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Deprogram from Darwin legends – free and fun!

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I would like to introduce  retired Australian political science prof Hiram Caton’s new Web site on the pious Darwin legends that currently infest popular media. 

Caton, a friend and associate of the late David Stove, author of Darwinian Fairy Tales, has done extensive research on the real story behind Darwin and his Origin of Species – and no, it is not the pious legends you will be hearing on public television. Bet you guessed that.

Both Caton and Stove are recognized as agnostic philosophers with limited use for pious legends in science, as in religion (must be something in the air Down Under?)

Anyway, here is Caton’s beginning stab at hauling away the trash (and his deceased colleague would be proud):

^Belief that the Origin was a ‘revolutionary’ scientific breakthrough conflicts with the fact that public opinion was at the time saturated with the evolution idea. It was so widespread that in 1860 the showman P T Barnum put on display a freak, styled Zip the Pinhead, alleged to be the ‘missing link’ between apes and humans.

^The natural selection principle was first stated in 1831 by Patrick Matthew, and was independently discovered in 1836 by Darwin’s naturalist colleague, Edward Blyth. Herbert Spencer came close to a formulation in 1852, and Alfred Wallace discovered it in 1858.

^The Origin did not found modern biology. By 1850 it was a thriving science whose leading men were Louis Pasteur, Claude Bernard, Rudolph Vircow, and Robert Koch. Darwin, a naturalist, was not involved in this research mode. Conversely, evolution was not a parameter of experimental biology.

^The Origin did not instigate a ‘revolutionary’ disruption of science from religious belief. That antagonism became a cultural force thanks to the French Revolution. By the 1830s, French and British radicals invoked evolution as a rebuttal of religious beliefs about God’s creation.

By 1860 this position was widespread throughout Europe and Latin America. Conversely, numerous scientists and clergymen believed in the compatibility of science and religious faith. That includes the discoverer of the first quantitative biological laws, Gregor Mendel.

^The only practical application of Darwinian theory with potential cultural impact was eugenics, devised by Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton. Three of his sons were dedicated to the eugenics cause, and one of them, Leonard, was the patron of a key figure in the creation of neo-darwinism, R A Fisher, as well as President of the Eugenics Society

Dr. Caton tells me that his Web page, Whither Progress? on “Major Changes in Evolution Theory” is almost finished, and thanks me for reporting his views accurately, noting

I believe that you know that I don’t believe that the extensive revisions and corrections of Neo-Darwinism imply rejection of evolution; rather the improvement of our understanding of it.

Yes, I got that, prof.

He argues that ” … the Modern Synthesis is obsolete, and that a new grasp of evolution is in the making, has been argued by numerous authors. My purpose here is to highlight some major innovations that have transformed evolution science.”, which he does.

Darwintrolls, this is not for you. Serious thinkers, have a look.

Check out his deprogram from Darwin legends here.

Also, just up at The Post-Darwinist:

Science education: Yawn Central … oh, no, wait! This just in ….

When science becomes oppressive religion: Do they use propane instead of faggots for the stakes?

Darwinism: Sociologist’s book on ID controversy denounced by three-star Darwin bore

I should introduce myself by saying that I’m not a creationist, but I do enjoy this site and I find the well-written texts here fascinating. I concur also with the opinion that it is healthy to stay skeptical. In my case, however, that includes also of supernatural explanations. The point I was going to make: in my understanding there is nothing new in Hiram Caton’s analysis; those who are seriously interested should really read Ernst Mayr’s (1982) slightly intimidating “The Growth of Biological Thought”, which is a standard reference on this subject. A second point: I don’t really understand this (anti-) worshiping of Darwin. I believe that evolutionary biologists such as Kimura (Neutral Theroy), Ohta (Nearly Neutral Theory), or Kingman (Coalenscent theory), and their predictions, better represent the current view of how evolution works and should be more worthy of serious scrutiny from the ID community. Par, Sweden parlar
"I love Darwin" looks a lot better on a T-shirt than "I love a general theory of natural origins--some of which was popular with Germans (unrelated to the Ns) since the 1830s--25 years before Darwin published the theory." That would never sell. Metonymy sells. jjcassidy
Thanks, bililiad, but in fairness, the credit must go to Hiram Caton, who has done an immense amount of historiography to record and cut through the pious Darwin legends. I simply drew attention to his work. I agree that the aura (miasma?) around Darwin laid part of the groundwork for an ambitious secular project that encompassed fascisms of all types (including the communist variant) - and that is why he is so ridiculously venerated even today. But rather than see him as a powerful figure in his own right, I am inclined now to see him as somewhat of a Che Guevara. That is, what he stands for in the eyes of his devotees is far more important than anything he actually did or was. It was easy for legends and devotion to grow up around Darwin. He was a wellborn, respectable Englishman in the days when Britannia ruled the waves - not, for example, a wild-eyed, gesticulating Hungarian professor in baggy pants. A marketer's dream. And in the end, that's what it all was: the marketing of a secular atheist dream. O'Leary
OT Humor: Atheist David Attenborough presents an amazing product of the evolution he places so much faith in.. http://www.todaysbigthing.com/2008/08/06 steveO
IMO, Darwin's book "The Origin of Species" entitles him to a lot of the credit for founding evolution theory. However, because the Darwinists have invested so much in Darwin worship, they are not going to be objective in giving credit to the contributions of others. Examples of Darwin worship are: "I love Darwin" items (T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc., and even a doggie shirt), Darwin Day celebrations, "Friend of Darwin" certificates (distributed at a reunion of the Kitzmiller v. Dover plaintiffs team), and the Darwin-Lincoln birthdate coincidence nonsense. In fact, the Darwinists give Darwin undeserved credit for things well beyond Darwinism. Jonathan Wells said in Chapter 7 of his book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design," “Darwinists steal credit for scientific breakthroughs to which they contributed nothing,” and he calls this theft a form of “intellectual larceny.” Wells also said, . . . . . most of the fundamental disciplines in modern biology were pioneered by scientists who lived before Darwin was born. These pioneers include the sixteenth-century anatomist Andreas Vesalius, the sixteenth-century physiologist William Harvey, and the seventeenth-century botanist John Ray. They include the seventeenth-century founders of microbiology, Robert Hooke and Anton van Leeuwenhoek; the eighteenth-century founder of systematics, Carolus Linneaus; and the eighteenth-century founder of modern embryology, Caspar Friedrich Wolff. Even paleontology, which Darwinists now treat as theirs, was founded before Darwin’s birth by Georges Cuvier . . . . . Generations of breeders have been darwined. Mendel has been darwined. Jenner and Semmelweis have been darwined. Fleming, Florey, Chain, and Waksman have been darwined. So have the real pioneers of modern biology. They’ve all been darwined. Louis Pasteur has also been darwined. The Darwinists even claim that Darwinism is central to biology. For example, the new Florida state science standards say, "evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology." Larry Fafarman
Call it design, intelligence, information, or what you will, as we enter the 21st century one thing has become transparently obvious: matter, energy, and chance do not explain everything -- in fact, they do not explain anything of ultimate importance. Design, intelligence, and information are screaming at us from every corner of modern cosmology, mathematics, biology, and common human experience. In my opinion, those who ignore the scream do so at their own peril, which might not be immediately obvious. GilDodgen

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