Evolution Or 'Evolution'

I am a columnist from Sing Tao Daily, a Chinese newspaper published in Vancouver, Canada. I spent more than a year arguing against creationism in the newspaper. Recently I read Robert Moss's article, titled "The Problem With Evolution: Where Have We Gone Wrong?" (The Scientist, Oct. 13, 1997, page 7). I want to offer some comments about it. In my opinion, the article should be renamed as "The Problem With The Word 'Evolution': How Shall We Deal With The Terminology?" In other words, a meta-lin

Nov 24, 1997
Edwin Leung

I am a columnist from Sing Tao Daily, a Chinese newspaper published in Vancouver, Canada. I spent more than a year arguing against creationism in the newspaper. Recently I read Robert Moss's article, titled "The Problem With Evolution: Where Have We Gone Wrong?" (The Scientist, Oct. 13, 1997, page 7). I want to offer some comments about it.

In my opinion, the article should be renamed as "The Problem With The Word 'Evolution': How Shall We Deal With The Terminology?" In other words, a meta-linguistic consideration is mistakenly framed as a first-order consideration, as far as the title is concerned. Creationists will really be happy about this confusion. For one thing, it gives them a chance to quote the title without really talking about its contents. To them, what can be better news than the scientific community admitting, again, to the problem of evolution?

In addition, Moss is inconsistent about Darwin. On one hand, he seems to think that Darwin's terminology means only descent with modification. On the other hand, he also admits that Darwin regards "evolution" as descent with modification through the mechanism of natural selection. Evolution, taken simply as descent with modification, was proposed long before Darwin. Darwin's original contribution was to give this fact (this fact is now commonly deemed "the fact of evolution") a solid and reasonable explanation through the theory of natural selection.

Lastly, the article seemed to have implied that Michael Behe is against descent with modification. In fact, Behe is not. He admitted the reality of common descent in his book Darwin's Black Box (New York, Free Press/Simon and Schuster, 1996).

Edwin Leung
Sing Tao Daily
3474 Wellington Ave.
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V5R 6B1
E-mail: edwinl@direct.ca