6. Darwinism: grounded in science
or propped by philosophy?

PBS observes that the famous 19th century naturalist, T.H. Huxley, declared that "evolution excludes creation and all other kinds of supernatural intervention." But modern Darwinists have gone much further than Huxley. In Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, leading evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala celebrates that "Darwin's greatest accomplishment" was to show that the origin of life's complexity "can be explained as the result of a natural process-natural selection-without any need to resort to a Creator or other external agent."1

America's great champion of evolution, the late Stephen Jay Gould, similarly announced that "[b]efore Darwin, we thought that a benevolent God had created us,"2 but because of Darwin's ideas, "biology took away our status as paragons created in the image of God."3 Richard Dawkins is Oxford University's Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and is probably the most famous evolutionist in the world. Yet Dawkins believes that God is a "delusion" and that "Darwin made it possible to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist."6

Gould's and Dawkins's views are by no means uncommon among leading scientists. A 2007 editorial by the editors of the world's top scientific journal, Nature, stated that "the idea that human minds are the product of evolution" is an "unassailable fact," and thus concluded, "the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside."4

Also noteworthy is the fact that key public defenders of Darwin involved in the Dover trial who were featured in PBS's "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" documentary have strong ties to secular humanist groups. For example, Eugenie Scott is Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education. She is also a public signer of the Third Humanist Manifesto, an aggressive statement of the humanist agenda to create a world with "without supernaturalism" based upon the view that "[h]umans are- the result of unguided evolutionary change" and the universe is "self-existing."5 Similarly, Dover plaintiffs' expert Barbara Forrest, also featured in the PBS show, is a long time board member of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association.

Indeed, PBS-NOVA's star theistic evolutionary biologist Ken Miller has claimed in five editions of his textbooks that evolution works "without either plan or purpose" and is "random and undirected."7 Two additional editions of Miller's textbooks state: "Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products."8 Harvard paleontologist and author Richard Lewontin explains how this materialism is an overriding assumption propping Darwinian thought: "[W]e have a prior commitment - to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to - produce material explanations- [T]hat materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."9 Finally, leading Darwinian philosopher of science Michael Ruse admits that "for many evolutionists, evolution has functioned - akin to being a secular religion" whose main doctrine is "a commitment to a kind of naturalism."10 Is it possible that there is more propping up the support of Darwinism than the mere empirical evidence?

References Cited:
1. Francisco J. Ayala, "Darwin's greatest discovery: Design without designer," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 104:8567-8573 (May 15, 2007) (emphasis added).
2. Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History, page 267 (W.W. Norton, 1977).
3. Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History, page 147 (W.W. Norton, 1977).
4. "Evolution and the brain," Nature, Vol. 447:753 (June 14, 2007).
5. "Humanism and its Aspirations," at http://www.americanhumanist.org/3/HumandItsAspirations.htm.
6. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, page 6 (W. W. Norton, 1986).
7. Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine, Biology (1st ed., Prentice Hall, 1991), pg. 658; (2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 1993), pg. 658; (3rd ed., Prentice Hall, 1995), pg. 658; (4th ed., Prentice Hall, 1998), pg. 658; (5th ed. Teachers Ed., Prentice Hall, 2000), pg. 658.
8. Kenneth R. Miller & Joseph S. Levine, Biology: Discovering Life (1st ed., D.C. Heath and Co., 1992), pg. 152; (2nd ed.. D.C. Heath and Co., 1994), p. 161; emphasis in original.
9. Richard Lewontin, "Billions and Billions of Demons," New York Review of Books, page. 28 (January 9, 1997).
10. Michael Ruse, "Nonliteralist Antievolution" AAAS Symposium: "The New Antievolutionism," February 13, 1993, Boston, MA (1993).
The graphic above was hot-linked from http://users.telenet.be/stamboom.broeckx/blog/darwin-god.jpg.

Back | Slide 6 of 14 | Next
Slide 1: Evolution happens. So what? Slide 2. Following the evidence wherever it leads. Slide 3. The role of natural selection in evolution is controversial among scientists. Slide 4. The role of natural selection in evolution is controversial among scientists. (continued) Slide 5. Opening Darwin's black box Slide 6. Darwinism: grounded in science or propped by philosophy? Slide 7. Evolving views of embryology. Slide 8. Why sexual selection? Slide 9. Saving the Tree of Life. Slide 10. The myth of 1% human-chimp genetic differences. Slide 11. Human evolution remains a mystery. Slide 12. The origin of life remains a mystery. Slide 13. The abrupt appearance of biological forms. Slide 14. What would Darwin do?

For more information on problems with PBS-NOVA's "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial" documentary, please see any of the following links:

  • PBS Airs False Facts in its "Inherit the Wind" Version of the Kitzmiller Trial
  • PBS, Darwin and Dover: an Interview with Phillip Johnson [ID the Future Podcast]
  • The Theory of Intelligent Design: A Briefing Packet for Educators [B & W Version]
  • NOVA Program on Intelligent Design Biased, Not by Chance but Because They Designed It That Way
  • The Truth about the Kitzmiller v. Dover Trial
  • PBS Encouraging Teachers to Violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, Discovery Institute Reports
  • Who's on Trial? A Look at NOVA's Judgment Day [ID the Future Podcast]
  • Paula Apsell's Lessons Not Learned from the History of Science