Monday, 15 July 2013
Darwinism on Shetland, BBC propaganda on Countryfile
Most Sunday evenings I sit down in front of the TV with my companion and watch the country and wildlife magazine programme ‘Countryfile’ on BBC1. Usually it’s worth watching, and last night was no exception. The programme’s main focus is on agriculture and as well as considering national issues like animal welfare, government energy policy etc, the team visits a region of the UK as well as the Cotswold farm of the winsome and articulate Adam Henson. He has an interest in rare breeds that he got from his father.
Yesterday’s edition looked at Shetland and a number of the domestic animals that are kept there. I was struck by the frequent references to Darwinian terms such as ‘adaptation’. I have no problem with this term as long as we understand what it means. There was also a typically Darwinian misuse of language when a variety of duck (a local mostly black feathered version of the Indian Runner variety) was described as a ‘species’ which it very clearly was not. Much of Darwin’s sophistry depended on blurring the distinction between a variety and a species.
The key word about Shetland animals was ‘small.’ It is a windswept place with few trees, a long dark winter, and highly variable weather that is often extreme. The cattle, sheep and horses (the famous Shetland ponies that feature in the popular drawings by Norman Thelwell) were all somewhat smaller than mainland versions. These animals were said to have ‘adapted’ or ‘evolved’ to the Shetland island environment. The term ‘evolve’ was used at least twice, ‘adapt’ 4 or 5 times in the context of these domestic animals.
This is of interest in the discussion about Darwinianism since Darwin wrote a whole chapter in ‘Origin of Species’ about variation under domestication, and this was foundational to his argument about all life forms coming by descent with modification from a common ancestor. He wrote at length about how breeders and farmers took care to breed from their best stock, ‘best’ in this context meaning most useful for their purposes. If you want a dog that hunts rats, you breed from the pest pair of ratters you can get, then test their progeny as ratters and breed from the best of them, etc. This process can equally be applied to other characteristics of animals, for example if you live in a cold country you may want to breed dogs with thick fur, if a hot country then dogs with short hair would do better.
Darwin’s observations about intelligent selective human breeding (or ‘variation under domestication’ as he called it) were hardly original, but were thoroughly decent science as far as they went. Variation under domestication is exactly what we can see in terms of the process that led the domesticated farm animals of Shetland to exist in their present form. No problems so far.
The Shetlanders, being intelligent and resourceful people who wanted to survive as well as they could in a tough climate, selected the animals that suited them best and bred them over several centuries with a goal of achieving suitable characteristics. That they were able to succeed, within limits imposed by the various animals’ genomes, is interesting but unremarkable. And importantly, it tells us NOTHING about how any of these animals arose. Sheep remain sheep, cattle remain cattle, ducks remain ducks.
Adam Henson compared a sample of wool from his Cotswold sheep with a local farmer’s Shetland sheep wool. The Shetland wool was much finer. Both Cotswold and Shetland sheep produced quality wool, but with slightly different characteristics, and this was the result of breeding. Call it adaptation if you will (I prefer to call it selective breeding) but if we are going to call it evolution then to avoid confusion we need a completely different term to describe the never observed process by which men supposedly evolved from hydrogen gas that came from the big bang, via dirty water and sparks, pond slime, jellyfish, frogs, mice, lemurs, apes etc. However, sometimes confusion may be just what you want if you are trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes.
Darwin’s biggest offence against science was to describe the above sort of ‘adaptation’ and then boldly assume that nature would do ‘immeasurably more’ when in the real world we observe nature doing measurably less. Intelligent men and women with a goal can ‘adapt’ a bred quite a lot in a relatively few generations, no argument. But what happens if Adam Henson’s Cotswold sheep and the Shetland breeds are left to their own devices, as would happen in nature with the human breeder’s mind and hand removed? Yes, they will interbreed and soon lose any distinctive features they have. Intelligent, purpose driven human breeding is seen to produce more varieties, while nature left to herself tends to revert to the mean as natural selection only selects for survival, whereas men can select for colour, temperament, quality of plumage or wool, meat, sense of smell etc.
Yes, some degree of species splitting into varieties, arguably even new sub-species or even perhaps species, can happen in isolated populations. You could most likely take a range of domestic sheep and leave them to roam and mate freely on an isolated island like Shetland and probably get a tougher variety within relatively few generations as natural selection eliminated the less fit. You see this with feral goats in Somerset. But you won’t get a new kind of animal, at least nobody ever has during recorded history. The idea that all mammals have a common ancestor remains sheer speculation.
Natural selection does less, not more, than selective human breeding. How do I know? Because I can see it. Animal species like sheep, horse, dog, cat or poultry under human domestication tends to produce more varieties than in the wild, but will revert back quickly if the breeder’s directing hand is removed. Darwin knew this, as he wrote about the need for plant breeders to ‘rogue’ their nursery stock (i.e. remove plants with undesired characteristics) and the need for animal breeders not to breed from ‘their worst stock’. The latter idea as applied to humans was enthused about by Darwinians like Galton and put into practice by a failed Austrian watercolour painter who became chancellor of Germany in the 1930s.
So, even watching a family friendly country programme on a Sunday evening, one cannot avoid the steady, slow drip of evolutionary propaganda. The BBC has never, ever, once given even half an hour to a fair examination of the arguments against Darwinism, even though it often gives a voice to unpopular, divisive and outlying points of view from various other areas of life. But there seems to be a strong BBC policy to insert Darwinian references into every kind of programme, from University Challenge to dramas like Lark Rise to Candleford, the News, and now Countryfile.
This might seem trivial, but it’s not. Life is made up of small things, information-true or false- comes in small packages, education and indeed indoctrination depends on frequent repetition. When the young person invited to question Darwin retorts ‘Its proved by mountains of overwhelming evidence’ stuff like the unexamined assumptions about farm animals ‘becoming adapted’ or ‘evolving’ to life on Shetland is an example of the kind of background mood music that is steadily dropped into their brains from when they first begin to understand language.
John’s Gospel chapter 1 verse 3 says ‘Through him (Christ) all things were made, and without him was not anything made that was made.’ Evolutionism is not science, at heart it is and always was intended as anti Christian propaganda. It was designed and spread by the enemies of the Gospel-revolutionaries, liberals and secularists- to emasculate the church and dechristianise society.
It's working as intended.