Aha! Not what you were expecting, is it? It wasn’t what I was expecting, either, when I came to discover that my entire world view was a fairy tale. There was a time when I believed everything the church said, and that included information on the topic of evolution. Why would I distrust what they said? Why bother reading up on something I knew was stupid/false anyway? I’m not here writing about creationism v evolution—I’m writing about the lies the church told us concerning “the other side of the argument”.
What I mean by that is, even though I now no longer believe in creation, I’m not here trying to convince anyone else. I’m here writing this today because of the lies about the idea of evolution the church taught us. And it is a very strange subject to lie about—they believe in creation, and they have booklets, and booklets, and booklets about all sorts of topics “as explained by the bible”, yet they felt it necessary to lie about a subject, I would think, they could have tackled easily. I mean, they can make it sound like Herbert Armstrong, David Pack (RCG), and/or Gerald Flurry (PCG) are end-time Apostles of God—certainly they can take the real Theory of Evolution and make a good sounding argument against it. One would think. But instead they paraded a paper tiger in front of us, thrashed it, made it look utterly ridiculous, and said something to the effect of “see, now that proves the Bible is true, and our booklets tell you how the Bible shows that our leader is from God, so now obey”.
For example, I remember a lecture given by Stephen Flurry at PYC one year (would have been ’97-’99) on Seven Proofs God Exists. The one I remember most clearly was “Dogs Don’t Mate with Cats”. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but I’m sure it was some sad defacement of the idea of Speciation. It really rather reminds me of the South Park where Mr. (I mean Ms.) Garrison was being made to teach evolution in the classroom. She didn’t like the idea, so taught it…kind of like the PCG did in my time: Congratulations, you’re the product of five monkeys having butt-sex with a fish-squirrel!
As you might imagine, this pattern began with the inimitable Herbert W. Armstrong! It is present even on page one of The Bible Superstition or Authority:
“If you are college or university educated, you have undoubtedly been taught that humanity originated through the theoretical process called evolution. But the educated of this world in nearly all cases have been taught only one side of the subject of origins—the theory of evolution. On the contrary most of those lacking higher education in the United States ‘Bible Belt’, for example, have been taught only, and accepted without proof, the teaching that the Bible is the very Word of God.”
The falsehoods only waits until the third paragraph. So, the Educated of the “world” have only been taught evolution, whereas those lacking higher education have only been taught the Bible. Really? Is it just me, or did he say two contradictory things in the same paragraph? So, the highly educated are born highly educated? Are they a separate class of people? Does he really expect us to believe that nobody who went through the Higher Education system ever came from a state of, let’s say, uneducation? I’m pretty sure it is (or certainly was during the time he was writing) statistically impossible to grow up in the United States and not have some religious upbringing—at least for 95% of the populace.
This appears to be the early days of a now favorite argument from those who argue the Creationist side in the Big Debate, which is “evolution is just as much a belief as creation”, or “I don’t have enough faith to believe in evolution!”. Remember the oft repeated analogy of “evolution is like saying a tornado went through a junk yard and formed a functional Boeing 747”? Makes evolution look like the stupidest idea possible—one that even the proverbial village idiot could see through! But that analogy is at best a complete misunderstanding of what the idea actually is, and at worst is a deliberate effort to deceive the people by using an effigy and setting it alight.
The argument itself is a variation on the old Watchmaker Argument, which points out that if you stumble upon a pocket watch out in the fields somewhere, you know there had to be a watchmaker. Similarly, a muffin pre-supposes a baker. Thus, we must conclude that the existence of the earth and the universe proves there is a Creator.
On pages two and three of the aforementioned booklet, Mr. A regales us with a tale of how he once faced the question of evolution v creation (EvC). What is the big thing he points to that convinced him (or at least helped a lot) that evolution was bogus and the Bible/Creationism was true? Scientists used terms like “we think”, “the possibility exists”, “there are reasons for supposing”, etc. But the Bible was sure! It was definitive! It was authoritative! It explained how things happened, not how they might appear to have possibly happened. If that is convincing, then I might just start worshipping Eru Iluvatar, who after creating the Ainur, used them and worked with them in the Song of the Ainur to create all things. There is no speculation there. Nor is there speculation in the Qu’ran. Of course, to be fair, for a man in such a crisis state as he was—without work, suffering terribly from the Great Depression, facing “wifely fanaticism”, and becoming even more confused and unsure about what he believed after reading some of the great thinkers in the evolutionary field—to be fair, something claiming surety and authority was doubtless very comforting; it was a life raft, if you will, in a sea of uncertainty. However, I would say that such a story illustrates that his resulting religiosity rests upon pillars of sand.
So, he started out good—started down the road of proving all things, but stopped half-way. He didn’t read the accounts of Islam, or Hinduism, or even Mormonism, to see which of those stacked up against the Bible. And what was the result? We end up with a story about how he disproved evolution completely, but the “highly educated librarian” would not accept it because faith in evolution was all she knew. Really? I know the Pacific Northwest is kind of liberal, but I would be willing to bet that back in the ’20s and ’30s even they still taught their children about the Christian God. And even more to the point, evolution is not a faith. A person can disagree with what it says all they want, but saying it is a faith is a cheap trick; if it is nothing but a faith, then it is at least on a level playing field with my faith, and then my faith is validated because it is older!
OK, ok, that was back in the ’30s. One could argue that there were a lot of holes and gaps in the evidence for the theory—a lot of fossils hadn’t been found, and many other things just couldn’t be explained very well yet. Fair enough! If the evidence for evolution is unconvincing, then there you go. But what about today? What about in the World of Google? Today it is easy to find lots of information on evolution and the evidence for it and arguments against it. So, what does the Armstrongite church do today with this new information? Do they present what the scientists say and then tell us how it contradicts the bible? Not really…
Mark Nash, who in my opinion is smart enough to know better, wrote a fairly good article on the topic of evolution for the Trumpet back in ’07, called The Fraud of Evolution. For all his complaints that people could find out the truth about evolution if they would only look hard enough, it seems he has failed to look hard enough. He goes on at some length about the complete and total lack of any transitional fossils for any kind of animal. That just simply isn’t true. You can have a look at transitional fossils in the evolution of the horse in Wikipedia. There is also a big list of transitional fossils for various other animal types. Whether you find these enough to doubt creationism or not, they are there. Thus, sadly, Mr. Nash uses a “favorite lie” of the Creationist side of the debate. Why? Couldn’t you just argue against them? Couldn’t you employ some form of Gap Theory and explain why fossils don’t really have any connection to modern animals because of the re-creation of the earth 6000yrs ago? See? Even I can make a go of it! There’s no need to outright lie.
He also mentions a certain type of Peppered Moth in Britain that scientists use as an example of natural selection. He calls shinanigans on the fact they are shown in photographs to be resting on tree trunks. Why? Those were dead moths, glued onto the tree trunk! *GASP* Could it be scientific fraud? I suppose it could, but in this case it isn’t. The moths usually rest on the under side of tree branches, but it is difficult to photograph them there. In the end, whether you hold the example of the Peppered Moth to be evidence of natural selection or not, it is still making much ado about nothing to yell about them being photographed on tree trunks instead of tree branches. In either location the conclusion drawn by the scientists studying them are the same.
One big argument Nash puts forth is the falsification of evidence. His example is that of a scientist who lived during the time of Darwin, and was one of his biggest supporters—Ernst Haeckel. He is most famous today (at least in some circles) for committing scientific fraud. He was an embryologist, someone who studied animal embryos. He made much of the fact that at certain stages in development, there are almost more similarities in form than differences amongst various species, including humans. However, some of his drawings were inaccurate at best, and downright doctored at worst. More than a hundred years of research since then has shown that, yes, considerable similarities do exist, yet Haeckel’s theories have been abandoned by modern science, thanks in large part to the discovery of DNA. His infamous drawings were made specifically in support of some of his now discredited theories…or more accurately, hypotheses.
Scientific fraud is not a small thing, and Mr. Nash is right to bring up how wrong it is that some modern science textbooks still use reprints of those drawings! There is accurate, modern evidence of the similarities (similarities which could be argued prove nothing in the EvC debate). The use of those drawings really has no excuse. But that isn’t the end: Mr. Nash makes reference to a book called Icons of Evolution, wherein the Haeckel fraud is re-examined. The problem there is that it leads Nash to tell a complete untruth (even if, hopefully, unknowing):
“Even Darwin used the Haeckel lie. In his famous book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin called the similarity of embryos as reported by Haeckel ‘the strongest single class of facts’ for evolution.” Darwin may have seen embryology as one of the strongest class of facts supporting his new idea, but it was not Haeckel’s research. Origin of Species was published in 1859. Haeckel’s research was published in 1866, with the infamous drawings not appearing til ’74. Thus, discrediting Haeckel in no way discredits Darwin, or his book.
So, here am I, amateur blog writer, and I’ve been able to research enough on one Sunday to find Nash to either be lying, or to have not done enough of his own research and is thus parroting someone else’s lies—and it was this failure to search out the truth that he was lamenting at the start of the article!
But this isn’t about bashing Mr. Nash. This is about bringing to the fore another landscape of lies from Armstrongism. They seem to hope that by showing Haeckel to be a fraud, and showing Haeckel’s research to be a main pillar and support of Darwin’s ideas on evolution, that they can then discredit the whole thing. Unfortunately for them, science doesn’t work that way. There are things written in Origin that have been found false in the 150yrs since it was written, but that doesn’t destroy the idea. The idea still stands even if some of the specifics have changed due to new research.
It matters not whether reading any of the outside links convinces anyone of the veracity of evolution. The important thing is the lies we were all told. They are flat-out lying about something they don’t need to lie about, and that is particularly troubling considering all the hype HWA made about “know both sides of the argument”. They are betraying their position of trust by feeding the people falsehoods, and to me that proves one of two things: 1. That lying is systemic in the organization to the point they can’t even write a Trumpet article about evolution without doing it, or 2. They doubt their position enough to feel it necessary to lie. Either is very troubling.
In the end, the PCG (and every other splinter group) is guilty of the “original sin” of Armstrongism—proving all things…half way. Perhaps evolution is bollocks. Perhaps there is a divine creator of all. But to go from that to “and that creator is the God of the Bible” is quite a leap. The Genesis account is only one of 11 different ex nihilo (from nothing, or out of nothing) creation accounts known around the world. Besides that there are four other main types of creation story with at least 28 different variations. All together there are 5 main categories of creation story, with 39 different examples, or types. And that doesn’t even count the different ways of seeing the Genesis account within Christianity (Literalist Young Earth Creationism, The Gap Theory, Deism; and a newer theory that says God simply created the universe to look old—kind of a new variation on the old idea that God created the earth with dinosaur fossils already in it just to mess with the Doubting Thomases). If Armstrong had thoroughly studied all those, plus evolution, and then came to the informed conclusion that Biblical Young Earth Creationism was the most correct, then that would mean something!
Instead, we find another strata of lies in the foundation of the religious organization that gave us the Plain Truth, and all 400 True CoGs.