Saturday, 25 April 2009

Roy Davies and The Darwin Conspiracy

During a brief down-time moment in Champaign, IL I have discovered something that I wrote a few months back and did nothing with. Roy Davies, author of The Darwin Conspiracy, came to talk to the staff of the Natural History Museum, London. I jotted down some thoughts after the event, so here it is, not particularly timely, but hey!

I imagine that Roy Davies was just a little nervous sat before the assorted staff of the NHM. Evolution is part and parcel of their trade. In fact, the process of evolution and one of its results, speciation, is what they study. To accuse one of its founding fathers, Charles Darwin, of fraud (essentially stealing his ideas from Alfred Russel Wallace) may be considered a heresey.

Although heresy was not the mood in the room when Davies had finished, and nor should it have been. Surprise was certainly present in some, but for the majority it was probably curiosity. Davies gives his sources, and until those who weren't totally familiar with all of them had checked them his claims cannot be discredited. I don't have a thorough enough background in Darwin's works and letters to even begin to formulate a reasoned response. Neither do many of the countless people who will criticise Davies for attacking a person who to them embodies reason and science (and to many also atheism).

I would like however to welcome Davies, a TV hack and journalist, to the world of skepticism and reason. We believe that any idea is open to criticism and review. Darwin's contribution to evolutionary theory is one of those ideas. Davies has read more of Darwin's works than many of Darwin's defenders. Science should not be threatened by Davies' ideas. If they are wrong they can be disproved. If they are right the history books must be re-written. So what? It shows that is the scientific method is applied to the history of science then reason prevails.

One thing that did come out of the event was a near-universal view that Alfred Russel Wallace made a significant contribution that is being increasingly overlooked.

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