The Future of Darwinism

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.

Comments

  1. #1 Michael "Sotek" Ralston
    July 28, 2006

    No matter what subsequent theories people develop in physics, if they aren’t equivalent to Newton’s Laws in various limiting cases, they can be safely discarded. I think that given the evidence we have, it’s safe to say that Darwinism is the biological equivalent of Newtonian Mechanics.

  2. #2 djlactin
    July 28, 2006

    uh oh! schism alert!

    There was fair agreement among the participants that Darwin’s way of approaching problems remains valid and should be encouraged if possible.

    what? only ‘fair’?!

    watch the quote-miners run with this one!

  3. #3 David Harmon
    July 31, 2006

    Notice the generality of that comment. Remember how the “speed of light” was recently being discussed as a more fundamental constant which happened to apply to photons? I think the idea of evolution will likewise prove to be a basic theme for “how things work”, which we happened to discover while examining our own world’s biology.

  4. #4 Clint Campbell
    August 13, 2006

    Humans are de-evolving everday. The more intelligent and inspired are having less children at a later age which means that the weaker of the human race are furthering their weaker genes. The reason behind this is that a better female genes are meeting our better male genes and realizing that to make it in today’s society that in order to have a better child one must be financially established before furthering the human genome to increase the intellectual capacity of humans. Unfortunately lesser beings are procreating faster than the higher beings to saturate the gene pool with “white trash, ghetto trash, etc” faster than can be replineshed. Also, my feeling is that modern medicine has destroyed the natural process of evolution because the weak are allowed to reproduce instead of die and weed themselves out. That is why more cases of all diseases are becoming more prevalent.

  5. #5 Jeffrey Quillinan
    August 16, 2006

    Evolution rules, science proves, creationism fools.

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