Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If you meet a Buddha on the road...

Carl Safina on Darwinism


Clive said...

Bit of an annoying article in my opinion. To recognise a breakthrough isn't to suspend or deny all progress thereafter...

What is this supposed to mean?

Into the breach: intelligent design. I am not quite saying Darwinism gave rise to creationism, though the “isms” imply equivalence. But the term “Darwinian” built a stage upon which “intelligent” could share the spotlight.

What is he 'quite saying' then? Darwin's ideas utterly demolished any stage that "intelligent" design may ever stand on - though its own internal contradictions don't require an external challenge. That's the point of evolution and its brilliance... it is a totally brutal blind unthinking directionless process that produces what seems to us to be exquisite and magnificent results...

... and how about this...?

Charles Darwin didn’t invent a belief system. He had an idea, not an ideology. The idea spawned a discipline, not disciples. He spent 20-plus years amassing and assessing the evidence and implications of similar, yet differing, creatures separated in time (fossils) or in space (islands). That’s science. That's why Darwin must go.

... er, why?

Darwin's idea is the among the most stunningly elegant and insightful of all time... and here's the really interesting part - it is easily understood by anyone willing to consider it (unlike the slippery beauties of quantum mechanics and relativity).

Why shouldn't Darwin have the credit? We aren't actually falsifying anything important said by Darwin, more like rounding out its drivers and mechanics. And people forget the empirical basis behind the simple theory.

Was Einstein's achievement diminished by the discovery of black holes and string theory? Did Newton's genius tarnish when it was shown his laws didn't hold for the very big, very small and very fast?


Caspar Henderson said...

Yes, but I think Safina has a point regarding the term DarwinISM. My guess is Darwin would have agreed.

Nicholas Wade's piece, Darwin, Ahead of His Time, Is Still Influential, is probably better.