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Article 28 - Darwin
"Have You Ever Read Darwin?"
Jon Gary Williams
Why This Question?
Many times I have had opportunity to discuss the theory of evolution with people who claim it to be true. My experience has been that almost always such people are not only unable to define the theory, they are also ignorant of the arguments normally used in its defense. In their attempt to argue the theory they often become frustrated and sometimes in desperation will ask, "Well, have you ever read Darwin?" By this they mean, of course, "Have you ever read The Origin of Species?"
Their reason for asking this question is because they assume I have not read The Origin, thus implying I am ignorant of the theory of evolution. However, in pursuing such discussions it becomes obvious that they are the ones who have not read Darwin! At best they have only seen selected excerpts from The Origin or a few brief comments about the book made by other evolutionists. During almost 50 years of inquiry I have yet to find an evolutionist who has actually read The Origin.
Whenever evolutionists use the "Have you ever read Darwin?" tactic, it is almost certain they are the ones unfamiliar with what Darwin actually wrote. I am convinced that if they were familiar with The Origin they would not be so anxious to ask this question. In fact, if they had read Darwin's book they would, beyond doubt, be reluctant to use it in defense of the evolution theory.
The Makeup Of Darwin's Book
There is nothing in The Origin that even remotely establishes any aspect of the evolution hypothesis. Actually, this book is made up largely of disjointed and arbitrary concepts, a collection of random guesswork not unlike other books written in defense of evolution. It is padded with irrelevant matter and riddled through with assumptions impossible to establish. In fact Darwin often subtly acknowledges the weakness of his concepts but then brushes them aside as mere superficial problems.
Darwin made many statements and drew many conclusions to support his theory which are now known to be false. A classic example is what is known as "Darwin's finches." Recent research on these finches has shown Darwin's inferences to be completely false, not to mention that his observations pertained only to the shapes and sizes of beaks -- the finches were still finches.
Likewise, Darwin believed that through its various states the human embryo reviews previous forms of life on the evolutionary tree. This, of course, has long been known to not only be false, but absurdly false and has long sense been discarded.
Darwin's first "evidence" of evolution and one on which he based his entire theory was the idea of "survival of the fittest." He tried to convince himself that new species originated through the passing on of superior characteristics of the fittest. However, this foundation of his theory was nothing more than fanciful imagination. Simply because the fittest of a species may survive -- is this reason to conclude they will produce new and different species? So desperate was Darwin to "prove" his theory, he launched out on this giant leap into the dark. Throughout the book there is the prevailing assumption that evolution must be true and every piece of data gathered by Darwin was interpreted to blend with it, regardless of whether or not any actual evidence existed.
An objective reading of The Origin will reveal that absolutely no proof of evolution can be found. As each page is turned one is made to wonder, "Where is the evidence for evolution I was told this book contains?"
But why then is his book so highly regarded? Well, the fact is at the beginning it was not, for most scientists of the mid-1800's rejected it as false. It was welcomed only by those who were already predisposed to accept anything that blended with their materialistic view of the origin and development of life. The Origin was just what they needed and so it was blindly accepted -- and by the unaware is still being blinded accepted.
W.R. Thompson's Introduction
Supporters of evolution are often heard describing The Origin with glowing terms. For example: "Darwin clearly showed that all life has evolved." "Charles Darwin established the fact of an evolutionary descent of life." "The Origin of Species is a demonstration that the law of evolution is true." Such statements, however, are not made based on a critical look at the contents of the book, but are made subjectively for the purpose of glorifying Darwin and the evolution theory.
It should be pointed out that not all assessments of The Origin are so generous. Everyman's Library 1967 edition of The Origin of Species contains a lengthy introduction by the renowned Canadian biologist W.R. Thompson, who was at that time director of the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control. Dr. Thompson made it clear from the beginning that he had serious doubts about Darwin's work. He explained to the editors of Everyman's Library that he would not cater to The Origin as some had done, but rather would give it an objective critical review. To this they agreed.
In his lengthy eighteen page critique of The Origin, over and over he pointed out the flaws of this book, emphasizing that it's conclusions were unwarranted and in some instances inexcusable. On page one of his introduction Thompson wrote, "I am not satisfied that Darwin proved his point or that his influence in scientific and public thinking has been beneficial." He made it clear that Darwin produced no real "experimental evidence" but to the contrary relied on nothing more than "speculative arguments." He further explained that the unfortunate "wholesale conversion" to Darwin on the part of many was "deplorable" and that by many true scientific evaluation had been "abandoned."
Thompson also noted that Darwin's work contained "a strong anti-religious flavor" and his belief that man descended from monkeys confirms this. It has often been claimed that Darwin never said man came from monkey. But, he did. Note his statement made in Descent of Man, pp. 220,221: "The Simiade then branched off into two great stems, the Old-world and New-world monkeys; and from the later, at a remote period, man, the wonder of the universe, proceeded." An impartial study of Darwin's Origin shows an attempt to put together a case for rejecting Biblical creation, including the creation of human life.
Thompson was quite clear in stating, "The success of Darwinism was accompanied by a decline in scientific integrity." And he summarized The Origin by saying it contains "fragile towers of hypothesis, where fact and fiction intermingle."
Upon reading The Origin, Darwin's professor, Dr. Adam Sedgewick, wrote, "I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admire greatly, parts I laughed at until my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow, because I think them utterly false and grievously misleading." (Darwin's Life and Letters, New York, Appleton, p.43)
Professor Sedgewick was by no means alone in denouncing Darwin's work. Many of his peers took strong exception to his conclusions labeling them nothing more than contrived assumptions unworthy of being regarded as science.
Changes In The Origin of Species
It has been touted that the first edition of The Origin of Species in 1859 sold out the first day. However, we are reminded that only 1500 copies were printed, many of them being purchased by the curious. And some are not aware that by the time of Darwin's death in 1882 it had passed through six revisions. It is important to note that in these revisions hundreds of changes were made, some of them for the purpose of altering or modifying obvious flaws and overstatements. In some instances sections containing misleading or embarrassing statements were removed. For example, in chapter six the following sentence was deleted. "I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale." No doubt, the fantasy of such a statement was too obvious and had to be discarded.
Darwin's Admittance to Problems in His Theory
Quite often Darwin called attention to problems his theory faced. Here are a few of the better known.
In the first edition of The Origin Darwin clearly stated, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." (p. 189) Darwin recognized this as a problem but did not deal with it, instead he merely brushed it aside. There are, of course, many such complex organs -- for example the four-chambered heart which, in order to work, must be complete and fully functional. This organ could not have functioned throughout so-called progressive, intermediate stages of evolution.
Likewise, the problem of the complete lack of pre-Cambrian fossils troubled Darwin. The Cambrian period is where fossils of animals first appear, however, they appear abruptly in highly complex forms. It is a virtual explosion of fossils -- but with no trace of smaller pre-Cambrian forms from which they supposedly evolved. Realizing this, Darwin wrote, "Consequently, if the theory is true, it is indisputable that before the Cambrian stratum was deposited....the world swarmed with living creatures." (The Origin of Species, Harvard Classic edition, p. 315) Again Darwin downplayed this problem assuming that such fossils would someday surely be discovered. However, over 150 years have passed and there is still no evidence of this "swarm" of pre-Cambrian life.
Darwin and Inbreeding
Darwin was convinced that "survival of the fittest" was the driving force behind evolution. And linked to this was his belief that inbreeding also played a role; he felt that by inbreeding the fittest of species, superior animals could be produced. It may come as a shock to some to learn that Darwin was so assured of this he practiced inbreeding himself.
Darwin thought of himself as superior. He felt that two closely related superior people would produce superior offspring. Believing this, he married his first cousin, Emma Wedgewood, whom he also considered superior and by whom he fathered ten children.
Of those children, one died shortly after birth, one was mentally defective and lived only two years, another died in childhood, and one had a serious breakdown at age fifteen. Three sons were so frequently ill that Darwin considered them semi-invalids. His last child, Charles, Jr., born mentally defective, died in infancy, just 14 months before the publication of The Origin of Species. Of his ten children seven did not live to adulthood. (Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, New York, Doubleday, 1962, p.131)
We are made to wonder why such negative results of inbreeding did not compel Darwin to rethink the concept of "survival of the fittest." But, again, his wish for evolution to be true was so strong that even this did not influence him.
Have you ever read The Origin? If not, do so. We encourage all who claim to believe evolution to read it, but to do so with an open and inquiring mind.