The 30 June, 2008, issue of the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet carried an article by one of the paper’s writers, the economist Yakup Kepenek. In his article, titled “Origin,” Kepenek noted that 1 July, 2008, was the 150th anniversary of the day Charles Darwin first announced his discovery of what he referred to as the law of evolution, and heaped praise on the theory and Darwin himself. The errors in Kepenek’s article, which are clearly ideological in origin, are refuted below.
The error that the law of evolution is based on a sound and scientific framework
Mr. Kepenek suggests that Charles Darwin set his theory of evolution in a very powerful, scientific framework. The fact is, however, that Darwin’s speculative contributions to the theory of evolution do not strengthen that theory in scientific terms. Even Darwin himself admitted, in the words “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science”, that his theory did have its unscientific sides. i
In order for Darwin to set his theory of evolution in a sound and powerful scientific framework, in the way Kepenek maintains, he needs to show that the theory has a genuine, scientific basis. In order to do that, he has to produce evidence to support the theory. But no such thing happened. In Darwin’s day, scenarios regarding the cell, believed to be merely a water-filled balloon, emerging by chance from muddy water were invented in order to account for the origin of life, and promises were made that intermediate forms, which represented the only possible evidence for the theory of evolution, would one day be found. Darwin was actually well aware that the lack of fossils was the greatest threat to his theory, and made it clear that this lack was THE GREATEST OBJECTION to his theory:
First, why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see INNUMERABLE TRANSITIONAL FORMS? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, WELL DEFİNED? . . . But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do WE NOT FİND THEM embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?… This perhaps is the MOST OBVIOUS AND GRAVEST OBJECTION WHİCH CAN BE URGED AGAINST MY THEORY. 1
The inability even today to produce a single protein in the laboratory, the failure to find one single fossil belonging to an intermediate life form, even though just about the whole planet has been excavated, the perfect appearance of around 100 million fossils unearthed to date and the fact they belong to fully developed and flawless life forms have all discredited Darwin’s promises and mean that this totally unscientific theory needs to be consigned to the shelf.
In the light of all these scientific facts, it is clear that Mr. Kepenek’s comments are totally exaggerated and unrealistic, and stem from an ideological sympathy.
The error that man’s origins show him to be a part of Nature
In reading Mr. Kepenek’s article, it is apparent that he has adopted the technique of imposing his own preconceptions – and seeking no supporting evidence for these – rather than acting from an objective analysis of the facts. This makes him a dogmatic writer. For example, the daily Cumhuriyet author writes that through his book, Charles Darwin “showed that man is a part of Nature.” The fact is, however, that Darwin never offered any discussion or comment regarding the origin of man in that book. How could he have made such a deduction when he never even discussed the origin of man in The Origin of Species? This is, of course, an error, and indicates that Mr. Kepenek’s mistake is a combination of ignorance and ideological sympathy.
Intermediate forms are essential in order to prove that man is descended from any other life form. Darwin was unable to provide any such evidence for either the origins of man or those of any other life form. On the contrary, as we have already seen, Darwin openly admitted the lack of transitional forms and wrote that this represented a terrible dilemma for his theory.
The error that evolution provoked a great leap forward in the social sciences
Being an economist, Mr. Kepenek links Darwin to the social sciences and suggests that Darwinism enabled a great leap forward to be made in those sciences. It is true that Darwin’s claims led to a perspective based on the claim of the survival of the fittest, known as social Darwinism. It is incorrect, however, to maintain that this led to great progress in the social sciences.
In addition, social Darwinism is known to have inflicted terrible destruction and suffering on countries and societies. That system, a source of suffering and founded on the destruction of the weak and helpless since it regards human beings as nothing but animals, brings with it unending competition, war, slaughter and oppression. To describe such a disaster as “contributing to the social sciences” can only be the result of an ideological mindset.
The error that Darwinism represents the origin of many scientific advances, such as space travel
Mr. Kepenek considers Darwinism, which supposedly accounts for the origin of species, in a manner far removed from the scientific facts and portrays it as the impetus behind scientific advances that actually have nothing to do with it. He even manages to claim that Darwinism represents the origin of space travel and advances in physics and astronomy! Full of blind praise for Darwinism, Kepenek goes even further and seeks to suggest that a branch of science initiated by a scientist opposed to Darwinism was actually inspired by it. The father of the science of genetics, who Kepenek tries to link to Darwinism, is Gregor Mendel. Another article, titled “Mendel”s Opposition to Evolution and to Darwin,” which appeared in the Journal of Heredity, says that “he [Mendel] was familiar with The Origin of Species …and he was opposed to Darwin”s theory; Darwin was arguing for descent with modification through natural selection, Mendel was in favor of the orthodox doctrine of special creation2. It is utterly wrong to suggest that discoveries that Mendel made independently of Darwin and that can in no way be equated with Darwinism, were actually inspired by it. The fact that Mr. Kepenek does so shows that he lacks the proper appreciation of Mendel as a scientist and that his comments about the history of science are completely uninformed.
As we have seen, in the light of the history of science and philosophy and of Darwin’s own confessions, the claims in this article are totally false. Unfounded praise of Darwinism shows that some academics and writers have adopted Darwinism as a religion . We advise Mr. Kepenek to abandon his adoption of Darwinism as a faith as a matter of urgency in order to see the serious errors of judgement he has perpetrated.
2 B.E. Bishop, “Mendel”s Opposition to Evolution and to Darwin,” Journal of Heredity 87 (1996): s. 205-213; ayrýca bkz. L.A. Callender, “Gregor Mendel: An Opponent of Descent with Modification,” History of Science 26 (1988): s. 41-75
i N.C. Gillespie, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation, 1979, s. 2 (Chicago üniversitesi kitabı)
ii Popper, Karl R., [Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of London], “Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography,” , Open Court: La Salle, Ill., Revised Edition, 1982, sf.168