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Darwin wrote a book about orchids — and it was better received than Origin of Species

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I wrote here yesterday about Charles Darwin’s orchid book. Shortly after its publication, reviews of the book began appearing in the British press. Unlike with the Origin, the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. Reviewers were extremely impressed with Darwin’s detailed documentation of the variety of contrivances in orchids. But much to Darwin’s dismay, they did not see this as evidence of natural selection.

An anonymous reviewer in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History wrote in response to Darwin’s contention that nature abhors perpetual self-fertilization:

“Apart from this theory and that of ‘natural selection,’ which we cannot think is much advanced by the present volume, we must welcome this work of Mr. Darwin’s as a most important and interesting addition to botanical literature.”

Other reviewers went much further. M. J. Berkeley, writing in the London Review, said …

Robert F. Shedinger, “Charles Darwin’s “Intelligent Design”” at Evolution News and Science Today (April 20, 2022)

Robert F. Shedinger is the author of The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms: Darwinian Biology’s Grand Narrative of Triumph and the Subversion of Religion

2 Replies to “Darwin wrote a book about orchids — and it was better received than Origin of Species

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Darwin’s “flank movement on the enemy” failed miserably. Unable to make a convincing case for natural selection in his broader species work, he tried instead to stealthily impress the scientific world by appeal to the exquisite variety of fertilization methods among orchids. Darwin impressed the scientific world alright. He showed how difficult it is to understand the variety of living organisms without appeal to design.

    That one brought a smile. A classic own-goal. Attempting to show even more obvious evidence of evolution he convinced everybody of intelligent design.

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