Why the French Institute Rejected Darwin
In 1872, an attempt was made to elect Charles
Darwin (above) to the prestigious Zoological Section of
the French Institute, but this failed because he
received only 15 out of 48 votes. A prominent member of the
Academy gave the reason as follows:
‘What has closed the doors
of the Academy to Mr. Darwin is that the science of those of his
books which have made his chief title to fame–the "Origin
of Species," and still more the "Descent of Man," is not science,
but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses,
often evidently fallacious. This kind of publication and these
theories are a bad example, which a body that respects itself
cannot encourage.’ (1).
However, later on 5 August 1878, Darwin was elected a
Corresponding Member in the Botanical Section of the same French
Institute. Darwin wrote to Asa Gray as follows:
‘It is rather a good joke
that I should be elected in the Botanical Section, as the extent
of my knowledge is little more than that a daisy is a Compositous
plant and a pea is a Leguminous one.’ (2).
1. Life and Letters of
Charles Darwin, D. Appleton and Co., London, 2:400,
2. Ref. 1, p. 401.
Thanks to Answers From Genesis for the idea of this box reminder.
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