Darwin Day, the Ultimate Science Paradox

Darwin Day Paradox IIA “Darwin Day” resolution by Democratic New Jersey U.S. Representative Rush Holt was re-introduced on the house floor in late January. The proposed legislation attempts to again designate Charles Darwin’s birthday, February 12th as a day for the nation to honor Darwin. In a Huffington Post interview, Holt explained that Darwin’s birthday should symbolize “the importance of science in the betterment of humanity.”

“It was his thirst for knowledge,” Holt elaborated, “and his scientific approach to discovering new truths that enabled him to develop the theory of evolution.” Science historians, however, will undoubtedly challenge Holt’s “science” assertion and Holtz’s “betterment of humanity” assertion.

On Holtz’s “science” assertion, just two years for the publication of The Origin of Species, in 1857, Darwin’s letter to Asa Gray at Harvard, Darwin undermines Holt science assertion by stating:

“I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.”

The reason is, at the time Darwin had launched an attempt to re-engineer the scientific method by going “beyond the true science” in favor of what he called a “scientific point of view.” For Darwin it was all about an “I Think” paradigm.

The purpose of this shift away from the scientific method was to free Darwin to exclude evidence that supports “the old belief in the creation of species from the dust of the ground.” To this end, rather than objectively examining all available evidence, Darwin advocated using just selective evidence−a violation of scientific investigation.

In an 1857 letter, Darwin noted: “I am a firm believer that without speculation there is no good and original observation.” Speculation driving “hand-picked” observations is a clear violation of the scientific method.  The scientific method is a method of investigation that demands examination of all evidence – not subjectively “hand-picked” selective evidence.

In explained his method of investigation, even Darwin’s wife, Emma, wrote: “It is a fatal fault to reason whilst observing, though so necessary beforehand and so useful afterwards.” Darwin had essentially predetermined the evidence to allow  subjectivity to dominate objectivity to sell his theory.

Darwin simply selected evidence to favor his theory. Expanding on his method of investigation, Nora Barlow, his granddaughter, points out in his autobiography: “the facts are useless without the frame of the theory to receive them.… For Darwin came to believe that the value of fact-finding lies solely in relation to theory.” This approach is a violation of the inductive principles of the scientific method.  Rather than using inductive reasoning, Darwin used deductive logical arguments−a violation of scientific investigation.

In a letter to J. D. Hooker in 1844, Darwin wrote, “I must be allowed to put my own interpretation on what you say of ‘not being a good arranger of extended views’—which is that you do not indulge in loose speculations so easily started by every smatterer and wandering collector. I look at a strong tendency to generalise as an entire evil.” Darwin’s “scientific point of view” progressed away from the scientific method and into an emerging self-acknowledged anti-science “evil.”

Even Francis Darwin , Darwin’s son, wrote, “He said that no one could be a good observer unless he was an active theorizer”−a violation of scientific investigation.

More to the point, Francis exposed the fact that “Darwin came to believe the value of fact finding lies solely in relation to the theory.” Darwin even advised colleagues that the collection of data should be guided by the theory. In a letter to J. Scott in 1865, Darwin wrote, “I would suggest to you the advantage … let the theory guide your observations.”

Evolutionary biologist Stephen Gould, in his book Evolution and the Triumph, said that Darwin used a method of “inferring history from its results.” For Darwin, to explore and investigate without a theory is akin to walking aimlessly in a desert without a map.

Subjectivity as well as analogies eventually emerged to replace science. According to Darwin, “all the organic beings which have ever lived on this Earth may be descended from … one primordial form. But this inference is chiefly grounded on analogy”−not on scientific evidence.  

Darwin was spot-on declaring that The Origin of Species was simply a logical deduction: “This whole volume is one long argument”−not a work of scientific investigation. Analogies are appropriate in philosophy, but analogies simply exist beyond the realm of science.

Darwin was not alone in abandoning the scientific method. Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s “bulldog,” echoes the same sentiment. Huxley declared:

“Those who refuse to go beyond fact rarely get as far as fact; and anyone who has studied the history of science knows that almost every great step therein has been made by the ‘anticipation of nature,’ that is, by the invention of hypothesis which, though verifiable, often had very little foundation to start with; and not infrequently, in spite of a long career of usefulness, turned out to be wholly erroneous in the long run.”

Darwin’s colleague, Stuart Mill, commented that he thought The Origin of Species was “in the most exact accordance with the strict principles of logic.” Science facts stem from physical evidence−not logic.

Science historian David L Hull, in 1983, commented that on “closer examination, however, Mill’s endorsement can be seen to be not nearly reassuring. Darwin had properly used the Method of Hypothesis, but this method belonged to the logic of discovery, not proof. In spite of twenty years of labor, Darwin had failed to provide proof for his theory of evolution.”

When questioned about his method of investigation, Darwin, in 1859, wrote a letter to Asa Gray stating that his work could not considered a theory because there were too few facts: “What you hint at generally is very, very true: that my work is grievously hypothetical, and large parts are by no means worthy of being called induction, my commonest error being probably induction from too few facts.”

The Origin of Species, as Darwin had suggested all along, is only a theory. Nearly every chapter contains at least one statement that challenges his own theory. Even in the Introduction Darwin writes, “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.” In Chapter 8 Darwin concedes, “I do not pretend that the facts given in this chapter strengthen in any great degree my theory.”

In the final chapter, Darwin actually only lends hedging confidence to the theory of evolution, noting that the “We ought to be extremely cautious in saying that any organ or instinct, or any whole structure, could not have arrived at its present state by many graduated steps.”

After 150 years, Darwin’s “point of view” has essentially vaporized the notion that Darwin’s theory is based on scientific evidence. Since the study of biology has been inextricably linked to evolution, even its status as a science is dubious. Darwin’s “bulldog” of the twentieth century, Ernst Mayr, eventually drew the conclusion that “biology, even though it has all the other legitimate properties of a science, still is not a science like the physical sciences.”

Even worse, the legislative proposal to celebrate Darwin’s theory resulted “in the betterment of humanity” is purely reckless inanity.  In the words of Stephen Gould, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1850, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolution.”

In 1883, Friedrich Engels wrote, “As Darwin discovered the law of evolution in organic nature, so [Karl] Marx discovered the law of evolution in human history.” The resulting rise of racism completely justified by Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory culminated in the bloodiest century in recorded history and undeniably antithetical to Holtz proposed “betterment of humanity” legislative initiative.

Science can lead to “the betterment of humanity,” but Darwin’s theory is not science. It is “beyond the realm of true science.” Darwin Day celebrations are an ultimate science paradox.

Biological evolution exists only as a philosophical fact – not a scientific fact. 

7 Responses to “Darwin Day, the Ultimate Science Paradox”

  • Shawn:

    There are definitely greater examples of scientist than Darwin, so why not use another name like Galileo, or Newton, etc., if we’re going to have a national holiday to celebrate science?

    I checked out the quote from Darwin, and I’m not entirely sure of what to make of it. I say that after having looked it up, and found this site: http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/six-things-darwin-never-said … which says that indeed Darwin said it, but that, in his estimation, it is not a blanket statement concerning the whole of his theorizing, but directly concerned with some plant observations that he was making, along with a Dr Asa.

    I say all of this as a L6-24HDC (literal 6 24-hour day creationist). I just want to make sure that we never falsely quote our opponents, as we don’t want the same done to us. I understand this all to well being a Christian, and especially one of the Calvinistic persuasion.

    Thanks,
    ~Shawn

  • I.P. Freely:

    Does quote-mining require a helmet.

  • Agree. If we a day to honor a scientist, Newton would be far better. Since it would be a national holiday, selecting an American would make more sense.

    While the pro-Darwinist camp often attempts to camouflage Darwin’s statements, the fact is – that is what he said. And, his statements collaborates with what his general “point of view.” A good reference on Darwin’s state-of-mind is the autobiography by Desmond and Moore, entitled Darwin, The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist.

  • No helmet is required. Perhaps if all the other available quotes were included, can’t say that a helmet wouldn’t provide a measure of safety risk, though – if you have that “point-of-view.”

  • ruben:

    Darwin is not a scientist but a clown. Celebrating a clown in the realm of Science is funny.

  • Ruben:

    On the serious side , Darwin is the messiah of a religion called atheism and the theory of evolution is their sacred scripture and they have a Pope named Dawkins.

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