We have pursued a critique of darwinism here for years with a consistent ostracism and boycott. Now the tide is turning and a vindication moment is here. Mazur points to continued resistance but the cat is out of the bag (and Wolfe’s recent book also helped here). Not that there was anything hard about being a Darwin skeptic. And that’s Darwin skeptic, not evolution skeptic, a distinction long muddled to keep the public confused. On both sides.
At this point we can begin to discuss postdarwinism with some confidence we are not in the view of others indulging fringe views or religious angles. As to the latter we can even consider the taboo ‘design’ issue, albeit without any theological implications as such. You can talk ‘design’ all you want, but it is not proof that ‘god did it’. Simple.
Secularists (and scientists in general) become hysterical on the ‘design’ argument (not the same as the Intelligent Design argument, necessarily) and the Dawkins obsession with natural selection was in part a reverse theological argument, using darwinian fundamentalism to promote atheism. Promoting atheism with evolutionary darwinism is as confusedly objectionable as the right’s abuse of ID for theistic purposes.
It would do as well to relax and say a hearty ‘who cares’ and prescribe a dose of Rx: reading up on Kant. We cannot arrive at proof of the existence of god using a design argument. In that context it is hardly worth bothering with the crypto-theism of ID. It is not proof of anything, not even given Dembski’s interesting but perhaps sophistical ‘design inference’.
The design inference doesn’t require advanced math or the Dembski criteria: we can detect design everywhere and its logic and explanation is as mysterious as ever, for either religion or science. We are referring to ‘design’ without the adjective ‘intelligent’ and we see that everywhere in biological systems. Everywhere. How does its arise? How do the complex machines pointed to by Behe (and Denton, and Fred Hoyle) arise? We don’t know. That’s pretty simple. The hysteria of Dawkins and the crypto-sneak-attackiness of the ID-ists is a stalemate. We need other secular grounds to challenge the religious right. On evolution the ID-ists forswearing theology (supposedly) have tried to do science, as ID. It is never quite science but it does have a willingness to explore biological issues that mainstream evolutionists seem to have lost. We link everyday to Uncommon Descent and Evo-News because they aren’t afraid to discuss biological topics. Darwinists are very tight-lipped because they are reluctant to discuss natural selection at length. It is almost impossible to find an interesting link from biologists on evolution.
But that is changing now: we see the Atlantic for example discussing the realm of postdarwinism. So I think the tide is turning, no, it has turned.
The question of design is basically teleological and involves forms of machines we can’t construct yet. It is not a theological issue.
So I think the left has another reason to be on the march as to theory. The Darwin paradigm, once scotched by none other than Marx, has foundered, is sinking. Its replacement is in fact…nothing: a simple testimony to the fact of evolution. A full theory is still not forthcoming. The paltry halting steps of the Royal Society conference don’t seem like a readiness for a real paradigm shift but they have let the cat out of the bag and made skepticism within range for science insiders.
The left should adopt some version of my historical/evolutionary model, or simply consider the reality of evolution as a fact, its theoretical explanation as full science a topic for the future. Why that wasn’t done from the start is a mystery of hard paradigm thinking, but the work of Wallace essentially did this. Meanwhile the words of Soren Lovtrup, the insider science source of a strong critique of darwinism long ago, reverberate again: how did the fraud of darwinism take root and persist for so long? Because it was a fraud, and a strange one for science.
And the reality remains that Marx took one look at Darwin and snorted ‘English ideology’. I think Engels twisted his arm as he appears to have later embraced the ‘theory’, but it is remarkable that he was one of the first critics suspicious of natural selection!