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Nature Fulfilling Its Charter to Defend Evolution at all Costs

Casey Luskin

In his acclaimed book Evolution: The History of an Idea, the respected historian of evolution Peter J. Bowler explains that the journal Nature was originally founded in the late nineteenth century by T. H. Huxley and others for the express purpose of promoting a “campaign” to support Darwinism:

By exploiting their position in this network, Huxley and his friends ensured that Darwinism had come to stay. (Ruse, 1979a). They controlled the scientific journals–the journal Nature was founded in part to promote the campaign–and manipulated academic appointments. Hull (1978) has stressed how important these rhetorical and political skills were in creating a scientific revolution. The Darwinists adopted a flexible approach which deflected opposition, minimized infighting among themselves, and made it easy for others to join their campaign. Many, like Huxley himself, were not rigidly committed to the theory of natural selection; they were simply anxious to promote the case for evolution.

(Peter J. Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea, pg. 185 (University of California Press, 3rd ed., 2003).)

Nature has remained adept at using “rhetorical and political” tactics as part of a “campaign” to support Darwinism, and thus it comes as no surprise that the latest issue of Nature contains an editorial praising the National Academy of Science’s new version of Science, Evolution, and Creationism because it “summarize[s] the reasons why evolution is in effect as much a scientific fact as the existence of atoms or the orbiting of Earth round the Sun.” Such statements are saddening because they elevate evolution to the status of an unquestionable dogma and thus threaten the prestige of science as an objective voice in society.

More importantly, what are scientists who do question Neo-Darwinism supposed to do when the top scientific organization in the U.S. proclaims that evolution is as unquestionable as the existence of atoms or the heliocentric model of the solar system? Clearly such statements threaten the academic freedom of scientists to dissent from Neo-Darwinian evolution. As CSC senior fellow John West recently explained, there is significant scientific dissent from neo-Darwinism that deserves to be heard, but the NAS is using grand sweeping edicts to remove the academic freedom of scientists to challenge evolution.

The title of Nature‘s editorial is “Spread the word: Evolution is a scientific fact, and every organization whose research depends on it should explain why.” Again, we see politics at work: they think scientists should defend evolution because their “research depends on it.” It seems that what Bowler called Nature‘s “rhetorical and political” defense of evolution has only increased–to the point of religion-like dogmatism–over the past century.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.