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The Last Days of Darwin

James M. Kushiner

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A Brief History of the Revolution

In 1959, Sir Julian Huxley, grandson of "Darwin's Bulldog" T. H. Huxley, was in Chicago to celebrate the centennial of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. Taking the pulpit of Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, he declared that man no longer needed to "take refuge in the arms of a divinized father-figure." Evolution was the key to reality. The university's "cavernous, Baroque Mandel Hall was packed for performances of an original showboat-style Darwinian musical, Time Will Tell."

Here begins Larry Witham's By Design, a history of "science and the search for God" in the twentieth century. Little did Huxley and the other celebrants know what time really would tell, least of all that 1959 would likely prove to be the high-water mark of Darwinism. But after the festivities ended, continuing developments in science itself, from many quarters, would begin to threaten Darwin's monopoly and, eventually, his theory.

Witham, an award-winning journalist on religion and society, points out the cracks in scientific orthodoxy that developed well before the intelligent design (ID) movement began in the 1990s.

As early as 1951, biophysicist Harold Morowitz was trying to find the cell's "information content." He eventually concluded that it was impossible for life to have arisen without some large infusion of information. Not a theist, he nonetheless created space for an Intelligent Designer.

At the Darwin centennial, naturalist Ernst Mayr and geneticist Sewall Wright could not agree on the mechanism of Darwinism (genetic change or natural selection), yet everyone swore fealty to "gradualism," even though no one really knew what the gradual steps were. Gradualism was the crucial feature of Darwin's theory, as it claimed that minute random steps, accumulated over time, eventually produced a wide variety of species.

Read the entire article on the Salvo Magazine website (new window will open).

Posted: 13-Feb-08



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