I would like to make the point that macroevolution, or Darwinism, or Neo-Darwinism, or whatever you call it, did not begin in a scientific manner. I truly do not believe that scientists with no idealogical point of view would ever have conceived of macroevolution at all. They would have accepted that God, whoever or whatever He is, Created and unless a way was found to prove or disprove the existence of said God, gone on their way.
I believe a great deal of effort to prove macroevolution and study same is terribly wasted. Great talent is misused. Science could be spending more time on, say, trying to figure out how to use the lizard’s ability to reform a tail to help humans re-grow limbs and organs. More time trying to find a genetic solution to ending cancer. The possibilities are limited by the imagination.
However, armies of scientific minds spend time trying to find evidences of evolution in the macro sense.
My position is that life is far too complex and far too obviously designed to support the idea of macroevolution. It takes remarkable faith for a man to swallow such a concept and go on in pursuit of same if he knows much of anything about biology. I wonder that actual experts in the field can continue to ignore such evidences, and yet they do. I know many do so from an idealogical motive but still….
One can search this blog using the word “evolution” or “creation” or “huxley” or “behe” and find all sorts of posts and comment threads that concern the scientific evidences associated with both macroevolution and creation. We have covered a lot of ground and many common questions in the last months.
But let us begin to study the advent of macroevolutionary thought, the hypothesis of macroevolution which often carries the misnomer: The theory of evolution. Let’s see where it came from in this modern era.
Darwin before Darwin
Sure, there have been scientists and philosophers who have abandoned God and creation and that is nothing new. But today’s modern macroevolutionary bent is credited to Charles Darwin. Yet that is actually not quite true.
“Charles Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin(1731-1802), was a prominent and wealthy English medical doctor. An author and poet, his most famous publication was the book, Zoo-nomia (Latin for “law of life”). In this book he proposed (1) the spontaneous (chance) origin of life and (2) the gradual evolution of original simple plants and animals into more complex ones. Religiously, he was a pantheist (believing that God is everything and everything is God).
Josiah Wedgwood 1 (1730-1795) was Erasmus Darwin’s closest friend. He founded the famous Wedgwood pottery industry and was a leader in the English industrial revolution Josiah’s favorite minister was a Unitarian (Unitarians believe there is one God but deny the doctrine of the Trinity. Therefore, they do not believe that Jesus is God). Thus the Wedgwood family was strongly influenced by Unitarian religious views. Wedgwood hired a Unitarian minister to teach in his school at Etruria where his pottery manufacturing plant was located. In this school Erasmus’s son Robert (Charles’s father) and also Charles’s mother, Susannah Wedgwood, were educated. It is easy to see why Unitarian theology spread through the Wedgwood and Darwin families and why the Darwin men were generally freethinkers.
Erasmus Darwin’s son, Robert Waring Darwin(l 766-1848), was also a successful and wealthy physician. He married Susannah Wedgwood (1765-1817). Thus the Darwin and Wedgwood families became intimately connected. The Darwin and Wedgwood men were generally freethinkers (They wanted to be free from the orthodox faith in the God of the Bible). Robert Waring Darwin was probably an atheist. However, he made sure that his family maintained public connections with the Church of England (Anglican Church). This was the century of the Victorian Era (Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901). In Victorian England professional men and other leaders of society generally protected their reputations for respectability by being members of or publicly associated with the Anglican Church. And that is what the Darwin family did, even though father Robert was really an unbeliever.
Robert told his son, Charles, that he knew scarcely any intelligent men who were orthodox Christian believers. He also said that religious faith resided mainly in the women, but that he knew a few of the more intelligent women who were skeptics (rejected the Bible faith). The father advised his son, Charles, that it was well for a husband to conceal his unorthodox be-liefs from his wife, because if he died first, she would suffer undue pain knowing that he died in unbelief.” – Charles Darwin: Influences On the Man, His Science, And His Theory by Robert E. Kofal, Ph.D.
No one hears much about Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles. Yet he was a proponent of macroevolution before Charles was born and in fact passed away before Charles was born. But his writings and family influences lived on.
Russell Grigg writes this article:
“Darwinism: it was all in the family
Erasmus Darwin’s famous grandson learned early about evolution.
Many people erroneously think that Charles Darwin (who earned a degree in theology) was once blissfully content with the biblical explanation of origins—until, that is, as an unbiased naturalist, he stumbled across the idea of evolution by observing the ‘facts of nature’ in the Galápagos Islands in 1835. The truth is significantly otherwise. The concept of evolution had, in fact, been ‘in his family’ ever since his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, first suggested it in 1770.1
As we have often pointed out, evolutionists do not have any facts that are unavailable to creationists—it is how these facts are interpreted that is significant, and it is ideology which largely determines the interpretation. Charles Darwin himself said, ‘How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!’2
So we need to carefully consider the influences on Darwin’s mindset before he set out aboard the Beagle on his round-the-world trip in 1831. The key to understanding how he was predisposed to interpreting facts in favour of an evolutionary ideology goes back to the beliefs, writings and role model of his grandfather, Erasmus.
Scientist, inventor and doctor
Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802) was one of the most erudite, enthusiastic and dedicated scientists/inventors of his day. He completed a major translation from Latin to English of the works of Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), who devised the plant classification that forms the basis of modern botany. His many inventions included a speaking machine, a copying machine, and a carriage steering mechanism later used in cars. Indeed, ‘There is scarcely an idea or invention in the modern world that Erasmus Darwin did not originate or foresee, from evolution to eugenics, from airplanes to submarines, from antiseptics to psychoanalysis, from talking-machines to telephones.’3
He began his chosen profession of medicine at Lichfield in 1756. His reputation as a physician was established when he saved the life of a young man from a prominent local family, whom other doctors had declared to be incurable. Because his cures were ‘unfashionably frequent’ his practice gradually became the largest in the English Midlands. King George III asked him to become his personal physician in London, but Erasmus declined.
In about 1766, he co-founded the Lunar Society—a social club for the great scientists, industrialists and natural philosophers of his day. It has been called ‘the think tank of the Industrial Revolution’ and was the most famous English scientific society of the eighteenth century, after the Royal Society. Members included James Watt (of steam-engine fame), Joseph Priestley (the discoverer of oxygen), William Murdoch (the inventor of gas-lighting), Josiah Wedgwood (the great potter) and Samuel Galton (a wealthy industrialist). Others in America linked to the Society included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
Epicure, free-thinker and poet
His love of food (particularly fruits, sugar, cream and butter)4 was matched by his dislike of exercise, and by the age of 46 he had grown so corpulent that a semi-circle had to be cut out of his dining table to accommodate his girth at meal times. Married twice, he sired 12 Darwin offspring and, in between marriages, a further two (known) illegitimate daughters by a Miss Parker. These girls were raised in his home with his other children, and later were the inspiration for a lengthy tract by Erasmus on female education.5
Erasmus was anti-Christianity, anti-slavery, and pro the American and French Revolutions. An outstanding poet, he often wrote his opinions and scientific ideas in verse, the most notable of which were The Botanic Garden (published in two parts, 1789, 1791), which consisted of 4,384 lines of perfectly rhyming couplets, and The Temple of Nature (published posthumously in 1803).
‘Cold gills aquatic form respiring lungs,
And sounds aërial flow from slimy tongues.’6,7
Evolution à la Erasmus
Erasmus first tentatively suggested the idea of evolution in 1770. His family coat of arms featured three scallop shells, and to these he added the Latin words E Conchis omnia (‘everything from shells’). He had this motto painted on his carriage to publicize his theory ‘without anyone noticing’. However, notice they did. Canon Seward of Lichfield Cathedral wrote some satirical verses of his own, complaining that Darwin …
‘… renounces his Creator
And forms all sense from senseless matter.
Great wizard he! by magic spells
Can all things raise from cockle shells.’8
To avoid offending his rich patients, Erasmus painted over the motto on his carriage, and instead put it on his bookplate (1771).
In the next two decades, Erasmus was emboldened to state more and more of his evolutionary ideas. In The Economy of Vegetation (1792), he proclaimed that the earth was formed from a cosmological explosion:
‘When high in ether, with explosion dire
From the deep craters of his realms of fire,
The Whirling Sun this ponderous planet hurl’d,
And gave the astonish’d void another world.’9
In The Botanic Garden, he said that life began in the sea and progressively developed from there:
‘ORGANIC Life beneath the shoreless waves
Was born and nurs’d in Ocean’s pearly caves;
First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;
These, as successive generations bloom,
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume;
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,
And, breathing realms of fin, and feet, and wing.’10
His major work, Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life (two volumes, 1794 and 1796), was a huge medical treatise in prose, which included a comprehensive classification of diseases and treatments. Within 10 years, four British and two American editions appeared, and it was translated into German, French and Italian. It has been called ‘the first consistent all-embracing hypothesis of evolution’, and was published some 65 years before Charles published his version of evolution in On the Origin of Species in 1859.
Erasmus said that ‘millions of ages [i.e. thousands of millions of years] before the commencement of the history of mankind … all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament, which THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE endued with animality, with the power of acquiring new parts … and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down those improvements by generation to its posterity, world without end!’ (I:505)11 Later, in The Temple of Nature, Erasmus extends this to read: ‘“all vegetables and animals now existing were originally derived from the smallest microscopic ones, formed by spontaneous vitality” in primeval oceans.’11 And he says:
Should eye with tenderness all living forms,
His brother-emmets [i.e. ants], and his sister-worms.’12
Erasmus tried to appease the church-going culture of his day by referring to ‘THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE’, highlighted in capitals, but quickly affirmed that, once started, evolution needs no divine help, but proceeds ‘by its own inherent ability’. He was strongly anti-Christian, and included ‘Credulity, Superstitious Hope, and the Fear of Hell in his catalogue of diseases.’13
These ideas were widely denounced by writers such as the great poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who coined the term ‘darwinizing’, meaning speculating wildly, in reference to Erasmus’s evolutionary ideas.14 The Temple of Nature was generally condemned for its ‘total denial of any interference of a Deity’ and he was further assailed for trying ‘to substitute the religion of nature for the religion of the Bible’.15
Erasmus’s influence on Charles
Although Erasmus died seven years before Charles was born, Charles grew up in a household where his father, Robert, had imbibed Erasmus’s ‘free-thinking’ (materialist), anti-Christian ideas. So disbelief was an acceptable trait within the Darwin family—perceived not as ‘a moral crisis or rebellion’, but perhaps even as ‘a filial duty’.16
Charles read and ‘greatly admired’ Zoonomia when he was 18. Years later, when faced with the same sort of censure as Erasmus had faced, Charles tried to disown his grandfather’s book,17 claiming that, ‘on reading it a second time after an interval of ten or fifteen years, I was much disappointed; the proportion of speculation being so large to the facts given’.18 Nevertheless, in 1837, when Charles began writing his ideas in a notebook, he inscribed the word Zoonomia on the title page ‘to signal that he was treading the same path as his grandfather’.19
One of Charles’s chief arguments for evolution is based on the shape of the beaks of finches in response to the types of food available that he saw in the Galápagos Islands in 1835. Is it credible to think that he had not been influenced by what Erasmus had written on the subject? Namely: ‘Some birds have acquired harder beaks to crack nuts, as the parrot. Others have acquired beaks adapted to break the harder seeds, as sparrows. Others for the softer seeds of flowers, or the buds of trees, as the finches. Other birds have acquired long beaks … and others broad ones … . All … gradually produced during many generations by the perpetual endeavour of the creatures to supply the want of food (I:504).’20
Almost every topic discussed, and example given, in Zoonomia reappears in Charles’s Origin. In fact, all but one of Charles’s books have their counterpart in a chapter of Zoonomia or an essay-note to one of Erasmus’s poems.21 And Charles’s own copies of Zoonomia and The Botanic Garden are extensively marked and annotated.
So, Erasmus cast a long shadow which, via his grandson, has made atheism intellectually respectable and changed the worldview of Western mankind from belief in the Creator God to the worship of humanistic hedonism, free from any sense of accountability to the God who is ‘Judge of all the earth’ (Genesis 18:25).
The message for us today is to consider what we pass on to our children and grandchildren. We have the responsibility to teach them the true biblical worldview, which is foundational, not only to our need for salvation, but also to the way of it—through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His death and Resurrection. This will give meaning to their lives, so that they need not flounder in the sea of uncertainty of a man-made anti-God theory, which is now ‘the big lie’ of 21st-century thinking.”
Funny thing, that the beaks of finches would supposedly inspire Charles to “tune-up” his grandfather’s ideas and promote macroevolutionary thought. Yet the idea that the beaks of finches represent macroevolution has since been falsified! Ironic. You don’t think so?
Finches No Macroevolutionary Rosetta Stone!
After all the ‘hype’ about watching ‘evolution’, one reads with amazement that the selection events observed actually turned out to have no net long-term effect. For example, for a while selection drove the finch populations towards larger birds, then when the environment changed, it headed them in the opposite direction. The author says concerning this sort of effect (also seen in sparrows) that ‘Summed over years, the effects of natural selection were invisible’ (p. 108). So that when Darwin looked at the fossil record and found it ‘static and frozen for long stretches’ (p. 109), this was the reason. Consider, he says:
‘how much less visible these [natural selection] events will be in the strata of rock beneath our feet, in which the generations have been summed for many millions of generations.’
Evolutionists have long argued the opposite—that evolution is invisible in the short term, but would become visible if we had enough time. Yet according to Weiner, we can see evolution happening in the (very) short term, but any longer and it becomes ‘invisible’! The mind boggles at how evolutionists can be blind to this inconsistency.
Weiner quotes a researcher as saying that:
‘A species looks steady when you look at it over the years—but when you actually get out the magnifying glass you see that it’s wobbling constantly.’
Obviously, since macroevolution is supposed to be about long-term, directional change (even the creation/Flood model requires more directional change than the Grants documented) such ‘wobbling back and forth’ (fluctuation around a mean) over short time-spans, with no net change over longer time periods, is hardly supportive of the case for evolution. Yet instead of acknowledging this, the researcher goes on to say, ‘So I guess that’s evolution in action.’
I will, in the next few days, pursue the concept that Charles Darwin was not driven by evidence to conceive of his so-called “theory of evolution” but rather by idealogical bent. In fact, his real message is presented nicely by Dr. Carl Wieland.
Here is an excerpt from Darwin’s real message: have you missed it?
“…Harvard’s renowned Professor Stephen Jay Gould1 is a vigorous anticreationist (and Marxist), and perhaps the most knowledgeable student of the history of evolutionary thought and all things Darwinian.
I’m glad he and I are on the same side about one thing at least — the real meaning of ‘Darwin’s revolution’. And we both agree that it’s a meaning that the vast majority of people in the world today, nearly a century and a half after Darwin, don’t really want to face up to. Gould argues that Darwin’s theory is inherently anti-plan, anti-purpose, anti-meaning (in other words, is pure philosophical materialism). Also, that Darwin himself knew this very well and meant it to be so.
By ‘materialism’ he does not mean the drive to possess more and more material things, but the philosophical belief that matter is the only reality. In this belief system, matter, left to itself, produced all things, including the human brain. This brain then invented the idea of the supernatural, of God, of eternal life, and so forth.
It seems obvious why Christians who wish to compromise with evolution, and especially those who encourage others to do this, would not want to face this as the true meaning of Darwinism. Such ‘theistic evolutionists’ believe they can accept the ‘baby’ of evolution (thus saving face with the world) while throwing out the ‘bathwater’ of materialism. I will not here go into the many reasons why the evolution/long geological ages idea is so corrosive to the biblical Gospel2 (even if evolution could be seen as the plan and purpose of some ‘god’).
My purpose is (like Gould’s, but with a different motive) to make people aware of this very common philosophical blind spot, this refusal to wake up to what Darwin was really on about. Why is it true, as Gould also points out, that even among non-Christians who believe in evolution the vast majority don’t wish to face the utter planlessness of Darwin’s theory? Because they would then no longer be able to console themselves with the feeling that there is some sort of plan or purpose to our existence.3
The usual thing vaguely believed in by this majority of people (at the same time as they accept evolution) is some sort of fuzzy, ethereal, oozing god-essence — more like the Star Wars ‘force be with you’ than the personal God of Scripture. They usually obtain some comfort from a vague belief in at least the possibility of some sort of afterlife, which helps explain the success of recent movies like Flatliners and Ghost.4
Gould appears to deplore these popular notions as unfortunate, illogical and unnecessary cultural hangups. He, of course, starts from the proposition that evolution is true. He knows the real message of Darwin to be that ‘there’s nothing else going on out there — just organisms struggling to pass their genes on to the next generation. That’s it.’ In which case it is time for people to abandon comforting fairytales and wake up to this materialistic implication of evolution…”
If you are like Darwin and Gould, you actually believe that “…there’s nothing else going on out there — just organisms struggling to pass their genes on to the next generation. That’s it…” How terribly sad.