No Fuller than Complete: Darwin’s Age Comes to an End, Gregory Sandstrom

Author Information: Gregory Sandstrom, European Humanities University and Mykolas Romeris University,

Sandstrom, Gregory. “No Fuller than Complete: Darwin’s Age Comes to an End.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 11 (2016): 12-17.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink:


Image credit: Marc Brüneke, via flickr

The bagpipes are playing the funeral oration for Darwin’s evolutionary theories as they have been chronically misapplied and ill-championed in social sciences and humanities (SSH), the true home of the Darwin wars. The feverish century-long pitch of the drum, drum, drumming of evolutionary war; war in nature, struggle for life, survival of the fittest, man vs. nature, man vs. each other motif, has finally moved past its zenith. No fuller than complete, the Age of Darwinian evolution now comes to an end, with a sign to mark its place at the Royal Society.

The Scottish originator of the phrase “natural process of selection” (1831) might be put out by all the notoriety that C. Darwin has received over the past 158 years since publication of ‘The Origin.’ But the fall from grace that Darwin is set up for once again in London, this time in front of a jury of world-class intellectual peers that will include philosophers and social scientists may be enough that the gracious Scot Patrick Matthew would never wish Darwin’s eventual fate upon him.

At an upcoming meeting at the Royal Society on ‘new trends in evolutionary biology,’ the prospect of finally over-turning ideological Darwinism in biology, with global leading evolutionists in attendance, is on our doorstep. Will Darwin’s Age finally come to an end? Darwin’s theory now comes across to the educated eye as ‘developed but incomplete,’ in stark contrast with how things looked in the mid-19th century.

When Darwin wrote privately to his mentor C. Lyell in 1860 about “a complete but not developed anticipation!” of his theory (of the origin of species by means of) natural selection, he obviously hadn’t yet heard of the so-called ‘Arago Effect’ of scientific priority. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have written it. Darwin’s letter symbolically gives official priority over the discovery of ‘natural selection’ to Matthew; ‘complete’ signals that Darwin didn’t add anything new and that his theory was ‘anticipated.’ A serious argument can thus be made that we are more hanging onto the name ‘Charles Robert Darwin of Down, England,’ etc. than we are any longer confident that the ‘evolutionary’ ideas coming from Darwin’s 19th century ‘canon’ of hand-me-down texts are still fuel for the scientific imagination and research programs today.

As Matthew wrote to the Gardener’s Chronicle in making his claim to having pioneered the idea of “nature’s law of selection,” others were not ready to receive what he wrote at the time and there was a “spirit of resistance to scientific doctrine” in positing nature’s ‘selection,’ “that caused my work to be voted unfit for the public library of the fair city itself. The age was not ripe for such ideas.” This was said in 1860 (less than 2 years after publication of OoS), when Matthew responded in print to a review of Darwin’s ‘Origin’ that suggested Darwin was original and held priority over ‘natural selection.’ Publically, however, Darwin would only suggest that nobody had read Matthew’s work and that he took nothing, even through word-of-mouth from others who had read Matthew, from Matthew’s ideas as a kind of ‘knowledge contamination’ (Sutton 2014).

What would happen if someone found something like an English acronym N.L.O.S. or even the directly stated Matthew phrase “nature’s law of selection” in any of the personal correspondence between Darwin and someone before 1858? If any such thing exists, with it the priority game for Darwin would surely be up with disgrace to his legendary name. But the so-called ‘smoking gun,’ much like those pesky transitional fossils in the historical geological record on Earth sometimes remain, is still yet to be found, if it even does exist.

Shift to 2016 and the ‘culture war’ in the Anglo-American English world surrounding the term ‘evolution’ (leave aside ‘creationism’ for the time being) is about to get a facelift with the upcoming Royal Society ‘new trends’ meeting. The scholarly discourse of change-over-time in SSH today has little to nothing to gain from Darwin’s corpus any more, but it may still lose much by not dropping him and his unruly ideological followers now.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems in the Anglo-American discourse is that many people there seemingly “don’t know what they don’t know” regarding evolutionism in SSH. In this case, in not knowing, they continue to abuse evolutionary language, under the spell of Darwinism. This happens both on the side of atheists that try to argue evolution offers a scientific argument to bolster their atheism, and for theists who employ the term ‘evolution’ even in the most absurd of cases in trying to linguistically woo their opponents.

At the USA’s evangelical Christian-based BioLogos, where ‘science and faith’ are supposed to co-exist peacefully (D. Falk), except when they don’t (e.g. cloning, contraception, pharmaceuticals, nano-technology, neural-linguistic programming, etc.), or be ‘integrated’ into each other (J. Swamidass), except when they aren’t (welcome to 21st century fracked philosophy!), and evolutionary biology is not considered as problematic to religious belief, except when it comes to the mystical genomics of Adam & Eve, there is a glaring problem of equivocation by the Management regarding the meaning of ‘evolution.’ Yes, folks, all good intentions aside, they really don’t know what they don’t know and furthermore don’t want to know. They want to be stubborn ‘creationists’ at their local churches instead.

The reason for this is that BioLogos holds an ideologically ‘scientistic’ epistemology, where scientisation runs rampant over knowledge with implications for secular human nature, character and theology (cf. A. McGrath’s ‘scientific theology’). Thus, BioLogos has demonstrated that it actively supports the over-extension of ‘evolution’ into evolutionism and uses metaphor transfer from natural to artificial ‘designs.’ We also see this in the over-extension of ‘creation’ into ‘creationism,’ which BioLogos not subtly endorses. Sadly, they offer no excuse or explanation for their simple and obvious grammatical error in displaying their confused ideologies.

Here’s one example. A commenter named Rafael Galvão wrote on their site:

I have a degree in economics and my object of study is the history of economic thought. Biological evolution and economic evolution are always used interchangeably, like the models of Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis are drawn from the evolutionary theory. I think it’s interesting that there are lots of discussions in the history of economic thought about Malthus and in the history of theology he’s basically forgotten.

This comment was ‘liked’ by BioLogos Managing Editor Brad Kramer, Joshua Swamidass & @Caspar_Hesp (Forum Moderator).

We can therefore conclude, aside from not recognising a simple falsehood in economics – evolution is not “always used interchangeably” – that BioLogos thus even promotes interchangeable usage of ‘evolution’ in biology and economics. This is significant by itself because they “don’t know what they don’t know” on this topic. They display no public recognition regarding ideological evolutionism and its underside, even welcoming a Christian evolutionary psychology project (which was not well received) into their Templeton-funded grants program.

Yet BioLogos is, unfortunately, not alone here and their conflation of NPS with SSH joins a considerably large group of economists who if they don’t call themselves ‘evolutionists’ then at least openly applies what they consider as loosely (because there isn’t much more than that) ‘evolutionary principles’ in their economics work. Whether the so-called principles themselves are worthless and of minimal theoretical contribution doesn’t seem to matter to them, as long as it is labelled ‘evolutionary’ and thanks be given to Darwin in the genre of scientific origins mythology.

Many fields in play, you might be wondering where this is going and why it’s important. Economics is a clear and blatant example of a field in confusion as a result of evolutionism in SSH. When the notion of what exactly does and what doesn’t evolve is not even raised and a discussion not had to clarify borders or boundaries, or at least evolutionary ‘aspirations,’ then little can be done to stop what Dennett called “Darwin’s universal acid.” Darwin is upheld by some as one of the greatest developers of SSH fields; he has been called the founder of psychology, of sociology and of modern political economy, etc. The notion that Darwin’s ‘principles’ may apply equally to human beings as to other creatures and even plants, rocks, the solar system and universe, etc. symbolizes a existential threat to human freedom and sovereignty, while some also see it as some kind of liberation.

One need only bring up one example among hundreds to throw a cold bucket of water on the notion that BioLogos actually supports ‘evolutionary economics’ or even knows much about what it means. They seem unaware of the potentially deadly social consequences that a misunderstanding of economic development might cause. With a law of competition based on “survival of the fittest in every department” between people, “[w]e accept and welcome great inequality (and) the concentration of business,” said Andrew Carnegie, “in the hands of a few.” Is this the kind of Darwinian economics BioLogos supports? It sadly remains a problem that BioLogos “doesn’t know what it doesn’t know” and therefore thinks that evolutionism everywhere without limits. Perhaps someday we will receive some clarity from BioLogos regarding abuses, and also under-sights, like why they never discuss cutting-edge biology and genetics involved with the Third Way. BioLogos shows ‘No Results’ regarding this “New Trends” meeting on its website although it has many biologists among its commentators. The USAmerican discourse surrounding ‘evolution,’ from this global village Canadian’s perspective is, given such intentional avoidance of crucial issues as at BioLogos, indeed largely a side-note to more interesting and important things.

Of key import at the Royal Society meeting is the notion of an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ and also the meaning of evolutionary ‘over-extension,’ since the notion of ‘replacement’ or major correction (amendment) for (neo-)Darwinian evolutionary theory is now realistically in play. R. Dawkins had already warned us in 2004 about getting “not too extended,” regarding the so-called ‘extended phenotype.’ In the McLuhan tongue, there is a distinction to make between a ‘speed-up’ and being ‘flipped.’ Thus, if evolutionary theory is ‘extended’ too far, sooner or later it ‘flips’ and becomes something other than itself at the core.

One of the most difficult puzzles nowadays seems to be finding opportunities for non-evolutionary thinking. Are there any replacement-like ‘non-evolutionary’ options for studying human character ready and available to consider that Darwin could never have imagined? If so, let us see some of them presented publically at the Royal Society.

In the present Wikipedia example, Objections to evolution is “part of a series on Evolutionary Biology.” This may seem unimportant, but it is a simple example that is repeated rampantly wherein objecting to evolution can only happen ‘legitimately’ in biology, yet at the same time the concept is widely used outside of biology, even in SSH. It begs the question if objections to evolution outside of biology can be legitimated and on what grounds would one decide if they are legitimate? If one listens only to the status quo of ‘normal evolutionary science’ voices in the Academy nowadays they could quite easily block this questioning out. Yet this Royal Society meeting makes the ‘universal Darwinism’ (Dawkins 1983) position very difficult to defend anymore and indeed much easier to leave aside for more progressive models.

Evolutionary ideas borrowed from biology are caught in the natural-physical scientific methodology of requiring that the ‘interpreter’ of nature (scientist) be entirely ‘un-reflexive’ in their scientific practise. Such an approach takes aim at a kind of ‘positive’ science or ‘objective’ knowledge which is thought to liberate the individual researcher from his or her typical human reflexivity into ‘objective scientific neutrality.’ But this is not the kind of ‘knowledge’ that is produced and shared in SSH, no matter how much easier it would make things if we could find ‘natural science-like’ looking data collection techniques.

Just as SSH scholars cannot escape their (our) reflexivity in our various research topics, neither can we impose our own worldview upon others as if the scientific theories and methods we use and advocate supposedly requires that. As Dawkins once cautioned, however, there are ‘Neville Chamberlain evolutionists,’ i.e. atheist-appeasers who argue that science and religion are somehow mutually compatible. The compatibility argument for science, philosophy and theology/worldview discourse runs contrary to what Dawkins and many of the ‘new atheists’ believe, which is that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible.

Theistic evolutionists (TEs) or evolutionary creationists (ECs), on the other hand, believe that science and religion are compatible, even while there are oftentimes disagreements and even open ideological conflicts. TEs consist of the majority and current default position among Abrahamic theists. Yet the protestant evangelicals who swarm to this topic of conversation turning it into a large in-market often come across as simply confused and under-educated, whether they self-identify as ‘creationist’ (against Darwin’s view that “it becomes highly improbable that they [species] have been separately created by individual acts of the will of a Creator”) or not.

One problematic feature of this recent development only in the past 5-10 years is that ideological TEs (which means all of them, by definition of the term ‘evolutionists’) often won’t stand alongside of their fellow theists who haven’t given up Orthodox teachings for evolutionistic ideology. Yet for TEs who are otherwise orthodox and mainstream even without carrying the label, the continual embrace of evolutionism may come to be seen as an unnecessary linguistic act that can be corrected simply by will of words and nothing else.

In short, there certainly are people who need to hear the message: “Please stop trying to ‘evolutionise’ everything. We see through this ruse with trans-evolutionary change.” The spirit of the difference between ‘evolving’ and other types of change and the discernment of evolution’s limitations is something that TEs still seem unable to experience or perceive. This condition may change with the inclusion of trans-evolutionary change into SSH discourse.

One problem in the sub-field of social epistemology (i.e. not just individualistic analytic ‘western’ epistemology, or even Goldmanian social epistemology) is that Fuller himself seems to draw no clear distinction between what ‘evolves’ and what doesn’t. I can find nothing in my Fuller notes where he defines or even acknowledges ‘non-evolutionary’ in any meaningful way. On the one hand, Fuller is putting risk and reward mechanisms in front of people in public the way he contends that “we are now entering a new era in the understanding of minds and machines.” It may sound somehow empowering when Fuller uses such language, that of enhancement, uplift and higher projection than homo sapiens sapiens. This is provocative ‘social epistemology’ that engages many people and in my opinion could do so in a more effective way, were Fuller to clarify himself about what specifically does and doesn’t evolve.

Fuller recently displayed surprisingly backwards in his language by a least a century and was uncharacteristically ‘precautionary’ on the topic of ‘social evolution.’ He still actually seems to believe in that old myth! Fuller says that “military and police drones may evolve” (into ‘android companions’). Yet this is a primarily externalistic notion of ‘evolve’ with no internal ‘human guidance’ involved. Obviously that scenario is quite contrary to actual social reality. If Fuller wishes to conceptually disavow ‘social evolution,’ the academic world will no more vilify him for this than they have already for his endorsement of ‘intelligent design.’

Mere gradualism and step-by-step thinking likewise shouldn’t be defended by Fuller here as ‘evolutionary’ based on loosely defined views of change-over-time in society. Proactionary thinking, in contrast with evolutionistic SSH, is much more (if not entirely) internalistic in character; with the individual (or group) choosing to intentionally act based on inner reasons, instincts or principles. Fuller thus seems to be stuck on the right side, yet still the downside of Darwin’s legacy, not yet having moved past evolutionism in his linguistic strategy and offering little clarity through his linguistic embrace of social evolution. In this confusing message regarding evolution and evolutionism, Fuller thus seems to want to have things as many ways as possible at the same time and all at once in his unity-oriented social epistemology.

“‘Wouldn’t ‘Nature,’ understood in its totality,” Fuller a self-described ‘naturalist’ asks, “suffice as the name of God?’ The authors of this book [Fuller and Lipinska], on the other hand, stand with those who locate the ‘best explanation’ for nature in the workings of the sort of anthropocentric yet transcendent deity favoured by the Abrahamic religions.” This was the public(ation) moment of Fuller’s conversion from secular humanism to Unitarian (proto-Christian) science, philosophy & theology discourse. Without this piece to the puzzle, without reference to a “transcendent deity,” Fuller’s defence of neo-creationist Intelligent Design would make no sense. So, with this understanding, Fuller’s social epistemology now no longer looks as ‘naturalistic’ as it once may have.

At least we note that Fuller has come around (2014) to reluctantly acknowledging the new geological Anthropocene period of human impact on Earth, what one might call ‘little history’ in contrast to ‘big history’ or ‘macrohistory’ (Christian 2005). With Bill Gates’ educational missionary help, ‘big history’ is effectively knocking young earth creationism out of textbooks and public school classrooms as simply undereducated USAmerican provincialism. A proper ‘anthropic’ (not necessarily anthropocentric) scale thus seems required to beat back the imperialist manoeuvres of misanthropic biologism (& economism). With that we can explore specifically human activities including origins and processes, design and manufacture, etc.

At the end of the day we can still hope for improved proportionality in the SSH–NPS relationship as the voices of SSH against evolutionism and Darwinism are heard, respected and listened to in terms of what escaping from the ideological evolutionistic prison might entail. What we don’t want on the way out is to turn human extensions into a kind of technological self-manipulation that echoes what McLuhan predicted with electric (psycho-somatic) engineering of more and more social environments.

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24 replies

  1. There are several points here.

    First, Matthew’s view, despite the similar name, is in detail quite different from Darwin’s, so that might be why both did not see themselves as that close together. But there is an interesting question about how ‘natural selection’ succeeded as a branding of Darwin’s theory.

    Your critique of BioLogos’ rather sometimes selective and sometimes inflated endorsement of evolution is well taken — and the rather protean meaning of ‘evolution’ allows for this.

    As for my own view, you’re right that I don’t define ‘non-evolutionary’ because I agree with you that ‘evolution’ itself means much less than its advocates would lead us to think. Rhetorically, it’s basically just a firewall concept against creationism (hence the BioLogos people have to bifurcate their thinking into ‘God’s creation’ and ‘nature’s evolution’). More positively, I suppose it could be said that ‘evolution’ is neutral with regard to the direction of change over time, and so it covers a broader range of possibilities than, say, ‘development’, which does suggest some plan or end-state.

    So, I’m not heavily invested in the concept of evolution per se. However, particular theories of evolution are interesting — and the devil then is in the details of those theories. I believe that a theory of evolution that doesn’t allow for at least human creativity at an evolutionarily significant scale is deficient, but that is to do with my view of humans rather than my view of evolution. However, I do think it says something about our own times that many people feel the need to cling on to the image of Darwin even though the range of scientifically respectable evolutionary theories has become much more open to non-Darwinian alternatives. This should be studied just as much as the resistance to the very idea of ‘creation’ in proper evolutionary discourse.

    You dramatize my thinking a bit too much. I don’t actually see much of a difference between ‘secular humanism’ and ‘Unitarianism’, if both are understood properly. I choose the name for my position based on what I think will cause the least confusion, given how people normally understand these terms. My backing away from ‘secular humanism’ as a label simply has to do with the British Humanist Association (which is very active) embracing Peter Singer in a way that seems to me to undermine any sense of human exceptionalism.

    The same overdramatization applies to your characterization of my view of the Anthropocene. I wasn’t ‘reluctant’ in embracing it. I simply had not realized that most people using the term were trying to make the phenomenon look unequivocally bad. Anyone who follows Teilhard de Chardin or the Russian Cosmists already knows about the Anthropocene — and portrays it as a good thing: namely, humans are becoming increasingly capable of remaking the planet in their image. This obviously has serious environmental and human consequences, and they need to be dealt with appropriately. But climate change as such is not necessarily all bad, as more extreme environmentalists maintain. This is why I’ve supported the Ecomodernist for a ‘Good Anthropocene’ against the likes of Bruno Latour.

    • As for “Matthew’s view, despite the similar name, is in detail quite different from Darwin’s, so that might be why both did not see themselves as that close together,” I’ll defer to Mike Sutton. Not sure what ‘in detail’ from Matthew you might mean. That does not seem accurate from what I’ve read of Matthew and Darwin as shown by Sutton. Nice to see him posting here.

      To the rest, as usual, I’m working on a response. The trans-evolutionary change thread to come soon will aid in this effort.

    • Hi Steve, I know I said I’d wait for Mike Sutton to respond to your claim, but I found the answer in Darwin’s own words. You wrote: “Matthew’s view, despite the similar name, is in detail quite different from Darwin’s”. Charles Darwin wrote: “The differences of Mr. Matthew’s view from mine are not of much importance.” So, now what?

  2. This is an interesting article. Thank you very much for alerting me to it. But to avoid further myths and possible misinterpreted confusion by others please note that Matthew never used the phrase “nature’s law of selection” in his 1831 book “On Naval Timber and Arboriculture” that pre-dated Darwin’s and Wallace’s (1858) Linnean Society Papers, and Darwin’s (1859) Origin of Species.

    Matthew’s 1831 book did, however contain the first full publication of the complete hypothesis of macorevolution by natural selection. Matthew used the term “nature’s law of slection” in his letter to the Gardener’s Chronicle in 1860, when he laid claim his orignal idea.

    In his 1831 book Matthew originated the term “natural process of slection” Darwin (1859) was the first to four word shuffle that unique term into its only other grammatically correct four-word equivalent “process of natural selection”

    Mike Sutton

    • Thanks for this clarification Mike. I’ve adjusted the text above to reflect that indeed “natural process of selection” (1831) came first and “nature’s law of selection” (1860) came *after* Darwin & Wallace had used the more compact term “natural selection.”

      No doubt you agree also that it’s too bad Matthew didn’t know better the significance of what he was actually proposing. And if he did know more than just having a glimpse, then it’s a shame he didn’t elaborate it further with evidence (turn the appendix into a separate book), which could have been shown after the supposed ‘second-handers’ came in 1858. His brief 1860 public priority claim was obviously not enough and could easily have been supplemented with ‘developed’ proof were there more to provide. Darwin is surely right that Matthew’s ‘theory’ of a “natural process of selection” was not (or only minimally) ‘developed,’ don’t you agree?

      Let me also pay attention to clarify your claim, which appears anachronistic. The term ‘macroevolution’ was never used by Darwin, Wallace or Matthew. Apparently, Yuri Filipchenko, teacher of Theodosius Dobzhansky in St. Petersburg, coined ‘macroevolution’ & ‘microevolution’ in 1927 (unless you’ve found deeper origins than is currently known there too with your IDD). Matthew therefore could not have had a “complete hypothesis of macroevolution” according to him. I love that he grew & knew trees nevertheless – a Johnny Appleseed of artificial selection! = )

      Darwin was indeed thinking geologically on a much broader scale than Beagle-less Matthew’s largely local horticulture with aspirations for “Universal Empire” via the British Royal Navy.

      The debate over whether or not ‘selection’ is a ‘process’ or rather what kind of process human selection is currently is open and welcome in the social sciences and humanities. We need be impacted little now by what Darwin thought 150 years ago using his limited naturalist’s metaphor. A better foot forward goes with trans-evolutionary change, regardless of what happens to Darwin.

      • Etymology re Matthew and Darwin is correct now Gregory.

        The “too bad Matthew never knew what he had” argument is a popular Darwinite “guilt neutralization by proxy” tactic that is rather similar to con-man thieves who say of their victim “poor sucker never knew what he had”.

        In fact, the evidence suggests Matthew knew exactly what he conceived and so did others many years pre-1858. The evidence he knew what he had – is that others did in the first half of the 19th century and communicated with hm about it. For example, in Matthew’s second 1860 letter to the Gardener’s Chronicle. He plainly informed Darwin (1) That a professor naturalist of an eminent university read and understood fully what Matthew conceived and yet feared to teach it to his students, or mention it elsewhere, for fear of pillory punishment. (2) That for the same reason (Mathew’s trespass on natural divinity) his book was banned for being heretical by the public library of Perth in Scotland. All these details are fully cited in my peer reviewed 2016 article “On Knowledge contamination: New Data Challenges Claims of Darwin’s and Wallace’s Independent Conceptions of Matthew’s Prior-Published Hypothesis” Here:

        For the very same reasons of fear of being prosecuted and persecuted for heresy Robert Chambers (who cited Matthew’s book in 1832) anonymously authored the best selling “Vestiges of Creation” – the book which put evolution in the air and paved the way for public acceptance of Darwin’s (1859) ‘Origin of Species.

        Moreover, other reviewers also knew the heresy of Matthew’s bombshell origination as early as 1831. The following text is from 1831 the anonymous review of Matthew’s 1831 book by the United Services Journal :

        “But we disclaim participation in his ruminations on the law of Nature or on the outrages committed upon reason and justice by our burthens of hereditary nobility entailed property and insane enactments.”

        An agenda Wikipedia editor operating under the name “Dave Souza” on the Patrick Matthew page keeps deleting the citation to the source of above fact under the fraudulent claim that it does not exist! Proof it does exist in the publication record, and proof of the desperate lengths Darwinians are going to to delete the New Data facts can be found here:,23792. Yet Wikipedia will not allow anyone to enter that fact on its Patrick Matthew page. In this way the greatest science fraud in history continues.

        Darwinists will go to any length to hide the facts. I have many more examples.


      • Please in reference remember like the cycle and hammer of communism still hangs over a great portion of the world today the scourge of Anglo Saxon reprisal against interpreted heresy against the Christian Monarchy and it’s church still existed in 1831. It cannot be easily dismissed as a deterrent…especially in the times of 1831 and before… even in light of the world awakening to the much more tolerable enlightenment of 1858. I seriously doubt that Patrick Matthew had any inclinations of not knowing what he had but chose without choosing anonymity as Robert Chambers did to limit in brevity what he published compared to his entire wrings on the subject. He intentionally told his readers where to directly find the gist of what he had. I like Dr. Sutton’s Trojan Horse analogy of why the appendage was added.


    There are several forms of intentional pious trivialization on the part of Darwin that must be pointed out through the diverse exchange of letters from the several players discussing Matthew and his book in 1860. Commencing from the time of the first declaration by Patrick Matthew that Darwin was repetitiously proclaiming credit for what Matthew had previously espoused 29 years previous, these acts of trivialization can be seen as intentional smoke screen attempts to erase any seemingly misrepresentation of the existing possibility of duplicity. Despite a forced complete capitulation, Darwin still maintained the audacity to exhort trivialization. Noted among not only the trivialization and obscuritization promotion by Darwin of Patrick Matthew himself… which I personally do not have to fully address because Dr. Michael Sutton of Nottingham Trent University has previously already proven erroneous by having found numerous examples of those who did in fact read and cite ONT&A pre “Origin of the Species,” Darwin intentionally attempted to trivialize Matthew’s book of 1831 “On Naval Timber and Arboriculture” by trivialization of the very subject of Naval Timber as well. The discrepancy in so doing is paramount to cutting off the head and tail of a serpent and then showing everyone around the results while claiming that the serpent was still intact and breathing. Naval Timber was an exceedingly critical subject…especially when you consider that the Greatest Empire spread around the entire world was totally based on and tied to it. Britain was a small Island Nation and by the time 1831 rolled around it had totally depleted it’s own Timber resources long before. The problem of Naval Timber for the English had manifested itself clear back in the mid 1500’s. Expansion of Colonial England under Monarchial rule saw Timber resources seized around the globe in the name of the crown. The Yellow Arrow policy was enforced in every corner of the world. There was no exceptions….and because of the policy there were outbreaks of rebellion among colonialists over the taxation of these timber resources.

    Let’s talk a bit more about who Patrick Matthew really was. I’ve been working with Dr. Sutton for two years now. Before him I was previously working with Dr. W. Jim Dempster another brilliant scientist and Patrick Matthew Researcher up until he passed away. Many people knew little about Patrick Matthew before Jim Dempster opened his story and realized just how great P.M.’s story really is. And to simply clear the air I have no qualms to state that I am the 3rd Great Grandson of Patrick Matthew…so I know that some will use that as an excuse to criticize what I am about to write. But the story needs to be told…and told in it’s entirety.


    • Howard

      You are right. Darwin mocked Matthew from the third edition of the Origin of Species onwards by referring to him as a “catastrophist”. All naturalists know that this meant Darwin was making it look like Matthew was a credulous believer in the great biblical flood. Respected scientists at that time rejected the great flood story in the Bible because they accepted Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian philosophy in geology that if there was no physical evidence of a thing occurring that it should be assumed it did occur. As it turns out, we now know (as Dempster first made abundantly clear and Rampino more famously replicated) Matthew was right about meteorological extinction events and darwin totally wrong.

      In reality, – outside the mythical “Darwin World” populated by credulous Darwin deifying pseudo-scholars – Matthew heretically mocked the notion of God in his 1831 book, which contained the orignal conception of macro evolution by natural selection. Darwin, for his part, always wrote of “the creator”, as did Chambers in “The Vestiges”.

      Darwin mocked Matthew the man, But “The wise man mocks the mocker. The mocker mocks the man.” See:

    • Thanks for this minnichelmsdeepminnichelmsdeep. Looking forward to the continuation.

      • Mike,

        I think you meant to say…” that if there is no physical evidence of a thing occurring, that it should be assumed that it didn’t occur.”

        and…Mr. Sandtrom I will be finishing this in a day or two….I’m winterizing some of my summer recreational equipment right now… we have a winter storm warning in affect right now….and need to get that done.

      • Thanks for the update. Be welcome to respond when the storm warning is over. We’ve been in the minus degrees here for a couple of weeks already – only this morning finally most of the snow melted. ; )


    First a bit about Patrick Matthew’s Biography to expand the personal aspects of who he actually was. This information is in counter opposition to a long continuous and implicating portrayal that Matthew was anything but obscure as a naturalist in his own right… which was exactly what Darwin was adamantly suggesting in his pious responsive approach to dealing with Patrick Matthew who in 1860 most emphatically did call him out on the carpet over the contents of his and not Darwin’s theory of Evolution. There is substantial evidence to prove otherwise that has been conveniently omitted or pushed aside in order to create the apparition that Matthew was no one of scientific reputation and this is an obvious example of how Darwin successfully used his newly acquired fame and authoritarian standing in the scientific community to lead others away from the writings of Patrick Matthew. Proving somewhat of a point in illustration let me imply the following. If you were to apply Charles Lyle’s Uniformitarian Philosophy of Geology previously pointed out by Dr. Sutton to Patrick Matthew’s cryptic explanation of the impact that Catastrophism has had on species extinction and the repopulation and/or regeneration of new species then it is quite obvious just how different from and more complete as well as accurate
    ( again referencing Dempster and Rampino ) Matthew’s theory was as Gregory Sandstrom has also implied. Darwin made no effort to try and understand Matthew’s explanation and completely dismissed it. How can that not be seen as evidence of one of the greatest blunders in the history of Science? It actually puts Matthew head and shoulders ahead in the reality of having priority even without consideration of Matthew’s preemption of Darwin by 29 years in publishing his more accurate theory.

    Patrick Matthew was born on the grounds of Scone Palace in 1790. His father John Matthew was co owner of a farm called Rome on the Palace grounds and was the wad setting tenant farmer, choosing to farm the ground himself in partnership rather than to lease it. In understanding the Scottish system of Feudal land ownership in this region and it’s ability to tract ownership and to help tie family ancestral connections together, one should read University of Dundee’s Dr. Mary Young’s 2004 thesis paper “Rural Society in Scotland From the Restoration to the Union ~ Challenge and Response in the Carse of Gowrie, circa 1600 – 1707. ” It has critical information that intensely helps one traverse the landscape in the Carse of Gowrie by using titles, deeds, population/census and tax records…which in many cases are more accurate than poorly to marginally kept birth, death and marriage records… i.e. it took years to finally find Patrick Matthew’s unmarked grave even in the small country parish cemetery of Errol.

    Patrick Matthew’s Mother, Agnes Duncan is significant in the historical aspects of the life of Patrick Matthew in the fact that through her Patrick Matthew is now known to have been directly descended from one of the most well known Scottish Dynasty’s in all of Scotland…The Duncan Lairds of Lundie. Her Great Grandfather was George Duncan of Lundie the brother of Alexander Duncan the 3rd of Seagate who married Helen Haldane of Gleneagles. If you know your history then you should know the significance of this relationship. Patrick Matthew wrote both of his books…”On Naval Timber and Arboriculture,” and “Emigration Fields ~ North America, The Cape, Australia and New Zealand” with what certainly had to be historical influential input from several of his relatives from this Duncan Dynasty…especially the more noted of a line of Naval and Military Officers such as Admirals Adam Duncan, the first Viscount of Camperdown and Admiral Adam Drummond of the estate of Megginch Castle. Both of these Admirals lived in Patrick Matthews lifetime and had brothers who were just as famous and well known Officers of the Royal Army as well. Colonel Alexander Duncan the 4th was a noted hero of the French and Indian Wars in Canada. He is immortalized in the pages of James Fennimore Cooper’s famous novel “The Pathfinder” as the Major Duncan or Major Lundie as he was commonly referred to. Admiral Duncan likewise was immortalized along with Sir Thomas Cochrane as their exploits form the basis for Patrick O’Brian’s fictional character Captain Jack Aubrey from O’Brians classic “Master and Commander series of novels. One of the most endearing scenes from the movie “Master and Commander ~ Far side of the World” was when Aubrey…played by Russell Crowe… eulogized in reminiscence his association with time of once being under the Command of his own hero Lord Nelson. To understand the significance of that scene it has long been known and recorded that Lord Nelson always referred to Admiral Duncan as his mentor and that it was Duncan who was responsible for sending him…Lord Nelson…into history well prepared for the Battles that he would fight and win including the one that eventually took his life…the Battle of Trafalgar.

    To keep continuity with both Admiral Adam Duncan and his older brother Colonel Alexander Duncan the 4th it needs to be noted that they are the sons of Alexander Duncan the 3rd and Helen Haldane of Gleneagles.. Note also that there are four consecutive Alexander Duncan’s in this Dynasty…all of whom were Lairds of Lundie and all of whom at some point in their lives served as Provosts of the city of Dundee. George Duncan the brother to Alexander Duncan the 3rd and Patrick Matthew’s 2nd Great Grandfather was the city clerk for several years for the city of Dundee.

    Admiral Adam Drummond of Megginch’s inclusion into this Duncan Dynasty goes back to Alexander Duncan the 1st who was married to the sister of Admiral Drummond’s 2nd Great Grandfather whose name also happened to be Adam Drummond. This 2nd Great Aunt to Admiral Drummond and Great Grandmother to Admiral Duncan was Anna Drummond. I will stop here for the time being and then will commence to explain in detail how the estate of Gourdiehill ties this entire grouping of Duncan relatives together and the role that the estate plays in the formulation of Patrick Matthew’s theory of evolution.



    Why did Patrick Matthew put his original conception of the theory of macroevolution by natural selection in a Book on Naval Timber? Matthew’s proven familial naval connections to the Duncan’s and the Drummonds of the British Admiralty.


    Let it be known that both Admiral Duncan’s linage and Agnes Duncan’s (Patrick Matthew’s Mother ) linage – through Admiral Duncan’s Uncle, George Duncan – also parallel that of Admiral Adam Drummond of Megginch (1781 – 1839 ).

    Megginch Castle and the Gourdiehill Manner both were once part of the Barony of Errol through Gilbert Hay and the Hays of Belhousie. The Duncan’s and the Matthew’s are both Hay descendants. The two estates were connected by a shaded lane a little less that a half mile long each side of which were planted with selected trees planted by Admiral Drummond and his son John Drummond. Two of those trees are Patrick Matthew Redwoods that Patrick Matthew gave as living gifts to his Drummond Relatives, Adam and John Drummond; not only being a relative but a close friend for many years as well.

    All three linages go directly back to Alexander Matthew the First of the Duncan Lairds of Lundie and the first of the 3 consecutive Provosts of the city of Dundee of the same name. Alexander Duncan the 3rd (Admiral Duncan’s Father) was Provost of Dundee and his Brother George Duncan was once the city recorder as well. Anna Drummond was the Wife of Alexander Duncan the First and the Great Grandmother of both Alexander the 3rd and George Duncan. The Drummond connection just came about less than half a year ago as a result of chasing down Patrick Matthew Redwoods… another subject for later.

    In March Lady Catherine Drummond Herdman, the present heiress and owner of the Megginch Castle estate invited Dr. Sutton to her home and furthered the Drummond / Matthew connection. She told him about a trophy that has Patrick Matthew’s name engraved along with the name of his teammate, John Drummond, which they won together in a hurling tournament.

    Patrick Matthew was 14 when Admiral Duncan died and 17 when he inherited Gourdiehill from Admiral Duncan’s estate. However Admiral Drummond of Megginch was only 9 years older than Patrick Matthew and spent much of his time at his Megginch Castle estate less than a mile away from Gourdiehill in between campaign’s and service in his Naval career. Admiral Drummond died in 1839 thus a 49 year window of influence opportunity for Patrick Matthew and Admiral Drummond to share their mutual “Forestry interests” and the importance of “Naval Timber” from a “second” member of the Admiralty, both with the likelihood of possibly having been also influenced by Admiral Duncan. Moreover, the younger brother Gordon Drummond was a General in the Royal Army serving most of his military career in Canada … later having been promoted and appointed as a Military Colonial Provincial Governor. There is no doubt as to where Patrick Matthew received quite a collective knowledge of a wide variety of military subjects, which are very well proven and documented in both of his major publications – i.e. On Naval Timber and Arboriculture ( 1831 ) and also Emigration Fields (1839 )


    Colin Drummond , the Father of Admiral Adam Drummond and Major General Gordon Drummond was married to Katherine Oliphant in similar relative relationship that Robert Duncan of the Duncan Lairds of Lundie married to Christian Oliphant makes Patrick Matthew and Admiral Adam Duncan descendants of William Oliphant the Castle Keep of Sterling Castle at the time of William Wallace’s victory over Edward Longshanks at Sterling Bridge. As a result…

    …the following is another significant find:

    Robert de Bruce’ giving in marriage his daughter Elizabeth to William Oliphant’s son makes the Drummond linage the same as the Duncan Linage – as direct Descendants of Robert de Bruce.
    ( SEE … The Historic Castles and Mansions of Scotland… by Alexander H. Millar 1890 ).

    NOTE: Alexander H. Millar was the personal publisher of Queen Victoria

    You will need to go to the chapter on Dupplin Castle. You will find there a revealing account of Patrick Matthew’s oldest daughter Euphemia Duncan presenting to and showing Alexander H. Miller the original document created for and certified by the Hay of Belhousie of the inscription of the genealogy of the Lord’s Oliphant as it had been originally recorded on the inner wall of a archival room in Dupplin Castle which traces the Oliphant genealogy directly to Robert de Bruce. That document was later presented to the Scottish National Archives now known as the Scottish National Records. It is part of just one of over 20 packets of Duncan and Matthew family records contained in Archive No. GD-316. The actual packet’s sequential number is GD-316/10. Dr. Mary Young referenced GD-316 numerous times in her 322 page thesis paper.

    The following information is heavily dependent upon the findings revealed in Dr. Mary Young’s 2004 thesis Rural Society in Scotland from the Restoration to the Union~~ Challenge and Response in the Carse of Gowrie, circa 1660-1707. Young’s (2004) findings are crucial to add because it establishes that both Seasyde / Seaside and Gourdiehill were owned by the Lairds of Lundie from the 1600’s or even longer. It actually establishes the date of sale of Seasyde estate, which was the future Wad set Tenancy home of George Duncan, as having taken place in 1652, during a forced sale of properties owned by the Barony of Errol of which Gilbert Hay, who was a relative to the Duncan Lairds of Lundie was the then Earl of Errol. The sale was conducted by the Hay of Belhousie being the same Hay of Belhousie who was also a relative of the Duncan Lairds of Lundie of mention in Alexander H. Millar’s 1890 book ‘The Historic Castle’s and Mansions of Scotland’.


    Alexander H. Millar was the private publisher to Queen Victoria. It was he whom Patrick Matthew’s oldest daughter Euphemia Matthew of Errol Park Cottage presented the recorded genealogy of the Lords Oliphant. Notably, it was James Duncan, the son of Robert Duncan and Christian Oliphant, who at that time was the Chamberlain to the aforementioned Hay of Belhousie and it was he who copied and recorded the Lords Oliphant genealogy that was written on the inner walls of an archive room in Dupplin Castle. Dupplin Castle was at that time owned and occupied by the Hay of Belhousie. In order to establish connection please note that Dupplin Castle was of critical note. Because it had previously been the historical home of the Lord’s of Athol, which included the Lord’s Oliphant and therein these facts trace the Matthew, Duncan, Hay. and Drummond linages back to Robert Oliphant, who was given Elizabeth de Bruce in marriage by her father Robert de Bruce. Robert Oliphant being the son of William Oliphant the Castle Keep of Stirling Castle at the time of Edward Longshanks siege of the castle at Stirling.

    Shortly after surrendering to Edward’s forces, William Oliphant was imprisoned in London. William Wallace however – because the siege took so long – was able to rally the clans and convince their leaders to rise up against Longshanks. And thus Wallace defeated Longshanks at the Castle bridge. Robert de Bruce, after his victory over Longshanks at Bannock Burn, finally freed his friend and ally William Oliphant; and in appreciation for his loyalty at Stirling Castle during the siege he gave him title, deeds of land at Athol and his daughter Elizabeth to be the bride of William Oliphant’s son Robert Oliphant.

    Similar title and deeds were also given from this period of Robert De Bruce to the Duncan and Hays for similar acts of loyalty. This particular document is of great importance, for it is part of the archive known as GD316 in the records of Scotland and it was donated by Euphemia Matthew – after showing it to Alexander Haitis Millar – having been passed down from the family of Agnes Duncan the Mother of Patrick Matthew.

    Mary Young’s paper also establishes that both Seasyde and Gourdiehill passed directly from the 3 ( 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Duncan Lairds of Lundie ) by the name of Alexander Duncan – all of whom were also Provosts of the city of Dundee, with Alexander Duncan the 3rd being the father of Admiral Duncan and the brother to George Duncan. Young establishes also that George Duncan was the Wadset tenant of both Seasyde and Gourdiehill, along with a lesser known estate known as Auchmuir which I haven’t found much on. What makes Dr. Young’s paper so critically unique is that it establishes that on the death of his older brother, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Duncan the 4th, Admiral Adam Duncan thus became the owner of Seasyde, Auchmuir and Gourdiehill until his death in 1804. Patrick Matthew was 14 years old, almost 15, when Admiral Duncan passed away. Upon turning 17, Patrick Matthew – through his mother Agnes Duncan – inhereted the estate of Gourdiehill directly from the estate of Admiral Adam Duncan.

    One more item of note. The Hay of Belhousie also owned at one time the estate of Belhousie Castle, now home of the Black Watch Regiment and Museum as did his Hay ancestry own the Megginch Castle Estate and Seasyde and Gourdiehill before the Drummonds and the Duncan’s and the Matthew’s… in particular of Gourdiehill. I would point out the tendency of the numerous properties to seemingly remain in familiar pattern of family ties… and a seeming pattern of ownership is also significantly somehow related to Why Patrick Matthew selected these properties for his famous Giant Sequoia Redwood trees. There was a time when the Matthew Family was also once in possession of Belhousie Castle.

    Howard L. Minnick
    Major, Corps of Engineers
    United States Army (Ret.)
    Botanist, Range Conservationist
    & 3rd Great Grandson of Patrick Matthew

    • P.S. Not to steal Dr. Sutton’s thunder I’ll defer to him on the issue of… “The Race”… and the likely connections of a couple of glory stealers by the names of William Lobb and John Lindley associated to Charles Darwin who attempted to be the first to introduce the Giant Sequoias …(as opposed to the Coastal Redwoods) of California to Scotland…(not England)… and to Europe. It’s all yours Mike….

      • I need to correct the information in the second to last paragraph. Please note that all the Lundie estates including both Seaside and Gourdiehill also passed to Colonel Alexander Duncan the 4th, the older brother of Admiral Adam Duncan. He too became Laird of Lundie and likewise served a term as Provost of the City of Lundie. Though Colonel Duncan married he had no increase so upon his death Admiral Duncan became the rightful heir of all the Lundie estates as well as Seaside, Gourdiehill and the less known Auchmuir estate.

      • John Lindley – who was a co-author and friend of John Loudon (who reviewed Matthew’s 1831 book in 1832 – noting its originality on what he described as the “origin of species” no less) and a friend of William Hooker (father of Darwin’s best friend Joseph Hooker) claimed the glory with Lobb for what he knew was in fact Matthew’s right to be celebrated as first to import and propagate giant redwood trees in Britain. Lindley knew that he misled the word because he had a letter in his possession proving it. The facts only came out a year after his death. This is a another New IDD facilitated re-discovery. The full and independently verfiable facts are here:


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