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Happy Atheist Day

Dr. Steven Novella recently took issue with an essay I wrote for Forbes has a fair survey of differing opinions on Darwin’s theory, which, of course, has angered Darwinists, who realize that the continued viability of Darwin’s theory depends on its insulation from criticism. They censor criticism of Darwinism in schools, and they aren’t happy to see the weaknesses of Darwinism discussed in the public forum, along with its strengths.
In my essay, I reviewed some of the scientific problems with Darwin’s theory, and I pointed out that Darwinism is itself a religious ideology. Darwin’s theory is the creation myth of atheism.
Dr. Novella begins:

First, I must point out that Egnor insists on referring to evolutionary theory as “Darwinism.” As many others have pointed out before, this is a propaganda tactic to attempt to diminish evolutionary theory to the quaint ideas of one guy. It is also misleading, for the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory differs in significant ways from strict Darwinian theory.

I use the term ‘Darwinism’ for several reasons.
First, ‘evolution’ merely means changes in populations over time, and ‘evolutionary biology’ is the study of changes in populations over time. ‘Evolution’ is a set of data. ‘Evolutionary biology’ is the study of that data. Darwinism and intelligent design are theories that purport to explain that data. But the theories aren’t themselves the data, nor are they the field of study.
Darwinism is the theory that random variation and ‘survival of survivors’ is the best scientific explanation for the evolutionary data. It is not synonymous with the data (evolution) nor is it synonymous with the field of science itself (evolutionary biology). Intelligent design is the theory that design is the best scientific explanation for some of the data. It is not synonymous with the data (evolution) nor is it synonymous with the field of science itself (evolutionary biology).
Intelligent design and Darwinism are theories. They are opposite answers to the same scientific question: is there evidence for teleology in biology? They both depend on the same data, and each represents a refutation of the other. If there is evidence for teleology in biology, ID is true and Darwinism is false. If there isn’t evidence for teleology in biology, Darwinism is true and ID is false. The testability of each theory depends on the testability (the refutation) of the other, and the validity of each theory depends on the invalidity of the other. Neither theory is a data set or a scientific discipline. Neither theory is ‘evolution’ or ‘evolutionary biology.’
The effort to conflate an individual theory — Darwinism — with the data itself or with the entire scientific discipline is an effort to circumvent discussion of the evidence and to impose Darwinist dogma on the science.
My second reason for calling Darwinism “Darwinism” is that Darwinists use it. On Februrary 12th, Darwin’s parishoners aren’t celebrating ‘Evolution Day’ or ‘Evolutionary Biology Day’ or ‘Natural Selection Day’ or ‘Punctuated Equilibrium Day’ or ‘Modern-Neo-Darwinian-Synthesis Day.’ They’re celebrating ‘Darwin Day.’
‘Darwinism’ seems so much less cumbersome than the alternatives. Yet I share some of Dr. Novella’s angst about properly naming Darwinist ideology. No single word — at least no word I can think of — seems to encapsulate its essence.
Oh, before I forget — Happy Atheist Day.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.