The Centenary Critique of Darwin's Theory

As the one-hundredth anniversary of the Darwin's seminal work, The Origin of Species, approached in the 1950s, the publishers of a new edition for the general public sought out a distinguished naturalist to write the introduction. The scientist whom they chose for this task was a Canadian entomologist, William Robin Thompson, who was serving at the time as the Director of the Commonwealth Institute for Biological Control in Ottawa. Dr. Thompson's introduction appeared in the 1956 "Everyman" edition, published in advance of The Origin's centenary in 1959. This was the sixth edition since the original one appeared in 1859.

Fifty years later, as evolutionists around the world engage in much "hype" about how Darwin's theory changed science, they are determined not to repeat the mistake of receiving serious criticism from one of their own at a time when they were seeking universal acclaim and celebration. Among many of the observations that W. R. Thompson made over fifty years ago, one that particularly resonates at this time is his concern that informed, rational debate of the evidence was not pursued.

"When I was asked to write an introduction replacing the one prepared a quarter of a century ago by the distinguished Darwinian, Sir Anthony Keith [one of the "discoverers" of Piltdown Man], I felt extremely hesitant to accept the invitation... I am not satisfied that Darwin proved his point or that his influence in scientific and public thinking has been beneficial. If arguments fail to resist analysis, consent should be withheld and a wholesale conversion due to unsound argument must be regarded as deplorable. He fell back on speculative arguments."

"As we know, there is a great divergence of opinion among biologists...because the evidence is unsatisfactory and does not permit any certain conclusion. It is therefore right and proper to draw the attention of the non-scientific public to the disagreements about evolution. But some recent remarks of evolutionists show that they think this unreasonable. This situation, where scientific men rally to the defense of a doctrine they are unable to define scientifically, much less demonstrate with scientific rigor, attempting to maintain its credit with the public by the suppression of criticism and the elimination of difficulties, is abnormal and unwise in science." [Emphasis added]

When an individual is confident of his case, he is willing to open the evidence both for and against it to full scrutiny. When he is insecure about his position, he will be much more inclined to lash out at his opponents, seeking to discredit them personally through such means as scorn and ridicule, rather than deal with their arguments in a fair, respectful and honest way. This issue strikes at integrity in science, on which W. R. Thompson commented:

"The success of Darwinism was accompanied by a decline in scientific integrity. This is already evident in the reckless statements of Haeckel and in the shifting, devious and histrionic argumentation of T. H. Huxley."

In the twenty-first century, Huxley might be replaced by Dawkins, but the point remains unchanged. With respect to research, W. R. Thompson noted,

"A long-enduring and regrettable effect of the success of the Origin was the addiction of biologists to unverifiable speculations. 'Explanations' of the origin of structures, instincts, and mental aptitudes of all kinds, in terms of Darwinian principles, marked with Darwinian possibility but hopelessly unverifiable poured out from every research centre."

Scientific research relies heavily on a process known as "peer review." The observation of Dr. Thompson shows that the check-and-balance system of "peer review" was not effective when it came to evolutionary biology. Speculation was allowed to form the basis of research projects and find its way into peer-reviewed journals. This observation shows that there is a strong bias in favour of the evolutionary hypothesis, and against the intelligent design hypothesis, in the scientific establishment which generally lacks objectivity and fairness in its evaluation of the evidence. Believers who pursue degrees in scientific disciplines need to be mindful of the bias against God in these circles, a bias arising for philosophical and not evidential reasons. In an earlier work written in 1937, Science and Common Sense, W. R. Thompson noted,

"The concept of organic Evolution is very highly prized by biologists, for many of whom it is an object of genuinely religious devotion, because they regard it as a supreme integrative principle. This is probably the reason why the severe methodological criticism employed in other departments of biology has not yet been brought to bear against evolutionary speculation." [Emphasis added].

That such a distinguished scientist sounded the alarm about the speculative pretensions of Darwin's theory in such a prominent place as the Introduction to the centenary edition of his major work should continue to serve as a warning to our generation.

Compiled by James Farrar, Grimsby, ON