by Rebekah Curtis
Poor Professor Garner. If only he’d been born 90 years later and female, he could have been a star. Instead, it takes three Google searches to pin down when he was born, starting from the information available in a February 19, 1918 issue of The Lutheran Witness titled “A Seminary For Monkeys.” Your humble Lutheran Witness (LW) explains how Prof. Garner spent some years of his life in a cage in Africa listening to apes converse and returned to these shores to open a seminary for gorillas and chimpanzees with the goal of expediting their evolutionary development. Jane Goodall’s besties didn’t get half the service of these simianarians!
That’s not all LW had to say about evolution that year. An April issue chortles over an anthropologist’s theory about the human face growing more wedge-shaped over time (how, wonders LW, did poor Caesar chew?). The tolerance of evolutionary theory among other Lutheran synods is noted and denounced. Most soberingly, several issues decry “Pan-Germanism” in the mother country. This view included the belief that Germans were the apex of the evolutionary process, and as such had every right to go on to do the things we now know all too well they did.
So it seems that LW readers haven’t evolved much on the matter of evolution. To be fair, neither have evolutionists. The piece on Prof. Garner’s monkey monkery opens with the charge that evolutionists have never been able to provide evidence for transitional organisms in the evolutionary process. They still haven’t. Another LW article critiqued a then-new theory that apes are a retrogression from a common ancestor with humans. While enabling an exciting array of conjectural insights, the theory itself was the result of nothing more than some poking at an old skull and some ironic creativity.
These tales sound exactly like a contemporary CNN science article, each of which describes how loads of money have been sunk into some scientist’s goofy hobby horse, documents a few measurements from the internal world of the experiment, and then speculates extravagantly to fit the results into the evolutionary narrative. By these means are we ignorami brought to an intellectually gratifying, if not satisfying, conclusion.
Lutherans were among the many people who weren’t falling for it in 1918. Why should we now? Or, as one of LW’s “Nonsense of Evolution” columns concluded:
Here endeth the lesson.
Let us stick to our Bible.
Rebekah Curtis is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Worden, Ill.