Thank you for the wonderful essay. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as usual.

Interestingly, although it’s generally agreed that Darwin came upon the essence of his theory in 1837-1838, a perennial question is why he waited until 1859 to publish the Origin. Of the many answers that have been offered, one is particularly amenable to close historical scrutiny: the fact that he could not explain to his own satisfaction the evolution of what he called the "wonderful instincts" of the social insects… which included slave-making by some ant species and hive building by the honey bees.

I’ve appended a link to a paper in which I argue for the latter — the well-known but misunderstood natural history of the honey bees was, indeed, one of the forces that stayed Darwin’s hand.


Thank you again for a great essay!

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The immutability of species is a paper tiger set up by evolutionists to destroy creationist arguments whereas modern creationists point out how that is not the Biblical position. The Bible speaks of kinds of animals, not species. Hence within a kind can be say dog kinds from the huge variety of domestic dogs to wolves. ....all derived from a starting large genetic pool of dog/,wolf kind to refined end points, the refining done by the environment or man. Kinds have their limits though. Darwin enjoyed breeding unusual pigeon varieties but never turned them into anything else such as small hawks other than....pigeons. And the finches on Galapagos have trended back to a more uniform beak form in response to food type changes. Epigenetic?

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Thank you for this reminder of Darwin’s influence on modern thought. It sounds like Darwin rejected the historical narrative he originally believed and began piecing together a new historical narrative based on the theological argument that nature displays characteristics inconsistent with his theological beliefs about the characteristics of a creator, “The death of Darwin’s beloved ten-year-old daughter Anne put an end to whatever confidence he had in God’s benevolence, omniscience, and thus existence.”

When I learned that my father died, it had a similar effect on my beliefs about a creator. I had believed that God would not let my father die young. When I prayed for my father to be healed, I believed that he would be healed. I believed that if I asked anything according to God’s will, that I would have what I ask of him. I believed it could not be God’s will for my father to die and leave a widow and five children without a father. Reality smacked me in the face and told me that my beliefs about God were wrong. That is where Darwin and I parted ways however. This did not prove to me that life must have come into existence without a creator, only that some of my beliefs about the creator were clearly wrong. It is amazing to me that I still experience an emotional reaction when I consider this moment in my life, approaching two decades later. Still, the existence of a creator for life seems as obvious to me as the existence of a creator for an origami crane I happen to stumble upon.

I agree with the sentiment of this article, that Darwin matters. His influence on modern thought is staggering. The problem I have always had with Darwinism is it requires pretending I can’t recognize a well-known and established pattern. As you indicated, “As pattern-seeking, storytelling primates, to most of us the pattern of life and the universe indicates design“, yet you contend that “science has presented us with a viable alternative in which the design comes from below through the direction of built-in self-organizing principles of emergence and complexity.“ While I admit that a clearly established scientific formulation for recognizing intelligent causation is lacking, I feel it is just as necessary to admit that distinguishing between products of a legitimate designer and products of natural causes, is a well-known and established practice (think reverse-engineering). To entertain the idea that a designer cannot be invoked to explain the origin of an Egyptian pyramid or Stonehenge, would require a massive (and perhaps unrealistic) suspension of disbelief; yet we are expected to perform the same suspension of disbelief when studying organic chemistry (see topoisomerase).

I am curious to know how similar your beliefs are to Ernst Mayr on several points. Would you agree with Ernst Mayr's characterization of Darwinism as a historical narrative, distinct from law-based theories such as the theory of gravity? Do you think competing historical narratives should be favored over experimentation?


"Darwin introduced historicity into science. Evolutionary biology, in contrast with physics and chemistry, is a historical science—the evolutionist attempts to explain events and processes that have already taken place. Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques for the explication of such events and processes. Instead one constructs a historical narrative"

"Laws give way to concepts in Darwinism. In the physical sciences, as a rule, theories are based on laws; for example, the laws of motion led to the theory of gravitation. In evolutionary biology, however, theories are largely based on concepts such as competition, female choice, selection, succession and dominance. These biological concepts, and the theories based on them, cannot be reduced to the laws and theories of the physical sciences."

"Observation, comparison and classification, as well as the testing of competing historical narratives, became the methods of evolutionary biology, outweighing experimentation."

"I hope I have successfully illustrated the wide reach of Darwin’s ideas. Yes, he established a philosophy of biology by introducing the time factor, by demonstrating the importance of chance and contingency, and by showing that theories in evolutionary biology are based on concepts rather than laws."

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Excellent article. Reading pieces and books like this are for me Therapeutic. I feel released from the Dogma and oppression of Religion and Theology. Sciencuality.......make it a word in the Dictionary......Feynman has written about how science is not opposed to the experience of Beauty found in Nature.......

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Thank you, Michael. I will share this today with the cast and audience at our local community theater where we are currently staging "Inherit the Wind"

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Feb 12·edited Feb 12

I know where I’m going, to the Brewery.

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Excellent piece as usual, but surprised to find three typos, which is very uncharacteristic.

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