Ken Ham: Darwin Plagiarized the Bible

Darwin's Tree of Life

Most of you have seen the rough sketch of the tree of life from Darwin’s notebook. He made it around 1837 when he first conceived the idea of the biological relationship of all life. You probably thought that simple diagram was the start of a great idea. But now, dear reader, here’s the rest of the story.

You can learn The Truth by reading Is the Tree of Life Dead? at the personal blog of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. He’s the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Here are some excerpts from Hambo’s post, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “tree of life?” Some of us will think of the tree mentioned in the Books of Genesis and Revelation. Others will immediately recall Darwin’s evolutionary ideas about the origin and descent of life.

What’s Hambo getting at? Are people ever confused about that? He tells us:

A recent article discusses why Darwin may have chosen to label his famous branching diagram the Tree of Life.

Hambo is referring to an article in the Guardian, titled The tree of life: with Darwin from Genesis to genomics, which has almost 200 comments. It was written by Petter Hellström, described as: “a PhD candidate at the Department of History of Science and Ideas, Uppsala University.” We know nothing else about him, but we get the strong impression that he’s a creationist. You’ll soon see why we have that opinion. According to the Guardian, Hellström wrote:

When he [Darwin] first set out to formulate his evolutionary ideas, in his private “B” notebook of 1837, he famously sketched three tree-like, ascending and branching genealogical diagrams to visualize various aspects of what he was already naming “the tree of life”. … Readers of the Guardian may not know their Bible as well as Darwin’s contemporaries did, yet in Victorian Britain it would have escaped no one that he was naming his tree after the tree in the Garden of Eden. The biblical tree of life is a symbol of immortality and regeneration. It is prominently placed in the Bible, appearing both in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, and in Revelation, the last book of the New. Darwin’s appropriation of the tree of life was no mistake.

Gasp — Darwin “appropriated” the tree of life! We’re shocked — shocked! And now you understand why we suspect that Hellström is a creationist. [Addendum: Commenters who have read Hellström’s original article say that it’s not creationist at all, so we regret having misjudged him based on Hambo’s post.] Okay, back to Hambo:

This writer [Hellström] is saying that Darwin took the idea of the biblical tree of life — and its connotations of eternal life — and was able to secularize it so that now people think of the “genetic continuation in our descendants” rather than the promises of God’s Word as the hope for eternal life. And this writer directly associates Darwin’s work with the increasing secularization of the West and the replacement of God’s Word with evolutionary ideas. Generations have been replacing the true God of creation with the false god of self.

Darwin was a wicked man! Let’s read on:

Even if Darwin was unintentional about the biblical association of the tree of life, he essentially replaced the biblical tree of life and deceived many people with his false ideas about the past. These individuals are putting their hope in a lie about the past and the future — a lie that has devastating eternal consequences!

Yes, eternal consequences! Hambo continues:

When we think of the tree of life, we should be reminded of God’s promise of eternal life for all believers [scripture reference]. We were originally designed to never die, but sin changed everything [scripture reference]. Because of sin, we all die [scripture reference].

The rest of Hambo’s post goes on like that, so we’ll quit here. But you might want to click over there to read the whole thing. It’s very inspiring. Now, at last, thanks to Hambo, we know how truly evil Darwin was.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

19 responses to “Ken Ham: Darwin Plagiarized the Bible

  1. Eric Lipps

    Boy, I’m not sure what the Hamster is excreting this time, but I’d bet it would make good fertilizer.

    The “tree of life” in Genesis, as Ham surely knows, was supposed to be an actual tree whose fruit would give the eater eternal life. The gods (“Elohim,” the word used in Genesis 3:22, is plural) feared that man, having eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and “become like one of us,” would now complete his ascension to godhood by becoming immortal. (Funny, I always thought Adam and Eve were already supposed to be immortal, until they entered unto sin by learning how to tell right from wrong.)

    By contrast, Darwin’s tree of life was a metaphor (or, as creationists might say, “met a what?) meant to illustrate the interconnectedness and common ancestry of all living things.

    Somehow, I just don’t se the plagiarism here.

  2. I think you’re mistaken in your inference that Hellstrom is a creationist; he’s really quite clear that Darwin consciously borrowed the symbolism because he liked it, and that that’s the only real connection. He concludes his Guardian piece thus:

    “Secularization may have undermined our hopes of eternal life in heaven, yet evolutionary theory has enabled us to see a genetic continuation in our descendants, whether humans or not. The tree of life is dead; long live the tree of life.”

    The Guardian article is based on Hellstrom’s paper in Archives of Natural History, a journal published by Edinburgh University Press on behalf of the Society for the History of Natural History, whose patron is David Attenborough. That all seems above-board to me, as does the paper’s abstract.

    Hellstrom’s presumably chuntering with wrath about Ham’s abuse of his work already. No need to add to his misery by following the Ham line and misinterpreting him.

  3. realthog says: “Hellstrom’s presumably chuntering with wrath about Ham’s abuse of his work already. No need to add to his misery by following the Ham line and misinterpreting him.”

    Maybe you’re right. I was looking at it through Hambo’s filter.

  4. realthog beat me to it: I also don’t at all see any taint of Creationism in Hellström’s original article.

    Curmy, maybe you need to take a short vacation?🙂

  5. Megalonyx says: “realthog beat me to it: I also don’t at all see any taint of Creationism in Hellström’s original article.”

    Okay, guys. I added an apologetic addendum to the original post.

  6. waldteufel

    Hambo drones: “. . . yet in Victorian Britain it would have escaped no one that he was naming his tree after the tree in the Garden of Eden.”
    Is anyone here familiar with this observation/accusation having been made by any critics contemporary with Darwin? I know of none. Note that Hambo makes no reference to the provenance of the original paper including the author’s name.
    As is normal, Hambo’s head is shoved so far up that canal into which the sun don’t shine that he can feel it in his tummy when he wiggles his ears.

  7. @waldteufel
    I did a quick search on darwin-online.org.uk for uses of the phrase “tree of life”. There were about 55 instances, including uses by Darwin, about 30 before 1859 – which included several instances by Milton and, of course, one in the Bible, also Alexander von Humboldt. A superficial look after 1859 didn’t turn up any complaints from Bible readers.
    (Milton turned up because darwin-online includes books of the Beagle’s library.)

  8. docbill1351

    Hambo doesn’t know the contents of his own book! It wasn’t the Tree of Life, it was the Tree of Knowledge.

    Apparently, in Hambo’s case, the apple fell far, far, far away from the Tree.

  9. @ docbill1351: I don’t mean to get too pedantic, but the sort of folks who do get pedantic about Bible tales don’t all agree on whether the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the Tree of life are two different trees, or different names for the same tree.

    Among these same folks, many other such controversies rage, viz.,

    How many angels can dance on the end of pin?

    Is wine at the Eucharist transubstantianed into real live actual blood?

    How many pins can be stuck in the end of an angel?

    and yada yada….

  10. As a member of English Heritage and sometime visitor to Down House, it behooves me to point out here that Darwin’s famous tree doodle is available as a tea towel, a tea mug, and a tee shirt.

    Profits on above merchandise help maintain Down House🙂

  11. @Megalonyx
    Take a look at the Wikipedia article “Tree of life (disambiguation)” to see how many “plagiarisms” there have been of that phrase.

  12. @ TomS: Indeed! I can’t wait for Hambo to condemn to the Lake ‘o Fire all visitors to the unholy and blaspheming plagarism that is Disney’s Tree of Life

  13. …Apologies for excessive posting on this thread.

    I just can’t contain myself with excitement over tomorrow’s supreme test of Mary Lou Bruner.

  14. Wowie, Megalonyx, that tea mug looks great! But what’s wrong with those people? We’re not all a bunch of pinkie-twirling tea drinkers. Why don’t they offer a coffee mug?

  15. Megalonyx is all worked up over tomorrow’s election showdown for Mary Lou. He’s not the only one. We’ll have a thread devoted to it.

  16. Our Curmudgeon demands to know

    We’re not all a bunch of pinkie-twirling tea drinkers. Why don’t they offer a coffee mug?

    Apologies, it was my error to falsely constrain the vessel as a mere tea mug; the actual description is simply as a ‘stylish mug’, without restriction. It is is fact a fully trans-beverage mug–or fully fluid fluid, if you will…

  17. How can Ham not see how he so blatantly contradicts himself in these two sentences:

    “And this writer [Hellström or Ham?] directly associates Darwin’s work with the increasing secularization of the West and the replacement of God’s Word with evolutionary ideas. Generations have been replacing the true God of creation with the false god of self.”

    Interesting leap from “evolutionary ideas” to “god of self.” I guess Ham sees them as one and the same, but I’m pretty sure most evolutionists are not narcissists.

  18. docbill1351

    Mega wrote:

    I don’t mean to get too pedantic, BUT

    I like big BUTS and I cannot lie
    You other brothers can’t deny
    When a sentence doesn’t end with a big old dot
    I know a BUT is out to trot!

    That comma is embarrassed
    That comma is all red
    It should have been a dot
    That’s all we should have read.

    That first clause, bro,
    It got no cause
    That comma, bro,
    It’s got to go.

    Dot.