In 300 consecutive columns in NATURAL HISTORY magazine, Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould pondered questions like whether the zebra is black with white stripes or white with black stripes, and why .400 hitters have become extinct. From diverse starting points, he always arrived at the same conclusion: Everything that exists evolved by natural processes. Nature created itself.
His column title, "This View of Life," came from the closing sentence of Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES: "There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; . . . from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved." In essence, "This view of life" was his "life verse."
Gould recognized that the fossil record has major gaps. But instead of letting that observation persuade him to abandon evolution, he modified the theory. He explained the lack of transitional fossils by postulating what he called "punctuated equilibrium." The ordinary state of nature is a steady equilibrium, but, he speculated, this was "punctuated" by creative spurts too rapid to leave fossil evidence -- an interesting attempt to cover one of Darwin's flaws.
In Gould's view of life, even human intelligence must have originated naturally. He once told PBS, "The main reason for considering intelligence accidental is pretty clear. It's only evolved in one species after four and one-half billion years of the history of the Earth, which is about half the Earth's potential history if the sun's due to explode in five billion years or so." That makes it an open-and-shut case: A random process did it. The idea that a Supreme Being may have gifted homo sapiens with His extraordinary intellect is rejected out-of-hand.
When the oncologist told him he was terminal, Gould told readers he would not take refuge in religion. He opined that acknowledging God's existence between the lines of nature was "raw hope all gussied up as science."
What made Stephen Jay Gould so popular with the media? Partly a flair for picturesque expression -- what one analyst called "beautifully written speculations based on data which don't support the speculation as well as they might . . . a triumph of form over content."
But my friend Phillip Johnson thinks the primary reason for Gould's popularity was his worldview. Referring to the ideological "high priests" who decree what is and is not acceptable in the scientific and educational establishments and media, Johnson commented, "Whatever his merits, Gould is a popularizer. He never made a scientific discovery and eventually abandoned his [own] research. But from the adulation [he received], you would think he ranked with Darwin, Einstein, and Newton. Why? Because the first priority of the mandarins is to finish removing God from reality."
Gould's last two books hit the bookstores earlier this year. Like his earlier output, they contain interesting information and colorful analogies. But if your friends read them, explain to them that his naturalism and his Marxism seasoned everything he wrote as he relentlessly promoted what he called "this view of life" -- even when, as with the gaps in the fossil record, the facts got in the way.
Visit the Origins website for more information on evolution, intelligent design, and related issues: http://www.origins.org
"It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord." --Abraham Lincoln ================== A Short Look at Six World Religions: http://www.probe.org/docs/world.html ================== Take The Test!!! www.biblechallenge.org ================== If you stop believing what your professor told you had to be true and if you start thinking for yourself you may come to some conclusions you hadn't expected. You may find the Bible makes more sense than you thought or were told to think. Allow yourself to be ruined, ruined with regard to what you always thought could be true. Can you believe what you don't understand?You and I believe everyday what we don't understand unless it comes to the issue to salvation. Dr. Woodrow Kroll