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The real Charles Darwin: Not what you heard on Darwin TV …

From George Grinnell, “The Rise and Fall of Darwin’s First Theory of Transmutation,” Journal of the History of Biology, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Autumn, 1974), pp. 259-273:

Conclusions: Darwin began his work from a highly abstract and speculative base. His later careful research into minute details followed rather then preceded his theoretical activities. When he worked out his first theory he was ignorant of most branches of natural history with the exception of geology and geographic distribution subjects which he had learned while on the Beagle voyage. His original purpose in opening these notebooks was to try out variousm odels of “transmutation.”T he extent to which he was willing to push one model, and after its collapse, to entertain new models suggests that he was philosophically inclined to transmutation theories for reasons that transcended the empirical data with which he originally worked.

How does this fit with Darwin having practically invented biology on TV while aboard the Beagle set?

All the while freeing the human race? Helping the human race understand who we really are? And having the best idea anyone ever had? And other relentless, ridiculous hagiography?

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7 Responses to The real Charles Darwin: Not what you heard on Darwin TV …

  1. as to this comment:

    “When he worked out his first theory he was ignorant of most branches of natural history with the exception of geology and geographic distribution subjects which he had learned while on the Beagle voyage. ”

    Besides not having much of a clue about branches of natural history, it seems that Darwin was not that sharp in his ‘exception’ of geology as well;

    The following video is very interesting for it shows a geological formation that is now known to have been formed by a catastrophic flood, yet Charles Darwin himself had ‘predicted’ the geological formation was formed ‘gradually’:

    Where Darwin Went Wrong – geology video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3darzVqzV2o

  2. “His later careful research into minute details followed rather then preceded his theoretical activities.”

    This is not science. Science starts with a hypothesis and then looks at evidence for and against it, and if the evidence weighs heavily against it, the hypothesis is either discarded or reworked to fit the evidence.

    Darwin started with preconceived notions about how the world should be, and simply molded the evidence to fit.

    Again, I emphasize: this is not science in any way, shape, or form.

  3. Actually, another interesting point to bring up is that Darwin really didn’t come up with his theory all by himself. His grandfather Erasmus who was a leading intellectual in England came up with much of “Darwin’s theory” before he did. Also, Alfred Wallace came up with much of Darwin’s theory just before Darwin did, as Wallace actually sent Darwin Wallace’s own theory on evolution asking Darwin to publish it for him.

    You know it is kinda tricky when you seem to have all of these intellectuals taking full credit for these very advanced and involved theories. Another example of this is Einstein actually. Einstein worked in a patent office- much like how Darwin was in publishing- and so Einstein was able to read tons on the modern thought concerning physics etc. And E=MC2 was actually used in a paper beofre Einstein came up with it himself.

    So Einstein and Darwin were smart guys, the former being brilliant, but as Einstein famously remarked,

    “The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

  4. “The Problem With Peer-Review” – Casey Luskin – podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....0_16-08_00

  5. It wasn’t aboard the Beagle that Darwin became an evolutionist, but some time after while trying to make sense of the data he collected.

    And it’s not as if the voyage aboard the Beagle was a weekend cruise – it was FIVE YEAR journey around the world studying biology and biogeography. And so his early evolutionary ideas, as one might expect, were mostly based on biogeography and taxonomy. He then spent the next quarter century refining his theory through experimenting with breeding various plants and animals (especially pigeons) and intently studying animal husbandry and embryology.

    How does this fit with Darwin having practically invented biology on TV while aboard the Beagle set?

    Not at all, but then, I’ve never heard that idea.

    Darwin started with preconceived notions about how the world should be, and simply molded the evidence to fit.

    Actually, he was initially a Paley-ite Creationist, but then determined that the distribution of life (biogeography) he saw as he traveled the world better fit an evolutionary explanation, and then he tested the idea through breeding plants and animals.

  6. The fact that Darwin did not emerge from the Galapagos Islands as an evolutionist has been known for at least a generation among historians of science. If the TV people haven’t caught up with this yet (which doesn’t surprise me at all), it only reflects that fact that many scientists haven’t caught up with this yet. Scientists outnumber genuine Darwin experts by a few orders of magnitude, just as they also greatly outnumber historians of science. (This is also a big reason why the “Warfare” view of science and religion remains so popular. Those of us who genuinely know better–those with extensive experience with the primary literature related to science and religion–are not widely seen as knowing better, even though we do. We don’t have the numbers, visibility, or credibility of scientists, even though on historical issues we certainly ought to be more credible than scientists in general.)

    Frank Sulloway did the pioneering work on Darwin and the Galapagos. He published a splendid article about this in 1982; he also has a very recent article on the same subject. See http://www.sulloway.org/pubs.html.

  7. I find Benjamin Wiker’s book more credible (The Darwin Myth). According to his report, “Darwin himself had designed the theory to eliminate any connection to God whatsoever. He disagreed with Gray’s theological spin entirely, and was perhaps peeved by some of Gray’s implicit criticisms of his atheism, and the materialistic foundation of his argument. That was not what he meant the theory to do, and in private letters he politely made his objections known to Gray. Yet–and this was typical of Darwin–he had no qualms about using Gray’s argument if it would smooth the way for acceptance of his theory. Once the theory was accepted, the theistic patina would be ground away by the hard, anti-theistic core of the argument” (108-109).

    In fact, Darwin was an atheistic reductionist who knew, even prior to his famous journey, what he wanted to achieve: His goal was to intrude Godless, materialist metaphysics unto science and he was willing to incorporate any strategy that would serve that end. That point becomes even more obvious when, liberated from the need to tone down his true intentions, he wrote “The Descent of Man,” which was nothing less than a full exposition of his naked materialist atheism and many of its logical implications.

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