[Darwin’s] masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, is a modest book. It begins with evidence – and down-to-earth, homely evidence at that … Darwin is the finest fruit of English empiricism. His modest presentation of evidence contrasts, I am sorry to say, with the rhetorical stridency of Richard Dawkins.
Darwin was “the finest fruit of English empiricism”? His book “begins with evidence”? Well there is evidence to be sure, but evolutionary thought is about as far from English empiricism as possible. Strangely, evolutionists confuse empiricism with rationalism (which admittedly is something like confusing black with white). Which brings us to how Darwin begins his book. His first major theme leads to this powerful conclusion:
In genera having more than the average number of species in any country, the species of these genera have more than the average number of varieties. In large genera the species are apt to be closely, but unequally, allied together, forming little clusters round other species. Species very closely allied to other species apparently have restricted ranges. In all these respects the species of large genera present a strong analogy with varieties. And we can clearly understand these analogies, if species once existed as varieties, and thus originated; whereas, these analogies are utterly inexplicable if species are independent creations.
And from which empirical finding did Darwin learn how species would look if independently created? Unfortunately that was just the beginning of Darwin’s metaphysical mandates.
Evolutionary thought, as exemplified in Darwin’s writings, is a subtle intertwining of obscure observations interpreted according to religious dogma. Darwin and the evolutionists that followed present a seemingly never ending stream of non obvious and profound evidences reduced to simplistic interpretations.
[Darwin] let his astonishing, earth-shattering theory emerge from common-sense observations of nature.
If common-sense observations of nature point to evolution, then why didn’t Darwin write about them? Darwin could not let his theory emerge from common-sense observations of nature because there are very few such observations amongst a plethora of contradictory observations.
[Dawkins] offers no intellectual history of how Darwin's big idea was born from centuries of natural science, how the religious Victorians created an intellectual atmosphere in which such a leap in the dark could be contemplated.
What the Victorians created was only the latest in a series of religious traditions leading to evolution. Such religious traditions, going back centuries, did not merely allow for the contemplation of a naturalistic origins narrative, they demanded it. From the wide spectrum of religious traditions, these evolutionary traditions penetrated the sciences in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and went viral. The fact that some evolutionists, from T.H. Huxley to Dawkins, are more vociferous does nothing to justify the movement.