Well, how much confusion has really been caused by using the term “Darwinism”? How many people have been made to think that we biologists adhere to an ideology rather than a strongly supported theory?That's a tough question. I'd estimate it at about 3 billion but I could be off by a factor of two.
Would creationism and its country cousin, intelligent design, suddenly vanish if we started using the terms “modern evolutionary theory” (ugh!) or the insidious-sounding “neoDarwinism”? I don’t think so.Nope. The problem isn't so much how the IDiots interpret the term "Darwinism," it's how the average evolution supporter interprets it. The average person seems to be completely unaware of the fact that natural selection doesn't explain everything about common descent. They are surprised to learn that many modern scientist are not adaptationists or confirmed traditional Darwinists.
“Darwinism” is a compact, four-syllable term for “modern evolutionary theory,” which is ten syllables long.No it is not. Nobody in their right mind would claim that random genetic drift—the dominant mechanism of evolution—is Darwinian. Nobody in their right mind would suggest that it is just a slight modification of natural selection.
Today we know that new beneficial mutations have only a slight chance of becoming fixed in a population. We know that deleterious mutations can become fixed. And we know that a large percentage of mutations are completely invisible to natural selection but they can, nevertheless, become fixed.
Ryan Gregory made the same point in his posting: Jerry Coyne on Darwinism. So did Eugenie C. Scott and Glenn Branch in Don't Call it "Darwinism".
Jerry Coyne is not stupid. He's well aware of the fact that Darwin didn't know everything. But according to Coyne, the expansion of evolutionary theory hasn't amounted to anything more than simple "refinement" and the term "Darwinism" still encompasses the essence of modern evolutionary theory.
Apparently Coyne has an article about to appear in Current Biology where he says ....
Still, these advances amount to refinements of Darwinism rather than its Kuhnian overthrow. Evolutionary biology hasn’t suffered the equivalent of quantum mechanics. But some biologists, chafing in their Darwinian straitjacket, periodically announce new worldviews that, they claim, will overturn our view of evolution, or at least force its drastic revision. During my career I have heard this said about punctuated equilibrium, molecular drive, the idea of symbiosis as an evolutionary force, evo-devo, and the notion that evolution is driven by the self-organization of molecules. Some of these ideas are worthwhile, others simply silly; but none do more than add a room or two to the Darwinian manse. Often declared dead, Darwinism still refuses to lie down. So by all means let’s retain the term. It is less of a jawbreaker than “modern evolutionary biology,” and has not, as was feared, misled people into thinking that our field has remained static since 1859. What better honorific than “Darwinism” to fête the greatest biologist in history?This is a remarkable bit of writing. Every modern textbook on evolution has a large section devoted to random genetic drift as a fundamental mechanism of evolution and yet Coyne doesn't even mention it. He also doesn't mention population genetics. Isn't that strange?