One of the worst tactics of creationists is using quotes from Darwin to discredit his work. It’s totally absurd, yet we see it all the time. The “modern” practice probably began with Henry Morris: the Ultimate Creationist. His most infamous and contemptible work, That Their Words May Be Used Against Them (Amazon listing) is a cover-to-cover Ark-load of quote-mining.
The letter-writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, so we won’t use his full name. His first name is Ken. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!
The views of evolutionists and creationists should both be respected even if there is disagreement. I wish that could happen in the Midland Daily News. Evolution has always been a controversial theory. Perhaps looking at the author of evolution should be the first step in any discussion of evolution.
Right. Don’t look at the evidence, look at the author. We’re off to a promising start. Ken says:
In Origin of Species, published in 1859, Darwin writes: “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”
Aaaargh!! That’s absolutely the all-time worst example of quote-mining And alas, it’s the most common. We discussed it here: Evolution of the Eye. Let’s read on:
Another: “Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious serious objection which can be used against the theory.”
Aaaargh!! We debunked that one here: Creationist Wisdom #483: Steve Daines Supporter. It was Darwin’s style to raise questions — and then to answer them! But creationists aren’t interested in his answers. Ken continues:
Yet another: “For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I arrived … There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.”
One should always be on guard when there’s an ellipsis in a creationist’s quote. The last part of that comes from the final chapter of Origin of Species: Chapter 14 – Recapitulation and Conclusion. It’s a shortened version of the final sentence of the book:
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
But what about the part before Ken’s ellipsis? Here we have the most spectacular example of quote-mining ever seen. It comes at the very beginning of the book — the Introduction. The portion mined by Ken is shown in red font. Darwin says:
No one can feel more sensible than I do of the necessity of hereafter publishing in detail all the facts, with references, on which my conclusions have been grounded; and I hope in a future work to do this. For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this is here impossible.
Verily, this is one of the most amazing creationist letters we’ve ever seen. After that he says:
Wow. Could it be that Darwin was a creationist who was intent upon investigating the creation?
Yeah — based on Ken’s research, it certainly looks that way. Having presented us with the results of his study of Darwin’s work, Ken then mention’s Haeckel’s drawings. We won’t bother with that — it’s in the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims: Haeckel faked his pictures of embryos to make them look more alike than they are.. Moving along:
There are other examples that show how evolutionist thinking intent on proving Darwin’s theory is flawed. Discussions on some can be found in the book Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Wells is a Discoveroid “Senior Fellow.” See Discovery Institute: The Genius of Jonathan Wells. Here’s one more excerpt from the end:
Did Darwin dismiss the concept of a Creator? Again, in his own words, “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.” Critical thinking needs to be a component in education rather than biased teaching. Hmm. If people have made a “religion of evolution” as Darwin indicated [we skipped that quote], maybe it shouldn’t be taught in our schools either.
So there you are, dear reader — one of the best letters-to-the-editor in our collection.
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