Celebrations galore

Over the next few weeks, hundreds of events in dozens of countries will be held to celebrate the bicentennial birthday of Charles Darwin, occurring on February 12th "Darwin Days," as they have been called, will honor the celebrant and showcase the evolutionary theory he popularized. Organizers will be offering lectures, museum exhibits, and workshops, as well as reenactments of the Scopes Trail and Darwin's journey on the HMS Beagle. And that's just for starters.

 

It is doubtful that any figure, in the last 200 years, has had as much influence on modern society as Charles Darwin. Today, everything, from black holes to black magic is being attributed to some evolutionary process that traces its beginning to Darwin and the ideas advanced in his epochal work, On the Origin of Species. As one prominent scientist remarked about his field, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

 

The living-world according-to-Darwin descended from a common, ancient ancestor through a gradual process of random variation, adaptation and natural selection. As put forth in Origin, Darwin's account only addressed the diversification and complexification of life, not its cause or source; but its thoroughgoing naturalism convinced people, conditioned by Enlightenment thinking, that a grand materialistic narrative could be crafted to replace various supernatural accounts, especially the benighted one of Genesis.

 

Today, no one expresses that confidence more openly than Richard Dawkins. With professorial swagger, Dawkins famously quipped "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." Soaring confidence, notwithstanding, evolutionary enthusiasts, like Dawkins, have constructed their worldview on a foundation of quicksand.

 

Strengths or weaknesses

 

The strength of Darwinism, say the faithful, comes from its many lines of supporting evidence. Trumpeting the praises of the fossil record, drug-immune bacteria, morphological and genetic similarities, "junk" DNA, intra-species variation and the like, Darwinists sound like Don King hyping the arsenal of a heavyweight champ.  But, as George Foreman learned in his 1974 match-up against Muhammad Ali, a champ's strengths can be his biggest weakness.

 

Billed as the most powerful boxer in the history of the sport, Foreman pounded Ali against the ropes, round after bone-crushing round. Then, in the seventh, Ali leaned into his opponent and taunted, "Is that all you got, George?" Foreman later confessed, "I knew something strange was happening in my life especially because that was all I had."

 

In the next round Ali launched a series of rapid-fire, viper-like strikes that sent the lumbering, heavy-armed champ to the canvas. The defeated bruiser faded into the ignominy of exhibition matches as Ali re-gained his title, and went on to dominate heavyweight boxing for the next four years.

 

Ali’s "rope-a-dope" tactic is instructive for those engaged in the origins debate.

 

The un-celebration

As was true for George Foreman, Darwinism's greatest strengths are its biggest weakness. For generations, evolutionary pitchmen have been hyping Darwinism with "just-so" stories and going round after round roaring, "Evolution is FACT!" Now, after 150 years of filling the air with hot air, the champ is showing signs of fatigue. 

 

British historian, Paul Johnson, tells it straight, "[T]he Darwinian brand of evolution is becoming increasingly vulnerable as the progress of science reveals its weaknesses." Indeed, with each passing year, it is clearer that Darwinian evolution far overreaches -- and, in some cases, ignores -- what has been, or even can be, scientifically demonstrated.

 

As the worn-out slugger begins to wobble it is time to lean in, stand toe-to-toe, and dismantle his fantastical narrative, one tale at a time. To that end, in counter-celebration of Darwin Days, I will be weighing in with "Twelve Days Debunking Darwinism" on The Point blog.  Starting February 2, each day I will chip away at one iconic feature of modern evolutionary theory.

 

For this un-celebration, I invite you to join my corner with your comments, insights, and criticisms. Or, just set back, enjoy the discussion, and score the match to see if this no-name contender can turn "Darwin Days" into "Darwin Daze."

 

Wha... wha's that I hear? Did someone just crank up the Rocky theme? Must be my cue to slurp down a tall tumbler of raw eggs...