‘Evolutionists’ and ‘Darwinism’

‘Evolutionists’ and ‘Darwinism’ November 24, 2020

Let’s get a couple of things straight. 

Firstly, nobody calls themselves an ‘evolutionist’. 

‘Evolutionist’ is a label aimed at rationalists by Creationists. They want to make evolution seem like an odd belief that a few renegade scientists have signed up to for no good reason. This is either a complete misunderstanding or a deliberate misrepresentation.

Evolution is not a minor aspect of science that is supported by a quirky few; it is the foundation of all of the different sub-specialisms of Biology, Paleontology and Medicine. People who do research in the field call themselves evolutionary biologists; Richard Dawkins is a famous example.

And the Theory of Evolution is not a belief; it’s evidential. We don’t need to believe in it anymore than we need to believe in the force of gravity. Anyone who doubts that they will fall if they jump out of a top floor window should be regarded with pity.

This is often associated with apologists’ ignorance of the scientific meaning of the word ‘theory’. In common parlance, ‘theory’ means ‘guess’, but this is not the case in Science. A Theory is the strongest of the categories of scientific knowledge; it’s a model explanation of phenomena that fits the evidence and enables falsifiable predictions. I’ve written about this before…

Secondly, it’s not ‘Darwinism’ anymore. 

Let’s give Charles Darwin his due, he did fantastic work, especially considering the technologies available at the time but, he died 138 years ago and his groundbreaking book ‘On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection’ was published back in 1859. To refer to ‘Darwinism’ today gives the impression that we’ve learned nothing since, which is simply not true. 

We have radiodated the rocks and discovered thousands of fossils (archeopterix is shown above), we know that the tectonic plates have moved across the Earth’s surface, we know that there has been mass extinctions and periods of relative environmental stability, we know how characteristics are inherited, we know the structure and operation of the molecules that are replicated and that get mutated, and we make use of this knowledge in the development of vaccines and the breeding of domesticated species, etc etc. Darwin would have given his eye teeth to have known all this. 

Everything we have discovered in the last 160 years is consistent with the Theory of Evolution. But it’s thanks to many more people than Darwin alone.

Referring to evolution as Darwinism today is almost like talking about Chemistry as Alchemy…

Image: Needpix

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