Evolution is Religion—Not Science [Part II]
by Michael G. Houts, Ph.D.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part I of this two-part article appeared in the November issue of R&R. As noted preceding that article, A.P. auxiliary staff scientist Dr. Houts holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and serves as the Nuclear Research Manager for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. (The opinions expressed are his own and not necessarily those of NASA.)]
In Part I of this article, numerous examples were given to demonstrate the religious nature of the theory of evolution. In many subject areas the evidence against the theory is overwhelming. When the evidence is understood properly, only the most ardent zealot continues to cling to the theory and the religions it supports. Fundamental tenets of evolution that run contrary to nearly all available evidence include the belief that life arose spontaneously from non-living chemicals, and the belief in random mutations leading to the overwhelming amount of information present in the genome.
In other subject areas, however, the available evidence is a small subset of that required. Objective, quantitative discussion in these areas can be difficult. One such area is the age of the Universe. The current level of data and observations concerning the Universe is perhaps analogous to the level of data and observations concerning life a few centuries ago.
Many Christians view the age of the Universe as an unimportant issue. They correctly note that the odds against evolution are so overwhelming that they would not appreciably change whether the Universe was 10 years old or 10 trillion years old. However, in the early 21st century, “age” is perhaps the subject area where the inerrancy of the Bible is attacked most vigorously. Christians must be willing and able to defend the Bible in all subject areas, including those dealing with the age of the Universe.
While there is some variation in estimates, one secularly accepted age for the Universe is 13.7 billion years. In contrast, a straightforward reading of the Bible indicates that the age of the Universe is measured in thousands of years, not billions of years. Even though some professed believers continue attempts to force billions of years into the Bible record (e.g., Ross, 1995), such attempts do far more harm than good. If the Bible can be interpreted to allow a Creation that is billions of years old, it can be interpreted to say anything a person wants it to say. Attempts to force billions of years into the Bible record also result in numerous irresolvable theological issues. Issues associated with the more publicized compromise positions have been thoroughly addressed in the literature (e.g., Thompson, 2000; Sarfati, 2004; Ham, 2002; Mortenson, 2005).
Also, although limited evidence is currently available, much of the relevant evidence can be measured quite accurately. Isotope ratios in rocks can be determined to within a fraction of a percent, as can the brightness of Cepheid variables, reds shifts, decay constants, and numerous other parameters. The difference between the age of the Universe indicated in the Bible and the age of the Universe accepted by secular scientists is not due to differences in evidence or errors in gathering evidence, but different assumptions applied to interpreting that evidence. As noted in Part I of this article, assumptions can be influenced strongly by one’s religious beliefs.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ASSUMPTIONS
Two examples from history clarify the point. First, one of the most influential early disciples of Charles Darwin was a German scientist named Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel was highly respected, and became known as “Darwin’s Bulldog on the Continent” and “the Huxley of Germany.” His writings continue to have a significant impact, and many modern biology texts still draw on his research to promote the theory of evolution (Kaskel, et al., 1999, p. 620). Haeckel’s book The History of Creation is a good sample of his teachings. As implied by its title, the book attempts to provide an alternative to the book of Genesis, using evolutionary, atheistic assumptions.
Haeckel realized that, for spontaneous generation to be even remotely possible, life forms unimaginably simpler than those known (then or now) must somehow be viable. Because of his faith in evolution, Haeckel devised such organisms, named them “Monera,” and wrote about them at length. In the book, Haeckel speaks of “Monera” as if their existence were fact. Haeckel’s book includes detailed drawings of “Monera,” with supporting text such as:
During late years we have become acquainted with Monera, organisms which are, in fact, not composed of any organs at all, but consist entirely of shapeless, simple, homogenous matter. The entire body of one of these Monera, during life, is nothing more than a shapeless, mobile, little lump of mucus or slime, consisting of an albuminous combination of carbon. Simpler or more imperfect organisms we cannot possibly conceive (1876, 1:184).
Details of the experimental techniques used to determine (incorrectly) the presence of “Monera” are not given in his book. However, at some point Haeckel must have let his faith-based assumption that Monera exist drive him to the incorrect conclusion that he actually had observed them. Haeckel noted:
The first complete observations on the natural history of a Moneron (Protogenes primordialis) were made by me at Nice, in 1864. Other very remarkable Monera I examined later (1866) in Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, and in 1867 in the Straits of Gibraltar. The complete history of one of these Monera, the orange-red Protomyxa aurantiaca, is represented in Plate I, and its explanation is given in the Appendix. I have found some curious Monera also in the North Sea, off the Norwegian coast, near Bergen (1:184).
Some of Haeckel’s scientific contemporaries apparently were convinced by his arguments, because they, too, began “discovering” Monera. For example, Haeckel noted that:
Perhaps the most remarkable of all Monera was discovered by Huxley, the celebrated English zoologist, and called Bathybius Haeckelii. “Bathybius” means, living in the deep. This wonderful organism lives in immense depths of the ocean, which are over 12,000—indeed, in some parts 24,000 ft. below the surface, and which have become known to us within the last ten years, through the laborious investigations made by the English (1:184).
Evidence that observed “Monera” were lifeless, inorganic compounds was available as early as 1875 (Grigg, 1996). In that year it was determined that alleged “Monera” were nothing more than amorphous gypsum, precipitated out of sea-water by alcohol. However, even with clear refutation from true, operational science, “Monera” continued to be presented as fact for over 50 years by atheists seeking to support Darwinian religions.
Two of Haeckel’s greatest allies in writing The History of Creation were the poor scientific understanding and primitive scientific equipment of the 19th century. However, it is important to note that to scientists of that time, crude scientific equipment and limited understanding must have seemed incredibly advanced. The same is true today. While the technology and scientific understanding of the early 21st century is greater than any previously recorded, it very likely will be considered “primitive” within a few decades.
Another interesting historical example is Percival Lowell’s early 20th century “proof” that intelligent life exists on Mars. The “proof” was so widely accepted that at the end of 1907 the Wall Street Journal reported that the most extraordinary event of the past 12 months was the “proof afforded by astronomical observations…that conscious, intelligent human life exists upon the planet Mars” (as quoted by Sheehan and Misch, 2007, p. 20). Lowell’s “proof” came as the result of tremendous financial resources, tremendous dedication, and tremendous creative thinking. His research included shipping a seven-ton telescope and a team of astronomers to Chile’s Atacama Desert to obtain the best possible observations of Mars during its close approach of 1907.
Lowell had previously reported observing canals on Mars, and believed that the canals carried meltwater from Mars’ polar regions to its parched deserts. The year prior to the expedition he had written the book Mars and Its Canals. Lowell’s hope was that the expedition would provide strong evidence in support of his theory, and indeed it did! One of the astronomers (David Peck Todd) described his first view of the planet as follows: “amazed at the wealth of detailed markings that the great reddish disk exhibited. Its clear-cut lines and areas were positively startling in their certainty…. Nearly everybody who went to the eyepiece saw canals” (as quoted by Sheehan and Misch, 2007, p. 22). The expedition was so successful that in 1908 Lowell went on to publish his book Mars as the Abode of Life. Lowell was not alone in his views. For example, Ham and Batten note that: “In 1900 the French Academy offered a prize of 100,000 francs for the first person to make contact with an alien civilization—so long as the alien was not from Mars, because the academy was convinced that Martian civilization was an established fact!” (2002, p. 8).
As with Haeckel, Lowell has long since been proven wrong. However, these historical examples allow for an interesting thought exercise. What would it have been like to be a Christian a century ago, trying to defend the Bible even when it disagreed with accepted “scientific” wisdom? Most Americans at that time did not have a high school education and had not traveled more than a few miles from their place of birth. How could a Christian defend the Bible against some of the greatest scientific minds the world had to offer?
In the 18th century, a faithful Christian armed only with his Bible could have predicted the existence of dinosaurs, and perhaps some did. However, they likely would have been ridiculed, not only by secular “experts,” but also by some fellow Christians. At that time, many Christians had already decided to interpret passages found in Job 40 and elsewhere as referring to creatures currently living, although the descriptions obviously did not fit. However, in the mind of a compromiser, the last thing one should do is acknowledge the Bible contradicts the human wisdom of the day. Of course, with the discovery of dinosaurs in 1822, the faithful Christian would have been vindicated in the minds of compromising believers and non-believers alike.
A century ago many false doctrines were introduced, such as Progressive Creation or the idea that “God used evolution.” These doctrines did not develop due to a study of the Bible, but in response to the overwhelming “scientific” evidence that well-meaning false teachers attempted to accommodate. It is ironic that many of these false doctrines still flourish today, even though the human wisdom that they originally attempted to reconcile has long since been proven wrong. Thus, the first thing Christians should not do is twist or edit the Bible in an attempt to accommodate the so-called “scientific” facts of their day.
A second thing Christians should not do is ignore the problem. It is easy for mature Christians to forget what it is like to be a non-Christian. Individuals who grew up in the church may have an even harder time understanding individuals whose only exposure to Christianity has been through the popular media. Christians may be lulled into feeling that because most of the people with whom they associate believe the Bible, the same is true throughout society. The fact is that only a small fraction of the world’s population acknowledges the Bible as God’s inerrant Word. Individuals who believe science has proven the Bible false are very unlikely to give serious consideration to the Gospel. First Peter 3:14-15 provides guidance on what Christians should do: “And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (NASB).
Ironically, to the atheist or evolutionist, the age of the Universe should not matter. The fact that the Universe had a beginning at all is yet another fatal blow to their religion. While one often hears the argument “anything can happen given billions of years,” that argument quickly dissolves when the odds of the required events are quantified. The astronomical odds against evolution are not noticeably affected by the age of the Universe, be it a microsecond or billions of years.
For example, the difference between a microsecond and the oldest age currently claimed for the Universe is less than a factor of 1024, i.e., a factor of one followed by 24 zeroes. The total number of particles in the Universe (down to the subatomic level) typically is estimated at 10100. While these are incredibly large numbers, they pale in comparison to the odds atheists associate with their own beliefs. The famous atheistic astronomer Sir Frederick Hoyle calculated the odds of even just the proteins of an amoeba arising by chance at one in 1040,000, i.e., one in one followed by 40,000 zeroes (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1981, p. 130). Harold Morowitz calculated the odds that a simple, single-celled organism might randomly assemble itself from pre-existing building blocks as one in 10100,000,000,000, i.e., one in one followed by 100 billion zeroes (Morowitz, 1968, p. 98). Carl Sagan and other famous evolutionists have come to similar conclusions (Sagan, et al., 1973, pp. 45-46). Calculations such as these were the basis of Sir Frederick Hoyle’s famous statement that the probability of spontaneous generation “is about the same as the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junk yard could assemble a 747 from the contents therein” (Hoyle, 1981, 294:105). Given these impossible odds, the complete illogic of placing one’s faith in evolution remains unchallenged for any “age” currently considered.
The fact that an eternal Universe was necessary to diminish (or eliminate) the need for God was recognized long ago, perhaps soon after the beginning of time (or whenever humans had rebelled enough against God to begin devising false religions). In ancient Greece, Aristotle promoted the view that both God and the Universe are eternal (1952a, 8:344-345; 1952b, 8:377). Although opposed by early Christian and Hebrew scholars (based on the Genesis account), the belief in an eternal Universe became accepted as “fact.” Over time, many proponents of Christianity (e.g., Thomas Aquinas) compromised clear Bible teaching and attempted to prove God’s existence starting with the false assumption of an eternal Universe. Ironically, Strobel observed that Aquinas apparently did so because he felt that if he assumed the Universe had a beginning, the task of proving God’s existence would be too easy (2004, pp. 107-108). While intentions may be good, it is never useful or right to compromise God’s Word.
Throughout the 19th century, the “fact” of an eternal Universe was used to support various false religions, including evolution. In the “Great Debate” of June 30, 1860, Anglican Archbishop Samuel Wilberforce debated evolutionist Thomas Huxley. Basing his arguments on belief in an eternal Universe, Huxley argued that given infinite time, infinite ink, and infinite paper, six monkeys would eventually type all of the books in the British Library, including the Bible and the works of Shakespeare (Missler and Eastman, 1996). The desired analogy was that given infinite time, life would eventually develop and evolve into man.
Evolutionists and atheists have long been aware of the danger a non-eternal Universe posed to their religion. David Hume (18th-century Scottish skeptic and naturalist) noted: “I never asserted so absurd a proposition that anything might arise without a cause” (Greig, 1932, 1:187). Much to their chagrin, however, research in the 20th century yielded tremendous evidence that the Universe did, indeed, have a beginning. In 1915, Albert Einstein developed his general theory of relativity which showed a static Universe was impossible unless an arbitrary, precise fudge factor (a “cosmological constant”) was added to his equations (Goldsmith, 1995, p. 7). Starting in the 1920s, observations by Edwin Hubble (whose name was given to the Hubble space telescope) and others continued building the case for a non-eternal Universe (Sharov and Novikov, 1993, p. 69). It is now almost universally accepted in the scientific community that the Universe had a beginning.
The search for a means to claim an eternal Universe became frantic. In 1948, Sir Frederick Hoyle helped develop the “Steady State” theory of the Universe (Hoyle, 1955, p. 320). Although the theory violated the Laws of Thermodynamics and had no observational basis, it was promoted to soften the theological implications of a non-eternal Universe. In the 1960s, Carl Sagan proposed the Oscillating Model (Sagan, 1979; Sagan, 1980; Gribbin, 1976) which, again, violates known laws of physics, but is occasionally mentioned even today. In the 1970s, the idea of a quantum fluctuation somehow creating the Universe was popularized (Guth, 1997). However, this theory requires a quantum vacuum, which itself is a “sea of fluctuating energy, an arena of violent activity that has a rich physical structure and can be described by physical laws” (Craig, 2000). The fact that this theory has been widely publicized (e.g., Lemley, 2002, 23:32-39) shows how desperate the search for atheistic origins has become. The calculated odds against even a single atom forming via a quantum fluctuation are huge, and claiming the entire Universe formed that way goes beyond stretching the imagination. Even more important, the theory still requires the presence of the quantum vacuum, which in itself would have needed to be created. Recently, work by Stephen Hawking has been highly publicized, but to his credit, he admits that his theories still require the Universe to appear out of nothing. Through the use of imaginary numbers, Hawking has developed a mathematical construct that would allow the Universe not to begin at a singularity using current cosmological assumptions. This recent work does not appear to have much bearing on the current discussion (Hawking and Penrose, 1996). [NOTE: An excellent summary of these and other attempts to cling to an eternal Universe is given in Thompson, 2001. For a thorough refutation of the more popular versions of the Big Bang Theory, see Thompson, et al., 2003, 23(5):32-34,36-47.]
THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE
A century ago it was easy to promote evolution. Darwin’s theory had been popularized, and vast energy was being poured into interpreting evidence within the Darwinian framework. Our knowledge of biology and living systems was so poor that advocates of evolution could go as far as fabricating evidence in support of the theory with complete impunity (Grigg, 1996, 18:33-36). Ignorance in the field of biology allowed Darwin’s theory of evolution to be blindly promoted well into the 20th century.
In a similar fashion, our ignorance of the Universe today allows virtually any hypothetical assumption related to its origin or age to be accepted, as long as it is atheistic and can be construed to support current, popular beliefs. Theories related to the origin and age of the Universe typically are devised to account for a subset of the observed data, and when other data contradicts the theory, fudge factors are introduced. For example, observational evidence indicates that the visible matter in galaxies is not enough to hold them together given other evolutionary assumptions. Theorists have thus postulated the existence of “dark matter,” matter other than that present in the form of stars, gas, and dust. “Dark matter” is intended to help hold galaxies together, and perhaps to serve other functions as well. In a similar vein, it has recently been observed that the expansion of the Universe appears to be accelerating rather than staying constant or slowing down. To accommodate this observation, theorists have introduced the concept of “dark energy.”
To make the currently favored secular models work, the vast majority of the Universe would need to consist of “dark matter” and “dark energy.” NASA Administrator Michael Griffin recently asked the value of “discovering that literally 95% of the Universe consists of dark energy or dark matter, terms for things that we as yet know nothing about? But they make up 95% of our Universe” (Griffin, 2007). He went on to write that someday we may learn to harness these “new things.” Griffin is absolutely correct in noting that harnessing “new things” is one of the greatest benefits of operational science. However, it is also important to note that if “95% of the Universe consists of…things that we as yet know nothing about,” it would be foolish to make dogmatic assumptions based on what little we know of the remaining 5%.
For example, in the past five years it has become increasingly accepted in secular science that so-called “fundamental constants” may have changed. Observations of quasars have indicated changes in both the “fine structure constant” (strength of electromagnetic interaction) and “mu” (ratio of proton mass to electron mass). Results have been reported in “Physical Review Letters” and elsewhere (Weiss, 2006, 169:259). One of the researchers, Victor V. Flambaum of the University of New South Wales, observed: “It doesn’t matter that the variation is small. If ‘mu’ varies, we need new theoretical physics and cosmology” (as quoted in Schirber, 2006). Astronomer Michael Murphy of the University of Cambridge noted: “There is absolutely no reason these constants should be constant. These are famous numbers in physics, but we have no real reason for why they are what they are” (as quoted in Schirber, 2006). Changes in fundamental constants could have huge implications, including changes in the speed of light and changes in radioactive decay rates. These effects could greatly change secular estimates of the age of the Universe.
Such observations are consistent with recent research by the “RATE” group which yielded compelling evidence for changes in radioactive decay constants, and other evidence for a relatively young Earth (DeYoung, 2005). One of the findings of the RATE group was excess helium retention in zircons. This finding indicates that based on measured helium diffusion rates, the observed radioactive decay in zircons must have occurred within the past several thousand years. If it had taken longer, the helium generated via alpha decay would have diffused out of the zircons. The group’s observation is that significant radioactive decay has occurred, and it has occurred recently (DeYoung, p. 176).
Another finding of the RATE group was the presence of Carbon-14 in diamonds as well as coal. Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years, meaning 1/2 of the atoms decay (in this case beta-decay to Nitrogen-14) every 5,730 years. The detectable presence of Carbon-14 in any sample indicates that its age is less (possibly much less) than ~100,000 years (p. 175). Carbon-14 in coal and diamonds strongly contradicts evolutionary theory, which claims both coal and diamonds formed millions of years ago. The “problem” (from an evolutionist’s standpoint) of Carbon-14 in coal also has been reported by Lowe (1989, 31:117-120), Giem (2001, 51:6-30), and others. When reasonable effects of Creation and the Flood are taken into account (which atheists and compromisers typically fail to do), Carbon-14 dating correlates well with what we know about the past few thousand years. [NOTE: An excellent summary of this issue is given in Batten, 2002.]
A third finding of the RATE group is that ages estimated using parent isotopes that undergo beta decay tend to be significantly different (younger) than ages estimated using parent isotopes that undergo alpha decay. This could suggest that whatever mechanism God used to change decay rates during Creation week and around the time of the Flood had a different effect on alpha emitters than it did on beta emitters (DeYoung, 2005, p. 121). The RATE group has also performed research related to radiohalos, fission tracks in zircons, and potential mechanisms for alleviating issues (such as high heating rates) introduced by accelerated radioactive decay (pp. 174-183). Among other implications, the observations of the RATE group indicate that assumptions used in radiometric dating may be false, and that ages estimated through use of radiometric dating may be incorrect by several orders of magnitude.
In addition to recent research performed by both Christian and secular scientists alike, other lines of evidence have been known for years that are consistent with a relatively recent creation (Humphreys, 2000). These include the rate at which galaxies “wind up” (too fast for long ages), the amount of mud on the seafloor (too little), the amount of sodium in the sea (too little), the rate at which the Earth’s magnetic field is decaying (too fast), the number of stone age skeletons (too few), the development of agriculture (too recent), and numerous others. Biblically based theories also exist for interpreting what we observe in the Universe, given a relatively recent creation (e.g., Humphreys, 1994; Thompson, 2004). Other biblically consistent interpretations have also been proposed (Williams and Hartnett, 2005, p. 180).
The age of the Earth is discussed in numerous other subject areas. For example, on the subject of the ice age, uniformitarian assumptions have been used to postulate a series of some 30 ice ages occurring throughout the past 2.5 million years. However, Oard notes several fundamental problems with that scenario. First, no adequate uniformitarian cause has been identified for an ice age. The currently favored Milankovitch radiation cycle appears far too weak, and attempts to correlate that cycle with ice cores or other evidence are reminiscent of Huxley discovering Monera (in support of Haeckel) and Todd observing Martian canals (in support of Lowell). According to Oard:
There are also major subsidiary mysteries associated with their model, such as the origin of pluvial lakes in currently semi-arid regions, origin of persistent non-glaciated areas poleward of the edge of glaciation, the mix of warm- and cold-climate plants and animals during the ice age, the lack of glaciation in the lowlands of Siberia and Alaska, and the mass extinction of large mammals and birds at the end of the ice age (2005, p. 35).
Most biblically based ice age models assume the ice age resulted from warm oceans and a dusty atmosphere following the Genesis Flood. The total duration of the ice age would have been approximately 700 years. When coupled with modern climate and weather analysis tools, these models resolve not only the issues listed above, but remain consistent with measured evidence such as oxygen isotope fluctuations and layering in the remaining ice sheets. Oard also notes that biblically based models are more consistent with observed Beryllium-10 peaks and with radio-echo data showing little horizontal movement within the Antarctic ice sheet (pp. 135-137).
Fossils represent another subject area where “age” is often discussed. Although “index fossils” and other circular methods are often used to date fossils, the actual age of a fossil ultimately must be estimated based on some independent dating method. Most of these “independent” dates have been determined through radiometric dating of surrounding rock layers, which is again entirely dependent on the assumptions that are applied. If the assumptions are wrong, the estimated age will be wrong.
Other observations can be used to determine the approximate age of fossils. For example, last month in Reason & Revelation, Eric Lyons noted that soft dinosaur tissue is strong evidence against dinosaur fossils being more than a few thousand years old. The Genesis Flood also provides a near-perfect mechanism for depositing the fossil record we observe (Thompson, 2004, pp. 209-230; Woodmorappe, 1999; Butt and Lyons, 2005, pp. 67-91). The flood model is more consistent than secular models with findings such as polystrate fossils, fossil graveyards, tightly bent strata, injected sandstone, high concentrations of pollen in coal deposits, and others.
The Bible clearly indicates a relatively young age for the Creation, which contradicts currently accepted theories. Instead of compromising, Christians (especially technically-minded Christians) should stand firm and use information in the Bible to God’s glory. Tremendous discoveries have been made in the past and will continue to be made by scientists who use the Bible as the foundation for their research. The important point is that Christians need to put their confidence in the Bible, not in ever-changing human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:20).
True science supports Christianity. Sir Francis Bacon (credited with establishing the scientific method) was a Bible believer. Werner Von Braun (who led the development of the Saturn V moon rocket) was a Bible believer. Sir Isaac Newton, Carl Linnaeus, Louis Pasteur, and James Maxwell were professed Bible believers. So were Faraday, Kelvin, Boyle, Dalton, Ramsay, Ray, Mendel, Virchow, Agassiz, Steno, Woodward, Brewster, Buckland, Cuvier, Copernicus, Kepler, Herschel, Maunder, Pascal, Leibnitz, Euler, and countless others (Lamont, 1995). Christians should not be suspicious of true, operational science just because certain false religions have twisted the term “science” in order to claim it supports their worldview.
Webster’s defines “religion” as “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith” (Webster’s Ninth…, 1988, p. 995). Christianity falls into this category. So do the hundreds of false religions that have plagued mankind for millennia. Matthew 7:13-14 indicates that the majority of people will be deceived. Despite the overwhelming evidence God has given us, they will choose to create their own religion, or adhere to a false religion.
Darwin and Haeckel correctly assumed that if evolution were powerful enough to turn single-celled organisms into human beings, it certainly would be powerful enough to have strong effects within a given species. Darwin wrote extensively on differences of race and sex, and Haeckel wrote extensively about race. Some quotes from their more famous books show where their faith in evolution led them. In his book The Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin wrote about his experiences with the Fuegians at Tierra Del Fuego:
Viewing such men, one can hardly make one’s self believe that they are fellow creatures, and inhabitants of the same world. It is a common subject of conjecture what pleasure in life some of the lower animals can enjoy: how much more reasonably the same question may be asked with respect to these barbarians! (Darwin, 1845, p. 218).
Darwin also discussed the Fuegians in his book The Descent of Man:
They possessed hardly any arts, and like wild animals lived on what they could catch…. He who has seen a savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his veins (1874, p. 613).
In addition to numerous other statements concerning various “races” and “savages,” Darwin made the following observations in The Descent of Man:
- The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands (p. 558).
- [T]he average of mental power in man must be above that of woman (p. 559).
- Thus man has ultimately become superior to woman (p. 560).
Darwin’s book also contains considerable discussion on whether different “races” of man should be classified as completely different species, or merely different subspecies.
Ernst Haeckel expressed similar views. For example, in the second volume of his book The History of Creation, Haeckel wrote:
The final result of this comparison is this—that between the most highly developed animal souls, and the lowest developed human souls, there exists only a small quantitative, but no qualitative difference, and that this difference is much less than the difference between the lowest and the highest human souls, or the difference between the highest and lowest animal souls.
In order to be convinced of this important result, it is above all things necessary to study and compare the mental life of wild savages and of children. At the lowest stage of human mental development are the Australians, some tribes of the Polynesians, and the Bushmen, Hottentots, and some of the negro tribes…. All attempts to introduce civilization among these, and many of the other tribes of the lowest human species, have hitherto been of no avail; it is impossible to implant human culture where the requisite soil, namely, the perfecting of the brain, is wanting…. They have barely risen above the lowest stage of transition from man-like apes to ape-like men, a stage which the progenitors of the higher human species had already passed through thousands of years ago (1876, 2:362).
The views of Darwin, Haeckel, and other leading “scientists” were soon incorporated into the American educational system, and presented as scientific fact. Hunter’s A Civic Biology (the book allegedly used by John Scopes in the events leading up to the 1925 Scopes trial), noted:
At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the others in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America” (Hunter, 1914, p. 196).
In The Descent of Man, Darwin also touched briefly on the concept of eugenics (Darwin, 1874, p. 612). However, by the time A Civic Biology was written, eugenics had gained widespread “scientific” acceptance. In discussing the subject, Hunter notes:
If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of the future generations of men and women on the earth might not be improved by applying to them the laws of selection (p. 261).
After a brief discussion of families in which “mental and moral defects were present in one or both of the original parents,” Hunter goes on to say:
Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society…. They are true parasites. If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading…. Eugenics show us, on the other hand, in a study of the families in which are brilliant men and women, the fact that the descendants have received the good inheritance from their ancestors (p. 263, italics in orig.).
The philosophies of racism, sexism, and eugenics, promoted under the guise of “science” by Darwin, Haeckel, and others, are wrong. We know they are wrong because the Bible opposes them. Unfortunately, such philosophies are completely consistent with evolution-based religions, and were not immediately defeated by individuals willing to stand firm on the Bible. Instead, it took society decades to recognize the evils associated with racism, sexism, and eugenics, and for those philosophies to be largely rejected, even given their so-called “scientific” support.
The effect that Darwin’s and Haeckel’s teachings had on Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and others has been documented (Wieland, 1998; Grigg, 1996). However, there is little (if any) evidence that Darwin or Haeckel understood that the religion they helped create would be used to justify the atrocities that were committed. Likewise, there is no evidence that when George Hunter wrote in his textbook, “If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off,” he could have anticipated that such statements could be coupled with Darwin’s and Haeckel’s teachings to provide “scientific” justification for Nazism and the extermination of Jews and other individuals the Nazis considered less than human.
The beliefs and “research” of Darwin, Haeckel, and others are still doing damage. For example, Dr. James Watson (winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize for his role in discovering the double-helix structure of DNA) recently asserted that there was no reason to believe different races separated by geography should have evolved identically. He then went on to make several racist statements implying that black people are not as intelligent as white people. His comments were reported by CNN and other major news sources, resulting in a significant uproar (Van Marsh, 2007).
Thus, Christians need to “care” in the 21st century for the same reasons they needed to care 150 years ago when Darwin’s theories were first being popularized. Psalm 111:10 states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Allowing society’s “wisdom” to be based on false religions and their erroneous assumptions can have unintended and disastrous consequences. Any false teaching can have negative long-term effects, the most serious of which are eternal.
Aristotle (1952a reprint), The Physics, trans. R.P. Hardie and R.K. Gay (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago), Great Books of the Western World Series, ed. Robert M. Hutchins, 8:259-358.
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