Home » Darwinism, Evolution » Backing away from the term “Darwinism”

Backing away from the term “Darwinism”

Many Darwinists are now finding that it no longer suits them to be called “Darwinists.” But, as we all know, calling a tail a leg doesn’t change that fact that a dog still only has four legs. Likewise, backing away from standard terminology and assigning to themselves other labels doesn’t change the fact that most evolutionists are indeed Darwinists.

Denyse O’Leary has a nice blog entry about this increasing diffidence of Darwinists to own Darwin here. To expand on her point, check out my article “Unintelligent Evolution.” As further confirmation that O’Leary is right, here’s a revealing admission by Lynn Margulis at the recent World Summit on Evolution (as reported by Michael Shermer here):

The acknowledged star of the weekend [was] Lynn Margulis, famous for her pioneering research on symbiogenesis. Margulis began graciously by acknowledging the conference hosts and saying, “This is the most wonderful conference I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot of conferences.” She then got to work, pronouncing the death of neo-Darwinism. Echoing Darwin, she said “It was like confessing a murder when I discovered I was not a neo-Darwinist.” But, she quickly added, “I am definitely a Darwinist though. I think we are missing important information about the origins of variation. I differ from the neo-Darwinian bullies on this point.”

Thus, even though Margulis repudiates neo-Darwinism, she is still a Darwinist. And if she is, so is just about every other biologist who holds that teleology ought to play no substantive role in evolutionary theory.

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18 Responses to Backing away from the term “Darwinism”

  1. Nothing new from our shifty Darwinists friends with their double standard on morality, ID, and Atheism’s Trojan Horse.

  2. “Darwinism”

    Why do creationists love the term? By attaching a personal pronoun to the field, the creationists can attack Darwin, rather than the 150 years of research that have taken place since Darwin first published the Origin.

    Here’s a fun chall…

  3. OK, now creationists are emotionally involved with the term and have a problem with Darwin himself? How convenient must it be to believe in such construction. The fact is that this theory/dogma is at odds with empirical data and cannot explain it satisfactory even after 150 years of research. And that is the problem from which there is no escape. So Darwinists/evolutionary scientists (you choose the term) should deal with it and not sidetrack the public by waving hands, telling stories etc.

  4. Atheism’s trojan horse might be a good way to put it!

  5. Freud, Marx, and Darwin.

    Two down, one to go.

    It shan’t be long now.

  6. I can’t wait until they come up with a new name for their position. Let’s suppose it’s “Post-Darwin Evolutionism.” Then we can call them, “Post-Darwin Evolution Darwinism.”

    Payback for them calling our position “Intelligent Design Creationism.”

  7. DaveScot (or anyone),

    If Freud, Marx, and Darwin go (and I hope you’re right) what do you think will take their place?

  8. I am afraid that Darwinism is far from being “gone”. No matter what evidence scientific research comes up with, Darwinist underlying atheistic philosophy will always interpret it in purely materialistic terms. This
    “battle” is between two opposing worldviews and not between science and religion (as Darwinist would want us believe). I think science is just one of many “battlegrounds”.

  9. Darwinism does make sense to a certain extent. Consider the dog family.

  10. As the blogger who recently identified the tendency of zealous supporters of Darwinian evolution to back away from the term (See http://post-darwinist.blogspot.....-away.html), I just want to note the following:

    - When I started the research for my book, By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg 2004) about three years ago, I made a point of studying the terminology of the intelligent design debate carefully. (During my long career as a book editor, I have often been put in charge of terminology issues for textbooks/curricula, so working out a viable terminology* was a natural move for me.)

    At that time, I encountered virtually no dissent from the use of the term Darwinism. (There may have been dissent, but routine terminology tracking efforts did not identify it.)

    - The first evidence of protest that I encountered came from theistic evolutionists about two years ago. They insisted – amazingly, to me – that the terms Darwinism/Darwinist were terms of abuse used only by ID advocates. As my blog post, linked above, demonstrates, that is simply not correct.

    But my question is, why did the theistic evolutionists even imagine that it was corrrect? Do they not read the publicly available literature defending Darwinism under its own name?

    - Generally, I find now, it is the zealous supporters, NOT the big-time Darwinian evolutionists, who are insisting that Darwinism/Darwinist is a term of abuse invented by ID types.

    I suggest that this signals a loss of cultural confidence on the part of the zealous supporters in what they are doing.

    cheers, Denyse
    Toronto
    *viable terminology – terminology that woould get you through an 800-page book without collapsing at, say, Chapter 13. – d.

  11. I must say that my Biology school teacher (Europe, back in 1993) said everybody knew Darwinism as Darwin described it was wrong (unfortunately, I forgot the reasons she pointed), that nowadays it was replaced by a certain neo-Darwinism.

  12. The backing away may involve far more than the name, but the mechanism(s) the name describes. From http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupb.....0300108656:

    In the 150 years since Darwin, the field of evolutionary biology has left a glaring gap in understanding how animals developed their astounding variety and complexity. The standard answer has been that small genetic mutations accumulate over time to produce wondrous innovations such as eyes and wings. Drawing on cutting-edge research across the spectrum of modern biology, Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart demonstrate how this stock answer is woefully inadequate. Rather they offer an original solution to the longstanding puzzle of how small random genetic change can be converted into complex, useful innovations.

    In a new theory they call “facilitated variation,” Kirschner and Gerhart elevate the individual organism from a passive target of natural selection to a central player in the 3-billion-year history of evolution.

  13. Eswrite – I’m intrigued by hypothetical mechanisms whereby the intelligence in intelligent design is actually carried by individual organisms. Quantum computers that could easily fit in a small section of bacterial DNA could conceivably be capable of solving survival problems through directed protein engineering. Interestingly IBM used the spin states of carbon atoms in amino acids to implement the first experimental quantum logic elements coined qubits. I wonder whether a small amount of intelligence acting in many individuals over large stretches of time would mimic the results of a single large intelligence acting over a small amount of time when only the final result is evaluated.

    Darwin’s theory makes a lot more sense if the Lamarckian mechanisms he believed were the primary driver of descent with modification had panned out. Maybe there are indeed as yet unidentified Lamarckian mechanisms at work that remove “random” from “random mutation”.

    In any case I believe that the RM+NS narrative explaining past evolution is a lame duck supported by inertia and lack of any other so-called natural mechanism to replace it.

    TomG – Freudian and Marxist theory have already been falsified and abandoned. Darwinian theory has been falsfied but not abandoned. Instead it’s been propped up by ad hoc modifications to account for the contradictory observations. As soon as Lamarkian inheritance of acquired characters was found to be false everything that followed from it should have been dropped. About the only thing that remains of it is descent with modification. What will replace it? I don’t know but lack of a non-intelligent alternative source of creative power is no justification for clinging to falsified narratives.

  14. DaveScot – “…lack of a non-intelligent alternative source of creative power is no justification for clinging to falsified narratives”. Well said!

  15. [...] 0;Darwinism”. See Denyse O’Leary’s site here and William Dembski’s here. Does this bespeak the end times for the label and the paradigm with it? Will it jus [...]

  16. DaveScot – “Darwinian theory has been falsified…”

    Not so. Because it cannot be falsified. Darwinism is “true” by deffinition. Therefore it is not in a domain of empirical science.

  17. Darwinian theory has been falsified. The new theory is called “neoDarwinian” or “the modern synthesis”. RM+NS is a kludge to Darwin’s theory after Darwin’s belief in heritability of acquired characters was falsified. RM+NS should in principle be falsifiable by exactly the arguments that Dembski and Behe are making. RM+NS operating in the past to produce novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans will never be verifiable as all the evidence of evolution of those type biological features has been destroyed except for imprints in rocks. The rocks have no DNA evidence in them to analyze. Worse, the evidence the rocks do contain is in support of saltation instead of the gradualism of RM+NS. The historical biology community knows this. Eldredge and Gould are prime examples that they know the fossil record disputes the gradualism inherent in RM+NS.

  18. Prof Herrmann Ph.D math describes ‘Randomness’ as a ‘strong delusion’
    See his site at http://www.raherrmann.com He claims that what is true in ‘actual
    reality’ can’t be determined by science. You can’t extrapolate from the laws
    of physics today and state that they were the same in the distant past.

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