It is almost 85 years ago since H. L. Mencken wrote Homo Neanderthalensis. Mencken wrote, “They know little if anything that is worth knowing, and there is not the slightest sign of a natural desire among them to increase their knowledge.” It is sad that this amusing essay is as relevant today as it was back in 1925 during the Scopes Trial. Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was almost 70 years old at the time of the Scopes Monkey trial. Scientific progress faces the same level of ignorance and opposition as it did back in the days of the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial in Dayton, Tennessee. It is now 150 years ago since the publication of On the Origin of Species yet we still face the same drivel today as back then. This is clearly evident in the article, “Where Evolution Has Gaps, Creation Might Offer Answers—If We Will Listen” published in the opinion section of US News and World Report.
The author of the article, Henry Morris III, CEO of the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas explains that, “Embarrassingly, this “theory” cannot be scientifically observed in action today, nor can it be forensically observed in nature’s record of the past.” It is very clear that Henry Morris III does not understand the theory of evolution. He is obviously ignorant of the very “theory” that he opposes when he describes evolution as “Everything happened quite by accident.” Any evolutionary biologist, physical anthropologist, microbiologist, geneticists or paleontologist will explain that evolution is not random. It is genetic mutation that is random. Genetic mutations lead to variation. Organisms inheriting variations best suited to an environment have a higher probability of surviving long enough to reproduce and pass their genes on to the next generation. The fossil record is evidence of the fact that organisms take a great deal longer than 10,000 years to evolve and confirms common ancestry among different species.
Evolution is a continuing process. Microbiologists see this all the time with new strains of bacteria and viruses. MRSA is a perfect example of evolution at work. We can go on and on with examples, but there is no point in trying to reason with the unreasonable. As H.L Mencken said, “The inferior man’s reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex-because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas.” Evolution is not an opinion or belief. Evolution is a fact supported by evidence and continues to be supported with new scientific discoveries. We have relatively new sciences like the discovery of DNA and Microbiology that continually supply evidence that support the evolutionary process.
Despite scientific progress and more sophisticated technology, a study by the Pew Research Institute shows that almost 50% of Americans believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. To this day, court rooms across the country still witness battles between school boards and science advocates about whether or not creationism has a place alongside evolution in a science classroom. H.L. Mencken wrote in Homo Neanderthalensis, “The hypothesis of evolution” is credited by all men of education; they themselves can’t understand it. Ergo, its teaching must be put down.” Thankfully, reason does have its day and rulings tend to be in favor of science advocates. That is good news. However, the power base is still very much with religion.