|"Nobel Prize winner Dr. Francis Crick (co-discoverer of one of the most important discoveries of 20th century biology) arrived at the theory that life could never have evolved by chance on planet earth."
Two Worldviews in Conflict
What do thousands of scientists believe about creation and evolution?
The Experts Say What?
In 1981, the British Museum of Natural History in London,
England, to mark its one hundredth anniversary, opened
a new exhibit on evolution. As one entered the exhibition
hall, one saw a notice in flickering lights:
Have you ever wondered why there are so many
different kinds of living things?
One idea is that all the living things we see
today have EVOLVED from a distant ancestor by a
process of gradual change.
How could evolution have occurred? How
could one species change into another?
The exhibition in this hall looks at one possible
explanation — the explanation first thought
of by Charles Darwin.
One of the world’s leading scientific journals, Nature,
promptly ran an editorial in response to the museum’s suggestion
above that evolution by natural selection was only
one of a number of possible explanations. The editorial was
titled “Darwin’s Death in South Kensington.” The editor
quoted a phrase from a brochure of the museum, “If the theory
of evolution is true,” as evidence of the Museum’s “rot.” It
The new exhibition policy, the museum’s chief interaction
with the outside world, is being developed
in some degree of isolation from the museum’s
staff of distinguished biologists, most of whom
would rather lose their right hands than begin a
sentence with the phrase, “If the theory of evolution
is true. . . .”
Two weeks later, this editorial solicited the following response
from the museum:
Sir — As working biologists at the British Museum
of Natural History we were astonished to read your
editorial “Darwin’s Death in South Kensing-ton.”
How is it that a journal such as yours that is devoted
to science and its practice can advocate that
theory be presented as fact? This is the stuff of prejudice,
not science, and as scientists our basic concern
is to keep an open mind on the unknowable.
Surely it should not be otherwise?
You suggest that most of us would rather lose
our right hands than begin a sentence with the
phrase “If the theory of evolution is true. . . .” Are
we to take it that evolution is a fact, proven to the
limits of scientific rigor? If that is the inference then
we must disagree most strongly. We have no absolute
proof of the theory of evolution. What we do
have is overwhelming circumstantial evidence in
favor of it and as yet no better alternative. But the
theory of evolution would be abandoned tomorrow
if a better theory appeared.
The letter was signed by 22 of the museum’s staff of “distinguished
Other experts have also made some significant comments
concerning the theory of evolution:
- The great evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky, whose
work had a major influence on 20th century thought and
research on genetics and evolutionary theory, published a review
of a book entitled Evolution du Vivant (Evolution of Living
Organisms). This book was written by one of the most
distinguished of French scientists, Pierre P. Grassé.
- In Dobzhansky’s review of Grassé’s book, he stated, “The
book of Pierre P. Grassé is a frontal attack on all kinds of Darwinism.
Its purpose is to destroy the myth of evolution as a
simple, understood, and explained phenomenon, and to show
that evolution is a mystery about which little is, and perhaps
can be, known. Now, one can disagree with Grassé but not
ignore him. He is the most distinguished of French zoologists,
the editor of the 28 volumes of ‘Traite de Zoologie,’
author of numerous original investigations, and ex-president
of the Academie des Sciences. His knowledge of the living
world is encyclopedic. . . .” And in the closing sentence of the
review, Dobzhansky says, “The sentence with which Grassé
ends his book is disturbing: ‘It is possible that in this domain
biology, impotent, yields the floor to metaphysics.’ ” In other
words, Grassé closes his book with the statement that biology
is powerless to explain the origin of living things, and that it
may have to yield to metaphysics, possibly supernatural creation
of some kind.
- Grassé, with an encyclopedic knowledge in the field, argued
that “the explanatory doctrines of biological evolution
do not stand up to an objective in-depth criticism. They prove
to be either in conflict with reality, or else incapable of solving
the major problem involved.”
- A startling statement by Professor Louis Bounoure declared,
“Evolution is a fairy tale for grown-ups. This theory
has helped nothing in the progress of science. It is useless.” Bounoure was former president of the Biological Society of
Strasbourg and director of the Strasbourg Zoological Museum,
and later Director of Research at the French National Center
of Scientific Research.