The truth is that – and this is worth saying a million times over – most scientists probably don’t think about Darwin very much in their day-to-day studies and would consider themselves as much “Darwinist” as they would “round-Earthers” or “wifi-users”. This is, after all, the best working theory we have to understand the nature that we see around us. Also, I think we are all OK with entertaining the idea that, if a more scientifically accurate way of explaining the diversity of life on Earth comes along, Darwin would be ousted. It’s just that, based on current evidence, Darwin’s ideas still seem capable of explaining much, if not all, of what we see in nature. Hence, our kids learn about him in schools and popular science books that refute his influence are treated with understandable confusion, concern or disdain.
It’s true. I probably think about Darwin more than most, simply because I teach and think it’s important to toss in some history and philosophy of science with the subjects I cover. But otherwise, I don’t have a shrine to Darwin, I don’t worship him, most of the papers I read in evolution, development, or genetics don’t even mention him. It’s a fine example of projection when creationists assume that Darwin is our Jesus-substitute.
Unfortunately, this fact can be turned around into another creationist trope: Darwin (and therefore evolution, because Darwin and evolution are synonymous in their minds) isn’t a necessary component of biological science, because you can do experiments without ever thinking about the old man, and because the literature contains millions of papers that don’t mention Darwin, he’s obviously superfluous and we only continue to bow to his shrine out of religious fervor.
Of course, I watched Game of Thrones on the ol’ TV the other day, and I didn’t think of Philo Farnsworth even once; I also have to note that my TV is one of those flat-screen jobs that doesn’t even have a cathode ray tube in it, so it’s far advanced over anything he ever did. Therefore, since Philo and TV are synonymous, I couldn’t actually have watched it.
I guess I’ll have to put up a Farnsworth shrine in my house and pray to it if I want to see the next episode.