A debate over a NYTimes article.
Is Darwin due for an upgrade? There are growing calls among some evolutionary biologists for just such a revision, although they differ about what form this might take. But those calls could also be exaggerated. There is nothing scientists enjoy more than the prospect of a good paradigm shift.
Still, if I’m confident of anything, it’s that Darwinism is in for a fall. Too many scientists are peeling at its frayed edges. A counterbalance to the entrenched politicization of evolution is the fact that scientists make names for themselves not by confirming established beliefs, by rocking the boat — and the easiest way to rock Darwinism is to stop propping it up. What will replace it is hard to say. Certainly it’ll still be materialistic — science will never accept ID, much less creationism. Perhaps it’ll be something along the lines of Noam Chomsky, the linguist who got away with arguing that the human brain is hard-wired for language. Maybe physicists will join up with biochemists to link string theory to DNA (just kidding). Whichever way it goes, Darwinism’s lack of evidence is catching up to it, bringing us to the verge of a huge paradigm shift.
A retort from Laelaps:
Interesting take on the article; I had the feeling that someone would take this interpretation of it. First, the term “Darwinism” is a misnomer; evolutionary biologists are not “Darwinists” because Darwin was in fact wrong about a good number of things. He had no idea about genetics, and he also included a Lamarckian aspect of inherited characteristics to his ideas, and we know a good deal about his mistakes today. Indeed, this science “Darwinism” suggests that we have not moved beyond the late 19th century in this area of research, and while Darwin certainly did lay the groundwork for evolutionary biology in its modern state (primarily through his ideas of evolution by natural and sexual selection), the science itself has “evolved” since Darwin’s day.
Evolution is a fact. Live with it. All your railing against the wind, rain, and evolution, won’t change those facts. Creationists need to accept reality openly rather than insist on pathological readings of science and history as correct, when they are fantasy. We have broccoli now, we didn’t have it 500 years ago or so. It’s rise is fairly well documented. Your denying that broccoli evolved, when the records show it did, doesn’t make broccoli go away (sorry, George Bush the elder). Your insisting that we ignore the evidence we have of evolution won’t cut it, either. Broccoli is just one of hundreds of recorded cases. We have seen evolution in real time, in the 20th century (and earlier, when we review the records). Evolution is fact.
My own Evolutionary Biology Professor was rather good about presenting as many of the unknowns as possible to us. I imagine she is NOT in the minority. She made it very clear that Evolution was a vibrant and alive field, full of possibility. She didn’t do this to undermine the field, but rather to encourage young burgeoning scientists to get into the it in a real way.
No the answers are not all known. Not even close. But, we can’t pretend that that uncertainty about certain particulars undercuts the understanding we have gained from those scientists who blazed the trail ahead of us.