The widespread public acceptance of biological evolution in Darwin’s day was probably a product of the simultaneous faith in Progress. Darwin’s theory was accepted as readily as it was because it shared in the general belief that things were getting better. It’s not that the organisms themselves were being swept along, but that European and then American intellectuals believed that everything was improving. (256)
This is the way Tom Bethell ends his entertaining book attacking the reigning scientistic consensus of evolution. Darwin’s House of Cards is a fully up-to-date survey of the mechanics and effects of evolutionary theory — a theory which Karl Popper concluded was “not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program” (14).
As to the general optimism which provided the conditions for the enthusiastic acceptance of Darwinism in the middle of the nineteenth century, Bethell writes,
[A]s I hope to show in the following chapters, the science of neo-Darwinism was poor all along, and supported by very few facts. I have become ever more convinced that, although Darwinism has been promoted as science, its unstated role has been to prop up a philosophy – the philosophy of materialism – and atheism along with it. (20)