Elites Celebrate Darwin’s Flawed Analogy
A short manuscript autographed by Darwin is being
feted like holy scripture but contains poor reasoning
Science ahead of its time: 157-year-old Darwin manuscript made available online (Natl. University of Singapore via Phys.org, 28 Nov 2022). This article begins with a customary worship fanfare for King Charles the Magnificent.
November 24 is Evolution day—a day commemorating the publication of Charles Darwin‘s Origin of Species on November 24, 1859. Darwin’s seminal work is now considered the most influential book of science in history and has inspired countless new disciplines. As recently found by the Darwin Online project at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the book has been translated into fifty languages, far more than any other scientific book.
Now the entire world can learn that Stuff Happens. A whole day has been set aside for stuff to happen. Planet Earth is a better place because of King Charley.* Who would want to live on a world where nothing ever happened?
*Charley: That’s how Janet Browne spells his nickname in her biography of Darwin.
The reason for the current celebration is the discovery of a holy relic!
Now on the 163rd anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species, the Darwin Online project releases one of the most exceptional Darwin manuscripts still in private hands. It is also up for auction at Sotheby’s auction house in New York City, making international news, and likely to hit a record price of one million pounds.
The buyer is now the impoverished owner of a piece of illogic. What does the piece of worn-out paper say? It takes an expert to explain. Call in the director of Darwin Online, Dr. John van Wyhe from the NUS Department of Biological Sciences.
The fragment dates from 1865, seven years after the Origin was first published. A magazine had requested a portion of the book to publish. Darwin wrote them with a selection from his upcoming Third Edition of Origin, and added his autograph to it:
“…It is no valid objection [to this theory of evolution] that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life. Who can explain what is the essence of the attraction of gravity? No one now objects to following out the results consequent on this unknown element of attraction; notwithstanding that Leibnitz formerly accused Newton of introducing ‘occult qualities and miracles into philosophy.'”
Van Wyhe explains why Darwin selected this passage. After the book first came out, there were “many objections to Darwin’s theory,” the article says. “Some thought that his ‘natural selection’ was not a real force in nature.” Darwin responded in this passage to argue that the Stuff Happens Law is just as much a force as gravity.
Just then, Darwin happened to read a biography of Isaac Newton in which one of Newton’s critics claimed that his law of gravity was not real but only imaginary “occult qualities and miracles” pushed into science. Darwin was struck by the parallel. His critics thought natural selection was an unreal cause. The day he finished the biography, Darwin wrote to a scientific colleague about it, saying he would use this example to answer critics in future. Almost immediately he had a chance to do so by adding a new passage to the next American printing of Origin of Species, using the quote about Newton. Later the passage appeared in the 3rd and all subsequent editions of the book.
So since rocks fall to the ground, this proves that molecules became man by a scientific law of nature.
Do you see the major flaw in the analogy? Gravity is observable; molecules-to-man is not. Gravity is precise (the gravitational constant G has been measured to four significant figures); natural selection is vague, explaining opposite outcomes with ease. What are the units of natural selection? Does “6.745 darwins” yield a weasel from a fruit fly? Methinks this is weaselly storytelling. Gravity is predictable in advance; using the Law of Universal Gravitation, one can predict the orbits of planets and the path of a projectile. Nobody knows what the Stuff Happens Law will do next. It might drive one species extinct and another to invade and take over an ecosystem. Natural selection is nothing more than a post-hoc rationalization after something has happened.
With all the criticisms swirling around Charley after his book (mostly from scientists), he was desperate to find some response to make his story sound more scientific. He went name-dropping with Sir Isaac Newton, hoping to borrow some of the Christian genius’s prestige. Sorry, Charley; faulty analogy. Without the -(l)ogy, it was just anal.