Charles Darwin’s Eroding Credibility

By Wayne Jackson

During his lifetime (1809-1882), Charles Darwin received many accolades from his scientific contemporaries. What many do not realize, however, is that Darwin was criticized by numerous prominent scientists of his day, and that criticism lingers today — even among some evolutionists.

It is readily acknowledged by historians that for many years the British naturalist was not accepted for induction into the prestigious French Academy of Sciences. For example, in 1872 an attempt was made to get Darwin voted into the Zoological Section of the Academy, but only fifteen out of forty-eight members voted for him. A prominent member of the Academy explained the decision:

“What has closed the door of the academy to Mr. Darwin is that the science of those of his books which have made his chief title to fame — the Origin of Species and still more the Descent of Man — is not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious. This kind of publication and these theories are a bad example, which a body which respects itself cannot encourage” (Ruth Moore, Charles Darwin, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962, p. 196).

Six years later, the tide of opinion had turned, and Darwin was elected into the Botanical Section of the Academy. He confessed great surprise, since his initial fame had been made in zoology, not botany. He wrote his friend Asa Gray: “It is rather a good joke that I should be elected to the Botanical Section, as the extent of my knowledge is little more than that a daisy is a Compositous plant and a pea a Leguminous one.”

The Academy’s resistance revealed that Darwin’s supposed triumph was neither immediate nor universal. What was true then is equally true today. Many scientists have disputed various elements of Darwin’s theory, and even the man’s integrity.

For example, W.R. Thompson, Director of the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control in Ottawa, in his “Introduction” to Darwin’s The Origin of Species, wrote that “the modern Darwinian paleontologists are obliged, just like their predecessors and like Darwin, to water down the facts with subsidiary hypotheses which, however plausible are, in the nature of things, unverifiable.” Thompson went on to note that the “success of Darwinism was accompanied by a decline in scientific integrity” (Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Dutton: Everyman’s Library, 1956, p. xxii).

One evolutionist at Oxford University conceded that “Darwin was slippery, ? [using] a flexible strategy which is not to be reconciled with even average intellectual integrity” (C.D. Darlington, Darwin’s Place in History, London: Basil Blackwell, 1959, p. 60).

Again, Darlington wrote that Darwin:

bq. “. . . was able to put his ideas across not so much because of his scientific integrity, but because of his opportunism, his equivocation and his lack of historical sense. Though his admirers will not like to believe it, he accomplished his revolution by personal weakness and strategic talent more than by scientific virtue” (“The Origin of Darwinism,” Scientific American, Vol. 201, May 1959, p. 66).

More recently, two of Great Britain’s prominent scientists declared:

“The speculations of the Origin of Species turned out to be wrong, as we have seen in this chapter. It is ironic that the scientific facts throw Darwin out, but leave William Paley, a figure of fun to the scientific world for more than a century, still in the tournament with a chance of being the ultimate winner” (Sir Fred Hoyle and N.C. Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981, p. 97).

William Paley, the British philosopher/theologian, argued for the existence of God on the basis of the design that is so apparent in the universe.

It is unfortunate that over the years there has been such a hysterical stampede to accept the philosophy of Charles Darwin, simply on the superficial basis of the reputation of the man. Most people have never even carefully examined the theory, thus discovering how void of evidence it is.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.