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With Darwin Day Coming Tomorrow, Here’s Tom Bethell on Darwin’s Deception

Update: Darwin Day is also Academic Freedom Day. Be sure to check back in here after midnight to find out who our 2017 Censor of the Year will be!

This year, Darwin Day falls on a Sunday — tomorrow, February 12. Of all the Darwinist talking points, the most transparently false may be the claim that this 19th-century materialist theory of origins poses no challenge whatsoever to serious, sincere religious belief.

Oh, please! Do they really think we’re that gullible? Well, maybe they are not wrong about that anyway.

As Tom Bethell (that’s him in the video above) points out over at The American Spectator, many churches and synagogues, pastors, priests, and rabbis, have been captivated by the idea that they can have their cake and eat it too: enjoy the prestige and regard that come with assenting to evolutionary theory, while retaining the authority and regard that come with their clerical position.

February 12 is Darwin Day, and this year the international celebration falls on a Sunday. Look for theistic Darwinists to reassure churches that Charles Darwin believed in God, or at least that his theory of evolution harmonizes beautifully with Christian theology.

The reality is more complex.

In The Origin of Species, Darwin suggested the idea of a God who created a few original forms and then let the “laws” of nature govern the outcome. “It is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms,” he wrote, “as to believe that he required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of his laws.”

But later he wrote privately to friend Joseph Hooker, “I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion, and used the Pentateuchal term of creation.” And in 1862, he told Harvard botanist Asa Gray there seemed to be “too much misery in the world.” He could not accept, for example, “that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created [digger wasps] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.”

Darwin was careful to conceal his own loss of faith, and his surviving family members kept up the tradition.

[R]ealizing that a thoroughgoing materialism wasn’t an easy sell, [Darwin] actively concealed this aspect of his thinking. In one notebook he reminded himself to “avoid stating how far, I believe, in Materialism.”

One doesn’t hear much about the materialism of Darwin and Darwinism, likely because there has been a longstanding effort to ignore and suppress it. Many of today’s theistic Darwinists play this game, but they are hardly the first. So, for instance, Darwin’s mounting hostility to Christianity was suppressed by his widow, who removed some inflammatory comments from his Autobiography.

Read the rest here. Veteran journalist Bethell’s new book is Darwin’s House of Cards: A Journalist’s Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates. As a writer, he is a delight, praised by Tom Wolfe as “one of our most brilliant essayists.” The tragedy of the clergy and their mass surrender to evolutionary thinking is that it is so unnecessary.

Yes, it requires some homework and independent thinking to realize this, but the cogency of evolution’s main claim — that blind churning produces brilliant novelties — rests on remarkably little evidence. Bethell, as I’ve pointed out, has put to the rest “I’m not a scientist” dodge beloved by clergy, journalists, and other professionals unwilling to do that homework for themselves.

I’m on Twitter. Follow me @d_klinghoffer.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



Darwin DayDarwin's House of CardsTom BethellViews