What Darwinists Don't Tell You: Valentine's Day Edition
Darwinism is replete with salesmanship, some of it thoroughly deceptive. Pushing the false dichotomy of evolution versus Young Earth Creationism, as if there were no alternative to these two, is one way that evolutionists bully and mislead non-scientists. Sadly, they are joined in this by some creationists.
Tom Bethell, author of Darwin's House of Cards: A Journalist's Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates, points out that from Darwin himself on up to today, advocates of the theory have habitually played down the conflict between their materialism, on one hand, and religious belief on the other.
One doesn't hear much about the materialism of Darwin and Darwinism, likely because there has been a longstanding effort to ignore and suppress it. Many of today's theistic Darwinists play this game, but they are hardly the first.
Similarly, only the most perilously candid evolutionists are in your face about another straightforward inference from materialism: the denial of free will. Bethell again:
The materialist philosophy puts its advocates at odds with the great majority of mankind, alerting the rest of us to the implausibility of what we are expected to believe. Being told that "evolution is a fact" can be intimidating because many laymen won't know how to respond. But to be told, "Your will is not free, even though you think it is," or "You're an automaton and you don't even know it," is likely to get people's backs up.
This bleak vision, the human being as meat machine, is on vivid display, though mixed with a clumsy childlike enthusiasm, in the writing of emeritus University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. On Darwin Day, for instance, he chided me for the hope that evidence of design will overcome Darwinian censorship: "I'm sorry to say that, I think, Klinghoffer will go to his Maker (disassociated molecules) before a teleological view of life permeates evolutionary biology."
Imagine trying to sell "disassociated molecules" to the public, with their human intuitions, fears, and longings. Darwinists like Coyne or Dawkins, Bethell observes, are their own worst enemies.
To these thoughts, add our colleague Jonathan Witt's observation for Valentine's Day over at The Stream. From Darwinian materialism, he notes, a denial of the reality of love must follow:
Evolutionist Daniel Dennett called Darwinism a "universal acid" that "eats through just about every traditional concept ... dissolving the illusion of our own authorship, our own divine spark of creativity and understanding."
Dissolve those things and there's no room for romantic love to be anything very exalted.
Biologist E.O. Wilson is just as blunt. When Darwinian science conquers all, we will view the human brain as just the "product of genetic evolution by natural selection." And the mind "will be more precisely explained as an epiphenomenon of the neuronal machinery of the brain."
But surely we can rescue things like art, religion and poetry, right? No, Wilson insists. Evolution teaches us that all of it was "produced by the genetic evolution of our nervous and sensory tissues."
Evolving Away Love
So what becomes of Valentine's Day, of all of those romantic longings and pledges to love, honor and protect, maybe even till death do us part? Yes, glands and instincts are involved. Only a gnostic would deny that, and Christianity threw Gnosticism out on its ear at the Incarnation and the Resurrection.
But Darwinian science goes further. It insists the stuff of Valentine's Day is all glands and instincts, and beneath those, all brain chemistry -- a soulless concoction of matter and energy stirred up in the alchemist's lab we call evolution.
Of course, it would have to be that way. A materialist understanding of evolution robs us of virtually everything that makes life rich and worth living, if we're honest about it with ourselves. What, really, is left? Eating? Animal rutting? Pursuing status or dominance in a manner hardly different from the way chimps and chickens do?
But Darwinists, devoted salesmen that they are, often seem freaked out about the implications of their theory, and so try to take those back, sometimes in the space between one paragraph and the next. Dennett, for one, preaches the
So here is neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga giving a reverent review to Dennett's new book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, in the Wall Street Journal and getting tangled up in the consciousness question. On one hand, says Gazzaniga:
[Dennett's] early writings insisted on the idea that consciousness was an illusion, a trick that the multifaceted brain pulled to give us that cozy feeling of an interior experience, with all its fullness -- the redness of red, the painfulness of pain, the euphoria of love.
But most Wall Street Journal readers are going to have a hard time with the idea of their "interior experience" as a trick their brain pulls on them. The notion is thus walked back by Dr. Gazzaniga in the very next paragraph:
This suggestion is quite profound and complicated and has often been misunderstood. In response to Mr. Dennett's early landmark book, "Consciousness Explained" (1991), the cognitive-science cognoscenti quipped that the title should have been "Consciousness Explained Away." That was obviously not Mr. Dennett's point. It was thought by many distinguished philosophers, such as John Searle and Thomas Nagel, that Mr. Dennett was abandoning the first-person experience of consciousness, the personal nature of it, the qualia. He wasn't at all. He never doubted consciousness itself.
Consciousness for Dennett is "an illusion," yet "He never doubted consciousness itself." He never doubted an illusion? I haven't read the book, but the review of it makes no sense.
Darwinism asks us to doubt, to deny, our own intuitions and experiences. Intelligent design cheerfully affirms them. The former, says Jonathan Witt, overwhelms resistance "by endlessly recycling evidence long discredited even by scientists in [Darwinists'] own ranks" (referring to the "icons of evolution" made famous by Jonathan Wells).
Meanwhile, intelligent design is not permitted to make its own scientific case. Or when it does so, ID scientists are put down by censors or drowned out by media spokesmen with endless chants of "creationist, creationist, creationist." What a mad world!
Image: © smiltena -- stock.adobe.com.