Evolution Icon Evolution
Free Speech Icon Free Speech

The “Most Productive and Influential Microbiologist in France” Is a Furious Darwin Doubter

In biology and other fields, the extent of anti-Darwinian ferment is hugely understated if you look only at advocates of intelligent design. There’s also a substantial body of researchers who reject the conventional evolutionary paradigm, even as they reject ID. Thus we find, turning to the March 2 issue of Science, that the “most productive and influential microbiologist in France,” Didier Raoult of the University of Aix-Marseille, is a furious Darwin doubter.

Controversial and outspoken, Raoult last year published a popular science book that flat-out declares that Darwin’s theory of evolution is wrong.

The book is D�passer Darwin (Beyond Darwin):

“Darwin was a priest,” Raoult says, claiming that the image of the tree of life that Darwin proposed is inspired from the Bible. “It also is too simplistic.” Raoult questions several other tenets of modern evolutionary theory, including the importance of natural selection. He says recent discoveries in genetics show how frequently genes are exchanged not just between different microbial species but also between microbes and complex organisms, for instance, in the human gut. That means de novo creation of entirely new species is possible, Raoult argues, and Darwin’s branching tree of life should be replaced by a network of interconnected species.

A critical colleague worries that Raoult gives “ammunition” to “creationists,” while Eugene Koonin is quoted as offering the astounding opinion that Raoult “goes a bit too far.” How do you figure that? Because “Darwin’s theory is relevant but is incomplete. It does not apply to the evolution of microorganisms.” But microorganisms have been the predominating form of life on earth for the bulk of the history of life. To say Darwinism can’t explain their evolution, coming from an evolutionist, is an admission that takes your breath away.
No wonder Raoult is in doubt. Only in America does the Darwinian Guild succeed so splendidly in enforcing conformity of expressed opinion, so that doubts are shared mostly sotto voce or in strictly professional contexts when, it’s assumed, the public isn’t listening. In our country, the Guild rules by fear and guilt by association but — wait. Can this really go on indefinitely? It seems not. In France, at least, the Guild can’t do as much as it does here and so you have a situation where the country’s leading microbiologist is also a Darwin critic.
We once assumed the Soviet Union could never fall in our lifetimes. A colleague just got back from a trip to Cuba and talks about portents of change even there.
What this says about the future prospects of intelligent design isn’t certain but it’s a dread omen for evolutionary orthodoxy.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



DarwinDavid CoppedgeDidier Raoultfree speechintelligent designJet Propulsion LaboratoryNASAScience