I mentioned yesterday what seems clear: self-censorship in discussions of evolution, driven by fear of online mobs, foreshadowed dynamics in free speech suppression that the world is becoming familiar with now in areas outside biology. Here’s another way the evolution debate was ahead of history.
As you know, the craze now is to take down, tear down, or hide statues of historical figures who stick in the craw of our modern sensitivities. That includes not only Robert E. Lee but Christopher Columbus, various U.S. presidents, V.I. Lenin, and more. The assumption is that there is nothing we have to learn from the history these images represent. Thus we lose nothing by trashing or stashing them away.
Guess what? For the discussion about evolutionary theory, it’s a big “Been there, done that.” As Discovery Institute biologist Michael Denton recounted last year in a video conversation (above), Darwinists sought to mute the challenge to their man from the structuralism of Richard Owen. They did so by moving Owen’s 2000-pound statue from its commanding place at London’s Natural History Museum, which Owen founded, and replacing it with Darwin’s statue.
Dr. Denton is the author of Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis and other books. He observes, “You can move the statue, but the challenge of laws of form and structuralism remain.”
This from The Telegraph recounts some of the case against Owen:
His actions alienated many; others were jealous of the scale of his success. He fell out with Darwin, not over evolution itself but the forces that brought it about. Darwin won the argument, and his supporters wrote history in a way that marginalised Owen. They emphasised his defects: the occasions when he did not credit the work of others, the harshness of some of his reviews and the public disputes. They insinuated he was an anti-evolutionist, when Darwin must have known that he was not.
The “forces that brought [evolution] about” is the issue on which Darwinists and skeptics like Denton part ways today. Mike Denton is a latter-day Owen, but with a much more charming personality. As he explains, if Owen is right in his dispute with Darwin, then Darwin’s theory is limited to trivial microevolution.
Evolution’s apostles could teach today’s vandals a thing or two. They didn’t pull down and smash Owen’s statue. They didn’t take turns kicking it once it was on the ground.
They simply moved it to a place of obscurity. That appears to be on a balcony under a staircase, as you can see from the photo. So history is airbrushed. The message of rebuke can’t be missed, for better or worse. But this is accomplished without creating a martyr. You have to hand it to them. They’re smart.