Michael Ruse, in the introduction of his latest book, protests that "well-qualified and articulate evolutionary biologists . . . have been showing so visceral a hatred of Darwinian thinking that one suspects that their objections cannot be grounded purely in theory or evidence." Ruse has Stephen Jay Gould in his sights, and thinks that Marxism is part of the explanation. However, one thing that Ruse and Gould could agree on is the NOMA thesis: that science is a domain of human activity that does not overlap with the religious domain of human experience. The essential Darwinism is science, addressing empirical data and thereby integrating all biology via organic descent. Darwinism does not entail any position on "the reality of free will, the existence of purpose and direction in the universe, the origin of life, the foundations of human ethical behavior, and the moral and political implications of human differences." Consequently, not only is the ID Movement wrong, and not only are creationists wrong, but also many Darwinists are wrong to draw inferences about social, moral and cultural implications. Ruse "seeks "to defend Darwinism from false (or misguided) friends," those who bastardize or misapply Darwin's ideas to advance their own cultural agendas."
The problem for those of us who have not joined "the Darwinian Revolution" is that NOMA only works one way. It provides a barrier to stop creationists and ID people encroaching on science, but it completely fails to inhibit Darwinists from encroaching on issues to do with purpose, meaning, morality and human values. Gould, for example, exemplified this repeatedly: he often wrote about the contingencies of life and the purposeless of history.
What is lacking from Ruse's book appears to be any serious engagement with actual arguments of those who claim that Darwinism is inseparable from its "intellectual baggage". There's lots of stuff about science grinding to a halt if design thinking becomes "an acceptable part of scientists' explanatory tool kit." But there's no evidence! There's no acknowledgement that science emerged in a culture where design thinking was part of the explanatory tool kit! There's no acknowledgement that the ID community is pro-science. One wonders who this book is written for.
American Scientist, March-April 2007.
Darwinism and Its Discontents. Michael Ruse. x + 316 pp. Cambridge University Press, 2006. $30.
The historian and philosopher Michael Ruse has spent decades explaining the nature of the Darwinian Revolution. The result has been a constant stream of innovative, provocative, informative, witty and entertaining scholarship. No other contemporary writer has Ruse's knack for seamlessly weaving together history, philosophy, theology and science.
In his latest salvo, Darwinism and Its Discontents, Ruse turns his good-natured pugnacity to a robust and comprehensive defense of the theory of evolution by natural selection as elaborated by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species (1859). [snip]
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Intelligent Design The Future is a multiple contributor weblog whose participants include the nation's leading design scientists and theorists: biochemist Michael Behe, mathematician William Dembski, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, philosophers of science Stephen Meyer, and Jay Richards, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson, molecular biologist Jonathan Wells, and science writer Jonathan Witt. Posts will focus primarily on the intellectual issues at stake in the debate over intelligent design, rather than its implications for education or public policy.
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