Cosmology, Thermodynamics and the Christian Doctrine of Creation

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in Natural Science

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Cosmology, Thermodynamics and the Christian Doctrine of Creation

by Dr. Thomas Seiler

The Testimony of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition

The Christian Doctrine of the creation of the universe is based on the divine revelation given to the prophet Moses and written down in the first book of Holy Scripture:

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”  Genesis 1:14-19

The plain and obvious sense of these verses is that God created the celestial bodies immediately and instantly, solely by His own omnipotent power and without support from natural processes over long ages of time as the idea of cosmic evolution suggests. That this is indeed the way the Lord created the universe is confirmed by the commentaries of the church fathers like St. Ephrem the Syrian who wrote in his “Commentary in Genesis 1:

Although both the light and the clouds were created in the twinkling of an eye, still both the day and night of the first day continued for twelve hours each.”

And he explained that the celestial bodies could, although having been created immediately, show the appearance of an older age:

Likewise, the moon was both old and young. It was young, for it was but a moment old, but was also old, for it was as full as it is on the fifteenth day.”

Oden, T. C., Ancient Christian Commentary on Sacred Scripture, Old Testament, Vol. I, Genesis 1-11, p. 47

In the same sense, St. Ambrose reassures us that an interpretation of the Genesis account in terms of a slow cosmic evolution due to physical forces is not what the author intended:

He [Moses] did not look forward to a late and leisurely creation of the world out of a concourse of atoms.”

Oden, T. C., Ancient Christian Commentary on Sacred Scripture, Old Testament, Vol. I, Genesis 1-11, p. 15

St. Ambrose upholds the teaching of a direct and instantaneous creation of the cosmos in another work with these words:

And fittingly [Moses] added:  He created, lest it be thought that there was a delay in creation. Furthermore, men would also see how incomparable the Creator was Who completed such a great work in the briefest moment of His creative act, so much so that the effect of His will anticipated the perception of time.”

Hexameron, Homily 2, Chapter 1

The following writing of St. Anthanasius extends the plain and obvious sense of Genesis 1 not only to the creation of the universe but also of all living creatures on earth:

As to the separate stars or the great lights, not this appeared first and that second, but in one day and by the same command, they were all called into being. And such was the original formation of the quadrupeds, and of birds and fishes, and cattle, and plants… No one creature was made before another but all things subsisted at once together upon one and the same command.”

Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 2, Chapters 48, 60

The Christian Doctrine makes a clear distinction between the order of creation which lasted only for a short time and the order of providence in which we live and in which the natural laws are governing nature. That the entire creation was indeed complete after the creation week is expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas in these words:

“[T]he final perfection, which is the end of the whole universe, is the perfect beatitude of the saints at the consummation of the world; and the first perfection is the completeness of the universe at its first founding, and this is what is ascribed to the seventh day.

Summa Theologica, Part I, Q 73, A 1

This Doctrine of Creation is an essential part of the Christian faith. Any philosophy that ascribes the works of creation to natural processes, even if the existence of God is not denied, is a pantheistic worldview because it assumes that matter has got divine power to overcome natural laws. These laws prohibit the formation of an ordered universe from disordered gases, the emergence of life from disordered molecules and the origin of complex organs and functions from simpler structures.

However, St. Peter predicted that in the future there would be such an attack on the Christian Doctrine of Creation. It would be proposed that natural processes as we can see them now were also operating during creation week, i. e. “from the beginning of creation.  This means that the universe and life in all its forms would have come into existence by natural processes. However, he recalls that creation happened not through physical forces but through the word of God.

“Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.’ They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.”  2 Peter 3:3-7

The Cosmological Hypothesis

One such way of extrapolating from presently observable natural processes all the way back to the beginning of the world to explain the origins of the world is the so-called Big-Bang Theory. Starting from the well-known physical effect of a wave-length increase (red-shift) when a source of light is moving away from the observer, Edwin Hubble suggested in the 20th century that the observable red-shift of the star-light is caused by a constant movement of the stars away from us. If the velocity v of the stars can indeed be measured by their red-shift – an interpretation which Hubble himself doubted until the end of his life – and if the distance of the stars can really be measured by their brightness, then it was thought to be possible to derive an age of the universe by a simple calculation: t = s / v. In this way, astronomers arrive at the now widely accepted age of 13.7 billion years.

However, even under the assumption that the derivation of velocity and distance are correct, this approach still contains an unscientific pre-assumption, namely that the velocity of the stars has been the same all the way back to the beginning of creation, in fulfillment of St. Peters prediction.

However, there is good reason to assume that the red-shifts and also the observed brightnesses of the stars can at least partly be due to other, known and unknown physical processes. A diagram showing recently reported results of measurements of the Hubble constant reveals that this quantity which is just the quotient of star velocity devided by star distance has an uncertainty of 100 %:

Hubble‘s law says that the quotient of red-shift and brightness is a constant for all stars. Without this, the calculations of the Big-Bang theory would not work as not all stars would start at the same time from the same point. Therefore, if the big bang theory were true, then the observed discrepancies in the Hubble constant mean that either the measurement results of the red-shift or of the brightness or of both are interpreted partially or completely in a wrong way.

However, if we assume that the big-bang theory is true then we are given the opportunity to see not only events which are far away in space but also events which are far away in the past. This follows from the fact that the light coming from distant stars would need much time to reach us. Therefore, when we look at a star at the end of the universe then we see the first part of the light beam which was sent out ca. 13 billion years ago. Therefore, we see the young part of the light beam which tells us what happened at an early stage of the universe. For nearby stars the situation is different. Although they would have started to emit their light at the same time as the distant stars most of the light beam would already have passed by us. We would only see older parts of the light beam telling us something about events in a later stage of the universe.

Under these cirumstances we should see distant galaxies always in a much more immature state as nearby galaxies which is not the case. Furthermore, the observed rotation speed of spiral galaxies is not compatible with a long rotation time. The stars would long ago have been thrown outside the galaxy which is not the case. In order to account for that unexpected observation, an unknown form of gravity was introduced called dark matter. Another contradiction to the big-bang model is the observation of a very homogeneous cosmic microwave background radiation. To compensate for this, an early cosmic inflation phase – a rapid initial expansion of the universe, faster than the speed of light – has been introduced. And the unexpected result of an apparently accelerated expansion of the cosmos led to the introduction of an unknown quantity called dark energy.

In response to these developments, 33 cosmologists have published an open letter to the scientific community expressing their doubts with regard  to the big bang model (from www.cosmologystatement.org):

The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed — inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.

Lerner, E., Bucking the big bang, New Scientist 182 (2448) 20, 22 May 2004

To summarize, big-bang theorists came to the conclusion that 96 % of the universe is composed of something that is unknown from any physical measurement. In other words, they have to agree with St. Peter that it is not possible to explain the origin of the world by extrapolating from known physical processes all the way back to the beginning of time.

The agreement with Fiat Creation has recently been admitted in an astronomical journal by these words:

“This and many other recent astronomical observations point increasingly to the conclusion that a mature, active, evolving and expanding universe could have come into being in an instant creation.

European Southern Observatory in Spaceflight, November 2004, Vol. 45, No. 11

Thermodynamics

The second confirmation of Fiat Creation comes from the “Second Law of Thermodynamics” which states that for isolated systems entropy, which is a measure of probability, will always increase. Entropy determines the direction in which all processes in nature proceed: from less probable distributions to more probable distributions, from ordered structures to disordered ones and never vice versa.

It is important to realize that this fundamental law refers to all physical processes including the suggested cosmic and biological evolution.

The earth represents an arrangement of matter in a highly ordered state, especially with respect to the conditions necessary for the existence of life. Some of these conditions which the earth fulfills are: ideal distance to sun, presence of liquid water, dry land, the right amount of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen etc., moderate seasons, absence of heavy earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, radioactivity, poisonous chemicals etc. Comparing the conditions on earth to the other planets on which we could not live underlines the high improbability that all the necessary conditions for life could be found in the universe at all. The assumption, however, that the earth could have come into existence by natural processes starting from an initially disordered universe, is in conflict with the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

A sub-chapter of the theory of cosmic evolution is biological evolution. In biology, an example of the operation of entropy is genetic degeneration of a biological species due to negative mutations: for instance, on some windy islands, certain flies have entirely lost their wings. This is explained by the advantage of staying on the ground in an environment where strong winds can carry flying insects far out to sea. A succession of micro-variations that leads to the destruction of complex organs is a natural process of increasing entropy. The opposite — a succession of small genetic variations leading by natural selection to the construction of a completely new organ — is an excluded process of decreasing entropy.

An objection to the above premise is that the constraints of thermodynamics are not valid for biological structures because they exist in or are open systems. Openmeans that matter and especially energy can be exchanged with the surroundings. To test the validity of this objection, we must examine in detail what is possible in open systems.

The limits of an open system can be illustrated by the example of machines that reduce entropy such as refrigerators. They transfer heat from a cold volume (the inside space) to a warm volume (the surrounding room). This highly improbable phenomenon, however, can only be achieved because a complex mechanism that can automatically perform the cooling cycles exists already. Such entropy reducing machines are also found in the chloroplasts of plants. A further example of order increasing in open systems is observable in the formation of crystals, e.g. snow-flakes. When heat is removed, a phase-transition leads to the appearance of macroscopic regularity. Molecules which have slowed down during cooling can condense. It becomes energetically more favourable to arrange them in a crystal configuration than in a random orientation — a typical energy downhill process. 

The kind of order emerging in open systems. Here: Snowflakes as a consequence of the ordered structure of the H2O molecule.

The reason why the proposed evolution of biological organs does not belong to these kinds of processes is that these processes are the physical ways in which a pre-existing order is transferred from one level to another. No really new order or information is generated in any of these open-systems. Either the information content was already present in a complex machine like a refrigerator or the chloroplasts, or it already existed in the symmetry of the underlying molecules, i.e. the directed inter-atomic electromagnetic forces. A further such category would be the feedback mechanism of a so-called dissipative structure”. Nothing improbable happens in all these cases. It is always an energetic necessity that the pre-programmed ordered structures appear. Therefore, open systems do not create order. They only make hidden order visible.

On the other hand, in relation to the organization of non-living matter, the bodies of living creatures represent new information. The structure of the DNA molecules is not pre-contained in the molecular structure of the constituent chemical elements (nucleobases) nor is there a pre-existing machine which is programmed to produce it. There is no physical arrangement which already contains the information which is necessary to build up life from non-life or complex creatures from simpler creatures. The organization of new organs or functions is excluded by the Second Law of Thermodynamics because they do not belong to those pre-programmed structures which open systems can create! It follows that the evolution of man from molecules is precluded by the fundamental law of nature. In the words of physicist Josef Holzschuh:

“…[T]he Second Law of Thermodynamics poses an insurmountable scientific barrier to evolution.

J. Holzschuh, A Scientific Critique of Evolution (2009), La Sapienza University Rome, p. 48.

Darwin‘s Unjustified Extrapolation

Although one single variation step on the same complexity level (race formation) is possible, the random addition of thousands of such small steps would not create a new construction or organ. Selection only chooses the fittest organism in a population at one stage, but there is no reason why the mutations selected should always be those that lead to a new organ in the future. Selection can not foresee the direction towards a new function or organ. It is rather very likely that a succession of fittest organisms would only lead to a stabilisation of the existing organ, i. e. to a constructional dead end.

For example, at the starting point in the assumed evolutionary chain from reptile to bird, selection could only find the fittest reptile construction. There is no reason why this particular optimized reptile design should also be the one which leads, in the far future, after the addition of many small such steps, towards the winged bird. It is statistically implausible that these two independent design properties, optimization and organic novelty, should be identical and even always identical at each successive step. Selection would, according to the theory, gradually adapt the leg by chance and necessity to increase the survival fitness. That this gradual optimization would be at each step identical with the required pathway towards the wing would not be necessity but only chance and therefore highly improbable. Hence the basic logical error of Darwinism is to equalize optimizing the fitness of an existing organ — which does not increase the level of complexity — with finding a pathway to a new  organ. This is therefore another example of how St. Peter‘s prediction was fulfilled: The idea that things have always been the same from the beginning of creation has found another realization in the idea that one could extrapolate observable single step variation processes back to the beginning of creation to explain the origins of all organs and functions.

Anatomy

Then there is a further proof for Fiat creation — a proof that follows from three characteristic features of observable flora and fauna. The first one is the presence of highly complex and fully formed organs. The second one is the presence of species which do not at all have a certain organ but can exist anyway. The third one is the absence of species with incompletely formed organs which are in the process of evolving.

If the species carrying the fully-formed organs have come from evolution, then they must have had numerous predecessors which had these organs only in a partially-formed state. These species, in turn, must all have been fitter for survival than their original predecessor which did not have this particular organ at all. However, this least fit one still exists today in many varieties. Therefore, its fitter successors would have had an even higher probability to survive until today. That none of these species with partially-formed organs can be observed today is a contradiction to the postulated evolutionary chain.

For example, there must have been innumerable species with half-finished wings in the proposed evolutionary line from reptile to bird. All of these half-finished ones must have been fitter than the reptiles because otherwise they would not have come into existence, according to the theory. The fact that the reptile, which is the least in fitness, still exists in many varieties — but not a single one of the intermediates with their higher fitness compared to the reptile — is an observation which rules out that these half-finished ones have ever existed and that evolution has taken place. The same is confirmed by every other organ that we observe in nature.

This is not resolved by assuming that reptiles and birds have an unknown common ancestor instead of a direct common lineage. That assumption would not explain why the reptile, a species without any wing design, could separate from the lineage to the bird and survive until today while all those with partially-developed wings, still being fitter than the predecessor from which the reptile branched off, could not find such an opportunity to branch off and survive until today.

Conclusion

The final result of this examination is that natural science is in agreement with instantaneous and immediate Fiat Creation as witnessed by Sacred Scripture, by the Church Fathers, and indeed by all of Sacred Tradition. The empirical data confirms that the origin of both the universe and biological species cannot be attributed to any observable or reproducible natural process.

 

Historical Evidence for Dinosaur and Human Co-existence

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in History

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Historical Evidence for Dinosaur and Human Co-existence

God made the beasts of the earth[…] and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind; and[…] God created man[.]
And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1:25-31

Did dinosaurs and humans ever live contemporaneously?  Certainly.  The Book of Genesis makes it clear that every kind of land animal was created on the same day as man; therefore, people and dinosaurs must have walked the earth at the same time for at least some portion of history.  This article will inspect the historical evidence for this fact, beginning with a very controversial description of an animal from one of the Bible’s oldest books.

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The Magisterium, Evolution and Contraception: Reply to a Critic

Written by admin on . Posted in Articles and Essays, Theology


By Hugh Owen


In recent years, defenders of the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation have often made a comparison between our current struggle to defend the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation against so-called “theistic” evolution and the struggle to defend the traditional Catholic doctrine of marriage and sexuality against contraception prior to the publication of Humanae vitae. Recently, we have received a letter accusing us of making a false comparison in this regard, and we welcome the opportunity to clarify our position. We will respond to the arguments of our critic below, but first we think that it is important to clarify the exact nature of the analogy that we are making between the relationship between the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and theistic evolution and the relationship between the Magisterium and contraception.

In the first place, we are NOT arguing that the Magisterium stands in the same relationship to theistic evolution TODAY as it did to contraception AFTER the publication of Humanae vitae. Yet that seems to be the position our critic is attacking. If so, he is making a straw man argument. No, our thesis is that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church stands in the same position in relation to theistic evolution TODAY as it stood in relation to contraception in 1965, PRIOR to the definitive statement of Pope Paul VI in Humanae vitae.

In other words, our argument is that the overwhelming weight of evidence from Sacred Tradition and Magisterial teaching upholds the special creation of all the different kinds of creatures “in the beginning” of creation, and that Humani generis—far from giving theologians license toteach evolution—simply exhorted qualified Catholic scholars to examine the evidence for and against the evolutionary hypothesis, JUST AS Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI gave the members of the Birth Control Commission permission to examine the evidence for and against birth control when the overwhelming weight of evidence from Sacred Tradition and Magisterial teaching supported the Church’s constant teaching on the sinfulness of contraception. Therefore, JUST AS Catholics were obliged to hold fast to the traditional teaching of the Church on marriage and sexuality PRIOR to the publication of Humanae vitae so are Catholics today obliged to hold fast to the traditional teaching of the Church on special creation, even though the Magisterium has not yet published its (inevitable) official reaffirmation of the traditional teaching on creation.

With this as a preamble, we will try to respond to our critic’s comments in detail, to show some of the ways that he has failed to present the traditional teaching on special creation accurately in his remarks. He writes:

The first what one might call complete theory of evolution was made in the 1800s, long before Darwin. Catholic priests were addressing the topic as early as the 1870s. The Holy Office generally asked that the books be withdrawn, but didn’t punish the authors, and none of the popes stepped in on the matter.

This is not an accurate summary for several reasons. In the first place, pagan philosophers like Lucretius were promoting evolutionary theories very similar to Darwin’s in the early centuries of the Church and the Church Fathers were unanimous in rejecting them as nonsensical and utterly contradictory to God’s revelation to Moses. In the second place, it was not just Catholic priests who were “addressing the topic” of evolution in the 1870s. In 1860 the Provincial Council of Cologne (1860) made the following pronouncement one year after the appearance of Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species” (1859):

Our first parents were formed immediately by God. Therefore we declare that the opinion of those who do not fear to assert that this human being, man as regards his body, emerged finally from the spontaneous continuous change of imperfect nature to the more perfect, is clearly opposed to Sacred Scripture and to the Faith.

Nine years later, the First Vatican Council (1869-1870), quoting the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), taught the following:

This sole true God ‘immediately from the beginning of time fashioned each creature out of nothing, spiritual and corporeal […] (DZ 1783)

The accompanying anathema reads as follows:

If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing […] let him be anathema. (DZ 1805)

The First Vatican Council thus reaffirmed the Firmiter of Lateran IV which had defined that God created ALL things, the spiritual and the corporeal creatures, “at once” (simul) from the beginning of time. If you consult the study Creation and Time at this link you will find proof that the greatest Catholic commentators on the Firmiter for 600 years, like St. Lawrence of Brindisi and Cornelius a Lapide, held that it ruled out the creation of all of the different kinds of creatures over long ages of time. Indeed, they held that the Firmiter was compatible with the six days of creation—the overwhelming majority view of the Fathers and Doctors—or an instantaneous creation of all things—the Augustinian minority view—but not with the idea that creation was spread out over a long period of time.

As Creation and Time demonstrates, it was only the acceptance of wildly speculative Lyellian geology as fact that led theologians at the end of the nineteenth century to reinterpret the Firmiter to accommodate Lyell’s long ages of geologic time. This new fashion in geology notwithstanding, Vatican Council I reaffirmed the Firmiter in the same sense in which it was written and anathematized anyone who argued that the progress of the sciences demands that the Catholic doctrine of creation be altered—the very thing that theistic evolution necessarily entails.

Our critic continues:

In 1909 we have the PBC stating that Catholic teaching does not require a six day, young earth creationist understanding of Genesis. It also states that certain things must be believed, including the special creation of man, the creation of the first woman from the first man, and that we are all descended from these two parents. It does NOT condemn the idea of evolution, even though the idea was becoming more mainstream at that point.

This summary misrepresents reality in a number of important ways. In the first place, the PBC decrees of 1909 placed the burden of proof on the exegete who denied the proper sense of any part of the text of Genesis 1-3. That is apparent if you read all eight of the answers published on Genesis 1-3 in 1909. The PBC specifically states that exegetes must proceed with the “Church and the Fathers” “leading the way.” But ALL of the Fathers believed and taught that Genesis was a sacred history and that God created the entire material universe in six days or an instant less than ten thousand years ago. Thus, any exegesis of Genesis One that allows the Fathers to “lead the way” cannot possibly endorse theistic evolution or progressive creation over millions or billions of years. In the second place, our critic left out the most important of all the “certain things” that the PBC decrees say “must be believed,” namely, “the creation of ALL THINGS by God at the beginning of time.” We cannot help wondering, “Why did he leave that one out?”

That we MUST BELIEVE in “the creation of ALL THINGS by GOD at the beginning of time” establishes a number of points which must ultimately prove fatal to any attempt to baptize evolution. In the first place, if God created all things “IN THE BEGINNING,” how can creation have been spread out over millions or billions of years? In the second place, if God created ALL THINGS “in the beginning,” then how can the evolutionary conjecture be true that tells us that one kind of creature turned into another over hundreds of millions of years? Our critic blithely passes over the difficulty inherent in holding that we MUST BELIEVE that Genesis is to be taken literally when Moses tells us that Eve was created FROM ADAM’S SIDE but that we are somehow free to believe that other verses in the same chapters of the same book may be understood in a purely figurative way! Given what the PBC decrees required Catholics to believe under pain of mortal sin, it was hardly necessary for the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission to “condemn the idea of evolution”—especially when a PBC decree would not have been the appropriate place to publish such a formal condemnation.

Our critic continues by reminding us that:

With this background, in 1950, Pius XII issues Humani Generis, drawing lines which cannot be crossed based on Catholic dogma and permitting continued discussion in the other areas that don’t.

In this instance, our critic implies that allowing “continued discussion” of evolution somehow obviates almost two thousand years of authoritative teaching on creation—just as many of the members of the Birth Control Commission concluded that “permission to discuss” was tantamount to a nullification of two thousand years of traditional teaching on marriage and approval of what was being discussed. But this is completely false. Permission to “discuss” the evidence for and against evolution in 1950 no more constituted approval or permission to teach evolution than permission to “discuss” birth control in 1965 constituted approval of or permission to teach the permissibility of birth control. In both cases, all Catholics were obliged to hold fast to the traditional teaching of the Church on the matters under discussion pending an (impossible) authoritative reversal of the traditional teaching. By encouraging fellow Catholics to think that they are perfectly free to believe and teach theistic evolution in the light of Humani generis, our critic is making the same terrible mistake that so many Catholic theologians made in the early 1960s when they counseled Catholic couples to “follow their own consciences” on birth control, since the Pope was “allowing free discussion” of the matter.

Our critic continues with a condescending summary of his critique:

Now, hopefully the difference between what Pius XII did regarding evolution and what Paul VI did regarding is clear to you, but I’ll help spell out some of the difference just in case.

1) Paul VI was addressing a new situation. Pius XII was not.

As we have demonstrated, in both situations Popes were facing modern challenges to the traditional teaching of the Church on fundamental doctrines. He goes on:

2) Paul VI called (or continued what John XXIII had done) to investigate the issue. When he wrote on the topic, he condemned what was immoral. Pius XII issued a statement also condemning what was contrary to Catholic teaching…and evolution was on the list ONLY WHEN IT CROSSED CERTAIN LINES, such as evolution of the soul, or the adoption of pantheism or monism.

3) In his encyclical, Paul VI did not state that discussion could continue on birth control precisely because the matter was settled as a matter of doctrine. Pius XII did state that discussion could continue on evolution precisely because the matter was NOT settled on doctrine.

As we explained in the introduction to this reply, our critic has misunderstood the analogy we are making. To repeat:

Our thesis is that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church stands in the same position in relation to theistic evolution TODAY as it stood in relation to contraception in 1965, PRIOR to the definitive statement of Pope Paul VI in Humanae vitae.

Our critic rests his case as follows:

So in other words, your analogy with birth control isn’t a good one. If anything, it actually works against the position you are trying to take (but everything does, since you’re trying to claim that Catholic teaching condemns something which it actually doesn’t). Now, if the Holy See SHOULD issue a statement at some point condemning what you so desperately want it to condemn (which it has the authority to do if, in fact, evolution is false as a matter of Faith), the analogy will be much better, but I will already have submitted to the authority of the Magisterium so it also won’t be necessary.”

This closing statement is truly heart-breaking, as our critic appears to believe that almost two thousand years of authoritative teaching on creation can be set aside while “discussion” continues on the pros and cons of evolution. How is this any different from the terrible error of the many theologians who argued that couples should be free to endorse and practice birth control while “discussion” was taking place on the birth control commission?

If our critic has any remaining doubt that the position we are defending is correct, we would beg him to ponder a few final considerations which show that evolutionary errors ought not only to be avoided because they contradict the traditional teaching of the Church on creation but also because they contributed and continue to contribute to the widespread acceptance of the very practices condemned by Pope Paul VI in Humanae vitae. Let him consider first of all that in spite of the fact that ALL of the theologians on the Birth Control Commission recognized that the Church had constantly condemned contraception as a grave sin against the nature of holy matrimony and the natural law, Cardinal Suenens, for the overwhelming majority on the commission said that “science” had given us a new understanding of what is according to nature and that the Church should allow contraception to married couples or face another “Galileo Affair.”

Besides showing how quickly innovators hasten to recall Galileo when trying to force the Magisterium to change her traditional teachings, this statement of Cardinal Suenens shows the extent to which evolutionary thought influenced the advocates for contraception. As his fellow birth control advocate on the commission, Bishop Fuchs stated: “There has been an evolution in doctrines since Casti cannubii under Pius XII and at Vatican II. And this evolution has been moving in one direction: away from the notion that each contraceptive act is intrinsically evil” (Robert McClory, Turning Point (New York: Crossroad, 1995), p. 123).

It is important to recognize just how definitively the Magisterium had defined the intrinsic evil of contraceptive acts. As Dr. William May shows in his paper on Fr. John Ford and Humanae vitae, Pope Pius XI in Casti connubii had defined this doctrine in no uncertain terms:

Since, therefore. ..openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some [he had in mind the Lambeth Conference of the Church of England in 1930] recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin” (emphasis added)(http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/may/key-roles.htm)

In his famous Address to the Italian Union of Midwives in October 1951 (Allocutio Conventui Unionis Italicae inter Obstetrices) Pius XII affirmed:

Our Predecessor, Pius XI…in his Encyclical Casti Connubii… once again solemnly proclaimed the fundamental law of the conjugal act and conjugal relations: that every attempt of either husband or wife in the performance of the conjugal act or in the development of its natural consequences which aims at depriving it of its inherent force and hinders the procreation of new life is immoral; and that no ‘indication’ or need can convert an act which is intrinsically immoral into a moral and lawful one. This precept is in full force today, as it was in the past, and so it will be in the future also, and always, because it is not a simple human whim, but the expression of a natural and divine law (emphasis added) (http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/may/key-roles.htm)

Writing for the minority, with help from Germaine Grisez, Fr. John Ford defended the constant authoritative teaching of the Church on contraception in precisely the same terms that we defend the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation today. He wrote:

Why cannot the Church change her essential answer to this central question [i.e. contraception]? The Church cannot change her answer because this answer is true . . . It is true because the Catholic Church, instituted by Christ to show men a secure way to eternal life, could not have so wrongly erred during all those centuries of history . . The Church could not have erred . . . even through one century, by imposing under serious obligation very grave burdens in the name of Jesus Christ, if Jesus Christ did not actually impose those burdens . . . If the Church could err in such a way . . . the faithful could not put their trust in the magisterium’s presentation of moral teaching, especially in sexual matters.

If contraception were declared not intrinsically evil, in honesty it would have to be acknowledged that the Holy Spirit in 1930, in 1951, and 1958 assisted Protestant churches, and that for half a century Pope Pius XI and Pius XII and a great part of the Catholic hierarchy did not protect against a very serious error, one most pernicious to souls . . . Therefore, one must cautiously inquire whether the change which is proposed would not bring along with it a definitive depreciation of the teaching and the moral direction of the hierarchy of the Church and whether several very grave doubts would not be opened up about the very history of Christianity. (Turning Point, pp. 110-111).

Fr. Ford did not call Cardinal Suenens a “heretic”—although in retrospect one could say that the cardinal subscribed to a material heresy by arguing for freedom for couples to use birth control. Fr. Ford left the final judgment to the Pope, but he appealed to the Magisterium to uphold the constant teaching of the Church and showed the immense harm that would result from its failure to do so. Now, substitute “evolution” for “contraception” and re-consider the words of Fr. John Ford quoted above:

Why cannot the Church change her essential answer to this central question [i.e. evolution]? The Church cannot change her answer because this answer is true . . . It is true because the Catholic Church, instituted by Christ to show men a secure way to eternal life, could not have so wrongly erred during all those centuries of history . . The Church could not have erred . . . even through one century, by imposing under serious obligation very grave burdens in the name of Jesus Christ, if Jesus Christ did not actually impose those burdens . . .

Lest anyone think that there were no grave burdens attached to dissent from the traditional doctrine of creation, they need only recall the Profession of Faith that Pope Pelagius I gave to the King of the Franks (DZ 228a) and the first article of the Apostles Creed as interpreted by the Roman Catechism. The King of the Franks could NOT be a Catholic unless he believed and confessed the special creation of Adam, body and soul, and of Eve from Adam’s side—and ALL pastors were required to teach the doctrine of creation contained in the Roman Catechism for hundreds of years. In the light of these and other examples of authoritative teaching on creation set forth in the article “The Traditional Catholic Doctrine of Creation,” it is apparent that the fiat creation of all things by God in the beginning has been taught at a higher level of authority than the intrinsic evil of contraception. Therefore, it is even more incumbent upon Catholics to defend the traditional teaching of the Church on creation today than it was for Fr. Ford to defend the traditional teaching of the Church on Holy Marriage and human sexuality in 1965.

The Magisterium, Evolution and Contraception: Reply to a Critic

Genetic Entropy Recorded in the Bible?

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in Natural Science

genetic entropy 300 x 150

Genetic Entropy Recorded in the Bible?

By Dr. John Sanford, Jim Pamplin & Christopher Rupe

FMS Foundation, All Rights Reserved, 2014

Did Noah Live to 950 Years Old? Is Man Degenerating Due to Mutations?

There is growing scientific evidence that the human genome is rapidly degenerating due to mutation accumulation (the term “genome” means all of a person’s genes combined). This is supported by papers by several world-famous population geneticists. The fact that humanity is genetically degenerating due to mutation accumulation amounts to “evolution going backwards”, and is the anti-thesis of Darwinian thought. Remarkably, such degeneration is very consistent with the Bible. In many places, the Bible indicates that we are dying people in a dying world, and that creation itself is wearing out. The most obvious outward evidences for genetic degeneration are aging, death, and shortened average lifespans. The degeneration of man is explicitly recorded in the words of Jacob, who said to the Pharaoh “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors.” (Genesis 47:9, NLT). The extreme longevity of the early patriarchs is very well documented in Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua. The Bible records the age of death of the first 25 Patriarchs in the lineage that goes from Adam to Moses. All of these early Patriarchs lived to be extremely old.

We do not normally think of the Bible as a source of scientific data. However, the recorded ages of the Patriarchs do in fact constitute real data, which can be analyzed scientifically. The results are fascinating, and have incredible implications. Here we show an analysis that demonstrates an exponential decline in the lifespan of the Patriarchs. The Biblical data when plotted over generation time, follows a mathematically precise formula that powerfully reveals the trustworthiness of the Bible!

Continue to read full article


 

Please pray that young adults and all Catholics may hold fast to the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation and all the authoritative teachings of the Church. Please consider conducting the attached survey for young adults regarding the “sacred history of Genesis”.

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in Announcements

Please pray that young adults and all Catholics may hold fast to the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation and all the authoritative teachings of the Church. Please consider conducting the attached survey for young adults regarding the “sacred history of Genesis”. To download survey, click the following link: Kolbe Center-Young Adult Questionnaire-Sacred History of Genesis

 

Orestes Brownson on the Origin of Civilization

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in Articles and Essays, History

The Origin of Civilization

Take the men and women who hold, on marriage and on religion, what are called “advanced views” – free-lovers and free-religionists- remove them from the restraints of the Church and of the state, not yet up to their standard, and let them form a community by themselves in which their views shall be carried out in practice; would they not in two or three generations lapse into a state not above that of the most degraded and filthy savages?  We see this deterioration going on in our midst and right before our eyes, as the effect of apostasy from our holy religion.  This proves that apostasy is sufficient to explain the existence of the savage races, without supposing the human race began in “utter barbarism.”  If apostasy in modern times, as we see it does, leads to “utter barbarism,” why should it not have done so in ancient times?

Sir John Lubbock, though his name is not euphonious, is, we understand, an English scientist, highly distinguished and of no mean authority in the scientific world, as his father was before him.  He certainly is a man of high pretensions, and of as much practical ability and practical good sense as we have a right to expect in an English scientist.  He, of course, adopts the modern theory of progress, and maintains that the savage is the type of the primitive man, and that he has emerged from his original barbarism and superstition to his present advanced civilization and religious belief and worship by his own energy and persevering efforts at self-evolution or development, without any foreign or supernatural instruction or assistance.

One, Sir John contends, has only to study and carefully ascertain the present condition of the various contemporary savage tribes, or what he calls the “lower races,” to know what was the original condition of mankind, and from which the superior races started on their tour of progress through the ages; and one needs only to ascertain the germs of civilization and religion which were in their original condition, to be able to comprehend the various stages of that progress and the principles and means by which it has been effected and may be carried on indefinitely beyond the point already reached.  Hence, in the volume before us the author labors to present us a true picture of the present mental and social condition of contemporary savages as that of the primeval man.  He assumes that the mental and social condition is that of the infancy of the human race, and by studying it we can attain to the history of “pre-historic” times, assist, as it were, if we may be pardoned the Gallicanism, at the earliest development of mankind, and trace step by step the progress from their first appearance on the globe upward to the sublime civilization of the nineteenth century- the civilization of the steam-engine, the cotton spinner and weaver, the steamboat, the steam-plough, the railway, and the lightning telegraph.

This theory, that finds in the savage the type of the primitive man, is nothing very new.  It was refuted by the late Archbishop Whately, by the Duke of Argyll in his Primeval Man, and on several occasions by ourselves.  The facts Sir John adduces in support of this theory, are far as facts they are, had been adduced long ago, and were as well known by us before we abandoned the theory as untenable, as they are by Sir John Lubbock or any of his compeers.  They may all, as far as they bear on religion, be found summed up and treated at length in the work of Benjamin Constant, La Religion consideree dans sa Source, ses Developements, et ses Formes, published in 1832, as well as in a mass of German writers.  Sir John has told us nothing of the mental and social condition of savages that we had not examined, we had almost said before he was born, and which we had supposed was not known by all men with any pretension to serious studies.  In fact, we grow rather impatient as we grow old of writers who, because they actually have learned more than they knew in their cradles, imagine that they have learned so much more than all the rest of mankind.  No men try our patience more than our scientific Englishmen, who speak always in a decisive tone, with an air of infallibility from which there would seem to be no appeal, and yet utter only the veriest commonplaces, old theories long since exploded, or stale absurdities.  We have no patience with such men as Herbert Spencer, Huxley, and Darwin.  We are hardly less impatient with the scientists who in our own country hold them up to our admiration and reverence as marvelous discoverers, and as the great and brilliant lights of the age.  We love science, we honor the men who devote their lives to its cultivation, but we ask that it be science, not hypothesis piled on hypothesis, nor simply a thing of mere conjectures or guesses.

The modern doctrine of progress or development, which supposes a man began in the lowest savage, if not lower still, is not a doctrine suggested by any facts observed and classified in men’s history, nor is it a logical induction from any class of known facts, but a gratuitous hypothesis invented and asserted against the Biblical doctrine of creation, of Providence, of original sin, and of the supernatural instruction, government, redemption, and salvation of men.  The hypothesis is suggested by hostility to the Christian revelation, prior to the analysis and classification of any facts to sustain it, and the scientists who defend it are simply investigating nature, not in the interests of science properly so-called, but, consciously or unconsciously, to find facts to support an hypothesis which may be opposed to both.  Any facts in nature or in history, natural or civil, political or religious, that seem to make against Christian teaching, are seized upon with avidity, distorted or exaggerated, and paraded with a grand fanfaronade, sounding of trumpets, beating of drums, and waving of banners, as if it were a glorious triumph of man to prove that he is no better than the beasts that perish; while the multitude of facts which are absolutely irreconcilable with it are passed over in silence or quietly set aside, as of no account, or simply declared to be anomalies, which science is not yet in a condition to explain, but, no doubt, soon will be, since it has entered the true path, has found the true scientific methods, and is headed in the right direction.  Science is yet in its infancy.  In its cradle it has strangled frightful monsters, and, when full-grown, it will not fail to slay the hydra, and rid the world of all its “chimeras dire.”  But while we do not complain that your infantile or puerile science has not done more, we would simply remind you, men of science, that it is very unscientific to reason from what you confess science has not yet done as if it had done it.  Wait till it has done it, before you bring it forward as a scientific achievement.

We confess to a want of confidence in this whole class of scientists, for their investigations are not free and unbiased; their minds are prejudiced; they are pledged to a theory in advance, which makes them shut their eyes to the facts which contradict it, and close their intelligence to the great principles of universal reason which render their conclusions invalid.  There are other scientists who have pushed their investigations as far into nature and history as they have, perhaps even further, who know and have carefully analyzed all the facts they know or even pretend to know, and yet have come to conclusions the contrary to theirs, and find nothing in the facts or phenomena of the universe that warrant any induction not in accordance with Christian faith, either as set forth in the Holy Scriptures or the definitions of the Church.  Why are these less likely to be really scientific than they?  They are biased by their Christian faith, you say.  Be it so: are you less biased by your anti-christian unbelief and disposition?  Besides, are you able to say that these have not in their Christian faith a key to the real sense or meaning of the universe and its phenomena which you have not, and therefore are much more likely to be right than you?  Do you know that it is not so?  There is no science where knowledge is wanting.

The unchristian scientists forget that they cannot conclude against the Biblical or Christian doctrine from mere possibilities or even probabilities.  They appeal to science against it, and nothing can avail them as the basis of argument against it that is not scientifically proved or demonstrated.  Their hypothesis of progress, evolution, or development is unquestionably repugnant to the whole Christian doctrine and order of thought.  If it is true, Christianity is false.  They must then, before urging it, either prove Christianity untrue or an idle tale, or else prove absolutely, beyond the possibility of a rational doubt, the truth of their hypothesis.  It is enough to prove that it may, for aught you know, be true; you must prove that it is true, and cannot be false.  Christianity is too important a fact in the world’s history to be set aside by an undemonstrated hypothesis.  And it is any thing but scientific to conclude its falsity on the strength of a simply possible or even probable hypothesis, not as yet indeed proved, and of which the best you can say is that you trust science will be able to prove it when once it is out of its nonage.  You cannot propose it at all, unless you have scientifically demonstrated it, or previously disproved aliunde the Christian revelation.  So long as you leave it possible for me to hold the Christian faith without contradicting what is demonstrated to be true, you have alleged nothing to the purpose against it, and cannot bring forward your theory even as probable, far less as scientific; for, if it is possible that Christianity is true, it is not possible that your hypothesis can be true, or even scientifically proved.  The scientists seem not to be aware of this, and seem to suppose that they may rank Christianity with the various heathen superstitions, and set it aside by an unsupported theory or a prejudice.

Let the question be understood.  Christianity teaches us that in the beginning God created heaven and earth, and all things therein, visible and invisible, that he made man after his own image and likeness, placed him in the garden of Eden, gave him a law, that is, made him a revelation of his will, instructed him in his moral and religious duty, established him in original justice, in a supernatural state, under a supernatural providence, on the plane of a supernatural destiny; that man prevaricated, broke the law given him, lost his original justice, the integrity of his nature attached thereto, and communion with his Maker, fell under the dominion of the flesh, became captive to Satan, and subject to death, moral, temporal, and eternal; that God, of his own goodness and mercy, promised him pardon and deliverance, redemption and salvation, through his own Son made man, who in due time was born to the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, was dead and buried, and on the third day rose again, ascended into heaven, whence he shall come again, to judge the living and the dead.  This doctrine, in substance, was made to our first parents in the garden, was preserved in the tradition of the patriarchs, in its purity in the synagogue, and in its purity and integrity in the Christian Church founded on it, and authorized and assisted by God himself to teach it to all men and nations.

According to this doctrine, the origin of man, the human species, as well as of the universe and all its contents, is in the creative act of God, not in evolution or development.  The first man was not a monkey or a tadpole developed, nor a savage or barbarian, but was a man full-grown in the integrity of his nature, instructed by his Maker, and the most perfect man of his race, and as he is the progenitor of all mankind, it follows that mankind began not in “utter barbarism,” as Sir John asserts, but in the full development and perfection of manhood, with the knowledge of God and providence, of their origin and destiny, and of their moral and religious duty.  Ignorance has followed as the penalty or consequence of sin, instead of being the original condition in which man was created; and this ignorance brought on the race by the prevarication of Adam, the dominion of the flesh, and the power of Satan acquired thereby, are the origin and cause of barbarism of individuals and nations, the innumerable moral and social evils which have afflicted mankind in all times and places.

Now, to this doctrine Sir John opposes the hypothesis of the origin of man in “utter barbarism,” and his progress by natural evolution or self-development.  But what facts has he adduced in its support, or that conflict with Christian teaching, that prove that teaching false or even doubtful?  He has adduced, as far as we can see, none at all, for all the facts that he alleges are, to say the least, as easily explained in the supposition of man’s deterioration as on the supposition of progress, development, or continuous melioration.  Some of the facts he adduces might, perhaps, be explained on his hypothesis, if there were no reason for giving them a contrary explanation; but there is not one of them that must be so explained.  This is not enough for his purpose, though it is enough for ours.  He must go further, and prove that his facts not only may but must be explained on his hypothesis, and can be explained on no other.  If we are able to explain, or he is unable to show positively that we cannot explain, all known facts in accordance with Christian doctrine, he can conclude nothing from them against Christianity or in favor of his naturalism. We do not, he must remember, rely on those facts to prove the Christian doctrine, but he relies on them to disprove it, by proving his hypothesis; and if he cannot show that they absolutely do disprove it, or positively prove his hypothesis, he proves nothing to his purpose.

Sir John dwells at great length on the real or supposed rites, forms, and barbarous customs observed by outlying savage tribes and or nations, but, but before he can draw any conclusion from them in favor of his theory of progress, he must prove that they were primitive.  He knows them only as contemporaneous with what he would himself call civilized marriage: how then, without having first proved that the race began in “utter barbarism,” conclude from them that they preceded civilized marriage?  One thing is certain, we never found them without finding somewhere in the world contemporary with them the civilized marriage.  There is no history, historical intimation, or tradition of any custom or conception of marriage older than we have in the book of Genesis, and in that we find the true idea of marriage was already in the world at the earliest date of history, and the vices against it are plainly condemned in the Decalogue, contemporary with these very usages, customs, and notions of savages on which Sir John dwells with so much apparent delight, and which are barbarous, and lax enough to satisfy even our women’s rights of men; and, so far as history goes, preceding them, the true idea of marriage as something sacred, and as the union of one man with one woman, was known and held, and therefore could not have been, at least as far as known, a development of barbarian marriages.  The same answer applies to the question of religion.  Contemporary with the savage and barbarous superstitions of the heathen, and even prior to them, we find practiced in its fervor and purity the true worship of the true God.  True religion is not developed from the impurities and absurd superstitions of the heathen, and is by no means the growth of the religious sentiment becoming gradually enlightened and purifying itself from their grossness, for it is historically as well as logically older than any of them.  Men worshipped God the creator of heaven and earth before they worshipped the fetish, the elements, or the hosts of heaven.  Religion is older than superstition, for superstition is an abuse of religion, as the theologians say, by way of excess, as irreligion is its abuse by way of defect; but a thing must exist and be entertained before it can be abused.  Nothing can be more certain than that true religion has never been developed from false religions, or truth from falsehood; for the true must precede the false, which is simply the negation of the true.  Christianity is, if you will, a development, the fulfillment of the synagogue or the Jewish religion; Judaism was also, if you will, a development of the patriarchal religion; but in neither case a self-development; and in neither case has the development been effected except by supernatural intervention.  It would be absurd to suppose the patriarchal religion was a development of heathenism, since it is historically prior to any form of heathenism, and every known form of heathenism supposes it, and is intelligible only by it.  So far was Judaism from being self-evolved from the superstitions of the heathen, that it was with the greatest difficulty that the Israelites themselves, as their history shows, were kept from adopting the idolatry and superstition of the surrounding nations, which shows that their religion was not self-evolved, and that it was above the moral and religious life of the people.  Christianity develops and perfects Judaism, but by supernatural agency, not by the natural progress or self-development of the Jewish people; for if it had been, the bulk of the nation would have accepted it, and we know that the bulk of the Jewish people did not accept it, but rejected it, and continue to reject it to this day.

We know, also, that the progress of the heathen nations was very far from raising them to the level of the Christian religion.  Traces of some of its principles and several of its moral precepts may be found with the gentile philosophers, as we should expect, since they pertained to the primitive revelation; but those philosophers were not the first, but rather the last to accept it.  Nowhere amongst the heathen did any Christian communities spring up spontaneously or were of indigenous origin.  Christianity sprang up out of Judea, and the nations adopted it, in the first instance, only as it was carried to them by Jewish missionaries.  Humble fishermen, publicans, and mechanics.  Who first received them, and believed their message?  Principally the common people, the unlettered, the poor, and slaves of the rich and noble.  “For see your vocation brethren,” says St. Paul, (I Cor. 4, 26), “that not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.”  Were the fisherman of the Lake Genesarath, and the slaves of the Roman Empire, we may ask with Msgr. Maret, “the most enlightened and advanced portion of mankind?”  Who dare maintain it, when it is a question of natural development or progress?  Had Christianity been the natural evolution of the human mind, or the product of the natural growth of human intelligence and morality, we should have first encountered it not with the poor, the ignorant, the unlettered and wretched slaves, but with the higher and more cultivated classes, with the philosophers, the scientists, the noble, the great generals and the most eminent orators and statesmen, the elite of the Greek and Roman society, those who at the time stood at the head of the civilized world.  Yet such is not the fact, but the fact is the very reverse.

The Biblical history explains the origin of the barbarous superstitions of heathendom in a very satisfactory way, and shows us very clearly that the savage state is not the primitive state, but has been produced by sin, and is the result of what we call the great gentile apostasy, or falling away of the nations from the primitive or patriarchal religion.  When language was confounded at Babel, and the dispersion of mankind took place, unity of speech or language was lost, and with it unity of ideas or of faith, and each tribe or nation took its own course, and developed a tribal or national religion of its own.  Gradually each tribe or nation lost the conception of God as creator, and formed to itself gods made in its own image, clothed with its own passions, and it bowed down and worshipped the work of its own hands.  It was not that they knew or had known no better.  St. Paul has settled that question.  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all impiety and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice.  Because that which is known of God is manifest in them.  For God has manifested it to them.  For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made: his eternal power also and divinity; so that they are inexcusable.  Because when they had known God, they glorified him not as God, nor gave thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened; for, professing themselves wise, they became fools.  And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things.  Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their hearts, to uncleanliness; to dishonor their own bodies among themselves, who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (Rom I 18-25)

St. Paul evidently does not believe Sir John Lubbock’s doctrine that the race began in “utter barbarism,” and have been slowly working their way up to the heights of Christian civilization.  He evidently ascribes the superstitions, and consequently the barbarism, of the heathen to apostasy.  Sir John, of course, does not accept the authority of St. Paul; but, if he cannot prove St. Paul was wrong, he is debarred from asserting his own hypothesis, even as probable.  If it is possible to explain the facts of the savage state on the ground of apostasy or gradual deterioration, the hypothesis of development, of self-evolution or natural and unaided progress, falls to the ground as wholly baseless.  His hypothesis becomes provable only by proving that no hypothesis is possible.

But all the known facts in the case are against our scientific baronet’s hypothesis.  Take Mohammedanism.  It sprang up subsequently to both Moses and the Gospel.  It is a compound of both Judaism and Christianity, more Jewish than Christian, however, and is decidedly inferior to either.  How explain this fact, if the several races of men never fall or retrograde, but are always advancing, marching through the ages onward and upward?  Many of the ancestors of the present Mussulmans belonged to highly civilized races, and some of them were Christians, and not a few of them Jews.  Yet there is always progress, never deterioration.

But we need not go back to the seventh century.  There has been a modern apostasy, and we see right before our eyes the process of deterioration, of falling into barbarism, going on among those who have apostatized from Christianity.  The author regards as an evidence of the lowest barbarism what he calls “communal marriage,” that is, marriage in which the wife is common to all the males of her husband’s family.  We do not believe this sort of marriage was ever any thing more than an exceptional fact, like polyandry; but suppose it was even among even the lowest savage tribes, how much lower or more barbarous is the state it indicates, than what the highly civilized Plato makes the magistrates prescribe in his imaginary Republic?  How much in advance of such a practice is the free love advocated by Mary Wolstonecraft and Fanny Wright; the recommendation of Godwin to abolish marriage and the monopoly by one man of any one woman; than the denunciation of marriage by the late Robert Owen as one of the trinity of evils which have hitherto afflicted the race, and his proposal to replace it by a community of wives, as he proposed to replace private property by a community of goods; or, indeed, that we see actually adopted in practice by the Oneida Community?  Sir John regards the gynocracy which prevails in some savage tribes as characteristic of a very low form of barbarism; but to what else tends the woman’s-rights movement in this country and ours?  If successful, not only would women be the rulers, but children would follow the mother’s line, not the father’s, for the obvious reason that, while the mother can be known, the father cannot be without any certainty.  Does not free love, the mainspring of the movement, lead to this?  And are not they who support it counted the advance party of the age, and we who resist denounced as old fogies or as the defenders of man’s tyranny?

Sir John relates that some tribes are so low in their intelligence that they have none or only the vaguest conceptions of the divinity, and none at all of God as Creator.  He need not go out amongst outlying barbarians to find persons whose intelligence is equally low.  He will search in vain through all gentile philosophy without finding the conception of a creative God.  Nay, among our own contemporaries he can find more who consider it a proof of their superior intelligence and rare scientific attainments that they reject the fact of creation, relegate God into the unknown and the unknowable, and teach us that the universe is self-evolved, and man is only a monkey or gorilla developed.  These men regard themselves as the light of their age, and are so regarded, too, by no inconsiderable portion of the public.  Need we name August Comte and Sir William Hamilton, Professor Huxley, Charles Darwin, not to say Sir John himself, among the living?  If these men and their adherents have not lapsed into barbarism, their science, if accepted, would lead us to the ideas and practices which Sir John tells us belong to the lowest stage of barbarism.  Sir John doubts if any savage tribe can be found that is absolutely destitute of all religious conceptions or sentiments, but, if we may believe their own statements, we have people enough among the apostate Christians of our day who have none, and glory in it as proof of their superiority to the rest of mankind.

Sir John sees a characteristic of barbarism or of the early savage state in and the dread of evil spirits, or what we call demonism.  The Bible tells us all the gods of the heathens are devils or demons.  Even this characteristic of barbarism is reproduced in our civilized communities by spiritism, which is of enlightened American origin.  This spiritism, which is rapidly becoming a religion with large numbers of men and women in our midst, is nothing but demonism, the necromancy and witchcraft or familiar spirits of the ancient world.  Men who reject Christianity, who have no belief in God, or least do not hold it necessary to worship or pay him the least homage or respect, believe in the spirits, go to the medium, and consult her, as Saul in his desperation consulted the Witch of Endor.  If we go back a few years to the last century, we shall find the most polished people on the globe abolishing religion, decreeing that death is an eternal sleep, and perpetrating, in the name of liberty, virtue, humanity, and brotherly love, crimes and cruelties unsurpassed if not unequalled in the history of the most savage tribes; and we see little improvement in our own century, more thoroughly filled with the horrors of unprincipled and needless wars than any other century of which we possess the history.  Indeed, the scenes of 1792-3-4 are now in process of reproduction in Europe.

We must remember that all these deteriorations have taken place or are taking place in the most highly civilized nations of the globe, whose ancestors were Christians, and with persons many of whom were brought up in the belief of Christianity.  Take the men and women who hold, on marriage and on religion, what are called “advanced views” – free-lovers and free-religionists- remove them from the restraints of the church and of the state, not yet up to their standard, and let them form a community by themselves in which their views shall be carried out in practice; would they not in two or three generations lapse into a state not above that of the most degraded and filthy savages?  We see this deterioration going on in our midst and right before our eyes, as the effect of apostasy from our holy religion.  This proves that apostasy is sufficient to explain the existence of the savage races, without supposing the human race began in “utter barbarism.”  If apostasy in modern times, as we see it does, leads to “utter barbarism,” why should it not have done so in ancient times?

We might make the case still stronger against the author’s hypothesis, if necessary, by referring to the great and renowned nations of antiquity, that in turn led the civilization of the world.  Of the nations that apostatized or adhered to the great gentile apostasy, not one has survived the lapse of time.  To every one of them has succeeded barbarism, desolation, or a new people.  The Egypt of antiquity fell before the Persian conqueror, and the Egypt of the Greeks was absorbed by Rome, and fell with her.  Assyria leaves of her greatness only long since buried and forgotten ruins, while the savage Kurd and predatory Arab roam at will over the desert that has succeeded to her once flourishing cities and richly cultivated fields.  Syria, Tyre, Carthage, and the Greek cities of Europe and Asia have disappeared or dwindled into insignificance, and what remains of them they owe to the conservative power of the Christianity they adopted and have in some measure retained.  So true is it, the Psalmist says, “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”  How explain this fact, if these ancient nations could by their own inherent energy and power of self-development raise themselves from “utter barbarism” to the civilization they once possessed, that they could not preserve it; that, after having reached a certain point, they began to decline, grew corrupt, and at length fell by their own internal rottenness?  If men and nations are naturally progressive, how happens it that we find so many individuals and nations decline and fall, through internal corruption?

Another fact is not less conclusive against Sir John’s hypothesis, that in all the nations of the heathen world their least barbarous period known to us is their earliest after the apostasy and dispersion.  The oldest of the sacred books of the Hindus are the profoundest and richest in thought, and the freest from superstition and puerilities so characteristic of the Hindu people today.  The earliest religion of the Romans was far more spiritual, intellectual, than that which prevailed at the establishment of the empire and the introduction of Christianity.  Indeed, wherever we have the means of tracing the religious history of the ancient heathen nations, we find it is a history of almost uninterrupted deterioration and corruption, becoming continually more cruel, impure, and debasing as time flows on.  The mysteries, perhaps, retained something of the earlier doctrines, but they did little to arrest the downward tendency of the national religion; the philosophers, no doubt, retained some valuable traditions of the primitive religion, , but so mixed up with gross error and absurd fables that they had no effect on the life or morals of the people.  One of the last acts of Socrates was to require Crito to sacrifice a cock to Esculapius.  If Sir John’s hypothesis were true, nothing of this could happen, and we should find the religion of every nation, as time goes on, becoming purer and more refined, less gross and puerile, more enlightened and intellectual, and more spiritual and elevating in its influence.

The traditions of some, perhaps of all heathen nations, refer their origin to savage and barbarian ancestors, and this may have been the fact with many of them.  Horace would seem to go the full length of Sir John’s theory.  He tells us that the primitive men sprang like animals from the earth, a mute and filthy herd, fighting one another for an acorn or a den.  Cicero speaks somewhat to the same purpose, only he does not say it was the state of the primeval man.  Yet the traditions of the heathen nations do not in general favor the main point of Sir John’s hypothesis, that men come out of barbarism by their own spontaneous development, natural progressiveness, or indigenous and unaided efforts.  They rise, according to these traditions, to the civilized state only by the assistance of the gods, or by the aid of missionaries or colonies from nations already civilized.  The goddess Ceres teaches them to plant corn and make bread; Bacchus teaches them to plant the vine and to make wine; Prometheus draws fire from heaven and teaches them its use; other divinities teach to keep bees, to tame and rear flocks and herds, and the several arts of peace and war.  Athens attributed her civilization to Minerva and to Cecrops and his Egyptian colony; Thebes, hers to Orpheus and Cadmus, of Phoenician origin; Rome claimed to descend from a Trojan colony, and borrowed her laws from the Athenians- her literature, philosophy, her art and science, from the Greeks.  The poets paint the primitive age as the age of gold, and the philosophers always speak of the race as deteriorating, and find the past superior to the present.  What is best and truest in Plato he ascribes to the wisdom of the ancients, and even Homer speaks of the degeneracy of men in his days from what they were at the siege of Troy.  We think the author will search in vain through all antiquity to find a tradition or a hint which assigns the civilization of any people to its own indigenous and unassisted efforts.

Sir John Lubbock describes the savages as incurious and little given to reflection.  He says they never look beyond the phenomenon to its cause.  They see the world in which they are placed, and never think of looking further, and asking who made it, or whence they themselves came or whither they go.  They lack not only curiosity, but the power of abstraction and generalization, and even thought is a burden to them.  This is no doubt in the main true; but it makes against their natural progressiveness, and explains why they are not, progressive, but remain always stationary, if left to themselves.  The chief characteristic of the savage state is in fact its immobility.  The savage gyrates from age to age in the same narrow circle- never of himself advances beyond it. Whether a tribe sunk in what Sir John calls “utter barbarism,” and which he holds is the original state of the human race, has ever been or ever can be elevated to a civilized state by any human efforts, even of others already civilized, is, perhaps, problematical.  As far as experience goes, the tendency of such a tribe, brought in contact with a civilized race, is to retire the deeper into the forest, to waste away, and finally become extinct.  Certain it is, no instance of its becoming a civilized people can be named.

In every known instance in which a savage or barbarous people has become civilized, it has been by the aid or influence of religion, or their relations with a people already civilized.  The barbarians that overthrew the Roman Empire of the West, and seated themselves on its ruins, were more than half Romanized before the conquest by their relations with the Romans and service in the armies of the empire, and they rather continued the Roman order of civilization in the several kingdoms and states they founded than destroyed it.  The Roman system of education, and even the imperial schools, if fewer in number and on a reduced scale, were continued all through the barbarous ages down to the founding of the universities of medieval Europe.  Their civilization was carried forward, far in advance of that of Greece or Rome, by the Church, the great civilizer of the nations.  The northern barbarians that remained at home, the Germans, the Scandinavians, the Sclaves, were civilized by the labors of Christian monks and missionaries from Rome and Constantinople, from Gaul, England, and Ireland.  In no instance has their civilization been of indigenous origin and development.

Sir John Lubbock replies to this as he does to Archbishop Whatley’s assertion that no instance is on record of a savage people having risen to a civilized state by its own indigenous and unassisted efforts, that it is no objection, because we should not expect to find any record of any such an event, since it took place, if at all, before the invention of letters, and in “prehistoric times.”  We grant that the fact that there is no written record of it is not conclusive proof that no instance of the kind ever occurred; we should expect some trace of it in the traditions of civilized nations, or at least find some tendencies to it in the outlying savage nations of the present, from which it might be inferred as a thing not improbable in itself.  But nothing of the sort is found.  The author’s appeal to our ignorance, and our ignorance only, cannot serve his purpose.  He arraigns the universal faith of Christendom, and he must take out his case by positive, not simply negative proofs.  Till his hypothesis is proved by positive evidence, the faith of Christendom remains firm, and nothing can be concluded against it.

But how really stands the question?  Sir John finds in the various outlying savage tribes numerous facts which he takes to be the original germs of civilization, and hence he concludes that the primitive condition of the human race was that of “utter barbarism,” and the nations, or, as he says, the races, that have become civilized, “have become so by their indigenous and unaided efforts, by their own inherent energy and power of self-development or progress.”  But the facts he alleges may just as well be reminiscences of a past civilization as anticipations of a civilization not yet developed; and in our judgment- and it is not today that for the first time we have studied the question- they are much better explained as reminiscences than as anticipations, nay, are not explicable in any other way.  The facts appealed to, then, can at best count for nothing in favor of the hypothesis of natural progress or development.  They do not prove it or render it probable.

He is able, and he confesses it, to produce no instance of the natural and unassisted progress of any race of men from barbarism to civilization, and even his own facts show that barbarous or savage tribes are not naturally progressive, but stationary, struck with immobility.  Where, then, are the proofs of his hypothesis?  He has yet produced none.  Now, on the other hand, we have shown him that, in all known instances, the passage from barbarism into civilization has been effected only by supernatural aid, or by the influence of a previously civilized race or people.  We have shown him also that the gentile apostasy, which the Bible records and our religion asserts, sufficiently explains the origin of barbarism.  We have also shown him nations once civilized falling into barbarism, and, in addition, have shown him the tendency of an apostate people to lapse into barbarism existing and operating before our very eyes, in men whose ancestors were once civilized and even Christians.  The chief elements of barbarism he describes exist and are encouraged and defended in our midst by men who are counted by themselves and their contemporaries as the great men, the great lights, the advanced party of this advanced age.  Let the apostasy become more general, take away the Church or deprive her of her influence, and eliminate from the laws, manners, and customs of modern states what they retain of  Christian doctrine and morality, and it is plain to see that nations the loudest in their boast of their civilization would, if not supernaturally arrested, in a very short space of time, sink to the level of any of the ancient or modern outlying savage tribes.

Such is the case, and so stands the argument.  Sir John Lubbock brings forward an hypothesis, not original with him indeed, and the full bearing of which we would fain believe he does not see, for which he adduces and can adduce not a single well-authenticated fact, and which would not be favored for a moment by any one who understands it, were it not for its contradiction of the Biblical doctrine and Christian tradition.  But while there is absolutely no proof of the hypothesis, all the known facts of history or of human nature, as well as all the principles of religion and philosophy, with one voice pronounce against it as untenable.  Is not this enough?  Nothing is more certain than Christian faith; no fact is or can be better authenticated than the fact of revelation; we might then allege that the hypothesis is disproved, nay, not to be entertained, because it is contrary to the Christian revelation, than which nothing can be more certain.  We should have been perfectly justified in doing so, and so we should have done; but as the author appeals to science and progress to support himself on facts, we have thought it best, without prejudice to the authority of faith, to meet him on his own ground, to show him that science does not entertain his appeal, and that his theory of progress is but a baseless hypothesis, contradicted by all the known facts in the case and supported by none; and therefore no science at all.

Sir John’s theory of progress is just now popular, and is put forth with great confidence in the respectable name of science, and the modern world accept its, with great pomp and parade.  Yet it is manifestly absurd.  Nothing cannot make itself something, nor can any thing make itself more than it is.  The imperfect cannot of itself perfect itself, and no man can lift himself by his own waistbands.  Even Archimedes required somewhere to stand outside of the world in order to be able to raise the world with his lever.  Yet we deny not progress; we believe in it, and hold that man is progressive even to the infinite; but not by his own unaided effort or by his own inherent energy and natural strength, nor without the supernatural aid of divine grace.  But progress by nature alone, or self-evolution, though we tried to believe it when a child, we put away when we became a man, as we did other childish things.

Thus much we have thought it our duty to say in reply to the theory that makes the human race begin in utter barbarism, and civilization spring from natural development or evolution, so popular with our unchristian scientists or- but for respect to the public we would say- sciolists. We have in our reply repeated many things which we said before, and which have been said by others, and better said.  But it will not do to let such a book as the one before us go unanswered in the present state of the public mind, debauched as it is by false science.  If books will repeat the error, we can only repeat our answer.

From the Catholic World for July, 1871

 

 

Orestes Brownson on Darwin’s Descent of Man

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in Philosophy, Uncategorized

Kolbe Brownson Image Final 2-12-14

Orestes Brownson (1803-1876) was one of the greatest Catholic apologists in the history of the United States–some would say the greatest.  A convert to the Catholic Faith, Brownson entered the Church after having earned a stellar reputation as an original writer and thinker, a member of the intellectual circle that included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. His  Review offered a bold and uncompromising defense of the Catholic Faith which earned the respect and admiration of the entire episcopate.  On May 13, 1849, Brownson received a letter from Bishop Kenrick of Philadelphia, signed by the Archbishop of Baltimore and by all of the American Bishops in attendance at the Council of Baltimore in 1849, to encourage him by their “approbation and influence” to continue his “literary labors in defense of the faith.” The fact that Brownson later lost the support of many of the Bishops when he rightly upheld the authority of the Church above that of the state in her proper sphere does not diminish the extraordinary character of this recognition by all of the American bishops of his skill as an apologist. When Charles Darwin published his speculations on the origins of man and living things, beginning with his Origin of Species and continuing with the Descent of Man, Brownson recognized immediately that the Emperor of Evolution was naked but that his nakedness needed to be exposed swiftly, lest the world begin to admire the magnificence of the Emperor’s New Clothes as described by the disciples of Darwin.  Brownson’s critique of Darwin’s Descent of Man rings as true today as when he penned it one hundred and fifty years ago.

Mr. Darwin’s theory of the descent of man from the ape or some other of the monkey tribe depends on his theory of the origin of species by means of natural selection.  Which in its turn depends on the theory of progress, which we refuted in our review of Sir John Lubbock’s theory of the origin of civilization; or, perhaps, more remotely on Herbert Spencer’s theory of evolution as set forth in his First Principles of a New System of Philosophy, which itself depends on the theory of the correlation of forces.  If Sir John’s theory on the origin of civilization is untenable, or if Herbert Spencer’s theory of evolution is evidently false, unproved, and unprovable, Darwin’s theory of the origin of species is an untenable hypothesis, and his theory of the descent of man falls to the ground.  We proved, in our review of Sir John Lubbock’s theory, that man did not begin and could not have begun in utter barbarism, and that the savage is the degenerate, not the primitive man; for man, when deprived of foreign and supernatural assistance, either deteriorates or remains stationary.  We will only add here, that progress is motion forward, if taken literally, and is, if taken figuratively, an advance from the imperfect toward the perfect and necessarily demands a principle or a beginning, a medium, and an end, none of which can be asserted without the supposition of a Creator, who in his creative act is at once all three.  You must have a starting-point from which progress moves, an end toward which it moves, and a medium in and by which it moves.  These three things are essential, and without them progress is inconceivable: and these three are all independent of the progressive subject.  There can, then, be no progress without God as its first and last cause, and the divine creative act as its medium, and even then progress only in the line of the specific nature of the progressive subject, whether man or animal.  The transformation of one species into another, no matter by what means, would not be progress, but the destruction of one species and the production of another, a higher species if you will, but not the progressive development of a lower species.

Herbert Spencer’s doctrine of evolution is open to the same objection.  In all evolution there must be motion, and then somewhere a starting point, an evolving subject, and a medium of evolution, for there can be no motion, unless we have forgot our mechanics, without a first mover at rest.  Herbert Spencer denies creation, or a creator distinct from the cosmos.  He must then assume the cosmos is self-existent, eternal, then immovable, immutable, and consequently incapable of evolving any existences or forms of existence not eternal in itself.  The cosmos, instead of being in a constant state of flux and reflux, as old Heraclitus thought, and as Mr. Spencer holds, would be at rest and immovable, both as whole and in all its parts.  There could then be no change of phenomena any more than of substance, no new combination of matter, motion, and force, no alterations of concentration and dispersion of forces.  All the forms and phenomena of the cosmos must be absolutely unchangeable and eternal as the cosmos itself.  Consequently there could be no evolution, for evolution necessarily implies change of some sort, and change of no sort is admissible.  If the cosmos is not created by God, who is distinct from the cosmos, it is eternal and, if eternal, no change of any sort is admissible in it, as theologians tell us, none is admissible in God.  The theory of evolution, like the modern theory of progress, is untenable, and must be dismissed.

Yet, without assuming one or the other of these theories, Mr. Darwin cannot assert his origin of species by means of natural selection, or by any other means, except that of creation, which it is his purpose to avoid; and what is worse if he accepts either, he is still unable to assert his theory, for the evolution theory denies all change, and the origination of any new forms; and progress is predicable only of the specific subject in the line of its own specific nature.  We have read Mr. Darwin’s books with some care, and, though not an absolute stranger to the subject he treats, or to the facts he narrates, we are a little surprised that even a professed scientist could put forth such a mass of unwarranted inductions and unfounded conjectures as science.  Not one nor all of the facts he adduces, prove the species originate in natural or artificial selection.  In all his inductions he is obliged to assume the progress of the species as the principle of his induction, while he ought to know that the assumption of the progress of the species negatives the origin of species in selection.  But, and this is fatal to his theory, he nowhere adduces a single fact that proves the species is progressive, or a single instance in which a lower species by its struggles for life, as he pretends, approaches a higher species, or in which the individuals of a lower species lose any of the characteristics of their species, and acquire those of a higher or a different species.

The theory of natural selection assumes the Malthusian principle, that population has a tendency to outrun the means of subsistence, and applies the principle to every species, vegetable, animal and human.  Hence, follows with individuals of every species a struggle for life, in which the weaker go to the wall, and only the stronger survive.  Well, be it so: what then?  Why, these the stronger individuals give rise, or the struggle for life, in which only the stronger survive, going on for a long series of ages, gives birth to a new and higher species.  Is it so?  What is the proof?  We have found no proof of it, and Mr. Darwin offers no proof of it.  Because only the stronger survive, it by no means follows that these in any series of ages give rise to a new and distinct species, that these stronger individuals acquire any new characteristics, or that they lose any of the characteristics of their original species.

The gardener knows that plants and flowers are affected by climate, soil, and cultivation; but he knows also that the changes or improvements produced in this way, if they give rise to new varieties in the same species, do not, so far as known, give rise to a new species.  Mr. Darwin compares domestic animals with what he assumes to be wild animals of the same original species, or the species from which he assumes they have descended.  But this proves nothing to his purpose; for it is impossible for him to say which is the primitive, which the derivative, whether the domestic races have sprung from the wild, or the wild from the domestic, or whether the differences noted are the result  of development of the primitive type, or of reversion to it.  The assumption that the domestic races have been tamed, or domesticated from the wild, is a mere assumption of which there is no historical or scientific evidence: at least Mr. Darwin adduces none.  There is no authority for assuming that the domestic goose has sprung from the wild goose.  Why not say the wild goose has sprung from the domestic goose?  The wild duck from the tame duck? The wild boar from the domestic pig? Some naturalists contend that the several varieties of the dog family have descended from the wolf, the fox, and the jackal; but supposing them to be only varieties of the some species, of which we are not assured, why not make the dog primitive, and the wolf, fox, and jackal derivative?  There are no know facts in the case that render it necessary to suppose them, rather than the dog, the parent stock of the whole species.  Indeed, scientists have no criterion by which they can determine whether the tame variety or the wild represents the primitive type, and their only reason is the assumption , that all species begin at the lowest round of the ladder, and reach their perfect state only by progressive development.  But this is a perfectly gratuitous assumption.  Mr. Darwin adduces no fact to prove it.

So far as there are any known facts or certain principles in the case, species are immutable, and their only development is in the explication of individuals.  So far as our scientists have any knowledge on the subject, there is no progress of species.  Individuals may find a more or less favorable medium, and vary from one another, but the specific type remains always the same as long as it remains at all, and is reproduced essentially unaltered in each new generation.  It is even doubtful if abnormal types are ever really transmitted by natural generation.  Cardinal Wiseman inclines to believe they are, at least to some extent.  We doubt it, and explain the facts which seem to favor it, by the continued presence and activity of the causes which first originated them.  There are monstrous births, but they are not perpetuated.  The cardinal mentions a family with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, and we have known at least one six-fingered and six-toed individual, but, if perpetuated through three generations, as the cardinal asserts, there did not arise from the family a distinct variety in the human species; and, in the case that came under our own observation, neither the parents of the man nor his children had more than the normal number of fingers and toes.  In any case, after two or three generations, if reproductive, the abnormal individuals revert to the original type.  The breed may be crossed, but not permanently improved by crossing.  The crossing, as every herdsman or shepherd knows, must be kept up, or the hybrid, after a few generations, eliminates the weaker and reverts to the stronger of the original types.

There is no evidence, as we have already said, of the progress of the species.  The sponge today does not differ of the sponge of four thousand years ago; and if the wild peach of Persia is poisonous, our cultivated peach, the fruit of which is so delicious, if neglected and suffered to become wild, would most likely, under the same conditions of climate and soil, become as poisonous as is the Persian wild peach: thereby proving that, whatever the effects of cultivation or changes of its habitat, the species remains always unchanged.  Even in the cultivated peach traces of its original poisonous qualities are found, if not in its pulp, at least in its meat, of which it is unsafe for any to partake largely, unless proof against prussic acid.  The florist produces, by culture and proper adjustment of soil, great and striking changes in the size, color, and beauty of many varieties and species of flowers, all of which, if neglected and suffered to run wild, revert, after a while, to their original type, which neither natural nor artificial selection alters or impairs.

Then the survival of the strongest, in the struggle for life, does not effect the species, far less originate a new species.  There is no evidence that the rat is more intelligent today than was the rat any number of centuries ago, although, according to Mr. Darwin, we must suppose only the strongest have survived, and the process of natural selection  has been constantly going on.  The bee constructs her cell, and the beaver his house and dam, not otherwise nor more perfectly than did either at the remotest period in which man has observed the habits of either.  Wheat grown from grain deposited in Egyptian mummies three thousand years ago, is as perfect as that which is grown from the seed subject to three thousand years of additional culture and struggle for life.

These observations, which might be indefinitely extended prove that, whatever effect natural or artificial selection may have on individuals of the species, it has none of the species itself, and in no case originates, so far as human observation goes, a new species.  Consequently all the facts and arguments Mr. Darwin adduces in support of his theory of the descent of man from the ape, or to prove the species ape by natural selection has generated or developed the species man, count for nothing.  If no instance can be adduced of the development of a new species by natural selection, and instance of a lower species towards a higher, there is and can be no proof that man has originated in a lower species.  All the analogies between man and the lower animals, physical or intellectual, adduced by Mr. Darwin, prove simply nothing to the purpose.  It was in bygone days a favorite theory with us, as it perhaps still is with many others, that man, while he is something more, is also resume of the whole lower creation, or of all orders of existences below him.   When we were engrossed with the study of the comparative anatomy and physiology of the brain, we conjectured that there is a just gradation  in its convolutions and relative size, from the lowest animal that has a brain distinct from mere ganglia, up to man.  We regarded man, in fact, as including in himself, in his physical and animal nature, the elements of the entire creation below him, and hence rightly named its lord.  So that our Lord, in assuming human nature, a human soul and a human body, assumed the elements of the entire cosmos, and, in redeeming man, redeemed the whole lower creation and delivered the earth itself, which had been cursed for man’s sake, from bondage.  In being made flesh and redeeming the body, he redeemed all animal and material nature, which returns to God as its last end in man for whom this lower world was made, and over which he received the dominion from his and its Maker.  But we never saw in this any evidence that man had been developed from the world below him, or that any animal race by transformation had become man.  Supposing the gradation assumed, which we are rather inclined to accept even yet, it by no means follows that the higher grade is in any case the development of the next grade below.  Indeed it cannot be, for development of any grade or species can only unfold or bring out what is already in it, or what it contains wrapped up, enveloped, or unexplicated.  Therefore its development cannot carry it out of itself, or lift it to the grade next above it.  The superior grade is a superior grade by virtue of something which it has that the highest inferior grade has not, and therefore is not and cannot be developed from it.

Say what you will, the ape is not a man; nor, as far as our observations or investigations can go, is the ape, the gorilla, or any other variety of the monkey tribe, the animal that approaches nearest to man.  The rat, the beaver, the horse, the pig, the raven, the elephant surpass the monkey in intelligence, if it be intelligence, and not simply instinct; and the dog is certainly far ahead of the monkey in moral qualities, in affection for his master and fidelity to him, and so is the horse when kindly treated.  But let this pass.  There is that, call it what you will, in man, which is not in the ape.  Man is two-footed and two-handed; the ape is four-handed, or, if you choose to call the extremity of his limbs feet, four-footed.  In fact, he has neither a human hand nor a human foot, and, anatomically considered, differs hardly less from man than does the dog or the horse.  I have never been able to discover any of the simian tribe a single human quality.  As to physical structure, there is some resemblance.  Zoologists tell us traces of the same original type may be found running through the whole animal world; and, therefore, the near approach of the ape to the human form counts for nothing in this argument.  But here is the point we make; namely, the differentia of man, not being in the ape, cannot be obtained from the ape by development.

This sufficiently refutes Darwin’s whole theory.  He does not prove the origin of a new species either by natural or artificial selection; and, not having done that, he adduces nothing that does or can warrant the induction, that the human species is developed from the quadrumanic or any other species.  In reading Mr. Darwin’s books before us, while we acknowledge the vast accumulation of facts in the natural history  of man and animals, we have been struck with the feebleness of his reasoning powers.  He does not seem to possess, certainly does not use, the simplest elements of the logical understanding, and apparently has no conception of what is or is not proof.  He does not know how to reduce facts to their principles, and never, so far as we have been able to discover, contemplates them in the light of the principles on which they depend; but looks at them only in the light of his own theories, which they as often contradict as favor.  Patient as an observer, he is utterly imbecile as a scientific reasoner.  Two-thirds of his work on the “Descent of Man” is taken up with what he calls Sexual Selection.  Many of the facts and details are curious, and neither uninteresting nor uninstructive to the student of the natural history of beasts, birds, fishes, reptiles, and insects, or even of man; but, as far as we can see, they prove nothing in favor of his theory of the origin of species by means of natural selection, nor of his theory of the descent of man from the ape or any other animal.  We could concede all his alleged facts, and deny in toto his theory.  Some of them we might be unable to explain, as for instance, the mammae of the male; but we could explain them no better with than without his theory.

Mr. Darwin, though his theory is not original with him, and we were familiar with it even in our youth, overlooks the fact that it denies the doctrine of the creation and immutability of species, as taught in Genesis, where we read that God said: “Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth.  And it was done.”  “And God created the great whales and every living and moving creature which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind.”  “And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and cattle, and everything thing that creepeth on the earth.” Genesis I, 11,21,25.  Now this doctrine, the doctrine of the whole Christian world, and which stands directly opposed to Mr. Darwin’s theory, is, as say the lawyers, in possession, and therefore to be held as true until the contrary is proved.  It is not enough, then, for Mr. Darwin to set forth his theory and ask us as Christians, as believers in Genesis, to accept it, unless able to disprove it; nor is it enough for him even to prove that it may be true.  The onus probandi is on him who arraigns the faith and convictions of the Christian world, which are the faith and convictions of enlightened and living mankind.  He must prove his theory not only may be, but is, true, and prove it with scientific or apodictic certainty, for only by so doing can he oust the Christian doctrine from its possession, or overcome the presumption in its favor; and till he has ousted and made away with that doctrine, his theory cannot be legally or logically entertained even as a probable hypothesis.  This he hardly pretends to have done.  As far as we can discover, he does not claim apodictic certainty for his theory, or profess to set it forth for ant thing more than a probable hypothesis, which he leads us to suspect he hardly believes himself.  But in the present case we must prove it to be true  and indubitable, or he has no right to publish it at all, not even as probable; for probable it is not, so long as it is not certain that the Christian doctrine in possession is false.

This principle, which is the principle both of ethics and logic, is disregarded by nearly the whole herd of contemporary scientists.  They make a point of ignoring Christianity, and proceed as if they were perfectly free to put forth as science any number of theories, hypotheses, conjectures, guesses, which directly contradict it, as if they were under no obligation to consult the universal faith of mankind; and theories too, not one of which, even if plausible, is proved to be true, or deserving the name of science.  We by no means contend that the general belief of mankind, or the consensus hominum, is in itself an infallible criterion of truth; but we do maintain that it is, as the lawyers say, prima facie evidence, or a vehement presumption of truth, and that no man has the moral right to publish any opinions, or uncertain theories or hypotheses, that are opposed to it.  It can be overruled by science that is science, by the truth that is demonstrated to be truth, and which cannot be gainsaid.  He who assails it may plead the truth, if he has it, in justification; but not an uncertain opinion, not an unproved theory, or an unverified hypothesis, however plausible or even probable it may appear to himself.  Sincerity, or firmness of conviction on the part of the defenders of the adverse theory or hypothesis, is no justification, no excuse even; and no one has any right to assail or contradict the Christian faith, unless he has infallible authority for the truth of what he alleges in opposition to it.  And this no scientist has or can have.

We respect science and bow to its authority, if it really be science; but the theories, hypotheses, and even the inductions of the scientists from the few facts they have observed, are not science, are at best only unverified opinions.  Induction is simply generalization, and cannot of itself give anything beyond the simple facts generalized.  It can only attain to what scientists call a law, which is itself only a fact, not a principle.  We can never attain the principle by induction, because without it no valid induction is possible, any more than there is a valid conclusion without a medius terminus.  Without the principle of causality no induction is possible, and this principle is either falsified or denied by all professed scientists with whom we have any acquaintance.  We therefore treat as uncertain all their inductions and theories so insolently put forth as science, whenever they go beyond the sphere in which they can be brought to a crucial test and practically verified: and such are all those which oppose the doctrines of divine revelation, as believed and taught by the Holy Scriptures and the church of God.

Men are as morally responsible for the opinions they publish as they are for any of their deeds; and no man has the moral right to publish any thing that he knows to be false, or any thing against Christianity that he does not know to be absolutely true and unquestionable.  We say nothing of a man’s opinions, so long as he keeps them to himself, for we know nothing of them; they are matters between his own conscience and his sovereign judge, and society can take no cognizance of them.  But when a man publishes his opinions, he performs an act,- an act for which he should be held responsible in the exterior court as well as in the interior, as much as for any other act he performs.  If he has no an infallible authority for his opinion, and if it is an opinion against Christian dogma or morals, he commits by publishing it a grave offense against society, whether the civil law takes cognizance of it or not.  It is no excuse that he sincerely believes it, or that it is his own honest opinion, so long as he does not know it to be true, or has not infallible authority for asserting it.  False or erroneous opinions, if published, are not harmless things.  He who leads us into error, who robs us of the truth, or of our Christian faith, harms us more than he who picks our pocket, and commits a greater outrage on society than he who takes the life of a brother.

We are discussing the question from the point of view of ethics, not from the point of view of the civil law, though we utterly repudiate the doctrine, that every man is and should be free to form and publish his own opinions whatever their character, and that he can do so without committing any offense against society.  We utterly repudiate the doctrine, that that no one is morally or socially responsible for the opinions he forms and publishes.  But, where society has no infallible authority to determine what is true and what is not, what is and what is not the law of God, or the truth God has revealed and commanded us to believe, it has no right to publish any one for opinion’s sake; for it can act only on opinion, and, therefore, on no higher authority than that of the opinions it punishes.  What is called freedom of opinion and of publication, or, briefly, the freedom of the press, although incompatible with the rights of truth, and the safety of society, as our own experience proves, must be protected, because modern society, by rejecting the infallible authority of the church of God, has deprived itself of all right to discriminate in matters of opinion, and therefore of the right even of self-protection.  The fact is, society, uninstructed by an authority that cannot err, is incompetent to deal with opinions, or to impose any restrictions on their publication; but we cannot so far stultify ourselves as to pretend that this is not an evil, or to maintain with Milton and our own Jefferson, that “error is harmless where truth is free to combat it.”  “Error,” says the Chinese proverb, “will make the circuit of the globe while Truth is pulling on her boots.”  The modern doctrine is based on the assumption that truth is not ascertainable, is only an opinion.

But from the point of view of morals, or tried by a rigidly ethical standard, such scientists as Darwin, Sir Charles Lyell, Sir John Lubbock, Taine, Buchner, Professor  Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and others of the same genus, who publish opinions, theories, hypotheses, which are at best only plausible conjectures under the imposing name of science, and which unsettle men’s minds, bewilder the half-learned, mislead the ignorant, undermine the very bases of society, and assail the whole moral order of the universe, are fearfully guilty, and a thousand times more dangerous to society and greater criminals even than your most noted thieves, robbers, burglars, swindlers, murderers, or midnight assassins.  Instead of being held in honor, feted, and lauded as the great men of their age and country, and held up as the benefactors of their race, they richly deserve that public opinion should brand them with infamy as the enemies of  God and man, of religion and society, of truth and justice, of science and civilization.  They are such men as, if we follow the injunction of St. John, the apostle of love, we should refuse to receive into our houses, or even to bid good-day: Si quis venit ad vos, et hanc doctrinam nor affert, nolite recipere eum in domum, nec ave dixeritis.- 2 John, 10.

We are thus severe against these men, not because we are narrow-minded and bigoted, not because we have an overweening confidence in our own opinions or hold them to be the measure of the true and the good, nor because we dislike science that is science, or dread its light; but because they do not give us science, but their own opinions and speculations, which they can neither know nor prove to be true, and  which we know cannot be true, unless the religion of Christ is false, God is not, and heaven and earth a lie.  We condemn them, because the truth condemns them; because, instead of shedding light on the glorious works of the Creator, they shed darkness over them, and obscure their fair face with the thick smoke that ascends at their bidding from the bottomless pit of their ignorance and presumption.  Their science is an illusion with which Satan mocks them, deludes and destroys souls for whom Christ has died, and it comes under the head of the endless “genealogies” and “vain philosophy,” against which St. Paul so solemnly warns us.  It is high time that they be stripped of their prestige, and be treated with the contempt they deserve for their impudent pretension, and be held in the horror which all men should feel  for the enemies of truth, and whose labors tend only to the extinction of civilization, the abasement of intelligence, to fix the affections on the earth, to blunt the sense of moral obligation, and to make society what we see it every day becoming.  They are Satan’s most efficient ministers.

Orestes Brownson, Brownson’s Quarterly Review, July 1873

Answering Skeptics: A Brief Evaluation of the Nye-Ham Debate

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in Philosophy, Uncategorized

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Answering Skeptics: A Brief Evaluation of the Nye-Ham Debate

This article offers a brief evaluation of the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham with recommendations for an effective response to skeptics who adhere to an evolutionary world-view.  Although Ken Ham made many good points in his remarks, he did not succeed in exposing the philosophical bankruptcy of Bill Nye’s “mainstream” position and the flagrant contradictions between what is observed in nature and the laboratory and Nye’s evolutionary belief system.  Time will not permit me to review the debate in detail, so I will concentrate on a few key points which should have been established to decisively refute Mr. Nye’s evolutionary account of origins.

An effective defender of the true doctrine of creation before a skeptical audience must:

1) Establish the existence of God first and foremost through metaphysical argumentation, rather than through probability arguments. For example, one can demonstrate the existence of God by an argument from contingency which does not require any appeal to empirical science. Similarly, one can refute the belief of Carl Sagan and so many contemporary evolutionists that the “cosmos is all that is, that was, or ever shall be” by showing that anything that is, was, and always shall be MUST be the way it is; and that, since the cosmos could be other than it is, it fails to meet that standard.

2) Establish the authority of Scripture on the foundation of the historical record of the life, miracles and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ who, in turn, established the Catholic Church as the Guardian of His Revelation and the guarantor of the Holy Scriptures. To cite the Bible as one’s authority without laying this ground-work is irrational and completely unconvincing to a skeptical audience.

3) Show with examples that the Christian doctrine of creation provides the best possible framework for scientific and medical research.

4) Show with examples that the evolutionary account of origins was established in the nineteenth century upon speculation in geology and biology unsupported by empirical evidence and that twenty-first century natural science findings contradict nineteenth century evolutionary speculation and harmonize perfectly with God’s Revelation as defined by the Church Fathers, Doctors, Popes, and Council Fathers in their authoritative teaching since the time of the Apostles.

5) Show with examples that faith in the evolutionary account of origins has retarded scientific and medical research during the last 150 years, while faith in the Catholic doctrine of creation has fostered fruitful scientific and medical research.

6) Show with examples that faith in the traditional Christian doctrine of creation produces healthy, happy individuals, families and societies, while faith in the evolutionary account of origins has produced a deluge of death, disease and disorder in the lives of individuals, families and societies.

7) On this foundation, ask the audience whether it is more reasonable to trust the Revelation of God as preserved in His Church from the time of Jesus for a reliable account of the origins of man and the universe or to trust in the wild speculations of fallible human beings which have been shown to be irrational, speculative, unsupported by evidence and destructive of life, liberty and happiness.

This approach works, even with many skeptical individuals whose hearts have not been completely hardened against the Truth, and this is the approach that we take through the Witnesses for Christ evangelization project. Since this is not the place to elaborate on each of these seven points, I will elaborate on just three of them, the first, the fourth and the fifth.

I argued in the first point above that we should establish the existence of God first and foremost through metaphysical argumentation. In light of the traditional theology and metaphysics of the Catholic tradition, the key distinction to be made in the origins debate is not a temporal distinction between historical science and operational science. The key distinction is a metaphysical distinction between the order of creation and the natural order of providence.

Since Protestantism is a very recent development in Church history, it is hard (from a Protestant perspective) to appreciate the significance of the fact that Descartes was the first influential thinker in Christendom to speculate that it was more reasonable to explain the origin of stars, galaxies and other kinds of creatures in nature in terms of the material processes going on in the present than by divine creation. In reality, we do not see–nor has any man ever recorded seeing–stars, galaxies, life, new kinds of creatures, or even new organs coming into existence naturalistically; and it is thus more reasonable, based on God’s revelation and thousands of years of human observations, to believe that these entities came into existence through divine creation than through any observable material process. To argue otherwise is to make an act of faith in naturalism, which is much less reasonable than a Christian’s act of faith in Jesus Christ and His Revelation.

I say that it is hard to appreciate the perversity of Descarte’s naturalism from a Protestant perspective because a Christian who does not evaluate ideas in light of the entire history of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, rather than in the framework of the last five hundred years, cannot appreciate the folly of thinking that an idea like Luther’s sola scriptura or Descartes’ naturalism that had no precedent in the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church for fifteen hundred years could be a key to plumbing the depths of divine revelation or unlocking the secrets of nature.

The devotees of naturalism, like Bill Nye, cannot point to any production in six thousand years that would justify man’s faith in nature’s ability to produce stars, galaxies, life, plants, animals, or even organs of a body. On the other hand, Jesus Christ proved his total mastery over nature before thousands of witnesses, raised corpses to life in a split second, created complex functioning organs by fiat where they did not exist, and continues to work these very same miracles through the members of His Mystical Body the Church, as documented by impeccable testimony from innumerable witnesses for two thousand years. Thus, instantaneous fiat creation of life, bodies, and organs of the body is a matter of observation, confirming the credibility of the Christian doctrine of creation; whereas, Bill Nye’s blind faith in the naturalistic formation of life, organs, plants and animals is based on nothing but irrational longing and wild speculation. His fatal error is not his faith in the consistency of natural causes over time, but his rejection of the divine order, over and above the natural order, metaphysically distinct from and superior to the natural order of things.

I argued in the fourth point above that an effective defense of the true doctrine of creation must:

Show with examples that the evolutionary account of origins was established in the nineteenth century on speculation in geology and biology unsupported by empirical evidence and that twenty-first century natural science contradicts nineteenth century evolutionary speculation and harmonizes perfectly with God’s Revelation as believed by the Church Fathers, Doctors, Popes, and Council Fathers in their authoritative teaching, since the time of the Apostles.

In this regard, it is essential to show that the geological time scale was formulated in the nineteenth century on the basis of the principles of Lyellian geology which have been invalidated by the work of Berthault, Lalomov, Schieber and others. To this day, index fossils are used to assign dates to sedimentary rocks; and all other data from radiometric dating, ice cores etc. are interpreted on the assumption that the dates assigned to these “index fossils” are correct. This is circular reasoning, and it flies in the face of a mountain of empirical evidence.

In addition to the work of Berthault and Lalomov which have empirically demonstrated that large sedimentary formations can be laid down rapidly, Schieber has demonstrated that mudstone, which makes up two-thirds of the sedimentary rocks all over the earth, can also be laid down rapidly in turbulent environments. In defending the historical reliability of Genesis 1-11 in regard to the Flood, apologists should not fail to point out that evolutionists are trying to shoe-horn twenty-first century scientific evidence produced with twenty-first century scientific tools into a nineteenth century geological framework–and it doesn’t work!

Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5730 years and should be absent from coal or bones that are more than 100, 000 years old, but numerous published studies show that C-14 is present in coal and bones at every level of the geological column. Moreover, coal from formations dated (within the nineteenth century Lyellian geological framework) at 30 to 300 million years contained C-14 in the same amounts, indicating that all of the material that made up the coal was deposited at the same time and that the hundreds of millions of years do not exist.

Bill Nye repeatedly–and rather disingenuously–said that mainstream science welcomes revolutionary research that challenges the status quo. In reality, as evidenced by the treatment of Dr. Thomas Seiler at the AGU conference in Singapore where he presented clear and convincing evidence of the presence C-14 in dinosaur bones allegedly tens of millions of years old, mainstream science greets such revolutionary research with intimidation and censorship. Dr. Seiler’s research was accepted and presented without any objection to the methodology or content of his presentation from the attending scientists, only to be removed from the conference website, without explanation, at the protest of the two non-Asian scientists who were present in the room when the presentation was made!

Ken Ham had a perfect opportunity to challenge Bill Nye to take coal and dinosaur bones from collections in various parts of the United States and have them dated for C-14 using accelerator mass spectrometry. He could have said, “Mr. Nye, if you are as open to new discoveries as you say you are, why don’t you duplicate the research of Dr. John Baumgardner, Dr. Thomas Seiler and other scientists, and C-14 date dinosaur bones and coal from various parts of the geological column and publish the results for all to see? If there is no C-14 in any of the samples, that will be a strong confirmation of your evolutionary world-view. However, if all of the samples contain C-14, that will be a strong confirmation of the view I am defending.”

Had Mr. Ham done this, he would have called Mr. Nye’s bluff for all the world to see!

Defenders of the historical reliability of Genesis should also be prepared to mention the discovery of soft tissue, DNA, blood and bio-molecules in dinosaur bones and other partly-fossilized plants and animal remains dated at tens or hundreds of millions of years according to the mainstream nineteenth century evolutionary framework. These published evidences effectively falsify this outdated geological framework that Mr. Nye defends as the only “show in town” in the twenty-first century.

The fifth point cited above was that a defender of the true doctrine of creation must:

Show with examples that faith in the evolutionary account of origins has retarded scientific and medical research during the last 150 years, while faith in the Catholic doctrine of creation has fostered fruitful scientific and medical research.

This topic is addressed with several examples in the paper on the Kolbe website entitled “The Negative Impact of Faith in the Evolutionary Hypothesis,” which was published in 2012 with the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI in the proceedings of a conference held at Gustav Siewerth Akademie in Germany. Here I will just mention two particularly flagrant examples of evolutionary anti-science in regard to embryology and so-called “junk DNA.”

From the time of Darwin until today, his disciples have argued that similarities in structure among diverse life forms prove that they all evolved from a common ancestor. According to German anatomist Ernst Haeckel, the existence of similarities in embryos of various kinds of organisms proved that the higher life forms “recapitulated” their evolutionary history before birth and that they had all descended from a common ancestor. To make this “proof” more compelling for his contemporaries, Haeckel doctored drawings of the embryos of fish, salamanders, chickens, turtles, rabbits, pigs, and human beings to exaggerate their similarities and minimize their differences. Although Haeckel’s fraud was discovered and exposed during his lifetime, the evolutionary hypothesis demanded common descent, and the concept of embryonic recapitulation continued to exert a profound influence on the study of embryology for many decades.

According to Jane Oppenheimer in her work Essays in the History of Embryology and Biology, Haeckel’s influence on embryology was considerable, “acted as a delaying rather than an activating force; and . . . was stifling to immediate progress.” One of the leading lights in the study of embryology in the twentieth century, Gavin R. de Beer wrote that “Haeckel’s theory of recapitulation . . . thwarted and delayed the introduction of causal analytic methods into embryology,” since “if phylogeny was the mechanical cause of ontogeny as Haeckel proclaimed, there was little inducement to search for other causes.” De Beer’s observation implied that Haeckel’s influence had come to an end by the 1950’s-but this was far from being the case.

The foremost apologist for evolution of his generation, Sir Julian Huxley, argued in the 1950’s that “embryology offers the most striking proof of evolution.” And to this day, biology textbooks all over the world argue that similarities between embryos of fish, amphibians, reptiles, humans and lower mammals constitute evidence for the evolutionary hypothesis. Typical of examples too many to cite is the caption that accompanies drawings of embryos of various life-forms from a widely used American biology textbook published in 2002. Entitled “Embryonic development of vertebrates,” it states:

Notice that the early embryonic stages of these vertebrates bear a striking resemblance to each other, even though the individuals are from different classes (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals). All vertebrates start out with an enlarged head region, gill slits, and a tail regardless of whether these characteristics are retained in the adult.

Although Haeckel’s distorted drawings do not accompany this caption, the statement gives the impression that human embryos–as members of the vertebrate phylum–possess gill slits. But this is patently false. The pharyngeal arches in human embryos have no connection with gill slits whatsoever but develop into the outer and middle ear, and into the neck bones, muscles, nerves, and glands. Moreover, after the discovery of DNA, confidence in the truth of the evolutionary hypothesis led many evolutionary biologists to predict that similar body parts in diverse organisms would be controlled by the same genes.   This, however, proved to be false, as embryologists have discovered that the realization of the same body plan–such as five digit extremities–in diverse organisms (such as whales and humans) is controlled by different genes and is achieved through totally different embryonic pathways.

Indeed, the idea of embryonic recapitulation not only led embryonic researchers down the wrong pathways–it has also led to a denigration of the unborn child. All over the world, abortion advocates have used the alleged similarity between human and lower animal embryos to trivialize abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, in spite of the fact that the Michael Richardson photographs of the human embryo and the embryos of the chicken, pig, fish, and salamander at the same stage of development, published in Scientific American, utterly refuted the bogus notion of embryonic recapitulation.

Richardson’s photographs not only show that the human embryo is distinct from the other kinds of creatures from the beginning of her embryonic development. They also show that the other kinds of creatures are distinct from each other in their development as well! This photographic evidence completely contradicts the evolutionary predictions of all of the leading evolutionists from Darwin to Haeckel to Julian Huxley down to the present, but it agrees perfectly with the traditional Christian doctrine of special creation–that God created all of the different kinds of creatures by fiat in the beginning.

But there is more to the story. To appreciate how much faith in evolution has retarded scientific progress in embryology, consider a recent book by evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne at the University of Chicago entitled Why Evolution Is True (published in 2009). In it, Coyne argues that embryology still offers strong evidence for the truth of the evolutionary hypothesis. His reasoning reveals the fundamentally anti-scientific nature of evolutionary faith. He writes:

One of my favorite cases of embryological evidence for evolution is the furry human fetus. We are famously known as “naked apes” because, unlike other primates, we don’t have a thick coat of hair. But in fact for one brief period we do – as embryos . . .

Ideally, in making a presentation to a skeptic like Bill Nye, we should pause at this point and ask if he thinks that Dr. Coyne’s thinking is reasonable. The answer will almost certainly be that it is. One can then proceed to follow Dr. Coyne into the maze of evolutionary pseudo-scientific reasoning, as he pontificates:

Now, there’s NO NEED for a human embryo to have a transitory coat of hair. After all, it’s a cozy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the womb. Lanugo can be explained ONLY as a remnant of our primate ancestry (emphasis added)

At this point, one should ask the skeptic (if only rhetorically) whether he thinks that Harvey, Maxwell, or Faraday would have reasoned in this way. Would they have said, in effect, “I do not understand why this hair–the lanugo–exists on the body of a human embryo, therefore, it MUST be a hold-over from our primate ancestry”?

The point that MUST be brought out is that none of these great scientists would ever have concluded that “Because I cannot understand the function of this particular trait (of a plant, animal or human), therefore, it has none.” That is an anti-scientific attitude! In reality, it was already well-established when Dr. Coyne published his book, that the lanugo has an ingenious and important function. As an anatomy textbook published in 2003 explains, the key to the mystery of the lanugo is the existence of the cheesy varnish that covers the little babies skin in the womb of her mother:

This substance covers and protects the skin of the fetus from the constant exposure to the amniotic fluid in which it is bathed. In addition, the vernix caseosa facilitates the birth of the fetus because of its slippery nature and protects the skin from being damaged by the nails. Gerard J. Tortora and Sandra Reynolds Grabowski, Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (John Wiley and Sons, Tenth Edition), 2003, p. 154.

And, as any teacher of embryology worth his or her salt teaches today: 

Vernix caseosa is a culmination of sebaceous gland secretions and dead epidermal cells, and the lanugo hair helps retain it on the outer skin surface. Philip R. Brauer, Human embryology: the ultimate USMLE step 1 review (Hanley & Belfus), 2003, p. 95.

Thus, Bill Nye’s “mainstream” colleague with a Ph.D. from Harvard has demonstrated that his evolutionary faith actually fosters an anti-scientific attitude which replaces the presumption of stable form and function that characterized the work of Maxwell, Faraday and Pasteur, with an evolutionary presumption of flux and dysfunction which retards the progress of scientific and medical research.

Let me give one more example.

Although faith in the evolutionary hypothesis has resulted in immense harm to millions of victims of abortion and abortifacient contraception, that same evolutionary faith has contributed to an equally serious threat to scientific progress and public health in the realm of molecular biology. It can be demonstrated that faith in the evolutionary hypothesis has delayed the recognition of the functionality of so-called “junk DNA” (or non-coding DNA which does not code for protein) and has thus retarded the discovery–and, at least in some cases–the cure of many genetic disorders.

The origin of the term “junk DNA” has been traced to a paper by Dr. Susumnu Ohno in 1970 in which Dr. Ohno speculated that just as fossils of extinct species litter the geological record, so DNA that has lost its function litters the human genome. Although some scientists argued that DNA would not have been conserved for the alleged millions of years of evolutionary time if it had no function, the term “junk DNA” began to be widely used to describe the bulk of the human genetic material that does not code for protein.

The Human Genome Project officially began in 1990, and the data it uncovered proved to be quite a surprise. By 2007, with the results of project ENCODE made available, it finally became clear that the most important factors in genome functioning reside in non-protein-coding DNA. One of the pioneers in establishing the functionality of “junk DNA”, Prof. John Mattick, recently claimed that “the failure to recognize the implications of the non-coding DNA will go down as the biggest mistake in the history of molecular biology.” This prediction will most likely be fulfilled, not only because of the way that the “junk DNA” concept has retarded the scientific investigation of genetic material that does not code for protein, but perhaps more importantly because of the way that the evolutionarily inspired “junk DNA” concept has delayed the medical understanding and treatment of serious genetic disorders.

In recent years, medical researchers have identified numerous elements of “junk DNA” that play a key role in the prevention or development of a host of human diseases. The website of the International Post Genetic Society posts summaries of dozens of reports from scientific journals documenting links between human diseases and non-protein coding genetic material. For example, an article on “junk DNA”-related factors in diabetes and heart disease reports that:

Gene hunters at Johns Hopkins have discovered a common genetic mutation that increases the risk of inheriting a particular birth defect not by the usual route of disrupting the gene’s protein-making instructions, but byaltering a regulatory region of the gene. Although the condition, called Hirschsprung disease, is rare, its complex genetics mimics that of more common diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

‘It’s a funny mutation in a funny place,’ says study leader Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D., director of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. ‘But I think the majority of mutations found in major diseases are going to be funny mutations in funny places.’

Far from being a problem, the finding is good news, he suggests. ‘Mutations in the protein-coding sequence can’t really be fixed, but those outside the protein-coding regions — perhaps we can fiddle with them, perhaps they are ‘tunable.’ The protein should be fine if we can just get the cells to make the right amount,’ he says.

‘Our finding really underscores the fact that health and disease can be affected by all regions of a gene,’ he continues. ‘For diseases like diabetes and heart disease, just as for Hirschsprung disease, multiple inherited factors contribute to the disease, and these factors are not just going to be in protein-coding regions.’

Faith in the evolutionary hypothesis and the related concept of “junk DNA” has unquestionably retarded the understanding and treatment of a host of diseases caused by factors other than protein-coding genes. In all of these cases, the belief that random natural processes over long periods of time produced biological entities with nothing more than “vestigial” functionality led to a lack of interest in (and funding for) studying that functionality.

On the other hand, throughout the last 150 years, Catholic and non-Catholic Christian believers in the true doctrine of creation have argued that embryological evidence would eventually establish the distinct pattern of human embryological development and the functionality of most, if not all, of the non-coding DNA. If the “mainstream” scientific community so dear to Mr. Nye had operated within the framework for scientific research provided by the Catholic Church, it would have initiated the study of the non-coding DNA decades ago, leading to medical discoveries that would have undoubtedly led to cures or preventive treatments for a host of genetic disorders and diseases. And it is important to point out that–as strange as it seems to those who have not studied the history of evolutionary errors–Dr. Ohno’s false evaluation of the non-coding DNA as “junk” was completely rooted in his faith in the false, speculative nineteenth century geological framework of Lyell, Darwin and their disciples. Remember Dr. Ohno’s reasoning: Just as fossils of extinct species litter the geological record, so DNA that has lost its function litters the human genome.

In reality, rightly understood, fossils of extinct species do not testify to hundreds of millions of years–which is why we find C-14, soft tissue, DNA, and intact bio-molecules throughout the fossil record. The non-coding DNA in the human genome is not the relic of hundreds of millions of years of evolution, and the fact that it is all functional contradicts Mr. Nye’s blind faith in long ages of evolution in more ways than one. In the first place, the functionality of the entire genome testifies to the magnificent design of the entire system. In the second place, it testifies to the recent origin of the human genome in light of the destructive effects of what geneticist Dr. John Sanford calls “genetic entropy.”

Simply stated, “genetic entropy” refers to the destructive effect of mutation on the integrity of the genome, a process which can be compared to the cumulative effect of “bugs” in a computer program. As Dr. Sanford has demonstrated in his book Genetic Entropy, in contradiction to Mr. Nye’s repeated assertion that evolution “increases complexity,” even “mainstream” geneticists recognize that mutation is NOT a creative force introducing new functional information into the genome. Indeed, the integrity of the human genome testifies to the fact that it has not been subject to genetic entropy for hundreds of thousands of years.

Researchers Kimura and Kondrashov have shown that the vast majority of mutations have a slightly-harmful effect on an organism. These slightly-harmful mutations accumulate, producing a steady degradation of the genome, and imposing a time limit on the existence of vertebrate lineages–a time limit much lower than the millions of years evolution requires. Moreover, there is no evidence that the destructive effects of mutation can be reversed, so that these destructive mutational effects would have rendered the human race extinct if they had been going on for more than tens of thousands of years. The history of the mainstream scientific community’s false predictions regarding “junk DNA” and the terrible consequences for medical research demonstrate that Mr. Nye’s evolutionary belief system is anti-science and that the acceptance of the Christian doctrine of creation favors fruitful scientific research and would have led to a much earlier investigation of non-coding DNA.

I hope that the little that I have written here suffices to show how much more effectively the “science guy” could have been refuted by presenting the arguments outlined here in light of the rich treasury of Catholic theology and philosophy.

Hugh Owen

“If You Believed Moses, You Would Believe Me”

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in Articles and Essays, History

“If You Believed Moses, You Would Believe Me” 

Most contemporary courses in theology teach that Moses was not the author-redactor of the first five books of the Bible and that these books were cobbled together by scribes many centuries after the time of Moses.  However, from the time of the Apostles until now, the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers, in their authoritative teaching, have believed and taught that Moses wrote or redacted the first five books of the Bible.  Indeed, from the beginning to the end of the Bible, book after book states repeatedly that Moses “wrote” at God’s command.  Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word Himself, declared categorically: “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me” (John 5:46).  Thus, it is no surprise to discover that the evolution revolution began with an all-out assault on the Mosaic authorship-redaction of the Pentateuch, since the invalidation of that traditional teaching would necessarily call into question the credibility of Sacred Scripture and of Our Lord Himself. Drawing upon currently-available scholarship, this  article will demonstrate that the successful campaign to discredit the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch at the end of the nineteenth century was actually based on conjectures, supported by a smattering of circumstantial evidence, but ultimately crushed under the weight of new and conclusive findings. 

Moses: Prophet of the Past

For the Fathers of the Church, Moses was the prophet of the past who described what God showed him regarding the creation of the world.  In the words of St. John Chrysostom:

All the other prophets spoke either of what was to occur after a long time or of what was about to happen then; but he, the blessed (Moses), who lived many generations after (the creation of the world), was vouchsafed by the guidance of the right hand of the Most High to utter what had been done by the Lord before his own birth.[1]

The greatest Fathers and Doctors of the Church concurred with St. John Chrysostom.  St. Ambrose wrote that:

Moses spoke to God the Most High, not in a vision nor in dreams, but mouth to mouth (Numbers 12:6-8).  Plainly and clearly, not by figures nor by riddles, there was bestowed on him the gift of the Divine presence.  And so Moses opened his mouth and uttered what the Lord spoke within him, according to the promise He made to him when He directed him to go to King Pharaoh: “Go therefore and I will open thy mouth and instruct thee what thou shouldest speak” (Ex. 4:12).  For, if he had already accepted from God what he should say concerning the liberation of the people, how much more should you accept what He should say concerning heaven?  Therefore, “not in the persuasive words of wisdom,” not in philosophical fallacies, “but in demonstration of the Spirit and power” (1 Cor. 2:4), he has ventured to say as if he were a witness of the Divine work: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.”[2]

St. Basil taught that Moses was:

The man who is made equal to the angels, being considered worthy of the sight of God face to face, [who] reports to us those things which he heard from God.[3]

St. John Chrysostom adds that:

It is for this reason that he begins to speak thus: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” as if calling out to us all with a loud voice: it is not by the instruction of men that I say this; He Who called them (heaven and earth) out of non-being into being—it is He Who has roused my tongue to relate of them.  And therefore I entreat you, let us pay heed to these words as if we heard not Moses but the very Lord of the universe Who speaks through the tongue of Moses, and let us take leave for good of our own opinions.[4]

Unfortunately, with the evolution revolution of the nineteenth century, many Catholic scholars began to exalt the “opinions” of men above God’s revelation to Moses on the grounds that the young science of archaeology had proven that Moses could not have written or redacted the first five books of the Bible as the Fathers had believed.

The Rise and Fall of the Wellhausen Hypothesis

The strongest “proof” that emerged from the excavations of nineteenth century archaeologists was negative.  According to German scholar Julius Wellhausen, the absence of evidence of writing in the time of Moses contradicted the traditional Christian teaching that Moses had been the writer or redactor of the first five books of the Bible.  If there was no writing in the time of Moses, Wellhausen reasoned, Moses could not have written anything.  In addition, Wellhausen and his school pointed to other anomalies.  The author(s) of the Pentateuch wrote of kings; but there were no kings in the time of Moses.  The author(s) of Genesis described domesticated camels in the time of Abraham—but archaeology had not unearthed any evidence of camels having been domesticated in the time of Abraham. Moreover, the author of Exodus referred to Philistines in the time of Moses; but the Philistines were not a great military power in the time of Moses. Thus, it seemed clear to Wellhausen and to most of the intellectual elite of Europe and North America that Moses could not have been the author or editor of the first five books of the Bible.

Tragically, a host of Catholic scholars jumped on the Wellhausen bandwagon, forgetting that “absence of evidence” is not necessarily “evidence of absence.” Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X refused to abandon the traditional teaching of the Church on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, however; and, in 1906, the Pontifical Biblical Commission, then an arm of the Magisterium, formally upheld the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in an official decree.

In reply to questions on the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch, on

June 27, 1906, the Pontifical Biblical Commission gave the following responses:

1. Authenticity — Whether the arguments amassed by critics to impugn the Mosaic authenticity of the sacred books designated by the name Pentateuch are of sufficient weight, notwithstanding the very many evidences to the contrary contained in both Testaments, taken collectively, the persistent agreement of the Jewish people, the constant tradition of the Church, and internal arguments derived from the text itself, to justify the statement that these books have not Moses for their author but have been complied from sources for the most part posterior to the time of Moses.

Answer: In the negative.

2. Writer — Whether the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch necessarily postulates such a redaction of the whole work as to render it absolutely imperative to maintain that Moses wrote with his own hand or dictated to amanuenses all and everything contained in it; or whether it is possible to admit the hypothesis of those who think that he entrusted the composition of the work itself, conceived by himself under the influence of divine inspiration, to some other person or persons, but in such a manner that they render faithfully his own thoughts, wrote nothing contrary to his will, and omitted nothing; and that the work thus produced, approved by Moses as the principal and inspired uthor, was made public under his name.

Answer: In the negative to the first part, in the affirmative to the second part.

3. Sources — Whether it may be granted, without prejudice to the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch, that Moses employed sources in the production of his work, i.e., written documents or oral traditions, from which, to suit his special purpose and under the influence of divine inspiration, he selected some things and inserted them in his work, either literally or in substance, summarized or amplified.

Answer: In the affirmative.

4. Changes and Textual Corruptions — Whether, granted the substantial Mosaic authenticity and the integrity of the Pentateuch, it may be admitted that in the long course of centuries some modifications have been introduced into the work, such as additions after the death of Moses, either appended by an inspired author or inserted into the text as glosses and explanations; certain words and forms translated from the ancient language to a more recent language, and finally, faulty readings to be ascribed to the error of amanuenses, concerning which it is lawful to investigate and judge according to the laws of criticism.

Answer: In the affirmative, subject to the judgment of the Church.

As demonstrated by Fr. Sean Kopczynski in his article “Rediscovering the Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission,” ( LivingTradition, No. 94, July 2001), no subsequent magisterial decree of equal or greater authority has ever superseded the PBC responses on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.  Moreover, the wisdom and accuracy of the PBC’s responses has been thoroughly vindicated by subsequent archaeological discoveries which have proved that writing existed one thousand years before the time of Moses, that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham, and that the Philistines truly existed in the time of Moses, though not as the great military power that they would become in the period of the Judges.

Indeed, as scholars have studied the text of the Pentateuch more deeply, they have discovered linguistic singularities that confirm the traditional teaching of the Church on the Mosaic authorship and redaction of these five books. It is now generally recognized that the first five books of the Bible—and only these books—contain what is called the “epicene personal pronoun,” a pronoun without a gender.  For example, in the first prediction of the Messiah, in Genesis 3:15, God says to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the Woman, and between your seed and her seed.”  But does the text then say: “He will crush your head,” “She will crush your head,” or “It will crush your head”?  The use of the epicene personal pronoun keeps one from translating the text correctly, outside of the authentic tradition of the Church.  And that is why St. Jerome was able to translate the pronoun correctly—“Ipsa conteret”—“She will crush your head,” a translation whose accuracy was later confirmed by the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe standing on the crescent moon, symbol of the serpent god Quetzacoatl, and by Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, who appeared to St. Catherine Laboure’ with the serpent-symbol of Satan beneath her feet.  Further study of the Pentateuch also revealed that the text is full of Hebrew words that have been brought into Hebrew from the Egyptian language, words which appear nowhere else in the Old Testament. Thus, the Wellhausen hypothesis which had taken most of academia by storm at the end of the nineteenth century proved to have been based on nothing more than wild speculation supported by a smattering of inconclusive evidence.

Lessons to be Learned from the Wellhausen Fiasco

Throughout salvation history, God’s people have had to struggle against the temptation to be “like the nations,” and, in so doing, to break faith with their Creator and Redeemer.  In the days of Elijah, most of the leaders of Israel practiced or tolerated the worship of Baal.  During the last 150 years, many Catholic theologians and Church leaders have embraced or tolerated theistic evolution.  During this entire period, a series of alleged “proofs” for evolution has been uncritically accepted by leading Catholic intellectuals—“proofs” like embryonic recapitulation, “vestigial” organs, and “junk” DNA—while dissenting voices, like those of St. Maximilian Kolbe and Dietrich Von Hildebrand, have gone largely unheeded.  Now that each and every one of these “proofs” for evolution has turned out to be just as flimsy as the “proof” for the Wellhausen hypothesis, it is high time that the Magisterium put a stop to this madness.  It is time to give the traditional teaching of the Church the respect that it is due and to place the heavy burden of proof on those who question the traditional Catholic interpretation of Genesis 1-11.  In short, it is time to return to the Faith of our Fathers—to trust in God’s Word as It has been handed down to us in the Church—and to stop treating skeptics seriously who cannot even begin to demonstrate that “reason dictates or necessity requires” that we abandon God’s Word for their wild speculations!


[1] St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis, 2:2.

[2] St. Ambrose of Milan, Hexaemeron, 1:2.

[3] St. Basil the Great, Hexaemeron, 1:1.

[4] St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis, 2:2.

 

Darwin Was Right: Information and the Collapse of Macroevolutionary Theory

Written by kolbecenter on . Posted in Articles and Essays, Natural Science

Darwin 300 x 150

 Dean H. Kenyon

Emeritus Professor of Biology

San Francisco State University

 Introduction

Macroevolutionary theory is still the reigning doctrine in academia and among intellectuals generally.[1] For a large majority of Catholic and non-Catholic scientists it is the only defensible view of origins.  Yet over the last fifty years signs of the growth of a formidable challenge to macroevolution have been steadily growing.  The number of scientists who dissent from neo-Darwinism[2] in the U.S.A., Europe, Australia and around the world is steadily growing and many hundreds have made their views publicly known.[3]  Why is this process occurring?  Part of the reason is that recent scientific advances in molecular biology, genetics, sedimentology, information theory and other fields have cast doubt on some of the major tenets of Darwinism. Another part of the reason is that the sweeping claims of macroevolutionists have run far beyond securely documented evidence.  Their large and unwarranted extrapolations (e.g., in the leap from microevolution to macroevolution) make them unique among natural scientists.  The intellectual rigor that works to diminish unwarranted extrapolation from empirical data remains intact in most other scientific disciplines.

The all-embracing grip of macroevolution on modern scientific thought, and especially on the thinking of academic biologists, has had an unfortunate dampening effect on open and frank discussion of problems in evolutionary theory, especially in the primary literature.  As my own experience and that of many others demonstrates, there are powerful censures in academic life that sharply limit expression of doubts and dissent from evolution.  These include reassignment of courses in spite of technical competence and experience, denial of research funding and laboratory space, denial of sabbatical leaves, discouraging graduate students from working with the dissenter, ostracism, and possible denial of tenure or even loss of employment.  In such a restrictive climate it is not surprising that many in the academy who have private doubts about evolutionary theory choose not to make those doubts public.

For an academic biologist steeped in Darwinism a change from evolution to a non-evolutionary view of cosmic and biologic origins often involves great intellectual effort and ordeal.  The process can take years of intense engagement with many different sorts of technical arguments and lines of empirical evidence.  In my case the process began with exposure to creationist literature for the first time in my eighth year of teaching evolution in the Biology Department of San Francisco State University after joining the faculty as a convinced Darwinist and chemical evolutionist.  This material was graciously given to me by my student, Solomon Darwin.  It included a book entitled The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution[4] by A. E. Wilder-Smith.  In this book Prof. Wilder-Smith gave a lengthy refutation of the thesis of Biochemical Predestination[5], a monograph on the origin of life I had co-authored with Dr. Gary Steinman.  I told Solomon Darwin that I would read and refute Wilder-Smith’s arguments over the summer recess and would discuss the matter with him the following Fall term. As it turned out, I found that I could not answer Prof. Wilder-Smith’s case against the theory of chemical evolution after all. As he so clearly demonstrated, the crux of the origin-of-life problem was and remains the spontaneous (naturalistic) origin of genetic information.  No convincing naturalistic explanation for the origin of the first genetic information has been given, nor has one been forthcoming for the origin of the new genetic information required for the supposed macroevolutionary formation of new types of organisms.[6]

Microevolution and Macroevolution   

“Microevolution” denotes genetic changes within species and may include the formation of some new species within genera.  “Macroevolution” denotes the evolution of new species/genera and higher taxonomic categories.  Journals of evolutionary biology, such as Evolution, J. Evol. Biol., and Evol. Ecol., contain many original papers on directly observed microevolutionary processes.  But in these journals there are virtually no papers that claim to document direct observation of macroevolutionary change even though the journal Evolution was founded “…with the aim of mending the division”[7] [between microevolution and macroevolution]. The paleontological literature, on the other hand, does contain abundant discussion of large-scale evolutionary change as this is thought to be exhibited by the fossil data.  However, in this case one must carefully distinguish between descriptions of the fossils (and the rock strata in which they and morphologically similar fossils are found) and inferences regarding hypothetical macroevolutionary sequences.  This problem is beyond the scope of this paper, but it has been analyzed extensively by both macroevolutionists[8] and their critics.

There is no significant dispute about the reality of microevolutionary processes.  These are abundantly documented and accepted by non-evolutionists, but university textbooks give readers the impression that both microevolution and macroevolution have been demonstrated by empirical evidence and that both scales of evolution form one seamless garment. The textbook examples of actual living populations undergoing microevolutionary change are described in detail and are generally referenced in the primary literature.  But the student soon encounters diagrams of phylogenetic trees showing, for example, the alleged origin of all of the various orders of mammals from a hypothetical common ancestor.  The impression created by such diagrams, with their bold-faced solid lines linking the common ancestral species with the earliest representatives of the mammalian orders, is that an abundant fossil record documents all the proposed lineages.  On the contrary, transition series of fossils bridging the gaps between major types of organisms are systematically absent from the fossiliferous strata (in spite of the existence of such intriguing fossils as Archaeopteryx, Basilosaurus isis, and the mammal-like reptiles).  This absence of transition series may be more evident today than it was in Darwin’s day.[9]

I first became aware of this disparity between textbook claims of macroevolutionary processes (e.g., animal speciation) and the actual state of the evidence through my attempts to provide my evolution students with credible references in the primary literature.   During the years that I taught our Department’s main evolution course, I could not find even one convincing primary reference that documented the formation of a new animal species, either in the laboratory or in the field.  This was an astonishing fact since well over a hundred years had elapsed since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species.  Thinking that my students could help locate the missing primary references I challenged each class for several years to bring me one reference documenting the formation of a new animal species.  No such references ever appeared from the students but the challenge became known to my faculty colleagues and from time to time (about once every 2-3 years) a paper purporting to demonstrate a case of directly observed animal speciation (e.g., the formation of a new species of Drosophila in a population-cage experiment) would appear in my mailbox, sometimes signed and sometimes anonymously.  In every case these few papers, on close inspection, were found not to demonstrate what their titles boldly proclaimed.  There was always some problem, for example, lack of proof that the reported reproductive isolation between two subpopulations was stable over multiple generations under the conditions of the experiment.

For the reasons discussed above, my doubts about the reality of macroevolution continued to grow aided by another consideration.  The evolutionary formation of new genera and higher taxa would have required the naturalistic addition of substantial amounts of just the right kind of new genetic information to the genomes of the evolving organisms in order for new structural features and physiological mechanisms to develop.  Such an evolutionary process would have entailed the accumulation of perhaps hundreds of favorable and coordinated mutations in the same lineage.  But the overwhelming majority of documented mutations are either deleterious to the organisms in which they occur, or at best they are selectively neutral.[10]  I gradually became convinced that no naturalistic process of information increase would be found. Certainly no convincing spontaneous process for generating the new genetic information required for macroevolution was documented in the primary literature in spite of such suggestions as gene duplication followed by different mutation histories in the original and the duplicate gene.[11]  And there was another consideration: The Darwinian mechanism underlying evolutionary change involves genetic variations among the individuals in a population of organisms whose corresponding phenotypes are acted on by natural selection.  The source of the (long-term) variation is mutations in the genetic material. These mutations are said to be “random” in the sense that they arise in a manner that is not correlated with the adaptive needs of the organisms in their environment.  In this sense the mutations that contribute positively to the organisms’ overall fitness (i.e., improve their competitive advantage) occur fortuitously.  But notice that it is assumed here that the mutations will in fact range over a sufficiently wide spectrum to guarantee that among them there will always be some that contribute to the formation of new adaptive traits.[12]  But the genomes of organisms have powerful built-in limitations on their variability. And macroevolutionists themselves are providing evidence that “adaptive landscapes” constrain what natural selection can achieve in evolving populations.[13]

All of these converging difficulties made it appear less and less likely that macroevolution had occurred.  And the intellectual situation in my own area of research, the origin of the first life, deepened my doubts about macroevolution, and in fact pushed them to the breaking point. 

Conclusion

At the very least we can conclude that Darwinism is no longer the impregnable fortress that it has seemed to be for so many scientists and other intellectuals for so long.  The number of scientific dissenters continues to grow, and this remarkable process is likely to accelerate as the problem of the origin of genetic information is squarely faced by larger segments of the scientific community.  The process is occurring in many different countries among Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims, as well as agnostics.  But a large majority of academics apparently remains convinced of the fundamental soundness of the evolutionary account of biologic origins. For the non-biologists among them, and even for many biologists who specialize in fields other than evolution, this confidence is more often based on trust than on familiarity with the details of the empirical case for evolution.  And then there are those who have doubts about one or another aspect of Darwinism, or macroevolution, but for personal reasons do not want to dissent openly.

It is my own strong conviction that we now have enough empirical evidence and sound scientific argument to support a vigorous reassertion of the Catholic Doctrine of Creation as understood by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.  The many scientific problems of Darwinism should be widely debated, both inside and beyond academia.  Such discussions within academic science and in national cultures generally should be broadly encouraged.  If offered encouragement from the Holy See, many academics would join the discussion who have heretofore been hesitant.  A large, world-wide change in the intellectual climate could follow quickly upon such a gracious and magnanimous show of support from theVatican. 

Dr. Kenyon received his Ph.D. in biophysics from Stanford University in 1965 and completed post-doctoral work at U. C. Berkeley, Oxford University, and NASA.


[1] “Macroevolution” denotes the evolution of new species/genera and higher taxonomic categories.  See below.

[2] Neo-Darwinism (or simply Darwinism for convenience) denotes the view that the diversity of living organisms is the result of a materialistic and unplanned natural process starting with the first living cells.  The Darwinian mechanism of evolutionary change involves fortuitous genetic variation among the individuals in populations and natural selection of the most fit variants resulting in the formation of new species from ancestral species.  In this manner all of the fossil and living microbes, plants and animals evolved over billions of years.

[3]  See, e.g., “Dissent from Darwinism” at http://www.discovery.org/csc/

[4] 1970, Harold Shaw Publ.,Wheaton,IL.

[5] 1969,McGraw-Hill,New York.

[6] S. G. Meyer 2004, The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 117(2): 213-239.

[7] S. M. Stanley 1979, Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, W.H. Freeman,San Francisco, p.2.

[8] Op. cit.; S. J. Gould 1977, Evolution’s Erratic Pace, Nat. Hist. 86(5), 12-16.

[9] D. Raup 1979, Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology, Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Bull. 50: 22.

[10] J. C. Sanford 2005, The Mystery of the Genome, Ivan Press,Lima,N.Y., Chap. 9.

[11] M. J. Behe and D. W. Snoke 2004, Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues, Protein Sci. 13: 2651-2664.

[12] For an analogous consideration applied to the origin of the first living cells, see D. H. Kenyon 1974, Prefigured Ordering and Protoselection in the Origin of Life, in The Origin of Life and Evolutionary Biochemistry, Festschrift Volume for Prof. A. I. Oparin (K. Dose, S. W. Fox, G. A. Deborin and T. E. Pavlovskaya, Eds.), Plenum Press, New York, pp. 207-220.

[13] S. P. Miller, M. Lunzer and A. M. Dean 2006, Direct Demonstration of an Adaptive Constraint, Science 314: 458-461.