Does Joshua Swamidass think "evolutionary theory has issues"?

Bill Cole has convinced himself this is the case over on theskepticalzone:

First J-mac says:

J-mac: People like Swamidass would like to marry creationism with the theory of evolution. To accomplish this, they need to ignore many obvious facts, of which I mentioned only few.
For some reason you like the idea of GAE. I just hope ID is not moving in that direction, becuase you’d have to marry the monkey soul with the human soul next…:wink:

And Bill quotes him, responding:

colewd: I honestly think Josh realizes evolutionary theory has issues. I think he is just trying to get science and theology in the same room so discussion can take place.

Disregarding that the whole thing is laughabe, is it really true that @swamidass thinks “evolutionary theory” has issues? Perhaps it’s impossible to answer no such a question, as it is so vague as to be meaningless. No scientific theory doesn’t have some sort of issue, but is that really all Bill Cole is insinuating here?


Depends what we mean by “issues.”

  1. If issues means “topics,” yes, it covers many topics.

  2. If issues means “disagreements,” yes, like all thriving disciplines it is alive with disagreements.

  3. If issues means “challenges,” yes, it faces challenges because science is hard, especially when engaging the distant past.

  4. If issues means “open questions,” yes, evolutionary science has many open questions.


  1. If issues means “fatal problems” or “major difficulties” above other areas of science, well no, that is not the case.

  2. If issues means “facing demise,” well no, it works quite well, and no better scientific theory is on the horizon at the moment.

  3. If issues means “insufficient,” well yes but that is not a coherent objection; scientific understanding of the world is never complete, always partial, and each field have a particular domain of inquiry.

So are there any negative “issues” that evolution has? I can think of a few.

  1. Evolutionary science is often co-opted as political weapon against religion, and that is counter productive and misleading.

  2. Evolutionary science is often misunderstood as a total account of life’s diversity, but it isn’t, and this misunderstanding undermines both scientific inquiry and dialogue with other fields.

  3. Disagreements within evolutionary science has a consistent problem with being co-opted as arguments against science, and that is counter productive and misleading.

Yes, evolutionary theory has “issues,” as you can see, but they don’t diminish my strong confident in the integrity of the field, and also its limits. I’m not sure what @colewd meant though, so I don’t know if he was misrepresenting me or not.


By the way @Rumraket, I very much appreciate you bringing the question to me. If you think I missed a key dimension of the conversation, let me know. I always appreciate the opportunity to clarify, and I hope that my post helps.


Thank you and thank you for the insightful clarification on your views here, none of which I take any issue with. It does not appear to me you’ve missed something.


Thats how I would expect you to answer the question and thank you for the clear expression of your views.


I am intrigued, @colewd. What kind of “issues” do you think Josh sees in evolutionary theory? Prior to his statement in the thread, would you say those issues reside firmly in the first several that he admits, or the next few he denies?

I’m also curious what kind of “issues” you see in evolutionary theory. Are they the former or the latter?

Josh, I’m also curious about what you mean here. Do you meant that there are still many knowledge gaps in the collective scientific understanding, or do you mean something else?


I think Josh understands the issues of evolutionary theory. They stem from the same problem that got me interested in this argument. If you read his answer to Rum it pretty much sums up the issues. The common ground is that it does not explain the diversity of life. So the theory is limited and the debate if any is demarcating those limits.

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Do you mean that the theory of evolution does not “fully” explain the diversity of life, or should “fully” be completely absent? Do you think there are “fatal problems” with the theory? Do you think the theory is “facing demise”?


Not really as a partial explanation is better than no explanation. I agree with Josh that the main issue is when the theory gets used as an ideological tool. I do not see ID as a replacement theory but at best a tool for the theory to use.

I see efforts by people like Behe, @gpuccio , @Kirk , Dembski and others like @swamidass (GAE) to have merit and who’s ideas only add value to the theory.

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Thanks for clarifying, much appreciated.

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Thanks for finally admitting ID for you is not about science, it’s just an ideological tool to help with your desire to validate your God. Something the rest of us have known about your position since day 1.

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Some would make this same statement for evolution who have an extreme position as you do against ID.

Yes, some scientifically illiterate True Believers do attack the evolutionary sciences they don’t understand.

I have an extreme position against all pseudo-scientific garbage trying to pass itself off as science like Flat Earth and Geocentrism too.

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Its good to see your well versed in pseudo science:-)

You might need to clarify your position here, because look how @colewd has interpreted it:


I will when I have a chance. Hopefully soon.

Bill has shown the ability to interpret anything, no matter how clear, in whatever way he wants. So you probably shouldn’t bother.


Why was this post hidden?


This is not the his statement I was referring to. Again you and @John_Harshman are misrepresenting the conversation.

My mistake, sorry.

Can you identify exactly what aspects of biodiversity you believe Joshua contends are not accounted for by evolutionary theory? How similar are they to the issues that lead you to conclude that evolution “does not explain the diversity of life.”? (Which is not quite what Joshua wrote, but never mind.)