There are many people who have been eclipsed in the public’s perception of evolution theory by Darwin’s hegemony (MY HERO Alfred Russel Wallace, 26 February). They include the two main influences on Darwin’s thinking – Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Edward Blyth – and the man who actually originated evolution by natural selection – Patrick Matthew.
What Tim Flannery does not say is that Wallace was a spiritual man, who believed that the world and evolution had been deterministically created in order to produce man, and that God had intervened at three stages in evolution – the introductions of life, consciousness and the soul of man. As such, his views would now sit quite comfortably in the Intelligent Design school. Though Wallace was undoubtedly a good man, with a social conscience, the idea that he should be hero-worshipped by neo-Darwinists for his evolutionary views is surprising, to say the least.
So, scientists have discovered a link between certain unique human traits and missing sections of DNA in the human genome (How losing DNA made humans cleverer, 10 March). Deletions, insertions and mutations of DNA happen to all living organisms. Whatever the cause of the unique human traits, the first humanoids to have them would probably have been part of a small breeding group, whose genomes would also have contained some unique, but unrelated, DNA sequences. Far from being necessarily the cause of the traits, the DNA sequences could be just fellow travellers. The ‘missing’ link doesn’t even qualify as uncanny coincidence; it is reasonable probability.
Sam Harris (The Conversation, 16 April) denies geneticist Francis Collins’ view that “God implanted free will, like some kind of software upgrade, into the brains of primates” on the grounds that “there is no good scientific reason to think he is right”. There is equally no good reason to think he is wrong. As Rupert Sheldrake famously pointed out, a television set contains many components, but not a single one is responsible for the programmes. Scientists need to be more open-minded.
In conventional manner, Tim Radford (G2, 25 April) says that “Darwin….began telling the story [of human evolution] in The Descent of Man (1871).” Buffon, Monboddo, Lamarck and Huxley had all explicitly assumed ape ancestry for humans (and numerous other evolutionists had implicitly done so) long before Darwin. The real untold story of evolution is that Darwin’s originality, accuracy and integrity have all been thoroughly over-rated.
Comments: Following a favourable review by Peter Forbes of Nessa Carey’s first book, “The Epigenetics Revolution”, I wrote the following.
For 18 years, I have been almost single-minded in my quest to raise public awareness that the particular evolution theory they have been taught – neo-Darwinism – is fundamentally flawed (Next Generation Games, Review, 20 August). When they have replied, publishers (of both books and articles) have said the issue is not of sufficient public interest. I have had to content myself with a website and a few short letters in your paper.
Like Peter Forbes, I thought Oliver Burkeman’s 2010 article might ‘set tongues wagging’. It didn’t. Can the public really have no interest in how they came to exist?
I don’t know what sort of magic Nessa Carey managed to weave on Icon Books, but I wish her luck, and I sincerely hope that her book will be the trigger to the revolution that will bring an end to neo-Darwinism’s hegemony. I’m not holding my breath though.
Philip Ball says “No proper Darwin historian ever took that accusation [that Darwin was underhand] seriously, not least because everything we know about Darwin’s character makes it highly unlikely” (The Critical Scientist, 17 December). If the world had ever taken notice of my own researches into the subject, it would know that Darwin’s treatment of such characters as Lamarck, Grant, von Buch, Blyth, Wallace and Butler makes it a near certainty. His gentlemanly character is one of the many myths about Darwin.
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