Getting our history right: six errors about Darwin and his influence
Evolutionary Psychology 5(1): 52-69
Hiram Caton, Griffith University, Nathan 4111, Australia,, email@example.com
The Darwin Exhibition created by the American Museum of Natural History is the centerpiece of the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth. It opened in November 2005 and will circulate to a number of museums before terminating at the London Natural History Museum in February 2009. The Exhibition is also a major contributor to online instruction about evolution for schools. The quality of the Exhibition’s narrative is accordingly of some significance. This paper argues that the narrative is the legendary history that dominates public opinion. The legend has been thoroughly disassembled by historical research over recent decades. My criticism is organized as six theses. (1) Publication of the Origin was not a sudden (“revolutionary”) interruption of Victorian society’s confident belief in the traditional theological world-view. (2) The Origin did not “revolutionize” the biological sciences by removing the creationist premise or introducing new principles. (3) The Origin did not revolutionize Victorian public opinion. The public considered Darwin and Spencer to be teaching the same lesson, known today as “Social Darwinism”, which, though fashionable, never achieved dominance. (4) Many biologists expressed significant disagreements with Darwin’s principles. (5) Darwin made little or no contribution to the renovation of theology. His public statements on Providence were inconsistent and the liberal reform of theology was well advanced by 1850. (6) The so-called “Darwinian revolution” was, at the public opinion level, the fashion of laissez-faire economic beliefs backed by Darwin and Spencer’s inclusion of the living world in the economic paradigm.
Darwin Exhibition, Darwin bicentennial, Darwin legend, evolution history, secularization
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NOTA DESTE BLOGGER:
NOTA DESTE BLOGGER:
Quando essa exposição esteve no Brasil, em São Paulo (4 de maio a 15 de julho de 2007, no MASP), este blogger destacou para os organizadores quase que a totalidade dos erros apontados neste artigo de Caton. Até hoje não teve resposta...