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Nobody ever calls it “Darwinism” today!

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No? Then how come…

In the United States, the term “Darwinism” is often used by creationists as a pejorative term in reference to beliefs such as atheistic naturalism, but in the United Kingdom the term has no negative connotations, being freely used as a shorthand for the body of theory dealing with evolution, and in particular, evolution by natural selection. – Scott, Eugenie C.; Branch, Glenn (16 January 2009). “Evolution: Education and Outreach (New York: Springer) 2 (1): 90. doi:10.1007/s12052-008-0111-2. ISSN 1936-6434. Retrieved 17 November 2009.

Unless they sense they are among friends when promoting it

Note: These people are key players in the Darwin-in-the-schools lobby

Hat tip: Timothy Kershner

43 Replies to “Nobody ever calls it “Darwinism” today!

  1. 1
    humbled says:

    I live in the UK, I use the term “Darwinism” often, so does members of my family as well as friends and other acquaintances. We most certainly do use the term in a negative / pejorative manner. We use the term to describe the Darwin faithful and the religion they subscribe to.

    Evolution a religion?
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DHZCCfzBKsdIy2RMrFXssI2meiYEb88r0Iiv9us1Mb1PGq3U7GrPVkwoSYmt/view?usp=sharing

  2. 2
    Moose Dr says:

    There are really two questions that need to be asked about “Darwinism”.

    The first is, does the term Darwinism, or its big brother neo-Darwinism, define the mainstream evolutionist view?

    I hear a rant from the ID proponents that somehow evolutionary theory has advanced so far that describing it as Darwinism or neo-Darwinism is no longer accurate. They charge that doing so declares our ignorance of the modern view. (My understanding is that the “neo” bit references the Mendelian discovery, and the subsequent discovery of DNA.)

    I cry foul. They point to a long string of buzz words: population genetics, horizontal gene transfer, gene duplication, genetic drift, molecular clocks, etc. ad infinitum.)

    The current favorite seems to be the neutral theory. See, the neutral theory doesn’t involve natural selection at all. It is NOT neo-Darwinian.

    Well, if that is your view, then your understanding of the neutral theory is shallow. The neutral theory says that many mutations are neither favored nor dis-favored by Natural Selection. Or to put it in other terms, each mutation is rated by natural selection from “wow” to “ow”. Lets call “wow” 10, and “immediately fatally ow” 0. Then the neutral theory says that a lot of mutations rate a 5. These “neutral” mutations, the theory says, can account for the percentage of changes that we see in organisms. However, has natural selection not spoken? Natural selection has spoken, natural selection has rated each mutation with all care and diligence. Natural selection has declared each of the “neutral” mutations to be, well “neutral”. In the mean time, it has weeded out vast quantities of deleterious mutations, because it is really good at doing that. Natural selection has found a statistically negligible number of positive mutations — because positive random mutations almost never happen.

    So I rehearse, neo-Darwinism, or Darwinism for short, accurately describes the understanding of the currently dominant evolutionary community. Using the term is, well, accurate.

    The second question is, does the ID community use the term “with prejudice”? We do. If you look, for instance, at Cornelius Hunter’s blog, you see him declare that in his view neo-Darwinism is religion.

    I would contend, however, that the prejudicial component of our view is secondary, not primary. As I debate neo-Darwinism, I rarely am confronted with an evidentiary case. Rather, I predominantly find a philosophical “gotcha” case such as: who is the designer, or of course “you called me a neo-Darwinist, proving that you know nothing.”

    If neo-Darwinists want to loose the pejorative component of the title, I challenge them to respond with evidence, with data. I challenge them to respond to the evidence presented by the ID community with respect for that evidence — then a well though evolutionary interpretation of it. They can’t do that, however, because the evidence is clear — non-foresighted mutations, plus natural selection cannot by any means explain the variety of life on earth.

  3. 3
    gpuccio says:

    Moose Dr:

    Excellent!

    As for me, my point of view is simple. Out of design theories, I am aware of no proposed explanation that explains anything, except the RV + NS, which I usually call neo-darwinism because it seems the best way to call it.

    I have nothing against the RV+NS explanation: it is, IMO, a perfectly legit scientific theory, with the only problem that it is a very bad scientific theory because of three small drawbacks:

    1) No logical foundation of the theory (it assumes that complex functions can be deconstructed into small selectable steps, which has no logical reason to be true).

    2) No serious attempt at quantifying the probabilistic aspect, that is an integral part of the proposed explanation (and a dogmatic refutation of all those who try seriously to do that).

    3) No empirical support to the theory (no evidence of the assumed selectable steps, no evidence of any emergence of complex functional information by the proposed mechanism).

    However, the RV+NS theory is at least an attempt at explaining what we observe. Out of design theories, I am aware of no other attempt. All those who say that they have alternative explanations, and call them with various esoteric names, have never shown, as far as I can say, any explanation at all of anything. Not even a wrong explanation.

    So, when I say that ID and neo darwinism are the only two games in town, it’s simply because I really believe that that is the case.

  4. 4
    Moose Dr says:

    Gpuccio: “So, when I say that ID and neo darwinism are the only two games in town, it’s simply because I really believe that that is the case.”

    I wholeheartedly agree. If RM+NS provided an explanation that is viable based upon the data, I would accept it. If a third theory is presented, which Dr. Shapiro seems to have attempted to do, I will give it a good look.

    So far, my perception of Dr. Shapiro’s work is that it is a far fetched hypothesis that organisms are their own intelligence, going into their own DNA and making improvements. Unless I very badly misunderstand his theory, it would take pretty compelling evidence for me to buy in.

  5. 5
    Dionisio says:

    humbled

    Thank you for your comments.
    🙂

  6. 6
    humbled says:

    😉

  7. 7
    gpuccio says:

    Moose Dr:

    “It would take pretty compelling evidence for me to buy in.”

    Me too! 🙂

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    Moose Dr and gpuccio

    Thank you for the insightful posts.

  9. 9
    Querius says:

    gpuccio,

    Your three points have driven me nuts over the years when debating Darwinists. Darwinism a nice hypothesis and all but there’s no evidence. Reminds me of the hospital episode in Yes, Prime Minister where the PM discovers a hospital with no actual patients.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-5zEb1oS9A

    Yes, there’s RV within a genome. Of course, there’s a modest amount of NS. But the extrapolation of life incrementally from coacervates to kangaroos fails any serious scientific and mathematical scrutiny as you pointed out. It hangs mid-air on the faith of its believers, institutional intimidation, and fear of unexplored alternatives.

    In fact, it seems that there’s more observational evidence that genomes are generally deteriorating than they are evolving.

    -Q

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: how come nobody ever says that life is simpler than we thought instead of saying that life is more complicated than we thought?

    How a molecular Superman protects the genome from damage – Oct 16, 2014
    Excerpt: In order for division to occur, our genetic material must be faithfully replicated by a highly complicated machine, whose parts are tiny enough to navigate among the strands of the double helix.
    The problem is that our DNA is constantly in use, with other molecular machines continually plucking at its strands to gain access to critical genes. In this other process, known as transcription, the letters of our DNA are being copied to form a template that will guide the formation of proteins. But these two copying machines can’t occupy the same bit of genetic track at once. Inevitably they will collide – unless a molecular Superman can remove the transcription machinery and save the day.
    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) scientists have found that this molecular Superman exists in the form of a protein known as Dicer. Better known for its role in selectively silencing genes via a process called RNA interference (RNAi), Dicer is now understood to help free transcription machinery from DNA so that replication can occur.
    The team, led by Robert Martienssen, a CSHL Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, concludes that this previously unknown function of Dicer is critical to preserve the integrity of the genome in yeast.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-10-m.....enome.html

    DNA – Replication, Wrapping & Mitosis – video
    https://vimeo.com/33882804

  11. 11
    Mark Frank says:

    However, the RV+NS theory is at least an attempt at explaining what we observe. Out of design theories, I am aware of no other attempt.

    Lamarckism via epigenetics?

    You are right to exclude intelligence – that makes no real attempt to explain life 🙂

  12. 12
    gpuccio says:

    Mark:

    “Lamarckism via epigenetics?”

    Yes, surely experience can teach bacteria how to get the right sequence of nucleotides! You just learn to adapt your methylome a little, and the rest comes by itself.

    Why bother about intelligence? There is not much of it around, after all. Better to explain things in non intelligent ways! :()

  13. 13
    gpuccio says:

    Errata corrige:

    :() was meant to be a smile 🙂

    I don’t know what strange hidden emotions my typo could suggest…

  14. 14
    Mark Frank says:

    Humbled #1

    I live in the UK, I use the term “Darwinism” often, so does members of my family as well as friends and other acquaintances. We most certainly do use the term in a negative / pejorative manner. We use the term to describe the Darwin faithful and the religion they subscribe to.

    I also live in the UK and my experience is the opposite. Most people I talked to would be quite perplexed if I used the word Darwinism except in the context of Social Darwinism. The less scientific would probably ask if I meant Evolution, the more scientific if I meant neoDarwinism unless they were biologists when they would get more specific. In any case it would not occur to any of them that is was a pejorative term (except in the context of Social Darwinism)

    I was trying to think of a passably objective way of deciding which of our experiences is more typical. I settled on searching on “Darwinism” on the some of major UK newspaper web sites and noting if the first 10 references were positive or not. Here were the results:

    Telegraph – for some reason the search engine picks up Darwin as well as Darwinism and I can’t work out how to suppress this.  The first page had just one mention of Darwinism as opposed to Darwin. This was in the context of a book review talking about Social Darwinism.

    Mail – 7 uses of Darwinism to describe the scientific theory – non pejorative – 3 uses of Darwinism as part of the phrase “Social Darwinism” (and therefore pejorative but not critical of the biological theory)

    Guardian – surprisingly this came closest to having an item using Darwinism pejoratively. There was an article critical of “ultra-Darwinism” – a term I have not heard before – which refers to Darwinism applied in a crude manner to sphere it does not really apply to. None of the other articles used the term pejoratively.
    Draw your own conclusions.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Hmmm,,, big media is not using Darwinism in a negative way? I wonder why that does NOT surprise me in the least???

    —–

    Media’s bias on evolution becoming more blatant – 2004
    Excerpt: But those who believe in intelligent design or find gaping holes in the theory of evolution frequently encounter a hostile press. The Discovery Institute recently provided to Accuracy in Media a thick file of complaints about the way their representatives have been treated by the media, especially National Public Radio.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....00747.html

  16. 16
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio @ 13

    I don’t know what strange hidden emotions my typo could suggest…

    I think the original symbol :() was more appropriate to reinforce the excellent message you were trying to convey in that post:

    Why bother about intelligence? There is not much of it around, after all. Better to explain things in non intelligent ways!

    After all, isn’t that the way many of us feel, when reading the unintelligent explanations we encounter out there these days? Is there a better symbol to represent that feeling than the symbol :() that you used? 🙂

  17. 17
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio @ 12

    Yes, surely experience can teach bacteria how to get the right sequence of nucleotides! You just learn to adapt your methylome a little, and the rest comes by itself.

    Of course! Why not?

    Don’t we -sometimes, though very rarely- learn from experience too? Why can’t bacteria do the same? After all, aren’t we all pretty much made of the same stuff as bacteria? Actually, don’t we carry gazillion bacteria within our bodies? Could it be that our learning is influenced by the bacteria learning? :()

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    gpuccio:

    However, the RV+NS theory is at least an attempt at explaining what we observe. Out of design theories, I am aware of no other attempt.

    Then you need to read Dr Lee Sptner, starting with “Not By Chance” and then “The Evolution Revolution”, as he lays down his “non-random evolutionary hypothesis which does exactly what you want- in a design perspective.

  19. 19
    Dionisio says:

    Joe,

    I’m not sure I understood your post #18 correctly. Did you notice the word ‘attempt’ in the gpuccio’s statement that you quoted?

  20. 20
    tintinnid says:

    Referring to evolution as Darwinism is no more pejorative than referring to ID as creationism. They are both inaccurate, and they are intentionally used in a pejorative sense by some IDist when referring to evolution, and by some scientists when referring to ID. Personally, I think this practice speaks to the childishness of the person using the term.

  21. 21
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio,

    Isn’t “the third way” by professor Shapiro and other respected academics another separate attempt, away from design but also away from orthodox Darwinism or its neo- cousin?

  22. 22
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio,

    Isn’t the term evolution so general, that it can be used in different situations to mean different things?

    Isn’t its accurate meaning contextual?

    Isn’t the amazing process transforming the zygote into a human being an evolution in certain way?

    Isn’t that why some people add the prefix micro or macro, depending on the case, to refer to evolution in relation to plants or animal species?

    Isn’t the famous Galapagos finch beaks story more related to built in adaptation capabilities than evolution?

  23. 23
    Joe says:

    tintinnid- Evolutionists refer to evolution as Darwinism. IDists never refer to ID as Creationism

  24. 24
    Joe says:

    Dionisio- Spetner has attempted and succeeded.

  25. 25
    Dionisio says:

    Joe,

    I see your point now. Thanks.

    BTW, the second book you mentioned seems pretty new, isn’t it?

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Evol.....4CS72AFPHA

    Thank you for referring to it here.

  26. 26
    tintinnid says:

    Joe: “tintinnid- Evolutionists refer to evolution as Darwinism. IDists never refer to ID as Creationism”

    Any IDist who believes that the designer is god is, by definition, a creationist. A rose by any other name…

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    Any IDist who believes that the designer is god is, by definition, a creationist.

    So what? We are talking about ID, not IDists. Also Creation has a specific meaning.

  28. 28
    Joe says:

    Dionisio- Yes the second book was just released. I have a review of it on the site you linked to.

  29. 29
    tintinnid says:

    “So what? We are talking about ID, not IDists. Also Creation has a specific meaning.”

    Joe, are you seriously suggesting that creationism is not a form of ID? Or at least that the design part of creationism is not ID? If this is true, which is obviously self evident, then there are plenty of IDists who refer to themselves as creationists, and the process as creationism.

    But it was not my intent to argue whether or not creationism is ID. I was merely pointing out that both sides use the terms Darwinism and creationism in an intentionally pejorative sense, and that it is childish on both sides. In both cases it is an attempt to give the impression of scientific accuracy when, in fact, it is just a more polite way of using the moronic and infantile terms IDiots and dirt-worshippers.

  30. 30
    ppolish says:

    In the USA, “Darwin Day” grows more popular each year amongst the “Humanist” crowd that help create the day in the first place. Mostly a joke really.

  31. 31
    Joe says:

    tintinnid- Creationism is a subset of ID. And I don’t know of anyone who uses “Darwinism” in an intentionally pejorative way. As I said Evos use the word “Darwinism” to describe their position.

  32. 32
    ppolish says:

    Creation is a deep fundamental mystery of Science. Although most Scientists don’t call it “Creation”. It’s called “emergence” or “transition” or “very interesting”. Creation Science is a future field of study. Deep Field of Scientific Study.

  33. 33
    Dionisio says:

    Joe,

    Apparently some ‘evos’ don’t consider themselves fully Darwinists, as it seems to be the case with the third way group, which includes professor Shapiro and other respected academics.
    I prefer to use the term ‘n-D e’ to refer to the specific group that relies on that theory.
    Aren’t the third way folks in a separate league, apart from the ‘n-D e’ crowd?
    I recall some friendly folks in this site have expressed their opinion that ‘n-D e’ and the third way is about the same, but is that correct? Aren’t the third way folks criticizing ‘n-D e’?
    I think gpuccio is one who has stated that there are not more gladiators on the arena, brides ID and ‘n-D e’
    Do you agree?
    Thanks.

  34. 34
    tintinnid says:

    Joe, yes there are some evolutionary biologists who refer to themselves as Darwinists (a very small percentage, mind you) just as there are some ID proponents that refer to themselves as creationists. I do not recall any anti-ID commenter on UD referring to themselves as a Darwinist. Could that possibly be because they don’t consider themselves to be Darwinist?

    And you claim to not know anyone who has used Darwinism in a pejorative manner. My only response to this is that you must be wearing blinders. Let’s look at the definition of pejorative:

    expressing contempt or disapproval.

    What are the Darwinian Debating Device series? They sound like an expression of contempt or disapproval. I am sure that Barry will make some lame comment about them being nothing but statements of fact, but that would just be dissembling nonsense.

    When IDists insist that ID is not creationism, they get upset when someone persists in calling them creationists. But when evolutionary biologists insist that their understanding of evolution has gone light years beyond the original theory, IDists continue to use a term they know to be inaccurate.

    Personally, I could care less what I am called. I just find it childish for either side to persist in using a term to define the other side that the vast majority on the other side do not use for themselves. As much as I think the terms dirt-worshippers and IDiots are moronic, at least they are not being dishonest with themselves an others as to their intentions.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    tintinnid:

    I do not recall any anti-ID commenter on UD referring to themselves as a Darwinist. Could that possibly be because they don’t consider themselves to be Darwinist?

    Could that possibly be because they are just being intellectually dishonest?

  36. 36
    Joe says:

    tintinnid:

    Joe, yes there are some evolutionary biologists who refer to themselves as Darwinists (a very small percentage, mind you) just as there are some ID proponents that refer to themselves as creationists.

    Are you thick? If Creation is a subset of ID then it is a given that some IDists will also be Creationists.

    I do not recall any anti-ID commenter on UD referring to themselves as a Darwinist.

    Most, if not all, people posting anti-ID comments on UD are totally clueless.

    What are the Darwinian Debating Device series?

    Debating devices used by Darwinians, duh. How is that offensive?

    But when evolutionary biologists insist that their understanding of evolution has gone light years beyond the original theory, IDists continue to use a term they know to be inaccurate.

    Darwinian evolution means that the processes are blind and undirected- ie natural selection and drift. Today’s evolution is no different from that. And if you think otherwise I challenge you to demonstrate any differences.

  37. 37
    Joe says:

    Dionisio:

    Apparently some ‘evos’ don’t consider themselves fully Darwinists, as it seems to be the case with the third way group, which includes professor Shapiro and other respected academics.

    James Shapiro, of natural genetic engineering fame, thinks that Darwinian evolution gave rise to his NGE. And when people use the word “Darwinism” it should be assumed that NDE (not NGE) is included. IOW “Darwinism” is all inclusive

  38. 38
    gpuccio says:

    Joe at #18:

    My point was simply that neo darwinism is the only non design theory which tries to explain biological information (without succeeding). Design theories of course can explain biological information, because design definitely has the explanatory power for functional information.

    I have not read Spetner, but if his position is a design position he is certainly not an example of alternative non design explanation, and therefore neo darwinism remains the only “feasible” non design explanation (in the sense specified above).

    Could you sum up in brief Spetner’s specific ideas?

  39. 39
    gpuccio says:

    Dionisio at #22:

    Indeed the term “evolution” is very generic, and in itself it means nothing. The real “war” is about explaining complex functional information is biological beings.

    Now, functional information is already extremely high just in the first examples of living beings of which we have cognition (LUCA, prokaryoyes). There is no doubt about that.

    But there is also no doubt, whatever some strict darwinists mat say, that in the course of natural history there is a growth of functional information is biological beings, with the transition to eukaryotes, and then to metazoa, up to humans. So, in that sense, there is a definite “evolution” of complexity toward ever more complex forms. That is a direction, and we, who believe in design, have no fear to admit it.

    What is the purpose of that direction? Why should living beings “evolve” toward greater complexity (from a starting point which is already extremely complex)?

    Certainly the reason is not reproductive success. I have said many times that the most successful beings in reproduction are certainly the prokaryotes. So, why “evolve” from that state?

    My personal view is that there is only one reason that justifies the transition to greater complexity: the desire to implement new functions. That is the reason in human design, always. We build new and more complex computer operating systems (not always successful) not just to spend time in trying to make them work, but because we want to implement new functions, new possibilities. That is the true, drawing engine of creativity.

    The same is true for biological beings. They become more complex, because they implement new things. That is the true meaning of “evolution”. That’s why we call it “evolution”, and not “involution” (which also exists), or simply “transition” or “change”.

    Evolution is a growth in functional complexity to implement new functions. And design is the only known cause for that kind of process.

  40. 40
    gpuccio says:

    Dionisio:

    “Isn’t “the third way” by professor Shapiro and other respected academics another separate attempt, away from design but also away from orthodox Darwinism or its neo- cousin?”

    Maybe when he explains the 500+ papers that you have piled on him! 🙂

    No, really, I don’t understand Shapiro. He is a brilliant scientist, and very much aware of the limits of the current evolutionary theory. But I would like to understand what is the real meaning of the “third way”.

    I may be stupid, but apparently the only meaning that I understand is: there are two ways, and the first one does not work, and the second one I don’t want to accept. So, if and when some alternative is found, it will be the third.

    How can we object to that? 🙂

  41. 41
    Joe says:

    OK gpuccio, I totally misunderstood your point in 18.

    Spetner posits “built-in responses to environmental cues”- that is organisms were designed with the ability to adapt.

  42. 42
    Dionisio says:

    Joe,

    From what you wrote, Spetner includes design in his arguments, therefore his position is not outside design.
    I think what gpuccio says is that ‘design’ and ‘n-D e’ are the only two gladiators on the arena, and we know which gladiator is the winner at the end. Spetner does not seem to introduce a third option. Even Shapiro’s third way is not adding another alternative.

  43. 43
    Dionisio says:

    gpuccio

    Very clarifying explanation, as usual. Thank you.

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