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Yup. Yet another defense of Darwin from someone best known from a Christian publication

Stephen Barr, a reason fewer people than ever take First Things seriously, offers yet another defense of Darwin.

You’d think racism and materialism and the fact that Darwin himself was horrified by the thought he might have the mind of a monkey … okay, so no one thinks that’s a problem …

Here’s Barr: Here.

Darwin was no armchair theorist or paper-pusher. His theory grew out of years of field work and careful observation. He used his “own two eyes” quite extensively to study the world of living things.

Rubbish. Darwin was an aristocrat who lived off his high class rep. He was married to Emma Wedgwood (high class china), and inherited her fortune. So he had a fund from which to spread high class materialism. And he did.

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31 Responses to Yup. Yet another defense of Darwin from someone best known from a Christian publication

  1. Historian Arnold Toynbee stated: “I do not think that the Darwinian theory of evolution has given a positive account of an alternative way in which the universe may have been brought into existence.” (Intellectual Digest, December 1971, p. 59.)

    From the OP:

    Darwin himself, Seagrave tells us, “clearly struggled with the objection that his theory looked much better ‘on paper’ than it did in real life.”

    He did, actually. In the introduction to The Origin of Species, he wrote: “I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived.”

    Why, even Darwin, in discussing the source of life, admitted: “Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me . . . This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting, I feel compelled to look to a First Cause.” (Charles Darwin: His Life, chapter 3, p. 66.)

    The OP also mentions that two people may see the same thing but because one has “deep theorectical knowledge”, they don’t see the little details. Or, one person might have an a priori assumption that materialism is true, because nothing else possibly can be. Barr ignores the fact that humans may indeed see things differently, not because of knowledge, but because of prejudice.

    The OP goes on:

    “Now, the human eye is certainly a remarkable organ, but it is an organ of sense, not of judgment. Judging truth and falsehood is the prerogative of reason, not of any bodily organ.”

    The human eye is an organ of sense, but it can be an organ of judgment as well. How many times have attorneys asked witnesses, “Did you see the defendant?” or “What did you see?” In a court of law, our sense organ does a pretty good job of showing whether or not a crime was committed. Judging truth and falsehood is the prerogative of our human brain, which should be well-versed in reason, logic, and common sense.

    And the OP continues:

    “the fact we do not see species evolving before our eyes is grounds for doubting that they have evolved. And that is clearly nonsense. We also do not see mountain ranges being thrust up, or the continents drifting, or the great galaxies turning like pinwheels before our eyes. The time scales are far too long. But we know that these things happen. We know it not by “direct observation” but by a combination of observation and inference, as indeed we know most things.”

    It’s not a combination of observation and inference. First of all, the OP declares that we don’t observe continental drift. We also don’t observe species evolving into other species. Observation, then, is off the table.
    We ASSUME that they have because of “inference”; that is, we have been taught that they evolve and that no other explanation is necessary.

  2. This, in my view, is a rather stupid post.

    Darwin came from yeoman stock, and Josiah Wedgwood was a self-made man. Not an aristocrat in sight – aristocrats didn’t work as doctors like Darwin’s father and grandfather, or marry into the families of common artisans like Wedgwood.

    Money there was through marriage, but he’d been an inveterate observer of nature long before that and remained so.

    “High class materialism” – does anyone here know what that even means? “Us workers woz like metafizzically orright, innit, till them toffs started putting on airs with that lah-di-dah afeism stuff, know wot I mean?”

  3. 3

    Darwin was no armchair theorist or paper-pusher. His theory grew out of years of field work and careful observation. He used his “own two eyes” quite extensively to study the world of living things.

    Rubbish. Darwin was an aristocrat who lived off his high class rep.

    Huh? What do your comments have to do with anything Barr said?

    The money did indeed help with his work. It’s what allowed him to afford to go on the 5 year voyage aboard the Beagle, and to order samples of animals and plants from around the world, and to have time performing observations and experimentations, etc. (I have no idea why that’s supposed to be a problem.)

  4. OT: (Bacteriophage) Viruses in the gut protect from infection – 20 May 2013
    Excerpt: Barr and his colleagues,, show that animal mucus — whether from humans, fish or corals — is loaded with bacteria-killing viruses called phages. These protect their hosts from infection by destroying incoming bacteria. In return, the phages are exposed to a steady torrent of microbes in which to reproduce. “It’s a unique form of symbiosis, between animals and viruses,” says Rotem Sorek, a microbial geneticist ,,
    “It’s groundbreaking,” adds Frederic Bushman, a microbiologist ,, “The idea that phage can be viewed as part of the innate immune system is original and exciting.
    http://www.nature.com/news/vir.....on-1.13023

    Bacteriophage Virus – Assembly Of A Nano-Machine – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4023122

    Virus caught in the act of infecting a cell – January 10, 2013
    Excerpt: The researchers show that when searching for its prey, the virus briefly extends—like feelers—one or two of six ultra-thin fibers it normally keeps folded at the base of its head. Once a suitable host has been located, the virus behaves a bit like a planetary rover, extending these fibers to walk randomly across the surface of the cell and find an optimal site for infection.
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-v.....video.html

    T7 Virus “Walking” Across a Cell – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy42CoyqKjE

    The Bacteriophage Virus – A Molecular “Lunar Landing” Machine – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4205494

  5. 5
    Stephen Sparrow

    Here we go again. Darwin was a good systems man/maker of lists, but it became an obsession that blocked him from remembering that evolution is another word for change and before anything can change or be changed, “the anything” has to “be” something. All of us have met folk like Darwin and observed how legions of uncritical thinkers fall at their feet. A helpful antidote is to re-read “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

    Regarding the Aristocracy – at some stage most of them were just like the rest of us “proletariat” except they clawed and crawled their way to the top of the heap and devised methods to prevent their being dislodged – Natural Selection perhaps but that doesn’t make them a different species. A thick hide and a strong dose of avarice is the key.

    Darwin didn’t need to sail in the Beagle and have his eyes opened in The Galapagos Islands – he could have just wandered around his own manor garden and pondered on why a blackbird is different from a song thrush. A lifetime before him Jean Baptiste La Marque published his theory of evolution based on a built in desire of organisms to change to fit their environment. And then we have those tantalizing two lines from Dante’s Divine Comedy written 700 years ago. “The soul of every animal and plant, is drawn from its compounded potency.” And there are many many other glimpses of evolution alluded to in world literature.

    Darwin found instant fame because he had solved the problem of where a Creator fits in – HE doesn’t fit and that suited Modern Science down to the ground.

  6. 6

    Darwin waas a product of the Anglican upper class of Britain.
    They were the smarter folks back then indeed.
    His ideas came from insight based on minor accumulation of data.
    today he would of been much faster as shiptrips took so long back then.
    Darwin just has a idea on origins and rejected the bible.
    His idea is just a line of reasoning and not scientific.
    Its unreasonable in asking the reader to not see complexity as something very difficult to explain. He sees minor changes as creating the glory of biology.
    It didn’t.

  7. Joealtle believes he can come into someone else’s virtual house and spew obscenities. He was warned to stop. He did not heed the warning and is no longer with us. UD

  8. OT: Jonathan M vs PZ Myers – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBdbgqglGUE

    On Intelligent Design: Michael Denton, Michael Shermer and Clive Wynne – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LmnRQp3zFo

  9. Joealtel, you say:

    “Darwins ideas were based on a huge amount of information collected in his travels. Since then, evolution has been furthered by countless studies in every field of biology.”

    Would you be kind enough to share these so-called “studies” with the rest of us?

  10. The significance of Darwin’s social position is lost on me. How does his income or social bracket have any relevance to the rightness or wrongness of his ideas? IMO this is not helpful. Sorry to say, but between this and the piece about E.O. Wilson, I have found some of the ‘News’ posts to be disappointing of late.

  11. Ah, the Oleary approach to scholarship in full effect. What has Darwin’s wealth to do with the quoted passage?

    Darwin was no armchair theorist or paper-pusher. His theory grew out of years of field work and careful observation. He used his “own two eyes” quite extensively to study the world of living things.

    Darwin didn’t have to work for a living, but he certainly wasn’t an armchair theorist, and I don’t know how the two are meant to relate to each other?

  12. OT: Is It True? Fine-Tuning the Universe – Robin Collins at Pepperdine – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj_fLi_K7jA

  13. Of note; Dr. Collins talk, which was jest recently uploaded to the Veritas channel on youtube, was originally delivered on February 19, 2013

    Overview of talk

    Robin Collins, the foremost defender of the teleological argument for the existence of God, will be discussing how the specific physical constants and conditions in the universe are finely-tuned for intelligent life gives us reason to believe in a Creator, drawing from backgrounds in both physics and philosophy.

    http://my.veritas.org/pepperdine/

  14. The significance of Darwin’s social position is lost on me.

    Ms. O’Leary has a habit of referring to Darwin as “the Old Brit Toff”. Here she is in 2009:

    Quite honestly, I find current Darwinist efforts to get the old Brit toff off the hook for racism embarrassing. Far from differing from his generation’s racist beliefs, Darwin wanted to provide solid scientific support for them. And to the extent that anyone accepts the argument in Descent of Man, they accept a racist argument.

    link

    Don’t worry. No ID sceptics take Ms O’Leary seriously.

  15. Alan

    For once we’re agreed. The futility of that line of reasoning is shown by considering the social status of Darwin’s opponents, many of whom had been to the same University, and even shared the same teachers.

    Science then was done mainly by gentlemen, and most often of all by reverend gentlemen, with the leisure, education and finance to pursue it. Many, unlike Darwin, were landed gentry.

    Us working class Irish iron-moulders didn’t get a look in, which was why so many of us got a chip on our shoulder and emigrated to Canada…

  16. Alan Fox:

    No ID sceptics take Ms O’Leary seriously.

    And only the choir take evolutionism seriously, and even that is in doubt.

  17. For once we’re agreed.

    Hi Jon,

    If you leave out the existence of God, I bet there’s a fair amount we agree on.

    I see Alred Russel Wallace is being re-recognized as an important contributor to evolutionary theory. He was certainly no toff.

  18. How Darwin-hating of Denyse! ;)

    Do you mean A.R. Wallace, “effectively the founder of the modern intelligent-design movement,” Alan?

    One might wonder how Denyse would feel, if it ever happened, to be in a room full of intelligent Catholics, scholars and scientists even, not journalists, all of whom for good and sound reasons, after having read much IDist literature and having faithfully tried to be sympathetic to the IDM’s openly stated (Christian) ‘renewal’ goals, had rejected IDism as an ideology not worth holding, i.e. the claim of scientific proof of Big-D ‘Design.’ Would she be as friendly and fair to them, as she is to Darwin, loving her enemies as herself?

    At least Barr has a sense of humour:

    “I suppose I am dating myself by saying this, I cannot even claim to have experienced the Neolithic.”

    If only the DI’s leaders and Fellows would have the simple courage to make a clear and committed statement against young earth creationism (which obviously doesn’t necessarily mean against Creation), perhaps scholars and thinkers would take them more seriously.

    “The idea that the plain untutored man living in the “real world” and using just his eyes and mother wit will typically see more than the technical expert is a pleasant one, and doubtless consoling to ignoramuses everywhere. But it is false. Generally speaking, the greater one’s theoretical knowledge and understanding the more one sees.”

    “Virtually all doubters of evolution sincerely regard themselves as proponents of science (even if they show themselves deficient in their understanding of it), and a very great number of those who think the evidence for evolution is overwhelming (including myself) are proponents of religion.” – Barr

    Isn’t that worth an Amen from Denyse?

    Thanks for the link Alan, which provides this gem of the basis for a solid critique of ‘externalist Designer’ IDT:

    “organisms can be proud to have been their own designers” – Kalevi Kull

    (Although, what ‘pride’ a non-human organism has is a debatable ‘anthropomorphist’ conversation.)

  19. You don’t mean Edgar Wallace, do you, Greg? Very improbably, I grant – given my ‘wiry’ physique – I must be related to Tarzan, Tarzan of the Apes, as I noticed a Greystoke family in my family tree.

    So, I reckon you’ll all be greatly heartened by the simian genes coming right down to 2013, at least in my neck of the woods. But I don’t much like the idea of swinging from giant creepers, as looking down would make me dizzy.

  20. Do you mean A.R. Wallace, “effectively the founder of the modern intelligent-design movement,” Alan?

    Haven’t heard that, Gregory.

  21. Of course you haven’t heard that, Alan. 8 years and still no clue, eh…

  22. Mr. Fox, It is interesting to note that the co-discoverer of Natural Selection, Alfred Wallace, ended up turning against against Charles Darwin and embraced Intelligent Design, in large measure, because of the ‘problem’ of human consciousness (prescient Nagel!):

    Darwin’s Heretic: Alfred R. Wallace – Did the Co-Founder of Evolution Embrace Intelligent Design? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxvAVln6HLI

    Alfred Russel Wallace on the Web – Michael Flannery September 28, 2012
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....64831.html

    Rescuing Alfred Russel Wallace from his (Darwinist) Rescuers – May 22, 2012
    Excerpt: By 1913, Wallace declared himself unapologetically for theism:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....59961.html

    New thoughts on evolution
    Excerpt: “There seems to me,” said Professor Wallace, “unmistakeable evidence of guidance and control in the physical apparatus of every living creature. Consider for a moment the question of nourishment. Men of various races eat different foods; men of the same race may follow diets as separate and distinct as chalk from cheese. But in all cases the main result is the same. The food is converted into blood. That is interesting enough, marvellous enough, baffling enough; but mark what follows. This blood circulating through the body becomes at one point hair and at another nail; here it transforms itself into bone and there into tissue; at the same moment that it changes into skin it changes into nerve; it is at once the bone in my finger and the eye in my head. Materialism forges such words as secretion, but no word signifying unconscious and accidental action can explain this mystery.”
    http://wallace-online.org/cont.....wtype=text

    “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.” Alfred Russell Wallace, New Thoughts on Evolution, 1910

  23. BA77 joked:

    “Alfred Wallace, ended up turning against against Charles Darwin and embraced Intelligent Design”

    That’s dirty hogwash. Wallace did *not* ‘embrace’ Intelligent Design Theory and it is sheer folly for the DI to proudly claim he was “effectively the founder of the modern intelligent-design movement.” That’s just Flanneryism! ;)

    This needs repeating for BA77 and for quite a few others at UD (who probably won’t read Barr just because he intelligently rejects IDism for good and sound reasons involving science, philosophy and theology):

    “The idea that the plain untutored man living in the “real world” and using just his eyes and mother wit will typically see more than the technical expert is a pleasant one, and doubtless consoling to ignoramuses everywhere. But it is false. Generally speaking, the greater one’s theoretical knowledge and understanding the more one sees.”

    “Virtually all doubters of evolution sincerely regard themselves as proponents of science (even if they show themselves deficient in their understanding of it), and a very great number of those who think the evidence for evolution is overwhelming (including myself) are proponents of religion.” – Barr

    “I must be related to Tarzan…at least in my neck of the woods.”

    Well, Axel, you are from Australia, after all.

    p.s. Please address me (if ever you take the time to put thought into a post directed to me) as ‘Gregory,’ just like everyone else. Thanks.

  24. Now Greg I have been amused at your grand conspiracy theories for quite awhile now, but have grown tired of them over time, and really don’t pay much attention to anything you write anymore, but I have to ask, don’t you find it quite strange that I have directly quoted Wallace’s own words which directly contradict what you hold in your conspiratorial fantasy as to how the world is??.

  25. Do NOT confuse Gregory, Philip.

  26. Just pulling your leg again, Gregory. But he does have a point, doesn’t he?

  27. “Materialism forges such words as secretion, but no word signifying unconscious and accidental action can explain this mystery.”

    ‘Accidental design’*, I believe, is their favoured term,** Philip – which is just counter-intuitive…

    * It just appears purposeful/designed, as Dawkins so perceptively pointed out. Consequently, empirical study of matter, in any shape or form, would be to be deceived by the specious nature of its manifold appearances; measurement of any aspect of it, like trying to pick up quicksilver with your finger-tips. Isn’t that right, Richard? Oh! I do believe he’s gone back to sleep.

    ** I can’t swear to it.

  28. …I have directly quoted Wallace’s own words…

    Hmm. You may have quoted Wallace. I wonder what the context was. It’s always interesting to look at the original source when bits are quoted. I am reminded of Sal Cordova’s “I beat a puppy” quotemine.

    I’ll have a read when I have more time.

  29. BTW Phil

    Can you give the original sources for your quotes?

  30. Mr. Fox, the interview from which both quotes by Wallace I cited come is found online here:

    New Thoughts on Evolution (S746: 1910)
    Views of Professor Alfred Russel Wallace, O.M., F.R.S.
    http://people.wku.edu/charles......e/S746.htm

    The entire article was a very enjoyable, and enlightening, read. It was amazing to learn that Wallace addressed some of the very same ‘scientifically advanced’ arguments that are still being used by Darwinists today!,, Thanks for making me look up the exact source so as to clarify my notes more precisely on where the quotes came from, I’ve tended to be a bit slack in that regards from time to time.

  31. “This, in my view, is a rather stupid post.” – Jon

    Yes, with Alan Fox and Jon, I agree.

    Will the author at least acknowledge *why* she imagines we think this?

    That is about the most emphatically critical I have yet heard Jon get in public to an IDist; a rather calm and fair-handed guy he is in most cases.

    Let me also address BA77/Phil’s several times repeated accusation towards me of a ‘grand conspiracy theory. This is yet another example of Expelled Syndrome rearing itself on UD. My scholarly work is far from ‘conspiracy theory’; it ‘follows the evidence where it leads’ just as IDists proscribe. But when it follows the evidence to study IDists themselves and IDism as an ideology, then that appears to be too uncomfortable for them. It is like they think the DI is a ‘political innocent’ amidst a brood of vipers! But that is far from the truth.

    The conspiracy theorists here are those who claim ‘Darwinism’ has a hold on the Academy/Universities/Culture as a whole. They seem to believe in their heart of hearts that Satan is a Darwinian evolutionary biologist.

    As it is, I already offered a post-Darwinian approach at UD, but IDists shunned it because it is also necessarily anti-IDism. And *anything* anti-IDist or post-IDist is likely too hard to even contemplate for most UD regulars.

    It is no ‘great conspiracy’ to say politely and dispassionately, with scholarly and research backing, that IDists are simply trying to make something appear ‘natural scientific’ which is not properly a ‘natural scientific’ topic.

    As for not paying attention to what people write here at UD, in this thread #’s 4, 8, 12 & 13 are almost completely off-topic (what’s the dude thinking?!?), either deflection or projection. Why would any non-IDist waste their time reading it?

    Stephen Barr’s writings and First Things are heads and shoulders above anything the IDM has yet or ever will produce. Salvo E-zine is a weak substitute. It seems like journalistic jealousy, as if Denyse would actually like to publish in First Things, if only she could raise her level to their standards.

    The picture looks like this: IDists are encouraged to embrace *any* Christian (including backward, un[der]educated YECs, for example) who is even curious about or who actually accepts IDism (vast minority) and to vigorously oppose and ridicule, attacking persons openly, any Christian who handily, sustainably and intelligently rejects IDism as an unnecessary ideology for ‘orthodox’ faith. Is that a ‘smart’ strategy?

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