Re: [asa] The term Darwinism

From: Cameron Wybrow <>
Date: Sun Jun 28 2009 - 20:05:42 EDT


Two quick points:

The two targets you contrast (Darwinism and naturalism) are not at odds with
one another. Darwinism is just naturalism applied to the origin of species.
ID proponents have frequently criticized naturalism broadly as well as
Darwinism in particular. But Darwinism is a more inviting target than other
forms of naturalism, because at least some naturalistic origins accounts
(e.g., the origin of stars from gravity and hydrogen gas clouds) seem to
accord well with what we know of nuclear fusion and so on, whereas the
variations in living things that we observe in nature and even under
domestication do not seem to be easily extrapolatable to whole new body
plans or major new organs, and no detailed accounts of the "how" have yet
been provided. So the question arises, why is the scientific world so
convinced of Darwinian evolution when the evidence for the creative powers
of the mechanism is so spotty? In other areas of science, e.g.,
electromagnetism or analytical chemistry, a theory which could demonstrate
so little would not be very highly respected at all. This suggests that
Darwinism is favoured not so much because of its actual achievement in
explaining how change occurs, but because it is wholly naturalistic, and
excludes design; i.e., scientists want a naturalistic and non-teleological
theory of biological origins, and Darwinism fills the bill.

I don't think that TEs/ECs have any problem admitting Darwin's "errors", if
by that is meant empirical facts about nature which he got wrong, e.g., how
inheritance works, how continents are formed, etc. They admit lots of
errors in Darwin of this type. But they won't admit that Darwin could have
been fundamentally wrong, i.e., that mutation/natural selection may be
fundamentally incapable of building up the complex structures that Darwin
said they could build up. So when Bernie repeatedly says that evolutionary
theory has passed beyond Darwin's views, he is right only about the
technical details, but wrong about the big picture. Evolutionary biology is
still primarily a Darwinian enterprise, even if post-Darwinian developments
have been added (e.g., "drift"), and even if some Darwinians (e.g., Gould)
have revolted somewhat regarding gradualism. The continuing adulation for
Darwin's core insights is clearly seen in Ken Miller's *Finding Darwin's
God*, in Dawkins's *The Blind Watchmaker*, in Coyne's writing, etc. All one
has to do is read *The Origin of Species* carefully, and follow it up by a
reading of Miller and Dawkins. Darwin's core argument is still the heart of
orthodox evolutionary biology, and publically doubting it will almost
certainly bar one from admission to graduate school programs in the subject,
and will prevent one from publishing articles, receiving tenure and grants
and promotions, etc. And the point is that Darwin's core argument is not
likely ever to be regarded as a "correctable error" by evolutionary biology.
It is hard to imagine any other core argument that could ground a
naturalistic, non-teleological origins theory, so to find Darwinism to be in
*fundamental* error would be tantamount to admitting that biological origins
cannot be explained without recourse to design, which, as is quite plain
from the discussions here, is an admission that a great number of
scientists, including Christian scientists, will never make.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Dave Wallace" <>
To: "Cameron Wybrow" <>
Cc: "asa" <>
Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 6:58 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] The term Darwinism

> Cameron
> As I was sitting on the frond deck, looking at Lake Ontario, I was reading
> and browsing in Dembski's book "No Free Lunch". Again I became aware of
> how much ID proponents talk about Darwin, Darwinism or Darwinian
> Evolution. In my own thought, when I think of people like Dawkins or
> Coyne, I tend much more to refer to them as naturalistic evolutionists.
> Darwin just does not loom very large in my thoughts, sure he was important
> and originated or at least popularized variation and natural selection as
> the mechanism of evolution. Somehow it seems to me that ID's real target
> should be naturalism rather then evolution.
> There has been a call for TE/ECs to admit Darwin's errors. My answer is
> who cares. All scientists make mistakes that are corrected by later
> scientists, that's the nature of science, at least in the physical
> sciences, although the social sciences may differ but I hope not.
> Dave W

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Received on Sun Jun 28 20:07:52 2009

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