Author: Jeremy Freese
By no means is Daniel Dennett alone in his enthusiasm for the idea of evolution by natural selection as a way to explain how complex structures develop and change. Darwin’s idea, with various modifications, has become the dominant and overarching theory by which biologists understand the origins of human beings, the structure and function of human organs, and the relationship between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. Perhaps the best testament to the power of the theory is that it has attained this authoritative standing despite persistent and highly formidable resistance from religious authorities. Many of the greatest minds of mid-19th century Europe and America set out on the task of proving Darwin wrong and debunking his radical challenge to the idea of a nature built and governed by a Divine will. Today, when evolutionists and creationists engage in scientific debate, evolutionists are able to lay out an comprehensive synthesis from an array of fields (e.g., biology, zoology, paleontology, biochemistry, virology, comparative anatomy, bioanthropology), while creationists are left with little more than some specious claims about fossils and the defense that natural selection will never be more than “just a theory” (see, e.g., Kitcher 1982, Berra 1990).
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