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Reason and Revelation Volume 27 #1

Militant Atheism

The stereotypical scientist in a white lab coat who follows the facts wherever they may lead, and reports those data without prejudice, often does not correspond to reality these days. In fact, a large majority of scientists now believe that God does not exist. These scientists feel that they should militantly spread their ideas of atheism and evolution as far and wide as possible. They abhor the idea of a supernatural Creator and believe it should be eradicated from human consciousness. Just how determined are some of the leading atheistic evolutionists to expunge theism from the world? A recent issue of the journal New Scientist, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary, sheds some light on the subject. In an article titled, “In Place of God: Can Secular Science Ever Oust Religious Belief—and Should It Even Try?,” Michael Brooks recounted a recent meeting of “some of the leading practitioners of modern science” in La Jolla, California (2006, 192[2578]:8). They had gathered to discuss, among other questions, “Should science do away with religion?” Their answers are alarming. [NOTE: The following quotations are extracted from Brooks’ report.]

Cosmologist Steven Weinberg was first to address the question, “Should science do away with religion?” He responded with an unequivocal “yes,” saying: “The world needs to wake up from the long nightmare of religion.... Anything we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done, and may in fact be our greatest contribution to civilization” (p. 9, emp. added). Since scientists at the symposium used the terms “religion” and “God” interchangeably, Weinberg in essence was saying that ridding God from the world would be one of science’s greatest achievements. He seemed so certain that scientists could achieve this goal that he actually admitted he would “miss it once it was gone” (p. 9). How were Weinberg’s comments received, you might ask? According to attendee Michael Brooks, he received “a rapturous response” (p. 9), before being heavily criticized by some, such as Richard Dawkins, surprisingly enough, “for not being tough enough on religion” (p. 9).

Dawkins, who is perhaps the most celebrated evolutionist alive today, was one of the most militant atheists at the conference. He stated: “I am utterly fed up with the respect we have been brainwashed into bestowing upon religion,” i.e., God (p. 9; cf. Ecclesiastes 12:12-13). Passive atheism apparently should not be tolerated. Dawkins is “ready to mobilize” his “big...enthusiastic choir” of evolutionary colleagues (p. 11). He said: “There’s a certain sort of negativity you get from people who say ‘I don’t like religion but you can’t do anything about it.’ That’s a real counsel of defeatism. We should roll our sleeves up and get on with it” (p. 11, emp. added). Dawkins even compared evolutionary scientists’ position in the 21st century to that of homosexuals in the late 1960s: everyone needs to be “willing to stand up and be counted,” so that “they could change things” (p. 11).

Dawkins likely called for such drastic action because he has seen atheism lose some of its battles. In his book, The Blind Watchmaker, he admitted that modern creationists have been “disturbingly successful” in their attempts to combat evolution in “American education and textbook publishing” (1996, p. 241). He also wrote: “There are still those who seek to deny the truth of evolution, and there are disturbing signs that their influence is even growing, at least in local areas of the United States” (p. x). The influence of anti-evolutionists disturbs Dawkins greatly—so much so that he and his colleagues feel compelled to advance evolution, while doing “away with religion” (Brooks, 192[2578]:9).

Evolutionist Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium in New York “spoke with an evangelist’s zeal” (p. 10, emp. added). He referred to a recent poll taken of members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences which revealed that 15 percent did not indicate they were atheists, and asked: “How come the number isn’t zero?... That should be the subject of everybody’s investigation. That’s something that we can’t just sweep under the rug” (p. 10). To Tyson, theistic members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences represent “a problem that needs to be addressed” (p. 10). One wonders what Tyson would suggest if Louis Pasteur, Isaac Newton, Carolus Linnaeus, and other brilliant theistic scientists from the past were members of this group? Kick them out for not being atheists, even though their contributions to science likely far exceed any efforts put forth by most current members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences? Even the staunch evolutionist Niles Eldredge admitted that “all the great biologists and geologists prior to Darwin were, in some sense at least, creationists” (2001, p. 49).

Dr. Harry Kroto of Florida State University also stepped forward at the conference declaring himself “ready to fight the good fight” (Brooks, 192[2578]:11). He proposed the launching of “a coordinated global effort at education, media outreach and campaigning on behalf of science,” using especially the Internet to take evolutionary science into every home (p. 11). If you think students in private religious schools will be untouched and invulnerable to the efforts of modern-day evolutionists, consider that Kroto has these schools in his sights as well. He declared: “We must try to work against faith schooling” (p. 11).

Michael Brooks summarized the overall attitude at the La Jolla, California symposium in the following words: “science can take on religion and win” (p. 11, emp. added). So, in the words of Richard Dawkins, “We [evolutionists—EL/KB] should roll our sleeves up and get on with it” (p. 11).

The irony of this militant attitude toward religion is that evolutionists sometimes downplay such aggressive tactics in an attempt to lull the religious populace into thinking that no battle is taking place. Niles Eldredge, the Curator in the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, wrote a book titled The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism. In that book, he said: “Creationists have spuriously convinced many citizens that huge hunks of science are antithetical to their religious beliefs” (2001, p. 174). One would not have to read past the first page of Brook’s New Scientist article to understand that the evolutionists themselves openly admit that their atheistic, evolutionary beliefs are antithetical to religion. To add further irony to Eldredge’s statement, the back of his book quotes Booklist as saying that Eldredge’s book is “a clarion call rallying evolutionist [sic] to battle.”

It Starts Early and Stays Late

In the mid-1990s, philosopher Daniel Dennett wrote a book titled Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Leading evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Philip Kitcher, and Edward O. Wilson highly recommended the book, calling it “surpassingly brilliant” and “essential,” as it persuades readers that “evolution by natural selection is vital to the future of philosophy.” One of the most disturbing comments in Dennett’s book concerned parents who teach their children (among other things) “that ‘Man’ is not a product of evolution” (1995, p. 519, emp. added). Dennett wrote: “[T]hose of us who have freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at our earliest opportunity” (p. 519). Notice the jab at religious parents—accusing them of lying and not “freely” telling the truth about man’s origins. More important, observe how he then proceeded to testify that evolutionists like himself will endeavor to convince the children of theists that evolution is not fiction, but a fact that will be communicated “at our earliest opportunity.” How early? Consider one example.

The toddler pop-up “history” book titled Life on Earth was published in 2002 by Barron’s Educational Series. It is 21 pages of colorful illustrations, captivating pop-ups, and evolutionary dogma. It tells the story of evolution with less than 10 words per page. Beginning with “the first living things” in the seas, it proceeds with fish crawling out onto land and becoming amphibians. It then tells of the reptiles’ appearance, followed by the mammals, and eventually the first “hairy” humans. In case a child misses the point of the book, placed strategically just above a baby in diapers sliding down the tail of a large dinosaur, the text on the back cover reinforces the main point: “Millions of years ago life on Earth started in the oceans. Then it moved onto the land and eventually led to YOU!”

Those who teach evolution target children. Niles Eldredge wrote: “I maintain my conviction that the real battleground is in the classroom” (2001, p. 157, emp. added). In the same book, he asserted: “The real battle is still being fought at school board meetings and in public school classrooms” (p. 149, emp. added). Notice the military terminology used. Mark it down. Many within the evolutionary community recognize that the ideas of a supernatural God and organic evolution are at war. Eldredge and others offer a glimpse into their battle strategy: start early in the school system.

Near the end of his book, Eldredge included a list from Eugenie Scott, Director of the National Center for Science Education, of 25 things “parents, teachers, and even scientists” can do to help evolution win its battle over creation. The number one item listed: “Donate books and videos about evolution to school and public libraries” (p. 178, emp. added). Number eight: “Share your views with school board members, legislators, textbook commissioners, and other educational policy makers” (p. 179, emp. added). Number 16: “PARENTS: Make sure your child’s teacher knows s/he has your support for teaching about evolution” (p. 179). Number 22: “K-12 TEACHERS: Work with your colleagues to create a supportive atmosphere in your school and community” (p. 180). Number 23: “K-12 TEACHERS: Work with colleagues to develop or publicize workshops and in-service units about evolution; take advantage of them yourself” (p. 180). A cursory reading of the list shows exactly the primary target of evolutionists: children and educational systems.

Dr. Dennett and his band of evolutionary guerrillas are serious about teaching evolution at the “earliest opportunity.” It can start with what parents perceive as “innocent” pop-up books, and continue into elementary school, middle school, and high school. Then, generally with more fervor than ever before, many evolutionary college professors make it their mission to verbally beat God out of their students. Sometime ago a gentleman visited one of our creation/evolution seminars. He had attended a well-known university in the southeastern United States. He recounted how he entered one of his science classes at the beginning of the semester, and heard his professor ask the class to stand up if they believed in God. Seven individuals stood up. The professor then went on to say that by the end of the semester not one of them would stand up when he asked that question. Sure enough, toward the end of the semester the professor posed the question again, “How many of you believe in God?” Only one student stood up.

Where Will It Lead?

If militant evolutionists have their way, what ultimately will become of nonconformists and disbelievers of evolutionary theory? Let us allow the evolutionists themselves to tell us. Richard Dickerson, a molecular biologist, wrote an article titled “The Game of Science.” In that article, he insisted that science cannot tolerate a supernatural Creator Who would perform miracles or create the Universe in six, 24-hour days. He also proposed that real science never can resort to invoking miracles as a legitimate explanation for anything that happens in the real world. Dickerson said: “[I]nvoking miracles and special creation violates the rules of the game of science and inhibits progress” (as quoted in Scott, 2004, p. 254). According to Dickerson, then, what should be done with any person who does believe in a supernatural Creator and a straightforward reading of Genesis 1? He is quick to offer his opinion. He says: “People who do not understand that concept (evolution—EL/KB) can never be real scientists, and should not be allowed to misrepresent science to young people from whom the ranks of the next generation of scientists will be drawn” (as quoted in Scott, p. 254, emp. added). Richard Dawkins quipped: “No serious biologist doubts the fact that evolution has happened, nor that all living creatures are cousins of one another” (1996, p. 287, emp.).

Consider one example of intolerance toward creationism in 2002 at Texas Tech University. When undergraduate student Micah Spradling requested a letter of recommendation from a biology instructor in order to enroll in a pre-medical program, Professor Michael Dini informed him that he needed to “‘truthfully and forthrightly’ believe in human evolution to receive a letter of recommendation” (see Kitchen, 2002). At the time, Dr. Dini’s Web site contained the following defense of why he asked students if they believed in the factuality of evolution:

Why do I ask this question? Let’s consider the situation of one wishing to enter medical school. Whereas medicine is historically rooted first in the practice of magic and later in religion, modern medicine is an endeavor that springs from the sciences, biology first among these. The central, unifying principle of biology is the theory of evolution, which includes both micro- and macro-evolution, and which extends to all species. How can someone who does not accept the most important theory in biology expect to properly practice in a field that is so heavily based on biology? It is hard to imagine how this can be so, but it is easy to imagine how physicians who ignore or neglect the Darwinian aspects of medicine or the evolutionary origin of humans can make bad clinical decisions....

Good medicine, like good biology, is based on the collection and evaluation of physical evidence. So much physical evidence supports the evolution of humans from non-human ancestors that one can validly refer to the “fact” of human evolution, even if all of the details are not yet known. One can deny this evidence only at the risk of calling into question one’s understanding of science and of the method of science. Such an individual has committed malpractice regarding the method of science, for good scientists would never throw out data that do not conform to their expectations or beliefs. This is the situation of those who deny the evolution of humans; such a one is throwing out information because it seems to contradict his/her cherished beliefs (as quoted in Thompson and Harrub, 2002).

In the eyes of some, such as Dr. Dini, it is no longer acceptable simply to know about the theory of evolution and be able to discuss it intelligently. Now, if you do not profess it, even though, admittedly, it is still simply a “theory” and “all of the details are not yet known,” you may risk the opportunity to further your education—a risk that Christians must be willing to take.

In 2003, following an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, Dr. Dini supposedly “eliminated the evolution belief requirement from his recommendation policy and replaced it with a requirement that students be able to explain the theory of evolution” (Taylor, 2003, 27[4]:6). The wording in Dr. Dini’s policy changed to the following: “How do you account for the scientific origin of the human species? If you will not give a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation” (as quoted in Taylor, 27[4]:6, emp. added).

Notice that Dr. Dini simply changed his criteria to demand a “scientific” answer. Yet, when one explores the writings of these militant evolutionists, it becomes apparent that the word “scientific” is simply a synonym for “evolutionary.” For instance, Eugenie Scott wrote: “To scientists, using God to explain natural phenomena of any kind violates the practice of methodological naturalism, in which scientific explanations are limited only to natural causes” (2004, p. 119, emp. added). In other words, any idea that contains a hint of a supernatural, non-material Creator is, according to their definition, “unscientific.” In the National Academy of Science’s book Science and Creationism, the “steering committee” members, such as Stephen J. Gould, Eugenie Scott, Francisco Ayala, and others, put it like this: “[T]he teaching of evolution should be an integral part of science instruction, and creation science is in fact not science and should not be presented as such in science classes” (1999, p. 2). How convenient. Simply demand that all answers must be “scientific,” then define scientific as excluding any reference to a supernatural Creator. Needless to say, the great scientists of the past like Newton, Farraday, and Carver never would have accepted such a biased definition of science. Nor should thinking people today allow these sneaky, semantic tactics to go unchallenged and unanswered.

Ultimately, evolutionists would like to marginalize completely those who believe in a supernatural Creator. They would like to relegate all non-evolutionists to a tiny a band of “know-nothings,” or as Dawkins puts it, “backwoodsmen” who do not deserve the name “scientist” (1996, p. x). If these militant evolutionists have their way, no creationist will be allowed to enroll in the prestigious institutes of higher learning to earn advanced accredited degrees, much less have the opportunity to teach on college campuses. In the introduction to his 1996 edition of The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins said as much: “I was reminded of the creationist student who, through some accident of the selection procedure, was admitted to the Zoology Department at Oxford University” (p. xi). To Dawkins, and others like him, a “properly” working selection procedure would have disallowed a creationist to enroll in an institute like Oxford, regardless of his or her intellectual accomplishments or abilities. Dawkins’ sentiments are clear from his statement in 1989: “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that)” (7:34, parenthetical item in orig.). In contradistinction, the Bible says: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).

The fact that these militant evolutionists want to silence the idea of creation is ironic in light of beliefs held by Darwin himself. In his book, Origin of the Species, Darwin wrote:

I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question... (1956, p. 18, emp. added).

Judging from the comments by Dawkins and others, Darwin’s suggestion that both sides should be heard was far too tolerant and soft on the “unscientific” idea of creation.

Acknowledge the War! Join the Fight!

Highly acclaimed evolutionary scientists recognize that a war is going on—a war between atheistic evolutionary science and anti-evolutionary science. Evolutionists are ready to “get on with it” (Brooks, 192[2578]:11). They are speaking “with an evangelist’s zeal” and are “ready to fight the good fight” (pp. 10,11). Even now, they are attempting to position themselves to set evolution “in place of God” (p. 8).

Creationists must not shy away from this battle. We, too, must roll up our sleeves and heed the apostle Paul’s admonition to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). We must strive to “speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25), and “be ready to give a defense to everyone” (1 Peter 3:15). Indeed, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

What can creationists do? How can we fight against atheistic evolutionary science? If evolutionists have benefited from Eugenie Scott’s to-do list for the advancement of evolution, perhaps it is fitting to close this article with a list of suggestions for creationists in their fight against atheistic evolution.

  • Recognize that there is a battle over the most fundamental pillar of Christianity (the existence of God), and resolve to do something.
  • Begin teaching your children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, etc. the case for creation and the case against evolution before they ever enter school. Then continue this instruction as they get older.
  • Encourage your children to ask questions about God, creation, and evolution. If you don’t answer their questions, someone will—and that someone probably will be an evolutionist.
  • Give your children (and yourself!) the tools needed to build a strong faith—one that is based on both reason and revelation.
  • Familiarize yourself with Web sites such as ApologeticsPress.org and ChristianCourier.com, which provide immediate answers to many of your questions. They also aid students with term papers, reports, speeches, etc.

[The final five suggestions are adapted from Eugenie Scott’s list (see Eldredge, 2001, pp. 178-180).]

  • Donate books and videos about creation to school and public libraries.
  • Make it a point to share your views about creation with school board members, legislators, textbook commissioners, and other educational policy makers.
  • Let your children’s teachers know that they have your support if they choose to teach about the errors and weaknesses of evolutionary theory.
  • Attempt to create an open-minded atmosphere in your school and community, so that creation and evolution can both be discussed.
  • Work with parents, teachers, churches, etc. to develop or publicize workshops or seminars about the errors of evolution and the evidence for God’s existence.

REFERENCES

Brooks, Michael (2006), “In Place of God,” New Scientist, 192[2578]:8-11.

Darwin, Charles (1956 edition), The Origin of Species (New York: J.M. Dent & Sons).

Dawkins, Richard (1989), “Book Review,” The New York Times, section 7, April 9.

Dawkins, Richard (1996), The Blind Watchmaker (New York, NY: W.W. Norton).

Dennett, Daniel (1995), Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster).

Eldredge, Niles (2001), The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism (New York, NY: W.H. Freeman).

Kitchen, Sebastian (2002), “Professor Rigid on Evolution,” Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, A-1,9, October 6.

Life on Earth (2002), (Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Education Series).

Science and Creationism (1999), (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press), second edition.

Scott, Eugenie (2004), Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press).

Taylor, Larry (2003), “Biology Professor Alters Evolution Statement for Recommendations,” Skeptical Inquirer, 27[4]:6, July/August.

Thompson, Bert and Brad Harrub (2002), “Quick, Let’s Discriminate Against the Creationists!” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2504.



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