Sunday, November 25, 2012

John Wilkins asks, and answers: Why is Darwin controversial?

A no-nonsense take-no-prisoners post. First he lists reasons often offered, all of them not so:
...because they imply that species are mutable... [No]
...because he implied racist ideas about humans...[Nope!]
...because he thought the age of the earth was large...[Get outa' here!]
...because his account of humans being animals contradicted the Bible...[No,no, no! and furthermore] it was Christians who rejected the literal interpretation of the Bible, long before Darwin...
And then he comes clean:
No, the reason why Darwin was controversial is very, very simple. Darwin argued that complex designs could arise without a mind to guide it. In short, his controversial idea was natural selection (and sexual selection, but even that preceded Darwin). Almost from the day it was published, critics attacked the implication that the living world was not all that special, and that it lacked a Plan or Meaning. Theologians, moralists and even scientists objected to this, and while even most of the Catholic Church accepted common descent and modification of species, it was natural selection they hated.

All the supposed “controversies” of Darwinism (or that phantom, “neo-Darwinism”) are post hoc attacks based on the prior objection to the lack of a guiding hand in biology.
Designs and minds, those vain minds couldn't stomach the notion that the world can get along with out them. "It undercuts our prior belief that We Are Special." There you have it.

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