Today? Looking back on the Darwin-in-the-schools wars from the vantage point of rethinking evolution, one calls to mind textbook author Douglas Futuyma’s dictum:
Darwin showed that material causes are a sufficient explanation not only for physical phenomena, as Descartes and Newton had shown, but also for biological phenomena with all their seeming evidence of design and purpose. By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous. Together with Marx’s materialistic theory of history and society and Freud’s attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, Darwin’s theory of evolution was a crucial plank in the platform of mechanism and materialism
Never mind claims that the history of life shows no goal or that humans are not special or are 98%-99% chimpanzee.
This stuff traces back to when evolution studies meant studies of Darwin’s and his followers’ thoughts (mandated at public expense).
In many jurisdictions, one could only
1) shut up and pay
2) say something, get attacked, and pay
3) seek private or home schooling and pay double. (= Pay to educate someone else’s kids in this stuff while educating one’s own kids in science. )
But maybe now the issues can be helpfully refocused.
Evolution? Well, just for example, horizontal gene transfer is evolution. Does anyone claim that it supports Marx or Freud or show that the history of life has no goal? Does anyone even think that way when studying a mechanism like HGT?
Depending on just how HGT happens, it may cloud the question of what 98-99% similarity even means. Actual science sometimes creates more questions than ready answers.
One could say the same thing about epigenetics and numerous other ways life forms change over time.
If someone chooses to make a philosophy out of any one of them, they might have a hard time getting it into compulsory school systems today, the way Darwinism was forced in decades ago. At any rate, one can only hope so.
See also: Evolution needs replacement, not extension
Sometimes Denton sounds like a Darwin who got way more right There is a cultural (and in some places legal) need to defend Darwinian biology, irrespective of evidence. Denton would like to move beyond that, to ask how patterns take shape in life.
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