So how did Darwinism gain such authority? Barzun asks, “Why was evolution more precious than scientific suspense of judgment? Why do scientists to this day [and even now!] speak with considerable warmth of ‘the fact of evolution,’ as if it were in the same category as the fact of combustion . . .?”
Barzun suggests that the reason for this warm embrace was the carte blanche it gave to scientists and especially to Darwinian scientists. Indeed, “They had their way in clerical as well as in civil courts, in education as well as in the popular mind. The spread of evolution was truly worldwide. . . . Materialism, conscious or implicit, superseded all other beliefs. Nor is it hard to understand why it did,” Barzun adds, “for it satisfied the first requirement of any religion by subsuming all phenomena under one cause.”
That is why Huxley called Darwin the Newton of biology, why he called the evolutionary debate a New Reformation, and why he liked to date events in the history of human thought as pre-Darwinian and post-Darwinian — under the old dispensation or the new. This profound emotional and intellectual victory once gained, it would have taken a superman or a coward to retreat from it for so trifling a cause as lack of final proof (pp. 65-66).
Under this new Darwinian Holy See, “Others who claimed for themselves the freedom of agnosticism or atheism were in fact just as deeply committed to dogma — the infallibility of the new church — as any prince of old” (p. 66).
And evidence bows to Darwinism and humbly submits to reinterpretation today.
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