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"I am skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.  Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."


     Currently, over one thousand reputable scientists have subscribed to the foregoing statement.  An up-to-date list of current subscribers to the statement and their affiliations is maintained by The Discovery Institute.


     Many of the leading scientists during Darwin's time also strongly dissented from his theory. Among these were:

     1. Louis Agassiz, a world-renowned professor of geology and biology at Harvard University who is known as “the father of the American scientific tradition”;

     2. St. George Mivart, an English biologist who published On the Genesis of Species in 1871;

     3. François-Jules Pictet, a Swiss zoologist and paleontologist who was professor of zoology and comparative anatomy at the University of Geneva;

     4. Adam Sedgwick, a professor of geology and paleontology at Cambridge University and one of Britain’s most distinguished geologists; and

     5. Karl Nageli, a Swiss professor of botany at the University of Munich who was famous for his work on plant cells.


     Because Darwin’s ideas were at odds with the dominant scientific theory of his time (i.e., the theory of design, which Darwin himself had subscribed to earlier in his career), he took great care to reply to those who objected to his theory. By the time of the sixth edition of The Origin of Species, approximately a third of the book consisted of Darwin’s response to 37 scientific objections to his theory.

     Darwin’s response shows very clearly that he took the critics seriously and exerted great effort to respond to them thoughtfully. Darwin treated his critics with respect and admitted that a number of their objections carried great weight. Thus, his response makes clear that he was interested in carrying on a civilized and rational debate with his critics, responding to their objections not with deprecation but with evidence and logic. In this respect Darwin is an example for all to follow today.

     It was Darwin’s hope that in the future young scientists would be able to carefully consider the scientific arguments both for and against his theory. He stated, “I look with confidence to the future,--to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality.” (p. 444 of The Origin of Species) Hopefully today, when young and rising naturalists are taught the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, they will be encouraged to “view both sides of the question with impartiality.”

     For further discussion of Darwin's response to his critics, see a presentation and article on the subject by Herman B. Bouma, Executive Director, The National Association for Objectivity in Science.


     A presentation by Herman B. Bouma on Darwin's response to his critics was scheduled for the annual conference of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) in St. Louis in April 2019.  However, three high-level NSTA officials shut down the presentation 15 minutes before it was to begin, even though the session had been approved by conference organizers six months earlier.  Apparently the officials considered Darwin's writings to be a threat to neo-Darwinian evolution.  For further information about the incident, see the article and podcast prepared by The Discovery Institute

© 2019 National Association for Objectivity in Science (NAOS)

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