Saturday, January 03, 2009

Year of Darwin: A Creation Perspective Part I

Answers in Genesis has an end of the year site on the Year of Darwin: A Creation Perspective. They remark that "a deeper look might surprise you." The first dig comes, predictably, in the opening paragraph of the main page:

Throughout 2009 the world will be celebrating Darwin’s birthday (February 12, 1809) and the publication of On the Origin of Species (November 24, 1859). Meanwhile, Bible-believing Christians have had 150 years to reflect on Darwin’s life and work. What have we learned?

In other words, if you accept "Darwinism" you don't believe in the Bible. That's dichotomy for you. The site is largely an ad for their upcoming Answers issue dealing with the man. Nonetheless, there are some articles attached.

On this site, Roger Sanders writes a column called The Pursuit of Darwin on the life of Charles Darwin. The column largely tracks his early life and influences leading up to and including his voyage on the Beagle. In it, he states the following:

In particular, the majority of British clergymen and clerical scientists followed natural theology, a view of God that took root in the late 1600s. In Darwin’s youth, they held that we can discover God and His attributes from human reasoning alone without reference to the Scriptures.

That was never the intention of natural theology, a term made famous by William Paley, the originator of the concept of Intelligent Design. They simply intended to show that God's handiwork could be uncovered in the natural world. Part of the reason this happened is that scientists like William Buckland, Adam Sedgwick and Charles Lyell began to see that the six-day account in the scriptures could not be reconciled with what was being discovered in the geological column. Sanders carefully does not mention this. From the Darwin Correspondence Project:

In comparing the work of Paley, Buckland, and Owen, it becomes clear that natural theology was not a single, unified tradition. There were in fact different, and to some degree competing, versions of natural theology.

Natural theology was also not without its own controversies. These were especially evident in geology. Discoveries of the fossil remains of extinct creatures, together with other evidence of the age of the earth presented in the work of Charles Lyell and others, challenged the literal reading of the creation story in Genesis. One reading of Genesis, for example, assigned each day of creation to a different geological epoch. Creation was viewed by some as a progressive unfolding, rather than as a single event. Further questions were raised about the role of God in relation to the operation of natural forces and laws.

The rest of the column is somewhat predictable, in that Sanders says that when Darwin went aboard the Beagle and began to examine the fossils:

He saw species as the product of change but not change following the global Flood. He saw rock strata as the product of processes but not processes stemming from the biblical catastrophe. He saw diverse kinds of plants and animals but did not recognize the gulf between distinct “kinds” that God had originally created.

He didn't recognize the gulf because no such gulf existed. This had already been established by the naturalists of the day. This is an example of "There have to be created, immutable kinds. Darwin did not recognize them, therefore Darwin was wrong."

To be fair, he does poke holes in a lot of the traditional creationist misconception about Darwin, including the "deathbed recant." That is good. The rest, however, is a treatise on how if you don't accept the six-day model, every conclusion you come to is wrong. There is no hint of the massive problems that the scientists of the day found in adhering to that model.

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