PUBLISHED ON APRIL 1, 2019 (APRIL FOOLS DAY) 🙂
The scientific world was rocked this week by the cover story of Historical Geographic Magazine, which sheds new light onto Charles Darwin’s own perspective on his now famous book, On the Origin of Species.
Page 35 of Charles Darwin’s Notebook
According to the March 26th article titled, “World’s Greatest Scientists Was World’s Greatest Prankster,” Darwin wrote in his diary, in what was to become the final week of his life, that his work “has turned out to be, beyond my greatest expectations, the most elaborate and hilarious prank the world has ever known!”
After piecing together many of Darwin’s writings from his private collections, including some kept within the family until recent years, the entire concept of Origin of Species, and in fact Darwinian evolution as we know it was an elaborate prank based on a family inside joke thought of on April 1, 1852.
In a very telling personal letter sent to a friend, Charles Darwin explained, “My grandfather, the late Erasmus Darwin, used to call his children ‘little monkeys’ and from that the idea grew to then write a brilliant satirical book, Zoonomia. This amused us, his grandchildren and other kin, most assuredly until milk did come forth out our noses! And it was while I was looking for work as a writer of humorous limericks when my dear wife did suggest that I write a similar novelization. But I had a most naughty vision of instead passing off his silly notion of being the children of monkeys and worms as actual science! From whence came the notion I do not know, but it amused us to no end.”
It seems that Darwin had intended to create this prank for the purpose of writing about the big reveal, wherein he would yell “I have fooled you!” to the men in attendance at the Royal Academy of Science—men Darwin considered “a vacant collection of godless blowhards, willing to accept anything except the truth”—but a bit of ill health kept him from the engagement. He writes in his diary following the public presentation of his book, “I cannot believe it! Whilst I have titled the book so as to directly state that natural selection is the origin of species, the very CAUSE of new kinds of plants and animals, yet I begin a chapter with a lucid explanation of how this CANNOT be so. Yet these “learned” men have bought it hook, line, and sinker!”
What would become known as “Darwin’s theory of evolution” gained popularity and in private circles would remain what Charles Darwin considered “the funniest thing I have ever accomplished upon this earth!” For the rest of his life Darwin created new versions of the book, each time intending to make the joke even easier to spot, expecting at any moment to be caught.
“I have written,” he says in a letter to his lawyer later in his life, “a sixth edition which is so rife with nonsense and contradiction that only the most stubborn of atheist or fool could fail to see the punchline written on every page! I only pray that I live to see these learned men of science someday soon wake with egg on their faces. The very notion that a puddle of mud could make life as the ancient pagans believed, and which has since been disproven by the Frenchman Pasteur, and that man by way of monkey could come to be would, I admit, be considered blasphemous were it not so cursedly hilarious! I have added sections at length about how the fossil record has failed to show any evidence of my so-called theory. In this latest edition, I even help out those simpletons who have been so taken in by my book by teaching them how their own eyes—which they must use to read my book—proves my book to be folly!
To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. Surely it cannot be funny only to me?
It seems that Darwin included in his writings proposed mechanisms of evolution which are “so absurdly incapable of what I am insisting they can do that I have confidence that a child of eight could give the game away.” He lists among these mechanisms genetic drift/migration, for as he says, “Surely it would take a bit of magic to create a new animal by taking a cow one already has and walking it across the yard!”
A full report on the historical research into what is now becoming known as Charles Darwin’s Prank on Science will be released by VanderHovind Books later this year. In the meantime, many universities are canceling evolution-based classes. Bill Nye and Richard Dawkins could not be reached for comment.