Why Darwinism Doesn't Sell to the Public
It is no secret that darwinistic evolution is not a very saleable item with a substantial portion of the population. That is not to say that the same portion of the population is necessarily averse to any and every model of origins along the line of an unfolding or evolution, over time. Some of the strongest criticisms of Darwinism come from qualified and learned people -- even from core elements of the scientific community. In 150 years, Darwinism hasn't sold. All genuine scientific findings are ultimately saleable to the populace.
Sir Richard Owen, palaeontologist, had no trouble selling the dinosaurs to the public. He did make some comments regarding the origin of species -- his "Law of Progression". This evolutionary proposal was never controversial, because the engine behind the unfolding was divine pre-ordination -- in other words, Owen didn't know the particulars, and was candid enough to imply he didn't know. The public did buy the dinosaurs. William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), known for the first successful North Atlantic cable and for co-pioneering Thermodynamics, didn't have any difficulty selling those items to the public. Most of us talk on the telephone and use refrigerators. Some of his musings on the origin of life are recorded. Some would say he leaned towards panspermia, but perhaps his mind was on outer Space when he was giving a talk, and it crept in when he was speaking of the beginnings of life? Perhaps he wasn't far wrong, in looking to the heavens? But his musings on this topic are not controversial. He wasn't asking anyone to believe it. He did ask people not to believe that nature and blind chance could do what Darwinism seems to suggest they can do -- and helped pioneer the branch of science that proves his argument. Einstein successfully sold to the public one of the most mind expanding concepts of all time -- time being part of the concept -- yet he had difficulty accepting a major branch of Physics -- Quantum Theory -- because bound up in it is a concept of randomness. Einstein proved Relativity, but didn't see the universe as a cosmic game of dice. Einstein esteemed Faraday as having been a genius, and Faraday was reported as saying something along the lines of, "I am not dealing in speculations; I am dealing in certainties". Darwin picked on a difficult sell. His peers and his posterity weren't exactly on-side.
The following is extracted from a speech by a Southern Baptist preacher (Criswell 1957, pp. 77-84). He doesn't have an explanation of the origin of the species, but he does have a point, and an audience. The point he makes helps us understand why Darwinism hasn't sold to the man in the street.
The evolutionist, the materialist, faces a staggering and colossal problem with respect to this little speck of life he says evolved out of nothing and finally evolved into man. He faces a staggering problem in supporting such a theory. In fact, it is so staggering that when he seeks to support evolution, there are almost as many theories of the evolutionary process as there are evolutionists themselves. The only thing on which they agree is this; God had nothing to do with the evolutionary process, but it blindly, accidentally, evolved of itself.
The predecessor of Charles Darwin was the French scientist Lamarck. He noticed all of the different varieties, shapes, sizes, and colours among the parents of the different forms of life. He concluded that environment changed the offspring and that they in turn bequeathed these acquired characteristics to their progeny, and opened the way gradually and finally to the development of new species.
As late as 1900, biologists believed that acquired characteristics -- something a parent acquires during his lifetime -- were inheritable. Yet acquired characteristics are not inheritable. If you cut off your hand, your child will be born with two hands just the same. Whatever happens to you, the child's inheritance does not come from any characteristic that you may have acquired. When the sperm and the egg are united, its inheritance is therein forever sealed.
Charles Darwin disagreed with Lamarck. And he did so with the remark, "May heaven forfend me from Lamarck's nonsense". He started on an altogether different plane and from an altogether different basis. He believed that all the different forms of life which culminated in man evolved from one low beginning. For example, here is a quotation from Charles Darwin: "Our most ancient progenitors in the kingdom of the vertebrata, at which we are able to obtain an obscure glance, apparently consisted of a group of marine animals resembling the larvae of the existing ascidians ['sea squirts'] ." Then he suggests a line of ascent from these little animals to the monkey and finally to the man.
As Charles Darwin worked out his theory of evolution as to how the ascent of man came about, he hit upon two great evolutionary mechanisms. First, he said that it came about by the operation of natural selection (a process Herbert Spencer called "the survival of the fittest"). And second, it came about through the operation of the mechanism of sexual selection. Now we are going to look at those two great darwinian laws of evolution.
We will take first the mechanism of natural selection, i.e., the survival of the fittest. Darwin noticed two things as he looked over the life forms of the world. First, he noticed that the offspring of parents differ among themselves from the parents. Sometimes they differ in size; sometimes they differ in shape. But there are differences among the offspring of the common parent. Kittens may have different colours; puppies may have different sizes, etc.. That is seen everywhere. Darwin noticed those varieties in the offspring are compared to the parents.
The second thing he noticed was that there was a struggle for existence on the part of these myriad of offspring that are born into the world. Not all of the acorns grow into trees; not all the eggs of the fish grow into fishes. There are a great many more acorns and a great many more eggs than ever actually develop into mature parents. So Darwin concluded that there was a vast struggle for existence among the many different species that are born into this world.
From those two observations he deduced this first law, that the fittest survive, that by the accumulation, through the ages and ages, of minute modifications, new organs appeared and new kinds came into being. Those that were not advantageous were rigidly rejected, deemed unfit to survive; only those survived that were the strongest and fittest; the rest perished.
The basis of the law, when we begin to apply it, is this: the new organs and the new species gradually evolved supposedly through an accumulation of slight modifications. Those little differences, when they were added, gradually developed into the new species, and even into new kinds.
This theory seems learned and smart when one looks at it. As long as it is theoretical, it seems to be the result of keen insight. But when one begins to apply it to the actual appearance of a new organ, it is an astonishing thought.
When we try to explain the first appearance of a new organ such as an eye (there was a time when there were no eyes, according to theory), when we try to explain the first appearance of a heart (there was a time when there were no hearts), when we try to explain the first appearance of an ear (there was a time when there were no ears), when we try to explain the first appearance of a leg, or a lung (there was a time when there were no lungs and no legs), when we begin to apply the theory to the actual first appearance of an organ, it becomes an astonishing thing.
Darwin had another idea. He found that he could not by any means explain all of the phenomena of the forms of life by natural selection through the survival of the fittest alone. He found that there are some characteristics of man, for example, that could only be explained by plain conscious choice. So he promulgated his second mechanism, that of sexual selection.
He applied that to two things among others. First, in Darwin's day it was accepted theory that a man's mind was superior to a woman's mind; that male intelligence was finer and stronger that a woman's intelligence. In Darwin's day, people believed that; therefore Darwin had to explain it.
Another thing Darwin sought to explain by the principle of sexual selection is this: it was true in Darwin's day, it was true from the beginning of man, and it is true today that man is born a hairless, uncovered animal. What advantage then was it for man to evolve naked from a heavily-covered anthropoid? He is the only animal in the world who has no covering. He has to make one for himself. To every other animal in the world God has given a covering, but not to the man. How was it an advantage that he came to be naked? Darwin explains all this by sexual selection. He explains the supposed superiority of the male mind over the female mind by saying that the male struggled for the female, and, therefore, in the struggle he evolved a mind superior to a female's. And that is why the man has mental intelligence superior to that of a woman.
His explanation of why the man is hairless is this: the women preferred anthropoids with less hair. Consequently they bred the hair off the men. When you read all this, you go in circles. Darwin has just said that the mental superiority of the man came about because of the man's choice of the female. Then in the next page he says that the reason the man is naked is because of the female's choice of the male who had less hair. Just which one is actually doing the choosing?
My observation would be this: females then were doubtless no different from females now. They have always differed in their taste, don't you think? Some of them would like a big anthropoid brute with a slick, heavy coat of hair all over him. Others would like the hair a little less heavy and thick.
When Darwin published a later edition of his Descent of Man in which he spoke of these things, he fortified the theory. He reiterated the supposed fact that the reason a man was born a hairless animal was because of the female choice. The female liked him with less hair. His added support was that it had been reported to him that there was a mandrill (another name for a ferocious West African baboon) that was proud of a bare spot on his body. And he believed that to be corroboration for this supposition that the female took the hair off the male by choosing men who had less hair! Reading the minds of baboons can be a precarious business.
Again, I repeat, if such fantasy, if such silliness, if such ridiculousness were in the Bible, you would laugh it to scorn! But this is supposedly science! These are the facts of evolution!
Let me tell you something: if there is any one new thing true about sexual selection, it is this- it does not evolve upward. It inevitably degenerates. That is true everywhere. By careful, intelligent selection, by breeding upward the fine points, we finally produce wonderful strains in botany and zoology. But when man tires and quits, the dog turns to a mongrel. The cat turns to a vagabond. The potatoes are too small to dig. The horses are too wild and scrawny to catch and break. The beef cattle turn to ribs and horns. When the string breaks, the kite falls. It is not evolution upward, this thing of sexual selection, it is degeneration downward! And there is no exception to that in the facts of biology!
This message of Criswell's is not in the detached scientific tradition. It does not answer the question of the origin of the species. It neglects evidence supporting natural selection and survival of the fittest -- there is something approaching new species production going on at this moment in the microscopic world. It could be suggested that Criswell's message stifles open enquiry. But when is Neo-Darwinism going to say something more convincing? Can the public be expected to buy a theory that hasn't been updated or advanced in 150 years, the proposed mechanisms of which, although real, are patently inadequate? Can the public be expected to buy the bare bottomed baboon theory of hairlessness in man? How much is Neo-Darwinism worth in the currency of hard fact?
Criswell,W.A. 1957, Did Man Just Happen?, Accelerated Chrisitan Education Inc., Lewisville, Texas, U.S.A.
Published June 2005