Creationist Wisdom #315: Atheist Myth

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily Mining Gazette of Houghton, Michigan (population 7,708) in the northwestern portion of that state’s Upper Peninsula. It’s a follow-up to one in that newspaper that we wrote about a few weeks ago: Creationist Wisdom #307: Evolution Is Un-American. That was a veritable symphony of bogus quotes.

The title of the latest letter is Theory of evolution obviously atheistic. 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:

Larry Korpi’s Feb. 14 letter was criticized for quoting Julian Huxley and Arthur Keith admitting that atheism influenced their beliefs in evolution. Two letters claimed there is no proof those evolutionists made those comments.

Right. We discussed all that in our earlier post. Today’s letter-writer isn’t persuaded by the debunking. Creationists never are. He says:

Similar to the statement by Julian Huxley is this from Aldous Huxley’s “Confession of a Professed Atheist.”

Great tactic! If one Huxley’s quote is a phoney, then quote his brother. Here’s that quote:

I Had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed that it had none … For myself, as … for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was … an instrument of liberation … from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality … (that) interfered with our sexual freedom.

Wow — not merely one ellipsis, but five of them. That’s always a clue. We found that quote at the ICR website, in an article by old Henry Morris, the godfather of all quote-miners. That same “quote” appears at a lot of creationist websites, but they never link to a source and we can’t find the full text on line to verify it. We’ll let it go. Even if the quote is accurate — and we suspect it’s not — what difference does it make? Let’s read on:

The theory of evolution is not totally scientific but is so obviously atheistic it is amazing some people deny that it is.

Two errors in one short sentence! The scientific status of the theory of evolution is beyond question in the rational world, and as for its atheistic implications — hey, that’s also true (in the same perverted sense) of the theory that germs cause disease. After all, if disease is caused by infection and not by a supernatural agency, then who could deny the atheistic nature of the germ theory — or any other scientific theory? They all deal with natural causes, so they’re all atheistic, right? It would make more sense, however, to ask what kind of mind would make such an assertion. The letter continues:

Mr. Korpi was also criticized for quoting this statement by a physicist names Millikan: “The pathetic thing is that we have scientists who are trying to prove evolution which no scientist can ever prove.” That wasn’t considered valid because Mr. Millikan was a physicist, not an evolutionary biologist, and he said it in 1925. Physicists can’t understand biology? As for that “ancient” 1925 date, Darwin’s “Origin of Species” was published in 1859.

Aaaargh!! Millikan’s statement was an accurate quote but what he said he was wrong. It’s goofy to quote an erroneous statement regardless of when it was made. And yes, Darwin’s work is older, but it’s not wrong — regardless of anyone’s misinformed statements to the contrary, whenever such statements are made. Here’s the end of the brilliant letter:

The theory of evolution is a creation myth by atheists who misinterpret what fossils signify. Their atheism prevents them from accepting this fact: Those fossils could just as easily be evidence of creation eras during which God created a variety of living things over long periods of time, the six “days” (actually eras) of Genesis.

Yes, fossils could be evidence of divine creation, which for some reason always occurred in the same sequence predicted by the theory of evolution. Everything could be evidence of divine creation, but then everything would be beyond our understanding, which is neither desirable nor consistent with our ability to deal with the forces of nature. Hey — at least the letter-writer isn’t a six-day creationist. But he’s a creationist nevertheless. Big time.

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13 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #315: Atheist Myth

  1. Right. We’d better get rid of all the other atheistic science too.

    Astronomy, we don’t need you.
    Biology, you’re out.
    Chemistry, not you either.
    Formal Sciences, getoutahere. (Math, that means you too!)
    Medicine, not a chance!
    Physics, hit the road, Jack.

    … much much later …

    Zoology, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  2. Huxley’s quote, or most of it with only 2 sets of ellipses, can be found on p447 of Henry M. Morris’ book “That Their Words May be Used Against Them, Quotes from Evolutionists Useful for Creationists.”

    And yes, the letter writer has shortened it as well as adulterated the meaning.

  3. Our esteemed letter writer said:

    during which God created a variety of living things over long periods of time, the six “days” (actually eras) of Genesis.

    This is a serious “Frank J” time. Tell this guy to get with Ken Ham and hash out how long those “six days” actually were. Ken and the other YECs keep saying it was six literal days. End of discussion. Period. Now this guy (gal? Haven’t read the original letter yet.) says those six “days” could be considered “eras”. Well, which is it? Not for me or pretty much anyone here to say. The creationists need to decide amongst themselves just how long it took to go from dust to man. Days? “Eras” (however long that is)? Millenia?
    Once they have the answer, they can come on back for some further thrashing and trashing. Then once we have them good and warmed up, we’ll let Doc Bill have’em. Heaven knows what he has in store for them.

  4. @SC: Middle of the article, “that quote at the IRC website”. Did you mean “ICR”, or did you find that on an internet relay chat (IRC) group?

  5. Gary asks:

    Did you mean “ICR”

    Yup. Very good catch. Thank you.

  6. retiredsciguy

    Evolution is not atheistic, but rather, non-theistic. Same for all science.
    In other words, it doesn’t rely on the absence of a god for its truth, but is religion-neutral.

  7. Ceteris Paribus

    There is a longish expose of the Morris lie at this website:
    http://etb-creationism.blogspot.com/2012/03/lies-creationists-tell-julian-huxley.html

    The gist of it is that Aldous Huxley was not an atheist at the time [1937] of the statements. And the context in which Aldous was writing was not 19th century Darwinism, but the post WWI “lost generation” which fostered the Jazz Age, along with flappers, and writers such as John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway (sorry, I don’t know the contemporary UK literature in the same genre).

    To top it off, the cited title “Confession of a Professed Atheist” was applied by an editor, and not Aldous’ own words.

  8. Great link, Ceteris Paribus.

  9. Pete Moulton

    The Aldous Huxley quotation is from Ends and Means. It reads in fuller form (hope I didn’t screw this up!):

    I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was an admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever. Similar tactics had been adopted during the eighteenth century and for the same reasons…The men of the new Enlightenment, which occurred in the middle years of the nineteenth century, once again used meaninglessness as a weapon against the reactionaries. The Victorian passion for respectability was, however, so great that, during the period when they were formulated, neither Positivism nor Darwinism was used as a justification for sexual indulgence.

  10. Compare just this one sentence from the original:

    “We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.”

    And here is Henry Morris’ version:

    “We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”18

    Note Morris has chopped off the end of the sentence without even an ellipsis, falsely inserting a period.

    Of course, by concealing the fact that Huxley and his (non-scientist) confreres objected to the economic and political system because it was unjust, Morris makes them appear to be amoral and totally hedonistic. Moreover, Morris censors their criticism of an economic and political system that he, Morris, defends.

    Morris’ reference #18 is of course incorrect. It’s to “Aldous Huxley, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspective on the News, Vol. 3, June 1966, p. 19.”

    As has already been pointed out, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist” was not Huxley’s title. That’s a section sub-title added by an editor in an article not written by Huxley.

    You MUST read Ed Babinski’s marvelous post trying to re-construct the genetic origin of the fake quote. Babinski tracks down the correct citation for “Confessions of a Professed Atheist” and shows how the quote has evolved via mutation and gene fusion.

    The fake Huxley quote evolved by random mutation and differential reproduction because, like many random mutations, it was beneficial to a population.

  11. Pete Moulton

    Thanks for the link, Diogenes. Babinski does an excellent job of putting Aldous Huxley into context, and deconstructing the quote-miners.

  12. I can conceive of a theology in which a god or gods invents evolution to create and sustain a biosphere. This refutes the notion that evolution and atheism must go hand in hand.

  13. @Troy: When you think about it, if there is a god, and if that god is the creator of the entire universe, then it would have to be a god who invented evolution, because evolution clearly exists.

    So, if God is defined simply as The Creator of All, then even the most adamant religionist must accept evolution as fact, or admit that his god is not in fact the Creator of All.