RE: Developing story: Steve Gould's friend says Gould would never have signed NCSE's "Steve" list

From: Freeman, Louise Margaret <>
Date: Tue Oct 25 2005 - 16:10:34 EDT

I've read a fair amount of Gould and I'd have to vote "wrong." My impression
is that he certainly thought natural selection was important, just not the
only player and that other players (including just poor dumb luck) were
often ignored in favor of selection.
For instance, he wrote in a 1982 essay "Evolution as Theory and Fact"
Thus Darwin acknowledged the provisional nature of natural selection while
affirming the fact of evolution. The fruitful theoretical debate that Darwin
initiated has never ceased. From the 1940s through the 1960s, Darwin's own
theory of natural selection did achieve a temporary hegemony that it never
enjoyed in his lifetime. But renewed debate characterizes our decade, and,
while no biologist questions the importance of natural selection, many now
doubt its ubiquity. In particular, many evolutionists argue that substantial
amounts of genetic change may not be subject to natural selection and may
spread through populations at random. Others are challenging Darwin's
linking of natural selection with gradual, imperceptible change through all
intermediary degrees; they are arguing that most evolutionary events may
occur far more rapidly than Darwin envisioned
In 1977's "Bushes and Ladders":
Speciation in these small isolates is very rapid by evolutionary
standards—hundreds or thousands of years (a geological microsecond). Major
evolutionary change may occur in these small isolated populations. Favorable
genetic variation can quickly spread through them. Moreover, natural
selection tends to be intense in geographically marginal areas where the
species barely maintains a foothold.
From "The Panda's Thumb" (his book, not the modern blog! :)
Selection simply cannot see genes and pick among them directly. It must use
bodies as an intermediary. A gene is a bit of DNA hidden within a cell.
Selection views bodies. It favors some bodies because they are stronger,
better insulated, earlier in their sexual maturation, fiercer in combat, or
more beautiful to behold.”
From "Darwian fundamentalism" (1977)
Natural selection, an immensely powerful idea with radical philosophical
implications, is surely a major cause of evolution, as validated in theory
and demonstrated by countless experiments. But is natural selection as
ubiquitous and effectively exclusive as the ultras propose?
May I state for the record that I (along with all other Darwinian
pluralists) do not deny either the existence and central importance of
adaptation, or the production of adaptation by natural selection.
I cannot imagine Gould as a friend of the current ID movement.
I would, however, be interested in someone giving us a good definition of
structuralism and how it relates (if at all) to mainstream evolutionary
theory and/or intelligent design.

Louise M. Freeman, PhD
Psychology Dept
Mary Baldwin College
Staunton, VA 24401
FAX 540-887-7121

> Well, basically, it's Gould's friend that's making the noise.
> He says Gould never gave natural selection even so much credit that it
> would
> be "major."
> Right? Wrong?
> I'm just waiting to see if structuralism turns out to be the dark horse
> in
> the ID debate.
> Cheers, Denyse
Received on Tue, 25 Oct 2005 16:10:34 -0400

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