Show’s 311: “What’s all the Fuss About? Darwinism and its Discontents”

Two-Part (belated) Darwin Day Special!

“What’s all the Fuss About? Darwinism and its Discontents”

Featuring Dr. Joseph Graves, Jr. and Dr. John Bellamy Foster

As we’ve just bypassed both the 200th anniversary of the great Naturalist Charles Darwin’s birth on February 12th, and the 150th anniversary of perhaps the most influential scientific text of all time – “On the Origin of Species” (11/24/09) –  the humanist and Freethought community in general, and the world at large, has once again grappled with the significance of the scientific theory of evolution via natural selection.

In most of the developed world, and elsewhere, Darwin’s theories have not only been understood and championed, but put to the real tests of understanding not only the origins and complexity of life forms on Earth, but via the treatment of diseases for which evolution’s tenets are absolutely vital.  Still, populations  – usually those where religion still carries great meaning for many people (particularly the Abrahamic religions), including many states in the US – have not only been reluctant to embrace evolutionary science, but have actively fought against the teaching of evolution and it’s very existence.

The strong hold of Creationism in both Christianity and Islam has swayed more people in these areas then Darwinism ever had, and many freethinkers tend to believe the core of these problems lie in the supernaturalism and “scared” texts of which religion is built.  But does there lay a deeper, more systemic reason for the sway of Creationism over Darwinism which scientific advocates fail to, or don’t wish to discuss when combating anti-evolution sentiments and activism?  Indeed, can understanding one of the core reasons Charles Darwin himself sought out the science behind life’s’ diversity – especially with regards to human beings – shed some light on the vehemence aimed at evolutionary theory?

2 Replies to “Show’s 311: “What’s all the Fuss About? Darwinism and its Discontents””

  1. I greatly enjoyed the show; thanks for another great episode. The only blemish was the caricature of the selfish gene theory as an extremist viewpoint. Dawkins went to great pains to reject any simplistic reductionist view of life, and it’s unfortunate that people dismiss such a meticulously composed explanation so out of hand.

  2. Thank you very much for your reply. I’ve always felt that it is rather unfortunate for Dawkins to call his theory “the selfish gene,” because it stops many people from learning more about it. He talked a lot about genes ending up cooperating with one another even across species in his book, and the theory definitely does not hinder ideas about altruism. Even failing that, he has warned against taking what is as what ought to be. Looking at organisms as a product of cellular structures doesn’t preclude one from looking at it as a species or group. The two approaches should be complementary, not antagonistic, if either one is correct. The reason we don’t design cars as though they are made of atoms isn’t because they aren’t, but only because it would be ridiculously laborious without adding anything to the process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *