Nobel Laureate Darwin Skeptics

Jerry Bergman

(Investigator 186, 2019 May)


Introduction

It is often claimed that no modern scientist doubts orthodox Neo-Darwinism. Without much trouble I located a dozen Nobel Laureates who have published their doubts about the ability of Darwinism to create life. A few of these are as follows:

Sir Ernst Chain (June 19, 1906 – Aug 12, 1979), a professor at both Cambridge and Oxford, shared the 1945 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for his work on isolating penicillin. Chain and his co-workers developed the protocol used to make the commercial use of penicillin practical. He also discovered penicillinase, an enzyme that destroys penicillin. Chain wrote "The Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution is based on such flimsy assumptions, mainly of morphological-anatomical nature that it can hardly be called a theory…I would rather believe in fairies than in such wild speculation" (Chain, et al., 1940, pp. 226-228) (Clark, 1985, p. 147).

Alexander Fleming (Aug 6, 1881 – March 11, 1955), the discover of Penicillin, said in his 1945 Nobel Prize banquet speech that, "while we think we are masters of the situation we are merely pawns being moved about on the board of life by some superior power," namely God (Fleming, 2018). Penicillin was the very first example of a set of complex chemicals that were soon to be labeled antibiotics. Fleming obtained his medical degree from the University of London in 1908 and was a professor there when he made his discovery in 1928 that earned him his Nobel.

John C. Eccles (Jan 27, 1903 – May 2, 1997), was awarded the Nobel for medicine and physiology in 1963 for his work on nerve conduction. He wrote that he concluded from his lifetime of study on the brain that, since naturalism fails to account for our experienced uniqueness, I am constrained to attribute the uniqueness of the Self or Soul to a supernatural spiritual creation. To give the explanation in theological terms…It is the certainty of the inner core of unique individuality that necessitates the ‘Divine creation’. I submit that no other explanation is tenable; neither the genetic uniqueness with its fantastically impossible lottery, nor the environmental differentiations which do not determine one’s uniqueness, but merely modify it. This conclusion is of inestimable theological significance. It strongly reinforces… a Divine creation. There is recognition not only of the Transcendent God, the Creator of the Cosmos…but also of the loving God to whom we owe our being." (1991, p. 237).

Eccles concluded that it "is the Immanent God to whom we owe our existence…God is the Creator of all the living forms…each with the conscious selfhood of an immortal soul" (1991, p. 243).

Arno Allan Penzias (April 26, 1933 -  ) and Dr. Wilson were awarded the 1978 Nobel for their discovery of the microwave background radiation. Penzias also discovered large amounts of deuterium in the Milky Way. His Ph.D. from Columbia University was awarded in 1962. Penzias’ cosmology research has caused him to see "evidence of a plan of divine creation," and that "the best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I had nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole" (Browne, 1978, p. 54). 

Albert von Szent-Györgyi (Sept. 16, 1893 – Oct. 22, 1986), earned his Ph.D. from Cambridge in 1927 and was awarded the 1937 Nobel in Medicine and Physiology for his important work on Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, a word meaning no scurvy because the vitamin prevented scurvy), and the catalysis of fumaric acid. He also isolated the molecule that is the energy currency of the cell, ATP and made major discoveries in understanding the biochemistry and physiology of muscular contraction. Szent-Györgyi concluded that his life work found the world was far more complex than scientists have imagined, that he had  "no doubt in my mind is that the Creator must have known a great deal of wave mechanics and solid state physics, and must have applied them. Certainly, He did not limit himself to the molecular level when shaping life just to make it simpler for the biochemist." (2012, p. 15).

Charles Townes (July 28, 1915--Jan. 27, 2015). Towns was awarded the Nobel for his work in quantum electronics which led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers. This allowed his development of the first successful maser in 1954. His Ph.D. is from Cal Tech. and he was a professor at both MIT and Berkley (Schlessinger and Schlessinger, 1986, p. 177).

Robert Millikan (March 22, 1868 – Dec. 19, 1953), was awarded the Nobel in 1923 for his work on measuring the charge size on a single electron by his famous ion oil drop experiment. His work was the definitive proof of the particulate theory of electricity. After noting that our Sun was made by the "Great Architect" (1950, p. 274), he concluded that wise men have always looked in amazement at the wonderful orderliness of nature and then recognized their own ignorance and finiteness and have been content to stand in silence and in reverence before the Being who is immanent in Nature, repeating with the psalmist, "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." Einstein, one of the wisest of modern men, has written: "It is enough for me to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the Universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in nature" (1950, p. 287).

Millikan earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia University and, after a post doc in Germany, became a professor at the University of Chicago and later the Presidency of California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) in California.

Arthur Holly Compton (Sept 10, 1892 – March 15, 1962) was awarded the Nobel for his discovery of the Compton Effect, the wavelength increase of x-rays caused by the scattering of the incident radiation by electrons (Schlessinger and Schlessinger, 1986, p. 159). He was a research scientist at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Chicago. He had a wide variety of interests from physics to astronomy and for this reason made contributions in several academic areas (Shankland, 1973).
   
A famous example of how he integrated his faith and his scientific work was during a scientific meeting he took out his Bible and, vouchsafed a parable to the 60 or 70 scientists there. Without introduction, he opened his Bible to Judges 7:5-7 and read to Leo Szilard, Enrico Fermi, Eugene Wigner, John Wheeler and the three score other scientists there the account of how the Lord helped Gideon sort among His people to find a few good men to fight the Midianites when there were too many volunteers and to demonstrate clearly that the victory would be entirely the Lord’s work. "When Compton finished reading," Woods remembers, "he sat down." Not surprisingly, "there was more Quaker-meeting silence." Or astonishment (Rhodes, 1986, p. 422).


Conclusions
   
Although most of these scientists would be closer to intelligent design in belief rather than creationism, concluding that intelligent design is clearly evident in the natural world, they all rejected orthodox Neo-Darwinism that postulates a totally naturalistic explanation for origins.



References

Browne, Malcolm. 1978. "Clues to the Universe’s Origin Expected."  New York Times, Mar. 12, p. 1.

Chain, E; H.W. Florey, A.D. Gardner; N.G. Heatley; M.A. Jennings; J. Orr-Ewing; and A.G. Sanders. 1940. "Penicillin as a Chemotherapeutic Agent." The Lancet. August. 239:2, 226-28.

Clark, Ronald W. 1985. The Life of Ernst Chain: Penicillin and Beyond. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Fleming, Sir Alexander. 2018. Banquet speech.
 https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/1945/fleming/speech/ Accessed 12/26/2018.

Eccles, John C. 1991. Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self. New York: Routledge.

Millikan, Robert A. 1950. The Autobiography of Robert A. Millikan. New York: Prentice-Hall.

Rhodes, Richard. 1986. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. N.Y. Simon and Schuster.

Szent-Györgyi, Albert. 2012. Introduction to a Submolecular Biology. New York: Academic Press.

Schlessenger, Bernard and June. 1986. The Who’s Who of Nobel Prize Winners. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

Shankland, Robert (Editor). 1973. Scientific Papers of Arthur Holly Compton. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


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