One of my new favorite authors is agnostic sociologist Rodney Stark. While he has Catholic sympathies, he is not above letting them have it in his reviews of history. A professor at Baylor University, he has written many journal articles and books on the sociology of religion, including
- CITIES OF GOD: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome (2006)
- The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success (2005)
- The Rise of Mormonism (2005)
- For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (2003, one of my favorites)
- One True God: Historical Consequence of Monotheism (2001)
However, I just stumbled upon a 2004 article he wrote called Fact, Fable, and Darwin, in which he takes Darwinism to task (though he says he is not a creationist) for its hubris and outright exaggerations. Typical anti-Darwin stuff, but written in Stark’s non-nonsense agnostic style. I’ve excerpted below.
- The battle over evolution is not an example of how heroic scientists have withstood the relentless persecution of religious fanatics. Rather, from the very start it primarily has been an attack on religion by militant atheists who wrap themselves in the mantle of science.
- When a thoroughly ideological Darwinist like Richard Dawkins claims, “The theory is about as much in doubt as that the earth goes round the sun,” he does not state a fact, but merely aims to discredit a priori anyone who dares to express reservations about evolution.
- One may note the serious shortcomings of neo-Darwinism without opting for any rival theory.
- While acknowledging that “the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record” is a major embarrassment for Darwinism, Stephen Jay Gould confided that this has been held as a “trade secret of paleontology” and acknowledged that the evolutionary diagrams “that adorn our textbooks” are based on “inference…not the evidence of fossils.”
- Paleontologist Niles Eldridge and his colleagues have said that the history of life demonstrates gradual transformations of species, “all the while really knowing that it does not.” This is not how science is conducted; it is how ideological crusades are run.
- As the eminent and committed Darwinist Ernst Mayr explained,The occurrence of genetic monstrosities by mutation…is well substantiated, but they are such evident freaks that these monsters can only be designated as ‘hopeless.’ They are so utterly unbalanced that they would not have the slightest chance of escaping elimination through selection. Giving a thrush the wings of a falcon does not make it a better flyer….To believe that such a drastic mutation would produce a viable new type, capable of occupying a new adaptive zone, is equivalent to believing in miracles.
- The eminent observer Everett Olson notes that there is “a generally silent group” of biological scientists “who tend to disagree with much of the current thought” about evolution, but who remain silent for fear of censure.
One more quote from Stark, which I found interesting, in a 2004 interview.
Interviewer: You once wrote that you’re ‘not religious as that term is conventionally understood.’
RS: That’s true, though I’ve never been an atheist. Atheism is an active faith; it says, ‘I believe there is no God.’ But I don’t know what I believe. I was brought up a Lutheran in Jamestown, North Dakota. I have trouble with faith. I’m not proud of this. I don’t think it makes me an intellectual. I would believe if I could, and I may be able to before it’s over. I would welcome that.