ABUSING CREATIONISM: THE CASE AGAINST KITCHER
by C. L. Cagan, Ph.D., M.Div., Ph.D., Litt.D.
This article is a review and response to Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism by Philip Kitcher (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1982). This book is considered to be one of the strongest defenses of evolutionism and criticism of creationism in print. After reading it, I remain a creationist!
Kitcher's book fails on two points. First, the book is written from a biased and prejudiced point of view. Second, it does not stand up in the light of the scientific research of the last two or three decades, which has led many scientists, Christian and non-Christian alike, to give up the outdated nineteenth-century theory of evolution.
Kitcher's Unprofessional Attitude
Kitcher considers creationism to be a dangerous and almost demonic threat to the progress of humanity and to our culture. He writes that "a political alliance has been forged between the self-appointed champions of virtue and religion - the Moral Majority - and a group of believers in the literal truth of the Bible. These extreme fundamentalists, who call themselves Scientific Creationists, have founded the Institute for Creation Research" (p. 1). This alliance intends to take over the teaching of science and "wreak havoc upon science education" (pp. 2-3), according to Kitcher, who wants only evolution taught in the schools. He doesn't want people to hear about creation as well as evolution so they can decide for themselves. Thus, Kitcher is at heart an enemy of democracy who wants education to be controlled by a tiny elite of evolutionists who think they are smart enough to dictate what the common people can read and think.
The Moral Majority no longer exists, but Kitcher's book and his attitude still remains. Although Jerry Falwell and Henry Morris (the leader of the Institute for Creation Research) may have met, they had no organic connection, they are not members of the same church or denomination, and they certainly are not working together in a dangerous monolithic movement to crush all opposition under their feet. In fact, as anyone who reads newspapers and magazines can see, the influence of Christian teaching and morality in America has declined severely since 1982 - but Kitcher and his book still describe creationism as though it were a conquering army on the march. In fact it is the militant humanist evolutionists who are on the march today with their abortions, "gay" marriages, and a thousand other horrors.
But Kitcher seems to think that Christianity has been the worst thing that has happened to the world. He writes:
The most popular doctrine for use in rationalizing evil and immoral actions has surely been Christianity. There is a long record of brutalities and atrocities perpetrated in the name of Christ: the Crusades, the persecution of the Huguenots, periodic waves of anti-Semitism, sporadic witch burnings, the Inquisition, 300 years of Irish "troubles"the repressive moral doctrines imposed by the Church at many times in the past... (p. 197).
It is easy to point out that the crimes given by Kitcher were not committed by born-again, Bible-believing, fundamentalist Christians. The crimes Kitcher mentions were done by the Roman Catholic Church, which was not following the Bible. How can Kitcher tar and feather American Protestants and Baptists with crimes committed by medieval Catholics? I am a deacon in a Baptist church - and it was Baptists who brought religious liberty to America, including the freedom to believe in evolution! Baptists never persecuted anyone, in America or anywhere else!
But even after counting the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the other events mentioned against Christianity and the churches, Kitcher is still dead wrong. The truth is that the most popular doctrine for use in rationalizing evil and immoral actions has surely been secular humanist evolution. After rejecting a belief in God, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments, humanist evolutionists have defended and carried out the most evil crimes of human history!
It was atheistic evolutionists such as Lenin and Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung who killed over 40 million Russians and 60 million Chinese under Communism. It was a racist evolutionist, Adolf Hitler, who killed 6 million Jews and millions of Gentiles in the Nazi Holocaust, and caused 60 million deaths in World War II, because he believed that the German people constituted a superior stage in evolution and had the right to conquer and kill all lesser races. It was a non-Christian evolutionist, Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood with its "Negro Project" that set out to drastically reduce, if not exterminate outright, the "inferior" Black population of America. And it was non-Christian evolutionists, not Bible-believing Christians, who brought in the Abortion Holocaust. Teaching that an unborn child was not a human being but only a biological lump of tissue, non-Christian evolutionists such as Chief Justice Harry Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court have caused the murder of 42 million American babies by abortion in the years since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Evolutionists in other countries have caused the murder of hundreds of millions of babies by abortion in other countries in recent decades - tens of millions in Japan and in Russia, and worst of all, over 100 million in the forced-abortion, "one child" policy of Communist China. No, Dr. Kitcher, atheistic evolution, not Bible-believing Christianity, is by far the most popular doctrine for rationalizing evil on this earth!
Yet I can understand something of Kitcher's attitude, biased and incorrect though it is, for I used to think in a similar way myself. That was the way I was raised, and that was the way I thought myself. Although my father and grandfather were Jewish, we did not go to any synagogue or religious organization and did not read the Bible. We did not even believe in God. We were atheists - so I was a third-generation atheist.
My family, my friends, and I myself all believed in evolution. Although I had not studied the evidence carefully, I thought that evolution had been proven true long ago. Although I had not studied the Bible at all, I believed that it was full of errors, and that this had been proven true for centuries. I thought that only the most uneducated and stupid people would accept the Bible and reject evolution.
My beliefs about Bible Christianity were about the same as Kitcher's. I thought that Christians were a group of ignorant farmers who met in a barn on the wrong side of the tracks, where a preacher banged on his Bible as he hollered at them about Hell - and then demanded they give him all their money. That's what I believed Christianity was, and I didn't want any part of it! I defended evolution, and opposed Bible Christianity back then just as strongly as Kitcher and his followers do today.
My problem then was the same as Kitcher's problem: my mind was set against God. The Bible says, "The carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7). I didn't want the God of the Bible to have any part in my life or my thinking - and neither does Kitcher or any other unbeliever. I wanted to live a non-Biblical life-style - and so I took refuge in the theory of evolution. Thanks to God, my attitude changed when I trusted Jesus early in 1977. And after honestly listening to the evidence as presented by Richard Bliss and Duane Gish of the Institute for Creation Research, I gave up evolution and accepted Biblical creationism.
Kitcher's Outdated Science
I had heard that Abusing Science was one of the strongest and best-researched books in defense of evolution, and read it carefully. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find that Kitcher simply rehashed the outdated century-old ideas that mutations produce small changes in living organisms, which over millions and millions of years lead to the evolution of new and higher species through Charles Darwin's "survival of the fittest." There was no new argument presented in favor of evolution that had not been brought out hundreds of times in the course of the twentieth century.
Kitcher gives two of the major creationist arguments as follows:
[One creationist argument] is the charge that there is too little time for large-scale evolution to have occurredOne particular benefit from the Creationist point of view would be to block the idea of tracing the emergence of contemporary forms from some primeval soup. This would give Creationism a critical foot in the door. For in this case, Creationists suggest, scientists would have to concede that, if left alone, natural processes would not have sufficed to bring about the origin of life (p. 83).
we next encounter the objection based on the fossil record. The criticism begins by noting that, in a large number of cases the Darwinian histories that evolutionary biologists construct postulate a large number of ancestral forms that are not found in the rocks (p. 84).
More specific Creationist worries concern particular cases (or classes of cases) for which Darwinian histories are supposed to be difficult to find. A favorite version focuses on complex organs and patterns of behavior. How can we give an evolutionary explanation of structures like the eye, the pollen "baskets" of flowers, the stings of wasps, and so forth? Other versions concentrate on very particular phenomena, for which Creationists claim that no evolutionary account can be given (p. 84).
Unfortunately for Kitcher and his followers, the scientific research of the last three decades has overwhelmingly supported precisely the creationist arguments that Kitcher finds appalling. In the last twenty to thirty years, more and more scientists, Christian and non-Christian, have given up on the outdated nineteenth-century theory of evolution in the face of the scientific evidence.
The late Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, a world-famous biologist, came to reject the classical theory of evolution after studying the evidence of the fossil record. Although he did not become a born-again Christian, he rejected Darwin's theory when he saw that the fossil record does not present a "tree of life" of transitional forms (as is taught in almost all science textbooks) - but instead displays the abrupt appearance of fully-formed organisms which do not change after they first appear - just as creationism teaches. Dr. Gould wrote:
The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism:
1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless.
2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and "fully formed."
(Stephen Jay Gould, "Evolution's Erratic Pace," Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 5, May 1977, p. 14. Emphasis mine.)
More and more scientists, Christian and non-Christian alike, are giving up evolution - and not only because the fossil record fails to support it! These scientists are giving up evolution because it is mathematically and scientifically impossible. They have found that there are many chemical and biological structures that are too complex to have been formed through any process of evolution. As Dr. Michael Behe, professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University writes,
Darwin knew that his theory of gradual evolution by natural selection carried a heavy burden:
If it could be demonstrated that any complex organism existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down (Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, 6th edition 1988, New York: New York University Press, p. 154).
Critics of Darwin have suspected that his criterion of failure had been metWhat type of biological system could not be formed by "numerous, successive, slight modifications"?
Well, for starters, a system that is irreducibly complex. By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directlyby slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop (Michael Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution New York: The Free Press, 1996, p. 39).
Behe has given many examples of biological systems that had to have been formed all at once, that could not have arisen through an evolutionary process. For instance, he notes that some cells swim using a whip-like structure called a cilium.
What components are needed for a cilium to work? Ciliary motion requires microtubules; otherwise, there would be no strands to slide. Additionally it requires a motor, or else the microtubules of the cilium would lie stiff and motionless. Furthermore, it requires linkers to tug on neighboring strands, converting the sliding motion into a bending motion, and preventing the structure from falling apart. All of these parts are required to perform one motion: ciliary motion. Just as a mousetrap does not work unless all its constituent parts are present, ciliary motion simply does not exist in the absence of microtubules, connectors, and motors. Therefore we can conclude that the cilium is irreducibly complex - an enormous monkey wrench thrown into its presumed gradual, Darwinian evolution (ibid., p. 65).
Behe shows that the very formation of the key biochemical ingredients of life is impossible through random chance, but requires an intelligent designer.
Making the molecules of life by chemical processes outside of a cell is actually rather easy. Any competent chemist can buy some chemicals from a supply company, weigh them in the correct proportion, dissolve them in an appropriate solvent, heat them in a flask for a predetermined amount of time, and purify the desired chemical produce away from unwanted chemicals produced by side reactions
Most readers will quickly see the problem. There were no chemists four billion years ago. Neither were there any chemical supply houses, distillation flasks, nor any of the many other devices that the modern chemist uses daily in his or her laboratory, and which are necessary to get good results
As an analogy, suppose a famous chef said that random natural processes could produce a chocolate cake. In his effort to prove it, we would not begrudge him taking whole plants - including wheat, cacao, and sugar cane - and placing them near a hot spring, in the hope that the heated water would extract the right materials and cook them. But we would become a little wary if the chef bought refined flour, cocoa, and sugar at the store, saying that he didn't have time to wait for the hot water to extract the components from the plants. We would shake our heads if he then switched his experiment from a hot spring to an electric oven, to "speed things up." And we would walk away if he then measured the amounts of the components carefully, mixed them in a bowl, placed them in a pan, and baked them in his oven. The results would have nothing to do with his original idea that natural processes could produce a cake (ibid., pp. 168-169).
Evolutionists have taught for decades in science classrooms that the mixing of chemicals will produce the biological building blocks of life and eventually life itself. But the building of a living organism is far more complicated than baking a cake. If we don't expect a box of ingredients to bake themselves into a tasty cake, how can we properly believe that chemicals will organize themselves into living creatures? More and more scientists are seeing that evolution just isn't possible.
Michael Denton is a medical doctor and scientist who lives in Australia, where he is currently doing research in molecular biology. Dr. Denton is not a Christian, but he, like Dr. Behe, believes that evolution is not supported by the scientific facts. He writes:
The overriding supremacy of the myth [of evolution] has created a widespread illusion that the theory of evolution was all but proved one hundred years ago and that all subsequent biological research - paleontological, zoological and in the newer branches of genetics and molecular biology - has provided ever-increasing evidence of Darwin's ideas. Nothing could be further from the truthHis general theory, that all life on earth had originated and evolved by a gradual successive accumulation of fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin's time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe (Michael Denton, M.D., Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 77).
Denton shows us that even a single biological cell is an extremely complicated construction, which could not possibly have risen from an evolutionary interaction of atoms and molecules:
Perhaps in no other area of modern biology is the challenge posed by the extreme complexity and ingenuity of biological adaptations more apparent than in the fascinating new molecular world of the cell. Viewed down a light microscope at a magnification of some several hundred times, such as would have been possible in Darwin's time, a living cell is a relatively disappointing spectacle appearing only as an ever-changing and apparently disordered pattern of blobs and particles which, under the influence of unseen turbulent forces, are continually tossed haphazardly in all directions. To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometres in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometre in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.
We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines. We would notice that the simplest of the functional components of the cell, the protein molecules, were astonishingly, complex pieces of molecular machinery, each one consisting of about three thousand atoms arranged in highly organized 3-D spatial conformation. We would wonder even more as we watched the strangely purposeful activities of these weird molecular machines, particularly when we realized that, despite all our accumulated knowledge of physics and chemistry, the task of designing one such molecular machine - that is one single functional protein molecule - would be completely beyond our capacity at present...Yet the life of the cell depends on the integrated activities of thousands, certainly tens, and probably hundreds of thousands of different protein molecules.
We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding machines, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and molecular construction. In fact, so deep would be the feeling of deja-vu, so persuasive the analogy, that much of the terminology we would use to describe this fascinating molecular reality would be borrowed from the world of...technology.
What we would be witnessing would be an object resembling an immense automated factory, a factory larger than a city and carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth. However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours. To witness such an act at a magnification of one thousand million times would be an awe-inspiring spectacle (ibid., pp. 328-329).
The scientific evidence of the intelligent design of life on earth is overwhelming. Many twenty-first century scientists have given up the old theory of evolution. Behe likens the strength of the evidence to an elephant in a room - an elephant which a group of evolutionist-like detectives would like to ignore:
Imagine a room in which a body lies crushed, flat as a pancake. A dozen detectives crawl around, examining the floor with magnifying glasses for any clue to the identity of the perpetrator. In the middle of the room, next to the body, stands a large, gray elephant. The detectives carefully avoid bumping into the pachyderm's legs as they crawl, and never even glance at it. Over time the detectives get frustrated with their lack of progress but resolutely press on, looking even more closely at the floor. You see, textbooks say detectives must "get their man," so they never consider elephants.
There is an elephant in the roomful of scientists who are trying to explain the development of life. The elephant is labeled "intelligent design." To a person who does not feel obliged to restrict his research to unintelligent causes, the straightforward conclusion is that many biological systems were designed. They were designed not by the laws of nature not by chance and necessity; rather, they were planned. The designer knew what the systems would look like when they were completed, then took steps to bring the systems about. Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent activity (Behe, op.cit., pp. 192-193).
Why do Kitcher and other evolutionists walk through the room of biology and ignore the elephant of intelligent design which so clearly dominates the evidence in front of them? It is not because a belief in creation, in God, and in the Bible is unscientific. On the contrary, science itself rests on a Christian foundation.
Christianity, with its Judaic heritage, has always taught and insisted that there is only one God, a rational being. Without this Christian presupposition, there would be no science. The origin of science, said Alfred North Whitehead, required Christianity's "insistence on the rationality of God."
If God is a rational being, then may not human beings, who are made in his image, also employ rational processes to study and investigate the world in which they live? (Alvin J. Schmidt: Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001, p. 219).
Many of the founders of science, including some of the most intelligent men of all time - far more intelligent than Kitcher, Margaret Sanger, Darwin, or any other evolutionist - held Biblical beliefs. Schmidt writes, "Four names loom large in the textbooks of astronomy: Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo. But the undeniable fact that these men were devout Christians, which influenced their scientific work, is conspicuously omitted in most science texts" (ibid., pp. 224-225).
Isaac Newton invented calculus, discovered the theory of gravity, and founded modern physics. In the conclusion to his central scientific work, the Principia, Newton wrote,
This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being...This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all, and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God Pantocrator, or Universal Ruler; for God is a relative word, and has a respect to servants; and Deity is the dominion of God not over his own body...but over servants. The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect...And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done.
Isaac Newton believed in God, the Supreme Designer and Lawgiver of the universe. Other great scientists who were also devout Christians included Robert Boyle, the father of chemistry; John Dalton, the discoverer of the modern atomic theory of matter; and Louis Pasteur, who discovered bacteria and brought about great advances in medicine. Michael Faraday, the founder of the science of electromagnetism, belonged to a church which believed, "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent." Even Gregor Mendel, whose work led to the study of genes and became the foundation for modern genetics, believed in God and rejected Darwin's theory of evolution after he studied it. There is nothing unscientific or second-rate about believing in God and the Bible. The greatest scientists of all time studied the Bible and believed in God as their Creator and Designer.
Then why do evolutionists refuse to recognize intelligent design in biology? Why do they hold on to their obsolete theory of Darwinian evolution, while more and more scientists study the overwhelming body of evidence and accept that life on earth in its many forms did not arise through a random evolutionary process, but was the product of intelligent design? The real reason is that evolutionists do not want to believe in, much less face, the Designer. As Behe writes,
Over the past four decades modern biochemistry has uncovered the secrets of the cell. The progress has been hard won. It has required tens of thousands of people to dedicate the better parts of their lives to the tedious work of the laboratory. Graduate students in untied tennis shoes scraping around the lab late on Saturday night; postdoctoral associates working fourteen hours a day seven days a week; professors ignoring their children in order to polish and repolish grant proposals, hoping to shake a little money loose from politicians with larger constituencies to feed - these are the people that make scientific research move forward. The knowledge we now have of life at the molecular level has been stitched together from innumerable experiments in which proteins were purified, genes cloned, electron micrographs taken, cells cultured, structures determined, sequences compared, parameters varied, and controls done. Papers were published, results checked, reviews written, blind alleys searched, and new leads fleshed out.
The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell - to investigate life at the molecular level - is a loud, clear, piercing cry of "design!" The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schrodinger, Pasteur, and Darwin. The observation of the intelligent design of life is as momentous as the observation that the earth goes around the sun or that disease is caused by bacteria or that radiation is emitted in quanta. The magnitude of the victory, gained at such great cost through sustained effort over the course of decades, would be expected to send champagne corks flying in labs around the world. This triumph of science should evoke cries of "Eureka!" from ten thousand throats, should occasion much hand-slapping and high-fiving, and perhaps even be an excuse to take a day off.
But no bottles have been uncorked, no hands slapped. Instead, a curious, embarrassed silence surrounds the stark complexity of the cell. When the subject comes up in public, feet start to shuffle, and breathing gets a bit labored. In private people are more relaxed; many explicitly admit the obvious but then stare at the ground, shake their heads, and let it go at that.
Why does the scientific community not greedily embrace its startling discovery? Why is the observation of design handled with intellectual gloves? The dilemma is that while one side of the elephant is labeled intelligent design, the other side might be labeled God. (Behe, op. cit., 232-233).
And that is the crucial point! People believe in evolution because they don't want to face God! People don't want to live according to God's commandments. They would rather live a life-style of sin, in disobedience to God, and so they embrace false theories such as evolution which offer them a refuge, if only a temporary one.
But everyone, evolutionist or not, must face God. The Bible says,
"Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).
Again, the Bible says,
"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
The false and outdated theory of evolution will provide no refuge for anyone in the day of judgment. Even believing in God as Creator and Designer will not procure forgiveness for anyone in the day of judgment. Only Jesus Christ, who came into this world to die for sinners, provides true forgiveness and a right relationship with God, through His Blood Atonement on the Cross of Calvary.
The good news of the New Testament is that "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3-4). The person who comes to Jesus Christ and trusts Him in salvation need no longer fear God's eternal judgment for sin.
Two thousand years ago, King Agrippa said to the Apostle Paul,
"Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28).
The Apostle replied,
"I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds" (Acts 26:29).
I can only take the words of the Apostle Paul for my own, and say, "I wish that all who are trusting in evolution, in sin, or in themselves, would be altogether such as I am - in Jesus Christ." Come to Jesus Christ and trust Him today.
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."