Of Monkeys and Men

Don’t say you weren’t warned. Here’s a prediction: when the newly-proposed standards for teaching science in the state of Pennsylvania are made available for public comment, the red-faced invective will flow fast and furious from the lips of certain segments of the academic elite. The reason for this venom will be simple: these proposed standards will dare to suggest that students in our public schools be exposed to the possibility that Darwinistic explanations for our origins might be flawed. Mind you, there is nothing approaching the suggestion that we teach what has been labeled “creationism”. Rather, the standards will simply suggest that students be made aware that there exists a body of evidence which might tend to undermine Darwin’s theory of gradual evolution by natural selection.

This will of course be too much for the Darwinist fundamentalists. They will paint those who question Darwinism as unschooled rubes who might have good hearts but whose minds have been checked at the door. “Thump your Bibles in your churches and leave the science to us” will be something like what you will hear, in essence. They will save their most vehement rhetoric for those who are scientists themselves and question Darwin; these folks will be labeled with the most vicious of labels, traitors that they are to evolutionary orthodoxy.

In one sense, I suppose that this has become standard fare for the state of political discourse in America today; it matters not so much who has the best command of the facts, but rather who has the biggest megaphone. When the facts cannot make your point, so the strategy goes, shout louder and curse your opponent.

And it must also be said that this is an issue which engenders passions unlike most others. The answers to some of our most basic questions of existence depend upon the assumptions we make about our identity and our origin. Morality and ethics take on different meanings depending upon how one understands human existence. If “man is the measure of all things”, as the Darwinist might logically argue, then we have a very different basis for issues of right and wrong than if we understand life to be created by a Supreme Being who has made us with some distinct purpose in mind.

But I digress. The reality is that there is an increasingly strong scientific argument to be made which exposes some fatal flaws in Darwinist theory. Consider the following quote that magnum opus The Origin of Species, Darwin’s seminal work on the subject: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Today, there are a growing number of distinguished scientists who are demonstrating just such a thing.

Perhaps the best known–and a man who will be a lightning rod for this debate, no doubt, due in part to the fact that he is a Pennsylvanian himself–is Michael Behe, professor of molecular biology at Lehigh University. In his influential book Darwin’s Black Box, Behe demonstrates what he terms the “irreducible complexity” of various biological systems, and then asks how these systems could possibly have developed via gradual mutations as Darwin’s theory suggests. For instance, in one chapter Behe deftly explains, in terms that leave this layman gasping for breath, the intricacies of the system which causes blood to clot. He explains how each of the many steps in the system have to function just so; leave out one factor and the animal in question either perishes from hemorrhage or from becoming one massive blood clot. He then asks how this system could have come about gradually. Astonishingly, the attempts to explain such systems as Behe mentions in his book are few and far between, and these few attempts are woeful in their inability to develop theories which pass scientific muster. We can’t well take the word of the Darwinists if they are unwilling or unable to answer such basic questions as these.

Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, has this assessment of the current state of Darwinism. She says that history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as “a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology”, and she challenges molecular biologists to name a single, unambiguous example of the formation of new species by Darwinian processes. The silence in response to this question might be deafening, but this will likely not be the case when the fundamentalist Darwinist establishment gets a chance to vent its venom on Pennsylvania’s proposed new standards.

Just don’t say you weren’t warned.

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