Impact of Evolution: A theory in crisis

From: James Mahaffy (
Date: Wed Jun 06 2001 - 12:36:20 EDT

  • Next message: Mccarrick Alan D CRPH: "Re: Impact of Denton's "Nature's Destiny""

    Terry Gray wrote:
    > James,
    > I'm wondering with Tim the same thing here. Why do you say that
    > *Evolution:
    > A Theory in Crisis* was taken seriously by the scientific community?

    Now remember my main question was How seriously is Nature's Destiny
    taken in the scientific community and if the answer is not seriously, I
    might not even annotate it for my students.

    I said: " suspect it has less of an impact than his earlier Evolution: A
    theory in crisis. In the earlier book he was
    probably seen as someone presenting some serious challenges to the
    established paradigm and as one of the few doing that in the scientific
    community worthy of note. I suspect this book [Nature's destiny] may be

    Yes I am well aware that the book did not shake the paradigms and that
    it has some serious flaws. Still it did raise some serious challenges
    and was one of the few books to do it from within the scientific
    establishment. I think the establishment was aware of the book. In
    fact, I first heard of it from a leading paleobotanist, who thought it
    was a book I should know about (the book has not influenced me much).
    Behe would not have been stimulated to rethink about his views about
    neoDarwinism if the book had come out of a Creationist camp. I was not
    aware that the book had an influence on Alvin Plantinga, but if it did
    it would say something about the presentation - since Alvin is a first
    rate scholar.

    > because of the influence it has on others: in my
    > experience, these include: Johnson, Behe, the Pandas authors, A.
    > Plantinga,
    > the World Magazine crowd, etc.

    I would not disagree with Terry that the influence of the book has been
    stronger on the ID and maybe Creationists movements that need an
    antiDarwinian voice in the scientific establishment. Nor would I
    disagree that there is a danger that the laity, not being read in the
    literature, might think that Denton's voice represents a considerable
    voice in the scientific community.

    Yet I think it is still true that "A theory in Crisis" got press as one
    of the few serious anti-neo-Darwinian voices in the scientific
    community. I spent some time with a search engine and it tended to
    confirm my opinion that the book is more broadly known. I suspect the
    book plays a role similar to the role Kerkut, G.A., 1960. IMPLICATIONS
    OF EVOLUTION had when I was a student.

    James and Florence Mahaffy    712 722-0381 (Home)
    227 S. Main St.              712 722-6279 (Office)
    Sioux Center, IA 51250

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed Jun 06 2001 - 13:21:12 EDT