In the book Darwin Day in America, author John West shows how evolutionary thought, inspired by Charles Darwin and accepted by his followers, has impacted various parts of society. Far from mere biology, Darwin’s theory of random mutations filtered by natural selection has shaped our culture in many areas. West explores how evolutionary thought has been applied to many areas having nothing to do with biology, such as criminal justice, how we respond to mental illness, and how we run businesses.
West describes how some groups have sponsored a holiday called Darwin Day, where they celebrate Darwinism and have a generally fun time doing their best to demean religion. West lists a series of groups that describe themselves as secular humanists, atheists, agnostics, and desiring a freedom from religion. Indeed, being decidedly anti-religious seems to be a pattern, and with many groups, there is no pretense of neutrality, for their bias is evident. “In California a group calling itself “Students for Science and Skepticism” hosted a lecture at the University of California-Irvine on the topic, “Darwin’s Greatest Discovery: Design Without a Designer.” In Boston, a group sponsored a similar event on “Biological Arguments Against the Existence of God.”” (p.211) The first claim, design without a designer, would be a pretty neat metaphysical trick. I would suspect sleight of hand in such a talk, but Darwin’s present-day spokesmen are generally not great students of philosophy in general or metaphysics in particular. Therefore the problem of design without a designer pales compared to the current atheist teachings of getting all matter from nothing — which is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, only there is no hat and no magician. The second, arguments against the existence of God, fly in the face of our atheist friends’ repeated claim that they have no such claims at proving anything.
West quotes Amanda Chesworth, one of the original sponsors who promote Darwin Day celebrations: “The knowledge we share in science serves to shrink our differences and smooth the path to our collective future. In this sense we have the necessary ingredients to build a just society.” (p.210). Oh, really? Now we are told that scientists have figured out a way to justice. We used to teach school children that science was observing and making measurements of natural forces. We are still taught by atheists that nothing in the world exists except matter and energy. But now, somehow, those promoting Darwinism tell us that observing natural forces can give us a theory of justice. If category jumping were an Olympic sport, this deserves a medal.
West’s book goes on to compare the attempts to use Darwinism for genetic engineering. Many are familiar with the 1925 Scopes Trial, where biology teacher John Scopes was prosecuted in Tennessee for teaching evolution. Darwin Day in America spends several pages showing what was actually taught in the textbook that Scopes used. The high school textbook was A Civic Biology by George Hunter. The actual truth of what was taught is a far cry from the movie Inherit the Wind, which turns out to be such a false view as to be not much more than a parody.
West shows how the textbook at the center of the 1925 Scopes trial used evolution to teach white supremacy, encouraging students to consider their future spouse’s genes before getting married, since it is an obligation to be selective in breeding to improve the human race. In comparing races, the texbtook lists black, brown, yellow, American Indian, and “finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.” (p.212) We are also given a description of those who have not been selective in their breeding, saying that “they are true parasites” on society. (p.213)
Such teaching was a direct result of accepting Darwin’s theory of selection. Yet when Tennessee rejected such ideas, the resulting public description of the 1925 Scopes trial generally mentions none of this, but makes a false caricature of religion in general, and Christianity in particular.
Cut to Arkansas. In the early 1980’s, Arkansas passed a law that said that schools could teach both evolution and creation. Many groups sued, including the ACLU and liberal Christian denominations. One of the witnesses in the trial was Norman Geisler, who spoke in favor of teaching creation. In his 2007 book, Creation and the Courts, Geisler shows how his testimony, and that of another witness Duane Gish, were never included as part of the officially published court transcripts. Thus their testimony was never available to Supreme Court justices in considering appeal, or other federal judges who referred to the case, such as the 2005 Dover case, which tried to teach students about gaps/issues with Darwinism. That official court testimony would not be published in a modern court case, especially one of such significance, is no less than astounding, and feeds theories of conspiracy.
Geisler’s testimony was published for the first time in his 2007 book. In Geisler’s pro-creation testimony, he speaks of many topics that show the line between teaching science, religion, and first causes is not so clear. Some of his testimony included:
- Ancient Greeks, who did not connect religion and a first cause of creation.
- Some religions do not demand belief in a deity, creator, or supreme being
- Some people believe there is a deity or creator but are not religious
- Humanist religions, as well as Buddhism, many of whom are atheist.
- Religious humanist teachings of evolution and creation.
- People who took Darwin’s theory and made it a tenet of their religion
- Distinctions between knowing that and a personal commitment to
- The history of philosophy and religion as they relate to science
- People who developed valid science through religious experiences
- Whether science can deal with ultimate origins
There’s much more, but you get the idea. Geisler’s testimony was knowledgeable about many facets of the debate: the history, philosophical underpinnings, and relationships of the ideas involved. By contrast, the ACLU lawyer who cross-examined Geisler asked about the following:
- Whether the God of the Bible was theistic and active
- The difference between micro-, macro-, and theistic evolution
- Whether creation implies a creator
- What Mussolini and Nietzsche taught about evolution
- Whether the Bible is inerrant.
- Whether he believes Satan exists
- Whether he believes UFOs exist
The testimony Geisler gave in the Arkansas trail was very relevant, but was ignored by the ACLU lawyers, who tried to taint his testimony with irrelevant questions. The public press painted the trials as circus acts, so the issues that were at hand were never evaluated by other courts or the court of public opinion. As the lawyer Phillip Johnson said in his book Darwin On Trial, tactics such as this reek of persuasion, not solid arguments.