SIR,—Dr. Fothergill asks how I arrive at 7 per cent. and the figure 4,750. As regards the latter, which should be 43,076, his query is justified. On the supposition that there are 200,000 living biologists, he asserts that at the most 65 reject evolution. I doubt whether I know 200 who have
expressed opinions on evolution, but I do know 14 who reject the theory. This suggests that 7 per cent, is nearer than Dr. Fothergill's 0.003 per cent. of disbelievers. If his figure be correct,
as I know fourteen or nearly one-fourth of the total disbelievers, it would mean that I am acquainted with the views of nearly onefourth, or to be exact, 43,076, of the 200,000 living biologists 1
If Dr. Fothergill but glances at the introduction to Murray's book on butterflies, or even reads carefully the extracts I quoted he will see that Murray attacks the whole concept of evolution. Here is a further quotation :—" It is high time that the theory of common ancestry were forgotten. It has held the field long enough and is no nearer proof to-day than it was 70 or 100 years ago." He then gives reasnns why he rejects It.
Dr. Fothergill cannot respect biologists who have not the courage of their convictions; does he respect those who refuse to publish facts unfavourable to their views? I agree with Dr. Fothergill that a packed jury composed of biologists who had adopted evolution as a creed might give a verdict in its favour. despite the directions of an impartial judge. Dr. Fothergill's wild enthusiasm for Darwin's Origin of Species and the evolutionary edifice resulting from this book is pathetic. As to Darwin, a member of the French Academy wrote in Les Mondes : " the science of those of his books which have made his chief title to fame— The Origin of Species, and still more, the Descent of Man—is not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious, Owing to the domination of Darwin and the acceptance of the creed of evolution, it is only by courtesy that biology to-day can be called a science. Professor Vialkton wrote in 1924 :—" The textbooks of the past fifty years are just illustrations of transformisrn, setting forth only what is favourable to it and passing over in silence everything outside it or against it." Vialieton did not go far enough; manuals and lecturers on biology not only fail to state facts opposed to evolution but frequently make mis-statemeets in support of it. Here are samples of two mis-statements each or which has been made more than once: that all pre-Cambrian rocks have been destroyed and that Asia was formerly the home of marsupials (i.e., mammals who carry their young in pouches), Mr. G. S. Carter, Lecturer in Zoology in i he University of Cambridge, in his .4 General Zoology of the Invertebrates, published in 1940, writes, in order to account for the abundance of the remains of animals in the Cambrian rocks and their absence in preCambrian deposits: " The rocks of that period have been so altered by heating, crushing and in other ways that we cannot hope for palaeontological evidence from them." This is untrue. Most pre-Cambrian rocks have been altered, but there are in a number of localities great thicknesses of these rocks that have undergone no alteration and are eminently fitted to hold in a state of preservation fossils. in order to explain why Marsupials occur to-day only in America and Australia and New Guinea, Professor H. Munro Fox, T.R.S., writes (Biology, p. 310: " in early Tertiary times kangaroo-like animals lived all over Europe, Asia and North America." The truth is that not a single fossil of a kangaroo-like or any kind of marsupial has been found in Eastern Europe or in the whole of Asia. In view of mis-statements such as these and of the withholding of many facts against evolution, it is not surprising that to-day the majority of biologists are evolutionists. Had their teachers stated the evidence fairly the transformists would now be an insignificant
Newman's assertion, quoted by Dr. Fothergill, that evolution is a working hypothesis that works, might equally well have been applied to the Ptolemaic theory of Astronomy at the time it was fashionable; during the long period of its supremacy, it had frequently to be modified to make it square with new discoveries; but eventually it had to be discarded in into. To-day the state of the theory of organic evolution is similar to that of the Ptolemaic theory prior to its abandonment. Facts that cannot be burked have led to much tinkering with the evolution theory; to meet these, various kinds of evolution have been invented; convergent,
pnlyphylelic, clandestine, disorderly (Keith), adaptive radiation (Osborne). These correspond to the epicycles of the Ptolemaic system. By ignoring inconvenient facts evolutionists are able to give plausible explanations of many phenomena; but genesally these explanations will not bear close scrutiny. Here is an instance. The human embryo at an early stage of its development has a well-developed tail. The evolutionist explanation of this is that this useless tail is developed because man is descended from tailed ancestors, and, during his embryonic development, man has to repeat this ancestral stage. This sounds plausible, but, alas, for a short time the human embryo has an alimentary canal prolcrnged beyond the mouth in front and beyond the vent behind. Evolutionists dare not assert that any of man's adult ancestors had such a curious digestive canal, so the explanation of the tail does not work. Let me say that probably not one in a hundred books that parade man's embryonic tail as evidence of evolution mentions the embryonic prolongations of the embryonic gut. As regards my attitude regarding my rejected paper, let me refer Dr. Fothergill to page 75 of Science and the Supernatural. by Lunn and Haldane, where the following remark of Thomas Huxley is recorded: " I know the paper I have just sent in is very original and of some importance, and I am equally sure, if it is referred to the judgment of my ' particular friend, that it will not be published. He won't be able to say a word against it, but he will pooh-pooh it to a dead certainty." Dr. Fothergill resents my implication that he imagines that he is descended from an ape or tarsier or other animal. May I suggest that he will find great difficulty in placing in a scientific journal, except possibly the Transactions of the Victoria Institute, a paper in which he seeks to demonstrate that man is not descended from a non-human ancestor?
Alinora, Park Avenue, Camberley, Surrey.
Dr. W. R. Thompson, F.R.S., Quoted.
SIR,—There is one thing for which we are all indebted to Dr. Fothergill, and that is his amazing versatility—it has been the high spat of this controversy. He started as the king-lion of the biological world roaring mightily for the whole herd; but he very soon became, by a metamorphosis outside the ambit of any evolutionary speculation, the slippery eel of polemics. You simply can't get hold of him: " Darwinism is not Evolution; Neo-Lamarckism is only one theory of Evolution; . . . biological evolutionary theory or perhaps evolution in its full meaning; genetics (as defined by the dictionary) is liable to mislead; in any case (all his opponents' quotations) don't mean what they say they mean," and so on. How, effectively, can you deal with such shuffling and equivocation?
And, standing up sharp and sheer through all the froth and effervescence of his contradictions and imagined surrebuttals, there are in all his letters, sudden and staggering illogicalities upon which he recklessly impales himself with almost cataleptic abandon: he doesn't know the difference between universal and particular propositions, or what constitutes a legitimate inference; and, upon my soul, though he talks of them, I really believe be doesn't know what first principles are, or he would never say Mr. Dewar was ignorant of them when he infers man's descent from ape or tarsier with Evolution as his terminus a quo. Perhaps Dr. Fothergill will tell your readers in precise terms what " first principle " is inErected there?
Dr. Fothergill's fundamental misconception, if he cares to know it, is that he judges philosophy and the sciences to lie in quite separate spheres and to be void of authentic contacts. In this he is quite wrong as is brilliantly shown in Dr. W. R. Thompson's admirable Science and Commonsense, which I have just lately bad the opportunity of re
reading. Moreover, I was amazed at the closeness with which the section on Evolution followed the trend of the present controversy, and the contrast between Dr. Thompson's balanced and lucid estimate of evolutionary speculation and the type of scientific dragooning with which Dr. Fothergill essays to ride his opponents out of the held.
Quite sincerely I do not wish to trespass uselessly on yme space, but I would like the opportunity to quote two extracts which seem to me to prick Dr. Fothergill's bubble claims, and to offset his latest quotation from H. H. Newman. Dr. Thompson has " philosophised " according to prescription, " like St. Thomas," indeed with almost prophetical adherence to Dr. Fothergill's terms since the book is sub-titled " An Aristotelian excursion." Furthermore, he is a scientist of repute so he should be persona grata to Dr. Fothergill. And this is what he writes:— " The object of natural science is the explanation of the things and events observed in the world, in terms of natural causes. The hypothesis that the diversity of living things is due to natural forces and interactions is thus, for natural science, a perfectly legitimate hypothesis. These reasons, which are methodological, are not, however, reasons for believing in natural Evolution or for accepting it as a truth." (Dr, 1.'s italics). " The approximation of a hypothesis to the status of a truth depends essentielly on its assimilative capacity. . . Unfortunately, none of the evolutionary hypotheses now available permits a satisfactory integration of the facts." (My italics).
Again, " The concept of organic Evolution
is very highly prized by biologists . . because they regard it as a supreme integrative principle. This is probably the reason why the severe methodological criticism employed in other departments of biology has not yet been brought to bear against evolutionary speculation. There are, however, indications that this criticism will not now be long delayed. One such indication is the gradual loss of interest in evolutionary theory among the younger workers; another is the absence of any marked reaction in the biological world at large against the anti-evolutionary criticism . in recent years. It might be argued that this is due merely to the general feeling that evolution is an established truth and needs no defence; but such practical indifference is not very far distant from scepticism and often opens the way to it. Evolutionary speculation may eventually die through sheer inanition "; (Pelion upon Om 1) " and it seems probable that a thorough overhauling by epistemologists of the Viennese School would leave little of the evolutionary structure intact." 0 temporal 0 mores 1 EDMUND P. MeGmcrot. 160, Milton Road, Luton.
Evolution and Philosophy
Six,—I wish I could make Dr. Fothergill see that evolution, even if true, has little OI no philosophical value because it is unable to account for origins.
The old dilemma of creation of St. Bonaventure remains intact. If the world, after creation, was something new and positive, then it must have been an addition to God, and so God couldn't have been complete arid perfect from the beginning. If, on the other hand, God was complete and perfect from the beginning, how can the world represent anything new?
Put this in modern terms. A form—say, water—has just evolved out of hydrogen and oxygen. If it was hidden away in the gases from the start you still have the problem of explaining away the gases, If, on the other hand, it is distinct from them, you are faced with a new and special creation. Evolutien, in short, gives us forms which are either entirely distinct from their elements, each being a special creation and needing a .theory of creation to explain them ; or, on the other hand, these forms are mere re-arrangements of elements which were there from the beginning, in which case you haven't got the creation of anything new at all, but are instead faced with the problem of accounting for the rise of the elements,
In both cases you are up against special creation and can't get away from it.
All reasoning depends on fixed starting points not themselves the products of reasoning—but given to and by another intellectual power, intuition; so evolution presupposes fixed starting points not themselves the products of evolution.
An expert angler is no authority on the railway transport of fish that is the railwayman's job. So here.
A. P. GIANELLI (B.Sc.) 20, Lisson Grove,
Marylebone, London, N.W.1.
[We are inviting Dr. Fothergill to write a final letter with which this correspondence will cIose.—Eorroa. C.11.1.