, 2003), Stark offers startling evidence that Darwinists have covered up mounting flaws in their theory. He concludes that the battle over evolution is hardly a case of “heroic” scientists fighting off the persecution of religious fanatics. Instead, from the start, evolution “has primarily been an attack on religion by militant atheists who wrap themselves in the mantle of science in an effort to refute all religious claims concerning a creator—an effort that has also often attempted to suppress all scientific criticisms of Darwin's work.”


Golly! A sociologist says evolution is a lot of nonsense. Well, QED.

Of course, Stark's ravings have been refuted numerous times: See here and here for two examples. Here's one small example of Stark's level of understanding of biology:


The biological world is now classified into a set of nested categories. Within each genus (mammals, reptiles, etc.) are species (dogs, horses, elephants, etc.) and within each species are many specific varieties, or breeds (Great Dane, Poodle, Beagle, etc.).


That's not even close. Mammals and reptiles are classes, way up the taxonomic hierarchy. Horses and elephant represent families, not species. This is elementary stuff, folks.

When anti-evolutionists get criticized they immediately assume the martyr pose. They wail about censorship and discrimination and all the rest. So I think it's important to point out that the reason anti-evolutionists are treated with such hositility is that they prove, over and over again, that they haven't the foggiest idea what they're talking about. They combine maximum ignorance with maximum arrogance.

And the stuff about fossils is one of the sillier creationist canards. Have a look here for an overview of the fossil evidence. As I've commented before, it's so much easier to go through life as a right-wing religious hack. You get to mouth off about subjects you know nothing about, without any contraints from facts or evidence, before an audience of people who mostly want to hear authority figures parrot what they already believe.

Colson and Morse seal the deal with this familiar anecdote:


Behe's thesis faced a challenge from the nation's leading expert on cell structure, Dr. Russell Doolittle at the University of California-San Diego. Doolittle cited a study on bloodletting in the journal Cell that supposedly disproved Behe's argument. Behe immediately read the article—and found that the study proved just the opposite: It supported his theory. Behe confronted Doolittle, who privately acknowledged that he was wrong—but declined to make a public retraction.


After you've lied about the fossil record and quoted a cartoonishly extreme sociologist, what else is there to do but whip out a phony anecdote? This version of the Doolittle-Behe exchange is nonsense. See Ian Musgrave's lengthy commentary on the subject here.

Okay, Colson and Morse believe that there is no good evidence for evolution. So what would be an example of a claim that is well-supported by evidence? You'll never guess!


As historian Paul Johnson notes, Christianity is a historical religion that deals in facts and events. Among those facts is that Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin, in a specific time and place. Johnson cites the mounting archaeological discoveries that have almost universally supported the biblical accounts. And the life of Jesus, he notes, is better authenticated than most other figures of antiquity, like Aristotle and Julius Caesar. As Johnson puts it, “It is not now the men of faith; it is the skeptics who have reason to fear the course of discovery.”


What's especially depressing about this is the fact that this essay originally appeared in Christianity Today. I've long thought of CT as a place I could go for sensible Christian commentary on contemporary issues. I seldom agree with their view of things, but they usually provide food for thought. But if they're going to be running this sort of dishonest garbage I guess I'll have to start turning elsewhere.

6 Comments:

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Boyce Williams said...

Hmm... This wouldn't happen to be Chuck Colson of Watergate fame? You know - the one who said he'll walk over his own mother for Nixon?

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger RPM said...

Mammals and reptiles are classes, way up the taxonomic hierarchy. Horses and elephant represent families, not species. This is elementary stuff, folks.

All taxonomic classifications above the species level are arbitrary and subjective. I'd even argue that many species level classifications are subjective. The only reason mammals and reptiles are "way up the taxonomic hierarchy" is because someone, a long time ago, decided they should be, and no one has bothered to change it very much. Taxonomic classifications are never consistent accross taxa. Now that I got that off my chest . . .

I wouldn't hold it against Stark for screwing up a screwed up system. His error is indicative, however, of sheer laziness in researching the literature. For instance, whenever I bitch about how mammals shouldn't be their own class (but rather a family or genus) I go and check to see how they are classified. He is as familiar with the world of taxonomy as he is with evolutionary theory, and has no right to criticize the field.

Now, someone needs to attack sociology (a far softer science than evolutionary biology) in a viscous manner to get back at this guy.

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous 386sx said...

Hmm... This wouldn't happen to be Chuck Colson of Watergate fame?


Yep, but at the time of Watergate he didn't care about nobody, and now he cares about everybody because he got religion. (He became converted coincidentally during his trial just before entering prison.)

 
At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a _fact_ that Jesus was born of a virgin? Where's the proof of that? Medical records, perhaps?

Buffalo Gal

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger Steve said...

As I've commented before, it's so much easier to go through life as a right-wing religious hack. You get to mouth off about subjects you know nothing about, without any contraints from facts or evidence, before an audience of people who mostly want to hear authority figures parrot what they already believe.


Tsk, tsk. I often say something similar about left-wing hacks. Of course, it usually pertains to economics and I try to limit my derogatory comment to economics and not all subjects. I suggest you check your seeping generalizations at the door next time.

 
At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm... This wouldn't happen to be Chuck Colson of Watergate fame? You know - the one who said he'll walk over his own mother for Nixon?

That's the one. But he's reformed now! Now he'd walk over his own mother to lie for Jesus.

 

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