Refutation of New Scientist’s Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions
Introduction and index
This article links to refutations of every section which are being published weekly, not necessarily according to the order in which they appear in the original
Refutation by section
- The Darwin–Hitler connection; refuting ‘Hitler was a Christian’ mendacity
- Mangling misotheists’ ignorant attacks on the Bible (refuting alleged contradictions)
- Evolution v natural selection (includes mutations, information, ‘bad design’, missing links)
- Darwin isn’t the final word (includes Haldane’s Dilemma and the bacterial flagellum)
- What about creationist disagreements? Are transitional series plausible?
19 November 2008; last updated 21 January 2009
New Scientist (issue 2652, 16 April 2008) featured a cover story trying to defend evolution against the objections of creationists and intelligent design arguments. The web version was titled: Evolution: 24 myths and misconceptions, by a Michael Le Page. This was a greatly expanded version of the cover story in the magazine, ‘Evolution: A guide for the not-yet perplexed’, which covered only 8 of the 24 (in order from the 24: 1, 17, 8, 3, 4, 6, 16, 2).
New Scientist has long been a combination of good articles with helpful summaries of cutting edge research in real (operational) science, with a small amount of editorializing that is sometimes reminiscent of leftist student politics. Naturally it has promoted evolution. Disingenuous anti-creationists and their naïve churchian allies may spin this as merely refuting some (imaginary) literalist interpretation of the Bible, not an attack on Christianity per se. However, New Scientist’s record shows overt antipathy to any sort of Christianity (except possibly that of Bishop Spong, which is barely distinguishable from atheism anyway):
- A feature interview with an obscure missionary linguist who had apostatized (19 January 2008), but never any article on a leading atheistic philosopher, Antony Flew, accepting that there is a god.
- Misotheists gloating about accepting Templeton’s prize money for ‘progress in religion’ yet remaining as atheistic as ever—another good lesson for compromising churchians (15 March 2008).
- Atheist Michael Zimmerman, founder of the Clergy Letter Project, still urging religious leaders to accept his atheistic view of world history (2 Feb 2008).
- Atheistic Lawrence Krauss lambasting misotheist Clinton R. Dawkins for doing the wrong things to make atheism respectable (25 August 2007).
- Antitheist Gregory Paul gloating that ‘rising levels of atheism and agnosticism keep creationist opinion at low levels’.
- The usual comparison of ‘fundamentalists’ with suicide bombers and Nazis.
- The article in question cites Dawkins and his ‘Blind Watchmaker’ with approval.
- Subsequent to this article was Religion is a product of evolution, software suggests, which is a classic case of the genetic fallacy or what C.S. Lewis called Bulverism.
- This was followed by Perspectives: Why humanity needs a God of creativity by Stuart Kauffman, trying to dispense with God in any meaningful sense and instead use the word ‘God’ as another name for the universe’s creativity.
- An editorial supporting homosexual behaviour, attacking Christian teachings against it (21 June 2008).
It’s notable that most anti-creationist attacks tout science as ‘neutral’ about religion. For example, New Scientist itself in an article, ‘Who’s holding the moral high ground?’ (John Postgate, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology, University of Sussex, 1995):
‘Those who adopt an antiscience posture constantly ignore or dismiss the fact that science itself is neutral … But the fact remains that the intellectual structures that constitute science are morally neutral … The neutrality of science is not an especially subtle point, but it is one that needs to be stated again and again, because it is constantly obfuscated by antiscience polemicists. Curiously, where the detractors have accepted the neutrality of science, they seem to have rejuvenated that old conflict between religion and science.’
Ironically, since that time, as shown above, New Scientist has published several anti-religious rants, giving the appearance they wish to be counted among the group their 1995 article disparaged. The anti-Bible section of ‘24 Myths’ (refuted in Mangling misotheists᾿ ignorant attacks on the Bible) continues that trend, and could even be called atheopathy.1
This article reminds me of Scientific American’s hatchet job against creation, ‘15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense’ by John Rennie (Editor), Scientific American 287(1):78–85, July 2002; Feature article on Scientific American Web site, 17 June 2002 (indeed, the New Scientist piece links to this). But this provided a good opportunity for a detailed rebuttal, 15 ways to refute materialistic bigotry: A point by point response to Scientific American.
More recently, the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), published the book Science, Evolution and Creationism, which again allowed the extensive refutation Science, Creation and Evolutionism.
New Scientist is a prominent publication; therefore, it is a disappointment they published such poorly-researched material where the author has not taken the time to learn what creationists really say. Instead, he builds a straw man with generalizations, and then he proceeds to ‘burn it’ in the rest of the article. But this is just the same as the other two major anti-creationist attack pieces mentioned above, so it should not surprise anyone. But the New Scientist piece is different in a section with an overt attack on the Bible.
Since there were many sections to the New Scientist article, they will be refuted as per the links in the contents box (above right). Check the date at the top to see if there are updates.
- Leading misotheist Clinton R. Dawkins often calls theistic religion a ‘virus of the mind’, which would make it a kind of disease or pathology, and parents who teach it to their kids are supposedly practising mental child abuse. But the sorts of criteria Dawkins applies makes one wonder whether his own fanatical antitheism itself could be a mental pathology. One has to wonder if this pathology is due to a contagion that has spread the New Scientist offices. Return to text.