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