“What’s in a name?” wrote Shakespeare. Perhaps a lot. In today’s sound bite world, we need to be careful with each word we use, because we may not get a chance to explain further.
I have found confusion over the word “evolution.” Some, particularly academics, will tell you that the word refers to Darwinian evolution – the theory that all species arose solely from random mutations and natural selection. That’s certainly one of the definitions in many dictionaries. But to many people, including I think most children, “evolution” just means any process of formation or change. In that sense, “evolution” is what we used to call at MIT a “no-brainer.” Clearly there have been different species at different times. There are no dinosaurs walking around my neighborhood.
So what’s the best way to frame the debate, to open minds to the substantial new evidence that Darwin’s theory is wrong? If you equate “evolution” with Darwin’s theory, and argue “evolution is wrong,” I think you are giving Darwinists an unnecessary advantage. To those people who have a basic, nonacademic, concept of evolution as a process of change, you appear to be arguing that species don’t change. You could come across as a flat-Earth person.
I would frame the debate as “guided” evolution versus “unguided” evolution. To me that puts the key issue out front – is there evidence of design? Most people have an instinctive awe over the variety and beauty of life. Today intelligent design is attacked, yet in the early 1800’s every educated person believed in intelligent design. Let’s regain the high ground. Let’s put forth the evidence that evolution was guided.
So what’s in a name? Perhaps a lot. When you add “guided” to “evolution,” you add God.
Thanks for reading.