Evolutionary Science, not Darwinism

I’ve already explained this to you and others here, many times. “Evolution” for Behe means essentially “descent with modification”. Neo-Darwinism is a particular explanation of how evolution works. Behe is not attacking “evolution” but only certain explanations of how it works.

For the same reason that Gould doesn’t always do so. Sometimes it is necessary to talk about a particular theory of how evolution works. When I mean the process of descent with modification, I say “evolution”. When I mean what Mayr, Dawkins etc. advocated, I say “neo-Darwinism”. When I mean what certain current evolutionary theorists advocate, I say, “Certain current evolutionary theorists”. I try always to be clear.

Regarding current evolutionary theory, I don’t see complete unity in it; I see a pick and mix set of mechanisms, with each evolutionary theorist weighting the various mechanisms differently in his own formulation of how evolution works. The Royal Society Conference, the Altenberg Conference, and other other meetings confirm that there is diversity among theorists in the weighting of various mechanisms. And that’s fine with me. What I object to is any presentation of “modern evolutionary theory” as if it is a seamless and precisely defined theory, rather than a collection of ideas about how evolution works, with pronounced differences of emphasis among the theorists themselves. To pretend that there is more unity than there is, is not intellectually honest.

I already explained this. The emphasis in neo-Darwinism is on random mutations and natural selection as the two main factors in evolution. That’s also still the popular portrait. Individual neo-Darwinians may stress randomness more, or selection more, but the two factors together are seen as explaining most of what happens in evolution. But why do you keep asking me this? Are you testing me? There is no need; when it comes to the history of evolutionary thought, in all probability I have read more than you have; certainly on the historical side I have read more than most biologists of my acquaintance. So if testing me is what this is about, forget it; I have no reason to suppose that on these historical questions you are in a position to be my teacher.

Great. Then do it.

Yes. Except Neo-Darwinism RIP in 1968. Why is he tilting against windmills? Why are you?

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2 posts were split to a new topic: What is Scientism?

Say what now?

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More precisely he can often rhetorically equivocate the two. Don’t you think? How would you put it?

Grant it I haven’t asked him directly. Though we can be sure he does not deny all non Darwinian mechanisms.

I see nothing in anything I’ve read from Dawkins to suppose that he means “atheism” when he says anything other than “atheism”. I don’t know that he uses “Darwinism” at all, and if he says “neoDarwinism”, I would assume he means “neoDarwinism”.

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We have several active loose ends. Let’s add this to the list and pick it up soon.

Not in the popular consciousness.

So what is the Neo-Darwinian explanation and how does it differ from the theory modern biologists use?

What did Mayr, Dawkins, etc. advocate for and how does it differ from the theory modern biologists use?

I’m not concerned with what terms Miller uses. He may or may not use the term Darwinist or neo-Darwinist; that is not my point. My point was that his description of how evolution works in Finding Darwin’s God is pretty much popular neo-Darwinism. My point is that he and Behe and Dawkins are all writing about evolution in the same vein. So you have an ID guy, at TE guy, and an atheist all using pretty much the same language regarding evolution, whether they call it Darwinian or neo-Darwinian or don’t give it any particular name at all. And I don’t mind your objecting to that popular neo-Darwinian conception of evolution, as long as you object to it when people other than ID people use it, not just when ID people use it.

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Really? Because that is not what Gould said.

Gouls also wrote about evolution producing “spandrels”.

Gould sure thought neutral theory was a big part of the theory of evolution, and he has even said so in books and articles aimed at the general public.


Appreciate your comments. When someone says “evolutionary theory” I ask, which one?

Why wouldn’t you think they are talking about the theory modern biologists use?


Because, as Eddie correctly points out above, there is no such thing as “the theory” that modern biologists use.

What do you base this on?

Speaking of Kenneth Miller, he wrote an essay on why ID/creationists use Darwin’s name so often.

Dr. Miller seems to reflect my own view on why Darwinism and Darwinist are used so often by ID/creationists. It is simply an attempt to move away from the science and into rhetoric.

Excellent piece.