Creationist Wisdom #883: Darwin a Creationist?

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Journal Star of Peoria, Illinois. The letter is titled Darwin’s theory includes a ‘Creator’, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Al. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!

As scientists penetrate deeper into the Micro and Macro worlds, the more mysterious and complex their discoveries become. Either Creationism or Darwinism, is how each of us has came to be.

Yes, it keeps getting more mysterious. Then Al says:

I have often wondered how many people that believe in Darwinian evolution have read “The Origin Of Species.”

We suspect it’s a few more than creationists. But Al has read it — at least a wee part of it, and he tells us:

For those that haven’t read it all, the last sentence reads as follows, “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator 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.”

Lots of creationists quote-mine that sentence. Interestingly, the phrase “by the Creator” wasn’t in the first edition of Origin of Species. Al seems unaware of that. He tells us:

Darwin’s statement “originally breathed by the Creator” opens his entire naturalistic discourse to include a Divine and supernatural connection.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! In 1863, in a letter to J. D. Hooker, Darwin wrote:

But I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion & used Pentateuchal term of creation, by which I really meant “appeared” by some wholly unknown process … . It is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter…. .

Al continues:

To exist in Darwin’s macro evolutionary world there would be no eternal existence, no moral judgment, no cosmic purpose; man would be like the animals that are controlled by their natural instinct.

Actually, that’s pretty much what the bible says — see Is Evolution in the Bible?, but creationists always ignore Ecclesiastes, and we don’t indulge in quote-mining — except to show quote-miners that their silly game can be a two-way street.

The rest of Al’s letter consists of scripture quotes, so this is where we’ll leave him.

And so, dear reader, you have a decision to make. Was Darwin a creationist? Al says he was, and if he’s right, then you should admit that you’ve been a fool!

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #883: Darwin a Creationist?

  1. The version of On the Origin of Species I read in graduate school was the original, so I never considered Darwin was a creationist. And the quote from the letter to Hooker has an additional interesting aspect: “It is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter…” Hello creationists. In the time since 1863 physicists and cosmologists have pretty much established how matter was created. I would lay odds that in the next 1.5 century biologists will have figured out the second unknown.

  2. how each of us has came to be
    The science studying how each of us comes to be is reproduction (genetics, development, etc.), not evolution. Few people today find reproduction problematic for the theistic doctrine of creation.
    For some obscure reason, there are those people who think that there is a problem for the science dealing with populations: evolution.

  3. Michael Fugate

    Yes. Why ignore the randomness in reproduction, but question the randomness in evolution? Mendelian inheritance relies on independent assortment of chromosomes – even without crossing over – and can produce 2^23 different gametes. The probability of you is 1 in 7×10^13.

  4. Eric Lipps

    But creationists think that reproduction, too, reflects intelligent design. How they account for genetic diseases I’m not sure, unless it has something to do with man’s “fallen nature.”

  5. OK, so reproduction reflects intelligent design. After all, God creates all things, like F=ma, salt=NaCl, etc.
    But that does not exclude the scientific study of reproduction, F=ma, salt=NaCl, etc.
    Why or how is evolution any different?
    Or Better:
    Micro-evolution is in the list of “etc.” Why or how macro-evolution any different?

  6. Theists are freaked out by the notion that chance and randomness play such a huge part in our lives, including our being here at all.

    Cognitive dissonance, and panic attacks are deeply disturbing experiences, so I can understand why myths evolved to account for the mysteries of reality, and why people cling to them so tenaciously, in spite of better, naturalistic explanations.

    Even so, it’s a pretty sick mythology that posits a woman eating a magical fruit to somehow account for genetic diseases like cancer and leukemia, especially in children; and weirder still, to try and justify suffering as somehow ennobling, a la Catholic fraud Mother Theresa.

  7. “you should admit that you’ve been a fool!
    Of course I am and always have been. As a Dutchman I stand in an old tradition.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Praise_of_Folly

    I can recommend it, it’s now and then very funny.

    @TomS once again asks the crucial question: “Why or how is evolution any different?”
    ‘Cuz goddiddid of courze!

  8. In the 18th century, there were many people who rejected reproduction, saying that God created all living things at the beginning, and each one of us appeared from our pre-existence: see “Preformationism”. The preformationists used several of the same arguments as creationists, such as a form of Irreducible Complexity.

  9. We do however have this, from Darwin’s Autobiography, which was intended for family reading, not public circulation (free access): http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=text&itemID=F1497&pageseq=1 pp92-93;

    “Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.

    Added later: This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species; and it is since that time that it has very gradually with many fluctuations become weaker. But then arises the doubt—can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience? [More reasons for doubting the deity follow]”

    So yes, Darwin did, at the time of writing *Origin*, accept what we might now call the fine tuning argument for a conscious and reflective Creator.

    For myself, I regard belief in such a Creator as wrong (for often rehearsed reasons, some listed by SC), but, unlike belief in separate creation of kinds, not ridiculous

  10. I take care to distinguish between
    1. Belief that there is a supernatural agency responsible for natural events, such as my own existence, the origin of life itself, or the totality of the natural cosmos.
    2. That some of those natural events give reason for such a belief.
    3. That such reasons give better explanations than those given by science.
    As far as #1, I don’t think that I have anything to contribute in public.
    As far as #2, I tend to agree with my understanding of Kant, that even if one were to prove that there are intelligent designers, they are intinitely distant from an omnipotent creator.
    As far as #3, I haven’t seen a supernatural explanation for much of anything.
    (I think of maybe the Persephone explanation for the change of seasons as a typical example.) I don’t like to say that any serious thought is “ridiculous”,
    but creationism tests my reserve.

  11. Chance and probability not only play an important role in evolution, but also in biochemistry. Though concentration dependent, it’s the chance encounter of a hormone with its receptor that initiates a cellular response; it’s the chance encounter of a substrate with an enzyme that completes a biochemical reaction. From an asteroid colliding with earth to cause extinction of dinosaurs, to a cosmic ray shattering a chromosome, chance and probability underlie all of life’s properties.

  12. Indeed. History even more so. A chance mutation makes Queen Victoria a haemophilia carrier. A century later, the Tsarevich is a haemophiliac, one of many factor distorting the Tsar’s judgment at a crucial juncture. And as Dawkins reminds us, every single individual’s birth (including idividuals as influential as St Paul, Mohammed, Marx, and Newton) is a statistical fluke