Dr. Charles F. Urbanowicz / Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Chico / Chico, California 95929-0400
530-898-6220 [Office: Butte 317]; 530-898-6192 [Department: Butte 311]; 530-898-6143 [FAX]
e-mail: / home page:

30 November 2004 [1]

 [This page printed from]

(1) © [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on November 30, 2004, for a presentation (with visuals) this date in Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 (ETHICS AND HUMAN HAPPINESS) at CSU, Chico.

SUMMARY: Charles R. Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 and died on April 19, 1882. Darwin left England on HMS Beagle on December 27, 1831 and after research in South America, the HMS Beagle entered the Pacific Ocean on June 11, 1834. Darwin reached the Galápagos Islands on September 15, 1835. After that, HMS Beagle continued around the globe, arriving back in England on October 2, 1836. Darwin never left England again but continued his research, married, and raised a family, and published numerous volumes which have implications today. In his 1978 publication entitled On Human Nature, Edward O. Wilson wrote about the interaction of genes and culture as follows: "The heart of the genetic hypothesis is the proposition, derived in a straight line from neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, that the traits of human nature were adaptive during the time that the human species evolved and that genes consequently spread through the population that predisposed their carriers to develop those traits. Adaptiveness means simply that if an individual displayed the traits he [and she!] stood a greater chance of having his [and her!] genes represented in the next generation than if he did not display the traits [stress added]." Edward O. Wilson, 1978, On Human Nature (Harvard University Press), page 32.




In the penultimate chapter of his 1978 publication On Human Nature, Edward O. Wilson wrote that "The predisposition to religious beliefs is the most complex and powerful force in the human mind and in all probability an ineradicable part of human nature [stress added]." (Edward O. Wilson, 1978, On Human Nature (Harvard University Press), page 169). The 2004 publication of The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes by Dean Hamer would seem to support Wilson's statement made more than a quarter-of-a-century ago. Hamer, a molecular biologist, is well qualified to write such a book, as a Time magazine cover story pointed out on October 25, 2004:

"Chief of gene structure at the national Cancer institute, Hamer not only claims that human spirituality is an adaptive trait, but he also says he has located one of the genes responsible, a gene that just happens to also code for production of the neurotransmitters that regulate our moods. Our most profound feelings of spirituality, according to a literal reading of Hamer's work may be due to little more than an occasional shot of intoxicating brain chemicals governed by our DNA [stress added]." Jeffrey Kluger, 2004, Is God in Our Genes? A Provocative study asks whether religion is a product of evolution. Inside a quest for the roots of faith. Time, October 25, Pages 62-72, page 65.

Needless to say not everyone is pleased with this interpretation and even though Darwin did not knows of genes, he wrote of evolution! And hence this presentation in order to understand Darwin, place him within the context of his times, and discuss some of the impact (and interpretations and implications) of his work today. How can one possibly discuss a "god gene" if one doesn't know of evolution (not to say of Gregor Mendel [1822-1884])?



"He was an Englishman who went on a five-year voyage when he was young and then retired to a house in the country, not far from London [sixteen miles southeast]. He wrote an account of his voyage, and then he wrote a book setting down his theory of evolution, based on a process he called natural selection, a theory that provided the foundation for modern biology. He was often ill and never left England again [stress added]." John P. Wiley, Jr., 1998, Expressions: The Visible Link. Smithsonian, June, pages 22-24, page 22.

My interest in Darwin reaches back to 1965 and beginning in 1996, working with many gifted individuals on this campus, we created four videotapes wherein I portray Darwin in the first person. A recent web paper provides a concise statement about the four Darwin videos as well as the availability of four "Darwin Self-tests" on the web (see [The Darwin Project: 1996 to 2004! October 21, 2004]).

Darwin is an interesting individual, misunderstood by many; consider, if you will the words that "Human evolution is the most passionate aspect of the evolution-creation debate [stress added]." Larry A. Whitham, 2002, Where Darwin Meets the Bible: Creationists And Evolutionists In America (Oxford University Press), page 242. What created this "passion" from an individual who was so calm? An interesting statement by a Darwin scholar is the following:

"The fact is that Charles Darwin was in almost all respects a fairly standard example of the nineteenth century student, well off, active in field sports, working hard enough to avoid academic failure, but a long way from academic success." Peter Brent 1981, Charles Darwin: A Man Of Enlarged Curiosity (NY: Harper & Row), page 89.

Darwin definitely proved many individuals wrong, and nothing is as clear as his monumental 1859 publication (and subsequent editions of 1860, 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1872): On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life [Note: this is the on-line version of the 1859 edition]; Darwin himself wrote in his Autobiography that the Origin "is no doubt the chief work of my life [stress added]" (Nora Barlow, 1958, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882: With Original Omissions Restored Edited With An Appendix And Notes By His Grand-Daughter, page 122). As Wilson stated it: "The great competing theory of evolution, that entire populations are modified by natural selection, was first put in convincing form by Charles Darwin, in 1859." Edward O. Wilson, 1978, On Human Nature (Harvard University Press), page 32.

The 1973 Nobel Prize Winner Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989) wrote: "I believe that even today we do not quite realize how much Charles Darwin knew [stress added]" (Konrad Lorenz, 1965, "Preface" in The Expression Of The Emotions In Man And Animals by Charles Darwin, 1872 [1965 University of Chicago Press edition], pages ix-xiii, pages xi-xiii). Even today, in 2004, Darwin's influence is still with us. The year 2009 will be important for me, since the ideas of Darwin will not go away, and 2009 will be the bicentennial of Darwin's birth and the sesquicentennial of the publication of Origin. The world-wide activities should actually begin in 2008, since that will be the sesquicentennial of the joint papers that Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) had presented to the Linnean Society on July 1, 1858. Incidentally, Wallace is an important person in his own right: he came across the idea of "natural selection" while conducting his own research in equatorial Indonesia in the 1850s and, inspired by reading Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) wrote to Darwin in 1858 and the letter galvanized Darwin into print! This resulted in the joint paper presented to the Linnean Society that year (and later the 1859 publication of Origin).

"Neither Darwin nor Wallace was actually present [at the meeting], Darwin because one of his children [Charles Waring, 1856-1858] had died of scarlet fever a few days earlier, and Wallace because he was then in New Guinea, one of the first Europeans to spend any length of time in that huge distant island, collecting more birds and beetles and totally unaware of the stir he had caused [stresss added]." Tim Severn, 1997, The Spice Islands Voyage: The Quest for Alfred Wallace, the Man Who Shared Darwin's Discovery of Evolution (NY: Carroll & Grag Publishers, Inc.), page 6.

Or as another has written:

"On 1 July 1858 Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace [1823-1913] made the first public statement of their theory of evolution by natural selection before the Linnaean Society of London, and their papers were published on 20 August of the same year. The eighteen pages which they covered were among the most pregnant ever printed, and deserve to rank with those of Isaac Newton, since they provide for the realm of living beings the first general principle capable of universal application [stress added]." Sir Gavin De Beer, 1958, Charles Darwin And Alfred Russel Wallace: Evolution By Natural Selection, page 1.

Incidentally, it must be pointed out that just as we view Darwin (in hindsight) as the genius he was, so the meeting held on July 1, 1858 was viewed differently in that year and it was reported by the President of the Society that "no particularly important papers had been read" in 1858:

"With all the weight of their position, Sir Charles Lyell [1797-1875] and Dr. Joseph Hooker [1817-1911] then advised the secretary of the influential and respectable Linnean Society that they wanted an important communication to be made at the Society's next convenient meeting. The secretary was to prepare to receive two papers--one from Mr. C. Darwin and one from Mr. A.R. Wallace. They requested that the secretary should be good enough to read them both out and it was hoped that the Fellows would give them the most careful consideration. After all this the announcement of a great new scientific hypothesis to the Fellows of the Linnean Society fell flat. Perhaps no more unsuccessful scientific meeting was ever held. ... Mr. Bell [the President of the Linnean Society at that time: "professionally a dentists and vocationally a zoologist"], however, managed to delight posterity for when, at the end of his term of office, he summed up the Society's transactions for 1858, he remarked that it was a year when no particularly important papers had been read. The [1858 Linnean Society] meeting then was an outstanding anticlimax, and researches into the contemporary press prove that it passed virtually unnoticed [stress added]." Amabel Williams-Ellis, 1966, Darwin's Moon: A Biography of Alfred Russel Wallace (London and Glasgow: Blackie), pages 143-145.

Wallace and Darwin are definitely still important and the ideas of evolution and natural selection are still with us:

"All the theory of natural selection says is the following. If within a species there is variation among individuals in their hereditary traits, and some traits are more conducive to survival and reproduction than others, then those traits will (obviously) become more widespread within the population. The result (obviously) is that the species' aggregate pool of hereditary traits changes. And there you have it [stress added]." Robert Wright, 1994, The Moral Animal (NY: Pantheon Books), page 23.

Or as Severn wrote in 1997:

"The impact of this theory was to be one of the most profound scientific dvelopments of the modern age. Darwin's Origins would be referred to as 'the book that shook the world' , and the main thrust of its argument that all living creatures have developed slowly over time and that all related organisms have a common ancestor would ultimately find general acceptance, though for decades it was contested, criticised and sometime reviled. Supported by the research of geneticists and molecular biologists, the idea of slow, inexorable evolution now dominates the way we look at the world around us. Yet scarcely anyone recalls that it was originally introduced to a small scientific gethering in Victorian london who would have thought of it as the Darwin-Wallace theory [stress added]. Tim Severn, 1997, The Spice Islands Voyage: The Quest for Alfred Wallace, the Man Who Shared Darwin's Discovery of Evolution (NY: Carroll & Grag Publishers, Inc.), page 7.

In his 1978 publication entitled On Human Nature, the distiguished Harvard Professor Edward O. Wilson wrote about the relationship or interaction of genes and culture:

"The heart of the genetic hypothesis is the proposition, derived in a straight line from neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, that the traits of human nature were adaptive during the time that the human species evolved and that genes consequently spread through the population that predisposed their carriers to develop those traits. Adaptiveness means simply that if an individual displayed the traits he [and she!] stood a greater chance of having his [and her!] genes represented in the next generation than if he did not display the traits [stress added]." Edward O. Wilson, 1978, On Human Nature (Harvard University Press), page 32.

I am not too sure how this is derived from a "neo-Darwinian" theory and not just straight Darwinian theory, for as someone else has written about Darwin and changes through time:

"He [Charles Darwin] believed that the natural world was the result of constantly repeated small and accumulative actions, a lesson he had first learned when reading Lyell's Principles of Geology [1830] board the Beagle and had put to work ever since. ... No one, not even Lyell [1797-1875] himself, or any of Darwin's closest friends and supporters, accepted as ardently as Darwin that the book of nature was about the accumulative powers of the small [stress added]." Janet Browne, 2002, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place - Volume II of a Biography (NY: Alfred A. Knopf), page 490.

A recent issue of e-Skeptic (#40 for October 29, 2004) has an excellent review of Robert Martin's 2004 publication entitled Missing Links: Evolutionary Concepts & Transitions Through Time. Michael Shermer writes about the book as follows:

"Missing Links provides readers with a compendium of scientific evidence of extinct organisms, or 'missing links,' that bridge the evolutionary gaps between primordial species and modern life. The book introduces newcomers to the field of evolutionary science with an accessible discussion of basic scientific practices, rock and fossil dating techniques, and schools of classification. Readers are then ushered through a fascinating array of examples of evolutionary transition at all chronological and geographical scales, from the ultimate origins of life on Earth to the morphological changes that readers will observe during their lifetimes. Offering a lucid primer on evolutionary science, as well as a series of case studies and fossil histories in support of evolutionary theory, Missing Links serves as an ideal short introduction to evolution for students and general readers [stress added]. Michael Shermer, 2004, Book Notice, e-Skeptic #40 for October 29, 2004.

There is more than ample evidence for "evolution" if one wishes to examine it with an open mind!



We began the process of creating the four instructional videotapes in 1996 and the finished videos are available on the World Wide Web (as indicated below). The first video was completed in 1997 and is entitled Charles Darwin: Reflections - Part one: The Beginning and is approximately seventeen minutes in length. The description for that video is as follows:

VIDEO #1 (1997): Imagine that you could visit with Charles Darwin as he remembers his youth. Perhaps you could learn what early experiences sharpened his power of observation and contributed to his unique perspective of the world. Join Dr. Charles Urbanowicz as he portrays the fascinating and very human Charley Darwin in the first program of the series Charles Darwin: Reflections: The Beginning. [Available at Produced and Edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.]

The fourth and final video, completed in 2003 Charles Darwin: Part Three: A Man of Science is approximately twenty-four minutes in length.

VIDEO #4 (2003): Within a few years of his return to England, Charles Darwin happily settled into marriage, moved to a quiet house in the country, and begun a routine of research and writing which would occupy the rest of his life. In this episode discover why Darwin (Professor Charles Urbanowicz) waited over 20 years to publish his groundbreaking work Origin of Species, and learn how ill health, family tragedies, friends, respected colleagues and ardent supporters shaped his life and career. [Available at Produced and Edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.]

I began this PHIL 108 lecture with a PowerPoint Presentation and then showed tapes #1 and #4 to the class. Should you care to view tapes #2 and #3, the descriptions are as follows (and the World Wide Web addresses are given below):

VIDEO #2 (1999): Charles Darwin: - Part One: The Voyage [ ~twenty-two minutes. Darwin sailing from England to South America.] Sail along with Charley Darwin on the first half of his historic journey around the world aboard the HMS Beagle. In this second video in the series, Charley Darwin (Professor Charles Urbanowicz ) travels from England to unexplored reaches of South America and along the way he confronts slavery, rides with gauchos, experiences gunboat diplomacy, encounters a future dictator of Argentina, explores uncharted rivers, and discovers dinosaur bones. [Available at Produced and Edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.]

VIDEO #3 (2001): Charles Darwin: - Part Two: The Voyage. [ ~twenty-seven minute. Darwin from South America, through the Galápagos Islands, and back to England.] The second half of the historic journey of the HMS Beagle finds Charles Darwin exploring more of South America and several islands in the Pacific. In this episode, Charley Darwin (Professor Charles Urbanowicz) views several active volcanoes, experiences an earthquake, treks to the Andes, explores the Galapagos Islands, and then heads for home. [Available at Edited by Ms. Vilma Hernandez and Produced by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.]



In virtually everything I write about Darwin it is pointed out that when what is commonly called Origin was published in 1859, it was an immediate (and controversial) success. Cyril Aydon, writing in 2002 in his most readable Charles Darwin: The Naturalist Who Started a Scientific Revolution (NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers) points what the 1859 Origin would cost today:

"...The Origin of Species, when it was published in 1859, converts to £37.50 [~US$69.00] in today's money. This figure is perhaps over-precise; but it gives some idea of the book's likely readership in an age when great numbers of people were unsure where the price of their next loaf of bread was coming from [stress added]." Cyril Aydon, 2002, Charles Darwin: The Naturalist Who Started a Scientific Revolution (NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers), page xxvi.

In attempting to understand Darwin, and the impact of his ideas through time, the following information should be of interest: every edition of Origin published in Charles R. Darwin's lifetime is different! He re-wrote every-single-edition and all are different! The reason it is important to point out the various editions of Origin is demonstrated by the following chart, based on information in the excellent 1959 publication of Morse Peckham [Editor] entitledThe Origin Of Species By Charles Darwin: A Variorum Text). The concept of change is definitely vital to an understanding of Darwin, whether you are reading Darwin himself or reading about him and I include the following tabular information on Darwin's Origin in virtually everything I present or write:




9 eliminated
483 rewritten
30 added
7 %
33 eliminated
617 rewritten
266 added
14 %
36 eliminated
1073 rewritten
435 added
21 %
178 eliminated
1770 rewritten
227 added
29 %
63 eliminated
1699 rewritten
571 added
21-29 %

If one is reluctant to read ALL of Darwin's Origin as indicated, there is a delightful book by Maurice Sagoff (1970) which is called to your attention: Shrinklits: Seventy of the World's Towering Classics Cut Down To Size (New York: Workman Publishing) wherein the following appears on page 99:

"All creatures strive;
The fit survive.

Out of this surge
Species emerge.

'Throw the bum out!'
Is Nature's shout.

And 'Class will tell'
Sex-wise as well.

The age-old race
To win or place

(At least to show)
Persists, although

The way things look
None Dares make book."

Charles R. Darwin took great care not to write about Homo sapiens in Origin in 1859 and all he had to say about "man" was the following:

"In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history. [Chapter XV: "Recapitulation And Conclusion"]

In the 5th edition of 1869, Darwin used (for the first time) the famous phrase (borrowed from Herbert Spencer [1820-1903]): "Survival of the Fittest" and in the 2nd edition of 1860 Darwin wrote the following:

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator [stress added] into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

If the use of the term "Creator" by Charles R. Darwin does not imply a "Supreme Being" then I don't know what does! Darwin also wrote of a "God of Nature" in his 1839 The Voyage of the Beagle as follows:

"Among the scenes which are deeply impressed on my mind, none exceed in sublimity the primeval forests undefaced by the hand of man; whether those of Brazil, where the powers of Life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fuego, where Death and Decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of Nature:--no one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body [stress added]." Charles R. Darwin, 1839, The Voyage of the Beagle [Leonard Engel, Editor of the 1962 edition.] (NY: Anchor), page 436.

Returning to Darwin's Origin, we can read numerous instances of a "Creator" in Darwin, such as:

"He who believes in separate and innumerable acts of creation may say, that in these cases it has pleased the Creator to cause a being of one type to take the place of one belonging to another type; but this seems to me only re-stating the fact in dignified language. [stress added]." Chapter VI: Difficulties of The Theory]

"Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man?" [stress added] [Chapter VI: Difficulties of The Theory]

"On the ordinary view of the independent creation of each being, we can only say that so it is; that it has pleased the Creator to construct all the animals and plants in each great class on a uniform plan; but this is not a scientific explanation [stress added]." [Chapter XIV: Mutual Affinities Of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Organs]

Charles R. Darwin did not reject all religious beliefs and did not deny the existence of a supreme being and was not an atheist ("a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of God or Gods") but an agnostic, a word coined in 1869 by his good friend and scientific associate, Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895). As a 20th century commentator on Huxley wrote: "Agnosticism, as Huxley had originally employed the term, signified simply a reservation of judgement in matters not subject to verification [stress added]" (Albert Ashforth, 1969, Thomas Henry Huxley [NY: Twayne Publishers, Inc.], page 120). The inability of Charles Darwin to "verify" a supreme being (while still writing about a Creator) did cause a problem for his wife Emma [1808-1896], who maintained a deep orthodox religious conviction throughout her life; they loved each other and life went on but his agnostic beliefs did "make her sad" and uneasy for his sake (G. De Beer, 1964, Charles Darwin: Evolution By Natural Selection [NY: Doubleday], page 269). In his 1876 Autobiography, Darwin wrote that at the time of Origin in 1859 he could be viewed as a theist, or one who had the conviction of the existence of God. Perspectives change over time and in 1876 Darwin stated: "The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic" (In Nora Barlow, Editor, 1958, The Autobiography Of Charles Darwin 1809-1882, page 94).



Darwin realized there would be problems with some of his ideas and this contributed to his reluctance to publish. Consider, if you will, his own words from 1871:

"Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man's nature is concerned there are other agencies more important. For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c., than through natural selection; though to this latter agency may be safely attributed the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense, may be safely attributed. The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely that man is descended from some lowly-organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But.... [stress added]."Charles R. Darwin, The Descent of Man And Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871 [1981 Princeton University Press edition, with Introduction by John T. Bonner and Robert M. May], Part II, Chapter XXI, pages 403-404.

Darwin also had the following to say about moral thoughts:

"The highest stage in moral culture at which we can arrive, is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts...." Charles R. Darwin, The Descent of Man And Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871 [1981 Princeton University Press edition, with Introduction by John T. Bonner and Robert M. May], Chapter 3, page 101).

Darwin had an impact on his times and the implications of his ideas continues to this day:

"Darwin's work, in particular, radically unnerved thousands who held a biblical view of humankind's historical story; and to this day the implications of his thinking for biology (and even psychology and sociology) have been profound. He himself became an agnostic and saw no great overall moral or philosophical meaning in the long chronology of our being, which he regarded, rather, as a story of accidents and incidents, of chance and circumstance as they all came to bear on 'natural selection.' Although Copernicus [1473-1543] and Galileo [1564-1642] and Newton [1642-1727] have been absorbed, so to speak, by traditional Christianity, by no means has Darwin's view of our origin and destiny been universally integrated into the teachings, the theology, of many religions that rely upon the Bible for their inspiration, their sense of who we are, where we came from, how our purpose here ought to be described. It was one thing for scientists to probe the planets, declare that this place we inhabit is only one spot in a seemingly endless number of places in an ever expanding universe, or to examine closely our body's cells, or othse of other creatures; it was quite another matter to suggest that we ourselves are merely an aspect of an ever changing nature, that our 'origin' was not 'divine' but a consequence of a biological saga of sorts [stress added]." Robert Coles, 1999, The Secular Mind (Princeton University Press), pages 50-51.

The above mentioned e-Skeptic #40 also has an excellent review by Paul Gross on another 2004 publication which takes on the latest version of "creation science" that attempts to debunk Darwinian evolution ideas, namely "Intelligent Design" theory! In reviewing Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism (edited by Mark Young and Taner, Editors), Gross writes the following:

"Intelligent Design (ID) Theory. Why Intelligent Design Fails is a patient assessment of all the scientific claims made in connection with ID. The half dozen science-enabled spokesmen for ID are the indispensable core group of an international neo-creationist big tent. Goals of the American movement are sweeping: they begin with a highly visible, well-funded, nationwide effort to demean evolutionary science in American school (K-12) curricula. ID is offered as a better alternative. The hoped-for result is the addition of ID to, or even its substitution for, the teaching of evolution. Which would mean substituting early 19 th-century nature study for modern biology. The admitted ultimate goal of the ID movement is to topple natural science (they berate it as materialism) from its pedestal in Western culture and to replace it with theistic science. ... The creationist position, especially this newest form of it, is pure Hollywood: There is No Such Thing As Bad Publicity. That this view is held by the ID leadership is fully documented in several recent studies of the movement. Thus, almost any careful examination of ID by qualified scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers especially by those with strong credentials in evolution or cosmology is likely to be advertised by ID publicists as proof of the scientific importance of ID. Any non-polemical response to it is described to the mass audience for anti-evolution as showing the revolutionary truth of ID, the fear and trembling it causes among Darwinists. That a few dedicated scientists take the trouble to answer ID theory in detail is regularly adduced in ID books, editorials, opinion columns, talk shows, dedicated internet sites, and in a growing numbers of activist student organizations around the country as signaling the collapse of Darwinism. The contributors to Why Intelligent Design Fails (WIDF) have risked being so used. But they decided, evidently, to accept this risk. They decided to examine every supposedly scientific (or mathematical, or epistemological) claim of ID, patiently, in detail, and to offer only those conclusions about the value of ID science if any that emerge clearly in the individual critiques and from their totality. Whether this risk was justified will be known only if and when the book is widely read, and then responded to (as inevitably it will be) at those many creationist web sites, meetings, talk shows, conferences, and clubs. If they do no more than to denounce the book and disparage its authors (as they began to do the day it was listed on, WIDF will have succeeded. If instead they proclaim it evidence for the scientific muscle of ID theory, the tables will, at least to some extent, have been turned. But about the quality of the critiques in this book, and of the totality, there is no doubt. This is honest, technically competent patient inquiry; the critique of the newest form of creation science is devastating [stress added]." Paul Gross, 2004, Book Review, e-Skeptic #40 for October 29, 2004.

The idea of "Intelligent Design" is very much alive in this country:

"A Pennsylvania school district on Friday [November 19, 2004] defended its decision to discount Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and take a lead in teaching what critics say is a version of creationism. Dover Area School District in south-central Pennsylvania is believed to be the first in the country to approve the teaching of a new theory called 'intelligent design,' according to the National Center for Science Education. Proponents of intelligent design argue that the complexity of nature is such that it could not have occurred by chance, as Darwinian theory holds, and so must have been created by some all-powerful force. That being is not explicitly identified, but many of the theory's conservative religious supporters say it is God. NCSE, an Oakland, California-based group that defends the teaching of evolution in schools, said the district's board approved the policy change last month after a debate that began more than a year ago when a board member objected to a biology textbook on the grounds it focused on Darwinism. The move set off a noisy debate in the district, with at least two school board members resigning. On Friday, the district defended its decision by saying it intends to present a balanced view, and not to teach religious beliefs. Officials will "make sure no one is promoting but also not inhibiting religion," according to a statement posted on the district's Web site. 'Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered,' the statement said. 'Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence [stress added]." John Hurdle, November 19, 2004, Pennsylvania School District Retreats from Evolution. Story location:

Why do individuals not pay attention to history or why are they ignorant of the past for the idea of "Intelligent Design" has been with us at least since before the time of Darwin and, indeed, Charles Darwin was well-familiar with the "creationism" ideas of the distinguished theologian Willam Paley (1743-1805):

"At the dawn of the nineteenth century, an Anglican pastor named William Paley [1743-1805] described in his influential book Natural Theology [1802] how living creatures fit their environments with breath-taking precision. For Paley, as for many thnkers before and after him, this was proof that a master Designer had crafted the natural world. In a famous passage, Paley invites the reader to acompany im on an imaginary country walk. 'Suppose,' he conjectures, 'I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone cameto be there: I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever....' He beckons us to contrast this with the experience of noticing a pocket-watch lying on the ground. How might the watch have come to be there? [stress added]." David Livingstone Smith, 2004, Why We Lie: The Evolutionary Roots of Deception and the Unconscious Mind (NY: St. Martin's Press), page 50.

Dupré pointed out a Darwin-Paley connection in his 2003 publication entitled Darwin's Legacy: what Evolution Means Today :

"[In Natural Theology, published in 1802] Paley then points out that elaborate though the workings of a watch may be, they are simple compared to those of a plant or animal. Consequently the argument for a designer in the latter's case is stronger even than that in the former. Hence nature must have been designed and created, and this designer and creator we refer to as God. This argument was required reading for English university students for much of the nineteenth century, and one student who was impressed by it was Charles Darwin [stress added]." John Dupré, 2003, Darwin's Legacy: what Evolution Means Today (Oxford University Press), page 48.

Paley was among the first to promulgate a theory which required a 'designer" to create all that we see and when Darwin first went to Cambridge University in 1828 he was introduced to Paley's theory and accepted Palye's theory:

"The rooms into which he [Charles Darwin] moved his books and beetles in that autumn of 1828 were the very set which the renowned theologian William Paley had occupied as an undergraduate half a century earlier. Paley's Natural Theology, published in 1802, was one of the most influential books of the age, and candidates for the BA degree were expected to display a familiarity with its arguments. The most famous of these was the one with which the book opened: the Argument from Design. Suppose, said Paley, that someone wandering across a heath should find a watch lying in his path. He would know at once that it was a manufactured object, from the intricacy of its design. Such an object could not have arisen by chance. Design implied a designer. As it was with the watch, so it was with the natural world. Something so elaborate, so perfectly functioning, could not have been prodced by the operation of aimless natural forces; there must have been a Creator. For many educated people in the first half of the nineteenth century, this was a knock-down, drag-out argument to which there was no answer. But it did not only drive the unbelievers from the field; it also provided a justification for bug-hunters everywhere. To study nature was to study the work of Nature's Architect. Beetle-collecting was lifted from a mere pastime to a religious obligation. Darwin was entranced. He found the logic irresistable, and he read Paley's book with the enthusiasm of a disciple, rather than the diligence of a student. Had he raised the matter in Shrewsbury, with his unbelieving father, he would have met with a sceptical reaction. But among his acquaintances in Cambridge there was no dissenting voice to cause him to question what he read [stress added]." Cyril Aydon, 2002, Charles Darwin: The Naturalist Who Started a Scientific Revolution (NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers), pages 31-32.

Darwin himself was to write, in his celebrated autobiograpy (dictated at the age of sixty-seven in 1876), the following:

"In order to pass the B.A. examinations [at Cambridge], it was, also, necessary to get up Paley's Evidences of Christianity, and his Moral Philosophy. This was done in a thorough manner, and I am convinced that I could have written out the whole of the Evidences with perfect correctness, but not of course in the clear language of Paley. The logic of this book and as I may add of his Natural Theology gave me as much delight as did Euclid. The careful study of these works, without attempting to learn any part by rote, was the only part of the Academical Course which, as I then felt and as I still believe, was of the least use to me in the education of my mind. I did not at that time trouble myself about Paley's premises; and taking those on trust I was charmed and convinced by the long line of argumentation [stress added]." Nora Barlow, 1958, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882: With Original Omissions Restored Edited With An Appendix And Notes By His Grand-Daughter (NY: W.W. Norton & Company), page 59.

Darwin obviously began his education at Cambridge with one theory and eventually changed it! As one individual has written concerning Darwin's ideas and Darwin's detractors:

"Biologists do not accept the truth of evolution on the basis of Darwin's authority but on the basis of the evidence. Evolutionary theory has been out of Darwin's hands from the moment The Origin of Species appeared in 1859. Once Darwin published his evolutionary hypotheses and the evidence upon which they were based, these entered the public domain of knowledge, and others took the ball and ran with it. Scientific knowledge is not 'owned' by any individual so no individual, even the discoverer, can 'take back' a theory [stress added]. Robert T. Pennock, 1999, Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism (MIT Press), page 71.

Indeed, in the same autobiography Darwin stated the following:

"Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life, I will here give the vague conclusions to which I have been driven. The old argument of design in nature, as given by Paley, which formerly seemed to me so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. Everything in nature is the result fo fixed laws [stress added]." Nora Barlow, 1958, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882: With Original Omissions Restored Edited With An Appendix And Notes By His Grand-Daughter (NY: W.W. Norton & Company), page 87.

Darwinian ideas of evolution and natural selection will survive because they are based on on-going cumulative research, scientific thinking, and an understanding of the verifiable evidence of evolution that exists all around us, (from fossils to contemporary pandemics) and the willingness to accept the potential catastrophic effects of not understanding evolution! "Intelligent design" theories will always be with us because they are based on non-scientific stories created, as Edmund O. Wilson wrote, because of the "predisposition to religious belief" (or perhaps the "God Gene" of Hamer!), that individuals wish to "believe" in in order to survive. Unfortunately, from my scientific perspective, there will be lengthy discussions and debates for many decades to come (as there have been in the past), since as The New York Times pointed out on November 4, 2004 (after the recent United States Presidential election), " Mr.[Karl] Rove understands what surveys have shown, that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution [stress added]." Garry Wills, 2004, The Day the Enlightenment Went Out, The New York Times, November 4, 2004, page A31. Indeed, the following Gallup survey from November 20, 2004, would seem to support this position!

"Americans are divided in their assessment of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, according to a poll by Gallup. 35 per cent of respondents say the British naturalist's views are supported by evidence, while 35 per cent disagree. Darwin's 'The Origin of Species' was first published in 1859. The book details the naturalist's theory that all organisms gradually evolve through the process of natural selection. Darwin's views were antagonistic to creationism, the belief that a more powerful being or a deity created life. In the United States, the debate accelerated after the 1925 Scopes trial, which tested a law that banned the teaching of evolution in Tennessee public schools. 45 per cent of poll respondents today say God created human beings in their present form. Earlier this year, Georgia's Cobb County was at the centre of a controversy on whether science textbooks that explain evolutionary theory should include disclaimer stickers. ... Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,016 American adults, conducted from Nov. 7 to Nov. 10, 2004. Margin of error is 3 per cent [stress added]." CPOD [Centre for Public Opinion and Democracy], 20 November 2004. Evolution, Creationism Still Splits Views In U.S. From:

Similar information appeared from a poll of November 22, 2004:

"Americans do not believe that humans evolved, and the vast majority says that even if they evolved, God guided the process. Just 13 percent say that God was not involved. But most would not substitute the teaching of creationism for the teaching of evolution in public schools. Support for evolution is more heavily concentrated among those with more education and among those who attend religious services rarely or not at all. There are also differences between voters who supported Kerry and those who supported Bush: 47 percent of John Kerry's voters think God created humans as they are now, compared with 67 percent of Bush voters. ...Overall, about two-thirds of Americans want creationism taught along with evolution. Only 37 percent want evolutionism replaced outright. More than half of Kerry voters want creationism taught alongside evolution. Bush voters are much more willing to want creationism to replace evolution altogether in a curriculum (just under half favor that), and 71 percent want it at least included. ...This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 885 adults interviewed by telephone November 18-21, 2004. There were 795 registered voters. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on all adults and all registered voters [stress added]." Anon., November 22, 2004, Creationism Trumps Evolution, CBS NewsPoll.

Incidentally, if one wishes to discuss the "nature-nurture" debate/discussion concerning religion into other realms (besides DNA), one need go no further than the December 6, 2004 issue of Business Week and the article "Economists Are Getting Religion" wherein the following appears:

"The sudden interest [in religion] is vindication for the most tireless advocates for the field, Laurence R. Iannaccine, 50, an economics professor at George Mason University who studied at Chicago under [Nobel Prise winner Gary S.] Becker. ... The economics of religion is founded on the belief that people are just as rational in their choices about relkigion as they are about, say, buying a car." Joseph Weber, 2004, Economists Are Getting Religion, December 6, 2004, Business Week, pages 136-137.

The "ultimate answer" will never be found to everyone's satisfaction and , indeed, the latest "cosmological" thinking about "multiple universes" lends support to those who believe in the need for an "intelligent designer" for human beings:

"A vocal sector of the religious community, on the other hand, has siezed on the anthropic principle principle as further evidence that God created the universe just for us--adding intellectual support to the so-called intelligent-design movement, which believes that the staggering complexity of natue can be explained only by assuming that some higher intelligence had a hand in designing it. Over the past several years, pitched battles have been fought in school boards in Ohio, Kansas, Georgia and Montana and, just weeks ago, in Dover County, Pa., over whether to give intelligent design and Darwin's theory of evolution equal time in classrooms [stress added]." Michael D. Lemonick and J. Madeline Nash, 2004, Cosmic Conundrum. Time, November 29, 2004, pages 58-61, pages 59-60.

The debate will go on and today there is something known as the "Darwin Industry" which has resulted in such publications as Edna Healy's outstanding Emma Darwin: The Inspirational Wife of a Genius (2001), Merryl Davies's Darwin And Fundamentalism (2000), Gabriel Dover's Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters On The Evolution of Life And Human Behavior (2000), Phillip E. Johnson's Defeating Darwinism By Opening Minds (1997), and James Moore's 1994 publication entitled The Darwin Legend. Much has been written about Darwin's life and it is in this last book that an interesting "myth" concerning Darwin is demolished. The myth is passed along as follows: "Did you know that Charles Darwin became a Christian before he died? It's true. I read about it once in a book--or was it a magazine. I forget. Anyway....[stress added]." (J. Moore, 1994, The Darwin Legend, page 21). Moore does an outstanding job in tracking down this myth and proving it false. He traces the origin of the "story" to one "Lady Hope" who started the story after Darwin's death. Nothing could be clearer than the following in Moore's book: a statement that Francis Darwin (1848-1925) son of Charles and Emma Darwin, made in 1918:

"Lady Hope's account of my father's views on religion is quite untrue. I have publicly accused her of falsehood, but have not seen any reply. My father's agnostic point of view is given in my 'Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,' Vol. I., pp. 304-317. You are at liberty to publish the above statement. Indeed, I shall be glad if you will do so. Yours faithfully, Francis Darwin. Brookthorpe, Gloucester. May 28, 1918 [stress added]."

Books continue about Darwin and his family, including Randal Keynes's Darwin, His Daughter, and Human Evolution (2002), Matthew Chapman's 2000/2001 Trials Of The Monkey, Janet Browne's outstanding 2002 publication entitled Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Volume II of a Biography, which is an excellent companion volume to her earlier 1995 volume entitled Charles Darwin: Voyaging (Volume I of a Biography), S. Alter's Darwin and The Linguistic Image (1999), Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search For Common Ground Between God And Evolution (1999 by Kenneth R. Miller), Gerald Weissmann's 1998 Darwin's Audubon: Science and The Liberal Imagination, as well as Darwin and Archaeology: A Handbook of Key Concepts (a 2002 publication edited by John Hart and John Terrell). Indeed, it is in this 2002 item that the editors have an excellent statement, well-summarazing "why" interest in Darwin took off so rapidly after 1859 (and why it continues to this day):

"But what then is evolution? Although it may sound unconventional to say so, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is above all else a theory of history. While initially offered as an encompassing theory about the origin of new species by means of NATURAL SELECTION, Darwin's insights into the causes of biological evolution and persistence soon proved to be so powerful that many have sought to apply Darwinian theory to human affairs--to use Darwin's ways of thinking about history and evolution to explain not only our own oigins as a remarkably clever kind of animal (see BIOLOGICAL CONSTRAINTS), but also our human ways and the history of human institutions and social practices (major elements of what many anthropologists and others call CULTURE) [stress added]." John Terrell and John Hart, 2002, Darwin and Archaeology: A Handbook of Key Concepts (Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey), page 2.

Darwin has had a tremendous impact since the 19th century and his ideas will influence into the 21st century, for as the distinguished American anthropologist Gregoy Bateson (1904-1980) once wrote:

"The unit of survival [or adaptation] is organism plus environment. We are learning by bitter experience that the organism which destroys its environment destroys itself. If, now, we correct the Darwinian unit of survival to include the environment and the interaction between organism and environment, a very strange and surprising identity emerges: the unit of survival turns out to be identical with the unit of mind" [italics in original; stress added]." Gregory Bateson, 1972, Steps To An Ecology of Mind (NY: Ballantine Books), page 483.

"The unit of survival turns out to be identical with the unit of mind" is a most profound statement! And the following statement from The Wall Street Journal of 1999 is most appropriate:

"Whatever the controversies that surround him, Charles Darwin was certainly the most important natural scientist of the past century; he may become the most important social scientist of the next. His great insight--that humans are animals and that their behavior, like that of all animals, is shaped by evolution--is now making its way into social theory. In economics, linguistics, anthropology and psychology, scholars are attempting to see how our evolved nature, interacting with particular environments, generates the ways we trade and speak, live with others and with ourselves [stress added]." Anon., The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 1999, page A24.

Finally, to conclude: in addition to all of the words and ideas I have shared with the readers of this brief web page, I adhere to the following words of Thomas Keneally (remembered perhaps for being the author of Schindler's List (1982):

"A play [or a classroom lecture or a public presentation] should make you understand something new. If it tells you what you already know, you leave it as ignorant as you went in [stress added]." (The character John Wisehammer. In Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good [based upon the novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally], 1989, Act II, sc. 7, page 89.]

Perhaps the term "ignorant" is too harsh but hopefully you have given some thought to the information made available to you. Charles R. Darwin had his final and fatal heart attack on the 19th of April 1882. He made no deathbed statement as to his faith, but had he been asked the question: "Darwin, have you made peace with God?" perhaps he would have chosen to respond with the words attributed to Thoreau (1817-1862) on his deathbed, who is said to have responded to that question with: "I didn't know we had quarreled."

# # #


In 2000 there was a delightful book entitled Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters On The Evolution of Life And Human Behavior, wherein the author has Darwin saying:

"I am so glad you have taken the time and trouble to write to me. It is one of the saddest aspects of human existence that, as soon as one passes away, it is generally assumed that the deceased has no further interest in what he or she spent a great part of life investigating. From what you tell me of the Darwin industry of scholars in your day, busy seeking out every nuance of my life and thoughts, I have to conclude that there is indeed life after death [stress added]." Gabriel Dover, 2000, Dear Mr. Darwin: Letters On The Evolution of Life And Human Behavior (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson), page 3. 

For-virtually-every web page I do dealing with Charles Darwin, I "update" the following information concerning "Darwin" and "Search Engines" on the World Wide Web. Before examing the "Search Engine References" below, please consider the following:

"Google--or any search engine--isn't just another website; it's the lens through which we see that information, and it affects what we see and don't see. At the risk of waxing Orwellian, how we search affects what we find and by extension, how we learn what we know [stress added]. Lev Grossman, 2003, Search And Destroy. Time, December 22, 2003, pages 46-50, page 50.

And, for any readers of this page, please consider the following from March 31, 2004:

"Ten years from now--maybe five or even less--we will recall Google circa 2004 and wonder how we could have tolerated it. ... A search engine of 2010 will know who you are, where you are and what you're doing, and look across every form of information to automatically find what will help you. That's when today's Google will seem as quaint as the special effects in an old Godzilla movie [stress added]." Kevin Maney, 2004, Future search efforts wil make Google look like 8-tracks. USA Today, March 31, 2004, page 4B.  

On November 29, 2004, "search engine hits" for "Charles R. Darwin" resulted in the following information: Google had 656,000 items; Alta Vista Search had 524,000; WiseNut had 1,775; AllTheWeb had 428,000 web pages, and MSN Search had 103,893. Please consider previous search engine results:

November 2, 2004
October 20, 2004
October 12, 2004
May 4, 2004
April 14, 2004
March 22, 2004
February 10, 2004
January 4, 2004
September 27, 2003
November 27, 2002
May 2, 2002
February 6, 2002
October 17, 2001

Two things should be obvious: (#1) interest in Darwin continues and (#2), obviously, just as with people, all "search engines" are not created equal and there is "cultural selection" involved in everything we do! How does one "evaluate" and "use" this wide range of information? One does it just as Darwin did, carefully, patiently, and slowly, for as Darwin wrote:

"False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness: and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened." Charles R. Darwin, 1871, The Descent of Man And Selection in Relation to Sex[1981 Princeton University Press edition, with Introduction by John T. Bonner and Robert M. May], Chapter 21, page 385.

SPECIFIC URBANOWICZ DARWIN ITEMS (in reverse chronological order):

The Four Darwin Videos (available via the Internet with REAL PLAYER [].

2003 Charles Darwin: - Part Three: A Man of Science. [ ~Twenty-four Minute Video. Darwin from South America, through the Galápagos Islands, and back to England.] [] Produced and edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.

2001 Charles Darwin: - Part Two: The Voyage. [ ~Twenty-seven Minute Video. Darwin from South America, through the Galápagos Islands, and back to England.] [] Produced by Ms. Donna Crowe and edited by Ms. Vilma Hernandez: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.

1999 Charles Darwin: - Part One: The Voyage. [ ~Twenty-two Minute Video. Darwin sailing from England to South America.] [] Produced and edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.

1997 Charles Darwin: Reflections - Part one: The Beginning. [ ~Seventeen Minutes Video. Darwin in England]. []. Produced and edited by Ms. Donna Crowe: Instructional Media Center, CSU, Chico.


Urbanowicz-Generated Darwin Self-Tests (in reverse chronological order):

2004 (Darwin Self-Test Four} September 2004).

2003 (Darwin Self-Test Three} October 2003).

2001 (Darwin Self-Test Two} November 2001].

2000 (Darwin 2000-2001 [Self-Test One} January 2000).

# # #    

[~ 9,762 words]} 30 November 2004

1.© [All Rights Reserved.] Placed on the WWW on November 30, 2004, for a presentation (with visuals) this date in Professor Robert Stewart's PHIL 108 (ETHICS AND HUMAN HAPPINESS) at CSU, Chico. Today's presentation builds upon, and contributes to, earlier presentations in Professor Stewart's classes. For those earlier papers, please see: (May 5, 2004), (September 29, 2003), (December 2, 2002), (May 6, 2002), (November 17, 2001), (April 30, 2001), (April 26, 2000), and (December 2, 1998). To return to the beginning of this paper, please click here.

To go to the home page of Charles F. Urbanowicz.

to the Department of Anthropology;

to the Department of Philosophy;

To go to the home page of California State University, Chico.

 [This page printed from]

Copyright © 2004; all rights reserved by Charles F. Urbanowicz

30 November 2004 by cfu

# # #