The role of debates and wedges

From: <>
Date: Mon Jun 27 2005 - 19:52:55 EDT

I recently had a correspondent (in the middle of some hateful vitriol) bring
up what might be an interesting point, although I suspect he has the history
Many of us think less of the ID movement because it primarily employs
propaganda tactics (like public debates) rather than going through the normal ways
of presenting new science. But were not Darwin's views also promoted through
public debates? Did Huxley et al. form a "wedge" to get evolution accepted?
I think the analogy probably doesn't work for a couple of reasons.
First, I suspect the *scientific* acceptance of evolution had little if
anything to do with the 19th-Century public debates. Any influence would have
been limited to public acceptance -- the scientific acceptance came through
normal channels and for the most part pretty promptly as scientific revolutions
go. In other words, Huxley et al were trying to convince the public of
something most scientists already accepted, while the current ID people are trying
to get popular acceptance while their scientific acceptance is still pretty
much zero.
Second, I wonder how much of the 19th-Century debates were really about
science, and how much they were about people like Huxley trying to push their
atheistic *interpretations* of the science. And of course the ID movement
agrees with Huxley (but not Darwin) as far as their interpretation of the
metaphysical implications of evolution. So in some sense, the ID people are
advancing the same Wedge that Huxley started -- or if we think of it as the "warfare"
wedge it probably pre-dates Huxley.
Can anybody out there with more history knowledge than I offer some opinion
about the extent to which the 19th-century promotion of evolution resembled
today's "Wedge"?
Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado |
"Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cats"
Received on Mon Jun 27 19:56:06 2005

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