Religion and Mathematics

Evolution Disproved. By the Rev. William A. Williams, D.D. (Published by the Author, at Camden, N.J.)

IT is seldom that a passionately controversial work may be welcomed with the certainty that it will increase the sum total of human self-approval and, consequently human happiness; but “Evolution Disproved,” by Dr. Williams [?] of much abused Tennessee, (and of New Jersey) seems to be such a work. Fundamentalists will [?] in it an inexhaustible magazine of indubitable TNT, useful for bombing operations in the anti-[?] war now raging; while hard-boiled scientists, who may [? Descend] to examine it, no doubt will be vastly amused by arguments [ ? nt] in keeping with their outlook, must seem naive to them. Even those who sit upon the fence and, when noticed at all, are stigmatized as mystics and impractical, may be expected to read into this clash of human certainties some further justification for their suspicious attitude toward the data of sense and the operations of human logic. As for the rest of us, each will go right on pursuing his own steadily fleeing bale of hay as usual.

In attacking the scientific theory of human evolution, Dr. Williams boldly meets the enemy on his own ground and with his own weapons. No appeal is made to faith, since it is assumed that incapacity for faith is precisely what ails the scientific mind. Dr. Williams puts the whole question on a strictly mathematical basis, for, he insists, “every theory to which mathematics can be applied will be proved or disproved by this acid test. Figures will not lie, and mathematics will not lie even at the demand of liars. Their testimony is as clear as the mind of God.”

To this it is probably that some scientist, even some mathematician will reply to the effect that while mathematical principles are constant, the result of any mathematical process must be conditioned by the meaning given to the original figures since figures don’t care who uses them. Some especially caustic logician might remark that any figure, for instance, could be made to represent the entire present population of pea-[ ?n ] hippogriffs in the moon, and other figures could be made to represent their rate of increase. Mathematical principles would repeal no embarrassment whatever in arriving at the exact number of lunar hippogriffs that would be in existence at any given future time.

By way of [in ? ing] the above objection, Dr. Williams could perhaps be quite as caustic by suggesting, as in fact he seems to do, that even scientists may sometimes use figures in some such way. It would seem, then, that figures may be employed in the reaching of doubtful conclusions without in any way discrediting the moral uprightness of mathematics.

Whatever the truth may be on either side, it must be conceded that Dr. Williams presents some very neat calculations. The following may be given as typical.

“If the first human pair lived 2,000,000 years ago, as the evolutionists claim, and the population has doubled itself in every 1612.51 (one-tenth the Jewish rate of net increase) what would be the present population of the earth? Answer, 18,932,139,737,991 followed by 360 figures.”

“If the human race doubled its numbers every 168.3 years since Noah became a father (5177 years) what would be the population of the globe? Answer, 1,804,187,000 — just what it is: If the Jews doubled their numbers every [1?1.251] years since Jacob’s marriage (3850 years), how many Jews would there have been in 1922? Answer, 15,393,815, just the number reported.”

“If there are now 1,500,000 species of animals, coming from a single primordial germ or cell which existed 60,000,000 years ago, how many species of animals should have arisen or matured in the last 6000 years? Answer, 3000, or one every two years. If life has existed 500,000,000 years, 380 new animal species were due in the last 6000 years. Evolutionists declare they do not know that a single new species has arisen in the last 6000 years.”

Now and then cold logic, without figures, is employed against certain details of the evolutionary theory. There is the question of hair. How did man lose his hair in evolving from the hairy brute? “Darwin’s explanation,” says Dr. Williams, is too puerile. He says that the females preferred males with the least hair until the hairy man gradually became extinct because naturally, under such a regime, the hairy men would die off, and finally only hairless men to beget progeny would survive. If we try to take this explanation seriously, we find that the science of phrenology teaches that females, as a rule, inherit the traits of their fathers, and males the traits of their mothers. Hence, not the males but the females would become hairless. If there was any good reason why the human brute should lose his hair, why for the same reason did not other species of the monkey family lose their hair?”

Many fairly intelligent laymen, at this point, will declare simply that they do not know, refusing further to take any blame for the distribution of hair. Likewise, they will disclaim all responsibility for the placing of the human eye where it is now to be found, while appreciating Dr. Williams’ conclusion, based soundly on a mathematical formula, that the chances for the location of the eyes where they are would have been exactly one million to one, if the placing had been fortuitous.

Perhaps many of the same fairly intelligent laymen may suspect, also, that the value of a religious faith may be a matter of personal experience in no way concerned with mathematical proof.