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Phillip E. Johnson

Excerpts from Defeating Darwinism
by Opening Minds

If somebody asks, "Do you believe in evolution?" the right reply is not "Yes" or "No." It is: "Precisely what do you mean by evolution?" That one word evolution can mean something so tiny it hardly matters, or so big it explains the whole history of the universe. (Ch. 3: Turning Up Your Baloney Detector, pp. 44-45)

An Education in Evolution Young people need to take advantage of the wonderful educational opportunities our society offers, but they also need to protect themselves from the indoctrination in naturalism that so often accompanies education. Textbooks and other educational materials today take evolutionary naturalism for granted, and thus assume the wrong answer to the most important question we face: Is there a God who created us and cares about what we do? Young people need to be prepared for the indoctrination, and for that they need to know some things that the public schools aren't allowed to teach them. (Introduction, p. 10)

If high-schoolers need a good high-school education in how to think about evolution, professors and senior scientists seem to need it just as badly. That's what this book aims to give_a good high-school education in how to think about evolution. It's for high-schoolers, college students, parents, teachers, youth workers, pastors and also scientists whose education didn't encourage them to take a skeptical look at the claims of Darwinian theory. (Introduction, p. 11)

Developing Good Thinking Habits
Understanding evolution is mainly a matter of opening minds, of freeing people to think about it as they would other important subjects. All it really takes is precise definitions and good thinking habits. The skills you'll develop in learning to understand evolution will come in handy for a lot of other things too. Actually, you'll find out that they are the same skills that scientists like Carl Sagan have advocated all along. It's just that we are going to apply those skills to evolution, a subject that has for too long been protected from critical thinking by law and academic custom. (Introduction, p. 12)

Educational Censorship
It's an absurd situation, isn't it? Educators aren't allowed to address the issues about which their students, and the general public, are most concerned. When teachers challenge students to think about how their worldviews affect their understanding of the creation-evolution controversy, so-called civil liberties lawyers censor the teaching by threatening to bring a lawsuit that the school district can't afford to defend. (Ch. 3: Turning Up Your Baloney Detector, pp. 52)

The predictable result of this one-sided educational and legal regime is that evolution has become the focus of a culture war instead of a subject that can be discussed constructively in educational institutions or in the political realm of negotiation and compromise. The science educators teach the students that they were created by evolution and that evolution is a purposeless and unsupervised natural process. Of course those statements go far beyond the scientific evidence and state a religious position, but educators also insist with a straight face that they are not saying anything about religion or God. If they were addressing the subject of religion, they would have to allow the other side to be argued. Therefore they must not be addressing it. (Ch. 4: A Real Education in Evolution, p. 54)

The Official Statement on What Biology Teachers Believe
The 1995 official position statement of the American National Association of Biology Teachers (hereafter NABT) accurately states the general understanding of major science organizations and educators: "The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments." Or, in the words of the famous evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson, "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind." (Ch. 1: Emilio's Letter, p. 15)

The "Evolution" of Corvettes
Here is [zoology professor Tim] Berra's explanation of "evolution, which comes illustrated with photographs of automobiles in the middle of the book:

Everything evolves, in the sense of "descent with modification," whether it be government policy, religion, sports cars or organisms. The revolutionary fiberglass Corvette evolved from more mundane automotive ancestors in 1953. Other high points in the Corvette's evolutionary refinement included the 1962 model, in which the original 102-inch was shortened to 98 inches and the new closed-coupe Stingray model was introduced; the 1968 model, the forerunner of today's Corvette morphology, which emerged with removable roof panels; and the 1978 silver anniversary model, with fastback styling. Today's version continues the stepwise refinements that have been accumulating since 1953. The point is that the Corvette evolved through a selection process acting on variations that resulted in a series of transitional forms and an endpoint rather distinct from the starting point. A similar process shapes the evolution of organisms.

Of course, every one of those Corvettes was designed by engineers. The Corvette sequence_like the sequence of Beethoven's symphonies or the opinions of the United States Supreme Court_does not illustrate naturalistic evolution at all--. It illustrates how intelligent designers will typically achieve their purposes by adding variations to a basic design plan. Above all, such sequences have no tendency whatever to support the claim that there is no need for a Creator, since blind natural forces can do the creating. On the contrary, they show that what biologists present as proof of "evolution" or "common ancestry" is just as likely to be evidence of common design. (Ch. 4: A Real Education in Evolution, pp. 62-63)

Natural Selection
Computer selection, like automobile design, illustrates intelligent planning (authorship), not chance or survival of the fittest. It is just as if an author were writing the target phrase, except that the author has to wait a bit for the right letters to appear in the right spaces. The first letters to appear are meaningless, and the computer knows which ones to select only because it has the target text in its memory.

Natural selection, on the other hand, is supposed to be mindless and hence incapable of pursuing a distant goal. If natural selection could preserve a presently meaningless mutation because it might become useful later on when other new mutations occur, this would imply that evolution is a purposeful process, supervised by a preexisting mind. As we have seen, supervised evolution is a gradualist version of creationism. As materialists use the term, it is not evolution at all. (Ch. 5: Intelligent Design, pp. 74-75)

Irreducibly Complex Black Boxes
Molecular mechanisms are irreducibly complex. What this means is simply that they are made up of many parts that interact in complex ways, and all the parts need to work together. Any single part has no useful function unless all the other parts are also present. There is therefore no pathway of functional intermediate stages by which a Darwinian process could build such a system step by step.

Molecular mechanisms, Behe says, are as obviously designed as a spaceship or a computer. You can't explain the origin of any biological capability (like vision) unless you can explain the origin of the molecular mechanisms that make it work. Evolutionary biologists have been able to pretend to know how complex biological systems originated only because they treated them as black boxes. Now that biochemists have opened the black boxes and seen what is inside, they know the Darwinian theory is just a story, not a scientific explanation. (Ch. 5: Intelligent Design, p. 77)

The Big Three: First Marx and Freud . . .
Every history of the twentieth century lists three thinkers as preeminent in influence: Darwin, Marx and Freud. All three were regarded as "scientific" (and hence far more reliable than anything "religious") in their heyday. Yet Marx and Freud have fallen, and even their dwindling bands of followers no longer claim that their insights were based on any methodology remotely comparable to that of experimental science. I am convinced that Darwin is next on the block. His fall will be by far the mightiest of the three.

Darwinism in the West is in much the same condition as was Soviet Marxism in its last days. Its power and prestige rest not on any real scientific accomplishments but on the theory's role in upholding the ruling philosophy. (Ch. 8: Stepping off the Reservation, p. 113)

Why Evolution Can't Be Theistic
The Darwinian theory doesn't just say that God created slowly. It says that naturalistic evolution is the creator, and God had nothing to do with it. (Ch. 1: Emilio's Letter, p. 16)

The important question is not whether God "exists"; it is whether God cares about us, and whether we need to care about God's purposes. Deism answers no to these questions. For that reason even George Gaylord Simpson found deism to be perfectly consistent with his Darwinian doctrine that our true creator is a purposeless material system. (Ch. 1: Emilio's Letter, p. 17)

It Goes Both Ways
Every scientific materialist who reads this will understandably want to ask: "Are you willing to apply baloney detecting to religion, as well as science? The answer is (emphatically) yes! I can't think of a better way to introduce students to Christianity than to invite them to read the Gospels with care and to ask all the tough questions. . . . Dealing with the tough questions is a lifelong business, and the most important educational point is not to try to spoonfeed students with oversimplified answers that won't stand the tests of time and experience. (Ch. 4: A Real Education in Evolution, p. 65)

Faith is not something some people have and others don't. Faith also isn't something opposed to reason. Faith is something that everybody needs to get started in any direction, and to keep going in the face of discouragement. Reason builds on a foundation of faith. (Ch. 4: A Real Education in Evolution, p. 66)

A faith that has to be protected behind walls is like a house built on sand. When the protection ceases, the faith collapses. Faith is confirmed by testing and validated by struggle in a world that gives a multitude of reasons for doubt. (Ch. 6: The Wedge, p. 91)

What the Pope Actually Said
Far from endorsing the materialist understanding of evolution that dominates contemporary science, the pope pronounced that "theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man." (Ch. 6: The Wedge, p. 85)

How We Think about God
As students grow more and more accustomed to assuming materialism and naturalism in their academic work, the concept of creation by God gradually tends to become less real to them. It is not so much that any single finding undermines their faith; rather, the day-to-day practice of thinking in naturalistic terms about academic subjects makes it awkward to think differently when it comes to religion. (Ch. 6: The Wedge, p. 88)

When people are taught for years on end that good thinking is naturalistic thinking, and that bringing God into the picture only leads to confusion and error, they have to be pretty dense not to get the point that God must be an illusion. This doesn't necessarily mean that they become atheists, but they are likely to think about God in a naturalistic way, as an idea in the human mind rather than as a reality that nobody can afford to ignore. (Ch. 6: The Wedge, p. 88-89)

The play [Inherit the Wind] is a fictionalized account of the "Scopes Trial" of 1925 . . . Inherit the Wind is a masterpiece of propaganda, promoting a stereotype of the public debate about creation and evolution that gives all virtue and intelligence to the Darwinists. (Ch. 2: Inherit the Wind, p. 25)

What are the Options?
The culture tells us that we have two alternatives. We can accept "evolution" as the scientists understand the term, which means that we accept naturalism and materialism (even if we pretend otherwise). Alternatively, we can reject evolution_in which case Microphone Man will stereotype us as premodern fundamentalists who insist on every detail of Genesis regardless of the evidence. Should we fight, or should we accommodate on the best terms we can get from the materialists? (Ch. 6: The Wedge, pp. 86-87)

Tough Questions
If the materialist domination of the intellectual world is seriously called into question, it will be possible for the next generation of Christians to enter the universities as participants in the search for truth, not as outsiders who have no choice but to submit to materialist rules. Instead of retreating from the public world of reason into the protected territory of faith, they will be pressing the questions that need to be pressed. Here are just a few of them: Why should the life of the mind exclude the possibility that a mind is behind our existence? Why should we assume that modern materialist philosophies are the wave of the future instead of a holdover from the nineteenth century? If information is something fundamentally different from matter, what is the ultimate source of the information? Will science be harmed if it gives up its ambition to explain everything, or has that ambition only harmed science by tempting scientists to resort to unsound methods? If materialism is not an adequate starting point for rationality, what alternatives are there? (Ch. 8: Stepping off the Reservation, p. 115)

The Marketplace: A Lab for Ideas
Like it or not, our world is a marketplace for good and bad ideas just as Athens was in Paul's day. The media and the Internet ensure that no reservation is sealed off from those ideas. We can do our best to prepare young people for what is coming, and to protect them for a little while, but in the end they will have to go out into that marketplace by themselves. (Ch. 8: Stepping off the Reservation, p. 117)

There is no guarantee that freedom of inquiry will generate the answers we want_that's why we call it freedom! This bothers a lot of people, who don't want to participate in a search for truth unless they are assured in advance that the truth will be one they can accept. (Ch. 8: Stepping off the Reservation, p. 117)

The Next Step
As long as the secular intellectual world is irrevocably committed to materialism, then Christian doctrines like supernatural creation and the resurrection are false by definition and can hardly survive academic scrutiny. Conversely, if those doctrines are true, then materialism, as a general worldview, isn't true. In that case the rules of the secular academy are open to question, to put it mildly. To step off the reservation to question the rules of the larger society is to take a great risk, but perhaps also to find a great opportunity. We will never know how great the opportunity was if we are afraid to take the risk. (Ch. 8: Stepping off the Reservation, p. 118

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Nombre original de fichero: defeat1.rtf - preparado el sábado, 31 octubre 1998, 20:21

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