That fool who wrote a mess of a screed against Darwin has published his book on the subject, which means he gets a little television publicity. AN Wilson appeared on BBC Newsnight to promote his nonsense, and it was far, far worse than I could have imagined. He’s a creationist trying to argue that he’s not a creationist.
His first argument is that Darwin was a racist…which is totally irrelevant to his science. Darwin had the standard biases of the Victorian era, so it’s easy to find instances where he let hints of bigotry bubble out, but he was more liberal than the average Victorian, became increasingly progressive as he aged, and was, for instance, an advocate for the abolition of slavery. He’s not untainted, but it’s absurd to consider his views on human races to be a central problem in his work, especially when he had contemporaries like Arthur de Gobineau or Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Cecil Rhodes, in a century where America fought a great war over the issue. Darwin is simply not a notable racist.
All the boring old cliches are there. Wilson’s excuse that he still believes in evolution is that evolution only happens within a species, and that there are no transitional species. Sound familiar? Even more spectacularly, he begins to stutter out the most common dishonest distortion, the creationists’ favorite quote from the Origin, that bit where Darwin says that the evolution of “inimitable contrivances” of the eye “seems absurd”. They never seem to read beyond the one sentence to the several pages where he explains exactly how it could happen. And then Wilson protests that evolution is simple and he really does understand it, he just disagrees with it.
No, he doesn’t understand it. He’s an idiot.
The interview does also include a lecturer in evolution, Simon Underdown, who seems rather stunned to have to address the inanities Wilson spews, and it’s also a very short segment where Wilson babbles at length and constantly interrupts. It’s kind of terrible.
His book, as of this writing, has 31 reviews on Amazon. Every single one gives the book one star, often grudgingly. I’m not even seeing creationists coming to his defense; usually these kinds of books stir up a bimodal response. It’s being resoundingly dismissed.
You should at least read Adam Rutherford’s review, titled “Deranged: literally the worst book I have ever read about Darwin and evolution”. Sounds about right.