It is rarely a pleasure to read the Comment section of the Guardian newspaper —the piece mentioned above was no exception. Monbiot’s article1 was filled with the usual ill-informed and insulting invective against Christian things that some of us have come to expect from that once-great paper.
Much of the article consists of the usual anti-Christian insults, including describing creationists as ‘the Christian Taliban’. (Mr Monbiot regurgitates the tired Taliban comparison, previously seen in a letter to the editor of the same paper; see Christians—‘Fundamentalist Taliban Wannabees’?)
A few paragraphs from the article, however, require a specific response.
The controversy fascinates me, partly because of its similarity to the dispute about climate change. Like the climate-change deniers, advocates of intelligent design cherry-pick the data that appears to support their case. They ask for evidence, then ignore it when it’s presented to them.
Mr Monbiot doth protest too much, methinks. AiG has repeatedly stated that we use the same evidence as evolutionists—only we interpret it differently.2 It is rather the reverse—that evolutionists constantly demand evidence from creationists, but refuse to accept our interpretation of it when offered. We view the evidence through ‘biblical glasses’—as opposed to a naturalistic (anti-biblical) worldview.
They invoke a conspiracy to explain the scientific consensus, and are unembarrassed by their own scientific illiteracy.
Keep this fascinating comment in mind, as you read Monbiot’s cringe-inducing example of his own scientific illiteracy.
In an article published in the American Chronicle on Friday, the journalist Thomas Dawson asserted that ‘all of the vertebrate groups, from fish to mammals, appear [in the fossil record] at one time’, and that if evolution ‘were true, there would be animal-life fossils of particular animals without vision and others with varying degrees of eye development … Such fossils do not exist’. (The first fish and the first mammals are in fact separated by some 300m years, and the fossil record has more eyes, in all stages of development, than the CIA).
The point that Dawson is making, slightly inaccurately, is that fossils representing all the major animal body plans ‘appear’ in the record at the same ‘time’—an event known as the Cambrian Explosion. Monbiot’s error is his blind acceptance of the evolutionary timescale. He provides no evidence for his supposed ‘300m years’, and has probably not read scientific articles which challenge these timescales.
It is interesting that Monbiot quotes Thomas Dawson as an example of creationists’ supposed ‘scientific illiteracy’. Dawson’s article,3 which actually appeared on August 10th (highlighting Monbiot’s poor research), is not an article in support of intelligent design (ID), creation or even President Bush’s recent comments on the topic of origins.
Dawson’s thoughtful and neutral article bemoaned the fact that evolution is taught as if it were ‘Euclidean geometry. As if it were a progression of linear and logical thought’. He (correctly) adds: ‘This is not the case.’ Dawson’s conclusion is not an endorsement of ID teaching. He states: ‘I am no fan of President Bush and I like to point it out when he is wrong. He is wrong. The theory of Intelligent Design should not be taught in a science class, as he would have it. But then … neither should the theory of Evolution’.
To continue with Monbiot’s article:
But it also fascinates me because natural selection is such a barren field for the fundamentalists to till. For 146 years Darwinian evolution has seen off all comers.
That very fact that Monbiot feels the need to write his article proves that his assertion here is incorrect! And in any case, he conflates ‘natural selection’ with ‘Darwinian evolution’. See the articles ‘Muddy Waters’,4‘Genetics: No friend of evolution’,5‘Variation and Natural Selection versus Evolution’6, and many other articles on the Answers in Genesis website.
There is a massive accumulation of evidence — from the fossil record, to genetics, to direct observation — that appears to support it.
This technique is known as ‘elephant hurling’. He suggests that there is ‘massive evidence’ but then fails to produce any. The quantity of evidence is not the issue here—but, frankly, Monbiot’s apparent limited grasp of science.
Were they to concentrate instead on the questions now assailing big bang theory, or on the failure so far to reconcile gravity with quantum physics, or on the stubborn non-appearance of the Higgs boson and the abiding mystery of the phenomenon of mass, the Christian conservatives would be much harder to confront.
Monbiot has obviously not read the many articles on this website, in our Creation magazine, or peer-reviewed scientific articles in AiG’s TJ, which address the big bang, as well as biological evolution. Until he is prepared to do so, he is not justified in making his accusations against creationists.
Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that — for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims — have developed the ability to speculate. After a few score years, the molecules disaggregate and return whence they came. Period. As a gardener and ecologist, I find this oddly comforting.
Perhaps I should not criticise what Monbiot finds comforting. Yet the Bible shows that Monbiot’s comfort is without foundation. Purpose in our lives is found only in a personal relationship with our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the Old Testament Preacher, Qoheleth said:
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Or the golden bowl is broken,
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the well.
Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
With his current views, Monbiot is in grave danger of standing before his Creator, without having recognised or remembered Him and for having rejected God’s Word. Then he will find out that there is no comfort for the life to come, outside of salvation.