The Domain of Misinformation

You can't escape the facts

What would you expect if you went to www.CharlesDarwin.org? The domain name suggests that it might be a site about Darwin and evolution. A site that a curious person or a teacher might think they could consult for more information about both. A fast look at the site itself would appear to confirm this notion.

But if you actually look at it more closely, you’ll see that it is an anti-evolution site. Its purpose is to spread misinformation about how evolution works and to suggest that creationism has the real answers.

At the top of the page is the headline “The Evolving Times”. This implies that the site is here to help you understand how evolution works.

But right below that is this quote mine from On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin:

I am well aware that there is scarcely a single point discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result could be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question, and this cannot possibly be done here.

This is an example of the latest creationist attack on the teaching of evolution in our schools. They’ve given up trying to get Biblical creationism into the schools. They’ve given up on “scientific creationism”. They’ve even given up (momentarily anyway) on “intelligent design” creationism. They have two current tactics. The first is one they’ve been pushing for a few years, which is “teach the controversy”. The quote above supports that. The second and newer of their current tactics is “academic freedom”. Which freedom? The freedom to “teach the controversy”! Since “teach the controversy” by itself isn’t getting much traction, they’ve come up with this different way of branding it. It’s still the same tactic that has been rejected previously, but in these new overalls it seems to be winning converts in Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, and every other state with illiterate, uneducated rubes on the school boards.

IDiot

So let’s take a closer look at this page, starting with the Darwin quote.

Well if Charles Darwin himself said that there was more than one way to interpret the data, then we’d be fools to only teach the one interpretation promoted by those apostles who have followed worshipfully in his footsteps!

Except there is a huge difference. When Darwin wrote what he did above, it was in the introduction to On the Origin of Species. He understood that what he was proposing was new and revolutionary. It was a radical upheaval of the prevailing thought at the time.

(This prevailing thought, by the way, was not that evolution did not occur. The fact that it did was already known and accepted by many scientists. What Darwin was proposing was the mechanism by which evolution occurs. In the case of gravity, for example, it’s one thing to observe that objects fall. It’s another thing entirely to understand how. Darwin was giving us the how of evolution.)

So what Darwin was telling us in his introduction, and in the quote mine above, is that this was a new theory. He knew that it had to stand up to scrutiny by other scientists. He knew that other explanations that fit the data needed to be proposed, so they could be compared, and the explanation that best fit would be the one to survive. He was inviting and encouraging that scrutiny.

But that was 150 years ago. The theory of evolution is now a settled issue. Sure, it’s still being tweaked here and there around the edges. There are a lot of nifty details still to be discovered. But the basic mechanisms and processes of evolution were proven beyond reasonable doubt a long time ago. Nothing has come along in the 150 years since to credibly challenge the theory, nor are there any big gaps or giant holes or massive contradictions sitting there screaming to be explained. There is no elephant in the room. The Darwin quote above is out of date and no longer relevant, just like the creationists’ beliefs.

If you read the other articles on the page, you’ll see that they’re written to raise questions that don’t exist. The whole site is misinformation designed to confuse.

Outside his Domain of Expertise

I did a little digging. The domain is owned by Art Battson, an engineer employed (presumably in teaching) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is also a member of (or at least a speaker at) a campus religious organization. Putting these pieces together suggests that CharlesDarwin.org is a religiously-motivated site designed by a non-biologist to promote creationism by spreading misinformation about evolution.

This is unfortunate. That domain name belongs with a real educational institution, where it can be used to further science education.

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Update (12/28/08, 7:45 AM):
In less than the 8 hours since I published this piece, CharlesDarwin.org has been updated. Previously, the copyright stood at 2006, indicating the page had not been updated in a while. Now it is 2008, and an entire new section has been added to the site (accessible from a new link at the very top of the page). Apparently the owner has a renewed interest in the site and in pushing a more overt creationist agenda. With Charles Darwin’s impending 200th birthday celebration less than two months away, it is possible that the site is trying to capitalize on the traffic that accidentally comes its way.

21 Responses to “The Domain of Misinformation”

  1. Ed Says:

    Wow, that is excellent work! What a scumbag he is.

  2. Luke Says:

    You don’t even have to dig very deep on the site itself to find bible quotes and christianism. Even images of Jesus.

    Does nobody have some kind of copyright on Darwin’s name? Shame…

  3. Ron Britton Says:

    Names can’t be copyrighted, only trademarked. I think in the case of a dead guy, there has to be an estate that is licensing his properties. Somebody has to be making money off of stuff he created when he was alive. That isn’t the case with Darwin. His name and likeness are in the public domain.

  4. RevRight Says:

    This site is clearly a work in progress. They haven’t even added material on how evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics yet.

  5. Another Steve Says:

    Boy talk about a quote mine:

    Daniel Dennett once described Darwin’s theory of natural selection as a universal acid.

    I suspect that if Mr. Dennett were to see any of his words on a web page such as this one, he might just barf on the quote mining jerk who used them.

  6. Parrotlover77 Says:

    Alls fair in domains and cybersquatting. Or something. Remember when DateJesus.com was just jesus.com? Good times.

  7. Modusoperandi Says:

    RevRight “This site is clearly a work in progress. They haven’t even added material on how evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics yet.”

    And it seems to be missing the knock-down junkyard 747 argument.

    And it doesn’t point out that Darwinism doesn’t explain gravity.

    And it doesn’t mention that if man came from monkey, there wouldn’t be monkeys anymore.

    And it doesn’t have a page on Piltdown man.

    And it doesn’t use “so-called” enough (so-called “macroevolution”, so-called “fossil column”, etc).

    And it doesn’t point out that Darwinism leads to Social Darwinism, communism, pre-marital sex, abortion and Hitler.

    As site for unmasking the lie of evolution and the Truth of the Biblical timeline, it needs work.

  8. Modusoperandi Says:

    Granted, I could be wrong. I don’t read pages on the interweb. It’s too dangerous. Once, I almost saw a booby.

  9. OtherRob Says:

    There are boobies on the internet??!! Why wasn’t I informed? ;)

  10. Modusoperandi Says:

    I’m just as shocked as you are. I had to go back and check, just to be sure. A bunch of times.

  11. Ron Britton Says:

    There are boobies on the internet??!!

    There sure are! Look at this pair!

    A pair of boobies

  12. OtherRob Says:

    Uh oh! I hope my wife doesn’t catch me looking at boobies on the internet like this…

  13. Dr. Canoy Says:

    *Sigh* I am going to refer to the supposed “violation” of the second law of thermodynamic argument. (Hello everyone!!)

    The beauty of science is the ability to defer to reason.

    I would love to pontificate but this approach tends not to get read.

    There is nothing about evolution which violates the law. Evolution does not result in a higher organization to life or higher complexity. Organisms change to adapt to new environments no higher energy state is a prerequisite. Life is the portion of the argument which violates the second law, yet it exists.

    Life utilizes energy to maintain itself. ie plants use sun. Therefore, if it were totally required evolution would probably do the same. (get energy from somewhere). The remainder of life remains organized by extracting the previously stored solar energy (eating plants).

    The crux of the matter is just this. As the universe inexorably heads towards its lowest possible energy state, life increases the rate of entropic decay by eating. Sure, life itself is an infinitesimally small reversal of law 2 with the end result being a faster rate of entropic decay. (unless, for example,someone is willing to claim that the farts are MORE organized than the cow).

    So, life is essentially a catalyst causing increased entropy in the universe. If I must keep talking (and I must) then evolution can be thought of as life getting better at channeling energy with which to promote the universe falling apart.

    If a violation of the second law be required then look no farther than God. An all powerful magical invisible undetectable source of all things. No batteries required!!

  14. kEvi wiRth Says:

    uh Oh!

    Little Ronnie Britton discovered our little secret web site, oh my! oH No!! thAt ‘Lil sTinkEr is jUst wAY tOO curIouS. nOW i AM so sCared AboUt wHAt wIll hAPpEn Now ThAt hE knoWs wE arE up tO no GooD agaIn.

    hELp HeLP fRiendLy creaTionIsts… pleAsE hElp heLp !!!

  15. Ron Britton Says:

    Wow. Kevin’s comments are even less literate than before. I guess when he has to use his own words and not hide behind a quote mine, we see just how incoherent he really is.

    At first, I thought the above comment was a hoax. The real Kevin Wirth never admitted that “intelligent design” is creationism. The email address he listed with the comment is the same one he used on earlier comments, which suggests this is genuine. Of course, the real Kevin Wirth blasts his comments onto every web site that even hints that evolution is real, so thousands of people have his email address. Make your own decision.

  16. Jeff Eyges Says:

    I checked out that campus organization, The Veritas Forum. Apparently, it was started by Kelly Kullberg, a former student at Harvard Divinity School (affiliated with the Unitarians and notoriously liberal) who was disappointed that it wasn’t Jesus-y enough. I remember when her book, Finding God at Harvard, came out.

    It doesn’t seem like a fundie organization, though. Odd.

  17. Art Battson Says:

    While I appreciate all of the fan mail on this site, as the original creator of charlesdarwin.org, allow me to confess that I am not a Darwinian fundamentalist (Stephen Jay Gould’s term, not mine.)

    Let me also confess that I believe that neither creationism nor Intelligent Design are scientific theories that ought to be taught in either public or Christian schools. The natural sciences are limited to the study of natural phenomena and cannot, by definition, employ a non-natural cause as a scientifically understandable mechanism. Much like the “god of chance who is secretly worshipped” (Pierre Paul Grasse’s term, not mine) the God of the Jews, Christians, or Muslims should not be invoked as a scientific explanation. While it is entirely rational to believe that God created the entire universe and believe that creation preceded evolution such beliefs lie in the realm of science in the broad sense ( e.g. the science of theology – see Merriam-Webster), but not the natural sciences in the narrower sense.

    Third confession: I am scientifically an agnostic. I do not know if God created Natural Laws and initial conditions sufficient to include the origin of life and molecules-to-man evolution as part of the finely-tuned universe we observe. It is possible that natural processes are insufficient to account for the origin of phyla, for example, or that natural chemical cross-reactions would have prevented a naturalistic origin of life. Let’s leave it up to the chemicals to tell us how they actually react with each other. Scientists ought to be agnostic and open to the possibility that nature doesn’t follow our naturalistic philosophies.

    To Darwin’s credit, he gave us an excellent theory of microevolution. The only problem with it is that it does not come close to explaining the pervasive patterns of natural history (the disparity of phyla preceding the diversity of species).

    What scientists need to add to Darwin’s theory is a theory of mega-evolution to explain the origin of phyla (assuming that macroevolution occurs at the species/genus/family level we need a different term for major evolutionary change at higher taxonomic levels covering greater morphological distances).

    Scientists also need to develop a Theory of Conservation to explain stasis at all taxonomic levels.

    Bottom line? CharlesDarwin.org is not anti-evolutionary, it does not promote either creationism or Intelligent Design, but it does question the common belief in Unintelligent Design and the assumption that nature can be completely explained in terms of natural processes.

    Just like Big Bang theory, evolution points back to a moment of the creation of everything and the nagging question, “Who put the material in Materialism?”

  18. Parrotlover77 Says:

    You epic failed when you said “molecules-to-man.”

  19. Modusoperandi Says:

    Parrotlover77: Try to look on the positive side. He did spell “molecules” properly.

  20. Dave Says:

    Even monkeys are smarter than to fall for that pile of crap that is creationism!

  21. dvsrat Says:

    So, when they come out of the egg……..

    It’s a “BOOBIE HATCH”!!

    Ha ha HA

    Hee hee.