|Feature Article - June 2012|
|by Do-While Jones|
Why do evolutionists feel threatened?
An editorial in the journal, Nature, caught my eye because of the pull-quote printed in a large, multi-colored font in the center of the page. It said,
Ignoring the creationist threat will not make it go away. 1
The subheading said,
Creationists seize on any perceived gaps in our knowledge of evolutionary processes. But scientists can and should fight back, says Russell Garwood. 2
There aren’t any “perceived gaps”—there are real gaps! They don’t know how dinosaurs evolved into birds for the same reason they don’t know how Santa Claus can deliver all those toys on a single evening. They don’t understand how it happened because it never happened.
But the phrase that really jumped out at me was “creationist threat.” Why does Garwood feel threatened? What is the fundamental fear that drives him to “fight back” against criticism of an incorrect scientific theory? Here’s what he says:
Last month, this journal [Nature] published a fossil study that described a new species of large tyrannosauroid dinosaur covered in feathers. A week later, the US state of Tennessee passed a creationist bill that encourages teachers to discuss the “weaknesses” of evolution. The first event provided fodder for a shrewd and calculated creationist machine; the second was its latest victory. As a palaeontologist, I believe the way that scientists and journals present research in my field can help to feed anti-evolution disinformation. Because we tend to stress novelty and play up scientific disagreement, and like to shift paradigms and break moulds, we offer our critics ammunition. As the events in Tennessee show, the fight against evolution comes with significant consequences. 3
Of course, there was a lot of scientific disagreement about this fossil because opinions vary, and modern science is now based on majority opinion rather than repeatable experimental results. Replacing the scientific method (that is, testing a hypothesis with a carefully designed experiment) with consensus naturally leads to disagreement and uncertainty. It is no surprise that Garwood wrote,
In my field, uncertainty is everywhere. 4
(In my field, electronics, certainty is everywhere because the function of electronic circuits doesn't depend upon religion or politics. Electronics is based on science, not philosophy.)
But Garwood wants students to believe in the theory of evolution because it has been the consensus opinion of scientists for many years. Now that the consensus is weakening, and there is new evidence against the theory of evolution every day, he wants to suppress the disagreement. In free society, competing ideas are openly debated. But Garwood says,
Direct debates with creationists are risky. Organized discussions only support the 'evolution is in crisis' lobby. 5
That’s because evolution really is in crisis, and because evolutionists tend to lose scientific debates with creationists.
There are people who believe the 1969 moon landing was faked. Scientists are not afraid to debate the lunar lunatics because it can easily be proved that the moon landing actually happened, as evidenced by an episode of the TV program, Mythbusters, (one of the few real science programs on TV). If the theory of evolution were true, scientists could win debates with creationists.
Garwood’s ridiculous suggestion is,
If research is to appear that will attract an obvious creationist interpretation, an accompanying blog post could explain the work and highlight flaws in any anti-evolution attacks. 6
This is foolish on multiple levels. The general public doesn’t read the actual scientific literature, so they would not read an accompanying blog post. The general public usually hears about the scientific research on TV, which is already biased toward the evolutionary explanation. The notion that scientific research should be accompanied by a blog telling how to spin the research in such a way that it doesn’t damage the theory of evolution is just silly.
Garwood’s article ends by saying,
Ignoring the creationist threat will not make it go away. As scientists, we owe it to the schoolchildren of Tennessee and elsewhere to find another way to beat it. 7
Nowhere in the article did he come right out and say why creationism is a threat that has to be beaten. Is it because he doesn’t know? Is he suffering from an irrational fear? Or, is it because he won’t admit why he is afraid?
We believe that evolutionists cling to the theory because they are afraid of the alternative. If life didn’t originate and evolve through unknown natural processes, the logical conclusion is that life is the result of a guided, supernatural process. That raises the specter of a judgmental god who punishes sin. We believe this because of what evolutionists say about the Templeton Foundation.
The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.
Our vision is derived from the late Sir John Templeton's optimism about the possibility of acquiring “new spiritual information” and from his commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The Foundation's motto, "How little we know, how eager to learn," exemplifies our support for open-minded inquiry and our hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries. 8
Some famous evolutionists don’t like the Templeton Foundation very much.
As generous as the foundation’s support is, however, many scientists find it troubling — and some see it as a threat. Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, Illinois, calls the foundation “sneakier than the creationists”. Through its grants to researchers, Coyne alleges, the foundation is trying to insinuate religious values into science. “It claims to be on the side of science, but wants to make faith a virtue,” he says. 9
The [Templeton] prize has come in for some academic scorn. “There’s a distinct feeling in the research community that Templeton just gives the award to the most senior scientist they can find who’s willing to say something nice about religion,” says Harold Kroto, a chemist at Florida State University in Tallahassee, who was co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and describes himself as a devout atheist. 10
“A lot of money wasted on nonsensical ideas,” says Kroto. Worse, says Coyne, these projects are profoundly corrupting to science, because the money tempts researchers into wasting time and effort on topics that aren’t worth it. If someone is willing to sell out for a million dollars, he says, “Templeton is there to oblige him”. 11
We found this last quote particularly amusing. Is there anything more nonsensical than the idea that hummingbirds descended from dinosaurs? Doesn’t it corrupt science by replacing the scientific method with baseless speculation? Even if hummingbirds did descend from dinosaurs, would there be any practical value in knowing that? Don’t scientists sell out by accepting government grants to study evolution?
Avowedly antireligious scientists such as Coyne and Kroto see the intelligent-design imbroglio as a symptom of their fundamental complaint that religion and science should not mix at all.
“Religion is based on dogma and belief, whereas science is based on doubt and questioning,” says Coyne, echoing an argument made by many others. “In religion, faith is a virtue. In science, faith is a vice.” The purpose of the Templeton Foundation is to break down that wall, he says — to reconcile the irreconcilable and give religion scholarly legitimacy. 12
The theory of evolution is based on dogma and belief. Doubt and questioning of evolution is a vice, in their eyes.
Sean Carroll, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, is willing to participate in Templeton-funded events — but worries about the foundation’s emphasis on research into ‘spiritual’ matters. “The act of doing science means that you accept a purely material explanation of the Universe, that no spiritual dimension is required,” he says. 13
Sir Isaac Newton did a lot of good science, but he did not accept a purely material explanation of the universe.
Scott Atran, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor [says] many scientists find it almost impossible to think of religion as anything but fundamentalism at war with reason. 14
This is why atheists think creationism is a threat. Evolution is not a reasonable explanation for the origin and diversity of life on Earth. Creation is the most reasonable explanation from a scientific viewpoint. Careful observation of how living things grow and reproduce simply highlights the many unreasonable assumptions of the theory of evolution.
Since science has been replaced by consensus, evolutionists must make sure that the theory of evolution is considered to be the majority opinion. The more scientists who are willing to look at the theory carefully and honestly, the fewer scientists will accept the theory of evolution and will consider an alternative. Creationism is a threatening alternative to the traditional consensus. That’s why evolutionists fear it.
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Russell Garwood , Nature, 17 May 2012, “Reach out to defend evolution”, page 281, http://www.nature.com/news/reach-out-to-defend-evolution-1.10640
9 M. Mitchell Waldrop, Nature, 17 February 2011, “Faith in science”, pp. 323-325, http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110216/pdf/470323a.pdf