Evolution and National Geographic
It is quite a few years now since this writer has been considering a full-fledged essay on the nature of the prime malady that failed the Western world, its culture and civilization: dishonesty. (Duplicity and hypocrisy are its concomitants). As a matter of fact, we could trace our desire back to the time, four decades ago, when Nirad C. Chaudhury took up for discussion the issue of Indian honesty in one of his books. The debate was opened up by Max Muller.
Max Muller (1823-1900) was a renowned scholar of Eastern Scriptures and a particular friend of the Hindus. But true to his intellectual integrity, he secretly harbored missionary designs. (He thought three gods would be better than four and above!). His love and admiration of Hindu literature did not prevent him from the holy desire, which he kept locked deep in his breast, while he labored on the 51 masterpiece volumes on Eastern Literature. Nor did his love prevent him from raising the question of Indian honesty. Those interested in his impudent attack on Indian character (but not the reply), might look into Nirad C. Chaudhury’s works. (Indians still owe a reply).
E. M. Forster took another route to the same delightful end in his “A Passage to India.” His story, entirely fanciful, portrays one of the main Indian characters as inexplicably dishonest in certain matters, although otherwise truthful. Forster must have been an admirer of Max Muller as Nirad C. Chaudhury was an admirer of both. The British felt obliged to fall in love with Nirad C. Chaudhury, especially after his “Continent of Circi” and honored him in several ways (including lecture time on BBC radio service), not so much for his frank admission of what Indian character was, but for being such an admirer of the British. Others also honored him, giving him a Duff Cooper Memorial Prize for his “Continent of Circi,” not for the language, but for the scathing remarks on his countrymen. If it had been for the language, he should have got a Nobel Prize. Such was the quality of his English. Either his English was too high for the English, which quite a few admitted, or a brown man was not worth a Nobel Prize. We suspect the latter. The British also honored him by importing him. (Good riddance, said many Indians). Those who assume greatness are, by the very nature of their assumption, bound to look for sycophants to offer hand support when diffidence falters their foot movement. The British had just then lost their empire (earned through deceit).
We mentioned a disease at the beginning. We might remind, as we do usually, that our allusion is to the general situation pertaining within the Western Civilization. In particular, it is to those who claim to belong to it, are proud of it, or approve of it – be they Muslims: “Whoever loves a people is of them,” said our Prophet. Those that simply happen to be in the Western hemisphere, while its critics, cannot be so judged without a fair trial. It is another thing that many that were assumed otherwise, failed the test when it came. Yet, exemptions should never be ruled out, and generalities must always be conditioned.
We might also clarify that we make a difference between individual dishonesty, such as which prevails in trade, and national dishonesty, viz., dishonesty prevalent not merely at the national level, but which is approved as an un-blameworthy trait by the great majority. It is this latter variety that is our object of criticism and which plagues the Western world. If a trader hoodwinks a buyer in the East (a practice as common as to have become part of people’s nature), then there are those in the West who send health hazardous foodstuff to the Middle-Eastern, Asian and African countries, very well aware of the consequences on the health of millions. (An Italian who did not know the visitor’s identity, when asked about components heaped out in the yard, open to rain and sun, replied cheerfully, “Well! That’s scrap. It’ll be packed for the Middle-East”). Honest traders or politicians can be regarded – in any region of the world – as a near-extinct phyla. Trusted multinational companies suffer multi-billion scams, collapse, and billions disappear in days through holes that are as masterly drilled through computer programs as the pathways to the graves under the Pyramids. Most lead – after laborious digging – to a false mummy to be taken as real. Even as these lines are being written, the day’s New York Times informs us that the chief of WorldCom, one Bernard Ebbers, is found guilty in the $11 billion fraud. If there is honesty anywhere in trade, it has been adopted as a policy. As soon as the policy fails to work, it is replaced by dishonesty with neither regret for one nor discomfort for another. When a trader takes back defective goods in the West, it is because he knows his gesture will increase the sales. If his Eastern counterpart refuses to accept at all the defectiveness of the goods, it is because he knows that kind of trade practice does not work in his region, in his culture. Both are equally honest, equally dishonest.
Nonetheless, it is not dishonesty in trade interactions that we are talking of. Our reference is to basic truths. It leads to the corruption of the personality and destruction of the soul.
When a people are not honest to the basic truths of life, apparent to anyone else without a malady in the spleen (as they used to say in olden times), gradually they tend to enter into a state of mind that is more phantasmagorical than real, hallucinatory than rigorously factual, illusionary than faithful to facts. They assume a garden for a forest, descend down a heavily tree’d hill blissfully, and are ultimately trapped in the ravine, where the sun shines not, where their shouts – final calls of greatness – receive not even an echo, for the thick foliage. The only ones to give the ear are the beasts that wait patiently – Chinese like – for the victim to shoot his bullets in the wild, (who takes vine for snakes), and exhaust the strength to resist even jackals. Such is the beginning, and such is the end of the illusionary, “You start, and We finish,” is not a Press Secretary’s remark introduced in the speech, but a Law of God.
The above was for a people. As individuals, they are, as the Qur’an described (???), “Great hearers of lies; great devourers of the unlawful.” The leaders lie, to which the masses lend eager ears, and are supplied with stolen goods that they cheerfully devour. The British looted the dishonest Indians for two centuries. Today, it begs India for doctors, technocrats, information technologists, teachers: honest men and women. “You start, and We finish.” The British gave none of the modern science to India during the 200 year rule except an educational system designed to keep the Indians enslaved. The Indians were dishonest. Clap, clap, clap.
When we allude to the lies that failed the West, our reference is also not to the dishonesties being reported on daily basis by the news-media. (The exposure happens, when concealment is no more possible). Such staged-lies as the pulling down of Saddam Hussain’s statue (performed by a team bussed in), or the rescue of Jessica Lynch (who was handed over peacefully by Iraqi hospital authorities), or capture of Saddam Hussain (who fought his way through from a house, and was never found in a hole) – are cases where high American officials were involved in their fabrication. Nevertheless, these go pale against, bigger lies. Such lies as have deep impact on lives. Such lies as have failed the West.
We are not referring to the dishonesty in religious affairs either. This is universal and embraces Muslims also. People see the truth, encounter facts, but refuse to come to terms with them. If we do not criticize oftener, the lies or the liars, it is because of sentiments involved. People react very strongly to anything against their religious beliefs, however, irrational, however wrong. We are already pretty unpopular.
Our readers could be wondering how this preamble is related to the topic at hand: Evolution? Deeply. The error of this sort which the West has been committing, right to this day, needs to be accounted for. The issue is a major one. At stake is man’s position in the nature of things. His honor is at stake. In the normal course of run, one goes a long way to defend one’s honor. Why does the West unblushingly pronounce, as Richard Dawkin does in his The Blind Watchmaker. (His first sentence starts with the words, “We animals ..” Darwin would have cringed). There are two reasons. One, those who rebel against God, must fall to the level of animals. (And, that judgment is most just which is pronounced by the accused himself. So, appropriately, “We animals..” A close parallel is Muslim governments, who fail to huddle together, as even animals do, when individual states are attacked. Refusal to allow Islam freedom to operate has its own rewards). Second, perusal of lies, leads to others, those others to more, ultimately blinding the eye to the truth. This explains, although we admit not fully, why the West stuck to evolutionary theory as something Divine, from the first day of its conception, despite the holes in it that were larger in size than the space taken by facts.
A close look at “Origin of Species” reveals, apart from several other amazing things, the dubiousness of the text. It is far from frank, outspoken or straightforward. This is being unscientific. Scientific statements are downright straightforward. Why should there be any other way of saying that one atom of oxygen combined with two atoms of hydrogen produce a molecule of water? When you state facts, you don’t need to beat around the bush. But not so Darwin.
The title of the book itself reveals a purpose and carries dubiousness: “The Origin of Species, by Means of Natural Selection, or Preservation of Favored Races, in the Struggle for Life.”
It has four parts. The first part, “The Origin of Species,” sounds like, though not exactly, scientific. The second part, “by Means of Natural Selection,” lends the intended dubiousness. (Nowhere in the book does the author explain, although using the terms extensively, what “nature” is, and how can a ghost make “selection?” The third and fourth parts, “Preservation of Favored Races,” and, “in the Struggle for Life” are philosophical. Unless by “races” Darwin meant cockroaches, (which is very unlikely, since he knew the difference between “races” and “species), the third part of the title implied – to many – and confirmed the idea then catching, that the white race is superior to the rest, being the favored one. (The idea kept catching, until the white race slaughtered 10 million of the white race between 1939 and 1945, after which it began to subside. It is said that Hitler was greatly influenced by the evolutionary ideas).
Dubiousness does not end with the title of Darwin’s book. It begins. It bathes the key sentence defining evolution: “As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as there is frequently recurring struggle for existence, any being, if it varies, however slightly, in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.”
How is the above related to scientific statements? May we not allow an astrophysicist to similarly speculate how the universe evolved, and how the moon, a solitary daughter of the mother earth, came into existence? No we cannot. Science is not speculation, and a scientific theory must remain close to proven data.
Dubiousness. Darwin bequeathed it to his faithful. An article on Evolution in the Nov. 2004 issue of “National Geographic” is a case in point. It tells us that the style, method and spirit of argument has remained essentially the same, bathed in the same baptism solution presented in the Origin. The editor’s note is a good example of “Yes!! I mean no. Yes, yes, of course not.” The introductory line says, “Humans are not descended from apes. But Charles Darwin never said we are. .. What Charles Darwin actually said was that the myriad species inhabiting Earth are a result of repeated branching from common ancestors – a process that came to be called evolution.” So, what does this statement imply? Does it imply we are descended from chicken? Which of the animal species appears closes to us? Which biologist said apes are our descendants? If this is not true, its reverse has to be true.
As we open the main article, we are greeted by arguments of similar nature. It admits that the theory is after all ‘just’ a theory. But then follows what we call typical Western touch to facts that can reverse the meaning. (It is forced by the long habits of what the Qur’an termed as “talbees al-haqq,” in 2: 42). It maybe good journalism, but not good science. It helps confuse the issue anyway. It says: “.. you might even be tempted to say that it’s ‘just’ a theory. In the same sense, relativity as described by Albert Einstein is ‘just’ a theory.”
But not so to those who know a little bit of physics also. Those who do, know that the theory of relativity is not stated in texts of Darwinian attributes. It is stated in mathematical equations. The equations can be checked by any science undergrad. Further, the theory of relativity has been scientifically verified several times, yielding the same results as it predicted. Finally, if it was incorrect, atomic plants would not be functioning. In contrast, there is not a single case of evolution noticed in actual life. All that has been noticed is mutation. And this mutation, cited by “National Geographic” article, is not even the mutation that the evolutionary theory suggests. It is adaptation. In evolutionary biology, mutation occurs only by accident.
The article informs us that 20,000 generations of bacterium E. Coli in the lab showed signs of variation. But it does not mention what is widely known that the experiment did not result in the emergence of a new species. This admission comes in a round about way, added with a speculation in the Darwinian style. It says: “The process is spread across thousands of generations, yet it may finish abruptly – like a door going slam! – when the last critical changes occur. Therefore it’s much harder to witness.”
Witness what? – the article does not say. Well, witness evolution in real life. In straight-forward terms, evolution has never been witnessed once.
But, “Yes!! I mean no. Yes, yes, of course not,” – the article also says, “Skeptics of evolutionary theory ask: Can we see evolution in action? Can it be observed in the wild? Can it be measured in the laboratory? The answer is yes.” Our readers might now begin to understand the relationship between evolution and our preamble to this article.
The “National Geographic” article under discussion appears like a face-saving, faith restoration effort. (A recent Clay Bennet cartoon shows a person reading a book entitled “The Theory of Evolution.” Its sub-title, which appears in hazy unclear words below the main title says, “King James Version.” The article in question is the need of the hour. It attacks Haroon Yahya for his well documented “The Evolution Deceit.” But it ignores his much better documented, much larger (360 pages), and more scientific book, “Darwin Refuted,” perhaps because it is better documented, is more technical and quite objective. It does not cite the Qur’an, but cites such well-known scientists as Colin Patterson, P.P. Grasse, Stephen J. Gould, David A. Demick, Norman Macbeth and scores of others. Haroon Yahya does not quote the Prophet in this book. He quotes scientists. Let us take one of the dozens of examples: H. Yahya writes: “In a 1996 article in the leading journal Development Biology, the evolutionary biologists S.F. Gilbert, J.M. Optiz, and R.A. Raff explained the matter this way:
“The Modern Synthesis is a remarkable achievement. However, starting in the 1970s, many biologists began questioning its adequacy in explaining evolution. Genetics might be adequate for explaining microevolution, but microevolutionary changes in gene frequency were not seen as able to turn a reptile into a mammal or to convert a fish into an amphibian. Microevolution looks at adaptations that concern only the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest. As Goodwin (1966) points out, ‘the origin of species – Darwin’s problem – remains unsolved.'”
Before moving further, we might point out in the passing that the microevolution referred to above, as having adequate explanation, is also being questioned now by microbiologists. But, we shall deal with this issue another time.
The N.G. article, while refuting the skeptics of the theory citing a variety of non-scientific reasons, fails to mention that several conferences have been held in which scientists from various parts of the world have presented their papers either refuting the theory or casting serious doubts on it. It cleverly mentions ultraorthodox Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus as opposed to the theory on religious grounds. But it fails to mention that leading atheistic biologists have been in the forefront of rejection. Michael Denton mentions in his “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis“: “Martin Rudwick, for example, also argues that the opposition of nineteenth-century biology to the ideas of evolution was not primarily theological,” (p. 100, Alder & Alder publication). The situation did not change in the twentieth century. In fact, Michael Denton himself is a molecular biologist, and does not cite religious literature in his refutation of the theory.
At the end (we ignore several interesting parts in between), the article takes us to the museum of the University of Michigan where data has been piled up supporting the theory of evolution. But if fails to mention that biologists at a much larger museum, where data has not been piled up but mountained up, think quite differently. To quote: “Two established biologists .. G. Nelson and N. Platonic from the American museum of Natural History in New York, have gone so far as to write that `Darwinism .. is, in short, a theory that has been put to the test and found false.'” (The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins, p.283, W.W. Norton & Co.).
Instead of throwing jibes at the religious, and demonstrating freedom from fanaticism usually attributed to them, the article should have cited scientists like the distinguished professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts who says that, “history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as
“‘a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.’ At one of her many public talks she also asks the molecular biologists in the audience to name a single, unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations. Her challenge goes unmet. Proponents of the standard theory, she says, ‘wallow in their zoological, capitalistic, competitive, cost benefit interpretation of Darwin – having mistaken him … Neo-Darwinism, which insists on (the slow accrual mutations), is in a complete funk.'” (Darwin’s Black Box by Michael J. Behe, Touchstone Publications, p. 26).
This lead article has not been written to disprove the National Geographic article, nor to disprove evolution, to which we might devote a series of articles in this magazine, sometime, Allah willing. This writing is about the primary factor that failed the West, its culture and civilization. The reader would not be sorry at reading the first half again.