I get such apoplectic letters, whenever I write about “evolutionism,” that I really can’t resist writing about it again. This is not, of course, because I have any desire to tease such correspondents. Perish the thought. Rather, when a writer finds he has hit such a nerve, he can also know that he is approaching a great truth.
In this case, we must ask ourselves why so many people get so excited about an area of science that should not concern them. For most of these correspondents know precious little science, and haven’t the stamina to engage in detailed argument. They are simply shocked and appalled that anyone would dream of challenging what they believe to be the consensus of “qualified experts,” whom they assume are a closed camp of hard-bitten materialists, with no time for religious or poetical flights.
The answer to this question is clear enough. People without a stake in a controversy pay little or no attention to it. They will hardly be vexed by assertions of one party or another, when the result of the controversy cannot touch their lives. It is rather when a person does have a stake, that he begins to care.
It follows that my most apoplectic correspondents have a stake in evolutionary controversies. They imagine themselves to have an impersonal interest in defending science against “religious superstition,” and the dangers to society that the latter might present. They in fact have strong and uncompromising religious beliefs of their own, which they are loath to have questioned.
Much of the “star chamber” atmosphere, that has accompanied the public invigilation of microbiologists such as Michael J. Behe, and other very qualified scientists working on questions of design in natural systems, can only be explained in this way. The establishment wants such research to be stopped, because it challenges the received religious order, of atheist materialism. Any attempt, or suspected attempt, to acknowledge God in scientific proceedings, must be exposed and punished to the limit of the law; or by other ruthless means where the law does not suffice.
To be fair, some Roman churchmen were once unhappy with certain cosmological speculations of Galileo Galilei, and biblically literalist Protestant clergymen with the direction Charles Darwin seemed to be going—though in neither case was the slightest effort made to suppress the research itself. But as we found throughout the 20th century, atheist materialism is vastly more sensitive to heresy than any previously known religious orthodoxy—as witness more than 100 million corpses it created, to enforce its doctrinal will.
Meanwhile the edifice of official atheist materialism crumbles, under the pressure of actual scientific inquiry. Mr. Behe’s recent book, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, does a fairly good job of surveying the three iron struts from which Darwinism was welded: random mutation, natural selection, and common descent. He is able to leave only this last standing.
This last week we learned of the collapse of one of the latest props of “deep evolutionism,” which was also one of the earliest (the ancient Greeks first thought of it): The very popular “panspermian” hypothesis that life was first seeded on the earth by materials arriving in comets. It has been kicked away by Paul Falkowski, and other biologists and oceanographers from Rutgers and Boston universities, studying DNA samples frozen in the Antarctic ice. (See, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.) They showed nothing of any earthly genetic use could have survived.
Like every other modern essay in “evolutionism” (i.e. evolution as a religious cosmology), the idea behind panspermianism is to transfer the problem of life’s origin on earth, out of the finite space and time of the earth’s own geological history, and into some abstract place where the laws of chance have an infinite amount of time to do whatever is necessary. But the game is almost up. We can now roughly date the origin of our universe, and 15 billion years more-or-less is proving much too short a time for random processes to produce a non-random result. Fifteen billion times 15 billion years is still not nearly enough time.
Those who refuse to acknowledge God, will not give up. Most have by now moved on to hypotheses about “multiple universes,” in the hope that by allowing an infinite number of other universes in which random processes produced random results, we can excuse this one for being so exceptionally non-random.