The Theory Of Evolution Up To Date -- By: Leander S. Keyser
BSac 80:320 (Oct 1923) p. 471
The Theory Of Evolution Up To Date
Sometimes it is said that no one but the specialist in physical science has any right to form an opinion or pronounce a judgment in regard to the theory of evolution. Professor Edwin G. Conklin, of Princeton University, issued this edict in a recent publication: “Few opponents of evolution at the present time have either the technical training or even the desire to weigh critically the evidences for or against its truth. Properly to appreciate these evidences requires some first-hand knowledge of morphology, physiology, embryology, ecology, paleontology and genetics.” He says the same regarding biology. Thus by the recital of a list of big scientific names he seems to want to frighten the non-specialist into lamblike silence and acquiescence. In a recent brochure Professor Raymond C. Osburn, of the Ohio State University, makes this pronunciamento: “An educated man should at least be able to draw the line between what he knows and what he doesn’t know, and not attempt to pass judgment on matters outside of his field of training. An educated man without scientific training has no more basis for forming a proper judgment of the law of evolution than of the Einstein theory of Relativity.”
In the presence of such assumptions of superiority shall the rest of us subside into silence? There are several reasons why we shall answer this question in the negative. One of them is that many recent books have been written in a popular style to explain the evolution theory to the plain, common mind, as, for example, “The ABC of Evolution,” by Joseph McCabe. Other books, like those of Van Loon and J. Arthur Thompson, have been written for boys and girls of the high schools and even the grammar grades. How can these young people judge of the merits of evolution if it is too hard for adults to understand? If it were true that, in order to form a judg-
BSac 80:320 (Oct 1923) p. 472
ment on evolution, one must have technical training in science, then all the attempts on the part of scientists to popularize the theory are so much labor lost. Even Conklin’s recent brochure was a superfluous performance.
Again, some of us, while we do not claim to be specialists in physical science, have been giving much attention to it for many years, and believe we have mastered its fundamental principles. Having read a good many books in favor of evolution, including some of Darwin’s, Huxley’s, Spencer’s, Le Conte’s, McCabe’s, Morgan’s, Conklin’s, and others, we think we have at least some right to have a say on the subject. Besides, we do not find it necessary to over-strain our intellects to master the fundamental principles and claims of the advocates of the evolution the...
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