Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Julian Huxley's Confession by John A. Davison

by John A. Davison

The history of any science often reveals aspects of that science that have escaped attention in the intervening years. As someone so wisely put it -”The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” I present, in this brief essay, one particularly revealing demonstration of that phenomenon, one that is especially significant to the current status of the Darwinian hypothesis.

Julian Huxley was the grandson of the distinguished Thomas Henry Huxley, known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his spirited defense of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Like his illustrious grandfather Julian Huxley became a major spokesperson for Darwinism when in 1942 he published his“Evolution: The Modern Synthesis.”

Two years earlier, Richard B. Goldschmidt had published “The Material Basis of Evolution” in which he had in effect dismissed the corpuscular gene as the evolutionary unit and instead proposed that it was the chromosome and its internal structure, which had served to direct evolutionary change. It is difficult to imagine two books more opposed in perspective.

Huxley referred to Goldschmidt some 28 times, yet remained a convinced selectionist Darwinian nevertheless. It is important to remember that Darwin wholeheartedly subscribed to Lyell’s Uniformitarian Doctrine; namely, that the forces we now see shaping the world are the same forces that have operated in the past. While that is what most geologists still accept there is no a priori justification for extending that concept to the living world. That is what makes what I am about to present all the more significant.

Huxley’s book ends with the chapter “Evolutionary Progress.” On page 571, seven pages before the end he presents the following synopsis. For emphasis I have italicized key words and phrases but otherwise it is verbatim.

Evolution is thus seen as a series of blind alleys. Some are extremely short - those leading to new genera and species that either remain stable or become extinct. Others are longer - the lines of adaptive radiation within a group such as a class or subclass, which run for tens of millions of years before coming up against their terminal blank wall. Others are still longer - the lines that have in the past led to the development of the major phyla and their highest representatives; their course is to be reckoned not in tens but in hundreds of millions years. But all in the long run have terminated blindly. That of the echinoderms, for instance, reached its climax before the end of the Mesozoic. For the arthropods, represented by their highest group, the insects, the full stop seems to have come in the early Cenozoic: even the ants and bees have made no advance since the Oligocene. For the birds, the Miocene marked the end; for the mammals, the Pliocene.

I was amazed to read this summary and was curious to find out what prompted Huxley to include it at the end of his book, as it would seem to negate much of what preceded it. Where did he get the notion that evolution was finished? This I feel I was able to do from a paper by the anti-Darwinian paleontologist Robert Broom. Huxley and Broom had corresponded on the subject as revealed by Broom:

And a few zoologists are beginning to recognize that evolution is slowing down, if not quite stopped. In a letter I had from Professor Julian Huxley only a few months ago he says, ‘I have often thought about your idea of the fading out of evolutionary potency, and though I cannot pretend to agree with some of the philosophical corollaries which you draw from it, I more and more believe that it is of great importance as a fact.’ (Broom, 1933).


I was disappointed to discover that the only reference Huxley made to Broom was in a footnote on page 568:

A small minority of biologists, such as Broom (1933), still feel impelled to invoke ‘spiritual agencies’ to account for progressive evolution, but their number is decreasing as the implications of modern selection theories are grasped.

The reference to “spiritual agencies” by Broom was his suggestion that there had been a Plan, a word he capitalized.

Without referring to either Huxley or Broom, Pierre Grasse reached the same conclusions:

Facts are facts; no new broad organizational plan has appeared for several
hundred million years, and for an equally long period of time numerous
species, animal as well as plant, have ceased evolving… At best, present
evolutionary phenomena are simply slight changes of genotypes within
populations, or substitution of an allele with a new one. (Grasse, The
Evolution of Living Organisms,1977 page 84.)
and:

The period of great fecundity is over; present evolution appears as a
weakened process, declining or near its end. Aren’t we witnessing the
remains of an immense phenomenon close to extinction? Aren’t the small
variations which are being recorded everywhere the tail end, the last
oscillations of the evolutionary movement? Aren’t our plants, our animals,
lacking some mechanisms which were present in the early flora and
fauna? (Ibid, page 71).

I unhesitatingly answer yes to each of Grasse’s three questions and I hope others can as well. The reason I have presented this brief essay is to demonstrate that, even from within the Darwinian establishment, grave doubts have surfaced concerning its basic tenets from one of their most prominent spokespersons. I am not surprised Huxley is rarely referenced these days.

References:
Broom, R. (1933) Evolution - Is there intelligence behind it? South African Journal of Science, 30: 1-19

Goldschmidt, R. B. (1940) “The Material Basis of Evolution.” Yale University Press, New Haven.

Grasse, P. (1977 “Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation.” Academic Press, New York. (Original French edition 1973).

Huxley, J. (1942) “Evolution: The Modern Synthesis.” Harper, New York and London.

17 comments:

Thomas Henry Huxley said...

Darwinians everywhere.

What do you think about the idea that evolution is finished? Do you still think that Broom, Huxley, Grasse and Davison are all dead wrong and that evolution is going on all around us? Come on speak up.

I love it so!

"A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
John A. Davison

Dilliam Wembski said...

Maybe some of your cronies over at the Bunker would like to comment here. How about Pott L. Scage or Joe Tam or some of the other luminaries from Elsberry's Alamo?

I love it so!

"A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
John A. Davison

Archie and Edith Bunker said...

This is beautiful. Not a word from the Darwimps when Pierre Grasse, Robert Broom, Julian Huxley and John A. Davison all claim evolution is over and the Darwimps are taking it lying down, paralyzed with the realization that they have been chasing a phantom all their lives. Throw in the towel folks. You are finished, washed up, kaput!

It is hard to believe isn't it?

I love it so!

A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
John A. Davison

Alan Fox said...

Try now, John.

Sigmund Freud, another loser said...

Try what? When Grasse, Broom. Huxley and Davison have all reached the conclusion that creative evolution is a thing of the past, it is the Darwimpians turn to "try" something don't you think?

"Darwinians of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your natural selection."
after Karl Marx, another prescribed loser.

It is hard to believe isn't it?

I love it so!

"A past evolution is undeniable. a present evolution undemonstrable.
"
John A. Davison

Alan Fox said...

Two years earlier, Richard B. Goldschmidt had published “The Material Basis of Evolution” in which he had in effect dismissed the corpuscular gene as the evolutionary unit and instead proposed that it was the chromosome and its internal structure, which had served to direct evolutionary change.

If Goldschmit were alive and writing today, he would find it impossible to dismiss "corpuscular" genes. The cistron is a well -established concept in evolutionary biology. It is as if you have become frozen in the past. Molecular biology was not even a separate discipline when Goldschmit was working. Who, by the way disputes that it is the internal structure of the chromosome that carries inheritable information?

Dichard Rawkins said...

Yiou are a hopeless, feckless wreck Alan somthere is no use trying to make you understand anything.

By the way I just sent the following URL off to your hero Dichard Rawkins asking for his candid evaluation of its merit.

http://www.iscid.org/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=000675;p=5

message January 25, 2007, 11:29AM

Be sure to tell them about it over at the Bunker.

I love it so!

"A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
John A. Davison

Alan Fox said...

Yiou (sic) are a hopeless, feckless wreck Alan somthere (sic) is no use trying to make you understand anything.

Avoiding my question, John? Who, by the way disputes that it is the internal structure of the chromosome that carries inheritable information?

By an amazing coincidence, I have a friend staying, who is a near neighbour of Professor Dawkins, and occasionally bumps into him socially. I'll ask her if she would mind mentioning your name next time she happens to meet him and see if he has heard of you.

Spravid Dinger, the biggest bully in cyberspace said...

Alan, you feckless fool,

I can assure you that Dawkins has heard all about me and is now in a state of panic as to what he should do next. Now if you are so confident of my lack of standing with your hero, you will be happy to call attention to my recent response to Tricky Dickie Dawkins at After The Pub Closes, the last bastion of Darwinian atheist mysticism. You haven't got the guts! I'll be looking for it.

I love it so!

"A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
John A. Davison

Alan Fox said...

Still avoiding my question, John? Who disputes that it is the internal structure of the chromosome that carries inheritable information?

Jillip Phonson, fundamentalist Protestant said...

I am not avoiding your question as it has already been been by me and my sources which you would know if you weren't perfectly illiterate. Now be a good boy and transmit this thread over to your "groupthink" cronies who keep pretending that I don't exist. If you fail to do this it will mean only that you are afraid to do so and that your supreme confidence in your hero is pure sham.

It is hard to believe isn't it?

I love it so!

"A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
John A. Davison

Lois Lane said...

Well come on.

Alan Fox said...

Who disputes that it is the internal structure of the chromosome that carries inheritable information?

The answer is no one. Is that the same answer as you and your sources have already given?

If you could encourage someone else to drop by, say from ISCID, for example, there would be some point in me mentioning the fact at AtBC. You have treated everyone sceptical of our ideas in exactly the same manner in every venue you have posted in. No one that has already attempted to engage you or observed the process is remotely interested in repeating the same routine. It would be a monumental waste of time. I only do it because of the rules of engagement I set myself at the beginning.

Now ID has demonstrated itself vacuous and its main proponents dishonest, I feel there are many more important issues, such as climate change, to be concerned about. Which is why you may have noticed I rarely post at AtBC anymore.

The Yellow Rose of Texas said...

You miserable so and so. You insist on blocking me don't you? Don't deny it either as it won't wash, Now you either introduce my dealings with Dawkins over at the bunker or I will never send another message to your lousy blog. You know what that means? It meams your blog is through because no one besides Martin and I are even interested in it and I am fed up with your tactics. Now do as your told or you can kiss me good bye once and for all. I don't suffer liars and if I ever see that blog sign descend again I am finished with the whole business here. Without Martin and I you are nothing. Now do as you're told or fold your tent.

"A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
John A. Davison

Alan Fox said...

Well, I guess it's "fold the tent", then, John.

No hard feelings and best of luck.

Stephen Elliot said...

I used to think that it was kinda weird to see somebody post a message claiming to be "blocked".

With JAD, it is "par for the course". Dr. John is a tad dissfunctional. This blog is probably the most neutral I have seen. Yet JAD insists on claiming being censored, even in posts that are deflamitory. Strange man!

Alan Fox said...

This blog is probably the most neutral I have seen.

Thank-you Stephen. That was the aim, originally.