Against the claim that Darwin only challenged orthodox religious explanations, I pointed out that many historians and commentators on Darwin argue the contrary: namely, that Darwin’s work, Origin of the Species, faced a variety of resistance, only part of which stemmed from religious doctrine. Undeniably, Darwin challenged orthodox religious accounts of life on earth (origin and maintenance); and religious doctrine was a big factor in the thinking of most people. But more importantly to the history of biological science, Darwin’s evolutionary science also challenged prevailing theories and beliefs of secular scientists and other people who did not base their views on religion at all. The idea of fixity of life species was a far broader idea than just something gotten from religious doctrine.
I believe that science educators have a duty to defend the scientific method and good science from irrational attacks. I also feel an obligation toward those students in the audience who are still undecided — students whose minds haven’t already been snapped shut by anti-evolution pseudo-science. Even so, there are still several excellent reasons for both scientists and science educators to not debate the anti-evolutionist
Today, the mega-theme of biological evolution is securely tied by literally thousands of lines of evidence anchoring it to virtually every other area of human knowledge. Thus it would appear to be the height of scientific ignorance, stubbornness and/or religious blindness to reject evolution just because it sounds too impossible, or because it’s personally distasteful, or because it conflicts with a literal reading of one specific ancient creation story. One might just as well reject gravity.
When asked to debate, scientists should immediately seize upon the opportunity to explain that such debates are really just entertainment venues – that they have nothing to do with real science – that it gives Creationism/ID undue credibility – that scientists would rather spend their precious time doing real science – and most importantly – that if forced to debate, the scientist’s time, reputation, and expertise is highly valuable.
the story here is not one of suppression of publication of “The Origin” because Darwin feared the indignation of religious authorities. The story, rather, is one of a natural scientist who wanted to build the best possible case for his theory of evolution of species, who apparently could not stop accumulating additional evidence for his theory, and who eventually was spurred to publication of an “abstract” of his work by the prospect that Wallace would get priority with his publication of a theory of natural selection.
We tend to be anthropomorphic. That is, we tend to view nature from our own perspective and apply our own ways and means of thinking and doing to nature. What makes Darwin’s insight – evolution by means of natural selection – so brilliant and magnificent is its counter-intuitiveness – and its continual confirmation since its debut in 1859.
Wright, while trying not to be too obvious about it, argues for a form of teleology in biological evolution. He even attempts to recruit Daniel Dennett, a well-known exponent of Darwinian natural selection. We can admire Wright for his tireless effort, but ultimately there are good reasons for rejecting his attempt to show that teleology is part of Darwinian natural selection.
Isn’t it true that if I can explain the evolution of beings capable of conscious states I have explained the evolution of ‘consciousness’?
The alternative is to argue that when you claim that ‘consciousness’ exists you’re saying more than simply “beings who are capable of conscious states exist.” But this seems to imply that ‘consciousness’ is an entity or property over-and-above the reality of beings who can have conscious states, . .
Setting aside religious myth as useless to science, Darwin took the hard path of working out an effective, scientific explanation for life in its great variety. He spent over twenty years observing relevant natural phenomena, collecting specimens, organizing his data, and developing an empirical theory (evolution by natural selection) that effectively explains all biological phenomena.