Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Charles Darwin and the “Christian Right”

Interesting.  Nobody ever talks about the “anti-Christian left.” They are always referred to as “progressives” as though their ideas are brand new when, in fact, some of them date to the turn of the last century.  No matter.

Paul Rosenberg, of Salon, has a post that appears in Raw Story titled The brilliant science that has creationists and the Christian right terrified.  The story first ran in May of 2015 but I did not see it at the time.  To be fair, Rosenberg opens the piece with the following paragraph:
The Christian right’s obsessive hatred of Darwin is a wonder to behold, but it could someday be rivaled by the hatred of someone you’ve probably never even heard of. Darwin earned their hatred because he explained the evolution of life in a way that doesn’t require the hand of God. Darwin didn’t exclude God, of course, though many creationists seem incapable of grasping this point. But he didn’t require God, either, and that was enough to drive some people mad.
The problem I have here, of course, is that he doesn't define “Christian Right.” Reading between the lines, one might reasonably conclude he means Young Earth Creationists but, all the same, there should have been something here. Onward.  Having exonerated Darwin, however, he then makes an unwarranted leap beyond that initial paragraph. 
Darwin also didn’t have anything to say about how life got started in the first place — which still leaves a mighty big role for God to play, for those who are so inclined. But that could be about to change, and things could get a whole lot worse for creationists because of Jeremy England, a young MIT professor who’s proposed a theory, based in thermodynamics, showing that the emergence of life was not accidental, but necessary.
The bold is mine. He makes a point of separated YEC from OEC in the first paragraph and then conflates them in the second. Further, it is not clear in any sense why the “necessity” of life would obviate the need or existence of God.

The work of Jeremy England is key to this idea.  He has developed a mathematical formula to describe the fact that carbon atoms found in living organisms are better at harnessing external energy than inanimate groups.  As Rosenberg puts it, this puts the nail in the coffin of the idea that the second law of thermodynamics precludes evolution.  In fact, to use his phrase “thermodynamics drives evolution.”

The rebuttal to the claim that the second law of thermodynamics precludes evolution is pretty low-hanging fruit: the earth is obviously not a closed system.  It gets its energy from the sun.  Therefore, the idea that God is not active is not even addressed by the research.  Consequently, despite what Rosenberg writes, God may, indeed, be playing quite a large role.  This is yet another instance in which the existence of God cannot be tested one way or the other but the evidence makes the YEC position harder to maintain. 

Darwin Day Celebration in Knoxville

On Saturday, February 16, there will be a Darwin Day celebration at the Frank H. McClung Museum on the University of Tennessee Campus.  Here is the information.  The event will be from 1:00 to 4:00 and is open to the public.