Darwin Day: A New Bane of Creationists
Today people throughout the world are celebrating the birthday of a great man of science, Charles Darwin. Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection has been hailed as one of the greatest scientific theories of all time. In a nutshell, Darwin discovered that all species that exist on the earth today, including man, all are descendants of a common ancestor that had been endlessly modified over time through natural selection. In the 150 years since Darwin wrote “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life,” science has unequivocally demonstrated the fact of evolution. One group of people today, though, are not celebrating man’s triumph in understanding the natural world. They are the creationists, or as they call prefer to call themselves, after many lost court cases, intelligent design proponents.
Before Darwin the western world relied primarily upon the creation accounts in the Genesis for understanding of how life began. Christians, like Jews and Muslims, mistakenly assumed that if their scriptures were a divine revelation by the creator, they must be trustworthy and reliable. If the scriptures were not reliable, how could anyone discern truth from fiction? When Genesis states that all the species on earth had been created directly by god, and that god created man in his own image, believers took it at face value. The notion that Genesis could be wrong was inconceivable to the faithful before the onset of modern science.
The truth is Genesis is wrong. The world, and life itself, was not created by god as described in scripture. God did not create species, they evolved. While most Christians have reconciled their faith with this fact, creationists refuse to accept evolution, preferring instead to hold on to their belief that the bible is the word of god and cannot be contradicted. There is a problem though. Creationists have no science to back up their antiquated beliefs. Instead, they use ad homonym attacks against Darwin, evolutionary biologists, and humanists.
At last fall’s The Legacy of Darwin conference in Castle Rock, Colorado, Dr. John West gave a shallow, and quite pathetic, talk on Darwin Day in America. His entire talk was a show case for the use of misinformation and logical fallacies. One might think a talk about Darwin would include a discussion of evolutionary science. And for a few minutes he did manage to completely twist and distort evolutionary theory. But the majority of his talk were nothing more than rants against the ACLU, the AAAS, eugenics, abortion, moral relativism, and atheism. Despite his ramblings, West was perfectly clear about one thing. The real reason he is against Darwin’s evolutionary theory of natural selection is because he hates what it implies about humanity; humans aren’t the center of the universe, they are not created in the image of god, they are not going to live forever, and from a cosmic perspective, they are not all that important. These are hard facts to accept when one is filled with fundamentalist Christian hubris.
Whether the celebration of Darwin Day continues or not, we can all be thankful that the world will continue to celebrate his ingenious insight into the natural world. Evolution is a fact that will never go away.