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Necessary trips?

Endangering careers to oppose Darwin

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Washington Post columnist and former Bush administration speechwriter Michael Gerson says 20th-century evangelicals “made a crucial error in picking evolution as a main point of contention with modernity.” Gerson quotes William Jennings Bryan from a century ago: “The contest between evolution and Christianity is a duel to the death. If evolution wins … Christianity goes.”

Mike Gerson recognizes that “many people of his background believed this.” (“Bless their hearts,” a chorus of Southern Christian women would add.) Gerson, though, says “their resistance was futile, for one incontrovertible reason: Evolution is a fact. It is objectively true based on overwhelming evidence.”

Gerson hasn’t done his homework. A huge and mostly unreported story is that the 21st-century battle is not science vs. Christianity but science vs. Darwin. While microevolution—finches developing larger or smaller beaks—is obvious, Darwin’s unavoidable ignorance concerning cell structure and much besides condemns his theory to be among the many whose time has come and gone.

More than 1,000 Ph.D. holders have signed the “Scientific Dissent From Darwin” list. The list of signatories includes members of national academies of science in 16 different countries. Many are senior professors or researchers at universities and research institutions such as Cambridge University, the British Natural History Museum, the Institute of Human Paleontology in France, Ben-Gurion University in Israel, MIT, and so on.

Some writers who respected my history books lost confidence in my judgment when they learned I doubted Oz the Great and Powerful, aka Darwin.

At least they all were at such distinguished places last time I looked—because coming out against macroevolution takes courage, and for some it’s been career suicide. I suspect many of them have thought, “Is this trip necessary?” I’ve thought that too: Some writers who respected my history books lost confidence in my judgment when they learned I doubted Oz the Great and Powerful, aka Darwin.

Gerson asks, “What if Bryan and others of his generation had chosen to object to eugenics rather than evolution, to social Darwinism rather than Darwinism?” Or, what if they had spent more time developing “compassionate conservatism,” which Gerson and I both strove for two decades ago?

What he doesn’t get is what Bryan understood: That acceptance of Darwinism logically leads to eugenics, social Darwinism, militarism, racism, and attempts not to serve the poor, homeless, and addicted, but to kill them for the purported good of all. Darwin himself wrote, “The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races through the world.” He wasn’t responsible for either callous conservatism or cancerous progressivism, let alone mass murders by Darwin-believers like Adolf Hitler. Still, ideas do have consequences.

This issue of WORLD went to print on Feb. 13, one day after the 210th birthday of two world-changing individuals: Both Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on Feb. 12, 1809. Lincoln died only six years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, and it’s doubtful that the Great Emancipator ever read it because a little thing like the Civil War soon occupied his waking hours and his nightmares as well.

Nevertheless, historian John West brought to my attention a comment (with spelling mistakes) by James Keyes, one of Lincoln’s neighbors in Springfield, Ill.: “In my intercours with Mr Lincoln I learned that he believed in a Creator of all things, who had neither beginning nor end, who possessing all power and wisdom, established a principal, in Obediance to which, Worlds move and are upheld, and animel and vegetable life came into existence.”

Keyes concluded, “A reason he gave for his belief was, that in view of the Order and harmony of all nature which all beheld, it would have been More miraculouis to have Come about by chance, than to have been created and arranged by some great thinking power.” That was true in the 19th century and it’s true now: So true that Darwinians are grabbing onto theories of multiverses or computer simulations to explain how we could find ourselves in such a finely tuned world and universe.

But if somehow all of this could be the product of chance, with survival of the fittest our operative principle, power rules. Why emancipate slaves? Why help the poor? Why not kill our neighbor? Happily, evidence against macroevolution is growing. Mike Gerson and others: Read Michael Behe’s new book (due out on Feb. 26) and dozens of others I could recommend.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is the former editor in chief of WORLD, having retired in January 2022, and former dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism.



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