Thursday, August 03, 2006

 

A new arms race: 'Evolutionism' is now an ideological weapon, but Darwin's own formulation was far more sophisticated

Although given in Rome, Cardinal Paul Poupard's speech in November about the distinction between evolution and evolutionism echoed throughout the world. Poupard, following the line of Pope John Paul II, acknowledged that evolutionary theory was no longer a mere hypothesis. Poupard's concern was to recognize the importance of the theory of natural selection in understanding life without acknowledging the theory's transformation into an ideological weapon.

The distinction between evolution and evolutionism is of extreme relevance. Michael Ruse's recent The Evolution-Creation Struggle sharply distinguishes between the fact of evolution by natural selection, including the theoretical explanations for this fact, and evolutionism as a naturalistic worldview with the characteristics of a secular religion. To recognize the important distinction between these points, it is necessary to understand how evolutionary theory developed. Evolution doesn't necessarily imply a mechanistic metaphysics, and the integration of legitimate, proven science into religion will break down the barriers between science and religion...

...Significantly, "the Baldwin Effect" also encompasses feedback by living organisms on their environment. This feedback can be thought of as "niche construction," a concept that has raised a good deal of recent interest...

See an online edition of "A New Factor in Evolution," by James Mark Baldwin (published in 1896).

Cardinal Poupard is also author of "Galileo Galilei - Towards a Resolution of 350 Years of Debate'", quoted in "An Error In Associating Lamarck With 'Adaptive Mutations'?"

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