Really, it wasn’t the science:
One particularly intriguing, not to say perplexing aspect of the ongoing reception of Darwin’s Origin of Species is the way in which a work almost universally vilified by accredited scientific reviewers in the 1860s should over the next century and a half have become promoted to the status of biological gospel. What could possibly account for such a discrepancy in perception on the part of cohorts of persons separated chronologically yet otherwise sharing a remarkably similar intellectual profile in terms of scientific and scholarly distinction? The following observations, in a series at Evolution News, will seek pointers towards an understanding of what on the face of it seems to be an unaccountable disparity.Neil Thomas, “Origin of Species: From Discussion Document to Nihilist Dogma” at Evolution News and Science Today (March 17, 2022)
Darwinism was never very good at explaining the world of nature as such. It provided a fashionable basis for atheism in a world otherwise dominated by finely tuned laws. Thomas provides a fine tour of the nineteenth century in which that was just the thing many were looking for.
Note: This is the first article in Thomas’s Victorian Crisis of Faith series. Read all the articles to date here.
You may also wish to read:
At Evolution News: Darwin and the ghost of Epicurus. One way of looking at it: Darwinism enabled thinkers to retain the thought of Epicurus and Lucretius when, in general, the thinkers themselves were forgotten.
Neil Thomas on Darwinism’s place in the Victorian culture wars. Anyone familiar with popular science writing on evolution will see what Thomas means here. Darwinism is introduced as a hypothesis/theory but then treated as a dogma/article of faith — and (this is emotionally very important) a way of segregating the Smart People from the Yobs and Yayhoos. Appeals to science-based analysis fall on deaf ears because the dogma has become what “science” now means.