That newspaper has installed a feature on its website that we’re encountering more and more in recent months. After a couple of paragraphs of the letter are displayed, this appears on screen: Subscription Required. An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety.
Signing up isn’t a big deal. We’d have to provide a screen name, a password, and an email address. Then, presumably, we’ll be graciously allowed to behold the wonders within that newspaper. We’re not going to register. What little we can see is entertaining enough for our purposes. If any of our readers feel like signing up and reading the rest, that’s your choice.
So here are a few — very few — excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Because we don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians or otherwise in the public eye), we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Okay, here we go:
There is no proof for evolution! It has to be believed, therefore it’s a faith, therefore it’s a religion!
Seriously, dear reader … would you go through the bother of registering at some far-away newspaper in order to read the rest of that? We won’t. But here’s more of what’s freely available:
Even the great high priest and founding father of this new false faith, Charles Darwin himself, confessed that “the belief (note the emphasis on belief) in natural selection (evolution) must at present be grounded entirely on general considerations. … When we descend to details, we can prove that no one species has changed … nor can we prove that the supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory.”
Isn’t that sweet? The letter-writer is citing Darwin as an authority against his own theory. That’s such a clever tactic! As expected, this effort at quote-mining is one of those debunked at the TalkOrigins Quote Mine Project. They have a big article about a bunch of Darwin quotes that are often misused. If you search on “descend to details” you’ll be taken right to what today’s letter-writer is using. It’s in a section labeled Quote #2.7.
TalkOrigins says: “First of all, the quote is from a “P.S.” to a letter to G. Bentham, May 22, 1863.” Here’s a link to the complete text of that letter, but you may need to blunder around until you find it. To save you the bother, we’ll give you the entire Postscript from which today’s letter-writer got his “evidence.” The material shown in brackets seems to be an editorial insertion by Francis Darwin, who compiled his father’s correspondence. The part mined by today’s letter-writer is shown in red:
In fact the belief in Natural Selection must at present be grounded entirely on general consierations. (1) On its being a vera causa, from the struggle for existence; and the certain geological fact that species do somehow change. (2) From the analogy of change under domestication by man’s selection. (3) And chiefly from this view connecting under an intelligible point of view a host of facts. When we descend to details, we can prove that no one species has changed [i.e. we cannot prove that a single species has changed]; nor can we prove that the supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory. Nor can we explain why some species have changed and others have not. The latter case seems to me hardly more difficult to understand precisely and in detail than the former case of supposed change. Bronn may ask in vain, the old creationist school and the new school, why one mouse has longer ears than another mouse, and one plant more pointed leaves than another plant.
So there you are. Does that tell us anything about the validity of the theory of evolution, as we understand it today? While you’re pondering that, we’ll mention that the next part of today’s letter gives us yet another quote, one from Thomas Huxley, described in today’s letter as “Darwin’s ardent apostle and dedicated disciple.” We’re going to ignore it. Why?
Because it doesn’t matter what Huxley is alleged to have said, nor does it matter what he may have actually said. This isn’t bible class! We don’t care what someone spake unto to the multitude, or what someone declared before a host of witnesses. This is science, and what we care about is data — verifiable data — and testable explanations thereof. Who cares if someone claims that Orville and Wilbur Wright announced to the League of Nations that heavier-than-air flight is impossible, or that Thomas Edison did the same regarding the electric light? We care about facts, not tales of testimony.
Even if the anti-evolution quotes presented by creationists were word-for-word accurate, and not taken out of context, so what? Don’t forget that Galileo actually did renounce the solar system (see Indictment and Abjuration of 1633). That doesn’t change reality; the planets orbit the sun nevertheless.
That’s all we can see of today’s letter. The rest is forever hidden from us. Somehow, we’ll have to get along without knowing what other wonders the letter-writer may have revealed.
Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.