Re: [asa] Darwin only biological evolution?

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Mon Jan 12 2009 - 12:05:52 EST

Hi Gordon,
Please excuse if I misunderstood you and that you were thinking on topics related to natural sciences. Since you mentioned 'language' and 'knowledge,' I assumed these were not topics for natural-physical sciences proper. Aren't they rather for human-social sciences?
Gordon wrote: "In addition to biological evolution and cosmological evolution we have evolution of language, evolution of knowledge, and many others..."

Now the issue is even further problematic. Do you personally Gordon, think 'evolution' *IS* synonymous with 'change-over-time' or are there significant differences between evolution and change? Yes, you wrote 'supposedly,' perhaps in order to soften the statement or to distance yourself from it. But I'm just trying to understand what you think, rather than to hear repeated what other people say (which I can discover by reading their own thoughts).  
To answer your question, I'm not sure that many astronomers 'depend' on Darwin or even if Darwin wrote anything about astronomy. I do know that Darwin's second son, G.H. Darwin F.R.S., was an astronomer/mathematician and wrote a paper called 'Cosmological Evolution,' which he delivered as an address in 1905 in Cape Town. Likewise, Lee Smolin writes about 'cosmological natural selection,' though he is a physicist/cosmologist and not an 'pure' astronomer.
Yes, Gordon, I know the question was asked tongue in cheek. But I'm still not convinced that your assertion has any truth or insight to it: "actually the only evolution we can attribute directly to Darwin is biological." In fact, I believe this is patently false and misleading.
Could you please explain again what you mean?

--- On Mon, 1/12/09, gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU> wrote:

From: gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>
Subject: Re: [asa] Darwin only biological evolution?
Received: Monday, January 12, 2009, 7:13 PM

On Mon, 12 Jan 2009, Gregory Arago wrote:

> Does Gordon have any evidence to back up the following statement?:
> "each of these has a theory that was developed mostly independently
of the others, and it is difficult to find major features that all of them have
in common beyond that they involve evolution."
> For example, was Herbert Spencer's evolutionary theory 'developed
mostly independently' of Darwin's or do they somehow overlap and borrow
from each other? Or how about Karl Marx's?
> I would contend that 'change-over-time' is a major feature common
to them all; that to take away 'change' is to be left with no evolution.
Would anyone on the ASA list disagree with this?

I was thinking more of topics related to natural sciences rather than the
social sciences. Obviously what I said doesn't apply to Herbert Spencer. I
did deliberately include the word "mostly", which was meant to apply
to individual evolutionary theories in the natural sciences. I also said that,
of course, they all had evolution in common, which is supposedly synonymous with

Gregory, can you tell me how astronomers depend on Darwin in deducing the
history of the universe?

Gordon Brown (ASA member)

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Received on Mon Jan 12 12:06:09 2009

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