During yesterday’s class, we discussed Samuel Butler’s essay "The Deadlock in Darwinism", which is simply a critique of Darwin himself and the work that he did. Throughout the essay, Butler repeatedly comments on Darwin’s inability to reference past evolutionists and the theories that they formed. According to Butler, Darwin did not create his own theory of evolution; in a sense he only borrowed and altered past theories, and simply patented it as his own. Essentially, Butler is accusing Darwin as being a fraud.
When reading this article I could not help myself siding with Butler. Darwin, as I knew him growing up, was the father of evolution; he was the man who created the idea of natural selection and essentially evolution itself…Or so I thought. Butler’s essay painted this image of Darwin as being a self-righteous man that only wanted fame and fortune for the theory he published. I started to believe in Butler’s accusations, and I myself began to question Darwin and his voyage around the world. Was it only for show and his desire to boost his famous status?
Butler’s essay was well written and persuasive by all means. His bias attitude towards Darwin clearly shows, and in a sense makes one wonder what the purpose of the essay is. Is Butler simply trying to recognize the true creators of the evolution theory, or is he using this work to make a personal attack on Darwin himself? Either way, Darwin’s reputation as an evolutionist is being slandered.
Though Butler’s arguments are persuading, one has to remind themselves that Darwin took the initiative to publicise the theory of evolution. This in itself is what transformed the theory into actual reality. Even though he took past theories and ideas that were not his own, he broadcasted them to the world around him through his book "The Origin of Species". Essentially, he made them known to the general public. His ability of rhetoric and persuasion is what got the theory attention. Darwin’s desire to sail the world may have been a ploy to enhance his social status, but in the end it resulted in the acceptance of the theory of evolution. Darwin did the research that the public demanded; he showed them evidence that the theory held credibility. In a sense, he marketed and promoted the theory very well. Who knows, without Darwin the theory of evolution may have become obsolete over time. This is something that one has to remind themselves while reading Butler’s critique. Darwin may not have created the theory of evolution by himself, but without him, the theory may not have received the attention that it did.