Re: [asa] Ditch Darwin To Advance Theory of Evolution, says Professor of Evolutionary Biology

From: PvM <>
Date: Mon Mar 05 2007 - 14:33:57 EST

These are some good questions and in fact, many of these issues seem
to be 'predicted' by Darwin himself. So perhaps the problem is not
Darwinism but rather neo-Darwinism?

On 3/3/07, (Matthew) Yew Hock Tan <> wrote:
> To what extent are Christian scientists willing to ditch Darwin - supposing
> that there is a general agreement that the theory of biological evolution as
> presented today (Darwinism) is "dogmatic ideology"?
> 1. Ditch the principle of blind, undirected/direction-less, purposeless
> operating forces?

Even if evolutionary mechanisms were purposeless, this would not
preclude a purposeful use of these mechanisms. Gravity is purposeless
and yet can be put to good use in a purposeful manner. It's important
to remember that selection is however not purposeless or ateleological
in the sense that it's purpose is survival via function.

> 2. Ditch "random" mutations as a mechanism? Maybe intelligent nonrandom
> correlated mutations? Or simply, unknown mutations? Or, better still, just
> say "changes in the genome".
> James Shapiro suggests that bacteria are sentient intelligent ("not stupid")
> beings capable of re-engineering themselves intelligently (with
> computational and information processing capabilities).

That intelligence exists which can affect the collaboration of
bacteria hardly undermines evolutionary theory. In fact, such
cooperation and behavior seems quite in line with Darwinian theory.
Random is a poorly defined concept and even Darwin did not really
consider them to be fully random (in the sense of being not preferably

<quote author=Darwin>
It is interesting to note that in his book The Origin of Species
Darwin wrote: ''I have hitherto sometimes spoken as if the variations
were due to chance. This, of course, is a wholly incorrect expression,
but it serves to acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of
each particular variation. [The facts] lead to the conclusion that
variability is generally related to the conditions of life to which
each species has been exposed during several successive generations.''
Hence, both Darwin and Lamarck, two of the founders of evolutionary
theory, predicted that evolution itself may favor the development of
self-guiding mechanisms, maximizing variability where and when it is
most likely to yield positive changes while minimizing phenotypic
variability when and where it is not needed. It is becoming
increasingly difficult to argue that their general idea of nonrandom
evolution was entirely wrong.
</end quote>

> (Read the Abstract)
> 3. Ditch "natural" selection? That will mean ditching "dogmatic ideology" of
> materialistic naturalism to allow for unknown forces operating the
> selection.

Natural selection is an extension to artificial selection. If the
argument is that an unknown force does the selecting, then from a
scientific perspective the question should be: What is this unknown

> (With respect to macro-evolution)
> 4. Ditch the assumption that micro-evolution can be extrapolated to
> macro-evolution?

Trickier. I'd say that there is no real problem either way.

> 5. Ditch the dogmatism of single-ancestor tree of life?
> After all, there is already an article by Doolittle titled "Uprooting the
> Tree of Life" -
> If we go far enough, that will allow for creationist notion of "limited
> evolution" within "kinds" of creatures.

Even Darwin allowed for more than one root of the tree of life and
while indeed horizontal exchange may have played a big role in early
evolution, the evidence shows strongly that there exists a tree of
life. Perhaps its roots may be tangled up but that does not mean that
there is no tree of life.

> 6. Redefine evolution to mean simply the change over time in the morphology
> and/or genome of living organism? (without the assumption of the tree of
> life)

It's not an assumption as much as a prediction, supported by
significant evidence.

> I believe all these ditching will satisfy the Intelligent Design proponents
> and Old Earth Creationists, but not the Young Earth Creationists.

But why should we ditch all these if they are based on good science?

> George Murphy <> wrote:
> He's right. Emphasis on Darwin as an individual, the use of the term
> "Darwinism" and (what was discussed at one AAAS session) the coupling of
> "Evolution Sunday" with Darwin's birthday serve to antagonize conservative
> Christians and keep them from giving evolution a fair hearing. Of course
> Darwin's name needn't be avoided studiously, but there's no need to inflate
> his role either. Evolution can be discussed without talking about the
> histopry of the subject, just as classical mechanics can be presented
> without talking about Newton. & to the extent that the history is
> discussed, giving Wallace partial credit can help.
> Shalom
> George
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: (Matthew) Yew Hock Tan
> To:
> Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 12:16 PM
> Subject: [asa] Ditch Darwin To Advance Theory of Evolution, says Professor
> of Evolutionary Biology
> The theory of biological evolution as it is presented today is dogmatic
> ideology? This professor has called for scientists to de-emphasize Darwin.
> It is significant that he made this call at the annual meeting of the
> American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in San Francisco.
> This news article is for subscriber. But you can read it from the
> "cache" of Google search result.The Chronicle of Higher EducationMonday,
> February 19, 2007
> De-emphasizing Darwin Might Advance the Argument for Evolution, Biologist
> Says at Scientists' MeetingIn his controversial book, The God Delusion,
> Richard Dawkins insisted that scientists should work to dispel the idea that
> God exists. Without religion, Mr. Dawkins has said, the conflict between
> scientists' beliefs about evolution and the fundamentalist religious belief
> that a supernatural intelligence created all life would vanish. Now an
> evolutionary biologist has proposed a different tack. In a meeting last
> weekend in San Francisco, he suggested scientists might win the argument by
> ditching Darwin.
> ...
> Mr. Kutschera, a professor of plant physiology and evolutionary biology at
> the University of Kassel in Germany, said scientists should emphasize that
> evolution is a fully formed field of biological study "built up by
> generations of non-dogmatic scientists." Terms like Darwinism can make
> evolutionary biology seem like an ideology, rather than a focus of empirical
> work, he said.
> Few think that Darwin himself is such a divisive figure. But at a session on
> growing anti-evolutionary sentiment in Europe, scholars from both sides of
> the Atlantic agreed that scientists should change the way they present their
> views.
> Pressure from religious groups to teach alternatives to evolution, such as
> intelligent design, in science classes once seemed mostly an American
> problem, but that is no longer true.
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Received on Mon Mar 5 14:35:03 2007

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