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ERIC Number: EJ972804
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Aug
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 28
ISSN: ISSN-0926-7220
Vitalism and the Darwin Debate
Henderson, James
Science & Education, v21 n8 p1139-1149 Aug 2012
There are currently both scientific and public debates surrounding Darwinism. In the scientific debate, the details of evolution are in dispute, but not the central thesis of Darwin's theory; in the public debate, Darwinism itself is questioned. I concentrate on the public debate because of its direct impact on education in the United States. Some critics of Darwin advocate the teaching of intelligent design theory along with Darwin's theory, and others seek to eliminate even the mention of evolution from science classes altogether. Many of these critics base their objections on the claim that non-living matter cannot give rise to living matter. After considering some of the various meanings assigned to "vitalism" over the years, I argue that a considerable portion of Darwin deniers support a literal version of vitalism that is not scientifically respectable. Their position seems to be that since life cannot arise naturally, Darwin's theory accomplishes nothing: If it can only account for life forms changing from one to another (even this is disputed by some) but not how life arose in the first place, what's the point? I argue that there is every reason to believe that living and non-living matter differ only in degree, not in kind, and that all conversation about Darwinism should start with the assumption that abiogenesis is possible unless or until compelling evidence of its impossibility is presented. That is, I advocate a position that the burden of proof lies with those who claim "Life only comes from life." Until that case is made, little weight should be given to their position.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States