The initial reading of Samuel Butler’s essay "The Deadlock in Darwinism” resulted in an incredulity that was not anticipated. A closer reading in class, coupled with group interpretations of Butler’s claims that the theory of evolution was not Darwin’s idea, only confirmed the concern that came to light during the initial reading. Being unfamiliar with the work of those who preceded Darwin, and their theories surrounding evolution, this essay caught me totally off guard. Butler’s essay is very well written, it is persuasive and his claims are well supported.
How does one continue to advocate for Darwin when Butler has so effectively cast a shadow of doubt over the legitimacy of his theories? Classmates used terms such as “fraud” and “plagiarist” to describe Darwin and “On the Origin of Species.” Those who preceded Darwin with their theories of evolution were unable or did not attempt to get the word out to the world. Regardless of how well Butler tries to tarnish Darwin’s reputation one has to remember that Darwin is the one responsible for packaging everything into: “On the Origin of Species” reaching a more diverse audience than one would think possible.
In our “Advocacy” blog I believe Jen successfully provided evidence of why Darwin should still be considered awesome. It is quite possible, that over time, the theory of evolution would have disappeared had Darwin not demonstrated his true genius by ensuring that this theory received the attention it deserved. Whether his motivation was self-serving, whether his timing was impeccable, whether he intrigued people with his adventures, it does not matter. The end result is that Darwin brought the theory of evolution to the masses, to the general public, in a literary form that could be understood by all!