"Report Magazine" December 18, 2000
Intelligent design theorists are winning the battle against evolution
by Kevin Michael Grace
STOCKWELL Day suffered many grim days
during the federal election
campaign, but November 15 was probably the grimmest. As Paul Wells
described it in the National Post, Liberal hatchet-man Warren Kinsella
"had a talking-head gig on CTV's Canada AM. He sent a staffer to Wal-Mart
with $75 to make a purchase. He arrived at the CTV studio with his prize
tucked into a duffle bag. Tim Powers, the burly young Newfoundlander who
speaks for the Alliance on such shows, was mighty curious about what was
in the bag. Mr. Kinsella wouldn't say. When the cameras started rolling,
Mr. Kinsella reached into the bag and pulled out a stuffed Barney the
Dinosaur toy. Even Mr. Powers couldn't stop laughing. The transformation
of Mr. Day, from Stock to Laughingstock, was complete."
A day earlier, CBC's The National had
aired a documentary on Mr. Day's
religious beliefs. According to Pliny Hayes, a Red Deer College
professor, Mr. Day had years earlier expressed his belief in a literal
interpretation of the Book of Genesis to a group of students there:
"Humans coexisted with dinosaurs, that there is as much evidence for
evolution, or for creationism, rather, as there is for evolution, and
that he's upset that creationism can't be taught in public schools."
Mr. Day accused the CBC of "yellow journalism."
He argued, "I don't think
the particular beliefs of an individual in public policy [are] any more
[relevant] than asking a Roman Catholic what their belief is related to
the Virgin Mary." He was referring to the dogma of the Immaculate
Conception (that the Mother of God was born without original sin) and to
the fact that Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Conservative leader Joe
Clark both claim to be Catholics.
In any event, Alliance headquarters quickly
confirmed that Mr. Day was
still a creationist. His demand for religious tolerance was ridiculed.
For the remainder of the campaign, he was met with spirited renditions of
the theme song from The Flintstones.
Mr. Day's enemies cited his creationism
as further evidence for their
contention he intended to "impose" his religious beliefs on the Canadian
public. Even as prime minister, however, Mr. Day would have no power to
force provincially administered schools to teach creationism. He declared
repeatedly throughout the campaign that he had no intention of forcing
his faith on anyone, and this was proved by the fact that while he did
not campaign on the Christian Sabbath, he had no objections to his
candidates or staff doing so.
Mr. Kinsella's stunt was intended to
demonstrate that Mr. Day was
mentally unfit to be prime minister--that he was, not to put too fine a
point on it, a kook. If so, he has a lot of company, even among Liberals.
A Compas poll released November 24 revealed that 43% of Canadians
"believe in the theory of evolution to explain the origins of life,"
while 38% "believe in a Biblical understanding of creation." Liberal
supporters split evenly on the question, while Alliance supporters
revealed a slight preference for "Biblical understanding." Conservative,
NDP and Bloc supporters were solidly evolutionist.
Mr. Day's rejection of Darwin's theory
has academic support as well. As
Jonathan Wells wrote in the November 17 Globe and Mail, "A growing number
of biologists question whether [evolution] can account for the major
changes we see in the history of life. At the very least, our students
deserve to be taught the truth about the so-called 'evidence' for
Darwinian evolution. They also deserve to hear about alternative
Mr. Wells, who holds a doctorate in biology
from the University of
California at Berkeley, is a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute in
Seattle and a member of what has come to be known as the "intelligent
design" movement. These scientists believe that the random variation
posited by Darwin is not sufficient to explain the incredible complexity
of life on earth. Mr. Wells is not a "creationist," as that term is
normally applied. "Young earth" creationists like Mr. Day believe God
created the universe in six days and that the earth is 6,000 years old.
Intelligent design theory holds only
that life must have had some kind of
designer; it does not specify what kind. So Mr. Wells was distressed when
his Globe op-ed was titled ("In defence of creationism") and the text
altered to make it appear his cosmology is identical to Mr. Day's. Mr.
Wells reports, "I complained, but as far as I know, nothing has been done
Mr. Wells comments that the conflation
of intelligent design theory with
creationism is a "standard ploy" used by Darwinists to discredit the
movement. Some prominent members of the movement, such as Michael Behe
and William Dembski, are Christians, but Mr. Wells explains, "I'm one of
the more obvious non-Christians. The equation of intelligent design with
Christianity is false." (David Berlinski, another prominent member, is
It is one of the great under-reported
stories at the end of the century
that Darwinism is under furious attack. Opponents of Darwinism make the
following claims; not one has been successfully refuted.
* The fossil record
does not support evolution.
* "Survival of the fittest" is a tautology. (How do we know that the
fittest species survived? Because they survived.)
* There is no evidence of a common ancestor of all life on earth.
* Biology is incredibly more complex than Darwin knew, and random
variation is mathematically insufficient to explain the development
of such systems as DNA and proteins.
* Evolution is not "falsifiable." A theory that cannot be proved wrong
is not a theory. As intelligent designers like to say, a theory that
explains everything explains nothing.
Yet evolution is taught almost everywhere
as an uncontested "fact." Mr.
Wells explains in his new book Icons of Evolution that writers of
textbooks commonly used in high schools have resorted to outright
falsehoods to obscure the crisis in Darwinism. Here are several:
* The "life-in-a-test-tube"
experiment ignores the fact that earth's
early atmosphere consisted of gases that were not hydrogen-rich but
* The similar embryos depicted to prove common ancestry were faked
over a century ago, a fact known to Darwinists for decades.
* The "Tree of Life" depicted to prove common ancestry has been
disproved by molecular biology.
* The photographs of peppered moths used to prove natural selection
* Photographs of increased beak size in Darwin's finches (they
increase in times of drought) used to prove natural selection
neglect to mention that the beaks return to normal when the droughts
Despite the accumulation of evidence
against Darwinism, public advocacy
of intelligent design is dangerous, even in Christian colleges. In
October, mathematician and philosopher William Dembski was removed as
director of the Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor University, a Baptist
institution in Texas. The author of The Design Inference: Eliminating
Chance Through Small Probabilities explains that many Christians,
particularly evangelical Protestants, are terrified of appearing
unsophisticated. He says, "They are enlightened figures that can make
peace with Darwin and still retain some semblance of their faith. And
then it's woe to those benighted people who are trying to reopen this
question that has been 'definitively settled.'"
An aging champion:
Evolutionary theory is
'going to disappear
Prof. Dembski argues that, for many secularists,
Darwinism has become a
religion: "Canonization is not done just by the Catholic Church. Darwin
has become St. Darwin. To accept his theory often has the effect of a
Michael Behe, Lehigh University biology
professor and author of Darwin's
Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, argues, "Darwinism
promised to bring a tough problem into scientific understanding. But then
it got mixed up with opposition to religion and with a materialistic
worldview. More is at stake now than just a scientific theory. As
[evolutionist] Richard Dawkins says, 'Darwin made it possible to be an
intellectually fulfilled atheist.'"
John Baumgardner believes it is possible
to be intellectually fulfilled
young earth creationist. A born-again Christian, he is a geophysicist at
the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "My views are very
close to Stockwell Day's," he says. While the vast majority of scientists
hold that carbon dating has established the age of the earth to be 4.5
billion years, Mr. Baumgardner contends that carbon dating has been
fooled by a "global tectonic catastrophe" that occurred 5,000 years ago,
coincidental with this flood described in Genesis. This
catastrophe--similar to one known to have occurred on Venus--melted the
crust of the earth and thus "wiped out roughly 500 million years of the
He is not alone in this contention. "I'm
a member of a group called Radio
Isotopes and the Age of the Earth, a young earth group, all PhDs, and
we're seeking to come up with answers for radiometric dating in terms of
a young earth framework," he reports. He expects to see scientific
confirmation of his hypothesis within 10 years.
Perhaps surprisingly, Mr. Wells says
he is an "agnostic" on the question
of the earth's age. "I haven't studied the data," he declares. But he is
confident that Darwinism's days are numbered. "It's like the coming of
spring," he says. "The ice on the ponds gradually gets honeycombed with
water, but the ice still looks pretty solid. Darwinism still looks pretty
solid, but the thaw is coming, and when it comes, it's going to disappear
Perhaps that will be some small comfort to Stockwell Day.
"Report Magazine" January 22, 2001
Textbooks prove evolution
Your article "Intelligent design theorists are winning the battle against
evolution" (Dec. 18) was a masterpiece of propaganda. Not surprising,
perhaps, because the "battle against evolution" is a political battle, not
a scientific one.
The intelligent design movement has failed to produce a single
peer-reviewed scientific publication outlining the theory. Experiments and
predictions are hallmarks of science, but no proponent of intelligent
design has proposed a single experiment to test it or a single prediction
that could be confirmed.
Your article was filled with nonsense, such as "the fossil record does
support evolution" and "there is no evidence of a common ancestor of all
life on earth" that could be easily refuted by consulting a university
textbook on evolutionary biology. In addition, you failed to interview even
one scientist who would oppose the intelligent design position.
Prof. Jeffrey Shallit
University of Waterloo
Note: In both the print and online editions, to the right of Shallit's
letter is the cover from "Human Evolution: An Illustrated Introduction" by
Roger Lewin. Beneath the cover is the caption:
[Proof of evolution: Any textbook fits the pieces together nicely.]