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20 November 2010

Darwin Dethroned by Geologist

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Gradual evolution seems synonymous with Charles Darwin, but a geologist at New York University disagrees. According to an article on PhysOrg, Michael Rampino thinks Patrick Matthew deserves the credit for a different, more realistic view of evolution – a catastrophist view:

“Matthew discovered and clearly stated the idea of natural selection, applied it to the origin of species, and placed it in the context of a geologic record marked by catastrophic mass extinctions followed by relatively rapid adaptations,” says Rampino, whose research on catastrophic events includes studies on volcano eruptions and asteroid impacts. “In light of the recent acceptance of the importance of catastrophic mass extinctions in the history of life, it may be time to reconsider the evolutionary views of Patrick Matthew as much more in line with present ideas regarding biological evolution than the Darwin view.”
By emphasizing catastrophic events, Rampino is also discrediting one of Darwin’s best friends – Charles Lyell, the uniformitarian geologist. Rampino thinks Patrick Matthew was far ahead of its time but escaped the notice of the scientific community of the day. This is a startling announcement that could put Rampino in grave danger. It’s not that he or Patrick Matthew have anything worthwhile to contribute to the understanding of how we got here. Good grief, catastrophes do not manufacture wings and eyes and brains, or else they would spontaneously emerge on Mars and Titan. What is startling is that Rampino would put his reputation and livelihood at stake. Doesn’t he know the penalty for failing to pay homage to Charles Darwin? PaV on Uncommon Descent fears, since not even Stephen Jay Gould could survive scorn with his catastrophist theory of punctuated equilibria, even though being an ardent evolutionist, that Rampino will be “gobbled up by the Darwinian thought police” in short order for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

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