I’ve never liked the term “Darwinism.” To me it has always been more of a watchword that might indicate that I was talking to a creationist, a term I generally do not encounter unless I’m reading or hearing an argument against a straw-man version of evolution. (I’m not a big fan of “evolutionist,” either.) It may have been useful in the past, when evolution by natural selection (as popularized by Darwin) was competing with other systems like Neo-Lamarckism and orthogenesis, but today it doesn’t have any relevance. (It should also be noted that A.R. Wallace wrote a book on natural selection called Darwinism. Despite his own work on the same subject he calls evolution by natural selection “Darwin’s theory.”) If anything it continues the myth that Darwin is the be-all and end-all of evolutionary science, and while he certainly deserves a lot of credit On the Origin of Species is not some kind of secular Bible where every word is dogma.
Olivia Judson, as she explains in her newest essay, also wants to be rid of the charged term. As John and Jonah have picked up on this, as well, although the general scarcity of the term among those who recognize evolution as a reality means that most are already agreed. The post is perhaps more important to those who have been misled by the persistent use of the word “Darwinism” by creationists, and I hope Judson’s article serves to set a few people straight.