"Evolution: A Doctrine in Search of a Theory"

BTG Issue: 
May 1981 | Vol. 16 No. 5
"Problem: If the standard evolutionary mechanism is inadequate, how can the origin of species be explained?"

"'All reputable evolutionary biologists now agree that evolution of life is directed by the process of natural selection, and nothing else.' With these words Sir Julian Huxley summed up the consensus of learned opinion at the Darwin Centennial Celebration of 1959. ... With this striking unanimity of established scientific opinion reached little more than two decades ago, perhaps we are surprised to hear that the theory of evolution has become the focus of a great controversy among evolutionists themselves. ... A few months ago this controversy became a near battle as some 150 prominent evolutionists gathered at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History to thrash out various conflicting hypotheses about the nature of evolution. ... Unfortunately, however, they could not reach a clear understanding ... The New York Times reported that the assembled scientists were unable either to specify the mechanism of evolution or agree on 'how anyone could establish with some certainty that it happened one way and not another.' ... Why this shift from unanimity to controversy and indecision? In this article we shall try to answer this question by examining some basic features of the modern theory of evolution. ... [Among them] we shall argue that the theory of evolution has been motivated more by philosophical misunderstanding than by the strength of empirical evidence and that the current confusion among evolutionary theorists has come about because factual evidence has persistently refused to conform to the patterns imposed by an inconsistent and inadequate philosophical system. Finally, we shall present for these philosophical problems a solution that can lead to a more satisfactory understanding of the nature and origin of life."

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