I don’t care how good a surgeon Ben Carson was (and he was reportedly a terrific one), he’s still pig-ignorant when it comes to evolution, geology, and cosmology. And that ignorance—regardless of whether he doesn’t know the facts, knows them but eludes them and is lying for Jesus, or truly believes that the facts support creation ex nihilo—makes him unqualified to be President. For the first possibility means he’s uninformed (especially as a doctor); the second means he’s dishonest; and the third means he’s blinded to reality by his fundamentalist faith, Seventh Day Adventism.
According to little green footballs, Carson’s odious talk on the falsity of evolution was delivered to the Adventist News Network’s “Celebration of Creation” in 2011, but was posted on YouTube on June 15 of this year. Four years ago, Carson was probably not contemplating a run for the Presidency, so he was willing to say what he really thinks. And what he thinks is truly frightening. I think this is in fact the answer: the man is a flat-out, bull-moose creationist, and, soaked in faith, ignores any evidence to the contrary.
The press needs to query Carson about this issue repeatedly, asking if he stands by what he said four years ago. In a country whose citizens were rational, this talk alone would dismiss Carson as a serious Presidential candidate. But of course our citizens, particularly Republican ones, aren’t all rational, for if they were they wouldn’t think that Donald Trump and Ben Carson were serious contenders to run our country.
You needn’t listen to the whole 49-minute talk unless you truly want to plumb the depths of Carson’s ignorance. (I’ve already done that so you don’t have to.) Otherwise, the bits below, transcribed by Daniel W. VanArsdale, will suffice.
Here’s my summary of what Carson avers in this talk:
- All species were created in one six-day episode by God. At 19:42 Carson claims he’s not a “hard and fast person who says the Earth is only 6000 years old”, but doesn’t say how old he thinks it is. But his first comment below the video suggests that he thinks the earth is young.
- Evolution is a completely random process analogous to a hurricane blowing through a junkyard. That would merely produce windblown junk, not adapted organisms. This is the old “junkyard tornardo argument” that rests on a deliberate mischaracterization of evolution. (For a refutation, go here.)
- The Big Bang didn’t occur.
- The reason Darwin proposed his theory of evolution was that he was influenced by someone whom Carson calls “The Adversary.” This could be Satan, though Seventh-Day Adventists aren’t clear on whether they see “The Adversary” as simply evil human opponents, Lucifer himself, or some other evil supernatural figure. (See here and here, for instance.) Nevertheless, Adventists do accept the existence of Satan.
Van Arsdale’s notes (my emphasis). The notes are indented, my own comments are flush left.
[20:56] “… there is abundant evidence, geological evidence, that there was a worldwide flood. Go up into the Andes Mountains and see all those fossils on the top of those mountains. I mean, these things, when you talk to the evolutionists about them, they always say the same thing … ‘well, we don’t understand everything.’ And I just say, ‘I’m not sure you understand anything.’ You know, they look at all those layers, and then they find some fossils in one of the layers, and they says this fossil is this many years old because it’s in this layer. So, that means this fossil is like a million years old. And then later on they say, ‘well, this layer is a million years old because this fossil which is a million years old is in it.’ You know, that’s like saying, you know, ‘the sky can be red or blue’. And you say, well, the sky is blue. And you say why is it blue? ‘Because it is not red.’ Well why is it not red? ‘Because its blue.’ Yeh, you know that’s known as circular reasoning. That’s how they explain the age of all these things, its very circular reasoning, and really it has no real scientific validity.” [22:22]
Carson’s accusation that evolutionists are engaged in “circular reasoning” that has “no scientific validity” is simply an old creationist canard, and is blatantly false. Yes, layers are collated from place to place by the presence of the fossils in them, but the layers are dated using radiometric dating. And when you line up the layers by their radiometric dates, you see a progression of organisms absolutely consistent with evolution. Geological layers are not dated by the fossils in them!
[24:34] “So we should be able to find intermediate species at any given point in time, and we should be able to find how they line up. You know Darwin said his whole theory depended on the fossil remains and he said we should be able to line up from a single cell organism to man several miles long and just walk right down the fossil trail and see how everything evolved. And he said the only reason they didn’t have the fossils was because they were not geologically sophisticated enough, but that we would be in fifty to a hundred years. Well that was a hundred and fifty years ago. We still haven’t found them. Where are they? Where are the fossil remains? But when you ask the evolutionists about that they say: ‘Nnuuhhh I don’t know where they are, they’re somewhere, we just haven’t found them yet.’” [25:35]
Of course we can find intermediate species; Why Evolution Is True is full of examples. We have intermediates—and at the right times—between fish and amphibians, between amphibians and reptiles, between reptiles and mammals, between reptiles and birds, and, of course, between early apes and modern humans. NO evolutionist says that we lack fossil intermediates—transitional forms. Of course we don’t have a perfect sequence of all ancestors and descendants, for the fossil record is woefully incomplete (we have perhaps 0.1% of all the species that ever lived). But we have enough fossils to convince any thinking person that modern organisms evolved from ancient ones. The problem is that Carson isn’t a thinking person: he’s on religious autopilot.
[27:24]“You know, according to the theory [of evolution] it [the eye] had to go pukh! and there was an eyeball, overnight, just like that, because it wouldn’t work in any other way. And when you ask the evolutionists about that they say, ‘well, we don’t understand everything.’ And I say, ‘well, I don’t think you understand anything.” [27:48]
Darwin himself dispelled the idea that the modern “camera eye” couldn’t have evolved because all the parts would have to be present simultaneously before it would work. The claim that Darwin couldn’t figure it out is simply wrong (see here). In a truly clever argument, he described various rudimentary eyes that are functional in different modern species, and how one could line these eyes up in a plausible evolutionary sequence to show how a camera eye could have evolved by steps, with each step conferring an adaptive advantage to the organism. To see a good refutation of the “eye couldn’t evolve” argument, watch this presentation by a very young Richard Dawkins.
[31:03]. “Well, now what about the big bang theory? I find the big bang really quite fascinating. Now here you have all these highfaluting scientists, and they are saying there was this gigantic explosion and everything came into perfect order. [31:19] … [32:16] Well, but I mean it’s even more ridiculous than that, because our solar system, not to mention the universe outside of that, is extraordinarily well organized to the point where we can predict 70 years away when a comet is coming. Now that type of organization, to just come out of an explosion? … [32:43] And then even if you want to use their own scientific theories, you know you’ve got this mass spinning and then it explodes. In physics we have something we call angular momentum and it is preserved, so it should be preserved in any orbit of anything that is effected [sic] by gravity around a planet, which means everything has to traverse in the same direction. Well it doesn’t! There are many planets that have satellites and moons that go in the opposite directions. So that doesn’t work with angular momentum.” [33:19]
By denying the Big Bang, which is accepted even by some young-Earth creationists (they simply say it happened 6,000-10,000 years ago), and also by many old-Earth creationists, Carson puts himself beyond the pale of rationality. Let him refute the evidence for the Big Bang!
Dear Ceiling Cat, can some savvy reporter please ask Carson, in front of the public, to explicitly deny both evolution and the Big Bang? (Of course, that won’t drive away much of his Republican base.)
The explanation of the retrograde motion of some moons (contra Carson, all the planets orbit the Sun in the same direction), is that they were captured from elswhere after the formation of their planet rather than derived from the cloud of gas that formed their planet.
[36:49] “How are flowers able to reproduce? Pollination. How does pollination occur? Bees and other creatures. Now according to evolution, plants came along before the bees. So how did the plants reproduce? … [37:41] … according to evolutionary model, you know we really came from an ameba [sic]. And amebas, they just like split and then there’s two amebas. So it seems to me like according to evolutionary model you do things that are efficient. So rather than going out and looking for a mate you would just divide, and then there would be two of you. …
Umm. . . .has Carson not realized that many plants are pollinated by wind, and that, in fact, the earliest pollinated plants we have were pollinated not by insects but by wind or water? And insects that are candidate pollinators for angiosperms (flowering plants that originated about 200-250 million years ago) antedated the presence of flowers by about 50-100 million years. Once again Carson hasn’t bothered to look up the data; he’s just repeating old creationist tropes. And yes, the origin of sex remains an evolutionary mystery, but plenty of microorganisms have forms of sexual reproduction that combine DNA from different individuals. Two minutes of Googling would reveal that (see here, for example).
[38:16] But, you know, things are supposed to work in an efficient way, so according to the evolutionary model we would be less pugilistic, we would be much more logical, we would be much more creative, we wouldn’t be going around fighting each other and cutting off people’s heads anymore. Because that stuff would be extinguished and we would have evolved into something much better. According to the creation model, in which we have an adversary, it’s very easy to explain why people act that way, it’s because they have choice and because there is an adversary out there. [38:57]
Umm. . . who is the “adversary” to which Carson refers? (The answer is given in the next quotation!). In fact, humans—if that’s whom Carson means by “we”—are both pugilistic and cooperative, and this dichotomy in our nature is completely explainable by evolution. And who is Carson to judge that it would be to our advantage to be more “logical” and less pugilistic than we are, particularly when most of our evolution took place under conditions completely different from those of modern world? For instance, our xenophobia may be a byproduct of our evolution in small bands, a tendency that is not only inimical to modern humans, but one that we can overcome through culture. Human altruism, which Carson says can be explained only by God (Francis Collins agrees), can also be explained by a combination of evolution and culture. Further, many “altruistic” behaviors show the earmarks of natural selection on individuals (see reference below). There is simply no need to invoke God.
I found this added gem at 43:01, when Carson says this: “. . it takes faith to believe in God; it takes faith to believe in evolution. I think it takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in God, but they both require faith, and the fact of the matter is that they’re both religion.”
Here Carson displays his ignorance of the meaning of the term faith, which in religion is “belief without compelling evidence” but in its vernacular use in science means “confidence based on evidence.” As I’ve shown before, these aren’t the same. As for evolution being a religion, well, I needn’t dispel that old canard. If evolution is a “religion,” so is chemistry, geology, physics, and Carson’s own field, medicine!
[answering a woman’s question, 45:07] “I personally believe that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary [Satan], and it has become what is scientifically politically correct. Amazingly, there are a significant number of scientists who do not believe it but they are afraid to say anything.” [45:38]
Seriously? Satan? Carson doesn’t utter Old Nick’s name, ergo the brackets, but it’s pretty clear to whom he’s referring. As far as scientific opposition to evolution, I know a lot of biologists, but I’ve never met one who has told me that they don’t accept evolution but are scared to admit it. If there was copious and compelling evidence against evolution, in fact, the person who presented it would become famous. But there isn’t such evidence, and that—and not intimidation—is why reputable scientists don’t question evolution.
If the press doesn’t go after Carson (currently the second-place Republican Presidential candidate) for this kind of nonsense, then I despair of our press corps. He should be called to account. Those who still support Carson after reading his blather above, well, they’re just as ignorant as he.
h/t: jsp, Don B., Wendy
Price, M. E. (2012). Group selection theories are now more sophisticated, but are they more predictive? Evolutionary Psychology, 10, 45-49.