dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish

2.12.2009

On Specious Origins

Today is Darwin Day, the big day within Darwin Week, all just a part of the great Year of Darwin. Darwinism, it would seem, is as popular as ever.

I, however, am a skeptic. And I have plenty of reasons why.

People point to Charles Darwin. They say that the guy was born 200 years ago. Today they want to commemorate the anniversary of his birth. They say that they have facts about his origins: the year, the location, the name of his father and mother. All of these, apparently, are derived from first-hand accounts or early documents. But seriously, since when can centuries-old documents purporting to record birth accounts be counted trustworthy?

Perhaps I will give mental assent to the existence of Darwin the man. That he existed, however, does not necessitate that I believe all of the "Darwin said" nonsense. No doubt he was a kindly man with good intentions, but I will not subject myself to his ideas of life and purpose. My problems with Darwin the man begin with "his book."

People point to On the Origin of Species. They say that it was written 150 years ago. This year they want to commemorate the anniversary of its publishing. They say it has facts about our origins--though the year, the location, and the existence of first father and mother cannot be confirmed. None of these, apparently, can be derived from first-hand accounts or early documents.

People can wave copies in my face; they can point to the earliest manuscripts. They can talk all that they want about how accurate our current copies are. But I ask, Does it really matter? What of the textual variations over the years? How can we be sure that the "latest" really is the truest form? What if parts were wrongly changed? If some was changed, why should we trust what we now have?

For that matter, how do we know that this venerable tome is complete? Just because a compilation of the author's words were labeled as a complete book does not necessarily mean that they contain all of his thoughts on the subject.

But aside from all of this, there are fundamental doubts which no amount of textual examination can resolve. How do we know that he really wrote what he meant? If he did write what he meant, how do we know that we understand it? People will talk about scientific evidence. Our evolving minds, however, have dubious qualifications for rightly interpreting the evidence. And should the data interpretation be accurate, there's always the chance that future discoveries will controvert today's findings.

Perhaps we can just accept the parts of it that make the most common sense, and leave everyone to their own interpretations for the rest. Just don't try to force your interpretation down my throat. For instance, let's not get too excited about the implications of these "creator" references. I'd prefer that we stick to the book's feel-good moral statements.

Beyond all of this, there is the issue of changing times. Even if what Darwin taught was applicable in his day, to say that we should be subject to his ideas and theories is ludicrous. We have progressed far beyond the limited understanding of his day--enlightened as he may have been for his time. We have seen exponential scientific advancement since his time. One has difficulty arguing that his simple description of cells, for instance, is even scientific in this modern world.

And this all relates to his thoughts on the continuing process of evolution. If he resorts to unenlightened descriptions of scientific phenomena that are now more fully understood, how can we believe him when he begins to propagate theories of origins?

Even if he manages to describe the process by which whole kingdoms rise and fall--whether he labels it natural or otherwise--does it give him the right to speak authoritatively and to influence complicated moral issues?

In summary, one last appeal. Please keep your science out my religion, and I'll keep my science out of yours.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Laedelas Greenleaf said...

*applause*

Bravo, my dear chap. Simply a delightful read.

Pardon the highbrow British accent, but I thought it appropriate, considering your topic :-P

catiessi
Cicadas Always Terminate Inkling Eaglets, Stringing Swallows Inside

2/12/2009 9:47 PM

 
Blogger The Stranger said...

Yes, I demand an encore. My only dispute is that your Abraham Lincoln post was so short. T___T

2/12/2009 11:30 PM

 
Anonymous Josiah said...

You beat me to it. I was going to write something about Darwin too on my blog, but alas Darwin's Birthday has come and gone.

Check out this 10-minute YouTube video out by Ph.D. geologist Steve Austin, called "Where Darwin Went Wrong." Steve shot this video on location at " Camp Darwin " in southern Argentina .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3darzVqzV2o&feature=channel_page

2/20/2009 12:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Schaut! Zie satyrist gekommt! (Butchered, slaughtered, and invented German)

¡Mira, el escritor de sátira viena!
(We think this is Spanish)

-Stephen

2/26/2009 1:06 AM

 

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