Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spinning Darwin

As I referenced here before, Dr. Fazale ("Fuz") Rana recently published an article titled, "What Darwin Didn't Know," that addressed such topics as: the difficulties of abiogenesis; the incredible design and information content we find in living systems; a fossil record that completely contradicts everything that Darwinism is supposed to stand for; and the inexplicable appearance and uniqueness of humanity. In his piece, Fuz makes the case that we Christian apologists often make about the signs of intelligent design we see in nature. Those who disagree with us are quick to call such reasoning a "God of the Gaps" argument. That is, we don't know how it happened so we insert God as the explanation for it all. But nothing could be further from the truth.

We don't make these arguments from ignorance. We make them from experience. Each of the issues Rana discusses have parallels in the world that we do observe and understand. Each of these aspects of the world strongly resembles the kind of thing we only find arising from an intelligent source -- a mind that purposes to bring them about. Though some try to take these kinds of arguments too far, no good apologist would claim any of these as concrete "proof" that God exists. Our argument is that they are perfectly consistent with a theistic understanding of the world. We don't claim to be able to identify Him using science as our only tool -- we use other means to make that case. We simply see signs that His fingerprints are on the work.

What I find ironic, is the way in which the Darwinists use the exact same information. Here's what I mean.

Published simultaneously with Fuz's article, National Geographic's cover story for February 2009 was entitled -- you guessed it -- "What Darwin Didn't Know." (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. And, in case you think one or the other of these was deliberately playing off the other, articles published in magazines must be submitted many months in advance). It would be tedious to attempt to address every point made in the NatGeo piece because, frankly, there isn't much there. We are treated to the same old story about Darwin's being a "highly attentive fieldman, greedy for specimens, learning as he went" who was "intrigued" by the "most interesting facts" in the similarities between the extinct fossil specimens he found and the living species he observed. We are fed the same tired and overused example of the finches of Galapagos that has been disabused time and time again as constituting "proof" of Evolution "in real time," only this time an "expert" tells us that he "reckons it might take only a few such episodes before a new species is established." We are motivated to accept Darwin's explanation "because it seemed more economical, more inductive, and more persuasive than the creationist scenario" that preceded it.

Nothing new there.

What I want to point out is the way in which the Darwinian view appeals to speculation about things that we never see in the real world -- and does so with religious overtones of the same kind that we theists are accused using. "Modern Darwins," you see, "don't have to guess. They consult genetic scripture."

Genetic scripture. Get it?

From the genetic scripture we have found that the FOXP2 gene "is critical for the normal development of both speech in people and song in birds." We have found that "a single letter change, from A to G, on the long arm of chromosome 15, which dampens the expression of a gene called OCA2," serves to darken eye color so that "Darwin may have gotten his blue eyes because of a single misspelled letter in the DNA in the baby of a Neolithic farmer," and that that "spelling change that causes blue eyes is not in the pigment gene itself, but in a nearby snippet of DNA scripture that controls the gene's expression." We have found that "Evolution works not just by changing genes, but by modifying the way those genes are switched on and off."

The writer, in what he apparently believes is some earth-shattering new insight, actually offers this gem to awe us:
Over the past decade, as scientists compared the human genome with that of other creatures, it has emerged that we inherit not just the same number of genes as a mouse -- fewer than 21,000 -- but in some cases the very same genes. Just as you don't need different words to write different books, so you don't need new genes to make new species: You just change the order and pattern of their use.
Indeed, these are monumental discoveries and fascinating to learn. I don't doubt that they are true. What I doubt is that they somehow constitute new proof of Darwin's theory. How so? Is a finch not still a finch with a different sized beak? Does the song of that finch bear any resemblance to a human voice or the meaning that can be conveyed with it? Did Darwin's eye color somehow advance or stunt his fitness for survival? Most importantly, does the author of this piece not see that, in his comparison of DNA to words in a book, he completely misses the fact that every book ever written has an author? That some of the most boring and trivial essays you ever read differ from the works of Shakespeare only by the pattern and order of the author's use of the very same words!?

What Darwin Didn't Know was that his philosophical descendants would be forced to appeal to "reckonings" and "mights," and forced to equate intelligently designed "switches" and metaphorical authors with the random, mechanistic actions of a blind process in order to continue to make his case. What Darwin Didn't Know was that the more science we learn; the more evidence we gather, the more his theory would evolve toward extinction, no matter how carefully his protege's spin their "scripture."

We theists don't have to resort to such tactics. We let the evidence speak for itself.

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