The Genius of Charles Darwin

By Rosie Millard
The Sunday Times, August 3, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

Professor Richard Dawkins:

"It's fine to teach children about scientific controversies. What is not fine is to say there are these two theories; one is called evolution, the other is called Genesis. If you are going to say that, then you should talk about the Nigerian tribe who believe the world was created from the excrement of ants.

"Most devout Muslims are creationists — so when you go to schools, there are a large number of children of Islamic parents who trot out what they have been taught.

"I was shocked by how some put up barriers to understanding. I showed them the evidence, and they just said, 'This is what it says in my holy book.' And so I asked, 'If your holy book says one thing, but the evidence says something else, you then go with your holy book?' And they said, 'Yes.' And I said, 'Why?' And they said, 'It's the way we've been brought up'.

"Teachers are bending over backwards to 'respect' home prejudices that children have been brought up with. The government could do more, but it doesn't want to because it is fanatical about multi-culturalism and the need to 'respect' the different 'traditions' from which these children come."

The Genius of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

By Robin McKie
The Observer, June 22, 2008

Edited by Andy Ross

In 1858, Alfred Russel Wallace pondered how disease and famine kept human populations in check. Fittest variations will survive longest and will eventually evolve into new species, he realised. He wrote up his ideas and sent them to Charles Darwin.

Steve Jones: "Wallace's letter gave Darwin a good kick up the backside. He had prevaricated for 20 years and would have done so for another 20 if he hadn't realised someone else was on the trail."

The end result was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Remarkably, it is the only major scientific treatise to have been written as a piece of popular writing.

Richard Dawkins: "When you read The Origin of Species, you get a real feeling that Darwin was very keen to be understood. He did not want merely to persuade fellow scientists, he wanted to show to the public the truth of his ideas. He took great pains with it, which is why it is such a convincing book."

Darwin remains venerated to this day. By contrast Wallace has been forgotten. He was happy to let Darwin and his friends promote natural selection

David Attenborough: "Wallace was an admirable man and was almost saintly in his treatment of others. However, as a scientist, he was no match for Darwin. Wallace came up with the idea of natural selection in a couple of weeks in a malarial fever. Darwin not only worked out the theory, he amassed swathes of information to support it."

Jim Endersby: "Wallace came to believe evolution was sometimes guided by a higher power. He thought natural selection could not account for the nature of the human mind and claimed humanity was affected by forces that took it outside the animal kingdom."

According to Darwin, there are no get-out clauses for humans. This version of natural selection is now accepted by virtually every scientist on Earth.