Scientific Objections to Darwin's “Origin of Species” in 1859
Perhaps Charles Darvin’s classical work Origin of Species published in 1859 is among the world’s most criticized works. In his masterpiece, Darwin made observations that soon received objections from all corners of the world from socialist to religious proponents. There is no wonder that people are still finding new objections today more than one and a half century after the work was published. Nevertheless, the scientific objections that were advanced against the work of Darwin concerning evolution are of interest to human beings because science itself is founded on the principles of verifiable evidences that support its argument. This is the reason why, of all the advances of criticisms against evolution theory as perceived by Charles Darwin, scientific objections will rest its case, because there will be evidence to back up the claims. Notably, religious and social objections have also come to find refugee in scientific objections and, therefore, any two can intermingle (Birchmeier 2011, p. 15). This paper addresses the scientific objections to Origin of Species in 1859. The paper also discusses the argument that Darwin used to defend his work against the objections.
Nowak (2006, p. 8) observes that science took issue with Darwin’s assertion that life began in a warm pond in what he called warm pond theory. However, the scientific evidence showed that there was no possibility of life arousing spontaneously just from nowhere. In fact, if the bond is warm, then it means that a form of life exists somewhere. Furthermore, science continued to object to this fundamental observation by Darwin by the fact that although man had for ages studied other heavenly bodies that exhibited signs of warmth, they did not have any form of life. Aswas later proved through the extraordinary ascending of man to the Moon, there is no form of any life on the Moon, yet the place has some kind of warmth that Darwin claimed necessitated evolution.
Another scientific objection to Darwin’s theory of evolution was his view on homology where he wanted to support his theory by observing animals that belonged to different species with similar structures. The classical example he gave was the five fingers on a human hand and the five digits that are on the wings of a bad or even a dolphin. As much as Darwin’s theory was concerned, this was a pointer to a common ancestry. However, science objected to this arguing that evidences from fossils did not show Darwin’s assertion of the gradual evolution of limbs. The argument for this was that, scientifically, some things just happen because of the common design. For instance, in construction, all houses have doors, but that does not mean that all houses have the same designer or even the same ultimate end. As such, there were no evidences in the fossil records that showed that living creatures originated from a common ancestor but only separated in characteristics along the way.
Similarly, another scientific objection related to transitions of living things from one species to the other. Darwin’s postulations that evolution from single-celled organisms to higher animals required a multitude of cells to be involved in the transition, yet fossil records dating billions of years did not present any evidence to support this assertion. In fact, science proved that the first organisms were as complex as today’s, if not more. Strobel (2009 p. 13) notes that Darwin himself seemed to question his theory when he wrote in The Origin of Species:
“But, as by this theory [evolution] innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?” (p. 144).
Additionally, science objected to the assertion of irreducible complexity where Darwin proposed that species evolved from simple life forms and thus individual features as well. Subsequent scientific evidences have thus continued to point to numerous evidences through fossils saying that evolution did not occur as Darwin claimed; with search for transition forms was ongoing for many years without a single sign of ever getting closer.
Scientific objections were also directed at Darwin’s representation of the idea of the tree of life as a sufficient conviction for a common ancestor. This theory fails to recognize that the propositions that are represented therein point only to one species, yet science finds a multitude of species in the existence. If this theory was to hold water, we should have had as many ancestors as many species there are today.
Similarly, Miller (2002 p.30) argues that Darwin failed to recognize that some of his suppositions in the tree of life theory pointed to the adaptation mechanisms and not evolution since even today, organisms tend to change their features while trying to adapt to new environment. That does not mean that they have changed their DNA structure or, more observably, their species. Furthermore, hundreds of years of crossbreeding animals have failed to show evolution characteristics of speciation as was claimed by Darwin in evolution. That is, scientific selection and variation has not produced a new species so far, which means that speciation is among the little impossibilities to nature.
Instead, science is full of evidences that prove the inverted nature of the tree of life theory. This is where evidences indicate that, actually, the world begun with more species than we have today, some of which were phased out by nature through extinction. As observed by The Guardian (2009 p. 3), of all the foundations of Darwin’s evolution theory, tree of life is the most scientifically ridiculous assertion, because it is, in fact, a foundation of one person while knowing well that scientific evidences turn the tree of life upside down. In essence, science was proving that Darwin intentionally invented a theory to convince human beings to conform to his wild imagination.
Furthermore, science objected to the proposition that human beings evolved from apes. One single question to this proposition was that if men evolved from apes, why are we still having apes? Further, Darwin could not explain the reason why apes remained almost the same as ancestors and man evolved so far or even why there was no evolution going on today. Even though features of the man and apes are explicitly similar, science had continued to disapprove the possibility that these two species originated from the same ancestor. Miller (2002 p.21) notes that recent findings have lowered the percentage of DNA sharing to 93% with far much variation in behavior, intellect, and body structure among other features. A quick scientific explanation to the similarities of a chimpanzee and a man is that they are a result of design.
As Bowler (1992 p. 10) notes, Darwin was well aware of the Cambrian Explosion in which science has evidently indicated that a variety of complex life forms appeared suddenly in what has come to be known as biology’s Big Bang, and that this action was not preceded by any other life. Contrary to Darwin’s hope of a few organisms emerging because of warmth, fossil records show that body types known as phyla arouse almost at the same time. Korthof (1988 p. 5) indicates that evidences of biology’s Big Bang presented an insurmountable challenge to Darwin and his fellow evolutionarists to the point of admitting in his later book that there are no rich fossiliferous deposits that belong to the periods that had been assumed to have appeared for the Cambrian system. He, therefore, admitted that he could not give a satisfactory answer.
Additionally, science objected to Darwin’s expectation of intermediate links between species. In fact, Darwin himself was ruffled by fossil records for their lack of fine gradations that link one species to the other. Interestingly, if Darwin’s assumption of intermediate links were to be true, it would be implying that between any two species there should be an infinite number of species. This cannot be true, because he failed to produce even a single species that exhibited the intermediate gradation that he supposed.
Darwin Response to Scientific Objections
According to Gould (2007, p. 4), Darwin was prepared for any kind of criticism that was going to be directed against his work, and he knew this well before publishing the work. This placed him in a better position to respond to some criticism objectively, although in some, he could resign to the objection. For instance, speaking about the criticism of intermediate gradation, he responded by admitting it. As noted by Covington (2012, p. 1), Darwin found it difficult to prove his assertion and wondered why geological formation and every stratum were not full of intermediate links as he expected. Still, he argued that maybe geology was not capable of revealing such linkages to man and only that could present a serious objection to his theory. In other words, Darwin implied that people have not evolved enough to see the linkages in species that are found in geological formations.
Since The Origin of Species attracted objection from even some of the people that Darwin expected to support his theory, it seemed that most of the time Darwin resorted to easily admitting the fault in his conception of evolution. For example, in a letter to Bronn, he clearly admits that he cannot explain the course of modification in any particular instance and added that there was a proof that no single species had undergone evolution if details are followed. In a record statement, Darwin admits of being weary from telling people that he did not pretend to “adduce direct evidence of one species changing into another” (Dawkins 2010, p. 11).
Concerning one of the most widely discussed criticism regarding the possibility of a complex structure such as the eye evolving, Darwin responded by saying that this was possible given simple eyes such as the lancet that existed in some species. He defended his answer by arguing that even the fabricated telescope has continued to undergo modification despite of the fact that it was one of the most complex and novel creations of man during those times. He argues in defense of evolution that any sensitive nerve could be rendered sensitive to light through evolution; therefore, there was no great deal in trying to understand how an eye evolved.
Darwin also used natural selection most of the time while answering criticisms. In fact, in most of the scientific objections that questioned the evolution of organisms and, in fact, supported the idea of a Creator, Darwin was quick to use natural selection a highway to evolution. In one famous argument for the existence of Creator through the analogy of a watch and the Watchmaker, Darwin stated that he was completely convinced that everything in nature was a result of fixed laws, and there were no possibilities of divine design as was suggested by the analogy (Johnson 2010. p.9).
In conclusion, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin seems to have attracted much scientific objection because of the way it set out to underrate the level of human beings causing even one of its proposers, Wallace, to abandon it and opt for more social and women-related theories that were not likely to generate much controversy. However, he defended his evolution theory to death.