Excerpt from article by Sir MacFarlane Burnet

Readers may be interested in the following excerpt from an article by the famous Australian biologist, Sir MacFarlane Burnet, writing in the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ (Jan l/8, 1977) titled ‘morphogenesis and cancer’. After an excellent discussion of a hypothesis involving a possible mechanism of cancer, he makes a non sequitur leap into linking his hypothesis with evolution. He goes on to say:

‘No critical biologist doubts the broad validity of modern evolutionary theory, but it can never be susceptible to experimental disproof. When observations in some particular field seem to cast some doubt on one aspect of evolution or another, no one dreams of disputing the whole notion of evolution. Any hypothesis to account for the anomaly must be within the standard evolutionary framework.’

No creationist could have put it better—how obvious it is that scientists are not evolutionists because the evidence demands it—if the evidence doesn’t fit, let’s make it fit! The tragedy is that brilliant minds such as Prof. Burnet’s cannot see out of the valley of this sort of vacuous reasoning and refuse to consider alternatives.

Incidentally, the author responded to the above article (MJA, Feb. 5th, 1977). Burnet replied in a rather aloof manner, simply reaffirming his faith in evolution and backing it up by saying that all reputable biological scientists of his acquaintance had a similar faith. (The word faith was his own usage.) If readers who receive journals, etc. in their own particular field see an occasion for the CSA to make any sort of written response, please let us know.

Published: 27 January 2006