Bill Craig on Neo-Darwinism (new podcast)

Forgot to post this, meant to earlier. Dr. Craig says that current evolutionary theory is in a state of flux.

I agree! @swamidass, you probably do not? He comments on it towards the end of this delightful podcast on Karl Popper.

Sir Karl Popper: An Interesting Philosopher | Reasonable Faith

Depends what you mean by flux. Care to explain?

Been a while. But here’s part of the transcript. Bill says evolutionary science is currently in a state of turmoil.

"Kevin Harris: He says,

I asked Popper if he felt biologists are also too committed to Darwin’s theory of natural selection; in the past he had suggested that the theory is tautological and thus pseudo-scientific.

DR. CRAIG: Here Horgan is really pressing the envelope. He’s going after the sacred cow of evolutionary biology and asking Popper, Is this also an area in which scientists are not sufficiently self-critical?

KEVIN HARRIS: I remember Philip Johnson writing that natural selection is a tautology.

DR. CRAIG: And that was the suggestion that Popper had said, too. When you say “the fittest survive” or “only the fittest survive” how do you define the fittest? It’s those that survive. So it was circular. Now, here he walks that back a bit.


“That was perhaps going too far,” Popper said, waving his hand dismissively. “I’m not dogmatic about my own views.” Suddenly he pounded the table and exclaimed, “One ought to look for alternative theories!”

DR. CRAIG: Yes. What’s interesting about this is that most of our listeners, and I’m sure most of the American public, would be unaware that the so-called modern neo-Darwinian synthesis has, in fact, collapsed among evolutionary biologists. It has traditionally been said that biological complexity is explicable in terms of the twin mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection. That view now is largely rejected among evolutionary biologists. They have discovered that those are not the only mechanisms that drive evolutionary change forward, and that other sorts of mechanisms need to be taken into account. So the kind of self-critical attitude that Popper expresses does need to be exercised even with regard to these sacred cows like neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. There is no new consensus to replaced it. The field is currently in turmoil."

I really don’t think it’s a good idea for any Christian apologist to use the words “Darwinism” or “neo-Darwinism.” Although people who use it are careful to define it, the definition that they use is very often at odds with the definition that their audience expect. This just ends up sending out mixed and even misleading messages about exactly how much disagreement there is among evolutionary scientists.


A hearty “Amen!” to that.

Besides all of the obvious problems with such terminology, it runs counter to how we refer to most other scientific theories. We don’t usually speak of “Einsteinism” (for The Theory of Relativity) or Pasteurism (for The Germ Theory of Disease) or Daltonism (for his atomic theory.) [Daltonism also risks confusion with various eye disorders.]

Worse yet, it tends to reinforce the notion popular among many Americans that scientific concepts like evolution and climate change are merely political philosophies, just another “ism” to be argued about as mere personal opinion.

I thought Bill Craig was better than statements like that.

@Mark, I noticed something interesting at the end of the first highlighted quotation-excerpt on that NCSE webpage, appearing immediately below these words

In a 1981 article in Science Digest, Duane Gish, the master debater among creationists, said . . .

The excerpt ends with:

[Asimov and Gish, p. 82]

That appears to give the impression that Asimov and Gish co-authored it!

I seem to vaguely recall that some Gish fans claimed that Isaac Asimov and Duane Gish had once faced one another in a public debate----but I have no recollection of such a debate. For that matter, I can’t even imagine that Asimov would have agreed to an “in print” debate with Gish.

It is not unambiguous from the NCSE webpage whether the “Asimov & Gish” attribution is merely quoted verbatim as it came from Gish—or if there was truly some sort of joint Asimov and Gish collaboration or debate. (I seriously doubt that they worked together on anything.)

Does anybody know the story behind that attribution?

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POSTSCRIPT: I may vaguely recall the old Science Digest magazine sometimes publishing “two views” types of articles, where they would juxtapose opposing positions. I wonder if they pulled together some Asimov quotes and some Gish quotes as a comparison of their views on “creation science”.

Just a guess. If so, I wonder if some have exploited this to make it sound like a collaboration.

[For those who don’t remember it, Science Digest magazine was a great little science periodical for anyone growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was about the width and length of a Reader’s Digest. It fit neatly into one’s jacket pocket! This black-ink only magazine was where many of us first heard of Isaac Asimov. And the Classified Ad section in the back had lots of interesting curiosities, from crackpot “science” papers by amateurs willing to send you a copy of their groundbreaking theory for just 25 cents S/H, to the monthly Edmund Scientific Co. catalog advertisement.]

Sometimes I worry, the trend in Craig’s podcasts is to ask him to comment on a blog post by someone and half the time, he says, “Now, I’m no Nietzsche expert, but,” and will proceed to talk about the subject. I think he does alright because he’s simply responding to the article/blog at hand and to the information it provides, but this is going to get him in trouble.

How would everyone else here describe the state of evolutionary biology?

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Evolutionary science is currently thriving, with several long standing puzzle recently solved, and lots of new information entering our view from several fronts. We are acquiring new information at an exponential pace (I mean that literally), new fields are being created, and we are scrambling to keep up.

The scramble is not turmoil but exactly what we expect to see in a thriving and bustling field.

Of note, WLC only recently learned that neo-Darwinism was dead (from me!), but that does not mean the field is in turmoil. It just means that the sources he had been relying upon had misrepresented evolutionary science to him, so much that they had excluded most of what we learned since 1968. I’ll let you figure out who he was relying on.

Evolutionary science is thriving, and it is not in turmoil.



You and Denton are relying on the same sources, saying very similar things regarding WHAT HAPPENED on a cellular and molecular level, but your hermeneutic of the overall science is very different.

I would assume his sources are Behe and Denton. I don’t know anything about Behe, so I couldn’t say. I just think he has a bad philosophy of science and I don’t buy that there aren’t or won’t be any naturalistic explanations of IC.

We already have explanations. Take a look at exaptation and the Muller two-step.

Yup. Denton’s hermeneutic is to tilt against windmills. I’m not interested in following Don Quijote’s lead; it just makes unnecessary enemies.

Neo-Darwinism is dead in the sense that Newtonian physics is dead.