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Claim: Evolutionists do not use the term “Darwinism”

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A friend writes: “When I discuss evolution in social media, some complain about the word Darwinism. They say, ‘Darwinism is a term I never hear outside of Christian circles.’ Is that so?”

No, of course not. Another friend offers many citations, but just this, from 2005:

Here:

Even prominent Darwinist scientists use the term in their popular writings. Richard Dawkins writes that “There are people in this world who desperately want to not have to believe in Darwinism.” (The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton, 1996 ed, pg. 250) The term “Darwinism” has over 20 entries in the index to Stephen Jay Gould’s magnum opus, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.

If Wilson is correct that “Scientists don’t call it Darwinism,” then apparently all the authors who use the term “Darwinism” in Science, Nature, books, and many journals are not scientists. The alternative explanations are that Professor Wilson is wrong, or is bluffing. I’ll go with either alternative.

Darwin-skeptics would love to take credit for inventing a prominently used scientific term like “Darwinism,” but it appears that we can’t. “Darwinism” is a term employed by scientists in the mainstream scientific literature.

And here is a chart of citations to that year.

Not much has changed either. Just getting up to wander to the bookshelf, I note Darwinism and its discontents (from a fan). Others books, by fans or non-Christian and non-ID critics use “Darwin” or “Darwinian” as functional equivalents in their titles.  Then there are alternative styles like “neo-Darwinism” or “ultra-Darwinism” that appeal to a minority. As a search on books about Darwinism today shows, everyone who is interested knows what we are talking about and we are all talking about the same thing (natural selection acting on random mutation as a creative force in its own right). Otherwise, publishers would not title their books this way.

A characteristic of Darwinians, that our friend needs to just accept as a given, is to play with words—for example with tautologies like “natural selection” or “fitness” to fog up rational evaluation of the evidence. They will be doing that two decades from now too. It’s what they’ve got left.

See also: New paper hopes to “salvage the concept of fitness”

Engineering Tradeoffs and the Vacuity of “Fitness”

and

Special issue of Biology: Evolution Beyond Selection will be open access

2 Replies to “Claim: Evolutionists do not use the term “Darwinism”

  1. 1
    PaV says:

    Darwinists don’t call themselves ‘darwinists.’ Instead, at oppportune moments they will say: “Darwin was right.”

    I suppose this means that nature tinkering with itself is able to bring about “endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful.”

    This is the fundamental understanding of Darwin: we don’t need God.

  2. 2
    UPbrasil says:

    The reason by which christians – and people who talk a lot about worldviews – use the word “darwinism” is exactly that: they’re talking about a worldview.

    “Darwinists” don’t use the word too much because it doesn’t represent any meaningful science today (and also because they don’t seem to care of talking about worldviews as much as christians). In a scientific sense, the term “evolution” has meaning, as do “intelligent design”. But, “darwinists” don’t attribute the same value to the term “intelligent design” because of… their worldview.

    Why is Dawkins and Gould “darwinists”? Because of their worldview. Most scientists are not “darwinists” in the same sense christians atribute the term to guys like Dawkins and Gould. Most scientists are more human, I guess.

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