“Darwin’s House of Cards”

“Darwin’s House of Cards” July 8, 2018


A warm tidal pool
A tidal pool. Did Earth’s organic life originate in such a place?
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


I recently finished reading a book that I think some of you might find quite interesting:


Darwin’s House of Cards: A Journalist’s Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates


The Amazon.com summary does a good job, so I think I’ll just quote it here:  “In this provocative history of contemporary debates over evolution, veteran journalist Tom Bethell depicts Darwin’s theory as a nineteenth-century idea past its prime, propped up by logical fallacies, bogus claims, and empirical evidence that is all but disintegrating under an onslaught of new scientific discoveries. Bethell presents a concise yet wide-ranging tour of the flash points of modern evolutionary theory, investigating controversies over common descent, natural selection, the fossil record, biogeography, information theory, evolutionary psychology, artificial intelligence, and the growing intelligent design movement. Bethell’s account is enriched by his own personal encounters with of some of our era’s leading scientists and thinkers, including Harvard biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin; British paleontologist Colin Patterson; and renowned philosopher of science Karl Popper.”


Before I go any further, I would like to point out that Tom Bethell doesn’t claim that the Earth is only a few thousand years old.  He isn’t challenging radiocarbon dating.  He never relies upon theological reasoning or biblical proof texts.  If he’s a religious person — and I have literally no idea whether he is or isn’t — it would be really difficult to prove that from this book.  Moreover, he isn’t from the American Bible Belt.  He’s British, born and raised in London.  And, although he isn’t and doesn’t claim to be a practicing scientist himself, he did read philosophy, physiology, and psychology at Oxford University, from which he graduated before emigrating to the United States.


Anyhow, I found Darwin’s House of Cards extremely stimulating.


Bethell’s particular focus is on logical issues in Darwinism, and on natural selection as the purportedly sole and sufficient factor in speciation and perhaps, even, in the absolute origin of terrestrial life altogether.


I would be interested in reactions to the book from people who have actually read it.  Not, that is, from people who object in principle to any questioning of Darwinian ideology, from people who fear that any serious deviation from Darwinian orthodoxy might expose society to a rebirth of religion, or, even, from people who, not interested in reading the book for themselves, skim a couple of reviews of it and feel themselves, therefore, fully equipped to pronounce judgment on it.


I don’t care to hear slogans or witty quips or impassioned denunciations.  I have no interest in irrelevant fallacies of distraction.


I would be interested in hearing about genuine engagements with Darwin’s House of Cards.  I hope that many will seriously engage it.


Posted from Newport Beach, California



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