Duplicitous Darwinism


Western Academia praises Charles Darwin for establishing in 1859 that “all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors”.

Charles Robert Darwin, FRS FRGS FLS FZS (1809 – 1882) was an English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution.

He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and in a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species.

By the 1870s, the scientific community and much of the general public had accepted evolution as a fact.


Therefore, it was a surprise to read that Charles Darwin was beaten to it by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in “about 1836”.

First in point of time was Prof. Asa Gray, who in the year following Rafinesque’s death published in the “American Journal of Science and Arts,” Vol. XI, an analysis of his botanical writings.

He awards him considerable credit for his earlier investigations, but much less for his later ones.

To quote Dr. Gray’s words: “A gradual deterioration will be observed in Rafinesque’s botanical writings from 1819 to 1830, when the passion for establishing new genera and species appears to have become a complete monomania. “ [1]

But modern believers in the doctrine of the evolution of plant forms and the development of botanical species will incline to think that there was a method in this madness, when they read the passage from Rafinesque’s writings, about 1836, which Dr. Gray quotes as conclusively proving that, in things botanical, Rafinesque had lost his wits.

It is this :

“But it is needless to dispute about new genera, species and varieties.

Every variety is a deviation, which becomes a species as soon as it is permanent by reproduction.

Deviations in essential organs may thus gradually become new genera.”

This is really an anticipation of Darwinianism in botany.

The next year, in the same journal, appeared a ” Notice of the Zoological Writings of the late C. S. Rafinesque,” by Prof. S. S. Haldeman.

It is, on the whole, depreciatory, and convicts Rafinesque of errors of observation as well as of inference ; at the same time, not denying his enthusiasm and his occasional quickness to appreciate zoological facts.

In 1864 the conchological writings of Rafinesque were collected and published, in Philadelphia, by A. G. Binney and Geo. W. Tryon, Jr., without comments.

One of the editors informs me that they have positive merit, although the author was too credulous and too desirous of novelties.

[1] American Journal of Science, Vol. XL, p. 237.

The Lenâpé and Their Legends – 1885
Daniel Garrison Brinton, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque


Curiously, the Dr Gray mentioned above “as conclusively proving that, in things botanical, Rafinesque had lost his wits” is the very same Asa Gray who corresponded regularly with Charles Darwin and [somehow] argued that “religion and science were not necessarily mutually exclusive”.

Asa Gray (1810-1888) is considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century.

His Darwiniana was also considered an important explanation of how religion and science were not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Gray was Harvard University’s botany professor for several decades.

Gray regularly corresponded with, and visited, many of the leading natural scientists of the era, including Charles Darwin, who held a high regard for Gray.



The mainstream classifies the self-educated Constantine Samuel Rafinesque as an “erratic genius” who wasn’t “honored” during his lifetime.

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz, as he is known in Europe (1783 – 1840), was a nineteenth-century polymath born near Constantinople in the Ottoman Empire and self-educated in France.

He traveled as a young man in the United States, ultimately settling in Ohio in 1815, where he made notable contributions to botany, zoology, and the study of prehistoric earthworks in North America.

He also contributed to the study of ancient Mesoamerican linguistics, in addition to work he had already completed in Europe.

Rafinesque was eccentric, and is often portrayed as an “erratic genius”.

He was an autodidact who excelled in various fields of knowledge, as a zoologist, botanist, writer and polyglot.

He wrote prolifically on such diverse topics as anthropology, biology, geology, and linguistics, but was honored in none of these fields during his lifetime.

Today, scholars agree that he was far ahead of his time in many areas.



Digging deeper, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque published his remarkable ideas in 1833 and [more importantly] noted that “deviations and mutations” occurred in “gradual steps at remote irregular periods”.

Discussion and Correspondence.

C. S. Rafinesque on Evolution.

Recent discussions in Science relating to evolution, its nature and terminology, call to mind a very remarkable letter written in 1832 by Rafinesque and published by him in the ‘ fifth number for the spring of 1833 ‘ of his Atlantic Journal and ‘ Friend of Knowledge.’ [1]

This letter, which in many respects reads so curiously modern, seems to deserve reproduction here.

The first part of it, it is true, has been quoted in Call’s ‘Life and Writings of Rafinesque ‘ [2] but the last half of the letter is not the least interesting part.

Asa Gray [3] also quotes a sentence of it, and Darwin [4] refers to two sentences in Rafinesque’s ‘New Flora of North America,’ [5] which show indication of Rafinesque being an evolutionist.

The reproduction here is not so much for the purpose of calling attention to the latter fact, but rather to emphasize the essentially modern phraseology employed.

Copied verbatim, literatim et punctuatim it is as follows:

124. Principles of the Philosophy of new Genera and new species of Plants and Animals.

Extract of a letter to Dr. J. Torrey of New York dated 1st Dee. 1832. …

I shall soon come out with my avowed principles about G.[enera] and Sp.[ecies] partly announced 1814 in my principles of Somiology, and which my experience and researches ever since have confirmed.

The truth is that Species and perhaps Genera also, are forming in organized beings by gradual deviations of shapes, forms and [p, 164] organs, taking place in the lapse of time.

There is a tendency to deviations and mutations through plants and animals of gradual steps at remote irregular periods.

This is a part of the great universal law of Perpetual Mutability in every thing.

Thus it is needless to dispute and differ about new Gr. Sp. and varieties.

Every variety is a deviation which becomes a Sp. as soon as it is permanent by reproduction.

Deviations in essential organs may thus gradually become N. G.

Yet every deviation in form ought to have a peculiar name, it is better to have only a generic
and specific name for it than 4 when deemed a variety.

It is not impossible to ascertain the primitive Sp. that have produced all the actual; many means exist to ascertain it: history, locality, abundance, etc.

This view of the subject will settle botany and zoology in a new way and greatly simplify those sciences.

The races, breeds or varieties of men, monkeys, dogs, roses, apples, wheat . . . and almost every other genus, may be reduced to one or a few primitive Sp. yet admit of several actual Sp. names may and will multiply as they do in geography and history by time and changes, but they will be reducible to a better classification by a kind of genealogical order or tables.

My last work on Botany if I live and after publishing all my N. Sp. will be on this, and the
reduction of our Flora from 8000 to 1200 or 1500 primitive Sp. with genealogical tables of the gradual deviations having formed one actual Sp.

If I can not perform this, give me credit for it, and do it yourself upon the plan that I trace.

C. S. R.

As we know, Rafinesque never worked out the plan he thus had traced, nor was his pathetic appeal to be given credit for it ever entertained.

Call (l. c.) regards Rafinesque as a Lamarckian rather than a Darwinian, but we are now, perhaps, warranted to ask whether he was not really a de Vriesian.

His curious distinction between ‘primitive species ‘ [6] and ‘ actual species ‘ is more pertinent in this connection than his use of the word ‘mutation,’ though the coincidence is interesting enough.

His ‘ genealogical tables ‘ also clearly foreshadow the ‘ phylogenetic tree,’ and altogether the whole letter reads singularly prophetic.

I am under obligation to Dr. Theodore Gill for the references to Asa Gray and Darwin.
Leonhard Stejneger.

U. S. National Museum, Washington, D. C, May 3, 1906.

[1] Vol. I., Philadelphia, No. 5, pp. 163-164.
[2] From ‘ Herbarium Rafinesquianum,’ 1833, pp. 11-15.
[3] Silliman’s Amer. Jour. Sci. Art., XL., 1841, p. 239.
[4] ‘Orig. Species/ 4th ed., 1866, p. xvi.
[5] 1836, pp. 6 and 18.
[6] In another article in the same journal, p. 173, he says that ‘almost every genuine or primitive species will be found to constitute a peculiar genus.’

C. S. Rafinesque on Evolution – Leonhard Stejneger
Science – Volume 23 – 18 May 1906


Lamarckism (or Lamarckian inheritance) is the idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it has acquired during its lifetime to its offspring (also known as heritability of acquired characteristics or soft inheritance).

It is named after the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829), who incorporated the action of soft inheritance into his evolutionary theories as a supplement to his concept of an inherent progressive tendency driving organisms continuously towards greater complexity, in parallel but separate lineages with no extinction.


Clearly, Rafinesque’s “gradual steps at remote irregular periods” is more akin to Catastrophic Evolution than the amorphous mainstream uniformitarianism embedded in Darwinism which has “no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end”.

James Hutton FRSE (1726 – 1797) was a Scottish geologist, physician, chemical manufacturer, naturalist, and experimental agriculturalist.

He originated the theory of uniformitarianism – a fundamental principle of geology – which explains the features of the Earth’s crust by means of natural processes over geologic time.

Hutton’s work established geology as a proper science, and thus he is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Geology”.

Hutton’s 1788 paper concludes; “The result, therefore, of our present enquiry is, that we find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end.”

His memorably phrased closing statement has long been celebrated.


Wikipedia acknowledges some of Rafinesque’s evolutionary achievements.

Rafinesque was one of the first to use the term “evolution” in the context of biological speciation.

Rafinesque proposed a theory of evolution before Charles Darwin.

In a letter in 1832, Rafinesque wrote:

The truth is that Species and perhaps Genera also, are forming in organized beings by gradual deviations of shapes, forms and organs, taking place in the lapse of time.

There is a tendency to deviations and mutations through plants and animals by gradual steps at remote irregular periods.

This is a part of the great universal law of perpetual mutability in everything.

Thus it is needless to dispute and differ about new genera, species and varieties.

Every variety is a deviation which becomes a species as soon as it is permanent by reproduction.

Deviations in essential organs may thus gradually become new genera.


Wikipedia suggests Darwin eventually “acknowledged the ideas of Rafinesque” in 1861.

In the third edition of On the Origin of Species published in 1861, Charles Darwin added a Historical Sketch that acknowledged the ideas of Rafinesque.


However, this acknowledgement appears to be carefully structured to misrepresent Rafinesque.

Rafinesque, in his ‘New Flora of North America,’ published in 1836, wrote (p. 6) as follows:—”All species might have been varieties once, and many varieties are gradually becoming species by assuming constant and peculiar characters: “but farther on (p. 18) he adds, “except the original types or ancestors of the genus.”

On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or
The Preservation of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life
Charles Darwin – Third Edition, With Additions And Corrections – 1861


Given the above, it appears likely that Charles Darwin and Asa Gray conspired to denigrate and obfuscate Constantine Samuel Rafinesque’s original work so they could “establish priority” for their amorphous Duplicitous Darwinism that was compatible with Uniformitarianism.


The other intriguing aspect of On The Origin of Species is that its [deprecated] sub-title The Preservation of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life provided the Western Establishment [on both sides of the Atlantic] with the perfect sub-text that would scientifically explain away [aka justify] colonialism, genocide, slavery and eugenics.

Eugenics is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population.

It is a social philosophy advocating the improvement of human genetic traits through the promotion of higher rates of sexual reproduction for people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics), or both.

However, the term “eugenics” to describe a modern project of improving the human population through breeding was originally developed by Francis Galton.

Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans.

In 1883, one year after Darwin’s death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.


Ironically, Darwin’s son Leonard became Chairman of the British Eugenics Society even though Darwin “feared” Leonard had “inherited weaknesses from inbreeding”.

Major Leonard Darwin (1850 – 1943), a son of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, was variously a soldier, politician, economist, eugenicist and mentor of the statistician and evolutionary biologist Ronald Fisher.

President of the Royal Geographical Society from 1908 to 1911, he was then Chairman of the British Eugenics Society in 1911–28 (succeeding his half-cousin once removed Francis Galton), and became Honorary President from 1928 until his death.

In 1912 the University of Cambridge conferred on him an honorary doctorate of science.


The Darwins had ten children: two died in infancy, and Annie’s death at the age of ten had a devastating effect on her parents.

Charles was a devoted father and uncommonly attentive to his children.

Whenever they fell ill, he feared that they might have inherited weaknesses from inbreeding due to the close family ties he shared with his wife and cousin, Emma Wedgwood.


Perhaps Keeping It In The Family also explains away English Eccentricity.

Marrying a close relative markedly increases the chance that both parents are carriers of dangerous recessive genes, which can then cause disease when a child inherits a copy of the gene from both parents, as will happen in 25% of cases.

The gamut of such illnesses runs from known ones such as microcephaly (in which children have unusually small heads) cystic fibrosis and thalassaemia, a blood disorder, to wholly new disorders.

Keeping it in the family
Marriage between close relatives is much too common
The Economist – Amman And Cairo – 27 Feb 2016


Meet Garech Browne, the Guinness heir whose father raised pigs in their drawing room.
And Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. And the Marquis of Bath, with 64 mistresses he calls “wifelets.”

Tim Walker captures a cross section of proud standard-bearers in Britain’s long tradition of eccentricity as Christopher Hitchens explains why his native land often seems like one big Monty Python skit.

England Made Them – Christopher Hitchens – Vanity Fair – Jan 2008

Gallery | This entry was posted in Books, History, Science, Uniformitarianism. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Duplicitous Darwinism

  1. rishrac says:

    I don’t disagree with evolution. I also think some of us were dropped off here. If genetic code runs like a program, I wonder how much free will we have, or ” what prayer could reach the ear of God in a mechanical universe “.

  2. Pingback: The Red Score: Shooting the Messenger | MalagaBay

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