Man, Time, and Fossils: The Story of Evolution

By Ruth Moore | Go to book overview
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V LAMARCK THE SCIENTIFIC OPPOSITION

DARWIN'S DEATH did not still the controversy over the theory that he had thrust upon a largely unwilling, though partly welcoming world. The battle raged on, often ferociously.

The attack upon "Darwinism" came principally from two directions: from religious groups and from scientists. The religious forces, continuing to find a spokesman in the Bishop of Oxford, did not neglect any of the arguments against the theories of Darwin. In the end, though, the overriding objection was stated by the bishop: "Evolution is a denial that man was created in the image of God." On this plane the issue largely was unarguable.

The scientific opposition, on the other hand, could fight in the same arena. Questions could be asked and proof demanded.

After the 1860's few scientists differed with Darwin's basic ideas--that species are the product of evolution rather than of a special act of creation, and that in the great struggle for life the fittest survive. Nearly all of the outstanding scientists of the time were with him, certainly to that extent-Wallace, Spencer, Huxley, Lyell, Hooker, Henry Walter Bates; the Germans, Ernst Heinrich Haeckel and Karl Semper; the Americans, Asa Gray and Joseph Leidy, and many others.

The scientific opposition arose on other grounds.

In explaining how evolution occurs--in contrast with the fact that it does occur--Darwin's facts undoubtedly were fewer

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