Empirical confirmation of Darwin's theory did not prove forthcoming in the first few decades following its publication. Indeed, by the early twentieth century, many noted naturalists had come to regard Darwin's account of evolution by natural selection as a theoretical failure. Some even described their continuing commitment to evolution as a matter of faith, rather an ironic justification in light of the impending Scopes trial of 1925. "I suppose that everyone is familiar in outline with the theory of the origin of species which Darwin promulgated. Through the last fifty years this theme of the natural selection of favored races has been developed and expounded in writings innumerable. Favored races certainly can replace others. The argument is sound, but we are doubtful of its value. For us that debate stands adjourned. We go to Darwin for his incomparable collection of facts. We would fain emulate his scholarship, his width and his power of exposition, but to us he speaks no more with philosophical authority. We read his scheme of evolution as we would those of Leucretius or of Lamarck, delighting in their simplicity and courage." "Modern research lends not the smallest encouragement or sanction to the view that gradual evolution occurs by the transformation of masses of individuals, though that fancy has fixed itself on popular imagination."
Source: Address of the President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, August 14, 1914
Contributed by: Zaady