Darwin Still Rules from the Grave

Posted on November 12, 2011 in Awards, Bible and Theology, Darwin and Evolution, Dumb Ideas, Humanity, Issues, Mind and Brain, Origins, Philosophy of Science

Darwin died in 1882, but more than any other scientist, seems to live on in the science news.  Here are some recent examples.  The question is: do any of these articles really have anything to do with the theory that made him famous?  Or is some other dynamic at work that keeps him in the forefront?

Darwinian fundingScience magazine (11 November 2011: Vol. 334 no. 6057 pp. 753–754, doi: 10.1126/science.334.6057.753) lamented how the bad economy is affecting funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  In “Darwinism vs. Social Engineering at NIH,” Jocelyn Kaiser wrote about the competition between labs.  “As National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus recently put it, NIH is weighing some type of ‘social engineering’ rather than simply letting ‘Darwinian forces’ cull weaker labs and shrink the number of mouths NIH feeds.”  It sounds like a metaphor of the battle between Intelligent Design and Survival of the Fittest, but surely she did not mean that medical labs are products of random, undirected mechanisms.  [News Flash: Darwinism is not a force.]

Darwinian robotsNew Scientist committed a colossal non-sequitur in its short article, “Darwin trumps self-obsession in robotics.”  The point is that creating robots in our own image is doomed to fail.  A new generation of rebel roboticists, the editorial claims, is thinking that robots should be soft and squishy, “inspired by the theory that intelligence emerges from the body.”  Here was the ending non-sequitur: “Crucially, the next generation of robots will not be designed as if by gods — in our image — but by using the principles revealed by Darwin. Once again, evolution has dealt a blow to the idea that humans were created special.

Darwinian emotions:  The only one of these three articles that related specifically to Darwin’s theory was an update on his theory of emotions posted by the BBC News.  The Darwin Correspondence Project is trying to recreate his experiment nearly 150 years later, reporter Stephanie Hegarty wrote, “to test his results, and draw attention to his contribution to psychology.”  Hegarty gave him a pass: “It was somewhat unscientific by modern standards, with no control group and a very small sample, but it was revolutionary for its time.” 

Darwin wanted to prove that facial expressions in response to emotion were innate and universal, and that “expression was a trait that humans shared with beasts.”  His results were published in his 1872 book, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals.  The BBC News article, however, drew no connection to his hunch and his theory of natural selection; nor did it seek to explain how facial expressions lead to fitness and survival.  Anyway, has the Darwin Correspondence Project replicated the results?  No; it’s a work in progress.  That didn’t stop Hegarty from heaping praise on Darwin with quotes from others who called him “an immense intellect” and “truly a genius” who “formed the basis for an entire canon of psychological study.”

Darwinian weaponsOn the premise that “evolution is a simple fact” and “the fact of evolution itself is not disputed by any reputable scientist” (appealing to Coyne and Dawkins as authorities), Paula Kirby at The Washington Post took glee in skewering Christian conservatives as guilty of willful ignorance, because “Evolution Threatens Christianity.”  Without mentioning Darwin directly, she referred to two of his greatest defenders today.  This has long been a legacy of Darwinism: a tool to attack religion – and not just any religion, but Christianity. 

Paula Kirby’s screed and New Scientist’s loony non-sequitur are so typical of the Darwin demagogues.  Their notion of scientific “truth” could not withstand a freshman course in philosophy of science.  The modus operandi of their ilk is: (1) hate Christians and conservatives first, then (2) appeal to the authority of Darwin and his disciples to call anyone who disagrees an ignoramus.

Charles Darwin is the god of atheists and naturalists, the Bearded Buddha at whose shrine they offer their sacrifices.  For a balance to the worship and adoration given to the B.B. you need to read Jerry Bergman’s eye-opening book, The Dark Side of Charles Darwin (available at Amazon.com).  It’s amazing this troubled con-man ever became famous at all.  For instance, Bergman reveals that his photographs used for The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals were faked (just one of many scientific sins he committed).  The guy was as bad as Haeckel, but got away with it, because of his gift of gab and manner of carefully cataloguing things to present a façade of scientific rigor, then telling stories that had little or nothing to do with the data or his theory (if it can even be called a theory), winning acceptance through association.

Getting Moses out of science was really the goal.  It so appealed to other anti-religious disciples that, with the aid of his X-men like Huxley, they redefined science altogether as naturalism; something like Darwinism, therefore, had to be true – by definition!  Natural history became confabulation, scientific rigor, mortis.  The articles above show that his disciples completely misrepresent his ideas and portray “natural selection” as if it performs intelligent design miracles!  This is insane.  It’s time we expose the fraud of this flawed, disturbed man who has been morphed into a caricature of Moses leading science into a promised land.  They’re not in the promised land; they’re wandering aimlessly in Fantasyland.

2 Comments

Rkyway November 12, 2011

1. “Once again, evolution has dealt a blow to the idea that humans were created special.”

- Let’s see. People all want to be special… but they don’t want to have been created special; is that it?

- For those who enjoy etymology; since human beings are a separate species they are indeed special. I hate to brag, but we are the only species that can claim we are special. That makes us a bit out of the ordinary I think.
I guess we could call the denial of human uniqueness a case of special pleading.

2. “Crucially, the next generation of robots will not be designed as if by gods — in our image — but by using the principles revealed by Darwin.”

- I wasn’t aware that Darwin was into robotics; but maybe this is a Darwin from some steampunk novel. (As an aside I’ve sometimes wondered if the real inspiration for Darwin wasn’t Malthus but Mary Shelley. i.e. if a Victorian scientist can create life in the lab how hard can it be? Nature with much more time to operate could surely do the same or better. Right?)

Jack Golightly November 12, 2011

I barely read the rest of the article after that bit about robots — I was laughing too hard! Wow!

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