What's Neo-darwinism?

Chris Cogan (ccogan@sfo.com)
Tue, 5 Oct 1999 23:47:58 -0700

> >I say
> >let's forget "random mutation and natural selection" and try to figure
> >really might have happened. In my opinion there are several
> >Horizontal transfer of DNA, as is being pursued by panspermia. Some kind
> >symbiosis, as is favored by Margulus. Or the possibility that DNA
itself is
> >alive and creative, as is being pursued by Shapiro. None of these
> >possibilities could be construed as Neo Darwinism.
> I haven't heard of many of these, but as described here by you, they also
> not contradict neodarwinism.

Some of them have, in fact, been advocated or supported by neo-darwinists.
Neo-darwinists are not particularly choosy about the naturalistic mechanisms
that evolution may involve. They are willing to allow anything that doesn't
involve design or purpose for the basic process. Whether it is called
"random" or not is partly a semantic issue. The term is misleadingly
ambiguous. "Without purpose" would be better for the naturalistic view,
which does not suggest that there are no patterns, but only that the
patterns are naturalistic patterns. The ID theorist's misuse of the term
"random" should probably be sufficient reason to avoid it's use except when
it is specifically used to mean something like "acausal" or "informationally
incompressible," or "patternless," none of which need apply to neo-darwinist
mechanisms. I doubt that many neo-darwinists believe that evolution is truly
random in the sense implied (and sometimes explicitly asserted) by ID