Neil Thomas was a steadfast Darwinist, until an unexpected event.
“I had something of an epiphany in a nightmare that Darwinism could not be true,” he said. “I decided to read around a bit to see if this subconscious flash of insight could be true, and my research (which was diligent) confirmed the theory to be absurd.”
“I realized I had been conned,” he said. “I felt there was something dishonest about the huge claims made by Darwinism compared with the negligible evidence to support the thesis.”
He was so alarmed by this conclusion that he felt impelled to write a book as a sort of warning call to humanity: “Beware! You have been fooled!”
That book has just been released by Discovery Institute Press: Taking Leave of Darwin: A Longtime Agnostic Discovers the Case for Design.
A Rationalist Doubts Darwin
Critics of intelligent design will have a hard time maligning Thomas as a “creationist in a cheap tuxedo.” He isn’t religious and is a longtime member of the British Rationalist Association, a group known for religious skepticism.
The book traces the evolution debate across millennia, with Darwin and Darwinism emphasized as a crucial pivot point in the story. The author details key objections raised early on against Darwin’s theory and shows that those objections have been explained away, but never really rebutted.
Indispensable Academic Training
Thomas studied classics and European languages at the universities of Oxford, Munich, and Cardiff before becoming a professor at the University of Durham, England. He has published dozens of articles in refereed journals. And he has authored several books, including Reading the Nibelungenlied and Diu Crone and the Medieval Arthurian Cycle.
Thomas said his academic training proved useful in assessing the arguments offered in support of evolutionary theory.
“That background was indispensable in assessing the cogency (or non-cogency!) of evidence,” he said. “One of the things I taught for decades was the language of Nazi propaganda (Dr. Goebbels et al.) and also the political brainwashing via the German language used by the apparatchiks of the old German Democratic Republic. This was most useful in assessing the special pleading and loaded phrases used by such as Richard Dawkins.”
Thomas, the longtime agnostic of the book’s subtitle, now finds himself faced with a universe where a designer is not only possible but, by Thomas’s lights, the best explanation for the available evidence.
“The way Darwinism has been hijacked to attack religion is disgraceful, especially when on purely scientific grounds religion seems more logical than Darwinism,” he said. “Nothing comes of nothing after all, and there is no effect without a cause. The mindless automatism postulated for Darwinism on the other hand smacks of nothing so much as magical thinking.”