Kevin Myers: Evolutionism is just another belief system -- but one that depends on a great deal of science
Published 15/09/2010 | 05:00
Anyone interested in the arguments over evolution versus creationism will not be remotely surprised that the Science Minister Conor Lenihan has withdrawn from launching an anti-evolution book tonight.
The Origin of Specious Nonsense: How Evolution Made A Monkey Out Of Man, by John May, describes evolutionism as a hoax. The author says he has asked Conor not to launch the book "because I am so embarrassed that the Minister for Science has been so insulted and eviscerated on a political website. He doesn't even believe in my central argument".
That, of course, is irrelevant. Evolutionism is proof of the power of evolution, for it has itself evolved into a religion, with Richard Dawkins its St Paul and St Peter, its proselytiser and pope. Like any worthwhile religion, it treats non-believers as backward and uneducated.
The word "heathen", after all, comes from "heath" and "pagan" comes from the Latin for "countryside" (and is the origin of the French word for country, "pays"). "Knowers" know and look down on unknowers as bumpkins.
The bond is as important in a religion as the belief and Evolutionists are pretty much bonded together, just as Catholics and Presbyterians are.
John May is also offering €10,000 to anyone who can prove evolution at a biochemical level. His money is safe. Theories of evolution when tested on the origin of protein molecules, not to speak of DNA, usually imitate Mr Gladstone when replying to Queen Victoria's question: "Yes, prime minister, but what is it exactly that lesbians do in bed?"
Evolution cannot explain the most basic question about how a simple protein like insulin could have first been formed. "Simple" is a relative term: insulin is composed of 51 amino acids and has a molecular weight of 5808. Water is just 18. You can boil the primeval molecular broth for an awful long time and put it under enormous pressures, but you will not spontaneously create an insulin molecule, never mind one of the titin molecules, that have a molecular mass of almost 3,000,000 and a total length of almost 27,000 amino acids.
Saying that such immensely complex, artfully constructed creations were the result of accidents is like putting 140 pounds of mince into a huge mixer, churning them around for a million years and expecting Einstein to result. You wouldn't even get Wayne Rooney's mickey.
Evolutionism is now basically just another belief system, but one that depends on a great deal of science; and where science doesn't supply the answers, it launches itself into a mass of abstractions and elaborate essays in Yetology, as in: "Science has not YET explained the emergence of the first peptides, however . . ." The "yet" is evidence of the dogmatic belief in the power of the future tense, in which science, like the US Seventh Cavalry, will always come to the rescue; and the "however" is the gateway to theorising of the kind that in a different belief system is used to offer "plausible" explanations for the utterly implausible dogmas, such as those of the Blessed Trinity or Papal Infallibility.
Moreover, the best way to attract incredulous guffaws amongst "intelligent" westerners is to declare that the concept of intelligent design has some merit. Announcing that Elvis Presley was responsible for 9/11 will not attract the aggressive amusement that support for intelligent design spontaneously generates (in a way, paradoxically, that no protein molecule ever possibly could have been).
But actually, this is quite normal for any religious system; that which questions an accepted dogma of faith will not be treated intellectually, but will be marginalised by the weaponry of the emotions, varying from ridicule to the fatwa. The dinner-party that haw-haws at intelligent design, but without being able to explain how the insulin molecule was created, is behaving intellectually no differently from a prancing mob in Islamabad protesting about a preacher in Florida, when they don't even know where Florida is, or, most importantly of all, that it is the home of Fort Myers.
THE real paradox in the western world is that evolutionism now co-exists with theism. Most Darwinians believe in a god and most religious people accept Darwin. I, alas, belong to the much persecuted minority sect Cyclical Discredulism, which is a kind of Mormonism, but without the Tabernacle Choir, the Osmonds or even a Salt Lake: which explains why we drink like fish. We CDs believe in any theory, so long as it answers most of the questions that we pose, but we know that all theories are flawed, and we are -- as the key part of our faith -- ready to reject them ruthlessly the moment their basic flaws are exposed.
We certainly don't accept an allegedly all-encompassing theory about the origins of species that cannot even begin to explain how the bricks and mortar of life came into being. Moreover, we accept that all theories are flawed, because the human brain is flawed. But this too is a theory. And so it goes. Not very satisfactory, I know -- but it's far better (for the time being, anyway) than the rival CD belief-system: Credulous Darwinianism.