The Reactionary Utopian
                      April 6, 2006

by Joe Sobran

     The lead story on the front page of the NEW YORK 
TIMES on April 6, for once, wasn't political. It was 
about fossils.

     "All the news that's fit to print," eh? But why 
fossils on the front page, overshadowing immigration, 
war, and even Katie Couric? Doesn't that belong in the 
Science section on Tuesday? Or is there, as we say, some 
agenda at work here?

     The headline tips us off: "Fossil Called Missing 
Link from Sea to Land Animals." Sure enough, the fifth 
paragraph explains that some scientists -- this is 
Science speaking, at which every knee should bow -- say 
these fossils, found in Arctic Canada, 600 miles from the 
North Pole, constitute "a powerful rebuttal to religious 

     How so? The critters' four fins appear to be "limbs 
in the making," enabling them to come out of the water 
and lumber around on land. Here at last is a missing link 
between fish and other beasts, such as "amphibians, 
reptiles and dinosaurs, mammals and eventually humans."

     Take that, you creationists! You've been saying that 
the fossil record lacks crucial transitional life forms, 
and here is the proof that Darwin was right!

     Just the other day, the TIMES's Science section 
reported a new theory that the Sea of Galilee used to 
freeze up, so when Jesus walked on water (Mark 6:51), 
maybe he was actually walking on ice. No miracle at all, 
you see. Once again, Science has spoken.

     For all that, I still think Science is sometimes 
(pardon the pun) a bit fishy, especially on the subject 
of evolution. And I don't ask anyone to take my word for 
it. Just read DARWINIAN FAIRYTALES, by David Stove, just 
republished by Encounter Books in New York.

     Stove, who died in 1994, was a noted Australian 
philosopher. He was neither a scientist nor a 
creationist, but an atheist. He didn't entirely reject 
the theory of evolution, and in fact had great respect 
for Darwin himself. But as a rigorous practitioner of 
linguistic analysis, he thought Darwin and his 
successors, from T.H. Huxley to Richard Dawkins, had 
relied less on scientific method than on the abuse of 

     The result was what Stove called "Darwinism's 
Dilemma." The facts simply didn't -- and couldn't -- 
square with the claims of the theory, particularly in its 
account of human life. And the Darwinians, while claiming 
to explain evolution and "the descent of man" as an 
enormous accident of a blind struggle for survival, have 
had to keep smuggling teleology -- purpose -- into their 

     They reject the idea of God as an intelligent 
designer, but they persist in using such expressions and 
metaphors as "intelligent genes," "selfish genes," 
"tools," "tactics," "devices," "calculated," "organized," 
"goal," and "design." By implication, these words 
transfer the notion of purpose from a benign, superhuman 
God to subhuman entities like genes and "memes." Dawkins, 
who posited (he'd say "discovered") memes, flatly calls 
"altruism" "something that does not exist in nature." 
After all, altruism would be a fatal handicap in the 
ruthless struggle for survival.

     Well, if altruism doesn't exist in nature, why does 
it exist at all? How can it? Aren't we still in nature? 
How can we escape it? When did we cease being pitiless 
competitors and start being cooperators, building 
hospitals and charities and all the institutions that 
preserve the people whom Darwinism's nature, red in tooth 
and claw, would deem "unfit" for survival? How can we be 
so utterly unlike the fierce creatures from whom we are 
allegedly descended?

     And if the drives for self-preservation and 
reproduction of our species are built into our genes, why 
do we do so many things that frustrate these drives? Not 
only altruism, but heroism, celibacy, abortion, 
contraception, alcoholism, and a thousand other things 
are, from a Darwinian point of view, self-destructive and 
in need of explanation.

     The Darwinians are aware of these problems, and 
Stove shows, with hilarious irony and savage sarcasm, how 
they have tied themselves in knots of circular thinking 
trying to explain away the most intractable difficulties 
their theory entails. Stove calls that theory "a 
ridiculous slander on human beings."

     As Samuel Johnson says, "When speculation has done 
its worst, two and two still make four"; and "Sir, we 
=know= the will is free, and there's an end on't." That's 
the kind of unawed common sense with which David Stove 
retorts to nonsense posing as "Science."


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