Evolutionary Science, not Darwinism

A post was merged into an existing topic: God Necessary For Evolution?

If I recall correctly, Darwin suggested that the lungs developed, or could have developed, from the swimming bladder. I think I’ve seen the suggestion elsewhere as well. So I wasn’t making the example up. However, I have no idea what the current thinking is on the evolution of lungs.

Yes. I am that guy. :slight_smile:

But to declare that Darwinism is dead and that neutral theory killed it and that this has been true since 1968 is a far bolder claim. Have I not presented sufficient evidence to make even you doubt it?

Then why not call it evolution?

There are a whole host of mechanisms that are a part of the theory of evolution. Why is this a problem? There are a whole host of mechanisms in standard geology like water erosion, ice cleaving, marine deposition, and so forth. Does that confuse you as well?

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Not wishing to land you in it here, but your position in this post sounds very close to Jim Shapiro, specifically in that

(a) he envisages many mutations as teleological in the sense of being broadly directed towards selectable outcomes, and
(b) Sharing the view of those like Eugene Koonin that NS is predominantly a purifying or even destructive “force” in the absence of such loading of the dice.

If, though, you’re suggesting an extreme scattergun approach - ie prepare for all eventualities by genuinely random mutations, then the scarcity of genuinely advantageous mutations, and the preponderance of truly disadvantageous ones, seems to make it less of a plan and more of a fluke.

If I remember my sixth form teleost zoology, lungfish were the ancestors of modern fish. At least, that was so in 1968!

Except that I don’t say that mutations are non-random. Shapiro seems to say that if they are intended, they are not random. But they could be intended to be random.

And then there’s the question of what we mean by “intention”. We surely do not mean conscious intention. So we can only be talking of ascribed intention. We really need a science or philosophy of when it is appropriate to ascribe intentions to parts of nature.

I tend to think of NS as a statistical effect, and not a cause. It can be part of an explanation, but we shouldn’t be talking of it as if it is a cause.

Maybe I did give that impression. But that’s not how I actually think of it.

I see a population as always attempting to expand its range. So some random mutations might help with that. And as long as it can expand its range enough to compensate for the shrinking of its range (due to environmental change), then it can persist.

Ah, but that was before neutral theory replaced neo-Darwinism. :smile:

That is what Turner is working toward.

Science won’t do it, since the methodology excludes teleology - and in any case, the nuances of “intention” belong in philosophy.

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Thank you for clarifying. I consider Darwinism to be broader than that. For example:


The implication here is that I have quote-mined some author or authors to some end which you are not quite clear on having to do with pan-adaptationism. I resent that implication and ask that you refrain from making such statements.

Who here is making such a claim? I have certainly not made such a claim and if you think I have then please consider it possible that you have misunderstood me. From the fact that Darwinism is by no means “dead” to the conclusion that therefore modern evolutionary science is Darwinism would be a non-sequitur.

I also pointed out in this thread that Stephen Meyer doesn’t make such a claim and in fact addresses other evolutionary mechanisms.

I don’t see anyone restricting evolutionary science to Darwinian mechanisms. This also seems to be a tacit admission that Darwinian mechanisms do exist and are part of modern evolutionary theory.

I don’t know what you think these pubmed searches do other than highlight the fact that Darwinism is accepted as settled science and no longer disputed. :wink:

Random mutation returns 11205 results. Positive Selection: 42263, Adaptation: 301867, Adaptive evolution: 17087. What can we conclude?

Common descent returns only 2779 results. Shall we conclude that we should no longer speak of common descent and that it is no longer thought to be true by evolutionary science?

Here is a far more interesting set of results (imo):

In closing, this article on Sandwalk (2012) is an interesting read, relevant and on point:


You are playing word games. The industry has clearly drawn lines around certain terms to help differentiate progress within the field.

And you, not a participant in the field, insists that these distinctions arent real… simply because some people lack the discipline to use these terms consistently.

The question to ask is: what is the benefit to anyone to bury all distinctions under a single term?

Do you challenge the physicists when they say Newtonian Science has been superceded?

Do you challenge the field of Psychotherapy by insisting that they all still practice Freudian Psychology… even though hardly any Freudian therapists still practice?

A shame that my on-topic post documenting the use of the term “Neo-darwinian” in recent literature has been diverted to a thread of its own, losing the context it was answering.

Bottom line: a respected evolutionary biologist like Douglas Futuyma (and many others) still regards the Modern Synthesis, aka Neo-Darwinian Synthesis, as the core of modern evolutionary theory.

That, essentially, is his beef with the Third Way - they want an extended synthesis, probably under a new, non-Darwinian, banner, but he thinks the old one can extend quite nicely under its old labels.

Of course, it isn’t what it was in the 60s, but then neither is evolution what it was in 1859.

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Sorry. I didn’t want it to get buried. You had some good thoughts here.


I don’t understand why this question is directed to me. It is people like Patrick and T_aquaticus who are seeking to “bury all distinctions under a single term” (evolution).

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I hope you don’t remember that correctly. Lungfish are not the ancestors of modern fish, however, the ancestors of modern fish did have lungs.

Except that they cannot help themselves.

When they say that a mutation is a copying error, they are implying an intention to copy exactly, and noting an error in following that intention.

The use of intentional language is so thoroughly embedded in natural language, that it cannot be avoided. It would be better for scientists to acknowledge that.


That’s like saying we can’t put erosion and deposition under the banner of geology.

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It’s not like that at all. Darwinian mechanisms are part of modern evolutionary theory. So is neutral theory. They both fit nicely under that banner. You and Patrick are asking us to just say ‘geology’ when we want to say erosion.

Every time Joshua mentions neutral theory why don’t you and Patrick ask him why he can’t just say “evolution”? I mean, seriously, we’ve learned a lot and evolutionary theory has advanced a great deal since 1968.

If someone is trying to criticize modern evolutionary theory then why do they keep referring to Darwinism?

To continue with the geology analogy, it’s a bit like saying Lyellism needs to be scrapped because it doesn’t incorporate catastrophic events. I think most geologists would say “Well, duh”. Catastrophic events have been a part of modern geology for quite a while now. How much does it help to take out parts of geology and call it Lyellism?

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