Arthur S. Lodge | home
Evolution: Main Open Questions | Scientific Theories of Evolution | The Neo-Darwinian Theory: Version 2004 | Darwinism: Scientific Theory, Research Program, or Faith? | Crow & Swift: the Neo-Darwinian Theory Range of Applicablity | Bio-logic | The Devil in Neo-Darwinian Theory Details | Industrial Melanism | Mathematics of Evolution | "Unlikely Events" Fallacies: | Scientific Theory Testing | Strong & Weak Falsifiability | Censorship | No Reply | | The Neo-Darwinian Theory Range of Applicability | What is Natural Selection? | Critics' Motivation | Darwinism's Debit Sheet: 23 items | Criticisms of "Finding Darwin's God" | A criticism of "Gene Avatars: The Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution" | Andrew Knoll: Life on a Young Planet | Natural Selection | --Type Title Here--
Darwinism: Scientific Theory, Research Program, or Faith?
"I believe in microevolution because I have seen it at work in the laboratory; I am a macroevolutionist by faith." James F. Crow to A. S. Lodge
In the scientific community today, no-one who has studied thermodynamics questions the validity of the 1stt Law of Thermodynamics. Nevertheless, if anyone (whether scientist or non-scientist) were to ask me the questions:
1. What is the 1stt Law of Thermodynamics; and
2. why do I think that it is valid? ,
I would immediately offer the following answers:
1. The work required to take a system in an adiabatic container from any equilibrium state A to any other adiabatically accessible equilibrium state B is independent of the path taken.
2. Because of Joule's experiments.
I believe that today no scientist who has studied thermodynamics would question the validity of these answers (although some, for pedagogical reasons, might choose a different but equivalent form of answer to 1.). Of course, these would normally be followed supplementary questions (e.g., is there additional evidence?) which can equally quickly be answered.
Among Darwinists today, it appears that no-one questions in public the validity of Darwinism. In recent years, however, many other professional scientists and others have done and are doing so, or, more precisely, have asked What is the range of its validity?
Instead of giving answers to appropriate questions corresponding to 1. and 2. above, Darwinists have accused their critics of being creationists; have sought to deflect the discussion away from Darwinism's difficulties towards other topics (notably, intelligent design and religion); and, in several cases, have (quite reasonably, of course) sought to refute at least some of the critics' charges.
To the best of my knowledge, no Darwinist has stated in print what the NDT (= the Neo-Darwinian Theory = the Synthetic Theory of Evolution = the Evolutionary Synthesis) is and what is the evidence that supports it.
Darwinists' knee-jerk accusation Creationist! levelled at all critics of Darwinism may, in some cases, be a classic example of projection (of which the most celebrated instance is the cry You must be drunk! You've got two noses!). Some Darwinists fear a possible attack on their religion (i.e., atheism = the null religion) and so, as a good debating ploy, accuse their critics, in effect, of being religiously motivated.
Based on writings of non-Darwinists, I have given a detailed statement of one possible form of the NDT. I have reason to doubt, however, whether this definition is acceptable to Darwinists. I know one Darwinist who has expressed doubt, although I had pointed out that my definition encompasses Mendelian inheritance.
The Darwinist literature contains statements to the effect that the main difference between nineteenth century Darwinism and twentieth century neo-Darwinism (or the new synthesis) is that the latter includes Mendelian inheritance.
Such statements tell me where the NDT came from but they do not tell me what it is.
In a 1982 interview, Norman Macbeth said that, in about 1930, the Darwinists
"put together something that was generally known as the Synthetic Theory, and that has been the dominant idea ever since, for fifty years. It is rather strange to say this, but the Synthetic Theory has never been formulated. It was a vague consensus that was never formulated in any detail. This means that they were able to achieve remarkable agreement, because nobody knew what it was all about; it was a vague assumption that natural selection had done everything with a lot of help from genetic drift, sexual selection, and other possible mechanisms. When they never formulated it in detail, they never had to worry about refutations."
The following diverse statements have been given by the (Darwinist) editors of the book The Evolutionary Synthesis:
Ernst Mayr (1988):
"Darwinism is not a simple theory that is either true or false but is rather a highly complex research program that is continuously being modified and improved". (My bold face: ASL)
William Provine (2001):
"There is no simple definition of the NDT". (Private email communication)
Surely the first requirement of a scientific theory is that it be formulated in detail. Why is it so difficult to get a detailed statement of the NDT in a form that is agreed to by all (or most) Darwinists? Of course, it would be absurd to suggest that Darwinism today is merely a club of members who share a common faith (in CA, RSM, & NS - an unholy trinity?) which no member would be uncouth enough to question. But were such an outlandish suggestion to be considered, would I find any difference in the difficulties that I have experienced in my attempts to obtain answers to the two fundamental questions?
CA = common ancestry; RSM = random, spontaneous, mutation; NS = natural selection