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Back to The Origin

Some years ago I was in Reading University Library looking up a paper on computing when I noticed their collection of Nature going right back to Volume 1 in 1869.  Now I had read somewhere that Nature had been created by a group of supporters of Darwin so they would have somewhere to publish their ideas.  I pulled out a volume from the 1870's and it fell open at a page of letters.  Several of these were responses to a letter in the previous issue proposing some apparently insuperable problem with evolution by natural selection.  I don't remember the precise details of the problem, but what struck me was the way different people responded: Wallace gave a detailed point-by-point rebuttal covering about half a page; Rosanes (I think) gave a similarly detailed but somewhat shorter reply, and maybe one or two other people also weighed in with their opinions.  But hidden away at the end was a short note from Charles Darwin simply giving the chapter and page number in The Origin of Species where the question was answered.  After having spent so many years writing the book he wasn't going to  waste any time repeating it for those who couldn't be bothered to read it!

I wonder if we should have the same attitude today when dealing with creationists:  "You've not even bothered to read The Origin?  Well, your opinion on evolution obviously doesn't count for much then."  And I do like the idea of quoting chapter and page number at biblical literalists.

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