Not long ago, I wrote an article about how Dr. Richard Dawkins attributed a quote to St., Augustine, but the quote turned out to be 100% false. A while before that, I wrote an article about how an evolutionist and a young-earth creationist both mangled quotes by C.S. Lewis in order to make it sound like Lewis believed things that he didn’t believe. Well, here’s yet another example of someone using made-up quotes in an attempt to prove her point of view.
This article comes from World Net Daily, which is not exactly a paragon of responsible journalism. It was written by Marylou Barry, and it tries to make the case that scientists don’t believe in evolution because of the evidence. Instead, they believe it because they dogmatically reject the idea of a Creator. This, of course, is absurd, as there are many, many Christians who believe in evolution. If belief in evolution is based on the rejection of a Creator, no Christian would accept it. Nevertheless, Marylou Barry tries to make the case, and she does so by quoting famous scientists. Some of the quotes sounded a bit odd to me, so I did some checking. It turns out that many of them are either made up or taken completely out of context.
Let’s start with a simple one. Ms. Barry reports:
“Evolution is unproved and improvable, we believe it because the only alternative is special creation, which is unthinkable,” wrote the late Sir Arthur Keith, physical anthropologist and head of the Anatomy Department at London Hospital.
Since she doesn’t bother to source any of her quotes, I had to do a bit of research. The only source that has been given for this quote can be found in Comparative Views on Origins. The author (Brock Lee) claims that this quote comes from the forward to 100th anniversary edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, 1959.1 The problem with this reference is that Sir Arthur Keith died on January 7, 1955. That’s a full four years before this book was supposed to have been published! Keith did write an introduction to an edition of The Origin of Species that was published by J. M. Dent. However, it was published in 1928, and Keith’s introduction does not contain anything even approaching the quote that Barry gives. In the end, then, this is simply a made-up quote, and it doesn’t belong in any legitimate discussion of evolution.
Now if this were just one example among many quotes, I might be able to overlook Barry’s irresponsible behavior. Unfortunately, several other quotes in the story are either made up, edited, or taken way out of context.
Here is another example of a quote that is essentially made up:
Yet none puts it more plainly than Dr. George Wald, Nobel Prize winner and professor emeritus of biology at Harvard University.
“I do not want to believe in God,” Wald admitted to Scientific American magazine. “Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”
Once again, because Barry gives no reference, I had to do some digging. It turns out that Dr. Wald doesn’t appear very often in Scientific American, and there is only one article in which he uses the phrase “spontaneous generation.” It was written in 1954 and entitled “The Origin of Life.”2 Nowhere in the article does he use the phrase “I do not want to believe in God.” In addition, he never uses the word “impossible” in reference to spontaneous generation. Instead, he says that spontaneous generation doesn’t happen now, but if conditions were right at one time, it would. He then says that life will, in fact, inevitably arise wherever the proper conditions exist. Then he says:
I do not tend to make sentences containing the word God; but what do those persons mean who make such sentences? They mean a great many different things; indeed I would be happy to know what they mean much better than I have yet been able to discover. I have asked as opportunity offered, and intend to go on asking. What I have learned is that many educated persons now tend to equate their concept of God with their concept of the order of nature. This is not a new idea; I think it is firmly grounded in the philosophy of Spinoza. When we as scientists say then that life originated inevitably as part of the order of our universe, we are using different words but do not necessary mean a different thing from what some others mean who say that God created life.
So in the end, he is actually trying to make the case that you can believe in God and believe in the origin of life as espoused by evolutionists, as long as your concept of God includes the idea that He created a universe with the right kind of order.
The most obviously made-up quote in the entire story comes right after the Wald quote:
Sir Julian Huxley, the late president of UNESCO and grandson of Darwin’s colleague Thomas Huxley, put an even finer point on the argument:
“I suppose the reason we leaped at the origin of species was because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores,” he wrote.
This quote has two sources, when those who use it try to cite a reference. Some claim it goes back to a book by Henry M. Morris, The Troubled Waters of Evolution.3 The problem is that the book by Henry Morris contains no such quote. Indeed, on the page where the quote supposedly appears, Morris is talking about Dr. Julian Huxley’s grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley! Others reference various books by D. James Kennedy, such as What If the Bible Had Never Been Written?4 The problem with this reference is that Kennedy claims that he heard Dr. Julian Huxley say this in an interview on public television, but he never gives the title of the program or even the year that it aired. Dr. Julian Huxley died on Februrary 14, 1975. To believe Kennedy, we must believe that he remembers a quote from a television show that he cannot name and that couldn’t have been made after Februrary 14, 1975. To me, that seems like a bit of a stretch…
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. It is very easy these days to scrape quotes off the internet. The problem is that such quotes are hardly reliable. A real journalist or scholar will actually check sources before listing quotes, so unless a quote is strictly documented, you should simply ignore it. Even if it is strictly documented, I would still take it with a grain of salt until you can actually check the source. The fraudulent quote of Huxley, for example, is sometimes strictly documented, but it still turns out to be a fabrication.
There is a bigger point to this, of course. Marylou Barry tried to use these falsified quotes to convince people that there is no serious evidence for evolution. I tend to agree with her on that point. There is some evidence for evolution, but it is far outweighed by both the evidence for creation and the evidence directly opposed to evolution. In the end, then, I think Barry is trying to promote an idea that is true. However, she is trying to convince people of this true idea by using a bunch of false quotes. That’s not the way to promote the truth; you cannot promote truth by telling lies!
I doubt that Marylou Barry knew the quotes she used were lies when she wrote her article. However, that’s why a good journalist or scholar checks references thoroughly. Had Barry done just a bit of research, she would have learned the fraudulent nature of the quotes she was using. It is unfortunate that she didn’t bother. I contacted World Net Daily with these concerns, and I truly hope they get communicated to Marylou Barry. If nothing else, I hope my readers learn from her mistakes.
1. Brock Lee, Comparative Views on Origins, UCS Press 2009, p. 155
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2. Wald, G., “The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191(2):44-53, 1954
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3. Henry M. Morris, The Troubled Waters of Evolution, Creation-Life Publishers 1974, p. 58
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4. Dennis James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, What If the Bible Had Never Been Written?, Nelson 1998, p. 26
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