What Does Evolution Teach Today?

All living things, plants and animals, are subject to change. Every observer of nature, certainly all plant and animal breeders, know this to be true. It is an unchanging fact of nature. Living things are not static. This is the law of evolution.

In the meaning of this law, Latter-day Saints are the foremost evolutionists in the world. They believe that the immortal spirit of man may eternally approach the likeness of God himself.

The theory or theories of evolution are man's explanations of the multitude of changes observed in nature. Such theories may or may not be correct. They are always subject to changes as new facts are discovered.

Until recently one of the theories of evolution based largely upon the work of the great scientist, Charles Darwin, was that man was only a product of changes in organic life, throughout long periods of time. So vigorous was the battle over the proof of this theory, that in the minds of men the law of evolution, a fact of nature, and the theory, man's explanation of the fact, became as one. An evolutionist in those days was a person who held that man descended from the lower animals.

The battle over the evolutionary origin of man became so unseemly that each side looked upon the intelligence of the other with distrust. After many years of swaying opinions more temperate views now prevail in this field of science. Leading scientists, those of unquestioned authority have expressed their views upon the matter today. These appear to be quite different from the views of yesterday. Quotations might be made from other numerous students, but the following from distinguished workers well known in the scientific fraternity, will have to suffice.

 

1. Dr. Clark Wissler of the anthropographic section, U. S. Museum of Natural History:

 

As far as Science has discovered there always was a man, some not so developed, but still human beings in all their functions, much as we are today. Man came out of a blue sky as far as we have been able to delve back.

 

2. Vernon Kellogg, eminent biologist, trustee, Rockefeller Foundation and other philanthropic, scientific and educational organizations:

 

The fair truth is that the Darwinism selection theories considered with regard to their claimed capacity to be an independently mechanical explanation of descent, stand today seriously discredited in the biological world.

 

3. Professor L. T. More, Dean of the Graduate School of the University of Cincinnati:

 

Unfortunately for Darwin's future reputation every one of his arguments is contradicted by the facts.

 

4. Dr. D. H. Scott, eminent British botanist:

 

A new generation has grown up which knows not Darwin. Is even then evolution not a scientifically ascertained fact? No! We must hold it as an act of faith because there is no alternative.

 

5. Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, foremost champion of evolution in America:

 

If living today, Darwin would be the first to modify his theory. Darwin was brave but wrong.

 

6. Douglas Dewar, zoologist, Indian Civil Service, Barrister, South Eastern Circuit:

 

The breeder, no matter on what animal or plant he experiments, after he has effected a number of minor chances in any given direction, is suddenly brought to a standstill. In a comparatively short time he reaches a stage at which he cannot accomplish more, no matter how much he try. ... This fact is fatal to the evolution theory.

 

7. Dr. David Starr Jordan, first President of Stanford University, educator, author and naturalist:

 

None of the created "new species" of plant or animal I know of would last five years in the open; nor is there the slightest evidence that any `new species' of field or forest or ocean, ever originated from mutation, discontinuous variation or hybridization.

 

8. Sir Ambrose Fleming, internationally famous physicist President of the Philosophical society of Great Britain:

 

Note certain qualities in the human species, not the smallest trace of which appears in the animal species. Thus, no animal has ever made any weapon or tool to help its bodily endowments. It fights with teeth and claws, horns, tusks, or hoofs. But it makes no military weapon of any kind. Nor has any animal made a tool, -- spade, rake, knife, hatchet, axe, or saw. No animal makes itself artificial dress, hat or coat, shoes, or ornament to improve its appearance; nor does it dress or arrange the hair on its head. But all of the very earliest humans do these things. No animal had discovered how to produce fire or even to maintain it.... The animal mind or intellect is static or limited. It never progresses beyond a certain point. On the other hand, the human mind is extremely progressive, self-educative and assimilative. Uncultured races of men brought into contact with more advanced races, quickly adopt their achievements, customs, modes of thought, and habits.... Animals have not developed the powers of speech or rational thought.

 

9. T. H. Morgan, zoologist, educator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and numerous other organizations:

 

It seems to me that the idea that ancestral stages have been pushed hack into the embryo, and that the embryo recapitulates in part these ancestral adult stages, is, in principle, false.

 

10. Dr. Karl Vogt, of Geneva, German zoologist, associated with Agassiz in preparation of his work on fishes:

 

This law which I long held as well founded, is absolutely and radically false.

 

11. Professor Adam Sedgwick, eminent embryologist of England:

 

After fifty years of research and close examination of the facts of embryology, the recapitulation theory is still without satisfactory proof.

 

12. Sir Arthur Keith, President, Royal Anthropological Institute

 

Now that the appearance of the human embryo at all stages is known, the general feeling is one of disappointment; the human embryo at no stage is anthropoid in appearance.

 

13. Herbert Spencer, philosopher:

 

The facts of paleontology can never suffice either to prove or disprove the developmental hypothesis.

 

14. Charles Darwin:

 

The belief in natural selection must at present be grounded entirely on general considerations. When we descend to details we can prove that no species had changed: nor can we prove that supposed changes are beneficial, which is the groundwork of the theory.

 

In his Origin of Species, Darwin wrote:

 

Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can he urged against the theory of Natural Selection.

 

15. William Bateson, English zoologist:

 

So we went on talking about evolution. That is barely forty years ago; today we feel silence to be the safer course.... Discussion of evolution came to an end because it was obvious that no progress was being made....

 

16. Dr. J. A. Thompson, scientist, educator and author:

 

We are more keenly aware than in Darwin's day of our ignorance as to the origin and affiliation of the greater classes....

Clearly the theory of evolution has added nothing to our understanding of the beginning of things. The ancient view that God is the creator of all things is still the best, because it is true.


(John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era], 166-169.)

 

 
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