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Feedback archiveFeedback 2012

How evolution has harmed science and society

Published: 24 November 2012 (GMT+10)
123rf.com/Pedro Antonio Salaverría Calahorra

This week’s feedback features responses from regular contributor Marc Ambler and CMI’s Dr Don Batten to skeptics who object to us saying that evolution has harmed science and society.

Firstly, Matt E. from the United States comments on the article Make believe knowledge. Author Marc Ambler’s responses are interspersed:

Dear Matt

Thank you for your response to my article. Although it is negative, I always prefer a negative response to no response at all. In fact, from the shrill tone of your message, I cannot help but think it maybe touched a nerve.

You make five very sweeping statements to which I respond interspersed with your comments below. I really hope you will take the time to think about this.

You know, I almost wrote a comment about how yes, evolution is scientific,

If you are using the word ‘scientific’ in the sense of experimental, observable, repeatable, testable phenomena; please tell me one scientifically verifiable fact of evolution (i.e. evolution from matter to man) that you have so proven, or has been proven by others whose conclusion you believe. If you are objective on this I think you will accept that evolution does not meet these criteria. This is because it is a process which allegedly occurred in the past and therefore by its nature cannot be subjected to experimental verification. See the many articles on the website that deal with this topic of historical vs experimental science such as ‘It’s not science. Of course creation would also fall into the same category of historical science. Both evolution and creation are conclusions we reach based on our a priori, un-provable assumptions, i.e. in the case of evolution, “I do not believe in God or that God was involved in the process and therefore everything came from nothing”, or, in the case of creation, “I believe God was the Creator or First Cause of everything”

about how the existence of Jesus is not scientific,

In your next phrase you assume the existence of Hitler. I doubt you are old enough to have seen him personally so I guess your assumption is based on the credible witness and testimony of others as to his existence. The same is true of Jesus, Alexander the Great, Napoleon and any other historical character.

and about how Hitler believed in social Darwinism, which is not evolution,

Of course Social Darwinism is not evolution; it is evolution (i.e. survival of the fittest and elimination of the weak which is biological evolution) put into socio-political practice. I respectfully invite you to read my book review on The Kaisers Holocaust whose authors repeatedly (seemingly unwillingly) link the German policy of extermination of the Herero and Nama people in German South West Africa (Namibia) and later of the European Jews, to social Darwinism. They keep giving the disclaimer that it was a ‘distorted view of Social Darwinism’ but one wonders where an ‘undistorted view of Social Darwinism’ would come from in a silent universe.

and about the fact that people doing bad things because of an idea does not invalidate the idea,

Quite so, but please define ‘bad things’ from an evolutionary perspective for me. And we have more than enough other ground on which to ‘invalidate the idea’ of evolution.

but this article is just so stupid that it makes me sad

I think it made you mad not sad, but at least this is one statement that may be scientifically verifiable.I have had a couple of very positive responses as well. If I have made some factual errors in my stupidity, please point them out and I would be glad to address them.

Please realize what you are writing is hogwash and get a real education.

Matt, from your tone I think you have reached your conclusions before even reading this or any other like article. I pray that you would reconsider those conclusions and give the claims of the Bible some sincere thought, they are too important (if true) to reject out of hand.

Yours sincerely

Marc Ambler

Berwyn W. from Malaysia writes in response to Question evolution!:

123rf.com/Vladimir Nenov

Alright, I’m not an expert on biology or evolution, so I won’t attempt to give any answers to the questions, but I do intend to inform the creators of this article that filling the gaps in knowledge with the explanation that ‘God did it’ will not prove the failure of evolution or the existence of creation. It is arguing from ignorance and leads no where. All present and available evidence confirms that evolution is true, and while we don’t fully understand it yet, this doesn’t prove it false. Therefore, failure to provide an ‘adequate’ answer to these questions do not prove your creation right. Complexity in nature and life does not require a creator. No ‘intelligent design’ or ‘creation’ is required. Life is as it is, so is the Universe. There is no need to have a creator in the sense of religion to explain these things.

CMI’s Dr Don Batten responds:

Dear Berwyn,

Thanks for commenting.

You admit that you are not an expert on biology or evolution, and yet you insist that “All present and available evidence confirms that evolution is true”. So, you cannot know that personally; you have accepted this based on the authority of your teachers (are they never wrong? Infallible?). I have a doctorate in biology and I wrote the 15 Questions. Two other PhD biologists checked the questions. The whole point of the questions is not that they prove creation, but that they show that present and available evidence does not show that evolution is a valid explanation for origins. Many of these questions are fundamental to evolutionary theory and yet there are no reasonable answers. That is, evolution is an exercise in bluff, of pretending to have answers when there are none to the big questions. There is also a pretending that science needs evolution when in fact it impedes the progress of science as money is wasted on chasing phantoms like the naturalistic origin of life (research has only increased the case for it being impossible). Dr John Sanford, Cornell University genetics prof., gave a lecture about how evolution has harmed science.

You also assert, “Complexity in nature and life does not require a creator. No ‘intelligent design’ or ‘creation’ is required. Life is as it is, so is the Universe. There is no need to have a creator in the sense of religion to explain these things.”

Clearly you have no knowledge of how these things came about naturally, so these statements are mere assertions of your ‘faith’ that this is so. Please don’t confuse such a naturalistic ‘faith’ as being scientific knowledge; they are not the same thing.

Modern science grew out of the rediscovery of the authority of the Bible in the 15th century. It would have been still-born if not for the influence of the Bible (atheism provides no basis for science). See Why does science work at all? and the list of related articles at the end.

Please check out what we say. You might not agree, but at least you will have it ‘from the horse’s mouth’ and not some jaundiced version from a critic. You might even find it educational.

With kind regards,

Don Batten

Readers’ comments

Juergen B.
Congratulations, Dr Don Batten, you've again given us an example of brilliant apologetics with your responses !
Please, keep up the good work !
Chris G.
I have found as I study evolution and the claims of its followers that they often get confused between Micro and macro evolution. All of what God created has existed,in one form or another throughout history. Genetics and adaption and survival of the fittest were all observances of the existing nature of his time..Darwin. These are natural phenomen to strengthen a species. Every time there is a mutation of DNA it doesn't strenthen a species, especially to the point of making another. Our society and civilization's growth have indeed been hindered and scientific knowledge, by atheistic scientists trying to push each new discovery to support Evolution whether the results really do or not. Religion has nothing to do with natural microevolution..it is part of the initial creation by God..that is not a religious statement. It is a statement of fact, and all of science if dealt with honestly will prove it.
Don Batten
Because of this confusion, we like to avoid using the terms microevolution and macroevolution, speaking rather of (for example) 'variation-within-a-kind' and 'microbes-to-mankind' evolution to distinguish between the two. People tend to think that 'micro' x deep-time = 'macro', but there are different processes involved. The latter requires a natural mechanism for inventing masses of new genetic instructions (specifications) for making complex features such as feathers where there were none before, etc. The former involves sorting of existing genetic information or slight modifications to the existing information. See 'Don't use' arguments.
We also avoid 'no new species' because there is nothing hard-and-fast about species definitions and 'new species' can form by natural processes. See 'Don't use' arguments.

And yes, natural selection is merely a conservative process, not creative, as creationist biologists before Darwin recognized. See: Clarifying confusion over natural selection.
Ron M.
What Use is the Science of Evolution?

Every day we rely on technologies made possible through the application of scientific knowledge and processes. The computers and cell phones which we use, the cars and airplanes in which we travel, the medicines that we take, and many of the foods that we eat were developed in part through insights obtained from scientific research. Science has boosted living standards, has enabled humans to travel into Earth orbit and to the Moon... But most of these scientific advances haven't had the slightest thing to do with evolution... computers, cell phones, airplanes, and the Moon landings certainly don't!

So... What use is evolution science? Exactly how does society benefit from this knowledge? For the most part, evolution science seems to be solely directed in a negative direction, toward disproving and discrediting God. To do this, evolution science needs to piggy-back on the other, beneficial sciences. Just look around... Who, other than the government, provides financial support for evolution science? Are there products on the market produced by using evolution science? How about teaching? Yes, schools hire evolution science teachers, but they only beget more evolution science teachers.
Wayne T.
It is of the utmost convenience for evolutionists to define their theory in such a way that abiogenesis is exempted from their discipline. Imagine the mirth in scientific circles if cosmologists decided that the Big Bang was too hard to explain and chose to define their discipline to omit a theory of origins. If evolution, and evolutionary biology deals only with living organisms, I would be interested to hear just where in the evolution of life their discipline begins. As I understand it, and these numbers are approximate, the genomic DNA of the smallest known bacterium contains about 160,000 base pairs (or nucleotides), but this bacterium is incapable of reproduction on its own. The smallest known free-living organism has a genome of 582,970 base pairs corresponding to about 480 proteins. Will any evolutionist put up his/her hand to explain how life got to that point, and the starting point of their description? Just where do evolutionists come in, and what scientific discipline provides the underpinnings of the evolutionists’ starting point?
Thomas P.
I find it very interesting that whenever people use the "God of the Gaps" argument, my mind automatically returns to their familiar usage of such terms as "natural selection," "mutation," "cladistics," or even "multiverse." Evolutionists are the ones who summarily and constantly use the "God of the Gaps" argument, because they have no absolute foundation to back up their data on. They stand on nothing but conjecture with some data forced into the conjectural mold. (For more, see my blog, thom-designpost.blogspot.com)
Don Batten
'Atheism of the gaps' argument?
John L.
Thank you so much for continuing to address the issue that evolution is not a scientific theory. It is a worldview built upon certain religio-philosophic assumptions. It has never been demonstrated in the laboratory beyond variation (which is not the same transmutation from one living type to another type). And it, Evolution, has been shown to be based upon the foundation of a chosen godless beginning for all of the origin of matter and life and the laws that govern them. Your 15 Questions addresses this well. I think that this brochure should be handed out in all biology classes. But it won't be.
Yet, it is crucial that young people be taught the concepts of science, religion, and philosophy and how they interface and overlap in the process of developing one's worldview. Again, I thank you for involving yourselves in this debate. I am sure that many young people have become more critical thinkers because of your efforts.
To close, I would like to say that as a scientist and physician I have complete satisfaction with the unification of science (within a Creationist framework), medical ethics (within a Christian worldview) and a eternal perspective of how things began, how they are maintained, and the consumation of all things at the end of time within the religion of the Christian Faith.
God Bless you,
Dr John G Leslie PhD, MD, PhD
Don Batten
Thanks for your encouragement and support, Dr Leslie.
David M.
I'd like to point out the first bit, "You know, I almost wrote a comment about how yes, evolution is scientific," and how you said it wasn't, isn't true.

Evolution does not refer to the origin of life (that's abiogenesis); the theory that sea creatures slowly adapted to a life on land is just that- a theory. Some scientists don't believe it at all, yet agree to evolution.

Anyway, evolution can easily be observed: Richard Lenski's E.coli experiment shows the bacteria slowly evolving with each generation, the same in nature.

Now, before someone gets the torches and pitchforks and shouts that I am an atheist, I'd like to point out that no, I am not. I believe in the God that made a pact with Abraham, and that Jesus died for our sins. But I also accept that people have different opinions, and that God could have easily created life with science, since, you know, He's GOD. Evolution doesn't disprove Him, despite what atheists say. None of the Holy Books under Him state that evolution is wrong.

Also, Charles Darwin was always a supporter of equal rights (his grandparents were abolitionists)- he would have been disgusted at the Social Darwinists. Ironically, when Darwin first proposed the concept of evolution, he believed that it proved His existence.

I'm not trying to be rude; just pointing out a mistake in your argument.
Don Batten
"Evolution does not refer to the origin of life"? Please read the 15 Questions and responses. See particularly: Responses to Q1.
Evolution observed? Like Richard Dawkins said? The sort of changes Lenski's lab has seen in E. coli give no support to molecules-to-mankind evolution. In fact, they are a problem for the story; see: Bacteria 'evolving in the lab'? You have fallen for the 'evolution is just change' equivocation trick. See also: New genetic information claim rebutted; and goo-to-you terminology defended.
As for being a Christian and also accepting evolution, I did that—until I thought about it a little. It is not possible to accept both and be consistent with what God inspired the Bible to say. See: Questions for theistic evolutionists.
As for Darwin and Social Darwinism, it is quite possible to be an abolitionist and also a Social Darwinist. Indeed Eugenics was a Darwin family enterprise. See Darwin was indeed a 'Social Darwinist'.
So, I can't see that you have demonstrated a mistake in our argument.
As for being rude, I edited out the insulting term you used for atheists. We don't like to be insulted, so we should not insult others (Jesus: Luke 6:31). That's one thing that marks a civilized society.
john C.
1.Has no bearing on evolution.
2.Has no bearing on evolution.
5.Has no bearing on evolution.
7.Has no bearing on evolution.
11.Has no bearing on evolution.
I am well aware of your using Prof. G. A. Kerkut's definition of evolution, however he is in the .001% of scientists that use that definition thus you should not be using it. But the SOLE REASON that you use his definition is not because its accuate but because its the only way you can ask questions 1,2,5,7,and 11 and make them seem legit.
Don Batten
Putting aside 1,2 and 11 for the moment, you don't seriously believe that evolution does not need to explain the origin of new biochemical pathways (5) and multicellular life (7), do you? Did you read the full 15 questions and the linked articles and the attempts of others to answer the 15 questions?
Since you want to put the origin of life aside (1,2), to put aside 5 and 7 as well you need to have the first unexplained life as containing all the biochemical pathways of all life that has ever existed. That first life also has to be multi-cellular with all the features needed for differentiation of thousands of different cell types (e.g. various types of blood cells, liver cells, heart cells, bone, nerves, kidney cells, etc.). Wow!
You now have an incredibly worse problem to explain; the orgin of this phenomenally complex first life form. The problem of the origin of a putative 'simple cell' (which isn't) is bad enough, but your first life ...?
This is right out of kilter with mainstream evolutionism. Nor is there a skerrick of evidence for such a scenario.
As for the origin of life not being 'evolution', please read the 15 questions responses article (part 1). It is not just Prof. Kerkut. And "0.001%"? You did a scientifically-conducted survey did you? :-)
As for Question 11: How did blind chemistry create mind/intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality? You deny that it has anything to do with evolution. You need to convince the sociobiologists at the universities, such as E.O. Wilson, of this.
Our 15 Questions deal with mainstream evolutionary ideas; your objections are definitely not mainstream.
Q. T.
The atheists are hypocrites. If a christan stood up and said "God exists I can't prove it right now but I will find the evidence in the future", the atheist would criticise him or her. But if an evoutionist makes a similar statement, they say that is scientific. Atheist call themselves freethinkers however, they don't think critically about their own belief. Great article keep up the good work!
John Allen H.
Although the claim that science does not prove evolution - Theory - biology in this sense has offered provable and empirical evidence that supports the theories of evolution...Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines. Among the most important topics are five unifying principles that are said to be the fundamental axioms of modern biology:

Cells are the basic unit of life
Genes are the basic unit of heredity
New species and inherited traits are the product of evolution
An organism regulates its internal environment to maintain a stable and constant condition
Living organisms consume and transform energy

Subdisciplines of biology are recognized on the basis of the scale at which organisms are studied and the methods used to study them: biochemistry examines the rudimentary chemistry of life; molecular biology studies the complex interactions of systems of biological molecules; cellular biology examines the basic building block of all life, the cell; physiology examines the physical and chemical functions of the tissues, organs, and organ systems of an organism; evolutionary biology examines the processes that have given rise to the diversity of life; and ecology examines how various organisms interact and associate with their environment.

If this is not evolution and explained by science using the reference that science has been harmed evolution and therefore society as whole how does one explain the activity of this science and all of its advance and aid to people in sickness of some form. Just an opinion, please respond. Thank you John
Don Batten
You fail to notice something very significant: most of what you state here as biology is experimental science, or open to experimental testing. However, evolution is quite different; it is an hypothesis about history. I don't know of any time machine that enables biologists to do experiments on what they might want to believe happened in the past. See It's not science!
However, there are other inaccuracies:
1: Genes are the basic unit of heredity. That is now under serious question with modern genomics. Heredity is much more than the protein-coding genes, which account for less than 2% of our DNA. On that basis alone, one would have to say that genes are not the basic unity of heredity, at least for complex multicellular organisms.
2. New species are a product of evolution. Well, I recognize that new species can form, but I don't believe in evolution. This is the debating trick of equivocation. What you have to demonstrate is that one body plan can transform into an entirely different one by natural processes (by accidental changes to the DNA known as mutations; the 'only game in town'). We characterize this as 'microbes-to-microbiologists' evolution. The belief that this has happened should not be confused with science.
3. Inherited traits are a product of evolution? Who has observed mutations and natural selection creating a new protein family or a new biosynthetic pathway or a new molecular motor? No one! It is sheer inference, based on blind faith that it 'must have happened'.
See: The evolution train's a-comin' (Sorry, a-goin'—in the wrong direction)
michael S.
I think the truly "sad" thing is that people have been duped into believing that design is not really there and evolution is a fact. It's actually the opposite;

A genuine study of what makes organisms designed shows that design is factual whereas evolution is historical, propositional science, which can not be proven as a fact.

But since we have designs available to us in the present in the form of animals, we can factually infer design.

- Information DNA (fact)
- Contingency plans (fact, your eyelids are to your eyes as windscreen wipers are to a car)
- Artificial use of natural properties (amino acids don't naturally become living cells, just as metal does not come in the form of a car chassis).

As you can see, at every level, life can be compared with human designs, and they have the same elements that make up human designs.

So because design is a fact, it is not possible that an induction of weak confirmation evidence can trump a fact otherwise that would be like saying, "if I show enough flat ground, that will prove there are no mountains".

That's the problem with inductive reasoning, because even 5 million photographs of flat areas will not prove there are no mountains.
tony B.
Perhaps you would like to return to the pre- Darwinian 18C with the brothels in London and child prostitutes? Perhaps also to the Inquisition? Perhaps to 18C France and the brutal execution of Chevalier de la Barre for denying the virginity of Mary?
Don Batten
Surely you are not proposing that Darwinism contributed anything to the cleaning up of moral depravity?
On the other hand, we are not saying that sin began with Darwin! God's subjects have been rebellious since the beginning and pre-Darwin England at the time you mention had departed big time from God's ways. The Second Great Revival, beginning in 1792, saw the faithful preaching of the Christian Gospel transform society as people turned away from their sin and to forgiveness in Christ. This saw great improvement in social conditions with a big reduction in drunkenness and crime, and major social reform, including the abolition of slavery and prison reform.
America also went through a very dark period following the War of Independence, with the evil influence of the deist Thomas Paine and French anti-Christian skeptics. Social decay was rampant with citizens even forming private militia to try to protect themselves. This was not turned around until what is known as the 'Third Great Awakening' of 1830, which ushered in the modern era of social stability and prosperity for the USA (now rapidly being lost with the influence of secularism and the slackness of much of the Christian church).
Surely you don't think that western society today is 'better'? Just this morning, I heard a facial surgeon here in Brisbane lamenting the deplorable number of facial reconstructions he and his colleagues have to do after each alcohol-fuelled weekend or holiday. And it is getting worse.
Brothels are now legal in many countries! That's right, the secular response to sin is to legalize it!
And you don't really think that child prostitution has ceased, do you, in our 'enlightened' modern world? What about the rampant child pornography on the Internet? Are they not real children? 'Western' visitors to Asian countries fuel an evil trade in child prostitution (Christian groups are working to rescue such children, often at great danger).
And what about the abortion ‘holocaust’ in the West? Murdering pre-born babies by the tens of millions!
Oh yes, don't we live in just, moral, caring societies now that we have secularized (i.e. abolished God from) everything? (pardon the sarcasm)
The Inquisition? As an aside, the death toll in this is greatly exaggerated by many trying to disparage Christians. The following is from our review of The Irrational Atheist:
The Spanish Inquisition is another 'crime of religion' that atheists showcase. But the sole purpose of the Spanish Inquisition was to root out people who professed to be Christians but were secretly practising other faiths; it had no control over professing Jews, Muslims or atheists. Torture was rarely used, and only when there was strong evidence that the accused was lying. Even then there were strict controls in place. And in nearly 350 years, only 3,230 people were sentenced to death, hardly the bloodbath of millions that it is sometimes made out to be.

This pales into insignificance by comparison with the bloodbath of the last century at the hands of evolutionized atheist despots. From the review of a review of What's so great about Christianity?
In fact, "atheist regimes have in a single century murdered more than one hundred million people". Even adjusting for changes in population size, atheist regimes are responsible for 100 times more deaths in one century than Christian rulers inflicted over five centuries.

Of course those atheist murderers were not hypocrites; there was no moral code that they failed to keep, whereas when a 'Christian' does something wrong, it is clearly inconsistent with God's revealed standards of morality.

The corrupt church of 18C France? Have you heard of the Reformation? The corruption in the church of Rome, which was still in full measure in France at the time, inspired the Reformation beginning in the 1500s.
John M.
Without evolution there would be no science and society.
I can't understand why Creation Ministries [insulting word deleted] are
opposed to something that happened. Do they hope to
reach back in time to prevent evolution happening thus
preventing humans from ever having existed? Granted
it would have been nice to live in a world where everything
is good but that is not the case. Evolution happened and
we must live with it.
Don Batten
It happened because we are here? So speaks a 'true believer'!
That, my friend, has to be demonstrated, not just asserted, a priori, as your belief. Beliefs (such as atheism; everything just made itself with no sufficient cause) are not facts.
Chuck J.
Since I accepted God's grace and was born again, I can no longer imagine any scenario without God. And, your website has answered all of my old questions and doubts. Moreover, it has armed me to better answer unbelievers' taunts and questions. It seems to me that so many of those unbelievers who continue to reject the Bible and your arguments both Biblically and scientifically continue to embrace evolution more out of a rejection of God than a true belief in such a flawed story as evolution. I take solace in that God in His wisdom and pleasure will open those eyes of whom He will in His own good time. Thank you for all you do.
Jack C.
As typical of anyone who is losing an argument, they resort to bad language and unscientific nonsense. It's no different for atheists like those you commented on. So, why don't they instead stick to science to argue their side? The answer is obvious. They have no true science to use otherwise they wouldn't need to resort to nonsense statements and slander. Even if for some strange reason they are right and we are wrong, they failed to show how they can be right. On the contrary, the science more and more is showing atheists are the ones who have it wrong.

Trevor M.
I am no scientist-just a reasonably intelligent human being.
What would persuade me that your conclusions might be true is the reasonableness and courtesy with which you reply to your critics. Long may it continue!
Kindest regards,
Anthony & Naomi M.
I'm sorry, I have to admit that some of the people commenting on your articles are better men (and women) than me, I simply don't have the faith to believe in evolution, I tried but I couldn't. Call me simple, call me what you will, but my life started to fall into place when I accepted that there is a God, He made me (and everything else) and I am accountable to him. Add as many zeros as you like to the age of the earth but eventually we have to accept that something came out of nothing.

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