The Smartest Man in America?
by Kenneth Ham
If you were asked to place a vote for the person whom you considered the smartest man in your country, for whom would you vote? Perhaps the President or Prime Minister? Maybe a leading scientist? What about a Nobel Prize winner?
In an August article in Parade Magazine, readers were asked the question, Who Are the Smartest People in America?" And who did the readers vote for? None other than Carl Sagan! He was the person mentioned by the most readers.
Who is Carl Sagan? He is an astronomer and author. He was appointed Professor of Astronomy and Space Science at Cornell University in 1968. Much of his fame has been gained by popularizing science through books, magazines, and the television series "Cosmos."
Carl Sagan is also an ardent evolutionist. In fact, he received the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction for the book The Dragons of Eden, which deals with the evolution of the human brain. Many people will be familiar with his phrase; "billions and billions of years" heard on the "Cosmos" television series.
He is also a doctrinaire "pro-choice" advocate in regard to the issue of abortion. In Parade Magazine April 22, 1990, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan co-authored an article in which they advocated that an embryo developing in its mother's womb is not a real human until perhaps the sixth month of development. Thus they were insisting that babies could be aborted up until the third trimester.
The astonishing thing about this article is the so-called "scientific" justification used as a major part of the argument. What did the man voted as the "smartest man in America" say in this article?
He and his co-author used the old, discredited idea of embryonic recapitulation to assert that an embryo in its mother's womb is not a real human for the first six months. What is this recapitulation idea?
A German scientist at the time of Darwin, Professor Ernst Haeckel, said that when an embryo develops, it passes through the various evolutionary stages that reflect its evolutionary history. As the embryo develops, it supposedly goes through a worm-like state, then a fish stage with gill slits, then an amphibian stage, and so on, until it becomes human. This view once was prevalent in biology textbooks in schools and colleges around the world. Many students became convinced of evolution because of this idea—an idea that was even illustrated with diagrams to "prove" that it was true.
However, it is now a well-known fact that Haeckel doctored his illustrations to support this erroneous view. For instance, in the book The Neck of the Giraffe, by Francis Hitching (an author who is critical of Darwinian evolution but nonetheless is an evolutionist and not a creationist), the following statements are made:
"Although Haeckel's theory fell into disrepute during the peak years of neo-Darwinist supremacy, the revival of interest in embryonic development has led a number of today's biologists to look upon his ideas more favorably. The trouble is, Haeckel was a rogue. Time and time again, Haeckel doctored his illustrations outrageously to support his biogenetic law." Hitching goes on to talk about Haeckel's forgeries and deception. Haeckel even admitted that he falsified the diagrams.
What is so disturbing is that the man voted the "smartest man in America" still promotes ideas like Haeckel's. Read what the article in Parade Magazine, co-authored by Sagan, stated concerning the developing human embryo:
"By the third week . . . it looks a little like a segmented worm. By the and of the fourth week . . . it's recognizable as a vertebrate, its tube-shaped heart is beginning to beat, something like the gill arches of a fish or an amphibian have become conspicuous, and there is a pronounced tail. It looks something like a newt or a tadpole.... By the sixth week . . . the eyes are still on the side of the head, as in most animals, and the reptilian face has connected slits where the mouth and nose eventually will be....
By the end of the eighth week the face resembles a primate's but is still not quite human."
Although Sagan doesn't mention Haeckel, this article, which is cleverly written, clearly uses Haeckel's discredited recapitulation theory to justify abortion! Any person who had been taught recapitulation at school or college would immediately think that Sagan is also promoting Haeckel's ideas. How sad that many thousands of people (many of them young women), will have read this article thinking that what they read from this "smart" scientist must be trustworthy. Many may even abort a baby on the basis of this misleading information.
Just for interest, I checked a medical textbook called Medical Embryology, 3rd edition, by Jan Langman. The author states: " . . . it can no longer be said that the human embryo ever has gills. It has pharyngeal pouches. . . ."
One of the textbooks used in high schools in Australia, Biology - The Spectrum of Life, on page 208, states:"lt was once thought that the embryo's development (ontogeny) repeated the stages of evolutionary change. We now realize that this is not so." I am very pleased to see this change, because when I was a teacher in the public schools in Australia, the textbooks stated Haeckel's ideas as fact. The same has been true of textbooks in American schools. (It is distressing to learn, however, that some textbooks in schools today still promote or at least suggest Haeckel's ideas.) Many women who went through this education system may never have heard that what they were taught was wrong, and thus may have views on abortion based on false ideas. Evolutionary indoctrination (even using known false ideas) through public schooling has certainly been a powerful tool for the humanist agenda.
Why do people listen to Carl Sagan? Parade Magazine states that he is a man who has brought scientific knowledge down to earth for millions of people. Certainly, evolutionists have done a great job of popularizing their material to the public at a level they can understand. Creationists should take note of this. Evolutionists are master propagandists. Creationists have done much exciting scientific research and have tremendous challenges and answers to the evolutionists' dogma; and when people hear this information, it can change their lives. We need your support more than ever before to counteract the massive evolutionary propaganda.
According to one of the readers of Parade Magazine, Sagan "seems to have answers to every question, regardless of the subject." One of the problems in Christendom is that many Christians have not had answers to the basic questions of life because of the intense indoctrination of evolution and the lack of good teaching in our churches. But there is no excuse now! ICR and similar organizations around the world have a wealth of information available on the creation/evolution issue so that every Christian can have the knowledge and understanding to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15).
And remember at this Christmas time the One who came down to be our Savior did not develop through evolutionary worm, fish, and reptile stages to become a human. Just as the first Adam was made directly by God, so the physical body for the last Adam (Jesus Christ—the eternal Creator) was made by God to develop in Mary's womb, to be born (as the God-man), to live on Earth as a human, and to become the perfect sacrifice so that all may have the offer of eternal life with Him.
Cite this article: Kenneth Ham. 1992. The Smartest Man in America?. Acts & Facts. 21 (12).