Fossils showing stability over time...............
Many fossils, like this jellyfish fossil, actually show stability of some species over time rather than change and there is a lack of intermediates. Species that are the same as their fossil ancestors are called "Living fossils".
"Last week scientists, humanists, philosophers and church liberals joined forces to denounce the Emmanuel City College in Gateshead. The school, which is backed by evangelical Christians ..... has presented creationist theories as part of their science lessons. This has to be stopped!" Independent on Sunday newspaper 2002.
The Dawkins Letters (book left) is a rebuttal of the book The God Delusion by Dawkins, and is not primarily concerned with Creation versus Evolution issues, but does challenge atheist myths and deals with anti God viewpoints. See also You Tube - The Dawkins letters - response to God Delusion
Introduction:In these days when so much emphasis is given to the importance of freedom of thought and expression, it is a shame that there can be hostility and anger vented at those who dare to question the theory of evolution as being scientifically valid or just if they suggest an alternative. It seems that for some, freedom of thought is only valid if other people's thoughts agree with their own. People who choose to believe in creation can be ridiculed as morons, narrow-minded, old fashioned, bigoted and unscientific.
Why should some people be so strongly opposed to challenging the theory of evolution? Are not all scientific theories open to reasonable debate and scrutiny?
Perhaps such opposition is because some people believe such teaching amounts to religious indoctrination whilst other may fear the outcome if evolution is found to be untrue, e.g. could there be a God I am answerable to - See Faith page for some thoughts on this.
On both these counts, opposition is unfounded. Firstly, teaching the science behind the possibility of Creation as an alternative to evolution does not force people to believe it (at present perhaps we indoctrinate people with evolution?), they are still free to decide for themselves. Secondly, a belief in God is not something to be feared if we come to God with the right attitude and we have a balanced view of God, although this is open to interpretation and differs amongst different religions - see the Faith page for some thoughts on this or some of the Christian web-sites shown on the links page.
The quotes below would suggest that in America and Briton, the general feeling is not against the alternatives to evolution being discussed.
Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Conference Report clearly stated that:-
"Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society".
In the August 2001 Zogby Poll, 71% of Americans were reported to believe that:-
"Biology teachers should teach Darwin's theory of evolution, but also the scientific evidence against it whilst 14% of people said that they were not sure".
Just under half of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life, according to a recent MORI opinion poll
Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should be taught in school science lessons see Britons unconvinced on evolution.
‘The most devastating thing though that biology did to Christianity was the discovery of biological evolution. Now that we know that Adam and Eve never were real people the central myth of Christianity is destroyed. If there never was an Adam and Eve there never was an original sin. If there never was an original sin there is no need of salvation. If there is no need of salvation there is no need of a saviour. And I submit that puts Jesus, historical or otherwise, into the ranks of the unemployed. I think that evolution is absolutely the death knell of Christianity.’ (Frank Zindler, in a debate with William Lane Craig, Atheism vs. Christianity video, Zondervan, 1996). rvan, 1996).
OPPOSITION IN THE UK (just a few examples of many)
In March 2002, the creationist organisation "Answers in Genesis" rented a school auditorium at Emmanuel City Technical College in Gateshead, England, as part of their speaking tour at which Ken Ham spoke. This sparked a controversy that was reported in worldwide newspapers and even the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, became involved. Below gives some more detail about the controversy (taken from the Daily Telegraph in March 2002 and from Answers in Genesis news update May 2002).
Some newspaper headlines:-
"Our Father which art in Gateshead"
"Creationist talk enrages scientists"
"Creation theory is creeping into UK schools. Should we be worried? Yes says science"
"Storm over teaching creationism at school"
"PM sparks row over creationism"
"Can religion and science ever be compatible in education?"
"Retreat into the cocoon of fundamentalist religion"
"Last week scientists, humanists, philosophers and church liberals joined forces to denounce the Emmanuel City College in Gateshead. The school, which is backed by evangelical Christians ..... has presented creationist theories as part of their science lessons. This has to be stopped!"
From the Guardian newspaper:-
".......the creation myths are based on nothing but the fantasies of the ignorant who lived long ago ........ To tell our children that ancient traditions, the dreams of our uneducated forefathers, and holy writings which must not be questioned or impugned for fear of blasphemy, are sources of authority about the world on par with science, is a travesty".
American professor Niall Shanks of East Tennessee State University in the USA:-
"If the experience in the US is anything to go by, this attempt by assorted Christian fundamentalist Taliban-wannabees to turn the clock of science back to the Middle Ages will not stop with biology".
Professor Richard Dawkins, vice president of the British humanist association and a leading evolutionist in the UK, in the past has been quoted as saying:-
“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant,The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that)” (Dawkins, 1989).
In the Daily Telegraph of 16.3.02 he was quoted as saying:- ....... "The children are being taught ludicrous falsehoods. This is not the matter of one scientific position against another position ........" and also from another source ".......These men disgrace the honourable profession of teacher"
However, The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, defended the school and not all newspaper reports were clearly anti such meetings being allowed in schools.
The Daily telegraph newspaper ran an article entitled "God knows what Professor Dawkins is talking about". In this article, the author Tom Utley compared Professor Dawkins to someone from the Spanish Inquisition "seeking out heretics - unbelievers in the religion of Science with a view to silencing them". He also wondered what Professor Dawkins was so afraid of and commented how intelligent and well taught the children of Emmanuel City Technical college in Gateshead seemed.
The following also appeared as a letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph concerning the Gateshead scenario and was written by A C McIntosh, Professor of Thermodynamics and combustion theory, university of Leeds:-
"Sir - Surely the attempt by Richard Dawkins, Peter Atkins, Steve Jones and others to try and stop the excellent work of Emmanuel CTC in debating creation or evolution, is futile.
There is little hard experimental evidence for the evolutionary hypothesis. This is true particularly in the study of the intricate mechanisms that brilliant scientific research has revealed in nature. Professor Michael Behe of Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, who wrote Darwin's Black box, demolishes any possibility of Darwinian evolution at the biochemical level, and has masterfully shown there is irreducible complexity, down to minute details, in the workings of living organisms - details that will not go away with all the heat generated by Prof. Dawkins and his evident atheism.
One is bound to inquire if it is the philosophy of these gentlemen that is driving their opposition to Emmanuel and its excellent approach to science - else why oppose good healthy discussion in the classroom? I thoroughly support the very balanced approach of the school, which simply aims to inform of the alternative interpretation of the scientific facts.
Evolution is a set of beliefs, a world view that is the dominant paradigm in the scientific community, but it is not the only one. We should welcome the proper discussion of the whole question of origins in the public education system. Such a discussion should acknowledge that the scientific facts are always interpreted, and the interpretation depends on underlying philosophical assumptions".
In October 2003 the Spectator magazine had a cover story entitled the "Mystery of the missing links". To it's credit, whilst rather scathing of creationists, it was more supportive of those who believe in "Intelligent design". Below are a couple of excerpts:-.
"Unlike the swivel-eyed creationists, ID supporters are very keen on scientific evidence. They accept that the earth was not created in six days, and is billions of years old. They also concede Darwin’s theory of microevolution: that species may, over time, adapt to suit their environments. What Intelligent Design advocates deny is macroevolution: the idea that all life emerged from some common ancestor slowly wriggling around in primordial soup. If you study the biological world with an open mind, they say, you will see more evidence that each separate species was created by an Intelligent Designer. The most prominent members of the ID movement are Michael Behe the biochemist, and Phillip E. Johnson, professor of law at the University of California. They share a belief that it is impossible for small, incremental changes to have created the amazing diversity of life. There is no way that every organism could have been created by blind chance, they say. The ‘fine-tuning’ of the universe indicates a creator".
However, On intelligent design (ID), Richard Dawkins was recorded in this issue of the Spectator as saying:-
‘Imagine,’ he wrote, ‘that there is a well-organised and well-financed group of nutters, implacably convinced that the Roman Empire never existed. Hadrian’s Wall, Verulamium, Pompeii — Rome itself — are all planted fakes. The Latin language, for all its rich literature and its Romance language grandchildren, is a Victorian fabrication. The Rome deniers are, no doubt, harmless wingnuts, more harmless than the Holocaust deniers whom they resemble. Smile and be tolerant, just as we smile at the Flat Earth Society. But your tolerance might wear thin if you happen to be a lifelong scholar and teacher of Roman history, language or literature. You suddenly find yourself obliged to interrupt your magnum opus on the Odes of Horace in order to devote time and effort to rebutting a well-financed propaganda campaign claiming that the entire classical world that you love never existed.’
Part of the article is shown below, and this illustrates that anti-creation sentiments are still alive and well in the UK in 2008.
"Creationism is anti-science," says Mr Porteous Wood. "Teaching it to children is a form of intellectual child abuse, because it gives them the wrong facts about life." His passionate views echo those of Prof Dawkins, who last month accused teachers of "bending over backwards" to respect "prejudices" that children have been brought up with at home.
And secular groups also point out that while state school pupils are "protected" from creationist teaching, similar guidelines do not exist to cover children who attend private religious schools - Christian, Jewish and Muslim.
It seem strange that suggesting to children that humanity was originally created by a loving God, rather than arose by chance from bacteria, should be considered so harmful to them that they need to be "protected" from it?
Last week Prof Reiss - a Church of England minister - said creationism should be discussed in science lessons if pupils raised the issue. He was criticised by other scientists - though misquoted as saying creationism should be "taught" in science classes. The society said some of his comments had been "open to misinterpretation". This had damaged its reputation.
"As a result, Professor Reiss and the Royal Society have agreed that, in the best interests of the society, he will step down immediately as director of education - a part-time post he held on secondment," it said in a statement."He is to return, full time, to his position as professor of science education at the Institute of Education."
The Royal Society' reiterated that its position was that creationism had no scientific basis and should not be part of the science curriculum.
"However, if a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific."
It added that the society greatly appreciated the efforts of Prof Reiss, a biologist, in furthering its work in the important field of science education over the past two years and wished him well for the future.
Creationists take a literal interpretation of the Bible's description of the origin of life and reject the Darwinian concept of evolution.
Prof Reiss, speaking at the British Association Festival of Science at the University of Liverpool, estimated that about one in 10 children was from a family which supported a creationist rather than evolutionary viewpoint.
He said his experience had led him to believe it was more effective to include discussion about creationism alongside scientific theories such as the Big Bang and evolution - rather than simply giving the impression that such children were wrong.
Reacting to his stepping down, Lord Robert Winston, professor of science and society at Imperial College London, said:"I fear that in this action the Royal Society may have only diminished itself. This is not a good day for the reputation of science or scientists. This individual was arguing that we should engage with and address public misconceptions about science - something that the Royal Society should applaud."
In the USA, 100 Creationists who had a least a Masters degree were interviewed and all reported that they had experienced some discrimination. Twelve percent of those interviewed said they had received highly emotional non-verbal feedback, irrational verbalisations against them or even death threats. (Bergman, The Criterion, in Darwin's leap of Faith by Ankerberg, 1998a).
In colleges in the USA, there are reported to be 200 to 400 religious firings a year on the basis of religious discrimination. (Bergman, The Criterion, in Darwin's leap of Faith by Ankerberg, 1998a).
With the above in mind, in the book "Darwin's leap of Faith", there are many cases recorded in some detail of Scientists being failed degrees, having Doctorates removed, being openly sacked or forced to resign if they have made their Creationists view known.
The petition below is another indicator of anti-Creation sentiments in America:-
“We, the undersigned American citizens, urge the adoption of policies by our nation's academic institutions to ensure teacher and student academic freedom to discuss the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. Teachers should be protected from being fired, harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for objectively presenting the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory. Students should be protected from being harassed, intimidated, or discriminated against for expressing their views about the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory in an appropriate manner.” More....
Anti-creation sentiments are apparently alive and well at Texas Tech University. Michael Dini, an associate professor of biology at Texas Tech, has refused to write letters of recommendation for students who do not answer one of his criteria questions (“How do you think the human species originated?”) in favour of the evolution theory.
To quote professor Dini's policy from his Web page (in 2003) for those seeking letters of recommendation, using the example of one wishing to enter medical school:-
“How can someone who does not accept the most important theory in biology (evolution) expect to properly practice in a field that is so heavily based on biology? It is hard to imagine how this can be so, but it is easy to imagine how physicians who ignore or neglect the Darwinian aspects of medicine or the evolutionary origin of humans can make bad clinical decisions.”.
Professor Dini then concludes his dubious contention as follows:-
“Good medicine, like good biology, is based on the collection and evaluation of physical evidence. So much physical evidence supports the evolution of humans from non-human ancestors that one can validly refer to the ‘fact’ of human evolution, even if all of the details are not yet known. One can deny this evidence only at the risk of calling into question one’s understanding of science and of the method of science. Such an individual has committed malpractice regarding the method of science, for good scientists would never throw out data that do not conform to their expectations or beliefs. This is the situation of those who deny the evolution of humans; such a one is throwing out information because it seems to contradict his/her cherished beliefs. Can a physician ignore data that s/he does not like and remain a physician for long? No. If modern medicine is based on the method of science, then how can someone who denies the theory of evolution - the very pinnacle of modern biological science - ask to be recommended into a scientific profession by a professional scientist?”
Professor Dini seems to have created quite a paradox for himself with his claim that creationists routinely throw out data that does not conform to their expectations and beliefs. Perhaps it’s just his way of saying, “do as I say, not as I do!” (Craig Hampton, 2003).
Professor Dini also seems unable to accept that a number of scientists have differing views. With respect to the study of medicine, it is difficult to understand why he feels that one's belief in how such a complex organism as a human arose (by design or chance) affects one's ability to study that organism and disease process etc associated with it. Professor Dini would have us believe that such an intricate and complex organisms as humans arose from a single celled organism over millions of years by a process strongly dependant on chance mutations. However, the overwhelming scientific evidence shows that mutations lead to disease and degeneration, not to more complex organisms. A bit of a dilemma for sound science surely, along with other aspects of current origins theories such as Abiogenesis, for which there is no sound science?
Eight families of students have sued the education authorities of Dover Area School Board, saying that including the "intelligent design'' in biology curriculum promotes the Bible's view of creation and violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Under a policy approved by the school board in October 2004, students must hear a brief statement about intelligent design before classes on evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact,'' has inexplicable "gaps,'' and refers students to a textbook called "Of Pandas and People'' for more information.
After a favorable initial internal review, the Smithsonian announced it would show a movie titled The Privileged Planet in Baird Auditorium at the Natural Museum of History in June of 2005. When the announcement was made, protests from the media, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, were strident and immediate.
The media, as usual, were often inaccurate when covering this story. For example, The New York Times incorrectly claimed that the film was “intended to undercut evolution”. The next step was to alert the academic community to stay away from the film—for example, an archeology doctoral student reported that an email had been sent to the entire department of anthropology at George Washington University, “warning” everyone to not watch the movie.
Nguyen noted that once the news was out about the Smithsonian’s plan to show the film, it spread across the internet to “especially those dedicated to the evolution debate.” Pro-evolution websites, atheist websites, and others, including those of humanists, organized a campaign to send emails and letters and to make phone calls protesting the film’s showing. Within only a week the Smithsonian “had yielded to liberal opinion”.
The 1925 Scopes ‘monkey’ trial pitted William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow in a classic confrontation over the teaching of evolution and creation in public schools.
Rarely does a year go by that the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee play and film Inherit the Wind is not produced by a local school, or shown on television somewhere. Inherit the Wind is not a documentary, but it is perceived by many viewers to be a documentary–drama of the famous 1925 Scopes ‘monkey’ trial.
The evidence suggests that the inaccuracies in the play and film Inherit The Wind are substantive, intentional and systematic. Christians, and particularly William Jennings Bryan, are consistently lampooned throughout the play, while sceptics and agnostics are portrayed as intelligent, kindly, and even heroic. I cannot escape the conclusion that the writers of Inherit The Wind never intended to write a historically accurate account of the Scopes trial, nor did they seriously attempt to portray the principal characters and their beliefs in a fair and accurate way.
Dr David Menton: A Hollywood History of the Scopes Trial (Two 16-minute audio files)
In recent years there have been a lot of books written by well qualified scientists questioning the theory of evolution (see shop page for a few of them). However, there are also those who are writing to de-bunk creationist type thinking. The list below was taken from the True.Origin web site in 2006:-
Since 1977 to 2006, a lengthy list of anti Creation type books can be documented. As samples, we might list such volumes as:
(1) The Darwinian Revolution by Michael Ruse (1979)
(2) Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism by Philip Kitcher (1982)
(3) The Monkey Business by Niles Eldredge (1982)
(4) Scientists Confront Creationism, edited by Laurie Godfrey (1983)
(5) Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution by Douglas J. Futuyma (1983)
(6) Science and Creationism, edited by Ashley Montagu (1984)
(7) Creation and Evolution: Myth or Reality? by Norman D. Newell (1985)
(8) The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (1986)
(9) Science and Creation by Robert W. Hanson (1986)
(10) Cult Archaeology and Creationism by Francis B. Harrold and Raymond A. Eve (1987)
(11) Anti-Evolution Bibliography by Tom McIver (1988)
(12) Evolution—The Great Debate by Vernon Blackmore and Andrew Page (1989)
(13) Evolution and the Myth of Creationism by Tim Berra (1990)
(14) The Creationist Movement in Modern America by Raymond A. Eve and Francis B. Harrold (1991)
(15) The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism by Ronald L. Numbers (1992)
(16) The Myth-Maker’s Magic—Behind the Illusion of “Creation Science” by Delos B. McKown (1993)
(17) Creationism’s Upside-Down Pyramid: How Science Refutes Fundamentalism by Lee Tiffin (1994)
(18) Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy by Arthur N. Strahler (1999)
(19) The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism [the sequel to his 1982 volume, The Monkey Business] by Niles Eldredge (2000)
(20) Intelligent Design: Creationism and Its Critics, edited by Robert T. Pennock (2001)
(21) Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea by Carl Zimmer (2001)
(22) The Scientific Case Against Scientific Creationism by Jon Paul Alston (2003)
(23) Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design by Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross (2003)
(24) Unintelligent Design by Mark Perakh (2004)
(25) Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism by Matt Young and Taner Edis (2004).