Friday, June 23, 2006

Evolution – a pseudoscience of genocide

“The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its nearest allies--between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae--between the elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. 'Anthropological Review,' April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

From THE DESCENT OF MAN AND SELECTION IN RELATION TO SEX by Charles Darwin Chapter VI. On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man; on the birthplace and antiquity of man; second edition September, 1874

I think the above paragraph, written by the founder of the pseudoscience of evolution and based on that theory, should be sufficient proof that scientists should never be relied upon as authorities on spiritual matters.

Scientists are technicians, essentially no different than mechanics or plumbers. They may create marvelous new inventions and for that we may be grateful. Science is man made wisdom, which naturally advances as each generation builds upon the discoveries of the ones before it.

However in matters of theology, ethics and morality scientists know nothing. For that wisdom, we must look to Orthodox rabbis who are links in a tradition which reaches back unbroken to the divine revelation at Mount Sinai.

(For more details about the moral implications of evolution, I recommend “From Darwin to Hitler” by Richard Weikart.)

It’s also interesting to note that in perhaps the only case where Darwin made a prediction about the future based on his theory, he was wrong. The “savage races” have grown exponentially since 1874 while the Caucasian race is shrinking. Bangladesh today has a larger population than Russia. So much for Darwinism.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Evolution: my dialogue with a scientist

A month ago I exchanged email with Douglas L. Theobald, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry University of Colorado at Boulder and the author of 29 proofs of macroevolution . He was kind enough to answer two questions which I have concerning evolution. I greatly appreciate his patience.

My first question concerned the probability of evolution occurring:

It seems to me that the concept of evolution might be compared to the concept of an illiterate author.
Let's say that someone wanted to publish books and become a great author. But he was totally illiterate. He could not read or write one word; letters looked to him like meaningless scratches on the page.
So he came up with a solution. He would buy a printing press, open a bookstore, start printing and make more copies of whatever sold. At first he just arranged his printing type at random, printed and put the results on the shelves. No one bought anything since it was all gibberish. He threw all these failures into the recycling bin and continued printing. Eventually, purely by chance, one small booklet actually made sense and in fact became a best seller. So he kept printing more copies of it. Occasionally, there would be some typographical error in the printing, purely by chance. A page would be smudged, a line would be missing. Generally these errors would cause the book to be unpurchased and it would be thrown into recycling. However once in a while a typo would add more meaning to a copy of the book - a few interesting new sentences. People would ask for more copies of it. That typo would be then be faithfully reproduced by the illiterate author. Gradually entire new books developed through this process of random typographical errors and customer selection. Eventually, the inventory in the book shop had expanded to include tens of millions of titles including novels, plays, poetry, scientific textbooks, history, biography, huge dictionaries and encyclopedias and so on. In fact, these books were actually far more beautiful and profound than books ever written by any human author. All produced by a totally illiterate author through a process of random printing, typos and customer selection over a very long period of time.

Needless to say most people, including most mathematicians, would be very skeptical about this story of an illiterate author. Even given billions of years and billions of illiterate authors making the attempt it seems to be ridiculously unlikely that it could ever happen. However this is exactly what evolutionists consider to be the origin of life - nature is a mindless engineer, combining molecules at random until some became self reproducing. Then random mutations and natural selection combine together to create all the diversity and complexity we see in life around us.

Dr. Theobald answered me as follows:

Your analogy is, for the most part, sound. However, there are several points to be made. First, just because you think something is astounding has very little relevance to its scientific validity. There are all kinds of things in science that amaze me: particles behave as waves and tunnel through walls, Euclidean geometry does not work in the real world, stars are billions of miles away, invisible radiowaves are carrying messages all around me (and through me) right now, etc. Our amazement is irrelevant; the real question is whether the amazing thing is true or not. Second, your insinuation that "most mathematicians [are] skeptical" of random mutation and natural selection is false. As it turns out, the mathematics of genetics is extremely rigorous and a large field in its own right (and has been for 100 years), and there is no contradiction between what the math says and what biological genomes show. For example, see morphological rates and genetic rates.

As far as the Internet references which Dr. Theobald provides, as I understand them, the first demonstrates that if we measure the rate of change which is observed to occur within species, as a result of selective breeding or environmental pressures, and extrapolate this same rate of change over geological time, we should in fact see evolution progressing far more rapidly than the geological record indicates. In other words, if a breeder can breed a Great Dane from a coyote in 200 years, he should be able to breed an elephant from a coyote in 5,000 years. I think most animal breeders would be highly skeptical of such an assertion.

The second reference indicates that genetic mutations occur sufficiently frequently to account for the transformation of an ape into a human in approximately 6 million years. This seems to assume that all mutations add reproductive value to their recipient (or, in my analogy, they are good typos which add to the marketability of the book), while in reality few if any do. Click here for more detail.

As I understand it, Dr. Theobald is conceding that the evolution is difficult to believe, however, like many other amazing events, it may nevertheless actually have taken place. It should be obvious however that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If I claim that I ate breakfast this morning with my wife, little evidence would be required to convince someone. If I claim that I ate breakfast this morning with President Bush, stronger evidence would be needed.

Since evolution allegedly occurred during eons of prehistoric time, the only possible direct evidence of evolution would be the fossil remains of animals in the process of evolving. Therefore I asked Dr. Theobald about the strength of this evidence:

Animals which have only soft body parts, of course, may not be preserved as fossils. Also, terrestrial animals may seldom be fossilized because when they die their bodies lie exposed and are usually quickly destroyed. However marine animals which have bones or shells are often fossilized as they die and their bodies fall to the ocean floor and are covered by sediment. This sediment turns to stone and creates fossils. According to Darwin, we should therefore today have a beautiful record of the gradual transition, in millions of tiny steps, from the earliest vertebrates over 510 million years ago up to modern fish about 200 million years ago. There should be a detailed record in the fossils of every branch of fish evolution. In fact, that is not the case. New species appear suddenly in the fossil record. And to claim that indeed fish evolution did take place, however new species always originated in small, isolated bodies of water whose fossils have been lost is a poor excuse. Darwin wrote in "Origin of Species" chapter 10 at the end: "Those who believe that the geological record is in any degree perfect, will undoubtedly at once reject the theory [of evolution]." Not very much has changed since then.

Dr. Theobald answered me as follows:

Actually, much has changed since then, as we have found many many more fossils, esp. transitional forms that were predicted by evolutionary theory. Darwin was correct in his statement above -- but it is the highest absurdity, given what we know about geology and fossilization, to think that "geological record is in any degree perfect".

As I understand him, Dr. Theobald is agreeing that some, however not very strong, direct evidence of evolution exists.

For more details about the problem of transitional fossils, click here.

I would suggest that each reader review the above dialogue carefully and draw his own conclusions.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Spiritual Illiteracy

For the past five months I have been directly interacting through the Internet with ideologically committed atheists. One surprising thing I have noticed is that a strange, new feeling has begun to develop within me – pity.

In the beginning, I thought that these people might be happy, well adjusted people who are living lives which are in some cases better suited to their temperaments. Maybe there was some grain of truth in the concept that they are freer and more enlightened than I am. I wanted to find out.

So, I found out.

I believe that secular people are not only philosophically wrong. They are failing to acquire, or choosing to lose, an important life skill. They are lacking the ability to look beyond their own immediate needs and to see a larger reality. It is as if they are suffering from a type of learning disability.

I feel that it’s comparable to a modern, educated person visiting a primitive, illiterate community and trying to convince people there of the importance of literacy. Some might be receptive to the idea, however surely many would be resistant. After all, they could ask, what exactly is the point in spending hours a day staring at worthless bits of paper? Shouldn’t a rational, practical person hunt, fish, gather fruit, build homes or make tools? I have heard of cases of American teenagers who did poorly in school and dropped out in disgust with “trick learning”, hating their school and their teachers.

Obviously, people like this are to be pitied. Literacy can do so much to enhance anyone’s life, young or old. There is so much a person can learn about the world through reading. Of course one could point to a lot of worthless or evil literature. And there are literate people who live miserable lives of great poverty. However on the average, literacy has undoubtedly changed the lives of countless millions for the better. No sociological study is needed to prove this.

I submit that the same is true of spirituality. Belief in God, in an afterlife, in ultimate reward and punishment, in an ethical system based on the Ten Commandments, the love of neighbors and the golden rule, tremendously enhances a person’s life. The all embracing, detailed legal framework of rabbinical Judaism supports these ideals to the highest level possible. People who have accepted these ideas are as different from those who do not in the same degree that a scholar is different from an illiterate. They are focusing on God and their fellow men in a constant, real, practical way. They are not obsessed with their own comfort and profit. Their lives have a cosmic purpose, a mission with universal, eternal value. They can have so much more satisfaction in life and accomplish so much more.

Of course, the atheist\agnostic\materialist\naturalist will reply: I am only concerned with real, practical matters. I have no time for imaginary gods and imaginary rules. This is like the illiterate person who claims he only has time for practical tasks, not for worthless book learning. The atheist and the illiterate have no idea what they are throwing away and how limited, ignorant and miserable their lives needlessly are.

Just to illustrate this, I am involved in two groups on one is for people who have left Orthodox Judaism, usually for atheism. The other is for parents of children with cerebral palsy. The first group is filled with anger and hatred; unhappy, lonely people, trying to console themselves by ridiculing their former religion. The second group is full of kind, concerned people who love someone who is disabled and who are happy to help someone else while hoping for God’s blessings. The contrast is striking.