Creationist Wisdom #283: The Truth

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. It’s titled Pursue the truth about Darwin’s evolution. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. As we usually do, we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Okay, here we go:

In response to Mr. Steve Murphree’s letter …

He’s referring to Teaching evolution doesn’t dismiss God, which we found published in The Tennessean, owned by the same people who own the Daily News Journal. Okay, back to today’s letter:

[W]ith all due respect to Mr. Murphree, my position is not based on fear or the intent to spread fear. Rather my intent is to pursue the truth.

The letter-writer’s heart is pure. He seeks only The Truth Let’s read on:

I would encourage Mr. Murphree to take an honest look at the presuppositions regarding evolution. Darwin, in his tome, “The Origin of the Species,” concludes, “ … I view all beings, not as special creations, but as lineal descendants of some few beings … ” [Ellipses in the original letter.]

That triggered our BozoGuard alarm. Let’s verify that quote, shall we? In Origin of Species, Chapter 14 — Recapitulation and Conclusion, we find this in the book’s penultimate paragraph, which is where we’d expect conclusions, not presuppositions. The part quoted by the letter-writer is shown in blue font:

[Darwin says:] Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual. When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled.

Now that we have the matter of Darwin’s “presuppositions” cleared up, we can continue reading today’s letter:

I ask again, has this view been experimentally proven using the classic scientific method? If not, how can we teach it as a scientific law? Mr. Murphree states that evolution is supported by countless peer reviewed scientific publications. I would ask how many of those publications are written using Darwin’s original presupposition.

The letter-writer demands that the entire biosphere of Earth be re-evolved in the lab, which is not only impossible, it’s also unnecessary. All evidence ever found supports Darwin’s conclusions, which is all that science demands of a theory. The letter-writer also claims that Darwin’s work was based solely on his “presuppositions” — notwithstanding that Darwin embarked on the Beagle fresh from divinity school with nothing like the theory of evolution in his mind. Speaking of presuppositions — does the letter-writer mean to imply that creationism has none of those, and is based on entirely objective, evidence-driven conclusions? Well, no, you’ll soon see that he doesn’t claim that. Here’s more:

On the other hand, scripture states, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them: male and female he created them: (Genesis 1:127). This explicitly states that humankind are a special creation, doesn’t it?

By golly — he’s got a point there! There’s no denying it. And now he claims that scripture is epistemologically equivalent to Darwin’s theory:

Admittedly, this view has not been scientifically proven either. Both views require faith to believe and both cannot be true.

Aaaargh!! Religion and science are totally different activities! Those who can’t grasp that shouldn’t be discussing such things — or anything else except their animal needs. It’s time we drafted a response to that popular but utterly erroneous presumption of equivalence — one which we can include in our ever-handy Common Creationist Claims Confuted, so here it comes. We’ll even put it in a box:

Science: The use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process. [Source: National Academy of Sciences.]

Faith: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. [Source: Hebrews 11:1 (King James Version)]

We’ll skip most of the letter’s paragraph about the recent results of the ENCODE project. For an example of something we’ve written about it, see ICR Goes Ape Over the ENCODE Research. The letter-writer purports to quote one scientist’s rhetorical reaction: “The creationists are going to love this. This is going to make my life very complicated.” In response to that, the letter-writer uncomprehendingly says:

Why? Would not a true scientist pursue the truth no matter where it leads?

Nothing needs to be said about that. Here’s the final portion of today’s letter:

Mr. Murphree is quite right when he states that Christians are to be working to fulfill the great commission. However, we are also not to be blown here and there by every wind of teaching but rather to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)

Ah yes, the Great Commission. We’re glad the letter-writer mentioned it, because now we have an opportunity to inform you of The Curmudgeon’s Prime Imperative, which precedes that or any other mission a creationist may choose to undertake: This above all — thou shalt not be an ignoramus!

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #283: The Truth

  1. Jeez, what is it about Tennessee and Darwin?

  2. While reading this post, a thought occurred that is not directly related to the post specifically, but rather to the whole controversy.

    The DI is using the subterfuge of “teaching the strengths and weaknesses” of evolution to get “Intelligent Design” into public school classrooms. It seems to me that it would be more valid to teach students how to spot the fallacies used by creationists to promote the false idea that creationism is science.

  3. @Megalonyx: They found Scopes guilty and they’re proud of it.

  4. ” The letter-writer purports to quote one scientist’s rhetorical reaction: ‘The creationists are going to love this. This is going to make my life very complicated.’”

    He’s correctly quoting Larry Moran, here.

  5. I think that one should also check Bible quotations. Many translations (such as the KJV) say (translating the Hebrew literally) that God created man, not “mankind”.

  6. Charley Horse

    The letter is responding to a letter written by professor
    who teaches biology at an ecumenical Xian university in
    that area of Tennessee. What is interesting, is that the
    prof is a member of an SBC church and his employer,
    Belmont University, requires all students to attend mandatory Bible classes in both Old and New Testaments.

    Meanwhile, close by in Gallatin a bumper sticker stating,”The
    Bro and His Ho Gotta Go” was posted on the Democratic
    headquarters front window.

  7. As much as such letters may give us heartburn, its amusing to remember that they give the DI, TMLC, etc. even worse heartburn. Can’t you just imagine them standing outside the community (I picture it as a house), waving their arms and mouthing “no! no!” through the pane glass window. “Please stop quoting the bible while we try and convince the courts there’s nothing religious this issue!”

  8. brilliant sci-guy. Save that one its good.

  9. Mega, I think its the Calvinist traditions of their churches emphasizing literalsim. Its embedded in their culture.

  10. No understanding of the Scientific Method: check
    Quote Mining Darwin: check
    Quoting the Bible as if it’s relevant to science: check
    Failure to realize science has advanced since Darwin’s time: check
    False assumption that science requires faith: check
    Doesn’t even pretend to look at the evidence: check

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a fundie double trifecta of fail.

  11. “Jeez, what is it about Tennessee and Darwin” Megalonyx
    Dear Mr Pleistocene ,
    With regards to the Tennesee observation you made my reaction is;
    Since God chooses who is destined to be saved (according to Calvin’s theology), through a special “enlightenment” from God’s grace
    to certain individuals, then by humanity’s frailties , one best let those around him know, that he is indeed, one of the chosen, if in a really fundamental group.
    I think this tends to produce the inflexible literalists like this author, who are anti science or anything else that might disenfranchise some of their interpretations of scripture. A difficult nut to crack with logic for one so “enlightened”.
    I also think one of the most entrenched areas of the nation where this is prevalent is,,,,,,,,,,,Appalachia and the mountain belts of the east, where those of Scots and Irish Northern Ireland (hence Calvinist tradition) came to settle after being locked out of the coastal regions by the earlier English migrants (who had previously established large holdings on the best coastal lands). Therefore, unless I am mistaken SC, the region of the world that produced The Enlightenment that transforemd thought in Western Civilization also produced some of America’s more inflexible literalists and anti science activists. How does that work and what have I missed?
    Is that dichotomy explainable in terms of that British Isle’s area’s social or religious order at that time? Just wondering. Or blabbering foolishly,which is,,,,,,,,,,,,,, my specialty.

  12. Curmy’s admonition “This above all — thou shalt not be an ignoramus!” is very much like Augustine’s 1600 years ago that speaking foolishness will only make you look like a fool.

  13. The whole truth

    SC, why do you omit the writer’s name and city?

  14. The whole truth asks: “SC, why do you omit the writer’s name and city?”

    Because they’re usually private people who might not be accustomed to public ridicule, unlike politicians and such. Also, if the writer is Googling for his name after his letter is published, expecting to be praised for his brilliance, he won’t easily find us here and be emotionally crushed. Leaving out their names is more humane, I think.

  15. Thanks, Doodlebugger. Maybe instead of shying away from “teaching the controversy”, perhaps we should embrace the concept. If we did it honestly, all the tricks, lies, and distortions used by “Intelligent Design” proponents and other creationists would be exposed, and all the observable facts would indeed support evolution.

  16. “Faith: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
    Sorry, but it’s not. If it was, Christians would believe in all other gods and supernatural entities, too.