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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Terminology wars: "Darwinist" vs. "Darwinian evolutionist"

At my talk at the University of Toronto last Saturday on the development of the intelligent design controversy, an evolutionary biologist in the audience informed me that evolutionary biologists don't like the term Darwinist, even though they in fact use it, apparently, despite denials on the part of some (scroll down to Edward O. Wilson). So in the talk I was very careful to say "Darwinian evolutionist," wherever I could remember to do so, but was not necessarily consistent.

(Note: If you came here looking for a story about Baylor prof Francis Beckwith's credentials, go here.)

One difficulty is that Richard Dawkins, for example, appears quite comfortable calling himself a "Darwinist," thus so should I be.

And when it comes to purely conceptual ideas like meme theory (a theory about how ideas spread from one person to the next via Darwinian natural selection), it is not clear that any actual evolutionary biology is involved. For that reason, I am reluctant to allow evolutionary biologists to determine terminology in the further reaches of universal Darwinism.)
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being granted tenure at Baylor after a long struggle - even after helping in a small way to destroy the Baylor Bears' ancient glory - in the opinion of a hyper sportswriter.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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