Darwin Day in America: How politics and culture have bee dehumanized in the name of science, by John G. West ★★★★★
Many books have been written regarding problems with the theory of evolution. Darwinism or neo-Darwinism, as the leading construct of evolutionary theory, has both its fierce supporters as well as opponents. Few topics have the capability of generating heated conversations and turning friends into fiends. Few people ever ask the “So what?” question. How does Darwinistic thinking affect the man on the street? Isn’t Darwinism an ambivalent or neutral belief? How does Darwinism affect the price of gold? Or what do I do once I wake up in the morning? It seems like whether or not you believe in evolution as a random impersonal process makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. Yet, the perceptive insights provided by Dr. West demolish the neutrality of this issue. In a nearly encyclopedic manner, John West proceeds to provide the numerous areas in the public square where Darwinism has had a distinctively destructive effect on our society. West provides a plethora of examples in each chapter of how Darwinism has affected the courts, the schools, the medical establishment, the conduct of the scientific community, and even the man-on-the-street. Darwinism is a Weltanschauung at war with the Judeo-Christian/theistic system that founded western civilization and the basis for scientific inquiry. Many of West’s examples were heretofore unheard of by me. This is news that doesn’t make the “news”. In a skillful and scholarly fashion, West unearths the contest between faith and “science”, while providing references for any claims that he has made. The book is divided into various sections, with each section oriented around a specific theme. I’ll be brief in the detailed review.
I took a psychology class while in college and wrote a 15-20 page book review and rebuttal of BF Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dignity. I got an “A” on that paper, and still have it in my files. This was back in the time when colleges (I attended the hyper-liberal Portland State University) still had free speech. On a recent review of this paper, I noted that I had used the nothing-buttery argument, and could not remember where I picked up that phrase since I did not reference my paper. It was thus with great surprise that I noted the title of the first chapter of Darwin Day contained the words “nothing-buttery”. Thankfully, Dr. West referenced the book which was by the same author where I gleaned this phrase and had read it first between high school and college, A Clockwork Image: A Christian Perspective on Science, by Donald MacKay. MacKay’s, as well as West’s argument, is when a “scientist” makes the preposterous (and impossible to prove) claim that the world is nothing but what we can detect and observe by science. Truly, it is science-of-the-gaps thinking which forces a pseudo-science explanation to the entirety of the world. So much of what we see and know is unprovable and so much more is simply unknowable, yet they are using science to fill in our vast ignorance of the gaps in our knowledge. Out of this nothing-buttery, scientific materialism emerged the Darwinistic Weltanschauung that is currently deconstructing our society. West, in a subsequent chapter, gives a brief summary of the rise of Darwinism in the world which is instructive, and not exactly matching what one would find in biology class at government schools.
In the next section, West addresses the issue of the courts and crime and punishment. When Dostoevsky wrote his masterpiece Crime and Punishment, there was still a Christian Weltanschauung, and he knew that his readership would comprehend the sense of guilt after committing a crime. This book probably would not pass the muster if written in today’s world, though Woody Allen’s film Crimes and Misdemeanors in the 1980s played on the residual Judeo-Christian worldview found in the society of 30 plus years ago. Through a number of examples, West shows how the Darwinian mindset removes responsibility for a crime, or turns it into nothing more than a mental illness. Rather than punishment or restitution, rehabilitation becomes the prevailing theme. Though “science” is claimed as the guiding beacon for the new management of criminal offenses, it strains the imagination to see how the absence of justice and recidivism supports a scientific approach. Yet, “science” prevails since it best fits the Darwinian paradigm for criminal management.
Wealth and poverty are next discussed on our journey through the dismal night of Darwinian conceptions; this section grasps at the work of big finance, eugenics (and though only indirectly mentioned, critical race theory) as resulting from utopianism, the world of advertising, architecture and the building of tomorrow’s world, all of the above are heavily affected by a materialistic world view born and bred from the Darwin mother. Multiple examples of precisely how Darwinism affects things as remotely as the design of a building or the focus of an advertisement are given by West. I believe that he succeeds in his argument.
The section on how Darwinism has affected education is fascinating. The establishment does NOT wish that you know how campus free speech has been stifled, and this is especially true of teaching students to grasp the controversy that still exists in Darwinian theory. Though it is a theory as leaky as a colander, educators feel that to suggest problems with the theory would be troubling to young minds, who would perhaps even dare consider an intelligent design alternative! How horrid that could be!!!!! Sex education and the new thinking on sex, including alternative sex forms, homosexuality, bestiality, transgenderism, pedophilia, and whatever sexual deviancy under the sun exists, is permissible, should we be in reality functional blobs generated by a few accidents in the primordial slime.
West then enters a section near and dear to my heart, having had to deal with it on a continuous basis, which entails matters of life and death. This issue involves not only abortion and pre-birth issues, but also euthanasia, various forms of assisted suicide, and every moment in between birth and death. As a surgical oncologist, I was surrounded by the possibility of death on a daily basis. Death will eventually happen to everyone, and the prolongation of the dying process can be as ethically evil as the acceleration of the dying process. As a physician, it was easy for me to identify those colleagues who had a low view of human life, with their callous disregard for the patient as a person. In the academic setting, the unnecessary prolongation of life in order to support the effectiveness of an experimental treatment plan, or perhaps in order to improve hospital statistics, or to increase federal reimbursements, was the norm and not an exception. But, this is a book review, so I will climb off of my soapbox. First, I’ll talk about abortion.
It seems bewildering that there would be perplexity as to when life begins. Such perplexity would not exist if it were the breeding of a racehorse or in the gestation of an endangered species embryo. So, what’s the trouble with the human embryo? There is trouble only when a superseding ideology fogs the cerebral function of the Darwinist. If humans really are the product of some incredulous events occurring in the primordial slime, then I guess it doesn’t matter how we treat each other. Odd that so many Darwinists demean humanity feeling that as humans represent the pinnacle of “evolution”, with the “evolving” of speech, superior intelligence, ingenuity, and creativity, these are all to be trashed in order to spare the lower forms of “evolution”. Stranger is the fact that only humans are sentient and able to appreciate the lower forms of beings that exist on planet earth. Beauty does not exist in the mind of an endangered yellow-legged frog as he glances at a flower-covered meadow, or foliose lichen growing on the side of a tree that overlooks a majestic mountain scene. Dr. West provides multiple examples of how the pundits of this age have excused the slaughter of the unborn, even the point of justifying the slaughter of younger children who have a Leben unlebenswertig secondary to some defect of the child, a defect in the parents, or a defect in the society that surrounds the child.
The chapter on death is a difficult one that I have troubled feelings about. The Shiavo and Cruzan cases are presented with discussion. These are two exceptional cases, both of which were mismanaged (in my estimation), and neither of which should set a precedent for medical ethics. The main point that West is trying to drive home is that the personal worth of the individuals Shiavo and Cruzan were devalued by those who saw that the termination of life was the most viable option for their care. Does this mean that virtually every effort must be extended in order to prolong life? Sadly, that sometimes also becomes the case; I mentioned above that the prolongation of death can be as immoral as the prolongation of life. In addition, the patient quality of life becomes a confounding issue that muddies any discussion. Respect for life remains of utmost consideration. In a world where the survival of the fittest selects out who shall live, the law of the jungle (West’s term) becomes the prevailing issue. Financial, social, personal, and other concerns rise to more value than the person in the medical “dock”.
West offers a succinct and well-written summary conclusion to his thesis, and it would have been the best chapter in his book had he not have added a later addendum. West lapses into a defense of intelligent design, an argument that hardly needs a defense owing to the weakness of all other explanations for our existence, save for perhaps the solipsistic argument.
The afterword, titled “Scientism in the Age of Obama—and Beyond” shows John West as a prophet of things to come. We now see “science” as defending any sort of nonsense and untruth imaginable. In my years as a doctoral student in the cell biology laboratory, I had many lectures on integrity in research. This was because the notable academies of science were finding evidence for a troubling huge instance of fraud in research. This was in the 1980s, and it is assuredly much worse in today’s world. Yet, fraud is a perfect example of Darwinianism in the performance of science. The publish or perish mentality of academics is simply another form of survival of the “fittest”. Before the onset of the Enlightenment, Theology was known as the Queen of the Sciences. Rather than being in competition with science, theology was the foundation for all science. Indeed, science did quite well as long as there was a theological basis for doing science. With theology stripped of its foundation place, we must not be surprised that the house of science is crumbling around us. West wrote this afterword before the advent of the Covid crisis, where “science” is being wistfully tossed about as the defense for any sort of government oppression, and the mega-media complex aggressively strips the population of free speech, all in the name of defending the edicts of those who call themselves scientists. West was able to see all of this coming a few years before it happened. But, prophets most often go without honor, and I don’t expect West to get the acclaim that he deserves. The best that can be done is for you to purchase this book and read it. It should be on the NY Times best-seller list.
My apologies to Dr. West for this book review being as much my personal commentary as being a straightforward review of the book. I’m sorry. Your text generated the vivid activity of my thoughts, and its thought-provoking nature forced for a very slow read. At the beginning of reading this text, my wife and I came down with Covid, which stalled any further reading for over a month. No, we were not hospitalized, but slept for 16-18 hours a day, and lost any resemblance of an appetite. After two weeks of that, we felt better, but I remained somewhat brain-numb for another month, keeping my reading activity at a very low priority. Now that my cognition and senses have returned, my favorite hobby (reading) is also returning slowly to pre-Covid levels. Thankfully, I did not succumb to “science” and still have a pulse and blood pressure with normal respirations and all body functions preserved, and can now boast natural immunity. And Fauci will be going somewhere very south of here; I pray for his soul as well as that of his hench-mate Francis Collins.
Thank you, Ken.