Friday, August 03, 2007


Another Mystery

Another guest to learn about:

Some persons seem to have thought [Darwin's] theory dangerous to religion, morality, and what not. Others have tried to laugh it out of court. We can share neither the fears of the former nor the merriment of the latter; and, on the contrary, own to feeling the greatest admiration both for the ingenuity of the doctrine and for the temper in which it was broached, although, from a consideration of the following arguments, our opinion is adverse to its truth. ...

Although many domestic animals and plants are highly variable, there appears to be a limit to their variation in any one direction. This limit is shown by the fact that new points are at first rapidly gained, but afterwards more slowly, while finally no further perceptible change can be effected. Great, therefore, as the variability is, we are not free to assume that successive variations of the same kind can be accumulated. There is no experimental reason for believing that the limit would be removed to a great distance, or passed, simply because it was approached by very slow degrees, instead of by more rapid steps. There is no reason to believe that a fresh variability is acquired by long selection of one form; on the contrary, we know that with the oldest breeds it is easier to bring about a diminution than an increase in the points of excellence.


Sounds like Mivart.
"Fleeming Jenkin".

Electrician, died over 100 years ago.

They have no new arguments, do they? He had them all, expounded at great length.
If I remember correctly, Hull does comment on the similarity of their approaches, but no, it wasn't Mivart. (Strangely, I was unable to locate an image of Mivart on the web.)
Here's the review:
That's him. Jenkin was the critic who gave Darwin the most trouble, though, perhaps ironically, not from within Jenkin's own field of physics. Instead, it was his contention that, assuming "blending heredity," any exceptionally good variation would be "swamped" out of the population before it could spread throughout the population. Neither knew about "mutations," of course, except for those with rather extreme morphological traits that the Victorians called "sports" or "monsters."
Oh, and Weeta, I take it you had it right too. You're certainly right about there being nothing much new in the creationist playbook.
"You're certainly right about there being nothing much new in the creationist playbook."

I'm curious as to anything in the creationist playbook which is new. Most of seem to predate Darwin. The problem with "blending inheritance" is relatively new.
The "racism" one is probably new, given that almost everybody in those early days was a racist, so wouldn't think of blaming Darwin for racism. (They might think of blaming Darwin for not being racist, though.)

Anything else?
The argument from physics that the Earth was too young to allow time for evolution, made by Jenkin and Lord Kelvin, was contemporary with Darwin, though it lives on only in the arguments of looneys like Kent Hovind and his "shrinking sun," more as an argument for a young-Earth than against evolution.
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