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St George Mivart, early Darwin doubter (1827–1900), rethought

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St George Jackson Mivart.jpg

Mivart was one of those respectable non-Darwinian paleontologists who got buried in the tide of Darwinism. We are asked to note a fairly recent discussion of his contributions to paleontology:

St George Mivart as Popularizer of Zoology in Britain and America, 1869–1881

Recent scholarly attentions have shifted from key actors within the scientific elite and religious authorities to scientific practitioners and popularizers who used science to pursue a wide variety of cultural purposes. The Roman Catholic zoologist St. George Mivart (1827–1900) has typically been cast as a staunch anti-Darwinian ostracized by Darwin’s inner circle of scientific naturalists. Understood as a popularizer of science, his position can be re-thought. Mivart did not operate on the periphery of Victorian science. Instead, his notable contributions to the fields of zoology and anatomy and his participation in debates about the origin of the human mind, consciousness, and soul made him a central figure in the changing landscape of late-Victorian scientific culture. Through the popular periodical press and his anatomy textbook for beginners, Mivart secured a reputation as a key spokesman for science and gained authority as a leading critic of agnostic scientific naturalism. – Emma E.Swai, The School of Natural and Built Environment, Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Elmwood Avenue, Queen’s University, Belfast BT7 1NN, United Kingdom, Endeavour Volume 41, Issue 4, December 2017, Pages 176-191 (paywall) Paper.

Mivart became controversial for his theological views, including “hell is empty,” which led to his being buried in unconsecrated ground (then later reburied in consecrated ground when his most unacceptable opinions were put down to mental issues created by diabetes.)

See also: Respectable People Who Doubt Darwin – A Long List


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