Nearly ten years ago I started a book on Creationist misuse of intellectual history. I never finished it, which is probably for the best. The file is unfortunately MIA and all I have remaining was a section that I turned into a talk that I gave at ASU in 1999. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting the text of that talk. Enjoy and feel free to comment.
"Pithecophobes of the World, Unite!"
Revisionist ’History’ and Creationist Rhetoric.
"This monkey mythology of Darwin is the cause of permissiveness, promiscuity, pills, prophylactics, perversions, pregnancies, abortions, pornography, pollution, poisoning, and the proliferation of crimes of all types."
With these words, Braswell Deen, Chief Justice of the Georgia Court of Appeals neatly summarized many of the Creationist concepts of Darwinism and its supposed cultural resonances. Deen is also the author of Evolution: Fact or Fiction? , a 1981 pamphlet issued by the Bible-Science Association in which he describes himself as an expert on "human origins from a law-science perspective" (whatever that may entail). He is one of a number of legally trained commentators who demonstrate opposition to naturalistic explanations in general, and Darwinism in particular. All of these commentators exhibit what William King Gregory called "pithecophobia" - the morbid fear of apes, particularly as cousins.
The Tale of the Darwinian Marxists
It is fair to say that Charles Darwin, Karl Marx & Sigmund Freud, the triad that are often seen as fathers of the zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century, have all received their fair share of criticism. Some would argue that they swept their brush too broadly over the canvas of human experience, yielding to generalizations with an ignorance of particulars. Others would claim that they were just plain wrong. In predicting the demise of Darwinism during a televised debate, the mathematician David Berlinski would state that
"Darwin’s theory of evolution is the last of the great 19th century mystery religions. And as we speak, it is now following Freudianism and Marxism into the nether regions. And I am quite sure that Freud, Marx, and Darwin are commiserating one with the other in the dark dungeon where discarded gods gather."
Berlinski’s rhetorical excess aside, all three remain important figures in the pantheon of intellectual giants (discarded gods though they may be perceived to be). Indeed, Darwin and Marx remained entwined in the minds of many critics of evolutionary theory, whether academic or popular. Jacques Barzun’s Darwin, Marx and Wagner remains a typical example of the former, which squarely blames the flowering of materialism for the problems of the Twentieth century. Henry Morris, the founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) assures us that "it is well known than not only the early Communists, such as Marx and Engels, were atheistic evolutionists, but also that all the leaders of Communism since have been the same." In The Long War Against God, Morris claims that "Marxism, socialism, and communism, no less than Nazism are squarely based on evolutionism." He assures us that "Marx felt his own work to be the exact parallel of Darwin’s. He even wished to dedicate a portion of Das Kapital to the author of The Origin of Species." The fable has passed on into the common currency of the Creationist movement here in the United States. For example, A Walk Through History, a 1994 video issued by the Institute for Creation Research, features John Rajca (the curator of the ICR Museum of Creation and Earth History) teaching the following to a group of schoolchildren: "Karl Marx here, [points to picture of Marx] wanted to dedicate his book on communism, Das Kapital, to Darwin because he said this is where he got his ideas for a political system." To many Creationists, evolution is inescapably linked with communism, both ideologies supporting each other, and evolutionary thinking making communism possible.
Such connections between Darwin and Marx have been effectively refuted by historians for quite some time. The myth of the link between the two figures was created after Marx’s death by Friedrich Engels’ graveside oration to Marx, and supported by later Marxists such as Filippo Turati, Edward Aveling & Ludwig BÃ¼chner as evidence for the ’scientific’ nature of their worldview. In particular, it has been proven that a letter evidently written by Darwin to Marx, apparently asking that Marx not dedicate the second volume of Das Kapital to him, was in fact addressed to Aveling asking that his A Student’s Darwin (1881) not be so dedicated, Darwin being opposed to Aveling’s vehement anti-Christian rhetoric and not wishing to have his name associated with such radicalism. While it is true that Marx sent Darwin a copy of the second German edition of the first volume of Das Kapital upon its publication (1873), Darwin’s lack of linguistic ability prevented him from reading the book and only pages up to 105 (of 822) were cut. The question however remains as to how Marx was (if at all) influenced by Darwin, for Morris informs us that Marx "became profoundly committed to Darwinism" and Rajca (quoted earlier) sees Marx as saying that it was from Darwin that he got his ideas. While he initially described The Origin as containing "the natural-historical basis of our outlook", he eventually would view Darwinism as a bourgeois ideology which mirrored the bourgeois competitive struggle in capitalist society. Marx twice mentions Darwin’s theory in Das Kapital, both as footnotes, and both in a negative context. These are the only published references of Marx to Darwin. More importantly, Marx chastised a number of his followers, in particular BÃ¼chner and Friedrich Lange for attempting to link his ideas with those of Darwin. BÃ¼chner’s work was described as "superficial nonsense" and Lange lead Marx to describe the struggle for life as "the Malthusian population fantasy". Clearly, Marx was no Darwinist. As Ball notes,
"Marx clearly admired and agreed with Darwin’s having finished off teleology in the natural sciences ... [In Marx’s view] Darwin’s theory of natural selection applies, at best, only to prehuman, preconscious natural history; it does not apply to the epoch of human history in which men consciously transform nature and therefore themselves."
In other words, whatever Darwin had to say about natural history he had, in Marx’s view, nothing important to say about human history. For Marx, humankind, at least as far as its social development was concerned, lay outside of nature.
The Creationist assertions quoted earlier all date from well after the 1976 realization that the Marx/Darwin association was mythological. Such use of outdated material to support a claim (in this case, Barzun’s 1958 work) in the face of more up-to-date research with refutes that claim is unfortunately typical of popular works attacking evolutionary biology. Of further note is that the association of Darwinism with social theories which are not themselves part of Darwinian biology is prevalent in anti-Darwinian thought. Such "Darwinistic" ideas (to use the phrase coined by Morse Peckham) have been a constant factor in post-1859 social thought. Darwin’s ideas have been used to support war and peace, co-operation and conflict, socialism, anarchism, social conservatism and eugenic policies. In arguing that racism has no biblical support, Henry Morris states -
"The modern slanderous fallacy that racism - especially the notion of white supremacy - is a biblical doctrine could not be further from the truth ... The fact that some have distorted certain biblical passages to teach racism (e.g., the Hamitic curse) does not by any means involve the Bible itself in racism, for it is clearly opposed to it."
Here, I wholeheartedly agree with Morris, however he seems unable to see that this argument can be made for Darwin’s writings (and Darwinian biology in general) and its supposed support for racism and other claims. Both the Bible and The Descent of Man can be, and have been, used to justify racism, anti-Semitism and white supremacy. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, Darwin and the authors of the Bible "had the luck to please everybody who had an axe to grind". One could argue that it is a mark of the sheer intellectual power of both of these works that their ideas appear to be so malleable.
Other publications by Creationists have allied Darwinism with Hitler and Stalin. Such alignment with any unsavory theory, political or otherwise, even if it were true, does not in any way disprove the biological fact of evolution nor the proposed mechanism of natural selection. It is simply a rhetorical strategy aimed at providing emotional support for a (usually) weak position. In this light, it is interesting to examine the words of Walt Brown, director of the Center for Scientific Creationism in Phoenix. Speaking at a public seminar offering evidence against evolution he would say -
"I used to use it [the term ’creationism’] all the time ... ’isms’ are generally bad ... communism, fascism, racism, scientism, secular humanism. If you want to bias someone against any idea, put an ’ism’ at the end of it. ’Isms’ may be right or wrong but they are always beliefs. ... What we’re talking about is not just a belief, we’re talking about scientific evidence that supports it. ... Watch out what the evolutionists do will always refer to this as ’creationism’. ... It’s best to refer to this as creation."
Note that obviously harmful world-views (fascism & racism) are coupled with ideas like secular humanism, which are somewhat ’grayer’. This fear of ’isms’ is reflected in the title of another Creationist work, Evolution, The Root of all Isms. Under Brown’s strategy, Creationist references to ’evolutionism’ make perfect sense. However, the status of pacifism, Catholicism, and Judaism (to name but three other ’isms’) is obviously problematic within this framework - at least to pacifists, and members of the Catholic and Jewish faiths. Even more detrimental to Brown’s argument, is that Henry Morris himself refers to the ICR’s endeavor as scientific creationism, a title given to the field by the vast majority of its supporters and, incidentally, to the major textbook explicating the apparent evidence for creation.
Creationism, Cultural Politics and Clashing Ideologies.
If this were solely an issue of scientific observations or the veracity of hypotheses, it is doubtful that the Creation/Evolution debate would inflame such passions. While purely scientific controversies excite the scientists within the respective fields, they rarely make headlines, and never become part of legislation, or rulings of the Supreme Count. It is clear that what is being argued about here, at least as far as the ICR is concerned, is the status of biblical literalism within American culture, and in particular within the public educational system.
The inherently political nature of many of the Creationist critiques of evolution is clearly seen in the comment made in 1985 by ICR member Duane T. Gish to the theologian Langdon Gilkey - "Gilkey, I must admit that you represent the academic world. But remember, I have the White House. And by 1995 we plan to have captured and therefore to run the Republican Party. After that, you can be sure, creation science will be taught in all our schools." Geo-centrist Marshall Hall, would, in 1980 say that "any member of Congress who would seek to prevent the exposure and destruction of evolution, the central and necessary tenet of this country’s officially recognized enemy [i.e. the USSR], would obviously be giving ’aid and comfort’ to the enemy and would therefore be a traitor as defined by the Constitution." Creationism is apparently as American as Mom and apple pie.
While much of the heat and light about creationism has centered on biology, it is worthwhile noting that most of the "hard" sciences suffer under the creationist pen. As a single example, let us take modern physics. Not content with believing that atoms decay in the way that we know them not to, that the Earth’s magnetic field has been decreasing continually since the Creation, that "the abandonment of the concept of a medium in space [i.e. the aether] is perhaps the greatest mistake of physicists in this century," or deciding that the speed of light is not in fact constant, a number of creationists feel that Einstein’s theory of Relativity and the development of Quantum Mechanics are bad news for science, and seek a return to classical Newtonian (i.e. deterministic) physics. Some even advocate a geocentric view of the universe based on their reading of the Old Testament. James Hanson, a computer science professor at Cleveland State University, has said "I sincerely believe that evolution and heliocentricity go together ... To me it appears as inconsistent for people to accept creation and then to oppose geocentricity." Clearly, any K-12 textbook written by these researchers would leave physicists and astronomers with many sleepless nights, and when they finally sleep they are likely to wake up in the Middle Ages.
Lest my more humanistic friends think that the attack on science by Creationists is purely a problem for those with a penchant for lab coats and white mice, the words of Gerald Skoog are worth noting -
"During the 1981 Texas Textbook Adoption Proceedings, there were several demands that specific areas in textbooks be neutralized by biblical ideas. For example, social studies textbooks that discussed the human transition from nomadic hunters and gatherers to farmers were criticized for not including ... [the theory] that farming could not have been preceded hunting and gathering because Cain, the son of Adam, was a farmer. ... [Textbooks were criticized] for contradicting or not including biblical ideas on the role of women, marriage, sex and child-rearing."
Henry Morris states this explicitly - "True education in every field should be structured around creationism, not evolutionism ." Even areas such as psychology and psychiatry would not escape this reform; "Human behavioral problems do not stem from an animal ancestry, as Freud and most others in these fields have alleged, but from sin - from rebellion against God and his Word ... Each person has an eternal soul, destined for heaven or hell, and this must be of primary consideration in any successful psychological formula. "
The humanities do not escape the Creationist gaze. "Evolutionary humanism today dominates the humanities and social sciences even more, if possible, than it does the natural sciences. Conversely, true creationism can be tremendously illuminating and effective if properly applied to these fields, and it is these which impinge most directly on human life." Noting that "the very term humanities is almost synonymous today with humanism", Morris deplores "the rapidly increasing decadence and amorality of modern literature in the last three decades".
This philosophy is summarized most succinctly (and I feel chillingly) by a piece in an early newsletter of the Creation Social Science and Humanities Society which states -
"We will endeavor to show that the only true and sure foundation of man’s knowledge of himself (psychology)- of his relationship with other men (sociology) - of his communications and creativity (literature and fine arts) - of his institutions of social order (administration of justice, economics, political science) - of his activities and their descriptions (history) - is the creation of man in God’s image as infallibly revealed in the Bible. All other attempts to account for man and vain and doomed to failure."
From the "relaunch" of Creationism in 1961 with the publication of Whitcomb and Morris’ The Genesis Flood, the movement has continually called for the complete reconstruction of the historical and social sciences based on the literal interpretation of events described in the Bible. To Gary North, Genesis offers a basis for a "total reconstruction" of economic theory and practice - a reconstruction that is required within every social science. Outside of the biological sciences, Creationist textbooks have appeared in the fields such as history and anthropology. Some have called for a complete overhaul of the US public educational system in line with biblical literalism, resulting in the Bible being the only basis for education. Many proponents of these changes are part of the Christian Reconstructionist movement, and thus advocate Christians to take over every aspect of society and to transform the world according to biblical principles. Following the ideas of Rousas J. Rushdoony, Reconstructionists see that all knowledge should be based on the absolute revealed supernatural authority of God, rather than sources which presuppose the autonomy of man. Rushdoony is explicitly opposed to democracy, and advocates a strict theocracy based on Old Testament law. Ironically, Rushdoony sees all education as being inevitably indoctrination, yet feels that "education apart from God is enslavement .
This call for the reformation of knowledge at all levels and in every field have recently been echoed by many of the writings of the Berkeley lawyer Phillip E. Johnson whose target is naturalism and scientific materialism rather than ’evolutionism’, though he sees the two as being inseparable. Johnson and members of the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture [now the Center for Science and Culture] are particularly good examples of neo-Creationist thought. In their "Wedge document" the CRSC outlined a twenty-year plan to overhaul American educational, political and social institutions in line with their theistic belief in a designed universe. In a campaign aimed at their "natural constituency, namely, Christians" the CRSC aims to "begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory that supports it in the sciences ". The document later clearly delineates some of these consequences in the areas of sexuality, abortion, and belief in God. They furthermore aim to emphasize the role of theistic design in medicine, law, religion, the social science, and the humanities. The issue of intelligent design and neo-Creationism will be returned to in a later chapter, for the moment it is just worth noting that, like the ICR, the CSRC sees its goal as being a complete renovation of the Worlds cultures, their value systems and educational goals. Amid claims for the "correctness" of cultural plurality, their lies a belief in the ultimate truth of the Protestant faith and the inherent claim that colonial society was so intrinsically Protestant that Protestantism should still rule American life. Within this worldview, the roots of modern science are seen to be Protestant and Puritan.
The Binaries of Creationism and The Long War
To many Creationists, Darwin "merely revived ancient paganism, clothed in apparently sophisticated modern apparel, but underneath there was still the same old pantheistic materialism of antiquity", a modern day form of the "evolutionism" of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, and others.
This amalgamation of very divergent philosophies and belief-systems is highlighted by Morris’ assertion that "if the universe was not created by a transcendent Creator God [note, singular], then it must always have existed in some form or another" - belief in the latter is equated with ’evolutionism’ as is any form of polytheism. "Shintoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism ... have all been fundamentally evolutionary systems in that they deny the fact of primeval creation and the existence of an omnipotent Creator [again, singular]." In other works, Morris would include Satanism, Theosophy, Christian Science, liberal Judaism, and the Islamic faith as all being forms of evolutionism. To Morris, everyone who is not a member of his brand of evangelical Protestantism is an "evolutionist", irrespective of the views on the origin of the universe and man. Again, we see a binary opposition of ’them’ and ’us’, ’good’ and (by implication) ’evil’. Nowhere is this more evident that when readers/viewers are asked to choose between "good" and "bad" scientists.
In a portion of the previously mentioned video A Walk Through History, Darwin, Marx, Andrew Carnegie and Hitler (obviously "bad") are vividly contrasted with Michael Faraday, Louis Pasteur and Isaac Newton (obviously "good" - especially if one ignores Newton’s anti-trinitarian beliefs, which would be unpalatable to ICR members). The message is not very subtle - there are good guys and there are bad guys, and Darwin is not on the side of the angels. This point is hammered home later on, when John Morris (son of the ICR founder), contrasts the "harmful philosophies" and "evil practices" that are ’fruits’ of the evolutionary tree (including promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, atheism & abortion), with the "genuine Christianity" and "correct practices" of the creationist tree (including "true history", "true Americanism", "true science", and "true government"). The perceived ill effects of the theory of evolution on morals and behavior are vividly described in many works. As echoed in the opening quote from Braswell Dean, the issue here is clearly more that arguments over scientific truth. As Christopher Toumey points out, the notional alliance of evolutionism with secular humanism, provides the Creationist movement with a bÃªte noir that is taken to be culpable for all social and theological ills. This Manichaean ideology sees two sets of worldviews struggling for cultural control. Creationism is more than a narrow biblical doctrine. It represents a broader cultural discontent, with a fear of change, and a steadfast belief in the detrimental effects of evolution
Henry Morris and the ICR make much of seeing evolution as a humanistic plot. Others see its teaching in schools variously as a socialist, Masonic, United Nations, League of Nations, or American Civil Liberties Union run conspiracy. The single most prevalent idea is that evolution is an idea directly inspired by Satan, a view that Morris espouses in his work, The Long War on God.
To emphasize my assertion of the danger of Creationism to nonscientific areas, it is worth noting that Creationist scholarship outside the sciences is equally as suspect as their science (as will be demonstrated in later chapters). If Creationists wish to write textbooks, they are likely to contain gross errors, sloppy scholarship and indeed blatant deception. I have already mentioned their treatment of Darwin, and the origins of Marxist thought. Morris’ works The Long War Against God and History of Modern Creationism offers an insight to the treatment of history and philosophy by the ICR. In particular, I want to examine Morris’ treatment of the scientists Charles Lyell, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck & Julian Huxley.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, we are told "hated the Bible and Christianity." We know surprisingly little about Lamarck’s personal life and views, as he did not leave an autobiography, diary or any correspondence. As Burkhardt notes, his contemporaries left only fleeting glimpses of him, and remain dumb on his personal beliefs. Morris’ comment is unreferenced, and we are given no means to ascertain its source. A little detective work, however, provides some information. In their 1961 work The Genesis Flood, Whitcomb & Morris provide the following support, attributed C,.G. Gillispie, who featured it in a Scientific American article in 1958 "No less severe was [Lamarck’s] philosophical hostility amounting to hatred for the tradition of the Deluge and the Biblical creation story, indeed for everything which recalled the Christian theory of nature." The quote however is actually from the French literary figure, Charles Augustin Sainte BeauvÃ¨, who was writing in his 1834 novel VoluptÃ© The Sensual Man. This work is a semi-Â¬autobiographical psychological work which deals with the period before Sainte BeauvÃ¨’s birth in 1804,and is centered around the period 1796 to 1805. In it, the main protagonist describes attending Lamarck’s lectures at the MusÃ©e de Histoire Naturelle. Clearly, Sainte BeauvÃ¨ could have had no first hand knowledge of Lamarck’s lectures at that time (it was in 1800 that Lamarck first lectured on his mechanism for evolution), and Morris’ use of this fictional piece as an historical statement of Lamarck’s philosophy is clearly flawed. In this light, it is worth noting that Gillispie describes Sainte BeauvÃ¨ as ’no biologist" (a fact that cannot have escaped Morris), but who best caught the "spirit of this philosophy" a philosophy which, to Gillispie was "a medley of dying echoes: a striving toward perfection; an organic principle of order over against brute nature; a life process as the organism digesting its environment; a primacy of fire, seeking to return to its own; a world as flux and as becoming" - no mention for anti-Christian belief, nor of hatred. I suppose that this only proves that you get out of a text that which you put into it. Morris wants to see Lamarck as an anti-Christian, and is willing to use a fictional account to prove his point, akin to a student who uses the musical version of Les Miserables to argue that the peasants behind the barricades spent their time singing of their woes.
As is admitted by all scholars of Lamarck (and even Morris), he was a deist - a believer in a deity who set up the rules by which the universe ran but never subsequently interfered with the system in a supernatural manner. While deism is not the theistic literalist belief in the Bible held by Morris, it is obviously not necessarily indicative of any hatred of Christianity. Lamarck made many references within his publications to his perception of the deity and it’s relationship with nature. He would talk of "an infinite wisdom ... the wish of the sublime Author of nature ... the supreme power, creator of all nature ... the will of her [nature’s] sublime author ... the powerful AUTHOR of all that exists". For Lamarck, the universe would not have come into existence without the action of this deity. God had unlimited creative power, and nature was not the totality of physical matter, nor was it the final cause, for that was God. In so believing, he held the traditional Christian view that God was himself totally separate from nature. He saw that laws had necessary effects, and laws had no possibility of changing except at the will of the Creator (and this he did not do). His mechanism of evolution particularly attributed the apparent progression from simple life forms to more complex ones, to "powers conferred [on organisms] by the supreme author of all things." In short, we have little reason to accept Morris’ assertion and his implication that Lamarck was a fiery atheist and radical - of which, there were many at the time and in the years to follow.
In a further attempt to revise the history of biology, Morris states that it was "[Charles] Lyell’s deliberate intention to prepare the ground for evolution by publishing his Principles of Geology, leaving the theory itself to be promoted by someone else at a later stage." He was "motivated primarily by hatred of the Bible" and was a believer in "the evolutionary theories of Jean Lamarck, the French botanist who was bitterly anti-Christian." Lyell, we are told, "may have been persuading [Darwin] toward evolution" and may have been responsible for Darwin’s abandonment of Christianity. He was "motivated at least as much by hatred of the Bible as concern for science". We are left with the image of yet another anti-Christian evolutionist. Lyell was the British geologist who was primarily responsible for pioneering uniformitarian geology (as opposed to its catastrophist predecessor). Lyell’s work, Principles of Geology, was first published in 1830, going through eleven editions before his death. It is clear from reading this work that he was not an evolutionist and that if he did "prepare the ground" for Darwin’s biological evolutionary theory, it was most emphatically not his "deliberate intention" to do so. A number of scholars have highlighted the opposition Lyell felt to French transformist ideas, and some have pointed out that it may have been from Lyell’s negative review of Philosophie Zoologique that Darwin first seriously encountered the works of Lamarck. Like many before Darwin, Lyell was an essentialist, that is he believed in unchanging eternal essences that were the animal groups we see today. To an essentialist, change cannot happen - squares cannot change into triangles, and apes cannot change into humans. In Lyell’s view, all nature consisted of constant types, each created at a definite time -
"It is idle ... to dispute about the abstract possibility of the conversion of one species into another, when there are known causes, so much more active in their nature, which must always intervene and prevent the actual accomplishment of such conversions."
As Ernst Mayr rightly points out, in no place does Lyell tell the reader the nature of these causes that prevent change. Clearly, Lyell in the 1830’s believed that species could not change and therefore, by definition, he could not have been an evolutionist. Even fifty years later, he felt that the creation of each species was a carefully planned event, occurring so as to allow the species appear for an appointed time in an appointed place. Lyell, like all deists of the time, saw a universe of perfect and wise design, one that was totally under the control of natural law, and he was very much situated within the Palyesque tradition of Natural Theology. As he stated in Principles - "in whatever direction we pursue our researches, whether in time or space, we discover everywhere the clear proofs of a Creative Intelligence, and of His foresight, wisdom and power," and this comment remained in all eleven editions of the book that Lyell oversaw. In Principles, he retained a somewhat attenuated version of the Noachian flood, but believed that there was nothing to invalidate the opinion that the whole earth had been flooded in the past three to four thousand years. By the tenth (1867-’68) edition of Principles, Lyell gave tentative support to Darwin’s ideas but remained opposed to the idea that mankind was descended from beasts. He would however admit that man’s hope of finding an "ideal parentage" was illusionary, yet in so doing, he would appeal to a sudden discontinuous (saltative) origin for humankind, in an attempt to preserve his belief in the human soul, a stratagem shared somewhat by Wallace and Pope John Paul II.
Clearly, Lyell was a deist who believed in limited supernatural intervention, a global flood which was not responsible for the totality of the geologic column, and discontinuity between man and the rest of nature. While his uniformitarian geology greatly influenced Darwin, he cannot be perceived as advocating evolution or planning a path for the development of Darwin’s biological ideas. Morris’ assertions stem from his willingness to see Lyell as a non-believer and thus as an ’evolutionist’. Like Lamarck, Lyell’s deistic beliefs were different from those espoused by Morris, yet they were not indicative of evolutionary beliefs.
What then was Darwin’s debt to Lyell? Several works have shown the importance for Darwin of Lyell’s work as a theoretical and methodological model. To Lyell, geology had an preferred model for explaining observable phenomena and deciphering the Earth’s history - a model which involved the study of present processes, assuming they were characteristic of past times, and using those processes to explain how the present geology of the Earth came into being. This model (termed ’actualism’) is favored by geologists to this day. It was this idea, teamed with Lyell’s advocation of vera causa (a "true cause" that can be demonstrated between an observation and a physical force) that attracted Darwin, and led to him explicitly applying the ideas of his early geological studies and eventually to his biological observations.
Lastly, Morris emphatically states that Julian Huxley was "probably more responsible than any other single individual for the so-called ’modern evolutionary synthesis,’ or ’neo-Darwinism’." A brief review of the relevant literature makes it obvious the modern synthesis cannot be attributed to the efforts of any one individual above others. It is true that Huxley, the grandson of Thomas, coined the phrase "modern synthesis" in 1942. As Depew & Weber note, his book Evolution: The Modern Synthesis was only one of a series of works published during the 1930’s and 40’s which announced the genetic theory of natural selection, and heralded the acceptance of Darwinism. Other works of note included Theodosius Dobzhansky’s Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937), Ernst Mayr’s Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942), and George Gaylord Simpson’s Tempo and Mode in Evolution (1944). Other important figures included Sergi Chetverikov, J.B.S. Haldane, Ronald A. Fisher, and Sewall Wright. Ernst Mayr himself expands this list to include Bernard Rensch and Lenyard Stebbins (among others). The historian of science, William Provine lists fifteen works as being the "major works of the synthesis", all published between 1930 and 1954. Three of these are indeed by Huxley, although it must be noted that two of these are works in which he served as co-editor. Provine highlights the fact that Dobzhansky felt that Chetverikov, Fisher, Haldane and Wright (all geneticists) "may be considered founders of the modern analysis of evolutionary phenomena". Naturalists have rejected the attribution of the important works to geneticists, and as Mayr notes, the evolutionary synthesis was far more complex and many-stranded than literature on the history of genetics alone would indicate. Clearly, Morris’ bland assertion is problematic. One must therefore ask why he wishes to attribute the synthesis to the single figure of Julian Huxley. Quite simply, Huxley’s vocal support for secular humanism, and his directorship of UNESCO, allows Morris to draw a connection between humanism and "the worldwide humanistic religion of evolution." It is this use of Huxley’s personal beliefs allied with his scientific support for evolution, that makes Huxley important to Morris, allowing him to emphasize the perceived association between evolution and the unsavory (at least for Protestant Fundamentalists) idea that, to quote Huxley, "man is just as much a natural phenomenon as an animal or plant; that his body, mind and soul were not supernaturally created but are products of evolution, and that he is not under the control or guidance of any supernatural being or beings, but has to rely on himself and his own powers." Morris, like many Creationists, fails to be able to separate the scientific ideas supported by the individual from the religious or socio-political beliefs they hold. The literature is full of references to Stephen Jay Gould’s apparent Marxism and Richard Dawkins’ avowed atheism as being logical addenda to their scientific viewpoints. In assuming (for rhetorical reasons) that Huxley represents all evolutionary biologists, Morris makes a serious error.
Clearly, on these points relating to the history of evolutionary thinking, as seen by mainstream historians of science, Morris’ assertions are deeply flawed and just simply false. In particular, Morris plays fast and loose with the very definition of evolution(ism) making all that are apparently opposed to his viewpoint a homogenous group. Thus, we see, for example, Lamarck & Lyell, Fascists & Socialists, secular humanists & liberal Christians, as being all part of the evolutionist problem. Lamarck and Lyell become puppets in a conspiracy that would eventually spawn Darwinism. Thinkers such as Marx and Nietzsche become mere shadows of Darwin, incapable of independently deriving their ideas. Darwinism would support humanism and the New World Order (as exemplified by UNESCO), and lead inexorably to the Holocaust. In more than a sense, Morris is revising history. So intent is he to see a ’long war’ that he manipulates facts and events until they become mere shades of the truly rich and intricate tapestry that is history.