Damien F. Mackey
No one has summed up evolution more succinctly, yet more pithily, than did the prolific British writer, G.K. Chesterton, when he made this comment about the missing link:
“The evolutionists seem to know everything about the missing link except the fact that it is missing”.
Lita Costner has quoted Chesterton as saying that
Darwinism is “an attack upon thought itself”.
She goes on to consider Chesterton and:
The worship of science
As early as 1920, G.K. Chesterton argued against what he saw to be the worship of science (now sometimes called ‘scientism’), which already was being invoked in education and ethics.2 He also observed nearly a century ago that Darwinist scientists were more and more turning their science into a philosophy.3 These scientists were forbidden by their own belief system from believing in miracles, regardless of where the evidence led. This led inevitably to scientists making bizarre claims as to what natural processes alone could accomplish. ‘Things that the old science at least would frankly have rejected as miracles are hourly being asserted by the new science.’4
Chesterton conceded that these materialists were completely logical and reasonable in their belief system, but that it was a very small internal consistency which denied even the possibility of miracles; their belief system explained everything by natural events, which can be logical enough (bearing in mind that there is a difference between logical consistency and truth), but because that was the central tenet of their ideology, they could not admit even one miracle. He argued that the orthodox Christian was freer than the materialist because Christians could believe in both natural and supernatural causes for events; Christianity can explain both physical laws and miracles. As Chesterton wrote:
As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman’s argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out.—Chesterton
‘The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.’5
This, he argues, makes for ‘a sort of insane simplicity’ to the materialist worldview:
‘As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of the madman’s argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out. … He understands everything, and everything does not seem worth understanding. His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world.’6
‘That modern intelligence which destroys itself’
One of Chesterton’s main complaints against Darwinism is that it was advanced as a fact long before it was even a well-established hypothesis (which some of Darwin’s eminent scientific contemporaries also pointed out, e.g. German museum director, Dr Johann Blasius). Chesterton argued that it would have been more productive to discover ‘what is actually known about the variation of species and what can only plausibly be guessed and what is quite random guesswork’, but ‘the Darwinians advanced it with so sweeping and hasty an intolerance that it is no longer a question of one scientific theory being advanced against another scientific theory. … It is treated as an answer; and a final and infallible answer.’8
He noted that even the most ardent evolutionists seemed hesitant in defending ….
Chesterton argued that ‘nobody need know any more than the mere rudiments of the biological controversy in order to know that, touching twenty incidental problems, [evolution] is in some ways a very unsatisfactory answer.’8 ….
‘I do not know the true reason for a bat not having feathers; I only know that Darwin gave a false reason for its having wings. And the more the Darwinians explain, the more certain I become that Darwinism was wrong. All their explanations ignore the fact that Darwinism supposes an animal feature to appear first, not merely in an incomplete stage, but in an almost imperceptible stage. The member of a sort of mouse family, destined to found the bat family, could only have differed from his brother mice by some minute trace of membrane; and why should that enable him to escape out of a natural massacre of mice? Or even if we suppose it did serve some other purpose, it could only be by a coincidence; and this is to imagine a million coincidences accounting for every creature. A special providence watching over a bat would be a far more realistic notion than such a run of luck as that.’11,12
Chesterton also questioned the usefulness of partially formed structures in animals; a wing that enables flight is undoubtedly an advantage to a creature, but a half-formed wing is of no use. ‘Yet Darwinism pre-supposes that numberless generations could survive before one generation could fly.’13
Chesterton on evolutionary philosophy
The more dangerous implication of evolutionism is how it permits us to treat our fellow man. Chesterton saw the possibility that the more powerful could use evolutionary arguments to exploit the disadvantaged—we have not seen his fanciful predictions of people bred exactly for their intended professions,16 but the evolutionary philosophy did produce eugenics in America and to an even more extreme degree in Germany. There, ‘unfit’ individuals were forcibly sterilized, and in the case of the Nazi death camps, exterminated for the sake of what was seen to be the ideal for the human race. While few today would advocate such tactics, evolutionary philosophy has substantially devalued the human life, as can be witnessed by the millions of abortions which take place every year in America alone, especially if the baby has Down’s Syndrome or some deformity—most of these handicapped children never had a chance to take their first breath. And there are evolutionists like Eric Pianka and John Reid who wouldn’t mind a drastic reduction in the human population to ‘save the planet’.
Chesterton also successfully debated some of the leading anti-Christians of his day, such as George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Bertrand Russell and Clarence Darrow.17 Against Darrow, he was much more successful than William Jennings Bryan, winning the audience vote about 2–1. ….
I was favorably impressed by, warmly attached to, G.K. Chesterton. I enjoyed my debates with him, and found him a man of culture and fine sensibilities.—Famous atheistic lawyer Clarence Darrow, who decisively lost a debate with him.
‘ … As Chesterton summed it up, he felt as if Darrow had been arguing all afternoon with his fundamentalist aunt, and the latter kept sparring with a dummy of his own mental making. When something went wrong with the microphone, Darrow sat back until it could be fixed. Whereupon G.K.C. jumped up and carried on in his natural voice, “Science you see is not infallible!” Whatever brilliance Darrow had in his own right, it was completely eclipsed. For all the luster that he shed, he might have been a remote star at high noon drowned by the bright incandescent light of the sun. Chesterton had the audience with him from the start, and when it was over, everyone just sat there, not wishing to leave.
Ostensibly the defender of science against Mr. Chesterton, [Darrow] obviously knew much less about science than Mr. Chesterton did; when he essayed to answer his opponent on the views of Eddington and Jeans, it was patent that he did not have the remotest conception of what the new physics was all about.’18
[End of quotes]
Chesterton, in his book Saint Thomas Aquinas, contrasted Homo Sapiens with what he called Simius Insipiens:
It is a pity that the word Anthropology has been degraded to the study of Anthropoids. It is now incurably associated with squabbles between prehistoric professors (in more senses than one) about whether a chip of stone is the tooth of a man or an ape; sometimes settled as in that famous case, when it was found to be the tooth of a pig. It is very right that there should be a purely physical science of such things; but the name commonly used might well, by analogy, have been dedicated to things not only wider and deeper, but rather more relevant. Just as, in America, the new Humanists have pointed out to the old Humanitarians that their humanitarianism has been largely concentrated on things that are not specially human, such as physical conditions, appetites, economic needs, environment and so on– so in practice those who are called Anthropologists have to narrow their minds to the materialistic things that are not notably anthropic. They have to hunt through history and pre-history something which emphatically is not Homo Sapiens, but is always in fact regarded as Simius Insipiens. Homo Sapiens can only be considered in relation to Sapientia and only a book like that of St. Thomas is really devoted to the intrinsic idea of Sapientia. In short, there ought to be a real study called Anthropology corresponding to Theology. In this sense St. Thomas Aquinas, perhaps more than he is anything else, is a great anthropologist.
[End of quote]
Rock of Ages versus Age of Rocks
…. Perhaps you remember Spencer Tracy and Frederic March playing this scene in the movie Inherit the Wind. …. Henry Drummond (the Clarence Darrow character) has called Matthew Harrison Brady (the William Jenning Bryant character) to the stand as an expert witness on the Bible—
Drummond: It’s sad that we don’t all have your positive knowledge of right and wrong, Mr. Brady. How old do you think this rock is?
Brady: I am more interested in the “Rock of Ages” than I am in the age of rocks.
Trying to date rocks is, though, fraught with problems.
You get those classic cases of layers of rocks, one on top of the other, dated, respectively, to 100 million, 300 million, and 500 million years old. Unfortunately for the conventional geologists, however, these are sometimes layered in inverse order, with the 500 million on top, and the 100 million on the bottom.
Not surprising, for, as Dr. John Osgood has pointed out, all of the supposedly scientific dating methods “rest upon assumptions” (“A Better Model for the Stone Age”)
…. The essential ingredients in putting together such a chronology as the above [Stone Ages] are:
- the assumption of a developmental history of mankind anatomically and culturally; in other words, an evolutionary framework as a first base assumption; and
- the acceptance of various dating techniques for absolute values in dating human habitation.
Let us now look at the second of these two assumptions, the dating methods.
The scientific method can only work in the present, for it only has its artifacts in the present with which to experiment and to investigate. Reasonable scientific conclusions can be reached about those artifacts in the framework in which we find them, whether these be tools or cities or fossils. However, as we extrapolate the observations into the past we immediately step out of the scientific method and into the area of historical assumption. This is not science but mere reasoned conclusions, however acceptable they may be to one’s reason.
It follows naturally that if the scientific method cannot work in the past and conclusions about the past must rest on assumptions, then there is not today a dating method that can be scientifically substantiated as being correct, for every method will have built into it an assumption. Now when we come to the practical application of this theory we discover in fact that this holds true. Let us look at the methods available.
There are many methods now available for dating. We will mention the more obvious, all of which are used to obtain an absolute date (we are not here referring to the primary chronological arrangement or relative dating). The discussion will not be concerned with a lengthy treatise on the subject matter as this can be found in a number of other places.
1. Fossil dating.
This is largely irrelevant in this context as it is used for much greater periods of time. However, it is used to some extent in the Lower Paleolithic strata as here defined. Fossil dating assumes that the fossil can be dated by the rock in which it is found, and dating of the rock in which it is found assumes that it can be dated by the fossil which is found in it. This is, of course, circular reasoning and is frankly invalid.
2. Radiometric dating.
Radiometric methods assume that we can estimate the amount of radio active substance with which we began the time clock, a doubtful proposition, since that was a past event. It usually assumes a constant decay rate whereas of recent years some doubt has crept into this assumption, and in most cases it assumes no outside interference that has altered the system.
3. Carbon-14 dating.
Carbon-14 (or radiocarbon) dating in particular assumes that the influx and outflow of carbon-14 atoms into and out of the biosphere is in equilibrium. This simply is not so, and that alone invalidates the method. Massive variations have been found. Furthermore, all the assumptions that are made for the other radiometric methods essentially apply here, and these make all radiometric dating methods doubtful as scientific tests.
4. Dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating.
This method is assumed by many to be able to ‘correct’ the carbon-14 clock from its drift of measurements. However, it assumes a number of things. Firstly, it begins its estimation with a carbon-14 date!1 This introduces circular reasoning again. It assumes also that a tree grows a single ring every year. This is simply not always the case, for some trees have been found to put on multiple rings each year, while other trees have been known to put on no rings in a particular year or for several years, particularly in dry times. It also assumes that conditions over small areas are the same as far as climate and soil conditions are concerned, but most gardeners can tell you that the growth potential for any tree can vary across very small distances in any one place. This is rarely taken into account in dendrochronology. Dendrochronology, in fact, is so shot through with assumptions that it is surprising that anyone dared to present it as a scientific test.1
5. The written word including coins.
This assumes that the author is reliable or that the details are not inaccurately copied and can be verified.
A quick perusal of the above list will show very quickly that none of these methods qualify as a scientific test for dating the past, for all of them rest upon assumptions. Furthermore, these principles can be extended to other tests and all will be shown to be based on assumptions.
[End of quote]
No wonder that Australia’s Mungo Man gets dated, now to 60,000 years ago, then – following a sudden change of opinion – spiralled down to 40,000 years ago.
Still, what’s a mere 20,000 years between friends!
Turning evolution upside down
…. In the study of human evolution, Australia has not traditionally believed to have much to offer; however, the skeletal record has thrown up a few spanners in the works that may one day transform beliefs about where humans came from.
One of these spanners is Mungo Man, who was discovered in 1974 in the dry lake bed of Lake Mungo in west NSW. Mungo Man was a hominin who was estimated to have died 62,000 years ago and was ritually buried with his hands covering his penis. Anatomically, Mungo Man’s bones were distinct from other human skeletons being unearthed in Australia. Unlike the younger skeletons that had big-brows and thick-skulls, Mungo Man’s skeleton was finer, and more like modern humans.
The ANU’s John Curtin School of Medical Research found that Mungo Man’s skeleton’s contained a small section of mitochondrial DNA. After analysing the DNA, the school found that Mungo Man’s DNA bore no similarity to the other ancient skeletons, modern Aborigines and modern Europeans. Furthermore, his mitochondrial DNA had become extinct. The results called into question the ‘Out of Africa’ theory of human evolution. If Mungo Man was descended from a person who had left Africa in the past 200,000 years, then his mitochondrial DNA should have looked like all of the other samples.