Monday, August 21, 2006


The Religion of Liberalism’s creation myth is Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. I have read a bit about Darwinian evolution and about the criticisms of the theory offered by the Intelligent Design community. I’ve found the criticisms to be compelling, but never have I read a more thorough deconstruction of Darwin's theory than in Ann Coulter’s new book Godless.

Cutting through all the mumbo-jumbo about Galapagos finches, peppered moths, Haeckel’s embryos, the primordial soup, punctuated equilibrium and evolutionary psychology, Coulter lays out Darwin’s theory in simple terms:

Random mutations of desirable attributes lead to variations in living organisms. Those best suited to the environment preferentially survive and pass on their favorable attributes to their offspring. This natural selection process leads, over millions of years, to the creation of new species.

It is a nice story and it may be elevated to the level of a scientific theory if, and only if, it makes predictions that can be checked by experiment or observation.

In his masterpiece The Origin of Species, Darwin defined the test for his theory. “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.”

Unfortunately, the great scientist’s test is not a valid test for a scientific theory. We all know how difficult it is to prove a negative (“could not possibly”). Karl Popper, the great philosopher of science, said any theory that cannot be refuted is not science. This is an “immunizing stratagem” distinguishing pseudo-science from real science.

Yet, Intelligent Design scientists such as Michael Behe (Darwin’s Black Box) have taken up that nearly impossible challenge. Behe has identified a number of “irreducibly complex” molecular machines that, most likely, meet Darwin’s test, thereby disproving evolution. Life, even at the molecular level, Behe concludes, “is a loud, clear, piercing cry of design.” The evidence keeps piling up.

Still, Darwiniac and Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins (“Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”) denounced Behe as being “cowardly” for believing in God –- before admitting that he couldn’t answer Behe’s argument.

But there was and still is an eminently testable prediction of evolution that was brought to Darwin’s attention by most of the paleontologists of his day. If Darwin was right, there should have been a rich fossil record showing the “numerous, successive, slight modifications” leading from one species to another.

It was a nice yarn Darwin had spun, but there was nothing in the fossil record to support it. Contrary to the gradual change from one species to another that Darwin predicted, the record showed new species suddenly appearing without precedence, remaining largely unchanged for millions of years, and then disappearing to be replaced, again suddenly, by new species.

Darwin’s explanation was that the fossil record in 1859 was meager, so he recommended the paleontologists get busy.

Well they have been busy for 147 years since Darwin’s publication. Still, nada!! David Raup of the Field Museum of Natural History wrote: “We now have over a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. Ironically, we have fewer examples of evolutionary transitions than we had in Darwin’s time” (since some of the previous examples were proven to be false or frauds).

Darwin said there would be “interminable varieties, connecting together all of the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps.” But the fossil record shows nothing at all like this. Ann Coulter points out that “the more advances paleontologists make in uncovering the fossil record, the more absurd the evolution fable becomes.”

The world famous evolutionary scientist Steven Jay Gould once famously called the “extreme rarity” of transitional animals the “trade secret” of paleontology.

And if the lack of millions of transitional fossils is not a big enough problem, the “Cambrian Explosion” is a catastrophe for the Darwiniacs. Around 590 million years ago, in the blink of an evolutionary eye (about 5 million years), occurred a sudden explosion of nearly all the animal phyla we have today. As Richard Dawkins, himself, describes the Cambrian fossils: “It is as though they were just planted there, without evolutionary history.”

Hmmm … planted??

Darwiniacs clutched to the fact that the pre-Cambrian fossils had not yet been found -- the Darwin defense once again. Then in 1984 Chinese scientists discovered the pre-Cambrian fossils, and guess what? The “sad little worms and sponges” were nothing like the Cambrian fossils. No transitional species. Jan Bergstrom, a paleontologist who examined the Chinese fossils, said the Cambrian period was “not evolution, it was revolution.”

Faced with the obvious truth of the evidence, Steven Gould tried to salvage evolution by abandoning Darwin’s theory for a new theory of “punctuated equilibrium”-- which is no theory at all -- just a statement that the sudden appearance of new species is the way evolution works. Huh?

Basically what happens is this, Ann wrote: “Your parents are slugs and then suddenly -- but totally at random -- you evolve into a gecko and your brother evolves into a shark and your sister into a polar bear and so on, then everyone relaxes by the pool for 150 million years.”

To the Darwiniacs Gould was a heretic. The rest of Darwin’s tribe recoiled in horror -- there was a schism in the church of evolution.

So what is the current status of Darwin’s theory of evolution? Is it the finest expression of the mind of man, as Darwiniacs would have us believe? Or is it “the last of the great 19th century religions”?

We’ve pretty much destroyed the validity of evolution as Darwin described it since its predictions (“interminable varieties connecting together all of the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps”) have been proven false. What about the very beginning? Could evolution work to create life?

Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, both eminent physicists, studied that possibility and showed that “the odds were utterly miniscule.” Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick (DNA) said “the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd.”


Ann offered up an alternative theory. “Imagine a giant raccoon passed gas and perhaps the resulting gas might have created the vast variety of life we see on Earth. And if you don’t accept the giant raccoon flatulence theory for the origin of life, then you must be a fundamentalist Christian nut who believes the Earth is flat.”

I think Ann’s theory deserves some serious study. A research grant from the New York Times School of Evolutionary Psychology is just what I need.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your darviniacs writing. I have had a hard time believing in Darwin's theory. Small changes with a species- Totally understandable. What came first the chicken or the egg, and where did they come from? hmmmm??????

Mysteries of life. Isn't it wonderful !!!


12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So as the night passes by the raccoon "farts" acoss the heavens, new species are developed and life goes on. The moral to the story: Let's use donkey farts instead, then we can hit him in the head and get the species that we want.

John H.

12:40 PM  
Blogger gary daily said...

palosverdeblog had to finally eat sun kissed raisins on global warming. Now it marches backward by "challenging" the science of evolution by embracing Coulterisms and garden of eden and raccoon farts myths. It's not a surprise that faith based science (sic) reaches for fairy tales to shore up their world view. As Steven Pinker puts it (I quote from a PAUL R. GROSS June 19, 2006, New York Sun article) : "fear underlies most forms of resistance to evolution. It gives rise to the ancient claim that without revealed religion and its key principle - that humankind is of special concern to and under continuous observation by a powerful God - the moral order would collapse; we would succumb to a destructive anarchy. But the evidence is clear that all humans possess a moral sense independently of the details of their religion, if any, and that religion in us is a plausible, indeed an inevitable, consequence of evolutionary history."

We just don't live in a world where the more things change the more they remain the same. We just want to.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...

The global warming warriors are only exceeded by the Darwiniacs. You can believe both fairy tales if you wish; did you descend from a raccoon, or a slug?

As for your authorities, Pinker is another atheist - what a surprise- three times married, and a protege of the religion-hater and America- hater Noam Chomsky.

He has been criticized by Edward Oakes for combining several weakly based hypotheses into a plausible-sounding "evolutionary psychology" story that in reality may be no more scientific than a Rudyard Kipling "Just So" story.

And what he says about moral sense vs religion has nothing to do with my argument. Darwinian evolution is weak.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Cutting through all the mumbo-jumbo about Galapagos finches, peppered moths, Haeckel’s embryos, the primordial soup, punctuated equilibrium and evolutionary psychology, Coulter lays out Darwin’s theory in simple terms"

Oh it has to be if that creep Ann Coulter said it. Its a branch of science practiced by Limbaugh, O'Rielly and McBushes, its called "Factsouttamya*s-ology"

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a humorous short-story take on the Darwinian panic registered on the campus of a university in the western United States-- about Lehigh University biologist Michael Behe's devastating critique of the Grand Theory--see "Darwin's Black Box," in "Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud - Stories" by Nickell John Romjue.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just need to find a rabbit fossil in the pre-cambrian to disprove evolution, it's easy.
Actually, it's easier than that, find any fossil in a layer that doesn't match with the order that evolution would predict eg a bird earlier than a reptile or any sort of mammal earlier than a fish...
I wonder why this has never been done?

I also wonder if Anne discusses the molecular evidence for evolution? What's all that about?
I've heard that we have the same 'mistakes' in our genome as our closely 'related' species (read Kenneth Miller's "Only a Theory").

So the more closely related we are, the more similar the mistakes are - which is an obvious sign of a single mutational event, inherited by both, pointing to an evolutionary tree of descent.

I wonder why she seems to focus on Darwin's evidence (from 150 years ago) - is it to avoid all the evidence that has compiled since then?

9:48 PM  

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