October 24, 2005


When a worldview competes with religion: The foremost philospher of evolution theory knows whereof he writes: a review of THE EVOLUTION-CREATION STRUGGLE By Michael Ruse (CARLIN ROMANO, 10/24/05, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

Unlike many pro-evolution types, however, he agrees with creationists and intelligent-design advocates that evolution often operates as not just a scientific theory about species, but also as a worldview that competes with religion. Any fair history of evolution, Ruse says -- he prefers to call the ideological strain "evolutionism" -- reveals it to be a Trojan horse carrying an ideology of "progress" that can't be deduced from Darwin. [...]

What many laymen don't understand, Ruse says -- particularly secular humanists whose image of science's logical rigor exceeds that of many philosophers of science -- is that Darwin's model did not succeed in making evolution a "professional" science in the 19th century.

As Ruse details in "The Evolution-Creation Struggle," various theorists explained evolutionary change by notions as odd as "jumps" (one might label them "leaps of fate") or the inheritance of acquired characteristics.

In Ruse's tale, Darwin's strictly scientific approach to evolution was hijacked in the 19th century by the Victorian reformer Thomas Henry Huxley, who became known as "Darwin's bulldog."

Huxley, Ruse argues, felt he needed to build a rival "church" to defeat archaic Anglican and Christian beliefs, and put man, not God, at the center of life.

Evolution became his "cornerstone." With the help of philosopher Herbert Spencer, who extended "survival of the fittest" thinking to social theory, Huxley promoted evolutionary thinking as a worldview hostile to sacred religious truths. Ruse cleverly capsulizes this in an analogy: Huxley was to Darwin as Paul was to Jesus.

The upshot in the 20th century, Ruse relates, was a third phase of evolutionary theory, neo-Darwinism, in which scientists brought greater coherence to it by uniting Darwinian selection and Mendelian genetics, but retained Huxley's value-laden commitment to "progress" and hostility to religion. Ruse cites Richard Dawkins as a scientist who fits that mold.

And once you get it down to just the genetics it doesn't serve any of the purposes that Darwinists need it to, though it serves perfectly well as science without any Darwinism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2005 8:56 PM
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