In 1959, he says, Darwinian evolution was alive and well, but it’s looking kind of doubtful now:
Ann Reid, executive director of the nation’s leading Darwin lobby, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), has insisted in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, “Goodness knows the science is settled, too. No credible scientist doubts that evolution is the theoretical and practical core of biology, with more evidence emerging from a rich array of research fields with every passing year…
But amidst all this chest thumping over neo-Darwinian certainties, doubts are unmistakably on the rise. Most interestingly they seem to be expressed in ways that were unthinkable among Darwin’s previous generation of followers. One thinks of the unbridled celebrations at Darwin’s centennial publication of his Origin of Species. The largest was hosted by the University of Chicago, November 24-28, 1959, and it drew 2,500 participants with almost 250 delegates from 189 colleges. Many of the “synthesizers” of modern genetics with Darwinian evolution were there: George Gaylord Simpson, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Ernst Mayr, and the grandson of Darwin’s Bulldog, Julian Huxley. Betty Smocovitis could say in 1999, “that it outshone — and arguably may still outshine — all other scientific celebrations in the recent history of science.” When Dobzhansky declared in 1973 that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” he was saying what virtually everyone was thinking — and saying in different ways — during those momentous fall days 14 years before. The future was bright and hardly in doubt.
In that context a recent collection of essays, compiled in an anthology titled Darwin in the Twenty-First Century: Nature, Humanity, and God, caught my attention. They demonstrate that Smocovitis’s claim remains true; the centennial celebration would know no equal. Here’s why. These 16 chapters were the products of conferences held at the Gregorian University in Rome and at the University of Notre Dame to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Most interesting of all is the last essay by a noted historian and philosopher of biology, the late Jean Gayon, “What Future for Darwinism?” Against the centennial celebration, the question itself stands out as one that certainly wasn’t to be seriously asked in Chicago. :Michael Flannery, “Darwinism, past, present, and future” at Evolution News and Science Today
As he goes on to illustrate, the future doesn’t sound very bright.
Speaking of the Darwin lobby (NCSE above): The Darwinians have essentially written and spoken as if evolution is Darwinism. It sounds like a clever strategy for selling their idea but there is a huge underlying weakness.
Suppose you ask me (O’Leary for News), “Do you believe in evolution?” well, I’m not sure what to say.*
I believe in evolution in general for the same reasons as I believe in weather in general. After all, things change. The world is not as it was a hundred or a thousand or a million years ago. And some changes are permanent.
But usually, the questioner wants to work it around such that I am supposed to believe in the world-shaping power of Dawkins’s selfish gene or some such thing. And of course I do not. From what I can tell, fewer scientists believe it than used to, which means that my skepticism is not particularly “unscientific” either. It’s just not of any use to the Darwin lobby. But that’s their problem. They’d better get used to it. They will be hearing plenty more.
*In the same way, a person might ask, “Do you believe in weather?” and lo! and behold!, that individual wants me to espouse a crackpot the-planet-is-doomed-in-a-decade thesis. No thanks.
See also: PragerU’s new vid explains science-based doubts about evolution.“In November 2016, I attended a conference in London attended by some of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists. The purpose? To address growing doubts about the modern version of Darwin’s theory.”