Talk presented to the Athiest Society, Melboune, by Robert Bender, 8 April 2007
The Jehovah's Witness sect originated in Pennsylvania in the 1870s, along with several other sects predicting the world would end within decades. It was founded by Pastor Charles Russell, who wrote long obscure books of prophecy. Shortly before his sect was founded, Darwin and Wallace published their theory of evolution by natural selection, and these millenarian sects instantly decided to do battle with this threat to their central doctrine of the creation of man as a special species and the Fall from Grace of Adam and Eve and introduction of sin into the world, which they saw as recent (about 6,000 years ago) but involved the first two humans, so was soon after the creation of our species. Their journals show they have had problems with science from the start, but their biggest problem is with evolution. They produced a book from their large publishing house in 1967, Did man get here by evolution or by creation? And a second edition in 1985, renamed Life: how did it get here? By evolution or by creation? I was given a copy a year ago and have used it as the basis for this talk.
Halfway through their little book, there is a table headed "Which fits the facts?" purporting to compare two "models" of the history of the world. The Witness writer has no doubt learned that current scientific talk includes much about developing models from which predictions can be derived and tested against evidence. So an evolution model and a creation model are tabled. One of the comparisons is about the first appearance of humans on Earth:
Evolution: appearance of man millions of years ago
Creation: appearance of man about 6,000 years ago
Facts: oldest written records date back only about 5,000 years
So no other kind of evidence has any value at all - this invalidates all of palaeontology and archaeology, as it says (p. 97) "keep in mind that truly reliable evidence of man's activity on earth is given, not in millions of years, but in thousands. For example, in The Fate of the Earth, we read: 'Only six or seven thousand years ago ...civilisation emerged, enabling us to build up a human world'."
There is no discussion of what has been learned from these disciplines of palaeontology and archaeology, just dismissal of them as entirely invalid. Written records show humans were around, and no other kind of evidence can be relied on to show there were humans doing things at any time.
Another item from the table of the two models:
Evolution: origin of civilization gradual, arising out of crude, brutish beginnings
Creation: civilization contemporary with man, complex to begin with
Facts: civilization appears with man; any cave dwellers were contemporary with civilization
First we have the simple alternatives of people being either civilized or cave dwellers, then we have all these supposed primitives being our contemporaries. So there were no primitive peoples. This raises the issue of the Stone Age. For the past 200 years evidence has been amassed, now accumulating in a torrent, of Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures - makers of mainly stone tools who were probably all hunters and gatherers, then later settled in simple villages and practiced early farming and animal husbandry and made quite different stone tools. The Palaeolithic dates from around 2.5 million years ago, beginning in Kenya and Ethiopia with simple chopping tools. So how do the Witnesses deal with this? By denying the long history and deciding all these stone tool makers are our contemporaries. Remove all the dating methods and results, to force it all into the last 6,000 years, in which the evidence man exists is written records, which provide reliable proof of human presence on Earth.
Late in the book is a chapter on "Why would god permit suffering?" with its inevitable account of the Fall of Man, and the expulsion from Eden. "When Adam and Eve chose to be independent of their Maker, they fell from perfection." So there was no Stone Age. It is all a silly story. There is no discussion of any evidence from the Palaeolithic or Neolithic. There is one picture of an Acheulian hand-axe in a chapter on "The amazing design of living things", and the only comment is "designer needed?" No comment on what it is, when it was made, what can be learned from Palaeolithic evidence. It is obvious why the Stone Age is ignored, as it is so inconvenient for sustaining a belief in The Fall. So how do Witnesses deal with the Stone Age, both Old and New? By not discussing it - by ignoring it totally, being only interested in the period when writing, and history, provides "certainty". The earlier edition of the book had a brief section on the Stone Age, which has now been omitted: "as man with his high brain capacity, spread out over the earth, he developed separate cultures, some more advanced than others. This was due, not to evolution, but to geography and changed languages. The fact that some of the cultures degenerated into a "stone age" as we can see today in New Guinea, Africa, or among the Australian aborigines, simply demonstrates that man's progress was not automatic, but could be reversed." There is no discussion of whether writing provides this certainty, or what else humans may have produced that is datable. This invalidates all of archaeology. The real objection is the "crude, brutish beginnings", which in the popular view shows humans have progressed and are now superior to our ancestors. This contradicts the belief in the Fall of Man from initial "perfection." So, of course the Stone Age has to be denied, as it makes nonsense of Eden and the Fall.
In a chapter denying the connection between us and supposed "ape-men", there is a brief quote from Stephen J Gould "We have no evidence for biological change in brain size or structure since Homo sapiens appeared in the fossil record some fifty thousand years ago." This date is not disputed by the author, although writing only appeared 5,000 years ago. So what evidence is there of what these early Homo sapiens were doing for the other 45,000 years before writing? It contradicts the table of models that the only evidence of the existence of humans dates from 5,000 years ago and its 6,000 years prediction for the appearance of humans from the creation "model". So there must have been 1,000 years when the early humans could not write, and left no records, but we still know they were there. Since the 1980s the appearance of Homo sapiens has been pushed back to 150,000 years, at Klasies River and other South African sites. But even before 1985, there was a big search for the oldest Homo sapiens fossil - discovering it would be a big status-boost for any finder. The Witness writer carefully avoids discussing what preceded Homo sapiens, just quotes Gould and moves on to other issues.
He also does not show how the date of 6,000 derives from a creation model, unless the model is simply "Archbishop Ussher was right". But then it is not a prediction of the model, it is the model itself - having a model involving a creation does not yield a prediction of when it happened. So the Witness writer does not really understand what a model is, and how predictions are derived from them. It is just a matter of putting some words in a box in the table to oppose to the evolution "model", with no understanding of how predictions are derived from the evolution model either, or the deep interconnection of fieldwork and data with model construction - although apparently he has read Don Johanson's Lucy and Richard Leakey's Origins, both of which contain detailed models, linking explanations and facts.
One important issue is the use of quotations from "authorities". Some of the multitude of quotes are from texts by scientists about their own field, but there are very few of these. There are many quotes from book reviews or popular science journals and even more from mass-circulation daily or weekly news magazines and newspapers, as though they are all equivalent in the quality of their authority. As one example, in a discussion of the problem of ape-men (Australopithecines are mentioned, but not Neanderthals) there is a quote from a popular science magazine, Science Digest about the "lack of a missing link to explain the relatively sudden appearance of modern man". As usual, this is taken out of context, appears in a vacuum, with no discussion of what is meant by "relatively sudden" (it actually means over about 100,000 years), with no mention of any earlier species which may have preceded Homo sapiens and from which we might have evolved. The fact is that Homo sapiens appeared as part of a series of fossils changing in a consistent direction of brain size, body size, bone thickness, appearance of hyoid bone in the throat, etc. The Witness writer is very coy about this and just picks out the phrase about lack of a missing link, without discussing what it might link us to. It is clear from other parts of the book that the link would be to other species existing now, not a link to fossils older than Homo sapiens fossils, as these are not accepted as validly dated objects. There follows another quote from a report in Newsweek: when texts written by real scientists don't support your argument, the thing to do is resort to a mass-circulation news journal.
The writer, like many creationists has an ambiguous attitude to science: he wants creation to be seen to be scientific, but rejects all science's explanations and a good deal of evidence along with it. Right at the start of the book he states that "scientific achievement is not at issue here. Every informed person is aware of the amazing accomplishments of scientists in many fields. Scientific study has dramatically increased our knowledge of the universe and of the earth and of living things." There are several statements of respect for the growing body of "facts" discovered by scientists, and many are discussed in the book. But virtually all interpretation of these facts is rejected in total. So scientific theories, explaining the facts, and predicting what new facts might be found, are all repudiated, under this mask of respect for science. And Jehovah's Witnesses want to have their views accepted as compatible with current science (except for the conflicts of interpretation), and accepted as scientific. This shows they have no understanding of what science is - that it is not a pile of facts, but a set of explanations of those facts, with predictive power.
There is a rudimentary understanding of what science is: "the scientific method: observe what happens; based on those observations, form a theory as to what may be true; test the theory by further observations and by experiments; and watch to see if the predictions based on the theory are fulfilled." Witnesses accept that this is something all modern sciences have pursued with great success, but they have a very simple view that when theories are developed, everybody agrees about them instantly because the solution is obvious. They do not understand that there can be fierce disagreement about what the evidence means, or even what evidence is important to use in testing a theory. So all their reading about disagreements among evolutionists is taken, not as a sign of a rapidly developing science and healthy debate from which a correct understanding will eventually emerge, but as indication of chaotic confusion among evolutionists whose theories are entirely contrary to the evidence, and developed by people not in pursuit of the truth.
In the chapter on ape-men, it is noted that the scientists' presentation of man's family tree "changes constantly". This is not seen as indicating a developing science, but as indicating that nothing scientists write can be relied on, as it will all change next year. Therefore it is all untrue. There is frequent contrast of constantly shifting scientific theories and the never-changing creationists' view, as though stability equals truth and instability equals fickleness and unreliable scientists who don't really know what to believe. There is similarly no discussion of whether controversies are ever resolved so some issue becomes part of the settled body of science. Just the simple equation, disagreement equals discredited. So they respect certainty and do not understand that science is about dealing with incomplete evidence and uncertainty and there will always be debates about methods, results and meanings.
The book has a confusion of the origin of life (an issue of organic chemistry) and evolution: it has a definition of "evolution, as used in this book, refers to organic evolution - the theory that the first living organism developed from non-living matter. Then, as it reproduced, it is said to have changed into different kinds of living things, producing ultimately all forms of life that have ever existed on earth." So a whole chapter is wasted on what they see the falsities of believing that life can emerge from non-living matter, as though this is an attack on evolution.
They have a similar problem with historical scholarship. After dismissing the creation myths of polytheistic societies as false because they were polytheistic (which begs a few questions) there is a very bold claim "The creation myths of ancient peoples bore no resemblance to what Moses wrote in Genesis. Where then did Moses learn all these things? Apparently from someone who was there ... Evolutionary theory does not allow for a Creator who was there, knew the facts and could reveal them to humans." This statement just says evolutionary theory does not allow for knowledge that is revealed by a god (which is true: it does not), and that "apparently" Moses must have learned what he "knew" of creation and its sequences from the creator, who told him personally. It seems all you need to do is state that "apparently" the god you want to credit with being the creator just told a human what it had done and that establishes it as a certainty. There is no concept here of how one would test whether any such claim is true or false, or why the polytheistic creation myths were not communicated by one of the many gods involved in that view of creation, or whether revelation to humans by gods is a valid way to obtain knowledge, or what the problems might be in testing whether a human claiming to have a revelation was deluded or lying. There is instead just complete naivete about making an assertion and taking it for granted that of course it is true.
Since the late 18th century there has been a long history of textual criticism of the Bible by scholars, who have been interested in learning about the sequence in which its various parts were written, whether any one book such as Genesis seems to have had one author or many, and whether any particular story, such as that of the creation or of Noah's flood, is repeated, so the Bible is just a collection of different versions. The conclusion of this very long and widespread examination is that Genesis had many authors, in two groups called the Jahwist (very ancient) and the Elohist (more recent) and a Priestly editor (or committee of editors) who compiled the fragments into a more-or-less continuous narrative, such as by linking them with the long genealogical lists here and there. The Witness sect is in total denial that any of this scholarly textual examination has any validity and instead perpetuates the naïve Jewish tradition that the books from Genesis to Deuteronomy were the work of one man, who had much of it dictated to him in person by his god. So the past 200 years of historical scholarship is entirely invalidated, and the entire meaning of the Bible is on the surface, requiring no scholarly examination, but its full meaning is accessible to the untutored layman.
The Biblical creation myths are presented in Genesis chapters1 and 2. In the earlier version of the Witness book, there is no discussion of this sequence, but the 1985 version devotes a chapter to it. It begins with a caution that the story is written from the point of view of an earthly observer (even though there were no earthly observers during the first 5 days of creation week) and this prepares readers for the issue of the obviously (to us) incorrect position in the sequence in which the creation of the sun and other stars is placed.
The sequence as described by the author:
The account begins with an interesting comment on the point of view: Genesis 1 is written from the point of view of people on Earth, as shown by the treatment of the sun as a specially important object in the universe whereas all the trillions of stars are disposed of in half a sentence. The Witnesses slant on this is that to us on Earth the sun looks big and important. "There the sun and moon are described as great luminaries in comparison to the stars. Yet many stars are far greater than our sun, and the moon is insignificant in comparison to them. But not to an earthly observer. So, as seen from the earth, the sun appears to be a "greater light that rules the day" etc." This is really a confession that the Genesis account was written by a primitive, who had no real idea of the extent and structure of the universe or how planet Earth fits into the scheme of things. Yet the writer avoids any suggestion that the Genesis authors may have been wrong in their extremely limited idea of the nature of our universe. Genesis does not need revision - it is correct - we just need to understand the point of view of the Genesis authors.
What is most amazing is the entire ignorance of the vast multitude of galaxies and stars in "outer space", which are not just a few little points of light, but trillions of trillions of galaxies each with trillions of stars, of which our sun is one insignificant slightly undersized star in one galaxy. The Earth-centred view of the Bible writers just shows up their ignorance (and everybody of their time was equally ignorant) of the vast structure of the universe. All it does is demonstrate that it is the work of a primitive people who had no real idea of the size and structure of the universe or of our place in it.
It enabled the Genesis writers to believe the Earth was big and important and the stars just pin-points, small and unimportant, which sustains the idea that life on Earth is the whole point of the universe, instead of just a minor accident on one minor planet among nine (or eight) circling a minor star. This is the other thing entirely lacking in the Genesis account - the other planets are not mentioned at all, although they were by then well known to the Babylonians, who were much more interested in astronomy than the relatively backward less urbanised people of Israel. The size of the universe changes one's view of the importance of what happens on Earth, but not if you are a Jehovah's Witness, as shown later in their chapter on the awesome universe.
Then comes an indication that the Witness sect is withdrawing from the view that the entire universe was created from nothing a mere 6,000 years ago - an acceptance that Genesis 1:1 does not state anything about creation from nothing, but merely about the emergence of order from a formless state of matter. "The first part of Genesis indicates that the earth could have existed for billions of years before the first Genesis 'day', though it does not say for how long." This is consistent with their 1967 book, which states that Genesis 1:1 "allows for thousands of millions of years that the material of the earth could have been in existence before being inhabited by living things." As the Big Bang timetable has the universe starting at 13.7 billion years ago, putting the word billions in the Witness book is a canny move, though it does raise the question of why their god might think a universe that was without living organisms for 13.7 billion years suddenly needed some living organisms on one little planet in one arm of one galaxy and perhaps nowhere else at all. But such questions do not seem to occur to Witness writers. Anyway, it is a welcome change from insisting that everything started 6,000 years ago. Perhaps we may look forward to other re-examinations that result in acceptance that living organisms first appeared on Earth over 3 billion years ago as single-celled organisms.
On "the greater light that rules the day and the lesser light that dominates the night", the comment about whether it was written from an earthly point of view or not is really irrelevant. The more important issue is not that the sun "rules the day", but that "day" really just means "when the sun is up" and once it is accepted that the Earth is a spheroid, day is just whatever half of the Earth is facing the sun at any one time. So the Biblical view is a Flat Earth view, which is also not mentioned in this book. And the moon does not dominate the night - at least half the time it is up during the day, which the ancient writers knew, too, as their calendar was a lunar one and they were observant watchers of the skies.
For several paragraphs, quirky translations are found to justify blurring the idea of "day" in the Genesis poem being a literal 24-hour day, so it could be much longer, even billions of years, perhaps just meaning "creative period", though this seems to apply only to the creation of the inorganic universe, not to the organic bits. The fudging of how long a day might have been is a confession that the language of Genesis might be really quite vague, it is not the account of a people conscious of the precise history that concerns modern Westerners. It is a confession that the author really has no idea at all how old the universe is, and is surprisingly uninterested in this question, but quite content to leave it vague. Comparing this with what was written earlier, about the Earth being only 6,000 years old, it is clear the author has radically changed his mind about what he is defending. Now it is a word that could be "millenniums", so instead of the Earth being 6,000 years old it could be 6,000 x 6 years older, or perhaps 36,000 years or even older. Even with this vagueness interpreted into the words, it is nowhere near the scientists' current value of 13.7 billion years for the universe, 4.6 billions years for the sun, moon and Earth, and 3.8 billion years for living organisms.
Several paragraphs on the creation of light and of the sun and moon involve an astonishing fudge. It says quite clearly in Genesis 1:14 that the sun and moon were made on day 4, but the author here has seriously fiddled with this clear sequence by claiming that "of course the sun and moon were in outer space long before the "first day". He has noticed that having plants appear when there was no sun is just silly, and is trying to massage away the absurdity with some "interpretation" of clouds being in the way, so it wasn't visible from Earth. If the clouds were that thick, no light would have been available for the plants either, so it does not even solve the problem, and is just as absurd as ever. Some of the mass extinctions on Earth, such as the Permian, involved massive clouds of volcanic debris which blocked the sunlight and caused widespread death and extinction of plants and the animals feeding on them.
The second day of creation is about the separation of waters above and below. One of the obvious questions the ancients struggled with is how come water, which on earth falls out of any container with a hole in it, can be present in clouds up high above us and not necessarily fall down. Sometimes it rains but most of the time the water in the clouds just stays up there. This story about day 2 is apparently intended to explain this mystery as something ordered by a god, that the waters above should stay up there, with the clear air in between the waters up there and the waters down here.
It is interesting that the author sees the Genesis account as being written from the point of view of someone on Earth, as this little story is written as though water staying up in the sky in the clouds is a really important issue in the design of the universe, when really it is just a very local issue, now understood as just something that makes our weather patterns, and is really a product of the temperature gradient from Earth's surface upwards, and the chemistry of water as it evaporates. It does not require the orders of a god to make it happen. The really interesting thing is that it is presented as something that is organized before the sun is created, whereas the sun is vital to the workings of Earth's weather system. The Biblical writer got this one very wrong.
On day 3 land plants are created. This entirely omits to mention water plants, as though they do not exist. This is understandable, as the priests who composed this material were only interested in the plants used by the Israelites for cultivation and shade. Water plants were of no interest so could be ignored. Three groups of plants are mentioned - grasses, "vegetation bearing seed" (which includes all grasses but might be intended to include vegetable crops), and fruit trees yielding fruit (already included in vegetation bearing seed as fruits are just seeds in pretty packages). Again, this is very biased towards the types of plants the farmers of Israel were interested in, so omits to mention the conifers, the many plants that reproduce vegetatively via runners or suckers, and the multitudes of mosses, lichens, algae and other small, non-domesticated plants that do not produce seed. And it omits entirely to mention fungi which had not been domesticated at the time and were of no interest.
The order in which they are mentioned is of interest. Modern botanists have demonstrated that grasses are among the most recent plants to have emerged on Earth, and fruit trees, by the Bible times the result of hundreds of years of selective breeding so the fruits were much larger than before cultivation began, seemed much more important than they are in nature, in which most fruits are small, for consumption by small herbivores, which also pollinate them and disperse their seeds. So the Bible writers were ignorant of nearly all botanical knowledge as their focus was on the domesticated varieties of grasses and fruits, which is entirely understandable, but which makes Genesis 1 not an account of the history of the Earth, but only of the very few bits that were of interest to farmers and gatherers of wild foods.
The Witness writer apologises for Genesis "incidentally" not mentioning micro-scopic organisms, water plants "and others". Of course they are not mentioned - the microscope was invented in the 18th century, so nobody mentioned microscopic organisms until then. Genesis was not written by somebody who knew about them, but by a priest who wrote about what he knew, and knowledge was very primitive at the time. The important thing is that single-celled organisms, of which the ancients knew nothing, are now accepted as having been on earth much longer than multi-celled organisms such as plants, reptiles and us, so knowing of them is important to an understanding of the development of life on earth. The Witness writer mentions them as some minor oversight, of no great significance, just another bit of fact to add to a more modern list of disconnected facts.
On day four we get the creation of the sun, moon and, as an afterthought, the stars. The bare statement assumes that all the creating that had to be done is all over. No star has a history, a life cycle, they are just little points of light in the night sky - they are all the same, and all the same size. No new stars are being created now, as they were all created some thousands of years ago. No old stars are exploding, dying, collapsing. Nothing about how far away they are, with some quite near and some enormous distances from us. Nothing about any structure - galaxies, globular clusters, quasars, galactic clusters, as of course all these were discovered only in recent decades and were unknown to the priests of Bronze Age Israel. It is a primitive concept, with no dynamic dimension to it, as this was of no interest to the priests who were managing the ritual life of Israel.
So the modern picture, which is not of static pinpoints of light in the sky, but of huge rotating galaxies, of stars being born, reaching middle age, changing size, becoming super-giants, collapsing, exploding in supernovas, fizzling out to be white dwarfs, neutron stars, gas clouds showing past supernovas, nebulae condensing into new stars, galaxies rushing away from each other at speeds which are large fractions of the speed of light - none of this is evident in the primitive static concept of Genesis, as the writers had no understanding of the real nature of stars, or how they differ from one another, or what they tell us about the structure and history of galaxies and of the universe. It is all human-centred, and shows no real interest in anything beyond the ritual life of the tribes of Israel
The sun and moon are put in the sky as "signs for the seasons." This says that the priests, who were in charge of the calendar as were priests in all cultures, thought of the sun and moon as their source of information, rather than as the basic stuff of the solar system. The Israelite priests had no knowledge of the sizes and distances involved. They also had no particular theory of the origin of solar systems in general, as they knew of only one, and didn't understand much of how it worked. There is no mention in the Bible of the constellations or of the other planets as these were of no interest to a primitive culture whose calendar and whose astronomy was restricted to the movements of the sun and moon. There is no understanding of why the Earth has seasonal cycles, which derive from its revolution around the sun and the tilt of its axis. There is just an acceptance of it as a magical phenomenon, organised by a god with little signs in the skies to help little humans figure out the patterns.
On the busy 6th day we first get land animals, after the previous day's sea creatures and birds. The brief treatment of land animals is regrettable. The Genesis story seems to imply that the "domestic" animals were created already domesticated, so domestication was not a taming and selective breeding process by humans, but a gift from the god (which is how Mohammed takes it in the Qur'an). The only distinction drawn is between domestic and wild. There is no distinction mentioned between reptile and mammal, between vertebrates and invertebrates, insects and spiders, crabs and snails, worms and tortoises and frogs. All this says is that the only distinction that interested the Israelite priests and the people was that between wild and domestic. There are about 5 or 6 species of domestic animals, and possibly 10 million wild species, so the interest of the Bible writers was a very narrow one. It is not really clear what "according to its kind" means, but perhaps it is just about recognising there were many different species. Again, this is not an account of planet Earth, but only of the very small part of it that was of interest to the Israelite elite.
Genesis chapter 2 is dismissed as of no interest, just adding some minor details, but this is dishonest. It is widely agreed by Biblical scholars that Genesis 2 is an entirely different tradition, and actually tells a different story. It is about the plants not growing until the god ordered a mist that became rain, about the man being formed from the dust of the earth and the god breathing life into the proto-man, about the garden into which the man was placed, and the forbidden trees. But most importantly it has the god making plants (Genesis 2:9) and animals (Genesis 2:19) after the man was made, which is quite different from Genesis 1. It also has the making of the first woman as a separate act, instead of the simple Genesis 1 story "male and female created he them." The Witness gloss on this is that "it is not, as some have concluded, another account of creation in conflict with that of chapter 1. It just takes up at a point in the third 'day', after dry land appeared but before land plants were created, adding details that were pertinent to the arrival of humans." This dishonestly ignores the issue of why there should be two stories at all, and whether they are really telling the same sequence of events, and whether the incompatibilities between them are consistent with a god who tells humans stories that can be relied on. The decision by the textual critics is they are two stories, representing two different traditions, both regarded as sacred writings by the later priestly editor who tried to organise them into a single continuous narrative but in fact left them distinguishable as two distinct accounts.
The author sums it up as a "quite realistic account". That is really not an honest statement. Use of "quite" to qualify how realistic it is, is another bit of fudging. He does not acknowledge that there is a profound difference between a "quite realistic account" and one that is strictly and rigorously true. It is a difference vital to a sect that believes the account was communicated by a god to humans as the truth about what happened. Either the god told the truth, or the god was misleading, and cannot be trusted. So an "almost" fit between Genesis and what we now understand as the way the universe developed is just not good enough.
The writer sums up by stating that "the Genesis creation account emerges as a scientifically sound document". This statement is made with no discussion of what the scientific community thinks of Genesis. Do they see Genesis 1 as a sound account of how life began on Earth? The "larger categories of plants and animals" is not an honest presentation of the classifications in Genesis 1: which as for plants is just interested in grasses and fruit trees, and for animals only domestic and wild. These are not scientific categories at all. Much later there is a brief comment on Darwin's finches, found on the Galapagos off the west coast of South America on the Beagle voyage. "Darwin interpreted these as evolution in progress. But actually it was nothing more than another sample of variety within a kind ... the finches were still finches. They were not turning into something else and they never would." This fudges the whole issue of what is a "variety" (a 19th century term, now replaced perhaps by race, or sub-species, or morph) and what is a species. The Witness writer carefully avoids using the words "species" or "genus" in favour of the vague "kind" as though that is the Biblical word, and therefore a valid scientific category. Therefore they reject all of Linnaean classification and with it all of modern biology. The earlier edition had several paragraphs about the levels of relationship within the Linnaean classification: "In the system of nomenclature used in the life sciences, individual organisms very closely related are considered a species. One or more related species make up a genus. A family is a group of genera (plural of genus). An example is that of the cat family, Felidae. One genus of this family is Felis, which includes the tiger, lion, house cat and others, all separate species within the genus. Another genus of the cat family is the Lynx, which includes the Bobcat. Further classification upward into order, class and then phylum follow. Which of these classifications commonly used today is the equivalent of the Genesis kind? The Bible does not say, but the kind to which it refers is large enough to allow for great variety within but not for interbreeding with other kinds. Observed facts prove this to be so." I suppose they realised they had really conceded the whole argument in this paragraph, as a lynx is not a variety of pussycat or a variety of a lion, but a result of evolutionary radiation taking millions of years. Once it is accepted that similar species are related, then evolution is accepted as the basis for understanding their relationship, as related means having a common ancestor, and if they are now separate species they must have evolved to their present condition. A creation of all living organisms a few thousand years ago means no species are related as they were all created separately and have no common ancestor. So the section was just left out on the rewriting for the new edition.
It presents the entire issue as a matter of opinion - Darwin had one and Witness have a different one, equally legitimate, as there are no tests to show one is right, the other wrong. Witness writers really have no idea what science is all about - carefully defined terms, precise classification, theories with predictive value. They see it all as a collection of facts and are prepared to fudge the way crucial "facts" are presented in order to make them look compatible with creation. There is nothing on what has been learned about Galapagos finches since Darwin's time (he almost missed the significance of them, until after the Beagle had left the island group), nothing on the time periods of migration, variation or speciation, or about the presence on some islands of several species of finches and what that signifies in multiple migrations at different periods etc.
There is a chapter on the gulfs between kinds, which becomes an argument about the lack of evidence linking reptiles and birds, or reptiles and mammals, and of the big difference between humans and the other apes.
The centerpiece of it is a presentation of the miracle of complex feathers and a dismissal of Archaeopteryx as not a true link between reptiles and birds. The basic sequence put by the Genesis writers is that plants came before animals (obvious, as most animals eat plants, so no plants, no animals); fish and birds (day 5) came before land animals (day 6); non-human animals came before humans. There is some good sense in this order, apart from the birds coming before land animals (birds are now accepted as being descended from late warm-blooded dinosaurs, so there were land animals for many millions of years before the first birds emerged).
This issue of birds having descended from dinosaurs, or alternatively being created before any land animals makes it clearer why creationists are so keen to show that Archaeopteryx is not a valid fossil, as it is a proto-bird descended from reptiles. So if it is genuine it shows up a serious defect in Genesis which has birds being created before land animals, and therefore must be discredited. However, Archaeopteryx is now supported by multitudes of feathered dinosaurs found in China in the past decade; it has not been discredited, but its claim to be a transitional fossil is stronger than ever. The Witness' book maintains all this is not so: "At one time evolutionists believed that Archaeoopteryx, meaning 'ancient wing' or 'ancient bird' was a link between reptile and bird. But now, many do not. Its fossilized remains reveal perfectly formed feathers on aerodynamically designed wings capable of flight. Its wing and leg bones were thin and hollow. Its supposed rep-tilian features are found in birds today. And it does not predate birds, because fossils of other birds have been found in rocks of the same period as Archaeo-pteryx." This is about as dishonest as one can get. There is still fierce argument about the flying ability of this extinct species, and the only other proto-birds from roughly the same period are reptile-bird intermediates from China. No evidence of contemporary bird species is given, just the bald statement, and no discussion of when Archaeopteryx may have lived or what that means for evolution or creation.
The table of the two models has a line on the appearance of language:
Evolution: language evolved from simple animal sounds into complex modern languages
Creation: language contemporaneous with man; ancient languages complex and complete
Facts: language contemporaneous with man; ancient ones more complex than modern.
Later in the book there is a section entitled "Language unique to humans" which has these arguments:
There is no study of what language is, and how similar or different are the vocalizations of other species - bird, mammal or reptile. Much research has been done in the past 30 years on the complexities of bird and mammal communication, between competing males, parent and offspring, mating calls, alarm calls, etc. There is no discussion of the parallels between language of deaf humans and of anthropoid apes, their similarities and limitations. The book just contains a few assertions of marginally qualified writers, none of whom are language experts, and nothing about the problems involved in the issue of whether a species has language.
The common assumption that hunting-and-gathering societies are "primitive" in the evolutionary sense, and are a good model of what human society was like in the early Stone Age, mid-Pleistocene, underlies the statement that "there are no primitive languages" - the way of life of the San Kung or desert Aborigines or Inuit, are primitive, but their languages are not. Of course not, as they have been evolving as long as Europeans and had just as long to develop complex languages, though the languages of scientifically advanced societies are technically far more complex with much larger vocabularies. But family life, community life, and the complex technical business of manufacturing daily tools for performing the wide variety of life functions is quite complex in all societies, so of course the languages people use to discuss these matters are all complex.
Research into primitive languages involves exploring the relationships between modern languages - the Indo-European group, the Semitic group, the New Guinea and Indian and Aboriginal groups etc., to investigate what words and concepts they have in common, how long ago they diverged, and what the characteristics of the ancestral primitive languages may have been. The very existence of this research is denied by Witnesses, who are not interested in language history, but only in super-ficial comments supported by a few quotes from non-specialist writers, many of whom are journalists, not scientists and quite a few of whom are unacknowledged creationists. All these assertions are really just restatements of the belief that humans are very special, and radically different from all other animals, and particularly the anthropoid apes. The discoveries of tool using and tool making, of sign-language abilities and of individual personality traits in the anthropoid apes has seriously blurred the old concepts of how we differ from them, and instead focused attention on the real differences, which are more the subject of DNA analysis.
This chapter follows 3 paragraphs in the previous ch 6 on "The greatest gulf of all" between humans and other species of mammals, which are a series of unsupported assertions: humans have far superior brains, and have moral systems and culture, as we are "made in the image of god". To preserve the idea that humans are made in the image of a god, the opposed idea that humans developed out of pre-human ape-like ancestors must be shown as false.
The chapter on ape-men deals with the issue of hominid fossils. "Why is the fossil record so important in the effort to document ape-like ancestors for humankind? Because today's living world has nothing in it to support the idea." So the work done in the past 50 years on the social life of chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and their similarities to those of humans are dismissed as valueless. The work done on DNA and the similarities between humans and the three great apes is also dismissed as valueless. The work of Darwin and his successors on the expression of emotions in humans and apes, is dismissed as nothing. This is a lot of denial of the existence and validity of a large volume of scientific effort.
"As shown in chapter 6, there is an enormous gulf ..." It was not actually shown, it was merely asserted in a few paragraphs with no supporting evidence about the presence of these characters in humans and their absence in other species. Assertion is not the same as demonstration.
"Evolutionary theory holds that as animals progressed up the evolutionary scale, they became more capable of surviving." It is hard to know what this statement means, as nothing would have survived long if ancestral forms were less capable of surviving, and perhaps all died out. It seems to be a very bumbling presentation of the idea that species replace earlier species that are less well adapted to leaving offspring. And it leads to the taunting question "Why, then, is the 'inferior' ape family still in existence, but not a single one of the presumed intermediate forms, which were supposed to be more advanced in evolution? Today we see chimpan-zees, gorillas and orangutans, but no 'ape-men'. Does it seem likely that every one of the more recent and supposedly more advanced 'links' between apelike creatures and modern man should have become extinct, but not the lower apes?" This involves a serious misunderstanding of the evolutionary path - that we humans have evolved from the apes that we know on Earth now - the chimpanzees are survivors of our ancestral stock. The evolutionary message is quite different - chimpanzees have also evolved from the common ancestor we share with them, but in different ways. At some time in the past, the common ancestor somehow split into two species, one of which started the line leading to chimpanzees while the other line led to us. We replaced earlier hominids like Homo erectus and Homo habilis and the Australopithecines, the chimpanzees replaced whatever their ancestors were of which very little is known. So we can in no way be seen as superior to the chimps, as we do not compete with them. At some time perhaps around 150,000 years ago, Homo erectus co-existed with the Neanderthals, and Homo sapiens split from Homo erectus and eventually replaced that species, perhaps superior brain power leading to our species out-competing it for food or in combat over territory. Meanwhile the chimps developed in a different geographic area, and went through some different sequence of successive species.
Morton Hunt's book The Universe Within is quoted: "What caused evolution ... to produce, as if overnight, modern humankind with its highly special brain?" A tendentious question out of context. No comparison is offered with older fossil brain capacities, although this is the core of palaeontological sequencing of human evolution. No figures are given even on Homo sapiens brain capacity and its variability. The author had no interest in the variability or the deformities or the range of IQ and makes no attempt to explain the cretin end and how it might be compatible with a smart creator. The writer's answer to these quotes is: "Evolution is unable to answer." No attempt is made to present what evolutionist palaeontol-ogists offer in their journals and books, followed by discussion of the perceived weaknesses of their ideas. Just a sweeping dismissal. The writer seems to have read Leakey's Origins and Johanson's Lucy and just ignored it all, read it only to hunt for quotes indicating uncertainty and chaos among evolutionists. The writer's answer continues: "But could the answer lie in the creation of a very complex, different creature?" There is again just the question, with no attempt to show whether it could or could not. There is no attempt to show how a "creation model" yields any predictions and how they have been tested.
This chapter has a few paragraphs about how ideas of what is in the night sky have developed since the invention of the telescope and especially since the big American telescopes of the 1920s and the Anglo-Australian telescope at Siding Springs revealed the existence of multitudes of galaxies and the structure of our own galaxy. The author states that "what has been observed is far more awesome than anyone had ever imagined." There is no connection made that if what used to be believed was that the 4,000 stars visible with the naked eye constituted the entire universe, and they were really as they seemed - tiny points of light not far above the surface of the Earth - then perhaps people's ideas about the age and meaning of the universe based on this limited experience may also have been wrong.
Much space is devoted to a euphoric description of how many stars there might be - with figures varying very widely, therefore not based on agreed techniques for determining a tight estimate of the true number), so just personal opinion, really. There is mention of our galaxy having a diameter of 100,000 light years with a translation into miles, and an average distance between stars of 6 light years. It goes on to suggest there are tens of billions of galaxies within the observable universe and far more beyond that limit. All the big numbers are intended apparently to pro-voke a "Wow!" reaction, rather than to start any study of what it all might mean. There is some description of the discovery of galactic clusters and super-clusters And it says "the distance between galaxies within a cluster may average about a million light-years. However the distance from one galactic cluster to another may be a hundred times that (so 100 million years). And there is even evidence that the clusters themselves are arranged in 'super-clusters' like bunches of grapes on a vine. What colossal size and brilliant organisation." The word organisation enables the writer to divert into a rehash of Paley's watch and the argument from design. So the only thing he was interested in was the indicators of design, although no real design is discussed, just bunches of grapes. The implications that if we can see the light from galaxies 10 billion light years away that the universe must be at least that old, and that if there are yet more over the visible horizon it may be older still, is not referred to. The implication that if the ancients who dreamed up the idea of the Earth being created only 6,000 years ago with a pretty decoration in the night sky of 4,000 stars which were just pin-points of light believed to be only a few miles from the Earth's surface (also not mentioned) did not really know anything about the real content, size and structure of our universe then their ideas of how it originated may be wrong, is not even hinted at. All reference to the possible age of this massive universe is avoided.
Then an analogy is drawn between the arrangement of our solar system of planets orbiting the sun and the arrangement of sub-atomic particles in an atom, with electrons (planets) orbiting a nucleus (the sun), thus presenting a 1930s view of the structure of the atom, for which the solar system analogy has not been used since the quantum discovery that electron orbits are not fixed, as are those of planets, but jump from one energy level to another quite suddenly, and that the range of sub-atomic particles is far larger than the simple proton-neutron-electron model of the 1930s. And what keeps the planets in their orbits is not electro-magnetic forces (that keep sub-atomic particles where they are), but gravity.
The Mendeleyev table of elements is referred to as evidence in support of Paley's watch: "What makes one substance differ from the other is the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus and the number and arrangement of the electrons revolving around it. This has an exquisite order, since all the elements that make up matter can be arranged in exact sequence by the number of those building blocks present." So because it is possible to arrange atoms in terms of their atomic number, therefore there must have been a designer. It is not mentioned that the Biblical writers had no concept of atoms or sub-atomic particles, had no under-standing of the exquisite order (and lack of rules) in the quantum world, so their view of how the world came to be the way it is had nothing to do with galaxies or sub-atomic particles. They also say nothing about how to discriminate between apparent structure that shows organisation or does not show any. They really have no interest in delving deep into understanding how the universe works, but are con-tent with a superficial look and wonder, and it takes very little to confirm their acceptance of Paley's Watch.
An accompanying illustration is an exact revival of Paley and his Watch argument from design. But as usual, it is not evidence, it is just a question that is not investigated. Instead it is assumed that the answer to the question is so obvious that no real study of the issue is needed. The book was published about the time chaos theory was becoming accepted as a way of describing some natural phenomena, but chaos as an idea is not compatible with the Argument from Design so there is no reference to chaos in the Witness book.
John Glenn, ex-astronaut, now evangelical Christian (although this phase of his life is not mentioned) is quoted about galaxies "all traveling in prescribed orbits in relation to one another." Insertion of the word prescribed implies that somebody did the prescribing, so it is a loaded statement, as though galaxies orbiting other galaxies are obeying commands from some organising entity. No evidence is presented that anything is known about galaxies orbiting other galaxies (in fact some galaxies are colliding with other galaxies, which is very disorderly of them), and in fact galaxies were discovered so recently that little is known of their movements except their rotation speeds, which is inferred from their structure. Glenn goes on to ask "Was it an accident that a bunch of flotsam and jetsam suddenly started making these orbits of its own accord?...I can't believe that ... Some Power put all this into orbit and keeps it there." This is Dawkins' "argument from personal disbelief" - I can't imagine this could be so therefore it isn't so. Glenn does not mention that the same argument used to be used about the orbits of the planets around our sun, that angels kept pushing them around. Nobody has put forward this view since Newton explained it all as the result of gravity, and study of the tiny wobbles in all the planets' orbits have merely confirmed that they are minor disruptions due to the pull of the planets upon each other. No designer is needed, and it follows that no designer is needed to explain any larger-scale orbits, which are all attributable to gravity. Gravity is not mentioned except as a contrast to evolution, as a force the existence of which can be demonstrated experimentally - in fact the experiments are about the existence of gravitational force between all objects, not just planet-sized objects.
"Indeed the universe is so precisely organized that man can use the heavenly bodies as the basis for his timekeeping. But any well-designed time-piece obviously is the product of an orderly mind." Here we have the sun and moon as signs for the seasons again, and as a support for Paley's Watch and God the Designer. And so it goes. Apparently the entire awesome universe was put there to make it more convenient for us to reckon time. There is no mention of the extreme complication of the time-keeping measurements, and of how recently humans have mastered it, bit by bit - with the Gregorian calendar only 300 years ago, with its system of leap years, and the occasional adjustment of atomic clocks as the orbit of the Earth slowly changes speed as the moon slowly recedes from the Earth and changes the forces of angular momentum. There is no mention of how time-keeping was accomplished in Biblical times (with only gross measurements possible and very roughly at that, the day divided into four-hour watches, judged by the simple movement of the sun and the rotation of the stars)
As usual, the "evidence" for creation and a creator is just leading questions, to which it is assumed the answers are so obvious that no real study is required: "What about the far more complex design and dependability that exists throughout the universe? Would this not also betoken a designer, a maker, a mind - intelligence? And do you have any reason to believe that intelligence can exist apart from personality?" The questions are not answered, but there is this huge leap from some poorly described structure in galaxies and atoms, to the existence of a maker with a personality. These are such big issues they surely deserve more than just unanswered questions, but no serious study is offered, and no creationist studies of how it all works are offered. Even Paley's 1812 work is not mentioned, except obliquely by use of his now rejected argument. Given that the Witness writer is using a host of recent publications, to admit that the argument from design has not changed since 1810 would create awkwardness, so it is left unsaid.
Then there is the crunch paragraph: "We cannot get around it: Superb organization requires a superb organizer. Nothing in our experience indicates that anything organized happens by chance, by accident. Rather, our entire experience in life shows that everything organized must have an organizer. Every machine, computer, building, yes, even pencil and paper had a maker, an organizer. Logically, the far more complex and awesome organization in the universe must have had an organizer too." Here is again the argument from design, using a mere analogy from human artifacts to natural entities, with no examination of how valid it is to argue from one to the other. Are the growth rings of trees the act of an organiser? Are the layers of snow and ice in the Antarctic used to study palaeo-climates the act of an organizer? Are the parallel bands of magnetized rocks on ocean floors which were used to reveal tectonic plate movements the act of an organizer? Is the growth of a cancer the act of an organizer? None of these awkward questions are asked. It seems that any apparent organization is taken to imply an Organiser, and is therefore not disprovable.
Then the old chestnut of law and lawmaker is brought into the argument. "the entire universe, from atoms to galaxies, is governed by definite physical laws". Use of the word "governed" makes this a loaded statement as it implies a governor, rather than merely stating that in fact physical phenomena have been found to conform to certain recently discovered patterns which can be described mathematically. An object falls towards Earth at an acceleration of 32 feet per second per second. It is not clear that this simple fact requires a lawmaker, as it is a description of what happens, not of what has been ordered to happen. It is unfortunate that the early physical scientists decided to use the word "law" to label the mathematical regularities they were discovering, as it has provided endless opportunity for willful confusion of human laws and natural laws as being of the same nature. But even the Witness writer does not claim that a particle has the option of disobeying the natural law and falling towards Earth at a rebellious speed of 3 or 300 feet per second per second. So the non-comparability of the two applications of the word "law" become obvious at even a superficial examination of the issue. But this does not stop creationists from continuing to maintain the confusion. "When we think of laws, we acknowledge that they came from a lawmaking entity. A traffic sign that says 'Stop' certainly has behind it some person or group of persons who originated the law. What, then, about the comprehensive laws that govern the material universe? Such brilliantly conceived laws surely bear Witness to a supremely intelligent lawmaker." Given that the falsity of the analogy has been exposed so many times, the continuing confusion can only be seen as wilful and dishonest.
Finally, the chapter deals with the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe and its galaxies. "Today, scientists generally acknowledge that the universe did have a beginning. One prominent theory that attempts to describe the beginning is known as the Big Bang. 'Almost all recent discussions of the origin of the universe are based on the Big Bang theory,' notes Francis Crick" (why does this writer quote a micro-biologist on cosmology?) "But, as astrophysicist John Gribbin admitted in New Scientist, though scientists 'claim, by and large, to be able to describe in great detail' what happened after this 'moment', what brought about 'the instant of creation remains a mystery.' And, he mused, 'maybe God did make it, after all." So far the god hypothesis is just a maybe, again a personal view on which the evidence says nothing, apparently.
But it goes on to draw an analogy between the Big Bang, and a bomb explosion,
which cannot increase order, and only increases disorder and entropy. So
explosions on their own cannot explain the wonderful order we see, so there
must be a designer behind it all. "No, a mere explosion could not create
our awesome universe with its amazing order, design and law. Only a mighty
organizer and lawmaker could direct the powerful forces at work so that
they would result in superb organization and law. Hence, scientific evidence
and reason provide solid backing for the Bible's declaration 'The heavens
are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse
is telling." Psalm 19. Many times physicists have pointed out that
the Big Bang is not conceived as an explosion like a bomb, which is designed
to disorganize and destroy structure. The Big Bang created space into which
the swirling super-hot energy particles expanded. So the Big Bang 'explosion'
was not destructive of the organisation of things around it because there
wasn't anything around it. It is just a bad analogy, and its ongoing use
by creationists is as usual an indicator of wilful confusion and dishonesty
There is a long chapter on mutations, whose main argument is the standard one that the vast majority of mutations are harmful, with which nobody argues. The Witness' way of dealing with this issue is not to look for evidence of beneficial mutations, but instead to ask some very odd questions: "Would any process that resulted in harm more than 999 times out of 1,000 be considered beneficial? If you wanted a house built, would you hire a builder who, for every correct piece of work, turned out thousands that were defective? If a driver of an automobile made thousands of bad decisions for every good one when driving, would you want to ride with him? If a surgeon made thousands of wrong moves for every right one, when operating, would you want him to operate on you? I think the thrust of these strange queries is that the god worshipped by the Witnesses is believed to get it right all the time, and that is a god worthy of worship. But evolutionists seem to have a 'god' that is remarkably error-prone, so they are being accused of whoring after unworthy gods, instead of admiring a worthy one. It again shows the writer has no idea of what science is about - it is not about erecting concepts worthy of worship, but of describing the way things work in the world accurately and explaining how they happen. If every mutation was beneficial, species would evolve much faster than they really do, and this might perhaps need a directing force to make it turn out that way. But there being no directing force, most mutations are harmful. This seems to be what the Witness writer cannot deal with - the absence of a directing force.
The book has a little chapter, much expanded from the earlier edition, on why so many people believe evolution is the correct explanation, when it is so obviously wrong. The explanations have expanded a lot:
"One reason is what they were taught in school. Science textbooks nearly always promote the evolutionary viewpoint. The student is rarely, if ever, exposed to opposing arguments." The possibility that the opposing arguments are worthless and have been examined and discarded is, understandably for a creationist, not considered.
Then there is the media conspiracy: "Evolutionary views permeate not only the schools but all areas of science and other fields such as history and philosophy. Books, magazine articles, motion pictures and television programs treat it as an established fact ... people are conditioned to accept evolution as a fact, and contrary evidence passes unnoticed." This doesn't really sound like the many having their views corrupted by the few. It sounds more like evolution is just accepted by everybody except the very few resisters in fundamentalist millenarian sects.
Then there is the weight of authority: "When leading educators and scientists assert that evolution is a fact, and imply that only the ignorant refuse to believe it, how many laymen are going to contradict them?" It is an interesting question, and implies that the scientists, despite their training and expertise, are all wrong, and laymen know the real truth, and could communicate it if only anybody would listen. This idea of laymen knowing better than professionals seems to apply only to evolution, not to medicine, chemistry, or engineering, or microbiology.
Best of all is the accusation of science being a corrupt seeking after career advancement by supporting lies. The argument is that scientists are fundamentally dishonest and wilfully propagate lies, as in an out-of-context quote from David Pilbeam, who has published many books on evolution: "Modern evolutionists are no less likely to cling to erroneous data that supports their preconceptions than were earlier investigators who dismissed objective assessment in favour of the notions they wanted to believe." And from a creationist anthropologist, Anthony Ostric, "the vast body of professionals 'have fallen in behind those who promote evolution 'for fear of not being declared serious scholars or of being rejected from serious academic circles'." It seems that in order to pursue a successful career in science, young entrants must accept the orthodoxy of their elders even though they know it is wrong. Then apparently they pass on the same corrupt pressures to the next generation. Here we have the blanket condemnation of all scientists (as 99% accept evolution) as basically corrupt and dishonest, perpetuating lies for the sake of their careers and well-paid jobs.
Near the end of the book they offer their real explanation. "The theory of evolution is contrary to reality, yes, effectively a "lie". Exchanging the facts about the God of Creation for such a lie is, as Romans 1:20 says, inexcusable in view of the evidence Do not be surprised that the theory of evolution has become so widespread in modern times despite the evidence against it. The real message of this belief is that there is no God, that he is unnecessary. From where would such a monumental lie originate? Jesus identified this source when he said "The Devil is a liar and the father of the lie" - John 8:44." So the real message of their little book is that there are two views - theirs and one originating from Satan; that anybody who disagrees with them is under the control of Satan. There is arrogance in this, and an unwillingness to accept the possibility of genuine disagreement and discourse that makes it pointless to argue with Witnesses. People who disagree cannot possibly be offering honest disagreement: they must be agents of Satan. They do not accept that anybody disagrees with the Witness version in good faith.
Returning to the opening affirmation of positive valuation of science, that "scientific achievement is not at issue here. Every informed person is aware of the amazing accomplishments of scientists in many fields. Scientific study has dramatically increased our knowledge of the universe and of the earth and of living things." It is interesting to see that all scientists are fundamentally dishonest as they preserve lies for the sake of their careers, but somehow this corrupt science leads us to know more and it has improved our lives. The Witnesses' left hand does not seem to know what its right hand is writing about.
Anyone who really understands the nature of the universe, how old and how big it is, how long living organisms have been evolving here, and how infinitesimally tiny a part of the universe we are, would not see humans as the species of central importance, or the idea of a Saviour for just one of the 30 million species appearing in a minor corner of the Roman Empire as something to take seriously, or the prophetic writings of Adventist Pastor Russell and his failed predictions of the second coming as reliable sources of wisdom. The account of the universe, of fossils, of mutations, of the enormous variety of organisms carefully avoids all the issues raised by these phenomena, or any serious examination of the assertions of core Witness beliefs in resurrection, the unreality of death, the imminent end of life as we know it. It also shows consistently a profound dishonesty in presenting the supposed weaknesses of evolution as an explanatory theory.
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