The National Academy of Sciences, in an
official statement, declares the following: "…it was Darwin, above all
others, who first marshaled the convincing critical evidence for
evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson also cites Darwin’s The Origin of
Species (1859) as "the work that first substantially established this
truth" of evolution.2
Why is a
discussion of Darwin’s view and the recent history of evolution
important to a modern analysis?3
that since the entire scientific world has now accepted Darwin’s
thesis (albeit modified), and "proven" evolution true, that a
discussion of Darwin’s views and their initial reception is irrelevant
as far as the truth of evolution is concerned.
is a scientific fact, then this argument is valid. If it is not a
scientific fact, then a discussion of both Darwin’s own doubts and the
initial rejection of evolution by the scientific community are
isn’t proven (to the contrary) and Darwin himself had serious
reservations about his own theory, then his doubts are relevant after
all. And if the reasons that the scientific community of Darwin’s day
rejected evolution are still valid today, a century and a half later,
then one is forced to look to nonscientific reasons for the acceptance
To have both
Darwin and the scientific community expressing grave doubts over
evolution is hardly irrelevant. Consider an analogy. What if new
evidence was uncovered that Jesus and the apostles had expressed
serious doubts about Jesus’ divine nature and His role as Messiah and
Savior? The modern Christian’s certainty that Jesus is God, Messiah
and Savior is based squarely on New Testament manuscripts concerning
Jesus’ own claims, convictions and extensive supporting evidence
including Jesus’ fulfillment of messianic prophecy, His unique
miracles and resurrection from the dead.
But what if
it was now discovered that all this evidence turned out to be
seriously misappropriated and, indeed, was just plain wrong? Worse,
what if new unimpeachable manuscript evidence came to light proving
Jesus to be something like the pitiable figure in Nikos Kazantzakis’
The Last Temptation of Christ (1960)?
would be through and with good reason—it would be a rank deception and
So if new,
unimpeachable evidence is available today that disproves evolution, do
not the initial doubts of Darwin and the scientific community take on
new meaning? And then, doesn’t the acceptance of evolution by the
entire world require a closer look to understand just why this theory
became so universally accepted? The reservations of Darwin and the
initial skepticism of the scientific community are consistent with the
current crisis in evolutionary theory due to the continuing lack of
evidence for evolution, even 150 years later.
of subsequent events, the initial concerns of Darwin and the
scientific community were correct after all. And this is something
important to know.
admitted that his volume, The Origin of Species (1859) was "one long
argument" for evolution.4 But reading through The Origin of
Species one is struck by how weak the case for evolution really is.
And Darwin knew it. The data amassed are just as easily interpreted
within a non-evolutionary framework. That his interpretation of the
data and not the data itself was paramount in his theory is clear from
his statement that, "I by no means expect to convince experienced
naturalists whose minds are stalked with a multitude of facts all
viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly
opposite to mine."5 In other words, Darwin didn’t really
expect to change the mind of anyone who believed that the facts of
nature were more readily explainable on the basis of creation than
had his doubts is evident from letters he wrote just after publication
of The Origin of Species. In one letter to Huxley he said, "Exactly 15
months ago, when I put pen to paper for this volume, I had awful
misgivings; and I thought perhaps I had deluded myself as so many have
done…" and, in a letter to Lyell he stated, "I have asked myself
whether I may have not devoted myself to a phantasy."6
Significantly, both Huxley and Lyell also had their doubts.7
Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, "the theory of evolution in
biology was already an old, even a discredited one."8 It
had been discredited primarily on two grounds: (1) insufficient
geological time to accomplish evolution and (2) lack of a satisfactory
mechanism for explaining how the process of evolution works.9
Today, 130 years later, with supposedly billions of geologic years to
allow evolution to occur and endless speculation as to evolutionary
mechanisms, the situation has not changed. Sufficient time still does
not exist for evolution to occur and no credible mechanism of
evolution has yet been put forth.
claims to operate through beneficial mutations and natural selection.
According to Darwin, evolution happens when an organism is confronted
by a changing environment. Some organisms in a population became
better adapted for survival than others. In part, this is so because
of beneficial mutations, incredibly rare events that alter an organism
allowing it to improve. Natural selection involves the survival of
those organisms best adapted to their environment; those less adapted
die out. The best adapted transmit their improved genetic
characteristics and populations evolve upward. On the surface, it
might seem to make sense—that billions of years could produce
sufficient mutations to allow things to slowly improve and change so
that all life evolves upward.
actually doesn’t make sense at all.10 Many things in life
initially seem true but aren’t—the sun rising and setting; that a
given person would be trustworthy; a mirage in a desert, etc.
Explanations that can seem to make sense but are false are also not
unusual—astrological interpretations, critical rationalistic theories
to explain Jesus’ empty tomb, explanations for why the treatment works
in certain holistic health practices, etc. In terms of consequences,
false explanations can run the gamut from harmless to extremely
consequential; for example, in the latter case, misinterpreting demon
possession as mental illness or vice versa. When examined critically
there is little doubt where materialistic evolution lies.
In light of
what Darwin asked people to believe, it is hardly surprising that he
often expressed doubts about the feasibility of his theory. In his
sixth chapter, "Difficulties on Theory," he remarked, "Long before
having arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will
have occurred to the reader. Some of them are so grave that to this
day I can never reflect on them without being staggered;…"11
Darwin considered such things as instinct alone "sufficient to
overthrow my whole theory."12 He also referred to the
common view of many naturalists who "believed that very many [plant
and animal] structures have been created for beauty in the eyes of
man, or for mere variety. This doctrine, if true, would be absolutely
fatal to my theory. Yet I fully admit [as evolution requires] that
many structures are of no direct use to their possessors."13
Commenting on "the difficulties and objections which may be urged
against my theory," a few pages later he observes that "many of them
are very grave…."14
In Chapter 7
on "Instinct," he encountered other problems, e.g., "So wonderful an
instinct as that of the hive-bee making its cells will probably have
occurred to many readers, as a difficulty sufficient to overthrow my
whole theory."15 In referring to the marvelous community of
slave ants he commented, "What can be more extraordinary than these
well ascertained facts? If we had not known of any other slave-making
ant, it would have been hopeless to have speculated how so wonderful
an instinct could have been perfected."16 This was a
problem for Darwin because he admitted, "No complex instinct can
possibly be produced through natural selection, except by the slow and
gradual communication of numerous, slight, yet profitable variations"17
—and the facts of slave-ant communities were difficult, to say the
least, to explain on the basis of natural selection. In commenting on
how bees build honeycombs he said, "He must be a dull man who can
examine the exquisite structure of a comb, so beautifully adapted to
its end, without enthusiastic admiration…. Grant whatever instincts
you please, and it seems at first quite inconceivable how they can
make all the necessary angles and planes, or even perceive when they
are correctly made."18
considering the behavior of other insects he observed, "It will indeed
be thought that I have an overweening confidence in the principle of
natural selection, when I do not admit that such wonderful and well
established facts at once annihilate my theory."19 In fact,
Darwin has a very difficult time believing that natural selection can
accomplish all that he hopes it can: "But I am bound to confess, that,
with all my faith in this principle, I should never have anticipated
that natural selection could have been efficient in so high a
9, "On the Imperfection of the Geological Record," Darwin encountered
additional problems. If evolution were true, one would expect that the
vast majority of fossils would be of intermediary forms. Due to the
incredibly slow nature of the evolutionary process such forms would
exist over the vast majority of geological time. But Darwin, like
modern scientists, could not find the intermediate forms necessary to
support his theory. He admitted, "Why then is not every geological
formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology
assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and
this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be
urged against my theory."21 Further, "to the question why
we do not find records of these vast primordial periods, I can give no
satisfactory answer…. The case at present must remain inexplicable;
and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here
concluded this chapter by confessing,
The several difficulties
here discussed, namely our not finding in the successive formations
infinitely numerous transitional links between the many species
which now exist or have existed; the sudden manner in which whole
groups of species appear in our European formations; the almost
entire absence, as at present known, of fossiliferous formations
beneath the silurian strata, are all undoubtedly of the gravest
nature…. Those who think the natural geologic record in any degree
perfect, and who do not attach much weight to the facts and
arguments given in other kinds given in this volume, will
undoubtedly at once reject my theory.23
so many other problems—problems so severe one wonders at his
determination to pursue his theory. Among such problems are: "…organs
of extreme perfection and complication…"24; for example,
the human eye. Darwin confessed, "To suppose that the eye, with all
its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different
distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the
correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been
formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the
highest possible degree."25 In Volume 2 of The Life and
Letters of Charles Darwin by Francis Darwin (1887, p. 67), Darwin
confessed in 1860 that, "The eye to this day gives me a cold
leading modern evolutionist, Pierre-P. Grasse, a leading French
We fully understand
Darwin’s fears and wonder what they would have been had he been
confronted with the anatomical and cytological complexity that is
revealed by modern biology; he would have been even more worried had
he known that [natural] selection cannot create anything on its own.
We know absolutely nothing about the evolution of the eye of the
vertebrate, and embryology is of little help. The problem is to know
whether random mutations could have given rise to an organ
requiring, because of its complexity, a considerable number of data
for its elaboration. The number of mutations must have been
enormous.... The complexity of the retina, of the sheathes, etc.,
need not detain us either; all this is extremely well known, but we
must say that no recent publication inspired by Darwinism even
In 1860 Darwin considered
only the eye, but today he would have to take into consideration all
the cerebral connections of the organ. The retina is indirectly
connected to the striated zone of the occipital lobe of the cerebral
hemispheres: Specialized neurons correspond to each one of its
parts—perhaps even to each one of its photo receptor cells. The
connection between the fibers of the optic nerve and the neurons of
the occipital lobe in the geniculite body is absolutely perfect....
As a rule everything works perfectly.
In fact, the picture we
have just sketched is even more complex; we did not consider the
molecular structure which shows as many peculiarities of adaptation
as the macrostructure... and we have neglected entirely the
chemistry of a complex organ capable of multiple adjustments.
We took the eye as an
example, but the ear would have been just as instructive. Is not the
human brain, the organ capable of abstraction, an even better
evolutionist wonders, "How then are we to account for the evolution of
such a complicated organ as the eye…. Since it must be either perfect,
or perfectly useless, how could it have evolved by small, successive,
It is hardly
surprising that the human eye bothered Darwin. Even today
evolutionists can’t account for it—and they never shall. But the eye
was hardly the only thing to concern him. In fact, one encounters the
same kinds of problems for every organ of every species. Darwin later
admitted, "I remember well when the thought of the eye made me cold
all over, but I have got over this stage of the complaint, and now
small trifling particulars of structure often make me very
uncomfortable. The sight of a feather in a Peacock’s tail, whenever I
gaze at it, makes me sick."29
stunning beauty and design of peacock feathers are not the real
problem; even ordinary feathers are. No evolutionary scientists has
ever been able to offer a plausible explanation or reconstruction for
the evolutionary origin of simple feathers, including their unique
shaft barbs and barbules which give them their insulatory and
"demons" were everywhere in the natural world. Throughout his book we
find statements such as the following: "I have sometimes felt much
difficulty in understanding the origin of simple parts….";30
"The belief that an organ so perfect as the eye could have been formed
by natural selection, is more than enough to stagger anyone;…";31
and, "It is, no doubt, extremely difficult even to conjecture by what
gradations many structures have been perfected…";32 and,
turning to the geographical distribution of animals, "the difficulties
encountered on the theory of descent with modification are grave
14, his concluding chapter, Darwin writes, "that many and grave
objections may be advanced against the theory of descent with
modification through natural selection, I do not deny…. Nothing at
first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex
organisms and instincts should have been perfected, not by means
superior to, though analogous with, human reason, but by the
accumulation of enumerable slight variations,…"34 And a few
pages later, "Such is the sum of the several chief objections and
difficulties which may justly be urged against my theory; …I have felt
these difficulties far too heavily during many years to doubt their
All of the
above is why Darwin was impelled to admit in his introduction, "For I
am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume
on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to
conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived."36
He further stated, "A fair result can be obtained only by fully
stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each
question; and this cannot possibly be here done."37
expressed many such doubts. Then he turned around and attempted to
resolve them. Then he went back to his original doubts. Such
oscillation is hardly surprising for someone attempting to explain the
unexplainable—and ultimately the impossible: how the marvelous
complexity of all life originated from dead matter. Consider how
Darwin attempted to resolve some of his doubts.
In spite of
all the difficulties, Darwin usually proposed some seeming explanation
that he felt did not make the difficulty necessarily fatal. For
example, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed,
which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive,
slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can
find out no such case."39
Darwin stresses again and again that we must never doubt the
possibility of evolution to accomplish its goal:
We should be extremely
cautious in concluding that an organ could not have been formed by
transitional gradations of some kind.39
Although we must be
extremely cautious in concluding that any organ could not possibly
have been produced by successive transitional gradations….40
only reason he must be "extremely cautious" because without mutations’
natural selection there is simply no basis for the theory of evolution
to begin with? Over and again we are told, "The difficulty is not
nearly so great as it at first appears."41 "And those that
are real are not, I think, fatal to my theory."42
again, natural selection became the miracle Darwin needed to justify
This difficulty, though
appearing insuperable, is lessened, or, as I believe, disappears,
when it is remembered that selection may be applied to the family,
as well as to the individual....43
The electric organs of
fishes offer another case of special difficulty; it is impossible to
conceive by what steps these wondrous organs have been produced;
but, ...we must own that we are far too ignorant to argue that no
transition of any kind is possible.44
In the end,
even the miracle of the eye can be explained by natural selection:
"Then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could
be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination,
can hardly be considered real."45
how impossible the job, Darwin assumed that mutations and natural
selection can account for the production of any given organ, feature,
plant or animal. Today it is a scientific fact that virtually every
complex organ and creature "could not possibly have been formed by
numerous, successive, slight modifications." Darwin could not
apparently think of a single case when natural selection would fail;
today we cannot think of a single case where it would succeed.
almost certainly knew that he was requesting miracles and that
evolution required faith at least as great as the alleged religious
"superstitions" he rejected. Consider two illustrations Darwin was
willing to let stand in The Origin of Species. Although they hardly
convey the degree of miracle required for evolution overall, they
nevertheless give us an indication of Darwin’s faith:
We have seen in this
chapter how cautious we should be in concluding that the most
different habits of life could not graduate into each other; that a
bat, for instance, could not have been formed by natural selection
from an animal which at first could only glide through the air.46
In North America the
black bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours with widely open
mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water.... I can
see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural
selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with
larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous
as a whale.47
words, Darwin believed that the immensely complex radar system of a
bat might somehow evolve from a flying squirrel or that a bear, by the
"accumulation of infinitesimally small inherited modifications, each
profitable to the preserved being" could eventually change into a
whale!48 This, of course, is faith, but hardly of the noble
variety. It was a faith Darwin invoked at every level of significant
faith was finally irrational is seen in his personal letters
illustrating what he termed "my endless oscillations of doubt and
difficulty" concerning evolution.49 Even his theory of
natural selection was suspect: "In fact, the belief in Natural
Selection must at present be grounded entirely on general
considerations…. When we descend to details, we can prove that no one
species has changed… nor can we prove that the supposed changes are
beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory."50
earlier, Darwin was not alone in having doubts. Darwin, Spencer,
Huxley and Wallace were the four pillars of 19th Century Darwinism and
the individuals responsible for the acceptance of evolution in that
Yet, all of
them had doubts. Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-founder of biological
evolution, confessed that the human brain "could never have been
solely developed by any of those laws of evolution…."51 T.
H. Huxley admitted his belief in evolution was "an act of philosophic
faith."52 And Herbert Spencer admitted that, "Even in its
most defensible shape there are serious difficulties in its way."53
men accepted evolution (despite their doubts) because they had first
rejected Divine creation and simply had no other option. Because they
were biased against the supernatural and preferred not to believe in
the Creator God of Genesis, evolution was accepted by default:
The reason these men
accepted evolution is not brought out clearly in their scientific
works but in their letters, biographies and autobiographies which
many scientists have never examined…. The eminent evolutionists of
the nineteenth century accepted evolution because of their
anti-supernatural bias, and not because of the weight of the
most cases it "was not a study of nature itself that led men to search
for some hypothesis of natural evolution, but rather the desire to
escape the supernatural."55
1 National Academy of
Sciences, Official Statement in Voices for Evolution (Berkeley, CA:
National Center for Science Education, 1995), p. 56.
2 George Gaylord Simpson,
The Meaning of Evolution (New York: Bantam, 1971), p. 4.
3 Evolutionary ideas are
ancient and precede Darwin by thousands of years; however, Darwin
was the first to systematize data in such a way as to make evolution
seem scientifically credible for a world that had already been
primed to accept it. (Cf. Gertrude Himmelfarb, Darwin and the
4 Charles Darwin (ed. J.
W. Burrow), The Origin of Species (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books,
1974.), p. 435.
6 M.D. Bowden, The Rise
of the Evolution Fraud (San Diego, CA: Creation Life, 1982), pp.
56-57, citing Francis Darwin (ed.), The Life and Letters of Charles
Darwin, Vol. 2, pp. 232, 229.
7 Bowden, pp. 65, 69.
8 Darwin, The Origin of
Species, p. 27.
9 Ibid., p. 28.
10 See, for example, our
Darwin’s Leap of Faith.
11 Darwin, The Origin of
Species, p. 205.
12 Ibid., p. 123.
13 Ibid., p. 227.
14 Ibid., p. 230.
15 Ibid., p. 234.
16 Ibid., p. 244.
17 Ibid., p. 236.
18 Ibid., p. 248.
19 Ibid., p. 259.
20 Ibid., p. 262.
21 Ibid. p. 292.
22 Ibid., pp. 313-314.
23 Ibid., pp. 315-316.
24 Ibid., p. 217.
25 Ibid., p. 217.
26 W. R. Bird, The Origin
of Species Revisited (New York, Philosophical Library, 1987, 1988,
1989.), Vol., 2, p. 73.
27 Pierre-P. Grasse,
Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of
Transformation (New York, Academic Press/Harcourt, Brace,
Jovanovich, 1977.), pp. 104-05.
28 In Bird, Vol. 1, pp.
29 Ibid., p. 75, citing
F. Darwin, ed., The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. 2,
1887, p. 296.
30 Darwin, The Origin of
Species, p. 224.
31 Ibid., p. 231.
32 Ibid., p. 435.
33 Ibid., p. 437.
34 Ibid., p. 435.
35 Ibid., p. 440.
36 Ibid., p. 66.
38 Ibid., p. 219.
39 Ibid., p. 220,
40 Ibid., p. 222,
41 Ibid., p. 248.
42 Ibid., p. 205.
43 Ibid., p. 258.
44 Ibid., p. 222,
45 Ibid., p. 217.
46 Ibid., p. 231.
47 Ibid., p. 215.
48 Ibid., p. 142.
49 Robert T. Clark, James
D. Bales, Why Scientists Accept Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker,
1976), citing Life and Letters, Vol. 2, 211.
50 Ibid., p. 36, citing
Life and Letters, Vol. 2, 210.
51 Bird, Vol. 1, p. 73,
citing A. Wallace, Natural Selection and Tropical Nature, 1895, p.
52 In Clark and Bales, p.
53 Ibid., p. 98.
54 Ibid.; cf., R. J.
Rushdoony, The Mythology of Science (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1968),