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Darwinists of the World Unite!

I’ve been watching this debate between creationism and evolution for the last 3 years.  (Yes, I’m a noob.)  And one questions always pops up in my head, although it might seem like an irrelevant question to the debate, it bugs me. 

Why does it seem that the word “Darwinism” and its other variations bothers so many of us?

The word Darwinism was first used by Thomas H. Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, when he reviewed Darwin’s The Origin of Species in April 1960.  At that time, the definition of Darwinism was used to describe current evolutionary concepts, including earlier concepts such as Malthusianism and Spencerism.

It has come a long way, and basically now all one can say about it is “it depends who says it, and in what context.”

For example, creationists and IDers use it to describe evolution, they use it as a derogatory term within their circles.  To them it’s a tool for propaganda, a way to say “anyone who accepts Darwin’s theory is an atheist”.  In fact, in 1874 Charles Hodge, the then principal of Princeton Theological Seminary, published the book “What is Darwinism?” where he concludes that the answer is “It is Atheism.” 

Scientists have used the term Darwinism to differentiate between modern evolutionary theories and those proposed by Darwin.

I find it is used today mostly by IDers to refer to the people who accept the theory (and fact) of evolution as dogmatic and unwilling to change their minds about evolution.  Guess they still need to figure out what being a scientist and a skeptic really is.

In fact, Egnor’s latest post (as of this writing) at the Discovery Institute’s site starts off with “Darwinist Dr. Jerry Coyne,”.  Really?  Darwinist is the first word he chose to describe Dr. Coyne?  Not professor, biologist, geneticist, author, etc.?  For that matter, what if Dr. Coyne accepts Einstein’s theories? Why not Einsteinist?  Nope, Darwinist.  Why?  Because ID proponents have taken over the word, twisted it, and made it out to be a pejorative term.

Well I, for one, am not going to sit by and take it.  I accept the current theory of evolution, does that make me a Darwinist?  I say, sure, why not? Why can’t we take it back, make the word mean something positive rather than having the negativity currently associated with it?

So I sit here on the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publishing of The Origin of Species, and I can proudly say:

Hi, my name is Mike.  And I am a Darwinist.

6 comments to Darwinists of the World Unite!

  • durnett

    You’ve hit on the very reason that it irritates me to hear people debating the merits of “Darwinism” – they are using the term inaccurately. Huxley debated Darwinism 150 years ago. What we teach kids in school today is “evolution”.

    I am not a Darwinist, but I believe that we need to educate the entire population about current evolutionary theory.

    P.S. Although it is inaccurate, I cannot resist: Dyslexics of the world untie!

  • timdarklighter

    I think we should celebrate Darwin Day by having a Simpsons-esque Whacking Day targetting radical Creationists.

  • For a different view on “Darwinism”. Check out Carl Safina’s essay at the NYTimes.


  • GHcool

    I believe that the term “Darwinist” is used as a ploy by creationists as a way of saying “adherents to the philosophy of Charles Darwin” in the way that “Aristotelian” is used to describe an adherent to the philosophy of Aristotle. That is, creationists are implying that evolution through natural selection is a philosophy that one could subscribe to or not subscribe to as he or she chooses. This is very different from science, which is not based on beliefs or philosophies of life.

  • nowoo

    Larry Moran is a professor of biochemistry at the University of Toronto. He’s an expert on evolutionary biology who says “Darwinists, also called adaptationists, attribute everything to natural selection. Pluralists like me don’t deny natural selection but we know that there are lots of other things going on.”

    You can read his views in his article “Why I’m Not a Darwinist”:


  • The Blind Watchmaker

    What’s the big deal. It is like saying “Newtonian Physics”. Maybe “Darwinian Biology” would be more appropriate and accepted.

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