Press Goes Ape Over ID Supporter’s Appointment
Intolerant Darwinists Show Their True Colors, Piling On Vituperative Rhetoric
by Jerry Bergman, PhD
The headline of the most respected American scientific journal, Science, speaks volumes: “Brazil’s pick of a creationist [Benedito Guimarães Aguiar Neto] to lead its higher education agency rattles scientists.”
Starting with the first line, the article was inaccurate, stating the “appointment of a creationism advocate to lead the agency that oversees Brazil’s graduate study programs has scientists here concerned.” After reading several articles about the event, it became clear that Neto was not an advocate of Creation Science, but supported Intelligent Design (ID) instead. ID makes no claims about God, the Bible or the identity of a Designer; it only seeks evidence of design in observable phenomena.
Neto is connected to the
second Congress on Intelligent Design, which was held at Mackenzie [University] in October 2019. The event was organized by Discovery Mackenzie, a research center created by MPU in 2017 to mirror the Discovery Institute in Seattle, which also promotes ID.
To many uncritical observers, Creation Science and Intelligent Design (ID) are the same thing because both reject the science orthodoxy that teaches humans, and all life, are the result of billions of mutations and natural selection. The real concern of the scientific community is having a Christian believer as head of CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal se Nível Superior or Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel) which
is a key federal agency within Brazil’s Ministry of Education. It is responsible for regulating, supervising and evaluating all graduate-level programs at Brazilian universities, and funds thousands of scholarships for master’s and doctoral students. It also issues funding calls for research and provides training for teachers in primary and secondary education.
I had to do some research to learn about Neto’s qualifications, which most of the many articles I read ignored entirely, or incorrectly claimed that he was a lowly “electrical engineer by training” implying he wired new homes. The fact is, in 1977, Benedito Neto graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB). He then completed a master’s degree at UFPB and a doctorate from Technische Universität Berlin in Germany and, in 2008, completed a post-doctorate from the University of Washington where my son used to teach.
Professor Aguiar Neto previously served as the rector of Mackenzie Presbyterian University (MPU), a private school that Escobar claims “advocates the teaching and study of intelligent design (ID), an outgrowth of biblical creationism that argues that life is too complex to have evolved by Darwinian evolution, and so required an intelligent designer.” In fact, ID is not an “outgrowth of biblical creationism” but a logical deduction based on the scientific evidence originally popularized by evolutionists such as Dr. Michael Denton. The press’s boilerplate definition of ID is rejected by ID leaders. The official definition makes no reference to God (or any other specific designer), the Bible, creation, Darwin, evolution, or complexity. It simply states,
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. (IntelligentDesign.org)
The condemnation of Aguiar Neto is, his critics claim, because his appointment amounts to the “encroachment of religion on science and education policy.” Exactly how it does this is not explained. Would a Catholic or an atheist push religion on science and education policy? Does it matter what specific religion the official believes in? I would think his abilities and effectiveness is (or should be) the central issue.
Appeal to Consensus
Evolutionary biologist Antonio Carlos Marques of the University of Sao Paulo’s Institute of Biosciences argued, “It is completely illogical to place someone who has promoted actions contrary to scientific consensus in a position to manage programs that …[require] scientific training” Marques claims that evolution must be true due to a majority show of hands. But as evolutionist Alan Feduccia agreed (quoting Michael Crichton), “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.” Frank Sherwin, a biologist, speaker and writer at ICR, has also attempted to understand this encroachment claim, noting that the Science article referenced above
begins by addressing “the encroachment of religion on science and education policy.” Non-evolutionists maintain there is already plenty of religion masquerading as science in public schools—including Brazil. For example, because a Creator is ignored, then it is taught (or inferred) that everything somehow came from nothing in a big explosive event. That is an overtly religious position, because one must have a substantial measure of faith to believe that something can come from nothing.
Another example of intolerance against Darwin skeptics is Professor of glaciology and polar geography, Jefferson Cardia Simões. He agreed that Brazil’s scientific community was “discouraged” by the appointment, but he hoped that Dr. Aguiar Neto would know how to “separate religious beliefs from science” claiming that
our advances in various areas of knowledge, from medicine to the search for oil and gas resources, are based on the theory of evolution…. Brazilian academics told Times Higher Education that the announcement was the latest in a series of attacks on science, research and education since Mr. Bolsonaro became president last year.”
Many of the 80 percent, including the “forty percent of U.S. adults [that] ascribe to a strictly creationist view of human origins, believing that God created them in their present form within roughly the past 10,000 years”, may well disagree with his claim.
It’s the “beginning of the end of civilization and enlightenment.”
Darwinism as Religion
The Science article, as well as many others on this topic, ignores the fact that a number of leading evolutionists have documented Darwinism is religion. This claim was eloquently argued by Michael Ruse (10 March 2020) in his book Darwin as Religion. Ruse, the author or co-author of over 50 books on evolution, documents in 310 pages the fact that “Darwinian thinking, in particular since the publication of the two great works” On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man “has taken on the form and role of a religion. One [religion] in opposition to the world system, Christianity, from which, in major respects, it emerged.”
Ruse is not implying that Darwinists still have some semblance of belief in the Christian God, nor is he referring to evolution defined as laboratory genetic research. In his own words, “Evolutionism or Darwinism is the worldview that Darwin ushered in to replace the Christian worldview.” He calls Darwin the man who “absolutely, totally and completely… changed our world….” In many ways, we in the West have experienced a Darwinian revolution, meaning the world before Darwin (BD) was a very different world than that after Darwin (AD). The religious zeal indicated by Darwinian religion can be seen in the irrational emotional objections to Benedito Neto’s appointment, a man who is both a highly trained scientist and a believing Christian. But qualifications and character don’t matter to evolutionists: Darwin skeptics must be destroyed. Here are some examples of the irresponsible name-calling and vituperation found on the internet:
- “Brazil Succumbs to Creationist Madness. This news item about Brazil is completely insane — so it’s the kind of thing we like to blog about. We found it at the news site of Science— the peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science… it promotes creationism, so of course it’s illogical. This is a huge victory for the forces of darkness.”
- “Brazil’s evangelical churches had lost influence in society by allowing scientists to ‘take control’ of the teaching of evolution in schools.” This quote illustrates the point that the two worldviews are in competition with each other.
- Karl Goldsmith opined: “The Idiots had their own crap in Texas as the weekend, Dallas Conference on Science and Faith 2020. What is it with all these pretend conferences from creationists, that you never hear about them afterwards from anyone that attended.”
- Dave Luckett opined: “I take it this clown is a Presbyterian, and Brazil is mostly Roman Catholic, at least nominally, although Protestantism has been making inroads. I thought that particular ball was being mostly carried by the Adventists, Evangelicals and assorted Holy Rollers, though the Presbyterians are certainly capable of craziness.”
- David L. (from the Netherlands) wrote “Australia … is only 14th [biggest economy in the world]. So a lunatic in Brasilia [9th biggest economy in the world] will have a bigger impact than a lunatic in Canberra.” (Emphasis David L.)
- “Evolution is real science; creationism is fake philosophy” screamed one headline, adding, “Evolution is not an optional worldview but a fundamental scientific theory, and one of the most successful scientific theories of all time. Biblical creationism is not a worldview, but a set of factually mistaken beliefs about the world and the Bible.”
- “Here’s …. a scary thought: only a rational and straightforward interpretation by a Court of a few plain and unequivocal words of a two hundred and thirty year old document prevents the US from going down this road. And even nominally less in my own country. The only thing preventing the Australian government from appointing a creationist to the directorship of our flagship scientific organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, (CSIRO) is the fact that they’d face open revolt, first from the scientists, and then from practically everybody.”
- “The choice of a creationist to lead the agency that regulates postgraduate degrees in Brazil is further evidence of the government’s assault on science and universities.”
The worst example of over-the-top foreboding irresponsible claims comes from a Twitter feed that said the appointment of Neto is the “beginning of the end of civilization and enlightenment.”
Sherwin correctly observed that “The majority of educators and scientists around the world have an evolutionary worldview. Therefore, they’re not open to any alternative to Darwinism be it some form of intelligent design (ID) or biblical creation.”
This case is a good example of the intolerant dogmatism among Darwinists today. Even one “foot in the door” is too much. As stated by the eminent Harvard university scientist Richard Lewontin,
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
This summary was well put and applies to the Neto case covered here.
 Escobar, Herton, 2020.” Brazil’s pick of a creationist to lead its higher education agency rattles scientists,” January 26. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/01/brazil-s-pick-creationist-lead-its-higher-education-agency-rattles-scientists.
 Escobar, 2020.
 Escobar, 2020.
 CNN News. 2020. “Brazil Picks Creationist to Head Education Agency Overseeing All Graduate Programs” January 27. https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2020/january/brazil-selects-creationist-to-head-education-agency-overseeing-all-graduate-study-programs.
 Escobar, 2020.
 Escobar, 2020.
 Feduccia, Alan. 2012. Riddle of the Feathered Dragons: Hidden Birds of China. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p. 5.
 Sherwin, Frank. 2020. “Brazil Appoints Creation Advocate,” February 11. www.icr.org/…/brazil-appoints-creationism-advocate.
 McKie, Anna. 2020. “Creationist appointed to lead Brazilian sector agency.” Times Higher Education, February 1. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/creationist-appointed-lead-brazilian-sector-agency
 Brenan, Megan. 2019. “40% of Americans Believe in Creationism,” Gallup News, July 26. https://news.gallup.com/poll/261680/americans-believe-creationism.aspx
 Ruse, Michael. 2017. Darwin as Religion:What Literature Tells Us about Evolution. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p. ix.
 Ruse, 2017, p. v.
 The Sensuous Curmudgeon, 27 January 2020. https://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2020/01/27/brazil-succumbs-to-creationist-madness/
 Escobar, 2020.
 McKie, 2020.
 Sherwin, 2020.
 Lewontin, Richard, 1997. Review of The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. In New York Review of Books, January 9. Italics in original.
Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.