Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Darwin rejects traditional Creationism view

Posted by Chris on April 18, 2010

Before reading, you may want to read my introduction which includes why I’m reading The Origin of Species, my scientific beliefs about evolution, and my theological beliefs about creation.  Also, click the category listed below the post for related post

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On the view that each species has been independently created, I can see no explanation of this great fact in the classifcation of all organic beings; but, to the best of my judgment, it is explained through inheritance and the complex action of natural selection… as we have seen illustrated in the diagram.

This quote comes from the summary to the Natural Selection chapter and right after the last quote from my last post on the diagram mention.

The literal interpretation of Genesis 1 is the backbone of “the view” he leaves unnamed– at least, of the Judeo-Christian view– there may be other historical Creation myths from other faiths/cultures.  Here’s how Genesis describes the individual creation of plants and animals.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds… the third day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind…the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.

The assumption with a literal reading is that each animal was made individually– without reading any biographical info on Darwin, I will assume that he was aware of Genesis 1 and infer that his statement refers to the prevalent Creationist worldview and seeks to refute it.

As I said in the introduction, I don’t adhere to the literal Creationist view so his assertion doesn’t bother me.  But I also don’t adhere to the opposite extreme in which he believes, that natural selection is completely the answer.  There seems to be no room for middle ground in his opinion, and many today on both sides have an all-or-nothing view as well.

At this point, I feel some intellectual annoyance with Darwin.  First, his discussion of natural selection highlights man’s ignorance (see this post).  Yet he’s confident in asserting a theory that he has only “proved” in small sub-sections, grounded in the very limitations of time, scope, and perspective that he includes when talking about how natural selection is more powerful than man’s selection!  Second, unless I’m missing something, he is glossing over a lot of detail that I would think would be expected– at least, I’m expecting it if I’m supposed to consider his theory!

My annoyance has almost turned into antipathy though, with the last sentence of the summary.  This is probably what happens when you spend way too much time psycho-analyzing what a scientist wrote 150 years ago, but I think he’s being a smart-ass about all of it!

As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the sruface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.

I am sure he was not trying to use the Tree of Life as an analogy to reproach Christians– but it felt that way.  And his faux eloquence struck me as satirical poetry.

Anyway, I’m moving on to Chapter 5- Laws of Variation- where I will begin afresh with an open mind.  According to my Kindle, I’m only 26% of the way through the book!  After taking a week or two off, I will attempt to read the next 24% or so by the end of April.

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