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

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Tue Mar 13 2007 - 11:44:06 EDT

Thank you for following up on my message, Terry, even if you missed it the first time. What you said helps me to clarify the different pov's we hold on the topic, not least due to the fact that you come from a natural scientific background while I come from a social scientific one. Hopefully we can find ways to collaborate our respectfully sovereign and yet ultimately inter-related spheres of study.
  “Darwinism can be an ideology, but it can also be a synonym for evolutionary biology. Yes, Darwin's theory of natural selection is what I'm talking about here. And that's the way most biologists use it. It's a matter of definition, I guess (semantics?). For me, "-ism" doesn't necessarily imply ideology. I don't believe that most biologists use it that way. (Any more than they use Lamarckianism to be an ideology--it's shorthand for the theory best associated with that particular name.)" – Terry
  This gets us closer to the heart of our communicative misunderstanding/gaps. In my understanding, ‘Darwinism’ is an ideology; there is no ‘can be’ about it. ‘Darwinian theory’ or a ‘Darwinian paradigm’ is not an ideology. Likewise, the word that you wrote ‘Lamarkianism’ (perhaps it was a typo?), is to me non-sensical, i.e. with mixed meanings. Either it is within ‘Lamarkian theory’ (i.e. as you say, “the theory best associated with that particular name”) or it is Larmakian theory stretched into an ideology, that is, into ‘Lamarkism.’ The –ism is added to express the over-reaching-ness of a theory beyond its legitimate domain (e.g. K. Marx called ideology a kind of ‘false consciousness’).
  Thus, perhaps when and if biologists use the term ‘Darwinism’ when speaking with non-biologists they are actually conjuring up images in the minds of non-biologists of something they are not really meaning to express. While it may be unproblematic for biologists to use among themselves the term ’Darwinism’ as a synonym for ‘evolutionary biology,’ I assume that most people on this ASA list are not biologists, and therefore the language used here should be for a more general audience. Therefore, if it can be agreed, ‘Darwinian’ should be used to refer to Darwin’s theories/paradigm and ‘Darwinism’ should be referred to the ideology that has grown out around Darwin’s theories/paradigm.
  Thus, there would be no need for you to write the following:
  “Again, I readily recognize that Darwinism can be an ideology, e.g. social Darwinism. But, it doesn't have to be…”
  The above clarification says that yes, ‘Darwinism’ has to be, by definition, an ideology. Perhaps it would be helpful Terry, if you could explain to me what makes you think ‘social Darwinism’ is an ideology. That is, does Darwinism become an ideology simply by adding the term ‘social’ to it – i.e. as if all social things are ideological?
  Perhaps a thread should indeed be started on ‘theistic evolutionism’ to help clarify the difference between ‘theistic evolution’ and the ideology that has grown out of it. That is, unless theistic evolutionists think it impossible that ‘theistic evolutionism’ is ideological, but rather strictly scientifically naturalistic. It is important to stress that not all ‘theistic evolutionists’ actually even accept the ideology of ‘theistic evolutionism!’ This makes the semantic importance of challenging Darwinism as an ideology so important (and likely what prompted Yew Hock Tan to suggest ‘ditching Darwin’). It also helps us to understand when ‘evolutionism’ as an ideology perhaps oversteps the legitimate domain of evolution as a biological, cosmological, anthropological or other scholarly theory. Is this an important discussion to have or does it verge too much on philosophy and sociology of science to be considered as valuable for natural scientists?
  It seems to me that many of the scholars at ASA who accept TE quite flexibly as their pov may be willing to ‘get reflexive’ on the list about it and thus reveal the boundaries between what is and inevitably must be ideological in their scientific work (original definition of ideology: ‘the science of ideas’) and what is simply ‘objective’ or ‘natural’ or ‘material’ or ‘physical’ about what the idea of ‘theistic evolution’ expresses.
  Terry wrote: "either God is controlling the process (Theistic) or He's not (Naturalistic)."
  I guess one the problems I have with the label 'theistic evolution' is that is encompasses much more than just biology. You are right, Terry, that people don't call themselves 'theistic chemists' or 'theistic physicists' (though this term would suit many people on this list), even if they are in fact theists and scientists. However, when the discipline being considered involves the study of human beings then there are more reasons to distinguish the import of theology into the academic landscape. Oftentimes, theology is excluded from the social sciences when it simply cannot and should not be excluded.
  I am disappointed that (Matthew) Yew Hock Tan has not returned to speak about the challenges to his views posed by myself and others on this discussion list. May it be that he was really rather interested to promote the ideology of IDism than to engage the discourse on a level playing field?
  Warm regards,
  p.s. please excuse, Terry, that I stand corrected on Lamoureux’s self-labeling. He writes:
  “Evolutionary creationists are first and foremost thoroughly committed and unapologetic creationists. They believe that the universe is a created reality that is absolutely dependent for its every moment of existence on the will and grace of the Creator. The qualifying word in this term is the adjective 'evolutionary,' indicating the method through which God created the world. This view of origins is often referred to as 'theistic evolution.' However, that categorization places the process of evolution as primary term and makes the Creator secondary as only a qualifying adjective. Such an inversion in the order of priority is unacceptable to evolutionary creationists.”
  As with Glenn Morton, Lamoureux accepts being called a 'creationist.' Otoh, along with Denis, I also believe the universe is a created reality, but I am not a ‘creationist.’ Maybe a ‘creationary theist’…?
  Side note: on Wikipedia, the concep-duo 'evolutionary creationist' is linked to the article on 'theistic evolution.' Perhaps as a token of understanding to Matthew, someone at ASA would be willing to write a summary of Perspectives of an Evolving Creation and post it on Wiki, as a further resource for those interested in learning about TE and not TE'ism :-)

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Received on Tue Mar 13 11:44:29 2007

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