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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth to planet D'Souza - check your space time co-ordinates before wading deeper into Darwinism-ID controversy

Recently, Dinesh D'Souza, whom I generally respect, has gone on a sort of campaign to convince the public that Darwinism works as a science theory but it is taught in such a way as to promote atheism.

He's right about the atheism. For example, he notes,
Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson writes in his widely-assigned book On Human Nature: "If humankind evolved by Darwinian natural selection, genetic chance and environmental necessity, not God, made the species."

Biologist Stephen Jay Gould writes in his essay in the book Darwin's Legacy: "No intervening spirit watches lovingly over the affairs of nature...whatever we think of God, his existence is not manifest in the products of nature."

Douglas Futuyma asserts in his textbook Evolutionary Biology: "By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous."

Biologist William Provine writes, "Modern science directly implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws...We must conclude that when we die, we die, and that is the end of us." Evolution, Provine has also said, is the "greatest engine of atheism."

In his essay on "Darwin's Revolution" in the book Creative Evolution, Francisco Ayala credits Darwin with proving that life is "the result of a natural process...without any need to resort to a Creator."

but then, remarkably, D'Souza announces,
Most Christians don't care whether the eye evolved by natural selection or whether evolution can account for macroevolution or only microevolution. What they care about is that Darwinism, which is “chance alone” or “by mere accident” evolution, is being used to deny God as the Creator. For those who are concerned about this atheism masquerading as science, there is a better way. Instead of trying to get unscientific ID theories included in the classroom, a better strategy would be to get the unscientific atheist propaganda out.

Now, this is so wrong, it is hard to know where to begin, so I will make only three points:

1. Natural selection is simply the fact that only those life forms that possess a narrow band of traits are likely to survive to produce offspring. So natural selection explains why all wild dogs tend to look alike but tame dogs, segregated from nature and bred by artificial (not natural) selection, can look very different from each other. These differences are not caused by the evolution of new traits, but by the development of latent existing traits that would not permit a dog to survive in nature. The same is true of horses, incidentally. There are very few examples of natural selection acting on random mutations so as to cause the evolution of new structures. That was precisely what Darwin's theory asserted, and it is simply wrong, as Michael Behe shows in Edge of Evolution.

2. Most major changes in life forms - for example, the Avalon and Cambrian explosions, occur very suddenly in geological time, not slowly, as Darwin's theory needs. So whatever happened, natural selection was not likely the cause.

3. I find D'Souza's glib assertion,
Most Christians don't care whether the eye evolved by natural selection or whether evolution can account for macroevolution or only microevolution.
troubling to say the least. Many of us oppose Darwinism because it is a false official account of the history of life, and thus a major obstacle to developing a correct account. We want to provide accurate information. If "most Christians don't care" it is either because they do not know the facts or because they do know them, but do not mind promoting falsehoods. Either situation is a cause for concern.

D'Souza then naively insists,
No need to produce creationist or ID critiques of Darwinism. All that is necessary is to parade the atheist claims that have made their way into the biology textbooks and biology lectures.
Oh? Darwinism is passionately embraced precisely because it promotes atheism, as the luminaries that D'Souza quotes amply demonstrate. Such people do not usually embrace the much better attested Big Bang theory with any similar passion because that does not promote atheism, but rather the reverse. (And remember, 78 percent of evolutionary biologists are pure naturalists - no God and no free will.)

If D'Souza imagines that the courts will prevent these people from using tax funds to promote their propaganda, he does not know North America as well as he thinks.

My sense is that Dinesh D'Souza, having performed ably in many areas, has now wandered into one that he does not really know and has not given himself the trouble of researching carefully. I hope he rectifies this error soon. He could begin by reading serious ID books like Edge of Evolution and The Design of Life.

Note: Here's D'Souza making more sense on origin of life.

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