Why Venerate Darwin?

@J.E.S this is a very irenic post from you, a YEC. I hope that people take it seriously. In fact, would mind if I reposted it on my blog in the coming months to give it a broader audience?


I think the point @T.j_Runyon was making is that evolution is closer to our hearts, not that it’s relevant to more of our everyday lives or more foundational to a field(s) of study. Understanding Evolution tells us about the history of our species and how we fit into the rest of the natural world we see around us. That’s quite profound on a personal level.

I personally wouldn’t be against the idea of a “Newton day” though, where the achievements of Newton and other mathematicians and physicists are celebrated. That would be great. I think basic evolutionary biology is more palatable to the public than basic Newtonian mechanics though. For example, nature documentaries are much more popular than physics documentaries - people like seeing animals! Anything involving equations switches a lot of people off. Maybe it’s because schools need to do a better job making those subjects interesting so there isn’t this feeling among most people that maths is boring, maybe it’s because biology is objectively the superior discipline. Who knows? ¯\ _(ツ)_/¯

The promotion of Darwin is a aggresive ahti-Christian stance. Its to settle that Darwin was right and Christianity was wrong. Just like the CHURCH OF ENGLAND was to settle the right faith, and that it was the faith of England. Not the other protestant identities. Not evangelical puritanism. Which is actuially the origin for the moral and intellectual rise of the english. Just didn’t win the civil war, or rather the peace afterwards.
Darwin day is lame british jazz to enforce conclusions just like the establish church was to enfrce conclusions.
Its not about science. its about civilization.

Most evolutionists, in pretty good frame of mind, are not Darwinists, because they know that natural selection acting on variations is not sufficient to create anything new… Craig Venter ,Larry Moran and many more… Yet, they still worship Darwin…

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I don’t think anyone venerates Darwin, and Darwin Day isn’t about Darwin. But Darwin did found the science of evolutionary biology. He wrote the two most important early books on the subject, the Origin and the Descent of Man. Wallace’s book (Natural Selection) was not as important. I think it could also be argued that he, in his work on barnacles, provided the first example of systematics based on evolutionary principles.

He came up with a lot of ideas, the great majority of which turned out to be true. He did make some big mistakes too, his biggest being his failure to notice the work of an obscure German monk, published in an obscure journal, in a language he didn’t read. We could add (related to the first error) his acceptance of blending inheritance and of the effects of use and disuse, his theory of pangenesis, and perhaps his idea of interspecific competition as the main driver of selection.

But he’s definitely right up there with Newton as a scientist. The reason there’s no Newton Day is that physics generally is not under attack and needs little public defense, which is what Darwin Day is really about.

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The counterintuitive thing is that if we gave up Darwin Day in favor of something like Evolution Day or Scientist Day, I’m sure we have less opposition to his ideas.

It’s certainly counterintuitive. I think it isn’t true. The opposition to evolution isn’t opposition to Darwin, it’s opposition to evolution. “Darwinist” is just a handy label that has the helpful connotation of making evolutionary biology sound like a cult, not a science. But the label arises from the opinion, not the opinion from the label.


Speaking from my experience as a student, raised a YEC and caught up in ID, it was different for me. My science education was eye opening. It was stunning to find out that ID and YEC were arguing against long revised or dead ideas, and that Darwinism was just a shadow they were boxing.

Separating evolutionary science from Darwin was a key thing that helped me come to appreciate both.


I don’t see it. ID and YEC are not arguing against anything Darwin said that turned out to be wrong, as far as I can see. What is the actual content of this “Darwinism” that you think they’re arguing against? What departure from “Darwinism” in modern science opened your eyes?

Swamidass hour, at most. Seems you have to be dead to deserve much more than that! Or, at least, formerly dead… ; )

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Scientifically the claim is that Darwinism is positive selection dominated change. Evidence against this is quote minded as evidence against evolution.

Theologically the claim is that evolution = Darwinism = atheism. So evolution = atheism my transitivity.

Of course neither claim is correct. Separating Darwin from evolution makes that clear.

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So we separate Darwin from evolution because creationists have misused his name to attribute to him claims he didn’t make? Poor Darwin.

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We should honor Darwin alongside all the other contributors to the field. Why not acknowledge Motoo Kimura? Or Ohta Tomako? Or Asa Gray? There are are a large number of contributors to evolutionary theory. As long as they are already dead, it would do better in public to acknowledge more them instead of only Darwin.


People have been saying that for 150 years now, but no joy. The truth is we are going to see more and more applications of evolutionary science affecting our lives, and soon. Personalised medicine and Evolutionary medicine are already a thing.

Perhaps those fundamentalists have their noses where they did not belong?

If I were a militant atheist I would be pointing out all the aggressive pro-Christian activity we see, but as an Agnostic I’ll merely suggest you consider how fortunate you are.

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The difference is that evolutionary science should not be claimed by any group. It is not owned by atheists. It is part of science. If we want to be in public education, we need to keep it non-sectarian.


In some cases, that is true enough. I’ve always been opposed to those who seek to regulate what science can say by quoting individual sentences from the Bible. But I had something more in mind; many of the clergy who support Darwin Day are ultra-liberal types, and they have reasons beyond science for disliking the fundamentalists, who are more conservative in doctrine and ethics, and I think they take a perverse pleasure in standing up on a podium beside atheist scientists to defend Darwin; I think they enjoy seeing the blood pressure of the fundamentalists rise, and also in preening themselves on how much more religiously urbane and sophisticated they are than the fundamentalists. That’s of course just a sociological or psychological conjecture of mine, so one can take it with a grain of salt. (Speaking personally, I have little sympathy for many fundamentalists, but also have little sympathy for the typical “up to date” liberal clergyman of our era, so for me it’s like choosing between the frying pan and fire which type I would rather keep company with.)

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In my experience, it’s not too hard to raise the BP of fundamentalists - certainly not those who hang out in the argument groups on Facebook. Anyone who dares to disagree with them is regarded as “liberal”. BUT I should be a little more charitable - I’m pretty sure those arguing online are more … obsessive(?) … than the typical fundamentalist. At least I hope so.

Absolutely. We could celebrate Newton, Curie, Fermi, Einstein, and even celebrate scientists who got the wrong end of the stick like Rosalind Franklin. It might even be worth timing it with the Nobel awards.


6 posts were split to a new topic: What is a Glipsnort?

Its a feminist myth that Rossy got done wrong. She was trivial in that stuff.