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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 24.4 > Darwin’s Apostles: The Battle Continues

Darwin’s Apostles: The Battle Continues

A review of Darwin’s Apostles: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues, by David Orenstein and Abby Hafe.
Humanist Press, 2019. 320 pp. $20. ISBN 978-0-931779-82-4

DAVID ORENSTEIN AND ABBY HAFER have written a delightful new book, Darwin’s Apostles: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues. Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. In the 160 years since then, much has been written about Darwin and evolution, but this entertaining, well-written book sheds new light on the issues from an original viewpoint, with a unique focus on Darwin’s apostles—his scientist friends who fought to get his ideas accepted.

In 1860, a famous debate at Oxford University on Darwin’s just-published book, On the Origin of Species, pitted scientists who explained the evidence for evolution against a bishop who was not a scientist, had not read the book, and had been coached by someone who didn’t know about the evidence from botany. The bishop, Samuel Wilberforce, tried to insult the scientists with a joke about their monkey ancestors, to which Thomas Henry Huxley famously responded that “He was not ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor, but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth.”

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UNDERSTANDING FLAT EARTHERS WHO SAYS THE EARTH IS FLAT, AND WHY? COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Water Fluoridation: Public Health, Not Poison, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: Are You in the 43 Percent?, by Carol Tavris DEBATE Does God Exist? A Rebuttal of Theologian Brian Huffling • God is Not a Moral Being: A Response to Gary Whittenberger on the Problem of Evil ARTICLES Understanding Flat Earthers • Shroud of Turin Update • The Girl Who Smelled Blue: The Colorful Case of Willetta Huggins • How to Navigate Contentious Conversations • How Much Longer Will Cancer Screening Myths Survive? • Nationalistic Pseudohistory in the Balkans • “Prove that I am Wrong!” What QAnon, Descartes, and Brains in Vats Have in Common REVIEWS Reviews of Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness • The Human Swarm: How Tolerance of Strangers Creates Society • Darwin’s Apostles: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues • Forensic Science Reform: Protecting the Innocent • The Psychology and Sociology of Wrongful Convictions: Forensic Science Reform • Blinding as a Solution to Bias: Strengthening Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Law JUNIOR SKEPTIC Victorian England’s Jurassic Park, by Daniel Loxton