Update: I made a video about this.
When I write publicly about challenges to the teaching of REAL science, I always try to rise above name-calling. It may just be that I am conflict avoidant, but I do not think that name-calling is particularly useful for advancing any sort of constructive dialogue about the issues.
In my opinion, name-calling that descends to the level of personal insult is especially uncalled for and unwelcome in this debate. But sometimes the name-calling doesn't single out anyone in particular. For instance, I can think of a certain staff member of the Discovery Institute (DI) who claims to be against name-calling while consistently referring to supporters of evolution as "Darwinists" or the "evolution lobby." In addition, there are others who consistently refer to the DI as the "Dishonesty Institute."
I am writing this post to publicly admit that my heretofore refusal to resort to name-calling has reached a serious tipping point.
If you want to find out why, keep reading.
I just visited the home page of the Discovery Institute's new faith + evolution website for the first time and was struck by the blatant dishonesty of their introductory video.
The video opens with the following text:
The viewer then immediately hears a deep male voice with a British accent recite the following sentence:
Meanwhile, this is the image that is displayed:
Clearly, the viewer is being led to believe that those were Charles Darwin's words.
But are they?
Sadly, no. Darwin never wrote anything of the sort. The DI has misattributed to Darwin a quotation from one of Richard Dawkins's books:
River Out of Eden
(Note also that a significant portion of the quotation - "no evil and no good" - has also been silently removed.)
The blatant misattribution of this quote to Darwin is obviously an attempt to portray the man as a dismal pessimist whose ideas about evolution led him to a life of despair and despondency. However, based on his own writings, this negative portrayal of Darwin is completely inaccurate.
What follows are some authentic quotes from the conclusion of Darwin's The Origin of Species. I think they give a much more accurate representation of the way in which Darwin's ideas about evolution shaped his view of the world:
"Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual. When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled."
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
The Origin of Species
6th Edition, 1872
There is no doubt that Darwin's understanding of the evolutionary history of life influenced his personal religious views. But Darwin's understanding of evolution did not turn him into a nihilist, as the DI would apparently like for their visitors to believe. This truth can be seen in this excerpt from Darwin's complete autobiography:
I'm not usually this blunt, but I can no longer sugarcoat my words:
The misattribution of this quote to Darwin is a lie. In their twisted attempt to defend themselves against what they see as a threat to their version of Christianity, the Discovery Institute is lying to the people who visit their "faith + evolution" website.
I'm beginning to think that calling them the "Dishonesty Institute" is too mild. People who habitually tell lies are rightfully called "liars."
There, I said it.