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Lecture 18: Modern opponents of evolution

Terms in this set (12)

· Big change came with the rise of the American fundamentalist movement at the beginning of the 19th century.
· Some of its leaders, have heard propaganda elsewhere.
· It was claimed by the early anti-evolutionist that Darwism was responsible for the horrors of the first world war
· First world war was also known as the great war, and was thought to be, or was, more brutal, nasty, horrible and inhumane as previous war, but because we have the technology to drop bombs on people, to shot artillery to long distances., to launch poison gas attacks which were practically impossible to do so in previous wars.
· Some people claimed that all the horror that just happened was the fault of evolution theory, teaching people that they are apes or humanity was somehow low.
· One of the most famous events in the whole of Darwin's evolution story- the scopes monkey trial in 1925
· Textbooks will tell you that this trial is over a state law in America that forbade the teaching of certain parts of evolutionary theory, specifically that human beings were descended from earlier species. This was against the law to teach, in favour of the religious views of the people who prepared the law. But according to the America constitution, religious views of any kind, of any religion, aren't allowed to be in the legislation because there is an official separation between church and state.
· So that's why teaching of religion other than in religion class in state schools of America is not allowed. In here, the science was being modified in favour of one particular religious view.
· So, a group from America wants to challenge this law. So, in fact, this famous (and first) confrontation (there are still many of this happening) of creationist vs evolutionist was actually a setup, in a sense that the people who set this up in this tiny little town decided to make it up, in a sense that they asked a temporary teacher (a P.E. teacher) to teach a class on biology and talk about evolution so that he would break the law, and have the trial, and get their town on the map to get publicity. It worked tremendously well. This is the most famous trial in history. It was the first trial ever to be reported live by journalists on radio. You can follow it.
· It was made into a movie called 'Inherit the Wind', which is based on the novel 'to kill a mocking bird' which is also about this trial.
· They brought in the big guns so the big conservative gun was the man named William Jennings Bryan (the one on the top), who was four time failed US president candidate. But he was a brilliant speaker, widely loved and very conservative. He believed that claim that evolution theory was responsible for the first world war. He felt deeply and strongly that it should be kept out from American schools because it would make human beings bad. On the other side, was a famous American lawyer name Clarence Darrow, who was also a very brilliant man. And they trial back and forth. A lot of the ways the people talked about this issue nowadays come from this event, the way it was presented in the popular media. This was huge.
· In Europe, people were scratching their heads: evolution? It's controversial? What's the big deal?
· This kind of anti-evolutionist theory has been spreading around the world widely since these early days.
At one point, Darrow even had his rival, Bryan to take a stand. He challenged him with various questions, for example, Darrow: you believed in the bible? Bryan said yes, Darrow:How long did it take for the Earth to be created? How old is the Earth? Bryan: 7 days. Darrow: literal 24 hour days? Or it takes somewhat longer? Bryan knew that geology show that the Earth is really old, so he kind of got flustered. A few of the other statements on first reading appear to contradict common things in modern science were thrown at Bryan to embarrass him and in the end, his testimony really hurt his case.
· Nevertheless, it was all just a show because Scopes, who is this insignificant nobody, a teacher who broke the law, did break the law. It was against the law to teach evolution and he did it and was found guilty. He was fined a dollar. It was just a sham.
· It was many years before these anti science laws were struck down by the American of supreme court. And such things happened over and over again.
· In 1970s, there was this new movement, a new attempt to push evolution out of the state schools, and get the views of this particular version of fundamentalist Christianity into the science classroom, because these people felt that the theory of evolution contradicted their views. They thought that it was unfair that their children, who should have their beliefs, were going to the state schools and being taught things things that they violently disagreed with. They didn't like it and didn't think it was fair.
· That was crushed by the US supreme court because it was indeed an attempt to introduce religion into the science classroom in state schools, which is forbidden. But they tried it anyway.
· And it happened again in the1980s. There was another famous case and this time they change the tactics, by saying that it was not religion anymore, it was now called creation science, so it's actually science. But there was no science at all, just religion trying to sneak into science. So this trial was defeated.
· The most recent one in the 1990s, still reverberating around the internet, quite famous, was in the press. This one was the attempt to introduce intelligent design into science classes in American schools. The word religion never appears at all in their materials. The nonscientists said: After all, evolution is just a theory, we have another theory and it is only fair to teach both theories in science classrooms. They have a sign that said teach the controversies, it is better for students. They should hear both sides and make up their own minds. The doctrine of intelligent design was identical to creation science. It was exactly the same thing. In fact, the people who have prepared the books and pamphlets for creation science movement, have even been so sloppy as to do a global replace in their documents for the phrase creation science, and replaced it with the phrase intelligent design. This was actually shown during this trial, that they had done this. In fact, they made a silly word that made no sense to do a global replace to remove the phrase creation science, and used intelligent design instead. This is till the current version that has been floating around nowadays- intelligent design. [U1]
[U1]Final Exam Question
What was the most current phrase used to push evolution out of school?
a. Intelligent design
· In Michael Behe's book—Darwin's black box, published in 1996, he made an argument which he called irreducible complexity. He argued that some structures in nature, living things, nature, are so complicated that they cannot be reduced.
· In other words, if you take a component away, it wouldn't work, and therefore, such a structure couldn't have come about In gradual steps like in a Darwinian way. So, It all came at once.
· He is a microbiologist, so his example is a flagellum on certain microscopic creatures. It is like a hair like structure, like a tail on a sperm cell that whips around to propel microscopic creatures.
· The picture at the bottom left is a computed generated diagram trying to describe the way the different components function for the flagellum to work. In fact, it kind of works like a machine, in a sense that it spins all the way round.
· So his argument was about this couldn't have come about naturally. Any graduate in philosophy who read his book will instantly demolish it because this is a logical fallacy. It is called the argument from ignorance. His statement, reinstating perfectly means that: I can't see how all this could have come about by Darwinian means, therefore, it could not have. This was not a good argument, a bad argument.
· He used an analogy of a mousetrap. A mouse trap would only work with all the components, if we take any one of the documents away, it would not function. He said that it is the same with flagellum and various other structures in nature. His case has been soundly refuted as in every view the lecturer had ever heard of by other microbiologists who have shown that every chunk of these structures which function in this particular way in this kind of cell exist in other kinds of cell in different things. So his argument that it could work without being a whole is refuted. They actually do in different kinds of things.
· His analogy on the mousetrap is also wrong, because a mouse trap has also evolved. The modern mousetrap that we see now has evolved gradually. It used to be a spring loaded fish hook and very very simple and it gradually evolved into a mouse trap.