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Respectable people who doubt Darwin – a long list

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David Klinghoffer

In a response to a putdown of intelligent design at National Review, David Klinghoffer offered examples of people National Review readers would take seriously who, one way and another, did not feel they owed the allegiance to Darwin that a clever but clueless trend follower might:

I am surprised that he doesn’t seem to know that many of the great figures of the conservative intellectual past, including Buckley, tended toward skepticism on Darwinism or sympathy for design — in no particular order, Richard John Neuhaus, Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb, Tom Wolfe, Richard Weaver. In Witness, Whittaker Chambers beautifully described awaking from the spell of Communism upon contemplating the “immense design” of his little daughter’s ear. Buckley hosted a Firing Line debate on intelligent design, which he argued for alongside his fellow debaters, mathematician David Berlinski, biochemist Michael Behe, and U.C. Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson, all affiliated with Discovery Institute. Commentary published Berlinski’s great series of attacks on Darwinian orthodoxy. And so on. David Klinghoffer, “The Ultimate Question of Life’s Origins” at National Review

One thinks of John Lennon and Ben Stein as well (you can decide if you think they are respectable or not).

Meanwhile, a historian and compulsive listmaker sends us this list of generally reputable people who have doubted Darwinism:

  1. St. George Jackson Mivart–the book to read is On the Genesis of Species (1871)
  2. Alfred Russel Wallace–the book to read is The World of Life: A Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose (1910)
  3. Oliver Lodge–the book to read is Evolution and Creation (1926)
  4. Robert Broon–the book to read is The Coming of Man: Was It Accident or Design? (1933)
  5. John Elof Boodin–the book to read is God and Creation: Three Interpretations of the Universe (1934)
  6. Jacques Barzun–the book to read is Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage (1941, 2nd ed. 1958)
  7. Paul S. Morehead and Martin M. Kaplan (editors)–the book to read is Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution (proceedings of The Wistar Symposium, April 25-26, 1966) (1967)
  8. Arthur Koestler and J. R. Smythies (editors)–the book to read is Beyond Reductionism: New Perspectives in the Life Sciences (proceedings of The Alpbach Symposium 1968) (1969)
  9. William Irwin Thompson–the book to read is At the Edge of History (1971)
  10. Norman Macbeth–the book to read is Darwin Retried (1974)
  11. Fred Hoyle–the book to read is The Intelligent Universe (1984)
  12. R. J. Baum–the book to read is Doctors of Modernity: Darwin, Marx & Freud (1988)
  13. Owen Barfield–the book to read is Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry  (1957, 2nd. ed. 1988)
  14. Stanley L. Jaki–the book to read is The Savior of Science (1988)
  15. David Stove–the book to read is Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution (1995)
  16. Anthony O’Hear–the book to read is Beyond Evolution: Human Nature and the Limits of Evolutionary Explanation (1997)
  17. Wendell Berry–the book to read is Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition (2000)
  18. Hilary and Steven Rose (editors)–the book to read is Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology (2000)
  19. Benjamin Wiker–the book to read is The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin (2009) 
  20. Paul Johnson–the book to read is Darwin: Portrait of a Genius (“genius” meant in an ironic sense!) (2012)
  21. Thomas Nagel–the book to read is Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False (2012)
Royal Society

There was also the public evolution summit in November 2016 but that deserves a story by itself as one senses that the cultural origins are quite different.

See also: Why did an evolutionary biology prof imply world-famous chemist James Tour was “stupid”?
A writer encountered this all-too-common type of behavior recently and was, well, surprised. To see why it feels normal to many of us, it is helpful to understand a bit about Darwinism as a social phenomenon.

Intelligent design as “rube-bait” and David Klinghoffer’s response Klinghoffer offers his vid, The Information Enigma by way of rebuttal. But rebuttal almost misses the point. Today’s Darwinism is a snipe on Twitter, a swipe in passing, a slogan on a whiteboard, a well-practiced rant – not something it would make sense to ask anyone to support with reference to facts or coherent ideas. Williamson’s got that right. No arguing with fashion.

George Montañez: Using specified complexity to rule out Darwinian explanations A lay-friendly version of Montanez’s paper at BIO-Complexity translates from the math.

How Darwinism misled biologists about lichens They spent a lot of time ridiculing what they should have been studying. They ridiculed the now commonly accepted idea that a lichen was algae and fungi living as if they were one organism

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14 Replies to “Respectable people who doubt Darwin – a long list

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    There are people who doubt all current scientific theories for various reasons. Scientists in the relevant fields are well aware of the limitations of these theories.

    How many of those who doubt the theory of evolution are professional biologists? How many are they compared with the number of biologists who endorse the theory of evolution?

    You can say that ‘truth’ in science is not decided by a show of hands and most people would agree. But if the overwhelming majority of experts – being those most competent to offer an informed judgment – in a given field endorse one particular theory then it is reasonable to infer that it is the most persuasive available at this time. It does not mean that it is some absolute truth or that it will never be replaced by something better but, until that something better comes along, it’s the best we have.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    It makes you wonder if there are any respectable people who accept Darwin/ evolution by means of blind and mindless processes.

    Note to Seversky- there isn’t any scientific theory of evolution.

  3. 3
    ScuzzaMan says:

    if the overwhelming majority of experts – being those most competent to offer an informed judgment – in a given field endorse one particular theory then it is reasonable to infer that it is the most persuasive available at this time.

    Is this a scientific proposition?

    What evidence would refute it, in your estimation?

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Heretic: One Scientist’s Journey from Darwin to Design (Dr. Matti Leisola) – video with Jonathan McLatchie
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4Gk6Zez6ks

  5. 5
    mike1962 says:

    Seversky: How many of those who doubt the theory of evolution are professional biologists? How many are they compared with the number of biologists who endorse the theory of evolution?

    How many of those who doubt the Roman Catholic Magisterium are Catholic priests? How many are they compared with the number of Catholic Priests who uphold the Magisterium?

  6. 6
    Axel says:

    What I will never understand is how, by what means, ANY scientist can doubt the mathematically and empirically-proven, established THEISTIC finding of quantum mechanics. How can it still be viewed by atheists as in the least bit open to question ?

    And would not intelligent design (always more plausible than the myriad designs of an unintelligent, nay, catatonic, Mother Nature) be the sensible inference to draw.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky states,

    You can say that ‘truth’ in science is not decided by a show of hands and most people would agree.,,, It does not mean that it (Darwinian evolution) is some absolute truth or that it (Darwinian evolution) will never be replaced by something better but, until that something better comes along, it’s the best we have.

    Seversky, however cautiously, tries to appeal to ‘consensus’, Yet “historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels;”

    “Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.”
    – Michael Crichton

    Besides the fact that Seversky, however cautiously, revealed himself to be, according to Crichton, a ‘scoundrel’ by appealing to consensus, Seversky also caught my eye by putting the word ‘truth’ in quotation marks and then also by using the term absolute truth.

    The reason this caught my eye is because Seversky is a die-hard materialist who rigorously toes the methodological naturalism party line.

    Yet, ‘truth’ in general, and absolute truth in particular, are abstract immaterial entities that can never be grounded within his materialistic worldview. In fact, as much as it may irk Seversky to know this, “Truth” can only ever be properly grounded within Theism:

    Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God – Peter Kreeft
    11. The Argument from Truth
    This argument is closely related to the argument from consciousness. It comes mainly from Augustine.
    1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
    2. Truth properly resides in a mind.
    3. But the human mind is not eternal.
    4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
    http://www.peterkreeft.com/top.....nce.htm#11

    Secularists tried, and still try, to hold that ‘truth’ in general, and absolute truth in particular can be grounded within mathematics. But, besides the fact that mathematics itself is an abstract entity that can never be grounded within Seversky’s materialistic world,

    What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict? – M. Anthony Mills – April 16, 2018
    Excerpt: In fact, more problematic for the materialist than the non-existence of persons is the existence of mathematics. Why? Although a committed materialist might be perfectly willing to accept that you do not really exist, he will have a harder time accepting that numbers do not exist. The trouble is that numbers — along with other mathematical entities such as classes, sets, and functions — are indispensable for modern science. And yet — here’s the rub — these “abstract objects” are not material. Thus, one cannot take science as the only sure guide to reality and at the same time discount disbelief in all immaterial realities.
    https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2018/04/16/what_does_it_mean_to_say_that_science_and_religion_conflict.html

    ,,, besides the fact that mathematics itself is an abstract entity that can never be grounded within Seversky’s materialistic world,,, Kurt Gödel, with his incompleteness theorem, brought the secularist’s dream, (that math alone could ground ‘truth’ in general, and absolute truth in particular), crashing down.

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    “Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.”
    Cf., Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

    Thus, since ‘truth’ itself is a abstract immaterial entity which is not reducible to some mathematical equation, much less is it reducible to some purely material/natural explanation, then presupposing Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism as the supposed “ground rule for science”, as Seversky and the vast majority of American universities do, actually precludes ‘The Truth’ from ever being reached by science!

    Another major reason why ‘truth’ can never be grounded within Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism is that Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism, (since they deny the reality of the immaterial mind), both deny the reality of free will. Yet free will is necessary for us to even be able to reason in a logically coherent fashion in the first place:

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    (1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain (determinism).
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

    As Dr. Egnor has repeatedly pointed out, the “Denial of free will on the basis of materialistic determinism is self-refuting.”

    Neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield on Free Will – Michael Egnor – July 26, 2018
    Excerpt: in fact, there is strong support for the reality of free will from neuroscience, in addition to decisive philosophical and logical arguments for free will.
    For a philosophical example, consider that affirmation or denial of free will is a proposition, which is a statement that may or may not be true. But matter has no truth value — propositions aren’t material things. Matter just is; it is neither true nor false. Thus, when a materialist claims that material causes preclude the possibility of free will, he is also claiming that his own opinion cannot be true (or false). Denial of free will on the basis of materialistic determinism is self-refuting.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/07/neurosurgeon-wilder-penfield-on-free-will/

    Thus, the denial of immaterial mind, and particularly the denial of free will, (a denial which is inherent to the materialistic worldview which Seversky champions), if it were actually true would actually preclude Seversky, or anyone else, from ever being able to reach “The Truth” through reason.

    Moreover, empirical science itself could care less that Seversky, along with all other materialists in American Universities, are forced to maintain that free will is an illusion,,

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    ,,, empirical science itself could care less that Seversky, along with all other materialists in American Universities, are forced to maintain that free will is an illusion. Specifically advances in both neuroscience and quantum mechanics have now confirmed the reality of free will,,

    (December 2018) Neuroscientific and quantum validation of free will
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/three-knockdown-proofs-of-the-immateriality-of-mind-and-why-computers-compute-not-think/#comment-670445

    Moreover, by allowing agent causality, i.e. free will, back into the picture of modern physics, as quantum physics itself now demands, and as the Christian founders of modern physics originally envisioned, (Sir Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Michael Faraday, and Max Planck, to name a few), then an empirically backed reconciliation, (via the Shroud of Turin), between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, i.e. the ‘Theory of Everything’, readily pops out for us in Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

    Short take: Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything” December 2018:
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/quantum-physicist-the-particle-itself-does-not-know-where-it-is/#comment-669088

    And one final note, although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God. C.S. Lewis states the situation as such:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    And just as Christian’s have presupposed all along, two of our best scientific theories, special and general relativity respectfully, now reveal two very different, even two diametrically opposed, eternities. A very orderly eternity associated with special relativity and a very destructive eternity associated with general relativity,

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Verses:

    Luke 16:25-26
    But Abraham answered, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things. But now he is comforted here, while you are left to suffer. And besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that even those who wish cannot cross from here to you, nor can anyone cross from there to us.’

    Deuteronomy 30:19-20
    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest:

    Is Religion a Science-Stopper? – REGIS NICOLL – OCTOBER 18, 2017
    Excerpt: In his book, Truth Decay, Douglas Groothuis, shares the account of a Russian physicist (in the late 1980’s): “I was in Siberia and met God there while working on my equations. I suddenly realized that the beauty of these equations had to have a purpose and design behind them, and I felt deep in my spirit that God was speaking to me through these equations.” In that moment, the young scientist stepped over the chasm from atheism to theism and, ultimately, Christianity.
    https://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/religion-science-stopper

    Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism – By Douglas Groothuis
    Excerpt page 251: “I was in Siberia and met God there while working on my equations. I suddenly realized that the beauty of these equations had to have a purpose and design behind them, and I felt deep in my spirit that God was speaking to me through these equations. But I don’t know much about Him. Could you tell me about Him?”
    The American professor gladly obliged, and the student was converted and baptized.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=N8yECwAAQBAJ&pg=PA251#v=onepage&q&f=false

  9. 9
    Seversky says:

    ScuzzaMan @ 3

    if the overwhelming majority of experts – being those most competent to offer an informed judgment – in a given field endorse one particular theory then it is reasonable to infer that it is the most persuasive available at this time.

    Is this a scientific proposition?

    No, it’s an argument.

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    Mike1962 @ 5

    How many of those who doubt the Roman Catholic Magisterium are Catholic priests? How many are they compared with the number of Catholic Priests who uphold the Magisterium?

    I have no idea. But on the assumption that Catholic doctrine on at least some issues has changed over the centuries, how was that brought about?

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    Axel @ 6

    What I will never understand is how, by what means, ANY scientist can doubt the mathematically and empirically-proven, established THEISTIC finding of quantum mechanics. How can it still be viewed by atheists as in the least bit open to question ?

    Perhaps because none of us here are quantum physicists so we don’t fully understand just how unwarranted are the claims that QM is evidence for the existence of a god.

  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77 @ 7

    Seversky, however cautiously, tries to appeal to ‘consensus’, Yet “historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels;”

    I return to my previous example, if I claim that a dropped stone flew up in the air rather than falling to the ground, would you believe me and, if not, why not?

    Besides the fact that Seversky, however cautiously, revealed himself to be, according to Crichton, a ‘scoundrel’ by appealing to consensus, Seversky also caught my eye by putting the word ‘truth’ in quotation marks and then also by using the term absolute truth.

    Good, because we are all wont to throw the word ‘truth’ around as if it is a simple and unambiguous concept. But is it? What do you mean by it?

    Yet, ‘truth’ in general, and absolute truth in particular, are abstract immaterial entities that can never be grounded within his materialistic worldview. In fact, as much as it may irk Seversky to know this, “Truth” can only ever be properly grounded within Theism

    What do you mean by “grounded”? The world we observe is a material world. If I kick the same stone as Dr Johnson it will hurt my toe. I assume you would agree that is true so we can abstract ‘truth’ about the world. Quantum mechanics hasn’t changed any of that. What it has changed is our understanding of the nature of matter. And that understanding exists in the material or physical brain. Without that brain, the world universe may still exist but our knowledge, understanding and apprehension of any ‘truth’ would not.

    Secularists tried, and still try, to hold that ‘truth’ in general, and absolute truth in particular can be grounded within mathematics. But, besides the fact that mathematics itself is an abstract entity that can never be grounded within Seversky’s materialistic world,

    I don’t know about claims that truth can be ‘grounded’ in mathematics but it is clear that mathematics is a very powerful tool for modelling a great many aspects of observable reality and speculating about the nature of unobserved reality.

    Thus, since ‘truth’ itself is a abstract immaterial entity which is not reducible to some mathematical equation, much less is it reducible to some purely material/natural explanation, then presupposing Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism as the supposed “ground rule for science”, as Seversky and the vast majority of American universities do, actually precludes ‘The Truth’ from ever being reached by science!

    What do you mean by ‘truth’? How do we reach it if not through science and how will we know when we have reached it if we are not sure what it is?

    Another major reason why ‘truth’ can never be grounded within Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism is that Materialism and/or Methodological Naturalism, (since they deny the reality of the immaterial mind), both deny the reality of free will. Yet free will is necessary for us to even be able to reason in a logically coherent fashion in the first place

    I agree that I have a sense of experiencing free will to some degree. I agree that a strict physical determinism would appear to preclude that. I will also remind you that an omniscient god with demonstrated foreknowledge of our future would also seem to preclude the possibility of free will. In the Bible, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny knowing Jesus three times before the cock crows. And that is exactly what Peter does even though he was warned explicitly that this is what would happen. That anecdote clearly denies the existence of free will.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    The world we observe is a material world.

    Question-begging. Information is neither matter nor energy. That alone is a problem for your declaration

  14. 14
    ScuzzaMan says:

    No, it’s an argument.

    In fact, it is a fallacy built on top of a presumption, i.e. a conclusion reached without supporting evidence.
    The history of science is not merely a history of being wrong – as in, somewhat less than perfectly accurate – but of being utterly contrary to the facts.
    Newtonian Mechanics remains, within its proper context, a reliably accurate enough description of the behaviour of “human scale” objects, to still be useful when calculating the trajectories of such objects.
    But as an explanation of how things actually work it was not merely inaccurate but utterly wrong. Nature is not deterministic as Newtonian Mechanics describes it.
    Not only that but the history of science is a long sequence of such revolutions. There is no possibility whatsoever that our current theories are less wrong than was Newtonian Mechanics.
    I fear you suffer from a hubris that can only be exacerbated by the self-serving notion that we are better, smarter, “more evolved” than our forebears.
    Ironically, the science of genetics says the opposite: that we are devolving, and that the rate of genetic degradation is probably increasing.
    All of which leaves us with the same problem regarding genetic information that we are faced with regarding cosmology:
    If the universe is all there is, and entropy is always increasing, from whence came the manifestly lower entropy state from which we are proceeding?
    Yes, I actually read Hawkings A Brief History of Time. Not only that, but I also understood it. I saw that all he had in answer to this question was not merely speculative but, by his own definitions it was metaphysical, supernatural, superstitious, and primitive.
    How art the mighty fallen …
    There is not a single materialist that lives by the ideas they claim to believe.

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