Precisely thirty years ago this month the late Stephen Jay Gould published an article in volume 89 of Natural History purporting to demonstrate Alfred Russel Wallace’s “fatal flaw.” Wallace, who co-discovered natural selection in his now-famous Ternate Letter of 1858, first startled Charles Darwin and then prompted him after years of ponderous delay to finally complete his Origin of Species and rush it to press. By November of the following year his magnum opus was in the hands of the English public. But Wallace would break with Darwin over the source of the human intellect. While Darwin thought man and animal different in degree not kind, Wallace felt that the special attributes of the human mind, its facility for abstract Read More ›
In nine highly readable chapters The Darwin Myth takes its reader from Darwin’s boyhood of wealth and privilege, to his brief stint in theology school, his quest for adventure, and the development of his “one long argument” that would form the remainder of his life’s work. This bold and uncompromising biography exposes Darwin “warts and all,” the flaws of Darwinian evolution, and the dark and disturbing consequences of a theory that easily lent itself to social Darwinism, the eugenics movement, and even Hitler’s völkisch racism.
Wood has Wiker asking the wrong question. Wiker didn’t ask, when did Darwin become an evolutionist, he asked, when did Darwin develop his worldview or philosophy? That is a powerful and important question and one not asked enough by Darwin’s biographers past and present; too bad Wood missed this point so tellingly and clearly made by Wiker.