Darwinism

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Overview

Darwinism is a philosophical position which holds that the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection (EbNS or "evolution" for short), which was first published by Charles Darwin in his book The Origin of Species in 1859, is scientifically "true" – i.e. that it is the explanation of species origins which best fits all the available evidence.

Those who hold this position generally do not describe themselves as "Darwinists"; the term was invented as an attack on the theory of evolution by natural selection. The term is intended to make it seem (at least, to an uninformed audience) that this position – which is based on mountains of scientific evidence and has been ruthlessly scrutinized for over a century – is just another ideology or "-ism", and EbNS is nothing more than dogma.

Indeed, the term "Darwinism" is misleading, as it implies some sort of unquestioning fealty to the ideas of Darwin himself. Our understanding of evolution has itself evolved tremendously and indeed has found Darwin's speculations to be incorrect on some relatively minor points. The label "Darwinism" denies even the possibility of such corrections (although Darwin, being a scientist, would likely have embraced these corrections -- and indeed the vast enhancements to his theory which have emerged -- when shown the evidence).

Notes

This page is in need of updating. Terminology needs to be refined in light of Moran's argument.

Some terminology needs to be clarified. Larry Moran states that "natural selection" does not include such mechanisms as genetic drift, which are pretty mainstream parts of what is loosely called "evolution". But "evolution" just refers to change over time, and that doesn't specifically exclude "divine guidance" (a compromise accepted by many theists), so we need a term for "evolution solely through natural law". Perhaps "naturalistic evolution"? Is there already a term for this?--Woozle 12:11, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

Support

The Darwinian position (i.e. that EbNS is most likely true) is overwhelmingly embraced by the scientific community. It is relentlessly consistent with massive amounts of data collected across multiple scientific disciplines, including anthropology, biology, geology, medicine, and psychology. need to collect more on this

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution." – Daniel Dennett

Opposition

Generally, those who agree with EbNS hold that it is not only the best explanation but by far the best explanation, with no other explanation even coming close; there is a wide gap between "Darwinism" and anything else.

Opposition to EbNS comes almost exclusively from creationists. More elaboration needed here, and connect to next paragraph better; out of time...

Those who attack EbNS – by working to prevent schools from teaching it (or at least working to require that their own pseudo-theories should be taught as equally valid), and generally undermining its credibility – by intellectually dishonest means (and frequently just flat-out lying) may be described as anti-Darwinists; they are not attacking the EbNS theory on rational grounds, in a way which might lead to revelation of genuine flaws in the theory, but rather merely as a competing ideology (or even religion) to be beaten into submission by any means necessary.

Related Terms

The ideas behind Darwinism are often confused with other seemingly-similar concepts:

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Quotes

An anonymous poster on The Panda's Thumb said, on 2006-09-06:

As someone who is a committed Christian and recently had to resign my position teaching high-school biology because the school administration began officially teaching ID, I get very tired of the mentions of Darwinism and Darwinists by that side. It is a not-so-subtle way of framing the discussion in terms of religion – putting an “ism” and an “ist” on the end makes people start thinking of it as a philosophy which can be debated with other philosophies, or even better, a religion. Yes, all of who accept evolution also accept Darwin’s thoughts on it, for the most part, and therefore could be called “Darwinists”. But I resist the label, as it is the same path as the West labeling the Other as Buddhism, Mohammedism, etc. It’s the idea that Christianity is the one true faith, and any faith we want to denigrate, we put an “ism” at the end. Adding that suffix turns evolution into a religion to be debated on those grounds. Then, if enough of the laymen hear this term, they begin to think it must be religious, because obviously, it has ism at the end. I have half a mind, next time I’m asked “Are you a Darwinist?” to respond that I’m not familiar with the term. “But are you a stupidist believer in troglodytism?”