Co-Pioneers of Evolution Science

Click the image above for a closer inspection.

Any serious analysis of evolutionary science can not dismiss Reader and Gurche’s outstanding and available 1986 publication The Rise of Life (192 pp.) —  Gurche’s restoration of Sir Richard Owen’s anatomical art work complements Reader’s  journalism.  Gurche’s art restoration appears in this photograph; extracts from Reader’s written account of Owen’s  Law of Progression are employed to limited extent the text below.

Photograph is of p. 160-161, The Rise of Life, 1986, John Reader, author, John Gurche, illustrator.  Published by William Collins Sons and Co. Ltd, Great Britain.

Sir Richard Owen was an Englishman of French origins, descended from refugee Huguenots. Beginning as a surgeon’s apprentice in 1820, he distinguished himself as an expert anatomist. He made his life’s work the study of fossils. This was a time when fossils were gaining world-wide attention. He supervised the establishment of the British Natural History Museum. In 1883 he was knighted for services to science. Owen is known to have reconstructed with passable accuracy an entire extinct creature from a single bone. He coined the term, Dinosaur, and he identified Darwin’s fossils for him.

He was an associate of Darwin’s, but never came to terms with whatever it was Darwin was saying. As a leading fossil expert, he noted: “The origin of species is the question of questions in Zoology; the supreme problem which the most striking of our original labourers, the clearest zoological thinkers, and the most successful generalisers, have never lost sight of, whilst they have approached it with due reverence.” Darwin’s first and foremost publication, On the Origin of Species, in 1859, was dismissed by Owen as almost irrelevant.

He himself never published a theory in the proper meaning of theory. He did, however, publish a law. The law which Darwin & co. flouted.

He termed it, “The Law of Progression from the General to the Particular.”

The key point in his law is that it proves that the physical structure of animals was pre-planned. Something unknown to science in Owen’s day, caused the pre-planning to take effect. What was the factor unknown in Owen’s day? The atom was barely understood in Owen’s times, leave alone DNA and the other information devices of cells. The startling feature of Owen’s law is that it clearly foreshadows mathematical information technology as having been basic to evolution. Mathematical principles – applied information – underlay living organisms.

Owen first presented the Law of Progression at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1846, illustrating it with what he described as the archetype, or original master template, of the vertebrate skeleton. … Owen’s archetype is remarkably similar to the simplest and oldest vertebrates subsequently found. … . In a series of drawings he showed how every bone in the skeletons of fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and man could have been adapted from the archetype. The successive development of the cranium, jaw and all four limbs is quite explicit; so too are the origins of eye, ear and nose. … Based on the studies of fossils and comparative anatomy, it charted a perfectly believable course for the vertebrates’ successive development, with the added benefit of discounting extinction – species did not die out, they were … transformed.

Owen set down this answer to the question of how species originated … . Species had an innate tendency to diverge from the ancestral form according to the dictates of a divine plan, he said, and the existence of the divine plan was proven in the very conception of the archetypal vertebrate: ‘… the recognition of an ideal Exemplar for the vertebrated animals proves that the knowledge of such a being as Man must have existed before Man appeared. For the divine mind which planned the archetype also knew all its modifications.’

Owen was expert in the anatomical development of living organisms. He lived and breathed his topic. He clearly saw that the fossil record is design married with a mechanism of species transformation. Therefore, he was implicitly one with the book of Genesis. Design and information transmission capacity may have been the work of a day long preceding the actuation of species created on that foregoing day. The changes of the past were mathematically engineered – with human beings designed as the crowning outcome. His archetype and his unrolling or evolution of species has an underlying mathematical basis. Information driven transformers. Information, not accident. Evolution as science merely awaited science’s unravelling of the information technology.

How does ‘Owenism’ differ from ‘Darwinism’ as a scientific thesis? Owen as an anatomical scientist never for a moment destroyed the definition of species by countenancing species giving birth to species in the full meaning of birth. He made species transformation the outcome of a divine plan, the details of which he could not describe.

Thanks to advances in technology, science in tandem with Scripture at the turn of the millennium begin to fill in the gaps — science in symphony with the word of God.

Unbeknown to the surgeon-anatomist involved in establishing the Natural History Museum in London, an Augustinian monk and schoolteacher, located in the Czech- Austrian border region, had concurrently been establishing the mathematical basis of heredity.

Gregor Mendel first published his findings in 1865, less than a decade after Darwin’s first publication. He had set out to investigate heredity. With astonishing foresight, he broke out of the prevailing mindset of haze and hopeful creeping increments. In a bold leap, he applied mathematics married to discreet units of information. Genetics. A revolution in biology. [The genetics revolution was initiated through studies of everyday garden plants!]

Mendel established the mathematical basis of living organisms whilst Owen concurrently demonstrated the mathematical pre-planning of living organisms.

Gregor Mendel first published his findings in 1865, and kept doing so. Owen was addressing the leading scientists of England in 1846, and kept doing so. Mendel established the mathematical basis of living organisms whilst Owen showed the mathematical pre-planning of living organisms.

All the while, Darwin & co. were accidentally shinning up a pole at midnight.

If mathematical heredity exists, Common Descent, or Darwinism, can not. The living realm, after all, is not an everlasting accident. Darwinism predicts one never-ending mongrel – with absolutely no species whatsoever.

That is why Owen never came to terms with whatever it is Darwin was saying. Mendel, on his part, having solved heredity, became fully occupied with everyday church duties.

By the year 1900, geneticists had slowly begun to come around to confirming Mendel’s findings. By 1950, it was inescapable – species are information married with life, and a living cell has computational capacity superior to anything Man will ever build.

Galileo, on behalf of science, was correct after all. Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe. Science is not benefitted by those who rush in where angels fear to tread. Re-quoting Owen: … “have never lost sight of, whilst they have approached it with due reverence… .”


A v. few notes: For background, to illustrate the science-religion sensitivities at the time Evolution came to public attention:

Extract from Reader & Gurche, 1986, The Rise of Life, William Collins, London: “While there was a good deal of interest in the idea of evolution as it moved into the consciousness of society at large, the interest in itself evoked some apprehension in those conveying the message of evolution. In 1844, for instance, a book called Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation was published in London. assembling, and occasionally misrepresenting, all available evidence covering everything from the solar system to man. Vestiges was very successful, selling nearly 24,000 copies in less than 10 years, but it was published anonymously to protect the business interests of its author, a Robert Chambers, whose identity was not revealed until his death. ….. Darwin began composing his theory in 1837, but did not publish until 1859. ….. the man closest to the evidence …. was Richard Owen, anatomist and palaeontologist, and there is no hint of apprehension in his stance …… by 1850 Owen was without doubt the foremost palaeontologist in Britain, and probably in the world … .” End Rise of Life extract.

Owen to his dying day stood by divine pre-ordination as the force behind the progression of species. The difference between Darwinism, which became synonymous with Evolution, and Owenism, which to many people also became synonymous with Evolution, is akin to the difference between night and day.

The evolution question is partially an outcome of neglect of history coupled with complications of terminology. Owen’s approach was overwhelmed by a rush to embrace an impossibility superficially resembling the only possibility.

Benjamin D’Israeli’s 1864 “I am on the side of the angels” speech. Extract:

“The teachings of science and its discoveries are not, we are told, consistent with the teachings of the Church. Now, l am sure there is not one in this theatre who is not prepared to do full justice to the merits of scientific men, and who does not fully appreciate those discoveries of science which have added so much to the convenience of life and to the comfort of man. But it is of great importance, when this tattle about science is mentioned, that we should annex to it precise ideas (hear! hear!). I hold that the highest function of science is the interpretation of nature—and the interpretation of the highest nature is the highest science. What is the highest nature? Man is the highest nature. But I must say that when you compare the interpretation of the highest nature with the most advanced, the most fashionable and modish school of modern science—compare that with some other teachings with which we are familiar—l am not prepared to say that a lecture room is more scientific than the Church (cheers). What is the question now placed before the society with a glib assurance the most astounding? The question is this—is a man an ape or an angel? (loud laughter). My lord, I am on the side of the angels (laughter and cheers). I repudiate with indignation and abhorrence those views (cheers). I believe they are foreign to the conscience of humanity; and I will say more than that, even in the strictest intellectual point of view, I believe the severest metaphysical analysis is opposed to that conclusion”.

D’Israeli, a convert from Judaism, was friend and counsellor to Victoria, Queen of England.

D’Israeli’s meaning of “church” quite clearly bore almost no similarity to a so-called church described by the heroic German Churchman, Martin Luther, three centuries previously: “….. they have no word of scripture which would prove that the burning of heretics is the will of the Holy Spirit. But if they say that John Huss and Jerome of Prague were burned at Constance, I reply that I was speaking of heretics. John Huss and Jerome of Prague were good Christians who were burned by heretics and apostates and antichristians ….. Following this example the pope and his heresy-hunters have burned other good christians in other places, fulfilling the prophecy concerning the Anti-christ that he will cast Christians into the oven. It was for this reason that Pope Alexander 6th(1492-1503) ordered the burning of that godly man of Florence, Girolamo Savonarola and his brethren. That is the way in which the holy church of the popists serves God. To do better they would consider a disgrace.

Furthermore, according to the cannon law, the clergy are forbidden to bear arms. Yet no-one spills more christian blood than the holy father, the pope. Nowadays he tends the sheep of Christ with sword, gun, and fire, and is worse than the Turk…… .”

Luther was a blunt Germanic who described Galileo and Kepler as fools for saying the Earth moves when the bible says it cannot be moved. Science and religion have always had a degree of friction, largely due to people with definite opinions. Luther abhorred the disgusting activities of the mafia operatives who had gotten the upper hand at Rome. Their operative, Queen Mary, burned alive some 300 Englishmen under her reign, 1553-1558. She was not the first English monarch to enter into the mindset of supposedly ‘church’ approved bigots.

Victoria, some centuries later, was queen of England and head of the Church of England. The only woman of whom it could rightly be said, She went close to ruling the world. The British Court News of that era related that the Queen asked a pastor if there was any assurance of salvation and received this reply: “I know nothing which would warrant it.” A pastor Townsend wrote a letter to the queen asking her to read John 3:16: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”: and Romans 10:9: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe with thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Queen Victoria replied, “I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me and trust by God’s grace to meet you in that home of which he said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Signed, Victoria Guelph.

Example of a much ado re. science and religion in Victoria’s times – was it over nothing? – a confusion in English expression? – or was religion in fact at the core, just as we know religion to be ultimately at the core of much that we do and think?

Wikipedia, on Rev. Charles Kingsley, sometime chaplain to the Queen, and his satirizing a debate between Sir Richard Owen and self-appointed darwinistic ‘agnostic’ – T.H. Huxley – ongoing debate by Huxley against Sir Richard Owen, regarding ape v. human brains. Kingsley, like many others, supported both sides to a degree and wished the friction would cease.

“We were very much delighted, and I may say, quite interested, to find that we had all hippopotamuses in our brains. Of course they’re right, you know, because seeing’s believing.

Certainly, I never felt one in mine; but perhaps it’s dead, and so didn’t stir, and then of course, it don’t count, you know. …. every one has brains in his head, unless he’s a skeleton; and it curled its tail round things like a monkey, that I know, for I saw it with my own eyes. That was Professor Rolleston’s theory, you know. It was Professor Huxley said it was in his tail–not Mr. Huxley’s, of course, but the ape’s: only apes have no tails, so I don’t quite see that. And then the other gentleman who got up last, Mr. Flower, you know, he said that it was all over the ape, everywhere. All over hippocampuses, from head to foot, poor beast, like a dog all over ticks! I wonder why they don’t rub bluestone into the back of its neck, as one does to a pointer. Well, then. Where was I? Oh! and Professor Owen said it wasn’t in apes at all: but only in the order bimana, that’s you and me. Well, he know best. And they all know best too, for they are monstrous clever fellows. So one must be right, and all the rest wrong, or else one of them wrong, and all the rest right–you see that? I wonder why they don’t toss up about it.

Professor Huxley says there’s a gulf between a man and an ape. I’m sure I’m glad of it, especially if the ape bit; and Professor Owen says there ain’t. What? am I wrong, eh? Of course. Yes–beg a thousand pardons, really now. Of course–Professor Owen says there is, and Professor Huxley says there ain’t. Well, a fellow can’t recollect everything. But I say, if there’s a gulf, the ape might get over it and bite one after all!”

— Charles Kingsley, Speech of Lord Dundreary in Section D, on Friday Last, On the Great Hippocampus Question.