Thomas Vernon Wollaston

Thomas_mainThomas Vernon Wollaston (1821-1878) is mentioned in chapters II, V, VI and XIII of Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species. Wollaston’s scientific work on hundreds of species of beetles and insects inhabiting Madeira and fossil land-shells from the same region, is called “admirable” by Darwin and it is strongly relied on in his book.

We present three interesting objections to the theory of evolution from Wollaston’s review of Darwin’s book.

Review of the Origin of Species
(Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 1860, 5:132-143)
 

Darwin replaced God with “Nature”

I witnessed, while talking to materialists and atheists about the Creation/evolution issue and the perfection of our world, their repeated reference to “Nature”: “Nature did this, nature did that”, whenever there is a need for something supernatural to do the work. “Nature”, as something more powerful than us. According to the theory of evolution, we humans, are the highest form of intelligence on this planet. So who is this “Nature”?

“Nature” in Darwin’s book, is capable of thinking, designing, planning, selecting, acting etc. She has power over our world. This is a supernatural agent, a different God. In Darwin’s theory, this “personified abstraction”, as Wollaston calls it, replaces the God of the Bible, the Creator of the Universe.

…Besides, to make “nature” accomplish anything requiring intelligence and foresight, and other attributes of mind, is nothing more or less than to personify an abstraction, and must be regarded therefore as the highest degree unphilosophical. We believe it was Coleridge who first called attention to this fact, that to treat a mere abstraction as an efficient cause is simply absurd. But that this is the plain and undoubted tendency of our modern materialists, the following sentence, taken at random from the present volume, will certainly go far to corroborate: “As man can produce, and certainly has produced, a great result by this methodical and unconscious means of selection, what may not nature effect? Man can act only on external and visible characters: nature cares nothing for appearances, except in so far as they may be useful to any being. She can act on every internal organ, on every shade of constitutional difference, on the whole machinery of life. Man selects only for his own good; Nature only for that of the being which she tends. Every selected character is fully exercised by her; and the being is placed under well-suited conditions of life” (p.83).But who is this “Nature”, we have a right to ask, who has such tremendous power, and to whose efficiency such marvellous performances are ascribed? What are her image and attributes, when dragged from her wordy lurking-place? Is she aught but a pestilent abstraction, like dust cast into our eyes to obscure the workings of an Intelligent First Cause of all?

The missing transitional links

Darwin explained in The Origin of Species, that his theory requires “innumerable transitional forms” imbedded in the crust of the earth by “countless numbers”. These transitional fossils were missing at that time, and “…this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory”, as Darwin admits in his book. More than 100 years have passed since, and as Dr. Niles Eldredge, a paleontologist from the American Museum of Natural History sums it up: “But no one has yet found any evidence of such transitional creatures”.

Wollaston:

…More especially will this apply to that gravest of all objections (as Mr. Darwin frankly admits), the thorough and complete absence (both in geological collections, imperfect though they be, and those, extensive and endless as they are, of the Recent Period) of that countless host of transitional links which, on the “natural selection” theory, must certainly have existed at one period or another of the world’s history. They may be forthcoming some day; we cannot tell (and so, truly, may many other things, after the same fashion of reasoning!): but at present it is absolutely certain that we have not so much as a shadow of evidence either that they do exist, or have ever existed. On whichever side we turn we find order and symmetry to be the law of creation, instead of confusion and disorder.

Many “developments” do not improve the species, but rather show the work of a Creator

Darwin reasons that every aspect of life and every feature of a living organism must be advantageous for the survival of that organism and has been brought about by the natural selection process. Clearly, every naturalist must recognize that there are numerous “modifications” that have nothing to do with the advancement of the species, they merely “decorate” and enhance the elegance of creatures, or even make them look grotesque, and all these show the design work of an intelligence, instead of nature’s random intervention.

…Moreover, some of these “developments” (so called) seem merely given for the adornment or elegance of the creature, and frequently display an arrangement of colouring which nothing but an actual intelligence could have planned, and which therefore no amount of mere chance “selection” by an imaginary agent called “nature” can be supposed to have effected. Nor can such characters be referred to what our author would call “sexual selection”, seeing that, in the majority of instances, they pertain to both males and females. Neither can they be due to “correlation of growth”, for we cannot conceive that such marvellous perfection of painting as, for instance, the tints of certain butterflies (which are blended together with such nicety and consummate skill, in accordance with the laws of colouring, as to surpass an artist’s touch) could have been brought about through mere correlation with a change in some other part of the organism. Such cases bespeak thought, imagination, and judgment, all and each of the highest stamp, and are utterly inexplicable on any of the three principles above alluded to.

 


Bibliography

1.  David L. Hull, Darwin and His Critics. The Reception of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by the Scientific Community, Harvard University Press, 1973, pages 126-144

2.  Walt Brown, In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood, Center for Scientific Creation, 1995, p. 47