Evolution and Other Fairy Tales
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First published in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, by Rev. Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ, July, 2006
Republished here by permission of the author.
Fr. Baker is, and has been, editor of Homiletic and Pastoral Review since 1971.
Larry Azar is an emeritus professor of philosophy and he approaches the subject of evolution from the point of view of metaphysics. He analyzes the claims of evolutionists on the basis of their philosophical assumptions (usually not explicitly stated), their statements of fact and the logic or illogic of their statements. As is obvious from the title of his book he argues that evolution is a false theory with no basis in fact, a myth, a pseudo-religion, in short a pseudoscientific, antiChristian "fairy tale."
In the very first chapter he writes about the relationship between philosophy and evolution. He quotes Karl Popper who admits that evolution is a "metaphysical research project," that is, it is more a philosophical theory than it is truly science.
Most of the quotes in this book are from evolutionists who come in two flavors: 1) Darwin and his followers who maintain that the higher species evolve gradually from the lower by random small changes; over millions of years these changes bring about a change into something new, by what he calls "natural selection." that did not exist before--they are called gradualists"; 2)the "saltationists" who are honest enough to admit that there is no evidence for gradualism; they maintain that new forms of life appear suddenly after millions of years of stability. They give it the scientifically-sounding name of punctuated equilibrium."
This enters into the realm of what one of them called "hopeful monsters." This means, for example, that a crocodile produced an egg that hatched not a crocodile, but a bird. So in this way reptiles suddenly turned into birds.
If any sane person believes this, then he surely must believe in fairy tales. For it is obvious from the laws of nature that like gives birth to like and only life can generate new life. Minerals do not turn into living cells, cats do not give birth to dogs, and dogs do not generate monkeys. But scientists with Ph.D.s after their name have said such things and expect the public to take them seriously.
What is devastating force evolutionists in this book is that Larry Azar has carefully studied their claims and examined the logic and cogency in their arguments. He shows conclusively that Darwin was ignorant of most of the history of philosophy; he did not know the ancient philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, the "father of biology," and the medieval scholastics like Aquinas, Scotus and Bonaventure, and he was totally ignorant in the area of metaphysics. The two philosophers who influenced him were David Hume and Herbert Spencer, both materialists and atheists.
This is not a book of creation science. It is a philosophical and critical analysis of the claims of the evolutionists. The author shows that there is no evidence for the evolution of plants, animals and man-in the sense of essential changes in a rising spiral from a living cell to an amoeba to reptiles to birds to mammals to apes and to man. Evolution is a gratuitous hypothesis without any evidence; moreover, it is untestable since no one was there at the beginning. Biology can examine and study living things, but the origin of living things is outside of the legitimate realm of biology. That is a philosophical or religious question. In the final chapters of the book Professor Azar gives an excellent analysis of the nature of science and why the particular sciences, like biology, are dependent on other sciences for their principles. In the natural order, the highest science is philosophy that is the queen of the sciences."
The scholarship in this volume is impressive. The reader will find one hundred pages of endnotes and the quotes are from evolutionists. The Bibliography offers 42 pages of books quoted--everything from A to Z when it comes to evolution. Azar tries to be as fair as he can in quoting exactly what Darwin and his followers have said about the "origin of species."
This book contains 35 chapters of interesting material on every aspect of evolution. There is no doubt that Darwinism has had a tremendous influence on our culture during the past 150 years. Darwinism was a basic principle of Nazism and Marxist communism, which are responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of innocent victims. Based on those deadly "isms" were racist and believed in the inferiority of certain classes of people such as gypsies, Jews, Slavs, and Negroes. Darwin was in favor of war because, he said, it gets rid of useless people and furthers evolution which, according to him, is always moving higher. His revolutionary ideas had a profound influence on Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.
The author deals with all the questions in evolutionary theory-fossils, geological ages and the dating of rocks, what is meant by "species," vestigial organs, teleology, the claims about the various ancestors of man such as Peking Man and Nebraska Man, and so forth.
The religious side of the debate is touched on briefly, since this is a philosophical analysis. However it should be mentioned that many of the leading evolutionists have been and are atheists and anti-Christian. A priest mend of mine who was in a Communist concentration camp in China said that the first thing they were taught in the "re-education" classes was Darwinian, materialistic evolution; in fact, that came before the lectures on Mao's "Little Red Book."
Azar mentions a number of evolutionists and ex-evolutionists who say that evolution is a religion. That is hardly an exaggeration, since evolution seems to have become a pseudo-scientific religion in our public school system and in the state universities. The irony here is that religion is supposed to be banned from those public institutions. Evolution is very much like Christian faith in the sense that it is belief in some propositions on the basis of authority--the authority of certain biologists and paleontologists. Christians believe in revelation on the word of God: Millions of Americans believe in evolution because some "scientists" says it is so and lie by saying that evolution is a fact. Thus I think there is much truth in the - statement of an evolutionist to the effect that evolution is ''the engine of atheism." It takes the place of an intelligent, all-powerful Creator, and offers a deceptive explanation for the order and beauty of the universe, which clearly manifest intelligent design.
If the reader of HPR is interested in the important debate about evolution and its role in our culture, then I recommend this readable and enlightening book by Professor Larry Azar. In recent years many evolutionists have seen the light and come to see that evolution is a pseudoscientific myth, a "fairy tale" -some even go so far as to say that it is a hoax. Here you will find the arguments for evolution and their refutation by logical reasoning. Perhaps by the end of this century evolution will be universally recognized for what it is, a false theory, and will be ranked by most people in the same category as alchemy.
Kenneth Baker S.J.