Is Darwinism really an absolute, established truth?

This was passed on by a friend, who doesn’t recall the source:

Its proponents declare that Darwinian evolution is as established a fact as gravity. They never declare that gravity is as established a fact as Darwinian evolution.

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Terry Morris writes:

That’s because they still have questions about gravity. :-)

Leonard D. writes:

Of course evolution is never used as the “more solid” scientific theory—it is, after all, controversial, at least among the lay public. Gravity is not controversial: things do fall, and everyone knows it. Gravity is uncontroversial even though very few people understand what modern science has to say about gravity (specifically, that all mass and energy warp space-time. Do you feel distorted?). Indeed, even before Newton, people had theories of gravity—it’s just that the theories were wrong. But people certainly believed in gravity. It would be surprising to see any theory being used as a “gold standard” of science other than one which people have daily and immediate contact with.

There are two small ironies in your posting. First, I understand Darwinian evolution (or at least I think I do) well enough to theorize with and use. Indeed, even you, an opponent, understand the theory and what it entails. By contrast, I doubt that 1 in 1000 of your readers actually understands general relativity even in the surface-level sense of being able to write down the Einstein field equations. (I certainly do not.) Much less use them to compute anything. Second, for all its successes, general relativity itself may well be superseded by some theory of quantum gravity, which is currently a sort of Holy Grail of physics. If this happens, the modern evolutionary synthesis will be the older, more established theory. (Of course, even then, people will still never say “quantum gravity is as established a fact as Darwinian evolution”.)

LA replies:

In his first paragraph, Leonard does what he does so often in the Darwinism debate—he replies to a challenge to some Darwinian idea by simply repeating back to us the idea that’s been challenged. Of course we know that Darwinism is more controversial than the law of gravity. That’s the whole point. But the Darwinians, by saying that Darwinian evolution is as solidly proved as the law of gravity, are saying that there is no reason for Darwinism to be more controversial, that it’s only ignorance that makes it more controversial. Which leads to the question quoted by my correspondent: if Darwinian evolution, in reality, is as solidly proved as the law of gravity, why don’t the Darwinians use Darwinism as their gold standard of a solidly proved scientific law? The point is simply that the Darwinists’ comparison of Darwinian evolution to the law gravity is made in bad faith: they know that it’s not true that Darwinism is as solidly proved as the law of gravity.

In his second paragraph, Leonard goes into the explanation of gravity in the General Theory of Relativity. This is an irrelevance and a distraction. Obviously when Darwinian evolutionists in their writings aimed at the lay public treat the law of gravity as the standard of a solidly proved scientific law, they’re talking about the everyday, familiar, well-understood Newtonian law of gravity, not the esoteric Einsteinian law of gravity.

Marc B. writes:

This is from David Berlinski’s Devil’s Delusion.

Mark from Tennessee writes:

The line your friend sent regarding Darwinism and gravity seems to be a paraphrase of a remark by David Berlinski in The Devil’s Delusion, page191: “Although Darwin’s theory is very often compared favorably to the great theories of mathematical physics on the grounds that evolution is as well established as gravity, very few physicists have been heard observing that gravity is as well established as evolution. They know better and they are not stupid.”

The book, by the way, is pretty good (if too flippant throughout). Edward Feser’s The Last Superstition is better, more philosophically thorough (if often polemical).

LA replies:

Yes, I’ve noticed that in filmed interviews Berlinski has a superior, snotty air, which is not helpful. It seems to be at least partly a result of his living in Paris.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 16, 2009 06:35 AM | Send

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