Prince's 'anti-science' talk ruffles evolution feathers

June 2, 2000

Prince Charles's controversial Reith Lecture will give a boost to creationists, according to a former academic whose anti-evolutionary writings were quoted by the prince.

Alan Linton, emeritus professor of pathology and microbiology at the University of Bristol, welcomed the high profile given to his arguments.

The Reith Lecture drew hostile responses from many scientists a fortnight ago by invoking God and nature while criticising aspects of science. However, the reference to Professor Linton appeared to pass most people by.

Prince Charles said: "As Professor Alan Linton of Bristol University has written, 'evolution is a man-made theory to explain the origin and continuance of life on this planet without reference to a creator'."

This "inability or refusal to accept the existence of a guiding hand" led to the belief that nature could be engineered for convenience, he argued.

Professor Linton's words appeared earlier this year in the foreword to Hallmarks of Design by Bristol University mechanical engineer Dr Stuart Burgess, a book that seeks evidence of conscious design in the natural world.

Professor Linton said: "I am delighted Prince Charles has taken this stand to say publicly that he believes in a creator and creation. Someone has to stand up and say evolution is a purely philosophical argument, though he is not perhaps clear where he actually stands."

John Brooke, professor of science and religion at the University of Oxford, said he felt the reference was not an integral part of the prince's speech and its inclusion was curious.

"He talks in evolutionary terms yet uses the remarks of a creationist. He ought perhaps to have looked to those writers on evolution who have espoused a theistic position, such as Darwin."

Bennet McInnes, publications secretary of Christians in Science, said he was saddened that the prince was listening to the anti-evolution message.

"We worry that parts of the Christian Church and the general population are developing an anti-science attitude - Prince Charles is not helping with this," he said.

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Reader's comments (1)

The materialistic idea that something called 'life' could suddenly commence by evolutionary accident, found an early opponent in the great neo-platonist mystic Plotinus. He declared :- “The most irrational theory of all is that elements without intelligence should produce intelligence." A.D. 205-270. Food for thought? Sir Fred Hoyle FRS (24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001) was fond of saying that the evolution of complex life forms by natural selection was as probable as a tornado blowing through a junkyard and assembling a 747 jet aircraft".

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