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Sam Brownback on Evolution May 31, 2007

Posted by Joe in creationism, evolution, life, media, religion, science.

In an article in the New York Times Sam Brownback (according to some) “tears evolutionists apart”.


There is no one single theory of evolution, as proponents of punctuated equilibrium and classical Darwinism continue to feud today. Many questions raised by evolutionary theory — like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations — go beyond empirical science and are better addressed in the realm of philosophy or theology.

Here Brownback uses a great rhetorical tactic. First he discusses the fact that there are legitimate scientific disputes about how evolution occurs, but then (seemingly without a breath) he mentions the creationists problem with evolution: “like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations” as if these were comparable debates. There is no debate on the latter among those that actually understand the theory of evolution.

At the same time in the above quote he reduces evolution to “merely the chance product of random mutations” thus showing is own ignorance of the subject by completely ignoring the most important aspect of evolution: natural selection. (Remember, natural selection was Darwin’s breakthrough.)


The most passionate advocates of evolutionary theory offer a vision of man as a kind of historical accident. That being the case, many believers — myself included — reject arguments for evolution that dismiss the possibility of divine causality.

Evolution does not dismiss the possibility of “divine causality”, it just admits that science cannot explore it. Brownback needs to talk to a few of the millions of religious “evolutionists”.


Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves.

Weren’t we just talking about evolution? The biological theory of evolution? What does that have to do with the origins of the universe? Nothing.


There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species.

Which when the species are reproductively isolated can lead to a “species” that can no longer be considered a single species, then those little changes add up and after a few hundred thousand years they can be very different indeed.
There is no magical line too limit how much a species can change. A biologist that could demonstrate such a mechanism would have a good shot at a Nobel.

Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him.

Biologist understand quite well what sustains life today. They are still working on how it began, but making great strides. So far no inexplicable force is necessary to explain life. (I would argue that an inexplicable force doesn’t really explain anything.)


It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.

It is neither anti-science or anti-reason to question philosophical presuppositions. However, I disagree that evolution is an example of such a presupposition. If you were to look at the history of evolutionary theory it would become clear that it is the story of people who would be called creationists today following physical evidence that lead them to the theory of evolution and to an old Earth. The idea that the theory was invented by those who presupposed there was no god involved is preposterous.

I am happy to say that this Brownback fellow will not be our president. Our current president was at least smart enough not to outright admit his rejection of evolution, or at least his advisers were.



1. Sex with Sandwiches and Other Choice Bits of Discourse « Fitness for the Occasion - May 31, 2007

[…] Of course this sends more conservative blogs into a tizzy of support. Joe of Yet Another Lame Blog tears apart Brownback’s arguments: Brownback: There is no one single theory of evolution, as proponents […]

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