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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Darwinian evolution as a religion

Philosopher of science Michael Ruse argues, in a forthcoming book, that Darwinists have largely themselves to thank for the current opposition to Darwinism:

“Ruse, a philosopher of science at Florida State University, occupies a distinct position in the heated debates about evolution and creationism. He is both a staunch supporter of evolution and an ardent critic of scientists who he thinks have hurt the cause by habitually stepping outside the bounds of science into social theory. In his latest book, ''The Evolution-Creation Struggle,'' published by Harvard University Press later this month, Ruse elaborates on a theme he has been developing in a career dating back to the 1960s: Evolution is controversial in large part, he theorizes, because its supporters have often presented it as the basis for self-sufficient philosophies of progress and materialism, which invariably wind up in competition with religion.”

“All told, Ruse claims, loading values onto the platform of evolutionary science constitutes ''evolutionism,'' an outlook that goes far beyond the scientific acceptance of evolution as a means of explaining the origins and development of species. Provocatively, Ruse argues that evolutionism has often constituted a ''religion'' itself by offering ''a world picture, a story of origins, and a special place for humans,'' while its proponents have been ''trying deliberately to do better than Christianity.'”
In my experience, Ruse is right. For example, the single most ridiculous thing about Darwinism is the hagiography of Darwin. Darwinists, to listen to them, never suggest that their Great Master’s theory might have flaws, as all theories do; they are careful to make clear that Darwinism anticipated absolutely everything, even when it didn’t. When I wrote By Design or by Chance?, I had trouble getting used to that. It’s so unlike science and so like a cult. But, come to think of it, that’s because — ya think? — Ruse is right ... ?

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