Modern Comments on
Theodosius Dobzhansky, Science, vol. 142, 29
Nov. 1963, p. 1134.
It would be wrong to say that the biological theory of evolution has
gained universal acceptance among biologists or even among geneticists. This is perhaps
unlikely to be achieved by any theory which is so extraordinarily rich in philosophic and
humanistic implications. Its acceptance is nevertheless so wide that its opponents
complain of inability to get a hearing for their views. ...
C.P. Martin, American Scientist, vol. 41, 1953,
...the recent textbooks of Huxley, Dobzhansky, Schmalhausen and others
reveal an impressive and indeed overwhelming knowledge of mutations but the authors are
all frank partisans of the accepted theory and almost completely devoid of critical
attitude. Their books are written entirely within the presuppositions laid down by the
theory; they take it for granted and proceed to interpret a vast array of observations in
its terms. Naturally their observations appear to confirm, or at least conform to, the
theory. Such practices certainly will never bring any fallacies to light which the theory
may contain, but will only serve to deepen the faith of the believer. Consequently, by far
the greater number of students that come my way--and they are drawn from many American and
Canadian universities--are completely indoctrinated with the idea that the theory of
evolution by mutation is a closed issue, an unquestionably established fact. It is not
that they are aware of the difficulties which I have mentioned above and esteem them of
little weight or importance; they never heard of them and are amazed at the bare
possibility of the accepted theory being criticized.
G.A. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution
(Pergamon Press, New York, 1960), pp. 4-5. Dr. Kerkut quizzes a hypothetical student
typical of those whom he has taught:
"Well, now, if you really understand an argument
you will be able to indicate to me not only the points in favour of
the argument but also the most telling
points against it."
"I suppose so, sir."
"Good. Please tell me, then, some of the evidence
against the theory of Evolution."
"Against what, sir?"
"The theory of Evolution."
"But there isn't any, sir."
Here the conversation would take on a more strained atmosphere.
The student would look at me as if I was playing a very unfair game.
It would be clearly quite
against the rules to ask for evidence against a theory when he had learnt
up everything in favour of the theory. He also would take it rather
badly when I suggest that he is not
being very scientific in his outlook if he swallows the latest scientific
dogma and, when questioned, just repeats parrot fashion the views of
the current Archbishop of Evolution.
In fact he would be behaving like certain of those religious students he
affects to despise. He would be taking on faith what he could not intellectually
understand and when
questioned would appeal to authority, the authority of a "good book" which
in this case was The Origin of Species. (It is interesting to note that many of
these widely quoted books are read by title only. Three of such that come to mind are the Bible,
The Origin of Species, and Das Kapital.)