While the blathering know-nothings of ID pound their chests and predict the imminent demise of Darwin, real scientists are look to the future. A recent conference at Trinity College in England explored the future of Darwinian thinking in biology. Eors Szathmary (coauthor, with John Maynard Smith, of the excellent book The Major Transitions in Evolution) reports on the conference for Science. He writes:
Many regard the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection as one of the most important and powerful theories of our times, in the good company of the general theory of relativity and quantum theory. What will be Darwin’s legacy in the 21st century? Will new work be mainly confirmatory, or can we expect new breakthroughs? What constitutes a Darwinian way of thinking in biology, or more broadly in science? Is it still timely to think in a genuine Darwinian way, or should we resort only to some basic Darwinian principles? These questions were discussed by researchers at a recent conference at Trinity College, Cambridge, UK (1), which was hosted by the president of the Royal Society, Martin Rees.
There was fair agreement among the participants that Darwin’s way of approaching problems remains valid and should be encouraged if possible.
He goes on to breifly describe some of the major problems in biology and how Darwinian thinking may be useful in solving them. He closes with:
I do not believe in the end of science: Brilliant theories of the highest rank are yet to come. But I hold it unlikely that the Darwinian approach will be overthrown in the way Aristotelian physics had been: We firmly remain on Darwin’s side in the 21st century.
Well said. The whole article is not very long, and I recommend the whole thing.