Sunday, August 12, 2007
Here is some more from David L. Hull's book, Darwin and His Critics: The Reception of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by the Scientific Community. In discussing the essentialism that had always been pervasive in Western thought, Hull relates a case of near instant revisionism.
Darwin, in addition to dismissing theological explanations of the origin of species as not properly scientific, also dismissed explanations in terms of "plans," whether divine or otherwise. Such explanations had been common in biology well before Darwin, particularly among the ideal morphologists, such as Goethe, Cuvier, Owen, and Agassiz. To Darwin, they were mere empty verbiage.
As long as one believed in God, and these plans could be interpreted literally as thoughts in the mind of the creator, then such explanations had some explanatory force, but if reference to God is left out of the explanatory picture, then all that is left are the plans. Rather than being explanations, the existence of such "plans" calls for explanation.But times change:
[I]n Darwin's day ... [m]any philosophers and some scientists still looked upon miracles and ideas in the mind of the creator as acceptable elements in a scientific explanation, though most scientists were loath to discuss the issue. These "explanations" were not so much refuted by Darwin as discounted. Similarly, the theological and metaphysical objections to evolutionary theory gradually subsided, not because their authors had been converted, but because no one whose opinion mattered was listening any more. The change can be seen in the difference between the aggressive confidence of Agassiz's first review of the Origin of Species in 1860 and the petulant timidity of his final comments in 1874 ... [when] he hardly dared mention his pet theory of creation by repeated acts of divine cognition. Owen went so far as to assert that the leading naturalists of the day, referred to by Darwin as special creationists, had never maintained the view that species were specially created by divine action. Rather, he along with the other so-called special creationists had always maintained that some unknown law governed the introduction and extinction of species. Lyell, to the contrary, had the candor to admit that he "formerly advocated the doctrine that species were primordial creations, and not derivation." He differed from the catastrophists only in his belief that species were created and extinguished serially, rather than in wholesale lots.Scientists are people first and foremost.
Labels: Hull: Darwin's Critics
"Intelligent Design" - design without any mention of who or what the designer(s) might have been?
The second was from p. 74-75.
He also praised, in the Descent of Man, the work of the Father of Eugenics Francis Galton.
So he did a lot more than just make scientific pronouncements.
And yeah, I know, a lot of other people were reacists too, but Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled racist!
But maybe it's worth moving this this bit of pig-ignorance up top as a lesson on how not to be an anti-evolutionist. As time and tide allow ...