RE: [asa] The term Darwinism

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Thu Jun 25 2009 - 16:07:52 EDT

>>> "Dehler, Bernie" <> 06/25/09 2:13 PM >>> wrote:

Personally, I think it is slanderous to Darwin to call anything "Darwinism."
 I don't think he would appreciate it if alive.


Ted comments:

Well, Bernie, you and Charles Darwin will just have to get over it. The
term "Darwinism" was quite widely used in his day, both by people who agreed
with him and also by those who didn't. Today of course the word seems to be
used mainly as a pejorative, esp by IDists who use it in two quite different
senses: "Darwinism" can mean simply evolution by natural selection,
operating on random mutations; it can also mean an atheistic world view with
all of the cultural ecoutrements. The fact that it's often unclear just
which meaning is intended by the word is, I think, probably deliberate in at
least some cases: some advocates of ID are happy to use the outrage
generated by the latter meaning to enlist creationists and others who also
think the former, non-ideological meaning is to be opposed.

It's not unheard of in the history of science to refer to theories by name,
in this way. That is, "Darwinism" is not unique. For example, after
Mendel's work was rediscovered ca. 1900, his theory of inheritance was often
called "Mendelism," although he was no longer living to have an opinion on
the matter. Another example would be "Mesmerism," though of course its
"scientific" status would be hotly contested today, even more than it was at
the time. If I thought about this long enough I could probably come up with
more nice examples.


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Received on Thu Jun 25 16:09:08 2009

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