Fact-Checking “Professor Dave” on “Darwinism” | Evolution News

Is “Darwinism” an obsolete term? That’s what atheist YouTuber Dave Farina says in a recent video attacking intelligent design. As I wrote previously, Farina’s attacks on intelligent design do little more than recycle misinformation and stereotypes. This claim about “Darwinism” is a case in point. Farina alleges that the term “Darwinism” is no longer used by modern scientists, but only by “creationists.”

This is a common trope among anti-ID activists who do not work in the field of evolutionary biology. I had to debunk the same claim in my debate with Joshua Swamidass ( Unbelievable? 2021). Like Swamidass, Farina does not present any scientific evidence for this unsubstantiated assertion. Of course he does not, because he cannot, because it is factually incorrect.

For what it’s worth, “Professor” Dave (not actually a professor or a scientist) totally panned the GAE, as I recall (or was that someone else?). So…not exactly as if we are in cahoots.

I do believe Dave and Jim Tour were in an extended exchange as well.

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To me, nitpicking terms like “Darwinism” is a just an exercise in pedantry, giving off the same energy as the definition-of-atheism controversy. Dave’s been doing a series on the DI lately, so I’m unsurprised they’re firing back, and equally unsurprised they’re doing so about this topic.

I didn’t know he wasn’t a professor though! :grimacing:

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I disagree here.

They define Darwinism in multiple ways, most of which are not consistent with mainstream science, and then declare success in demonstrating [the] failure of all versions of Darwinism when one [version of Darwinism] is shown to be deficient. That false equivalence is the heart of too many arguments to ignore.


I hear you. Conflation is a big problem in discussions, and it has to be addressed. I may be painting this issue with too broad a brush. What I’m trying to say is if both parties lay out what they mean by a term instead of arguing about what the true definition is, it bypasses a lot of wasted time.

It’s also a common trope among anti-ID activists who do work in the field of evolutionary biology. How does this article support its counterclaim? What modern scientists talk about “Darwinism”?


If someone were to ask me if I were “a Darwinist” I would just say it depended on what they meant by the term. And spending time trying to come to a common agreed definition would be a waste.


Very, very true. I find that quite a few IDC books follow just that line. I described that in my review of Robert Shedinger’s silly book The Mystery of Evolutionary Mechanisms, in which he really seems to think that every single modern insight in evolutionary theory signals the death of “Darwinism.” The problem is, of course, that if all one were saying were that it signals the death of pure and unaltered nineteenth-century “Darwinism” in its narrowest sense, that’d be true; but the argument that’s being made is that these insights undermine evolutionary theory in the broader sense. Blurring that distinction is the whole basis of the argument.

On another note, I found this line in Bechly’s piece amusing:

This is embarrassing and appalling for somebody who claims to be a science educator.

Glass houses, you know. I should think that if Bechly found someone who was embarrassing and appalling, his response would be “welcome, brother!” Perhaps he feels, when he sees someone he considers embarrassing and appalling, that they’re invading his turf.


The DI uses “Darwinism” as a slur, implying evolutionary theory and science in general are cults or religions. They aren’t trying to describe a scientific model.


While on that topic Michael Behe is on the record as saying he considers basically all of modern evolutionary theory to fall under the rubric of Darwinism. All of it.

This is exactly what is said:
At about 13 minutes in Dan takes about one minute to list things he considers non-Darwinian mechanisms and causes of change. He mentions (among other things) neutral theory, exaptation, horizontal gene transfer, epigenetics, then says:

Dan: The reason I harp on this is I wanna make sure I have this crystal clear.
Dan: When we say a system has irreducible complexity - does it preclude evolution by all these mechanisms - just the ones from 1859 - just the ones from the 1940s…?
Behe: Well - I, I’m glad to say it precludes them by all those processes you just mentioned…
Dan: Okay.
Behe: …I just wanna say that, in my mind, I consider them all random changes, remember Darwin didn’t know about mutations or anything - he said random changes plus natural selection - and you got look at each of them carefully - I think neutral mutation fits happily into Darwinian evolution except that the mutation has a selection coefficient of 0 instead of a negative or a positive one - uh, so… so that doesn’t strike me as a big deal.
Behe: And gene duplication - meh that’s fine that’s one event though. Ahh so, yeah - any unguided processes.
Dan: Alright, any unguided pro…(?)
Behe: Nods
Dan: Okay, any unguided processes!
Behe: Right.


That’s just one of his definitions. He deploys others too :slight_smile: .

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That’s not what I’m doing. Rather, I’m drawing attention to this:

That isn’t nitpicking pedantic parsing.

Instead, the rhetorical strategy of stating that “mainstream science moved on from strict Darwinism decades ago” is effective in the ID base audience, because this fact is true and unknown to them.

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I’m pretty sure that Dawin said nothing whatsoever about random changes. He merely observed that heritable variation exists.


Look at what it did to @Eddie’s rhetoric shortly after he showed up here!

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