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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Why does Stephen H. Webb use the word "Darwinism"?

We know why the IDiots use the words "Darwinist" and "Darwinism" to describe evolutionary biologists and modern evolutionary theory. There are three main reasons.
  1. They want their flocks to believe that modern scientists worship Charles Darwin and his 150 year-old theory so that when they discredit him—as they are constantly trying to do—it reflects on evolution.
  2. They want to link modern evolutionary biology to social Darwinism and it's easier to do so if they refer to evolutionary biologists as Darwinists.
  3. They are too stupid to realize that there's a lot more to modern evolutionary biology than natural selection.
Every time you challenge creationists on this point they find some way to defend their use of Darwinism rather than just say "evolutionary biology" or "modern evolutionary theory." There's a reason for this (see above).

Stephen H. Webb is the latest example. Apparently his use of "Darwinism" was challenged so he wrote a blog post on Evolution News & Views (sic) defending it The Strange Mental World of Darwinian Fundamentalists. I hope you appreciate the irony in the title.

In an earlier discussion he said, "You know that when I say Darwinism I mean the current state of his theory." In the latest post he defended this by saying ...
I just Googled it, and the first three entries use it to refer to the contemporary theory of evolution, and talk about it in terms of its origin in Darwin and its later developments. Those cites are: Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. So I don't know why you are nitpicking about this except to exhaust me and distract us from substantial issues.
Let's look at excerpts from those three Google references.

Darwinism - Wikipedia
While the term has remained in use amongst scientific authors when referring to modern evolutionary theory, it has increasingly been argued that it is an inappropriate term for modern evolutionary theory.[5][8] For example, Darwin was unfamiliar with the work of Gregor Mendel,[9] and as a result had only a vague and inaccurate understanding of heredity. He naturally had no inkling of yet more recent developments and, like Mendel himself, knew nothing of genetic drift for example.[10] ....

The term Darwinism is often used in the United States by promoters of creationism, notably by leading members of the intelligent design movement, as an epithet to attack evolution as though it were an ideology (an "ism") of philosophical naturalism, or atheism.[15] For example, Phillip E. Johnson makes this accusation of atheism with reference to Charles Hodge's book What Is Darwinism?.[16] However, unlike Johnson, Hodge confined the term to exclude those like Asa Gray who combined Christian faith with support for Darwin's natural selection theory, before answering the question posed in the book's title by concluding: "It is Atheism."[17][18][19] Creationists use the term Darwinism, often pejoratively, to imply that the theory has been held as true only by Darwin and a core group of his followers, whom they cast as dogmatic and inflexible in their belief.[20] In the 2008 movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed which promotes intelligent design, Ben Stein refers to scientists as Darwinists. Reviewing the film for Scientific American, John Rennie says "The term is a curious throwback, because in modern biology almost no one relies solely on Darwin's original ideas... Yet the choice of terminology isn't random: Ben Stein wants you to stop thinking of evolution as an actual science supported by verifiable facts and logical arguments and to start thinking of it as a dogmatic, atheistic ideology akin to Marxism."

Darwinism - Merriam-Webster Dictionary
a theory of the origin and perpetuation of new species of animals and plants that offspring of a given organism vary, that natural selection favors the survival of some of these variations over others, that new species have arisen and may continue to arise by these processes, and that widely divergent groups of plants and animals have arisen from the same ancestors [i.e. Darwinism = natural selection]

Darwinism - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
In a recent monograph entitled Natural Selection: Domains, Levels and Challenges in the Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution, George C. Williams has vigorously defended Darwinian selection theory against a variety of challenges that have emerged over the last few decades. Those challenges can be placed into two broad categories: [i] proposed limitations on natural selection as an evolutionary force; and [ii] expansions of the scope of natural selection to include new ‘targets’ and ‘levels’. It will be noted that in neither case is it obvious that the theory itself requires modification in the face of such challenges—in principle these might be nothing more than challenges to the theory's range of application. However, if it turned out that most evolutionary change could be explained without recourse to natural selection, this would be grounds for arguing that evolutionary biology was no longer Darwinian. And if it turned out that the theory of natural selection could only be integrated with our new understanding of the processes of inheritance and development by a wholesale modification of its foundations, it might be best to see the new theory as a modified descendent of Darwinism, rather than Darwinism itself.
The typical IDiot may begin his or her study of evolution by believing that classical Darwinism is the appropriate word to use for modern evolutionary theory. However, once that belief is challenged, they have a duty to investigate further. When they do so, they will learn that there are a great may evolutionary biologists who object to being called Darwinists because that does not represent their view of evolution.

In this case, Stephen H. Webb actually did a Google search to see if he was right. What he found was three references that discussed why it is wrong to refer to all of modern evolutionary theory as Darwinism. But, like a typical IDiot, he misrepresents what he reads on the internet and pretends that he was right all along and those evolutionary biologists who challenge him must be wrong. (Stephen Webb is a theologian.)

If he really wants to learn about modern evolutionary theory—which I very much doubt—he could read a science textbook or the relevant papers in the scientific literature that discuss "Darwinism" and modern evolutionary theory.


  1. I would die if they ever changed their tactic and started calling us Gould-ists or Kimura-ists

    1. This is a very funny article. So wikipedia says that "the term has remained in use amongst scientific authors when referring to modern evolutionary theory" but there is a trend away from this. Read those words again. Scientific authors use this term to refer to evolutionary theory. Now I have no doubt that a Darwinian will go on the wikipedia page and change this, since Darwinians like to alter reality to fit their preconceived notions. And by the way, we often use Newtonian and so on to refer to the scientific models that began with Newton but were elaborated and added to by others. The fact that you make a big deal of this and see some sort of conspiracy in it shows me (and many others) that you are irrational when it comes to defending Darwinism. So what does that say about Darwinism itself?"

    2. Some, advice, Stephen: When you're going to quotemine a source, it's a good idea not to do it when the original source is accurately quoted just a few inches above on the same page. Otherwise, you reveal that you are not only a liar, but very, very stupid as well.

      As someone has said "You wonder why they're called IDiots?"

    3. "And by the way, we often use Newtonian and so on to refer to the scientific models that began with Newton"

      The key word there is models, a model can be newtonian. We don't run around calling people Newtonians, and there is no such thing as Newtonism.

    4. Someone posting under the name "Stephen Webb" said,

      The fact that you make a big deal of this and see some sort of conspiracy in it shows me (and many others) that you are irrational when it comes to defending Darwinism. So what does that say about Darwinism itself?"

      There aren't very many rules here but one of them is that you can't pretend to be someone else. I know how tempting it was to make fun of the real Stephen Webb by putting those words in his mouth but please don't do it again.

      The real Stephen Webb may be an IDiot but he's not THAT stupid. You made him sound like a 12-year old arguing with his friends in the school yard.

    5. It's him. Ad hominems and quote mines are all they've got.

      As for the term "Darwinian", he doesn't realize his analogy to Newtonian refutes his argument. Only a tendentious moron would call quantum mechanics or General Relativity "Newtonism." That's what IDers do when they call modern evolutionary theory "Darwinism." Especially where Junk DNA is concerned.

    6. I can't decide whether Larry, in this instance, was intending sarcasm. But I think Mr. Webb has left the building, so it hardly matters.

  2. Darwinism today is like a low budget movie with a story that goes nowhere....

    That is what Darwin would say today....

  3. I don't know what you want, Darwinism is entirely consistent with Newtonism for the Theory of Gravity, Einsteinism for the Theory of General Relativity, Margulism for the Endosymbiont Hypothesis, and Cantorism for Set Theory. Surely creationists also use all those terms, right? Right? ... Right?

    1. And Intelligent Design should be called Bibleism.

      Ooh I like that.

    2. I have another suggestion for an alternative term for Intelligent Design: "Creationism". I wonder why they never use that?

      Evolutionists, of course, regularly refer to ID as creationism. And IDiots always complain about it. The differences between between that situation and that in which IDiots misrepresent modern evolutionary theory as "Darwinism", however, are:

      1) ID is creationism (cf. "cdesignproponentists".)

      2) Evolutionists are quite upfront about the reasons for using the term. There are no disingenuous claims, like Webb uses here, that this is the term IDiots choose to use for themselves.

  4. The reason promoters of ID and of creationism refer to the views of evolutionary biologists as "Darwinism" is not simply that they want to discredit evolution by rejecting the views of Charles Darwin. The first of your quotes (from Wikipedia) has a more correct view.

    It is that they want to pain evolutionary biologists as cultists -- people who adhere slavishly to the words of a master, who cannot tolerate any disagreement with anything he said, and who operate mindlessly with no other basis for their statements.

    A colleague of mine was attending an evolution meeting, and some creationists were gathered across the street from it, with picket signs. She decided to go talk to them. After a bit of that she realized that they thought that we were all gathered to do nothing but praise Charles Darwin and recall what he had written. She showed them the conference program. They were astonished to see that we were talking about beetle mating systems, DNA studies of bird phylogeny, and many other topics, and that there were basically no talks devoted to Charles Darwin. They were not prepared to consider that.

    Admitting to their audience that evolutionary biologists actually have evidence is out, so they have to perpetuate this slander.

    So Larry, I disagree that the word "Darwinism" is used by them to associate our views narrowly with Darwin's. The objective of ID advocates and creationists is much more political and much more dishonest even than that.

    1. Typo: "... that they want to paint evolutionary biologists as cultists ..."

    2. I am constantly astonished how much of any type of discourse everywhere is driven by projection. But it goes both ways; not only do cultists assume that everybody else is also a cultist, but rational people also find it hard to understand that not everybody can be swayed with rational arguments.

  5. For those of you who enjoy such things, I've been diogenizing Steve Webb over at the NCSE blog, where he gave his moronic definition of "Darwinism", quoted above.

    1. I've never heard of Steve Webb, but good Lord! I think VJ Torley may have lost his crown as Stupidest Creationist Philosopher. I mean, where you keep asking him for examples of biologists using "credentialism" to shut down debate, and after trying to put off the challenge by saying "It's obvious! There are lots and lots!' he finally relents, and gives as his example.... comments on! LOL!!

      Oh, oh, and then this:

      I'm going to make this as easy and simple as I can. The laws of nature include, if you are a non-reductionist, the causal efficacy of mental events. Therefore, God's direction of physical processes is not a violation or suspension of those laws.

      Translation: I think about the fork bending. The fork bends. Yeah, lotta evidence for that! I wonder why "non-reductionism" is given no thought at all in biochemistry?

      Look pal, if that's your definition of "non-reductionism", then "non-reductionism" is rejected by the scientific method. Period, full stop.

      The placebo effect alone is evidence for the causal efficacy of consciousness.

      Bwah Ha Ha Ha! And this guy warns scientists that "philosophy is hard" so they should be careful when discussing it, but apparently biology and medicine and neuroscience is so easy any theologo-wibbler can master it by reading a few webpages.

      You're a great straight man, Diogenes. Keep feeding him his lines and he's sure to deliver the comedy.

    2. Oh joy! The World's Stupidest Creationist Philosopher has joined us on this very page! Let the Sandwalk Comedy Festival commence!

    3. I mean, where you keep asking him for examples of biologists using "credentialism" to shut down debate, and after trying to put off the challenge by saying "It's obvious! There are lots and lots!' he finally relents, and gives as his example.... comments on! LOL!!

      In all humility, I must point out that was me asking him for examples.

    4. I think Lute suite intended the impersonal "you", but yes, John was going after Webb a couple days before I inserted myself. Their commenting system mixes up comments non-chronologically.

    5. Actually, I was confused about who was writing what. Should give credit where it's due. Though when it comes to making IDiots look like idiots, they do most of the work themselves.

  6. there is no conspiracy about the word Darwinist. ! Can one accuse conspiracy about evolutionism?
    Darwin is paraded as a great mind/scientist who figured out the bible was wrong and how biology came to be.
    Thats why this forum is named after Darwins walking routine or something.
    Is really is accurate in describing the great error.
    That since then minor details have been added changes nothing about the authorship and power of the case behind it.
    Yes Darwin said so many obvious wrong things and in the end almost all was wrong.
    I would run from him too. Won't be quick enough. The march of historic intellectual correction will catch all evolutionism.

    1. Robert, it isn't so much that the bible is wrong, its that it doesn't actually say anything. The creation of all of the universe and everything in it, including all forms of life, is described in a page or two.

      Its like getting a 6 year old to write down what they know about how an automobile works, and then using that as your sole source of information regarding internal combustion engines and all the other complex systems in a car. What is wrong with you?

    2. Post-flood Marsupial Migration Explained
      by Robert Byers
      Mammal Evolution: An Illustrated guide. R, J, G. Savage Facts on File Publications. 1986.

      Robert would have to work very hard indeed to reach 6 year old level.

    3. However, he already has a publication record that would be the envy of most Intelligent Design Creationists. Bravo, Robert!

  7. SRM
    The bible is from God. It hits major boundaries. From these conclusions are drawn and we can fix wrong ideas that pop up.
    It said a lot in a few pages. Very well articulated also.

    1. The bible is from God

      How sure are you about this Robert? I know you believe it. But will you admit that you could be wrong about this fact, or is that out of the question?

    2. I'm sure. Are you sure it ain't? is it out of the question your distrust in the writer could be wrong?

    3. The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. -Bertrand Russell