Thursday, August 06, 2009

Darwinism and Post-Modernism

I'm studying the relationship between 20th cc. Darwinism and 21st cc. post-modernism.

One of the points I have been making on this blog is that darwinism is not just science, it is a philosophy tantamount to a world-view. And world-views affect how we view reality. (Perhaps world-views should be called reality-views.)

A good overview of the argument that darwinism has lead to the incoherence of post-modernism may be found here.

Money quote: "Darwinism undercuts the very possibility of rational truth".

Now that should get the ball rolling!

But please at least skim the article before venting!

And that's the way the I-believe-in-rationality Ball bounces.

41 comments:

Augray said...

The article linked to is one of the silliest things I've read in a long time. Firstly, Darwinism in no way implies Philosophical Naturalism. The fact that the Catholic Church accepts the reality of biological evolution should have been a hint to the writer there was a problem with making this claim.

Secondly, the way the writer presents the idea that our beliefs and values are products of evolutionary forces is framed as an appeal to negative consequences. Just because we don't like the indicated outcome doesn't mean that it's false. In addition, from an evolutionary point of view, it's advantageous to perceive the world as accurately as possible, so evolution also predicts that "we can be confident that our mental capacities reflect the structure of the universe".

Thirdly, does the student who asked "do they think their own ideas evolved?" believe that ideas spring forth fully formed from the minds of their originators, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus? Of course ideas evolve, but that doesn't mean that they're completely erroneous either.

All in all, the writer has obviously never given much thought to the topic of biological evolution.

sinned34 said...

I agree with Augray, it's a ridiculous argument. Much like many other Creationist arguments against evolution (natural processes cannot create information; evolution cannot create complex traits; etc), this argument depends on an unfounded assertion: natural processes cannot create a mind that is able to create thoughts that recognize the reality of the world around us.

The argument that thoughts are merely tools for "meeting goals" makes little sense. Thoughts and ideas are what our brains create in response to stimuli. It makes sense that creatures that are able to recognize and react to their environment would be more successful in survival and passing along their genes to another generation. It doesn't necessarily require more "processing" power, but merely the ability to accurately recognize food, threats, mates, etc.

Evolution (not "Darwinism", whatever the heck THAT is - it seems to have a different meaning to every creationist I talk with) is merely a theory that scientists have developed to explain what has been discovered thus far regarding the origins of species on this planet. It is not a philosophy. I'm almost shocked that you can't tell the difference. Science tells us the way things are, not the way things "ought" to be.

On top of that, any philosophy or history of science student can tell you (heck, I would consider it bleedingly obvious to most people) that human thoughts and feelings can be very inaccurate when it comes to representing reality. In the attempt to better glean the reality of the universe we find ourselves in, humans have developed the rules of science and logic in order to avoid the biases and cognitive shortcuts that the imperfect human brain evolved to process information.

I must say, that in it's few hundred years of history, science has a much better track record of explaining the universe than any religion has over their thousands of years of development.

RkBall said...

"Firstly, Darwinism in no way implies Philosophical Naturalism"

Well, it did to Darwin.

"The fact that the Catholic Church accepts the reality of biological evolution"

While explicitly rejecting materialistic versions.

"so evolution also predicts that "we can be confident that our mental capacities reflect the structure of the universe"."

Darwinian evolution predicts nothing. It is a mindless, directionless process. And, since life can exist without mental capacities (e.g., plants), there is no need whatsoever that whatever mental capacities may have somehow emerged from the slime should correspond to anything.

"Thirdly, does the student who asked "do they think their own ideas evolved?..."

You believe that your thoughts are intelligently designed, but you are not.

RkBall said...

"humans have developed the rules of science and logic in order to avoid the biases and cognitive shortcuts"

So, logic doesn't, objectively, exist -- it is nothing more than a human construct -- is that what you are saying -- or does fundamental underlying reality itself conform to inviolable rules of logic which are articulated by human beings?

"I must say, that in it's few hundred years of history, science has a much better track record of explaining the universe than any religion has over their thousands of years of development."

1. Modern science grew out of a Christian worldview -- a view that the universe had rational, discoverable underpinnings. So, we can thank religion for science itself.

2. Christians and Jews have known for milenia that the universe had a beginning. Science caught up to this knowledge about 75 years ago.

3. Science may explain "how", but it cannot explain "why". Perhaps human beings who show no curiosity about the "why" question have a gene deficiency -- or maybe it has no survival benefit and therefore "does not exist" in a darwinian universe.

sinned34 said...

Thanks for the reply, RkBall!

So, logic doesn't, objectively, exist -- it is nothing more than a human construct -- is that what you are saying -- or does fundamental underlying reality itself conform to inviolable rules of logic which are articulated by human beings?

Logic, like mathematics, is a human construct that we use in an attempt to describe and understand the universe around us.

Modern science grew out of a Christian worldview

To quote the Simpsons, "[science] is like a flower that grew out of a pot of dirt". Basic principles of science were performed in many societies besides those that converted to Christianity. However, in the West is where science developed to the point where it's adherents discovered that the scientific method was most powerful when no longer hitched to the failed hypotheses of religion. Religion is constantly having to cede explanatory ground to science, and Christians have continually made many attempts to fight that loss of power just the same as other religions have. This continues to the current day, and is evidenced by your resistance to the scientific approach of explaining the origins of humankind, for no other reason than it discards the creation mythology of your religious text.

Christians and Jews have known for milenia that the universe had a beginning. Science caught up to this knowledge about 75 years ago.

Many religions contain a creation mythology that stated the universe had a beginning. Also, you forgot to mention that, though the creation tale of Genesis may have been right on that one thing, the writer(s) got the the rest of the story wrong. The universe was not created in a single day. Plants did not exist on Earth before the creation of the sun. The Earth was not covered in a solid firmament to which the stars were affixed.

There is a very good reason why the modern scientific establishment has discarded the trappings of the Christian worldview: the Bible does a poor job of explaining the data we have uncovered regarding the function and origin of the universe.

Science may explain "how", but it cannot explain "why".

How do you know that? It's possible there is no answer to the question "why". It is also possible that the answer to the question "why" might be tied to the answer for the question "how", in which case science might be able to address it at some point.

Perhaps human beings who show no curiosity about the "why" question have a gene deficiency

And perhaps it is the opposite. Most likely, people wrapped up worries about "why" have some kind of self-esteem issues. Better yet, how about you define what you mean by "why"?

-- or maybe it has no survival benefit and therefore "does not exist" in a darwinian universe.

It could also be a relic of the ancient human past, where early peoples did not have the tools or ability to explain a lot of the phenomenon they experienced around them, and so they crafted tales to explain the unknown. That would explain why the Bible is so full of fantastical tales that never happened.

lastchancetosee said...

"1. Modern science grew out of a Christian worldview -- a view that the universe had rational, discoverable underpinnings. So, we can thank religion for science itself."

Interesting take ...
Many pre-christian cultures were far more advanced, scientifically, than cultures after the rise of christianity. The "rational underpinnings" you're talking about were well known to the greeks, the islamic countries that were so horrible we had to crusade against them were at the time far more advanced than us.
I'd say the greatest contribution christianity had to science was a negative one, the dark ages, a time where people had to fear for their lifes if they dared say that the earth revolves around the sun.
And christianity has kept this good work up, to this day trying with all it's might to prevent progress and deny reality.
You know when the european dominance in science started? Enlightenment.

"2. Christians and Jews have known for milenia that the universe had a beginning. Science caught up to this knowledge about 75 years ago."

If that is your idea of scientific accomplishment. As sinned34 said, they got everthing about the beginning of the universe EXCEPT this little fact wrong. And since we are curiously incapable of imagining infinity even that little accomplishment is worthless.
One could even see the fact that science needed until 75 yrs ago to discover this as an accomplishment, because for the first time we waited until we had evidence before assuming the answer.

Going back to the original post:
- The term you're looking for is 'evolution'. 'Darwinism' refers - if used scientifically - only to the original concepts developed by Darwin, and if used non-scientifically to a creationist strawman.

I'll comment later on the linked article, but let me just pick out one quote that to my mind nicely illustrates how little though went into that thing:
"If all ideas are products of evolution, and thus not really true but only useful for survival, then evolution itself is not true either–and why should the rest of us pay any attention to it?"
Granting for the moment the myriad assumptions that went into this, isn't the answer to that question painfully obvious: Because it is useful for survival? If you're crossing the road and a car comes at you really fast, then the assumption that it will hit you is not necessarily true but still useful for survival.

lastchancetosee said...

- the whole concept of the article is laughable. The author argues against evolution happenening because she doesn't like the philosophical consequences of it happening (or rather what she believes the consequences to be). Well, tough luck. I don't like the consequences of falling of a roof, but that won't prevent gravity from pulling me down.
- the author asserts that all the philosophical/worldview-stuff follows necessarily from evolution without offering any argument as to why that is so. She just asserts it. But then again, having been 'educated' at facilities like "Covenant Theological Seminary" she is of course a qualified expert of asserting stuff. And again even if it followed necessarily, that wouldn't in any way influence whether or not evolution happens.
- The author makes some rather strange distinctions between "what works" and "what's true" as if they were separate concepts. Religion might have the luxury of holding things to be true that don't work, science doesn't. A theory that doesn't work can't be true.


The article tries (and fails) to make the argument that for philosophical reasons evolution can't be true (or must I say: Shouldn't be true?). Well, we can watch it happen (and do so all the time), so sorry, Ms. Nancy Randolph Pearcey, but my reality beats your philosphy.

RkBall said...

Sinned -- you have answered very well indeed. Just a few minor "quibbles".

"Logic, like mathematics, is a human construct that we use in an attempt to describe and understand the universe around us."

You need to go deeper on this one. For logic to be actually true, and actually correspond with reality (as I believe it does), then the universe itself must be logical and rational -- suggestive, at least, of Mind, and evocative of the Logos.

Modern science grew out of a Christian worldview

"However, in the West is where science developed to the point where it's adherents discovered that the scientific method was most powerful when no longer hitched to the failed hypotheses of religion."

Many scientists are devout Christians or Jews, and this does not impede their scientific pursuits -- in fact, they would argue it motivates them. Remove the scientific advances and resulting inventions achieved by scientists with a Christian world-view, and the world would be greatly impoverished -- the Wright brothers come to mind. The main achievement of specifically atheistic scientists has been an impoverished human spirit -- caused by man's identification with slime rather than deity.


"Religion is constantly having to cede explanatory ground to science."

I agree with this.

"This continues to the current day, and is evidenced by your resistance to the scientific approach of explaining the origins of humankind, for no other reason than it discards the creation mythology of your religious text."

Disagree with this. I just think darwinian evolution is bad or deficient science -- failing to be an adequate explanation for the actual results obtained. I follow the old-fashioned notion that an output result must have sufficient inputs and a viable process.

"the writer(s) got the the rest of the story wrong. The universe was not created in a single day. Plants did not exist on Earth before the creation of the sun. The Earth was not covered in a solid firmament to which the stars were affixed."

Which brings us to your previous point, about exegetical retreat. Granted.

"The Bible does a poor job of explaining the data we have uncovered regarding the function and origin of the universe.""

Disagree -- it gives us precisely the data that science can never give us. The purpose (or function), the dilemma, the consequences, and hints of final destiny.

Science may explain "how", but it cannot explain "why".

"How do you know that? It's possible... in which case science might be able to address it at some point."

Getting into the realm of faith...!

"Most likely, people wrapped up worries about "why" have some kind of self-esteem issues."

Is this science, pop-science, or worse, evolutionary psychology, or... (!)

"That would explain why the Bible is so full of fantastical tales that never happened."

I believe the Bible is full of fantastic tales that did happen -- the resurrection being "ground zero".

Thanks for taking the time to respond in a thoughtful and intelligent manner.

RkBall said...

LC2C

"Many pre-christian cultures were far more advanced, scientifically, than cultures after the rise of christianity."

Philosophically, maybe, but scientifically? Give me a scientific fact, if you can.


The "rational underpinnings" you're talking about were well known to the greeks,"

Absolutely -- which may be one reason that the apostle John referred to Christ as the Logos, although he did infuse the term with Christian meaning.

"the islamic countries that were so horrible we had to crusade against them were at the time far more advanced than us."

They were horrible -- they had conquered the holy land, and the Christian nations were fighting to win them back.

And, the idea that they were advanced is, based on my reading, way over-stated. The Arabs, prior to Islam, did some stuff, and Muslims did some things with Christian learning, but Islam has contributed negligibly to original knowledge and science, as far as I know. It was Christianity that brought light to the world.

"I'd say the greatest contribution christianity had to science was a negative one"

And you would be wallowing in ignorance.

"a time where people had to fear for their lifes if they dared say that the earth revolves around the sun."

Do you know that it was the scientific establishment of the day, which the RC church sided with, that opposed Galileo? It was not a religion vs. science issue. Galileo himself was a devout Christian -- and it was this brave Christian, pursuing truth, that lead to the advancements of his day -- as has been the case for centuries.

"And christianity has kept this good work up, to this day trying with all it's might to prevent progress and deny reality."

Try living for a year without any of the scientific advancements and inventions achieved by Christians.

"You know when the european dominance in science started? Enlightenment."

Enlightenment + Reformation.

"2. Christians and Jews have known for milenia that the universe had a beginning. Science caught up to this knowledge about 75 years ago."

"One could even see the fact that science needed until 75 yrs ago to discover this as an accomplishment, because for the first time we waited until we had evidence before assuming the answer."

Nice try. Scientists asserted that the cosmos was eternal. And, when the data was "in", continued to resist the Big Bang theory because it upset their philosophical underpinnings.

"Going back to the original post:
- The term you're looking for is 'evolution'. 'Darwinism' refers - if used scientifically - only to the original concepts developed by Darwin, and if used non-scientifically to a creationist strawman."

I use darwinism to refer to materialistic evolution -- which the vast majority of evolutionists are. I just think it's deficient, that it fails to deal with all the facts on the table, and the whole of reality.

"If all ideas are products of evolution, and thus not really true but only useful for survival, then evolution itself is not true either–and why should the rest of us pay any attention to it?" isn't the answer to that question painfully obvious: Because it is useful for survival?"

Far more benefit is gained by studying nature from the point of design than from the point of mindless, purposeless, directionless change. If utility is the ultimate and sole criteria, a far better case can be made for believing intelligent design. The Wright brothers are a case in point. Why did they succeed where all the others around them failed? They studied the Creator's creation, birds, and unlocked the mechanisms for controlled flight.

Design is a key that unlocks many doors.

You believe your thoughts are intelligently designed, but you are not.

I believe that my thoughts are intelligently designed, as am I.

Input - process - output.

RkBall said...

"The article tries (and fails) to make the argument that for philosophical reasons evolution can't be true (or must I say: Shouldn't be true?). Well, we can watch it happen (and do so all the time)"

1. Your post is one reason I use the term darwinian evolution. We observe micro evolution; we do not observe macro-evolution. We do not see lower life forms giving way to higher life forms, and, even if we did, this would still not prove the darwinian assumption that natural processes are themselves uncreated, rather than the product of intelligent, purposeful design.

2. I think she is right that post-modernism has its roots in darwinian philosophy. You, and most posters at this site, are clearly of a scientific bent and not post-modernist in your worldview. But many of your darwinian brethren are. If we are not created, then there is no sound philosophical reason why any of our thoughts should have any necessary correspondence with reality. Even your brother-poster said that logic is nothing more than a human construct -- post-modernists just take this subjective line a lot farther.

RkBall said...

Gentlemen: I'm going to re-name the post Darwinism and Post-Modernism -- that's really what I should have called it in the first place.

lastchancetosee said...

So much to respond to :) ...

"Give me a scientific fact, if you can."

Numbers (Arabic). The lunar month, accurate to a second (Hipparchos). Equinox precession (dito). Buoyancy (Archimedes). Inclination of the earth's axis (Oenopides). Medicine (Islam, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_in_medieval_Islam).
I could go on all night.

"The Arabs, prior to Islam, did some stuff, and Muslims did some things with Christian learning, but Islam has contributed negligibly to original knowledge and science, as far as I know."

False.
The Greek gained their scientific knowledge before there even were christians.
Islam had fairly advanced medicine at a time where bloodletting was still the essence of christian medicine.

"Galileo himself was a devout Christian -- and it was this brave Christian, pursuing truth, that lead to the advancements of his day -- as has been the case for centuries."

And what does that make the christian church, not christian? I smell a "no true scotsman" ...
The scientific fact of heliocentrism was opposed by christianity as represented by the christian church.
Heliocentrism btw. was not discovered by Galileo but by Copernicus. His book on it was published with a disclaimer that the ideas presented therein weren't necessarily true but only convenient for calculations and he only escaped problems like Galileo had because for some reason not many people noticed the book.

"Far more benefit is gained by studying nature from the point of design [...]"

I fail to see what your comment has to do with my criticism.

"We observe micro evolution; we do not observe macro-evolution."

Oh, I love this one. No creationist has even been able to describe a mechanism that explains microevolution but magically stops at the completely arbitrary species-level. The reason for that is quite simple: There is none. So to accept microevolution is to accept macroevolution until you can demonstrate how to make microevolution suddenly stop because we named something a species.

"I think she is right that post-modernism has its roots in darwinian philosophy."

Which might even be true. But that still doesn't reflect on evolution. The truth of evolution is independent of whatever philosophy might stem from it. To try and call into question the existence of evolution because one does not like it's philosophicla consequences is ridiculous. Yet the author does exactly that.

Even the title of that article is false. If anything it would be the philosophy of postmodernism that "dumbs us down", not evolution.

RkBall said...

"No creationist has even been able to describe a mechanism that explains microevolution but magically stops at the completely arbitrary species-level. The reason for that is quite simple: There is none. So to accept microevolution is to accept macroevolution until you can demonstrate how to make microevolution suddenly stop because we named something a species."

Not a bad argument -- not bad at all! OK, let me have a go at it.

First, I'm not sure I agree that the species-level is completely arbitrary -- it is the observable level at which one living creature cannot mate with another (or something close to that).

Secondly, I'm not sure a "mechanism" is even needed -- we are programmed with a certain amount of variability and adaptability built-in, but when we try to go beyond this, bad things happen. This can be observed in nature. Species reproduce after their kind, and don't reproduce, with perhaps a few exceptions, when kinds are mixed.

So what I'm saying is we don't have to prove that microevolution "suddenly stops", because there are observable limits to it -- we don't see viruses morphing into cabbages.

RkBall said...

""Give me a scientific fact, if you can."

Numbers (Arabic). The lunar month, accurate to a second (Hipparchos). Equinox precession (dito). Buoyancy (Archimedes). Inclination of the earth's axis (Oenopides). Medicine (Islam, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_in_medieval_Islam).
I could go on all night."

I'm not sure what I was getting at when I said this. I think I needed a second cup of morning coffee when I said this!

Medicine (Islam) cannot count -- because it is not a "pre-Christian" culture, and, as corrupt as it is as a re-expression of Judeo-Christian belief, it is founded on Judaeo-Christian assumptions about reality.

RkBall said...

"And what does that make the christian church, not christian? I smell a "no true scotsman" ...
The scientific fact of heliocentrism was opposed by christianity as represented by the christian church."

My point is Galileo was opposed by the establishment of his day -- both the scientists at the universities and the Church.

And, since Galileo was himself a devout Christian, it is wrong to frame the Galileo affair as a science vs. religion issue.

What I learn from this, and the study of other issues, is that reality is often more complex and nuanced than the various categories we use to shape and organize it.

RkBall said...

"Far more benefit is gained by studying nature from the point of design [...]"

I fail to see what your comment has to do with my criticism.

Well, I think you were arguing that darwinism should be accepted because it's useful for survival or something, and I was making the counter-claim that, if utility is the criteria, belief in design is far more useful and has lead, and continues to lead, to far more useful discoveries.

lastchancetosee said...

Simple stuff first:
"Well, I think you were arguing that darwinism should be accepted because it's useful for survival or something [...]"

Then you misunderstood me. My point was this:
The author posited that from what she calls darwinism follows that evolution is not true but only useful for survival and concludes from this that there is no reason to pay attention to it.
But if you imagine a system of thought where truth has been surplanted by usefulness, then obviously the level of 'attention-worthiness' would be determined by exactly that, usefulness.
So to say that you don't need to pay attention to it because it is only useful but not true is, obviously, an objection by someone who hasn't thought what she's saying through.

"[Islam] is founded on Judaeo-Christian assumptions about reality."

Judaeo, probably. Christian, doubtful. You really need to seperate Christianity more from Judaism.

"My point is Galileo was opposed by the establishment of his day -- both the scientists at the universities and the Church."

And the reasons he was opposed - at least as far as I know - were religious, not scientific, in nature, which does indeed make this a case of science vs. religion.
The original point remains. Christianity at the time was represented by the church, not Galileo, which makes christianity anti-science in this case.


OK, now for the interesting part, macro-vs. microevolution.
First of all, we do have evidence for macroevolution although due to the nature of the beast it is always indirect.

a) 'Species' s not completely arbitrary, however the concept is not a simple one. Even today there is no adequate definition of 'species'. Your definition ist a common one and works alright for multicelled organisms but completely breaks down if you go to single-celled life, or to asexually reproducing species plus a few other exceptions like ring-species etc.. Same thing goes for the "reproducing after their kind"-version of this.

b) Yes, there would be the need for such a mechanism.

"Secondly, I'm not sure a "mechanism" is even needed -- we are programmed with a certain amount of variability and adaptability built-in, but when we try to go beyond this, bad things happen."

You are again creating a mechanism, this time one that keeps track of the variability. How does the mechanism responsible for mircoevolution know when the "certain amount of variability" has been used up. How does a gene know that it has changed as much as it can?


The whole distinction is completely arbitrary. The only reason it exists is because creationist think they can argue against the fossil record but nobody is stupid enough to argue against the kind of evolution we can see in labs. Therefore a distinction between the two ist made up, microevolution for stuff we can see live, macroevolution for stuff we can't.
Some of what you can see in labs would clearly be "macro" if seen in humans instead of bacteria. We're just to slow at reproduction for that to happen. The processes are identical.

Augray said...

First of all, I'd like to echo sinned34's thanks for your replies.

Secondly, I have a few issues with your claims.

"Firstly, Darwinism in no way implies Philosophical Naturalism"

Well, it did to Darwin.


No, it didn't. While I don't claim to have read everything Darwin ever wrote, I've never come across anything where he states this. Nor have I ever seen such a claim justified with a reference to his writings. Perhaps you know of one?

"The fact that the Catholic Church accepts the reality of biological evolution"

While explicitly rejecting materialistic versions.


Hence, Darwinism in no way implies Philosophical Naturalism, correct?

Darwinian evolution predicts nothing.

This is false. See this article.

It is a mindless, directionless process. And, since life can exist without mental capacities (e.g., plants), there is no need whatsoever that whatever mental capacities may have somehow emerged from the slime should correspond to anything.

So, you're saying that there is no advantage to correctly perceiving and interpreting the world around us?

For logic to be actually true, and actually correspond with reality (as I believe it does), then the universe itself must be logical and rational -- suggestive, at least, of Mind, and evocative of the Logos.

It may be suggestive of Mind, but it in no way implies one. And even if it does, it's not a argument against evolution.

Augray said...

The main achievement of specifically atheistic scientists has been an impoverished human spirit -- caused by man's identification with slime rather than deity.

Similarly, one could argue that the main achievement of heliocentric astronomers is an impoverished human spirit -- caused by man's removal from the center of the universe. But like your complaint against darwinism, it's an appeal to negative consequences, and a logical fallacy.

I just think darwinian evolution is bad or deficient science -- failing to be an adequate explanation for the actual results obtained.

What results are you referring to?

I use darwinism to refer to materialistic evolution -- which the vast majority of evolutionists are.

Then you use "Darwinism" in a non-standard way, and outside of the realm of science. As I've already mentioned, biological evolution, or "darwinism" as you like to call it, in no way implies Philosophical Naturalism, nor did Darwin ever claim that it did. Using your definition misrepresents the issue.

Far more benefit is gained by studying nature from the point of design than from the point of mindless, purposeless, directionless change. If utility is the ultimate and sole criteria, a far better case can be made for believing intelligent design. The Wright brothers are a case in point. Why did they succeed where all the others around them failed? They studied the Creator's creation, birds, and unlocked the mechanisms for controlled flight.

But just because the Wright brothers studies the flight control of birds doesn't mean that birds are designed.

Design is a key that unlocks many doors.

You believe your thoughts are intelligently designed, but you are not.

I believe that my thoughts are intelligently designed, as am I.

Input - process - output.


What doors are unlocked by this?

Your post is one reason I use the term darwinian evolution. We observe micro evolution; we do not observe macro-evolution. We do not see lower life forms giving way to higher life forms, and, even if we did, this would still not prove the darwinian assumption that natural processes are themselves uncreated, rather than the product of intelligent, purposeful design.

Aside from the fact that we do observe macroevolution, Darwinism does not assume that natural processes themselves are uncreated. This is a falsehood.

If we are not created, then there is no sound philosophical reason why any of our thoughts should have any necessary correspondence with reality.

And if we are created, is it obligatory that our thoughts have correspondence to reality?

RkBall said...

It's going to take me a day or two to respond to all of this. But, I'll have a go.

RkBall said...

"The author posited that from what she calls darwinism follows that evolution is not true but only useful..."

I think she was saying something closer to the idea that if darwinism is true, then truth cannot be known, or, at the very least, we should have no confidence in what we believe to be true.

And Darwin himself expressed such misgivings -- who would trust the lunatic, random ravings of an undesigned, uncreated mind? (Bounces paraphrase).

"Judaeo, probably. Christian, doubtful." Well, Islam is not Trinitarian, if that's what you mean -- but it was reacting equally against Christianity as against Judaism, while adopting the rational/monotheistic assumptions shared by both.

"And the reasons he was opposed - at least as far as I know - were religious, not scientific, in nature, which does indeed make this a case of science vs. religion."

He was opposed by the scientific establishment of his day because they thought his science was nuts and they held power -- just like AGW deniers are ridiculed today; he was viewed as an scientific equilibrium-disturber (to say it nicely!).

"Christianity at the time was represented by the church, not Galileo, which makes christianity anti-science in this case."

You see, it gets down to definitions and ways of viewing reality. Equating Christianity with the establishment Roman Catholic Church is an over-simplification of a more complex, subtle reality. (Otherwise, you would have to say that the Protestant Reformation was an anti-Christian movement, when I would view it as the essence of Christianity.)

a Species -- what I find interesting is the very scientific concept of labeling species. Goes right back to the Genesis account, where Adam "named the animals". What is dismissed as primitive, fanciful, mythological (in the sense of untrue) accounts time and time again express a fundamental reality of human existence and behavior. Came across a book this morning, something like, "Proper scientific names of bacteria (or viruses or something). Naming is fundamental to human reality. It can be argued that scientists are just fulfilling the Genesis mandate.




"The whole distinction [micro-macro] is completely arbitrary." As is the distinction Joe Agnost likes to make between darwinism vs. origin-of-life. In a materialistic universe, it has to be a seamless process of tiny, undirected steps. Legitimate distinctions are the heart of good argumentation.

"The only reason it exists is because creationist think they can argue against the fossil record but nobody is stupid enough to argue against the kind of evolution we can see in labs."

How dare you claim we creationists are not stupid enough to argue against this!

"The only reason it exists is because creationist think they can argue against the fossil record but nobody is stupid enough to argue against the kind of evolution we can see in labs."

Not true. The evidence for macro-evolution is far less convincing. Micro-evolution may be said to cover a more-or-less "steady-state" reality of existing life forms; something much more powerful is needed to explain origins of life, consciousness, morality, will, mind, etc.

"Therefore a distinction between the two ist made up, microevolution for stuff we can see live, macroevolution for stuff we can't."

I do think that this is a good argument you have made though -- and you either have a good source for these thoughts, or are doing some good thinking -- which I enjoy!

(Many of the comments I see on the web are nothing more than re-cycled Dawkinisms. People talk about the imaginary Friend in the sky and think they are being so devastatingly clever. But, I digress...

RkBall said...

Mechanisms.

"b) Yes, there would be the need for such a mechanism."

The very term mechanism implies design. You just can't get away from it. That evolution would create language capabilities that are incapable of articulating evolution without resorting to the language of un-darwinian design is curious indeed.

What a curious world darwinists inhabit!

Mechanism quote:

“The machine analogy simply did not form part of Darwin’s initial conception of the evolutionary process—indeed, the very word machine in any of its forms appears only once in the Origin, hardly what you would expect if mechanism were a fundamental assumption for understanding the operations of living nature.”

Mechanism is a word we apply to certain processes -- perfectly apt, or, at least, suitable, for a theistic view of the universe, but a curious one for a world without purpose, design, intent, etc. -- It goes back to our big blow-out discussion of "the Purpose of Darwinism".

RkBall said...

I just think darwinian evolution is bad or deficient science -- failing to be an adequate explanation for the actual results obtained.

What results are you referring to?"

You and me. Or, at least, me. (winky)

"Then you use "Darwinism" in a non-standard way, and outside of the realm of science."

I think you'll find the British use Darwinism quite a bit. Maybe because he was a Brit. E.g., I'm currently just polishing off a book I bought in a used bookstore in Oxford called Einstein's Luck, (a great book that I think you would enjoy).

"As I've already mentioned, biological evolution, or "darwinism" as you like to call it, in no way implies Philosophical Naturalism, nor did Darwin ever claim that it did. Using your definition misrepresents the issue."

It may not be necessarily equated with it, but it most certainly implies it -- as his followers eagerly attested and regularly attest to this day.

"But just because the Wright brothers studies the flight control of birds doesn't mean that birds are designed."

No, but it was the design assumption that propelled them to study birds and unlock the mechanisms of flight.

"Design is a key that unlocks many doors."

What doors are unlocked by this?

All doors. The explanatory power of the design assumption affects every aspect of a human's apprehension of reality -- why logic exists and is valid, why humans are purpose-driven and purpose-seeking, why the fine-tuning of the universe, why the Cambrian Explosion, why we can, in medicine, talk about a heart or a brain that is performing "properly" as opposed to improperly; why we can view cancer as an enemy rather than just another neutral act of frisky nature, why we can have some basic trust in our thoughts, why we can believe that human rights have a basis in objective reality and are not just an arbitrary human construct, why human life is virtually impossible without the existence and employment of abstracts -- law, justice, fairness, dignity, value, worth, trust, etc., and, in biology -- biomimicry.

"Darwinism does not assume that natural processes themselves are uncreated. This is a falsehood."

Depends on definition of the term. It certainly does for most of Darwin's fans -- starting with The Bulldog. Darwin's thoughts were a moving target, and he seemed to incorporate an idea of universal Mind -- hence his preference for the term natural selection, rather than "survival of the fittest" -- he really believed that evolution was headed somewhere, and that the white races were its finest achievement. It was just a short hop-and-a-jump to eugenics, which was quite popular among the "rational" scientists and scientifically-minded in the generations that followed Mr. D.

I would put it this way. Darwin began to wring the waters of theism out of his mind, but the towel was still damp at the end of his life. Darwin's mind was not just filled with pure scientific data; it was also filled and shaped with philosophical and theological (and anti-theological) stuff. His followers hung the towel up on the line until it was quite dry -- and that's pretty much where we are at today.

"If we are not created, then there is no sound philosophical reason why any of our thoughts should have any necessary correspondence with reality.

And if we are created, is it obligatory that our thoughts have correspondence to reality?"

Absolutely not, but, following Plantinga, there's at least a reasonable likelihood that we are at least within the ballpark, that our brains have been designed to have a fighting chance at correspondence with reality. Unlike materialistic evolution (if you prefer this term), in which there is no coherent reason to expect that our undesigned brains should cohere with reality -- especially, underlined, in the areas of abstract thought.

Alvin Plantinga has written hugely on this, as has, of course, C. S. Lewis.

lastchancetosee said...

"what I find interesting is the very scientific concept of labeling species. Goes right back to the Genesis account, where Adam "named the animals". [...] It can be argued that scientists are just fulfilling the Genesis mandate.

It can also be argued that god is so stupid that he is incapable of correctly identifying the relationship between circumference and diameter of a circle. Would that be a sensible argument? No. It would be stupid. It would be taking an arbitrary snippet from an ancient mythical history book book and elevate it to the level of mathematical insight. Sound familiar?
You construe the whole field of taxonomy from three words in the bible, whilst disregarding context and everything that is biologically wrong in the same book. If scientists where following the bible, whales would be fish.
"he named the animals" is significant of nothing more than even back then people liked to be able to talk about things. To be able to do that, they need names. Everything else is wishful thinking on your part.

"The evidence for macro-evolution is far less convincing.

Which proves my point. It is a neat trick though: Take a mechanism, then take the part of it for which direct evidence exists, name it mechanism A and then invent unknown-mechanism-B for the rest so that you can claim there is no evidence for it.

But let's entertain the notion for a moment.
Let's develop a "theory" of macro-vs. mircoevolution, if I may call it that (How about MaMi-evolution for short?).
What would have to be shown to prove this?
Well, at the very least you'd need to a) define precisely what is one (ma) and what is the other (mi), b) show that the definitions are nonoverlapping and unambigous, c) show that the known processes that work in the one fail in the other or alternatively d) show that pool "ma" is empty (which would of course, like the white raven, be impossible to prove).
a) Would be the very first and very basic step. None of the forerunners of ID has ever tried it (to my knowledge), surely at least in part because they are not trying to prove their theory, they just try and muddy the waters.
b) would be at least as dificult as the 'species'-problem. One obvious reason would be because what is fairly micro for e.g. mammals is already pretty macro for bacteria, and we see that happen all the time. Again this is something no creationist I've heard of has ever tried.
c) of course is my original objection. The processes we know do not stop at the species or any other level. They can't, they have no such inbuild constraints. Anything that stops them must therefore be an external constraint that we don't know about (and that we don't have any evidence for).
So unless someone fulfills a/b/c the theory of MaMi-evolution remains what it has always been: A figment of cdesign proponentsists' imagination.

I can see of course that you have no way to do c), but for the purpose of this discussion you could at least do a) and make plausible b).


"re-cycled Dawkinisms"

How dare you! ;)
Whatever you think of his views, you have to agree that he has a clever way of putting them.

lastchancetosee said...

"The very term mechanism implies design."

And another word goes into your growing list of "implies design"-language ...
No, I won't repeat our discussion from last time here, I'll just quickly (OK, semi-quickly) raise one point, because I think it reflects on the original topic of this post, from which we have far digressed:
You are actually too timid in your conclusions. In fact, our language proves that the universe itself is alive, is one huge beehive of elementary-particle-organisms. Why? Because they have lifetimes, lifetimes imply life and since everything is made from these particles the universe is just an ant hill and we are probably just subdivisions of the great cosmic particel-ant army.
Sounds stupid? It is. Why? Because our language doesn't influence nature.
You can discuss for all eternity the philosophical implications of darwinism, of how our language reflects on our history, our thoughprocesses, how it developed, etc.. None of that reflects in any way on nature.
Nature isn't influenced by how we talk about it, and it isn't influenced by the philosophies we build on it's back.

Let me give you an example of this that isn't loaded with theistic stuff: Particles.
There are none. We call them 'particles' if they behave particly and 'waves' if they behave wavy, but in reality they are both and neither. We just lack the language to adequately describe this. Does that somehow change the fact? Of course not.
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

I think the tendency I often see to try and reason from philosophy to natural sciences stems from the human tendency to overestimate his importance. Your theory about language - whilst interesting and not irrelevant, just relevant other things - falls into that category and so does the original authors theory about darwinism and post-modernism.

We are important only to ourselves. Nature doesn't care. The earth will still be here, life will still be here long after we're extinct or otherwise gone.

RkBall said...

"Because our language doesn't influence nature."

No, but it structures it for the purposes of our apprehension and comprehension of it -- structuring is inevitable, otherwise, we would be faced with a barrage of seemingly unrelated sensory data.

My point is it's a curious darwinian fact that darwinian nature produced human brains that are almost hopelessly design-oriented in their most fundamental constructs of processing reality. You would expect a lot more chaos, contradiction, non-sense (which you do see a lot of, admittedly, in evo-psy.).

So, we have the apparently innate constructs of human thinking/speech that are design oriented, coupled with our apprehension of external reality where the evidence for design is, admittedly, overwhelming.

I'm thinking of doing a research project on the use of what I call transcendent language by atheist biologists, philosophers, etc. Not sure if I'll do it, but I find it interesting.

RkBall said...

"If scientists where following the bible, whales would be fish."

The Bible was written by human beings using the thought-forms and vocabularies of their day. You cannot impose a degree of precision on the Bible that was not in the minds and intents of its original authors. God, thankfully, did not wait until the emergence of 21st cc. science to communicate to man.

Plus, I'm not aware of where the Bible designates whales as fish: give me a verse and I'll work on it. Where do you go -- do you have a Skeptics Encyclopedia or something for this stuff?!

lastchancetosee said...

In reverse order.
"You cannot impose a degree of precision on the Bible that was not in the minds and intents of its original authors."

And there we have the problem. I don't really care what the bible says. It's just a story that is often wrong because the people who wrote it didn't, and couldn't, know better.
But you take three words that have nothing to do with biology from it and claim that that foreshadows the field of taxonomy, whilst claiming parts that do directly talk about biology, or mathematics, or astronomy etc. and are clearly wrong are just the result of human error.
Don't you see how disingenious that is?

I could spend all day listing factual/scientific errors in the bible, but as I said before: They are all irrelevant. They just gain relevance when you start claiming scientific relevance for other sections. To use a truly stupid saying: You can't have your cake and eat it, too. You want to claim the verse you quoted tells us something relevant about taxonomy, fine. Then explain to me why god thinks pi equals three etc.
Either the bible is scientifically relevant, then the errors matter. Or it isn't, then your sciency interpretation of it's verses don't.

As to my source, I think I mentioned it already somewhere, for this type of argument I use the "Skeptics Annotated Bible", a cross-referenced, categorized KJV, mainly because it is searchable for precisely the types of passages I need. But I usually know broadly where to look anyway. The whale/fish-thing was somewhere in the story of Jonah iirc. If you insist I could look it up but I'd rather not because as I said, the errors to me are irrelevant.


"My point is it's a curious darwinian fact that darwinian nature [...]"

I really don't want to get into this discussion again, because i think we long ago reached a point where our mutual disagreement was clearly and immovably enough defined to make further discussion pointless. You say it stems from design, I say it stems from our tendency to overestimate our importance and our ineptitude at thinking outside our own experience. Let's leave it at that.
Let's get back to micro/macro-evolution, shall we?

RkBall said...

"you take three words that have nothing to do with biology from it and claim that that foreshadows the field of taxonomy"

Not quite, but close enough.

"whilst claiming parts that do directly talk about biology, or mathematics, or astronomy etc. and are clearly wrong are just the result of human error."

Not quite, either. I wouldn't say error. If there are 97 people in a room, and I report that 100 people turned up, is this error? Depends on my purposes, what I had in my mind at the time, the degree of intended precision, etc. Even scientists as human beings may talk of the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening.

"Don't you see how disingenious that is?"

Hey -- thanks for the compliment -- not everyday a word that has "genius" in it (+/-) is thrown my way -- right back at ya -- darwinian evolution at work -- genius, genious, ingenious, disingenious.

"Then explain to me why god thinks pi equals three etc."

What number for pi would you have wanted to see in the Bible?

"The whale/fish-thing was somewhere in the story of Jonah iirc. If you insist I could look it up but I'd rather not because as I said, the errors to me are irrelevant."

Well, you claim that it is an error. No need to look it up, but the claim in the Skeptics Annotated is laughably simplistic -- you can do much better that this. Besides, very few people today believe that Jonah actually swallowed the whale.

"Let's get back to micro/macro-evolution, shall we?"

I'm probably not the guy to debate micro vs. macro -- there are others that could do a much better job.

But, the things I would raise off the top of my head. a) the macro leap from non-life to life, b) the macro leap to consciousness from non-consciousness caused by a process which is itself non-conscious and with no consciousness or mind behind it, c) the sense of self which extends beyond the material body and which persists even when every cell in the body has been replaced, d) free will from a deterministic, unwilled process, e) the Cambrian explosion vs. infinite progress of tiny, undirected and non-directional incremental steps, f) an amoral process producing moral sense, g) the fact that man has a spirit and is thus able to sense God's presence and communicate with Him, h) the paucity of forms that can be interpreted as transitionary, and i) not exactly macro vs. micro, but the emerging evidence that there is more going on than the neo-darwinian model permits.

Micro evolution is like shuffling a deck of cards. The broader question is where did the cards and the table come from, not to mention the card-shuffler.

And, of course, in observed micro evolution, my understanding is that mutations almost invariably result in a loss of information rather than an infusion of new information or the creation of a new function.

Plus, current science seems to be showing that there is a resilience to life and adaptation that goes beyond the explanatory model of mere purposeless and undirected random mutations. I believe that the Chinese are ahead of the curve on this one, but, again, I'm not the right guy to be debating this.

RkBall said...

LC2C -- give me a few days and I'll see if I can respond more directly to your challenge about macro vs. micro. I'm travelling.

Augray said...

"I just think darwinian evolution is bad or deficient science -- failing to be an adequate explanation for the actual results obtained."

What results are you referring to?

You and me. Or, at least, me. (winky)


How did you come to the conclusion that evolution can't explain you and me?

"Then you use "Darwinism" in a non-standard way, and outside of the realm of science."

I think you'll find the British use Darwinism quite a bit.


Of course, I never said that no one uses the term "Darwinism", but that you use it in a non-standard way. When the British use "Darwinism", they don't assume that it means "materialistic evolution".

"As I've already mentioned, biological evolution, or "darwinism" as you like to call it, in no way implies Philosophical Naturalism, nor did Darwin ever claim that it did. Using your definition misrepresents the issue."

It may not be necessarily equated with it, but it most certainly implies it -- as his followers eagerly attested and regularly attest to this day.


No, this is false. For instance, Ken Miller isn't a materialist, and neither is Francis Collins, but you'd probably label both of them "Darwinists".

"But just because the Wright brothers studies the flight control of birds doesn't mean that birds are designed."

No, but it was the design assumption that propelled them to study birds and unlock the mechanisms of flight.


And just because they assumed it doesn't mean that it's true. And in fact, we have a nice series of transitional fossils demonstrating the gradual acquisition of flight in birds.

Augray said...

"Design is a key that unlocks many doors."

What doors are unlocked by this?

All doors. The explanatory power of the design assumption affects every aspect of a human's apprehension of reality -- why logic exists and is valid, why humans are purpose-driven and purpose-seeking, why the fine-tuning of the universe, why the Cambrian Explosion, why we can, in medicine, talk about a heart or a brain that is performing "properly" as opposed to improperly; why we can view cancer as an enemy rather than just another neutral act of frisky nature, why we can have some basic trust in our thoughts, why we can believe that human rights have a basis in objective reality and are not just an arbitrary human construct, why human life is virtually impossible without the existence and employment of abstracts -- law, justice, fairness, dignity, value, worth, trust, etc., and, in biology -- biomimicry.


But you're assuming a designer that is the Christian God. Why couldn't the designer(s) be aliens from another world, or deities with a malevolent intent? In that case, what motives would they have to give us the ability to correctly perceive reality?

Augray said...

"Darwinism does not assume that natural processes themselves are uncreated. This is a falsehood."

Depends on definition of the term.


No, it doesn't, any more than the Laws of Motion do.

It certainly does for most of Darwin's fans -- starting with The Bulldog.

This is false, since Huxley was an agnostic.

Darwin's thoughts were a moving target, and he seemed to incorporate an idea of universal Mind -- hence his preference for the term natural selection, rather than "survival of the fittest"

Actually, he used the term "Natural Selection" to contrast his idea with artificial selection, i.e. animal husbandry, AKA controlled breeding.

-- he really believed that evolution was headed somewhere, and that the white races were its finest achievement. It was just a short hop-and-a-jump to eugenics, which was quite popular among the "rational" scientists and scientifically-minded in the generations that followed Mr. D.

This too is false, since eugenics is pretty much the opposite of Natural Selection. If you want to find an inspiration for eugenics, you need look no further than animal husbandry.


I would put it this way. Darwin began to wring the waters of theism out of his mind, but the towel was still damp at the end of his life. Darwin's mind was not just filled with pure scientific data; it was also filled and shaped with philosophical and theological (and anti-theological) stuff.

Do you have any evidence that this influenced his views on biological evolution?

His followers hung the towel up on the line until it was quite dry -- and that's pretty much where we are at today.

And as I pointed out in a previous reply, this is false. Ken Miller and Francis Collins are theists.

"If we are not created, then there is no sound philosophical reason why any of our thoughts should have any necessary correspondence with reality.

And if we are created, is it obligatory that our thoughts have correspondence to reality?"

Absolutely not, but, following Plantinga, there's at least a reasonable likelihood that we are at least within the ballpark, that our brains have been designed to have a fighting chance at correspondence with reality. Unlike materialistic evolution (if you prefer this term), in which there is no coherent reason to expect that our undesigned brains should cohere with reality -- especially, underlined, in the areas of abstract thought.


And as I've already pointed out, evolution would favour a correct apprehension of reality.

Alvin Plantinga has written hugely on this, as has, of course, C. S. Lewis.

Strangely for your argument, Plantinga claims here that "evolution and naturalism are not merely uneasy bedfellows; they are more like belligerent combatants", which seems to refute the claim that biological evolution implies Philosophical Naturalism.

RkBall said...

How did you come to the conclusion that evolution can't explain you and me?

By looking inside myself, my aspirations, longings, wondering about life, death, and life beyond death. Materialism negates and invalidates these longings; theism validates. I reasoned that for an unintelligent, unconscious goalless process to produce such deep-seated, fundamental longings, if true, makes human beings absurdities -- which is pretty much the conclusion of 20th cc. existentialism. On a hunch, on a probability of the evidence basis, I concluded that we are the product of intentional creation.

"Then you use "Darwinism" in a non-standard way, and outside of the realm of science."

Strictly speaking you are probably correct. I am more interested in philosophical darwinism, which, as you have pointed out, probably extends beyond what Darwin actually believed, or, at least, publicly asserted.

"No, this is false. For instance, Ken Miller isn't a materialist, and neither is Francis Collins, but you'd probably label both of them "Darwinists"."

You raise a good point. I may need to moderate my language, adjust my paradigm a bit. It's just that Darwinism and Darwinian is good short-hand. It works in most cases, because, in most cases, those who are committed to Darwinian evolution are also committed philosophically to what might be called a darwinian view of origins and life itself -- which is atheistic. Dawkins would be a good example, where the "science" of evolution spills over to the "philosophy" of human existence.

Maybe I should use the terms dawkinian and dawkinist.

RkBall said...

"This is false, since Huxley was an agnostic."

And hugely antagonistic towards theistic explanations...

"-- he really believed that evolution was headed somewhere, and that the white races were its finest achievement. It was just a short hop-and-a-jump to eugenics, which was quite popular among the "rational" scientists and scientifically-minded in the generations that followed Mr. D.

This too is false, since eugenics is pretty much the opposite of Natural Selection."

Nope. I'm gonna stick to my ground on this one. Eugenics was just helping the natural order along, mimicking what was seen in nature. A very logical and natural outgrowth. What is unnatural, in darwinian terms, is coddling the weak and infirm, who ought to be culled.

"I would put it this way. Darwin began to wring the waters of theism out of his mind, but the towel was still damp at the end of his life. Darwin's mind was not just filled with pure scientific data; it was also filled and shaped with philosophical and theological (and anti-theological) stuff.

Do you have any evidence that this influenced his views on biological evolution?"

Yes. Of course our views are going to be influenced and shaped by our views -- how can it be otherwise?

Darwin’s Metaphysics of Mind. by Robert J. Richards.

"And as I've already pointed out, evolution would favour a correct apprehension of reality."

Not really, and especially not in the realm of abstract thinking, moral truth, etc. -- all the things that, beyond brute survival, really count in life.

Strangely for your argument, Plantinga claims here that "evolution and naturalism are not merely uneasy bedfellows; they are more like belligerent combatants", which seems to refute the claim that biological evolution implies Philosophical Naturalism.

As an example of what I mean by darwinian and darwinism, I'm really thinking of this sort of thing:

"Darwin's most important scientific book is The Descent of Man, followed immediately by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, in which he applied the natural, material, mechanistic, thoughtless, amoral, uncaring, and relentless process of natural selection to the origin, thought processes, emotions, behavior, and morals of humans.”

And this guy, a PhD who wrote under the title of "Happy Darwin Day" epitomizes what I find detestable about "followers" of Darwin.

Augray said...

How did you come to the conclusion that evolution can't explain you and me?

By looking inside myself, my aspirations, longings, wondering about life, death, and life beyond death. Materialism negates and invalidates these longings; theism validates.


And as I've already mentioned several times before, biological evolution is not materialistic, so citing your hopes and aspirations, while reaffirming your humanity, is irrelevant to the question at hand.

I reasoned that for an unintelligent, unconscious goalless process to produce such deep-seated, fundamental longings, if true, makes human beings absurdities

So you say, but I don't feel absurd, nor does any atheist I've ever encountered.

-- which is pretty much the conclusion of 20th cc. existentialism.

I don't care about existentialism.

On a hunch, on a probability of the evidence basis, I concluded that we are the product of intentional creation.

But you haven't presented any evidence, merely your opinion.

"Then you use "Darwinism" in a non-standard way, and outside of the realm of science."

Strictly speaking you are probably correct. I am more interested in philosophical darwinism, which, as you have pointed out, probably extends beyond what Darwin actually believed, or, at least, publicly asserted.


So, you have no problem with the science of biological evolution?

"No, this is false. For instance, Ken Miller isn't a materialist, and neither is Francis Collins, but you'd probably label both of them "Darwinists"."

You raise a good point. I may need to moderate my language, adjust my paradigm a bit. It's just that Darwinism and Darwinian is good short-hand.


Even if it's erroneous?

It works in most cases, because, in most cases, those who are committed to Darwinian evolution are also committed philosophically to what might be called a darwinian view of origins and life itself -- which is atheistic.

You've taken a survey? Need I point out again that I disagree with that claim?


Dawkins would be a good example, where the "science" of evolution spills over to the "philosophy" of human existence.

Maybe I should use the terms dawkinian and dawkinist.


So, you now disagree with the article you originally cited?

Augray said...

"This is false, since Huxley was an agnostic."

And hugely antagonistic towards theistic explanations...


Huxley had antagonism towards the theistic explanation for the origin of natural forces? What does that have to do with my statement that "Darwinism does not assume that natural processes themselves are uncreated"? Just because he purportedly was antagonistic towards something doesn't mean that that something is relevant to biological evolution.

"-- he really believed that evolution was headed somewhere, and that the white races were its finest achievement. It was just a short hop-and-a-jump to eugenics, which was quite popular among the "rational" scientists and scientifically-minded in the generations that followed Mr. D.

This too is false, since eugenics is pretty much the opposite of Natural Selection."

Nope. I'm gonna stick to my ground on this one. Eugenics was just helping the natural order along, mimicking what was seen in nature. A very logical and natural outgrowth. What is unnatural, in darwinian terms, is coddling the weak and infirm, who ought to be culled.


Will you deliver the same judgement for animal husbandry? After all, eugenics is merely the application of animal husbandry extended to humans. "A very logical and natural outgrowth", wouldn't you agree?

And besides, you've admitted the existence of microevolution, so unless you're claiming that eugenicists were trying to create a new species, then they were merely making use of a process that you've already acknowledged to be real, one that doesn't seem to fall under "Darwinism".

And that leads me to my next point: even if I agree with you that "Darwinism" is the basis for eugenics, that doesn't mean that "Darwinism" is false. Just because an idea shows that something with undesirable consequences can be done, that doesn't mean that the idea is in error. Nuclear bombs come to mind.


"I would put it this way. Darwin began to wring the waters of theism out of his mind, but the towel was still damp at the end of his life. Darwin's mind was not just filled with pure scientific data; it was also filled and shaped with philosophical and theological (and anti-theological) stuff.

Do you have any evidence that this influenced his views on biological evolution?"

Yes. Of course our views are going to be influenced and shaped by our views -- how can it be otherwise?


That's rather circular.

Darwin’s Metaphysics of Mind. by Robert J. Richards.

You mean this? There's nothing anti-theological in there, and the claim of "philosophical stuff" seems strained at best.

"And as I've already pointed out, evolution would favour a correct apprehension of reality."

Not really, and especially not in the realm of abstract thinking, moral truth, etc. -- all the things that, beyond brute survival, really count in life.


But now you're talking about something other than the apprehension of reality.


Strangely for your argument, Plantinga claims here that "evolution and naturalism are not merely uneasy bedfellows; they are more like belligerent combatants", which seems to refute the claim that biological evolution implies Philosophical Naturalism.

As an example of what I mean by darwinian and darwinism, I'm really thinking of this sort of thing:

"Darwin's most important scientific book is The Descent of Man, followed immediately by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, in which he applied the natural, material, mechanistic, thoughtless, amoral, uncaring, and relentless process of natural selection to the origin, thought processes, emotions, behavior, and morals of humans.”

And this guy, a PhD who wrote under the title of "Happy Darwin Day" epitomizes what I find detestable about "followers" of Darwin.


And just because you detest "followers" of an idea doesn't mean that the idea is wrong.

RkBall said...

"Will you deliver the same judgement for animal husbandry?

No, because animal husbandry did not lead to eugenics while Darwinism did. People obviously spotted something in the implications of Darwinism that they did not find in animal husbandry.

"even if I agree with you that "Darwinism" is the basis for eugenics, that doesn't mean that "Darwinism" is false."

That is true.

"But now you're talking about something other than the apprehension of reality."

I disagree.

"Strangely for your argument, Plantinga claims here that "evolution and naturalism are not merely uneasy bedfellows; they are more like belligerent combatants", which seems to refute the claim that biological evolution implies Philosophical Naturalism."

Well I would agree with Planginga. But that is not the way it has worked out in practice, which is what I am getting at when I speak of Darwinism and Darwinian -- it goes beyond Darwin the man to how his original findings have been packaged in the service and promotion of materialism -- an shining example being the "Happy Darwin" guy, whose writings you seem to defend and offer as an example of Darwinian thinking. So, if that's what it is, that's what I'm speaking against when I use the terms Darwinian and Darwinist -- both terms go beyond Darwin the man to the way his original ideas have been used in the service of materialism.

"A self-styled form of Darwinian fundamentalism has risen to some prominence in a variety of fields, from the English biological heartland of John Maynard Smith to the uncompromising ideology (albeit in graceful prose) of his compatriot Richard Dawkins, to the equally narrow and more ponderous writing of the American philosopher Daniel Dennett . . . . - Stephen Jay Gould, "Darwinian Fundamentalism," The New York Review of Books."

* the end *

RkBall said...

"On a hunch, on a probability of the evidence basis, I concluded that we are the product of intentional creation.

But you haven't presented any evidence, merely your opinion."

Ah, but I have offered evidence -- human beings, myself. It may not be packaged in a manner that suits you, and you may not find it persuasive, but it is evidence. I find it perfectly persuasive to look inside a human heart, with its aspirations, longings, and conscience, and conclude that we are created.

"So, you have no problem with the science of biological evolution?"

Yes I do. I find it offers a deficient cause for the results obtained. A given output must have sufficient inputs and viable process. It is, if I may put it this way, unimaginative.

"No, this is false. For instance, Ken Miller isn't a materialist, and neither is Francis Collins, but you'd probably label both of them "Darwinists"."

They are albino Darwinists -- rare.

"You raise a good point. I may need to moderate my language, adjust my paradigm a bit. It's just that Darwinism and Darwinian is good short-hand.

Even if it's erroneous?"

It's not erroneous -- it's used by countless others, including confirmed atheists -- Darwinism and Darwinist as terms go beyond what the man himself believed -- just like, to give a theological example -- Calvinism vs. Calvin the man.

"So, you now disagree with the article you originally cited?"

No. The key phrase is "the cultural and philosophical implications", and the key word is "implications". Implications may not be scientific, and may not necessarily follow, but, certainly, at the popular level, they do.

Augray said...

"Will you deliver the same judgement for animal husbandry?

No, because animal husbandry did not lead to eugenics while Darwinism did.


And what is your evidence for that claim? It's as if you're claiming that eugenics never happened before Darwin.

"But now you're talking about something other than the apprehension of reality."

I disagree.


Really? Would you care to explain how moral truth can be perceived in reality?

"Strangely for your argument, Plantinga claims here that "evolution and naturalism are not merely uneasy bedfellows; they are more like belligerent combatants", which seems to refute the claim that biological evolution implies Philosophical Naturalism."

Well I would agree with Planginga.


Then why did you originally say that the "Money quote" of the article you linked to was "Darwinism undercuts the very possibility of rational truth"??? Why did you approvingly link to an article that you disagree with on a fundamental level???

But that is not the way it has worked out in practice, which is what I am getting at when I speak of Darwinism and Darwinian -- it goes beyond Darwin the man to how his original findings have been packaged in the service and promotion of materialism

So you use the terms "Darwinism" and "Darwinian" to refer to ideas that Darwin himself would have never approved of?

-- an shining example being the "Happy Darwin" guy, whose writings you seem to defend and offer as an example of Darwinian thinking.

I didn't offer him as an example, you did. Nor am I defending him.

So, if that's what it is, that's what I'm speaking against when I use the terms Darwinian and Darwinist -- both terms go beyond Darwin the man to the way his original ideas have been used in the service of materialism.

In other words, you don't believe that biolgical evolution implies materialism?

"A self-styled form of Darwinian fundamentalism has risen to some prominence in a variety of fields, from the English biological heartland of John Maynard Smith to the uncompromising ideology (albeit in graceful prose) of his compatriot Richard Dawkins, to the equally narrow and more ponderous writing of the American philosopher Daniel Dennett . . . . - Stephen Jay Gould, "Darwinian Fundamentalism," The New York Review of Books."

* the end *


Why do I get the impression that you haven't actually read Gould's article (which, by the way, can be found here)? Or do you really believe that pure adaptationism is relevant to the truth or falsehood of materialism?

[Sorry for the tardiness of my reply, but vacations can have that effect.]

Augray said...

"On a hunch, on a probability of the evidence basis, I concluded that we are the product of intentional creation.

But you haven't presented any evidence, merely your opinion."

Ah, but I have offered evidence -- human beings, myself. It may not be packaged in a manner that suits you, and you may not find it persuasive, but it is evidence. I find it perfectly persuasive to look inside a human heart, with its aspirations, longings, and conscience, and conclude that we are created.


Why?

"So, you have no problem with the science of biological evolution?"

Yes I do. I find it offers a deficient cause for the results obtained. A given output must have sufficient inputs and viable process. It is, if I may put it this way, unimaginative.


Even though Gould wrote that "no conclusion in science enjoys better documentation" in the article you cited?

"No, this is false. For instance, Ken Miller isn't a materialist, and neither is Francis Collins, but you'd probably label both of them "Darwinists"."

They are albino Darwinists -- rare.


I'm puzzled as to how you can claim that. After all, as I mentioned before, the Catholic Church accepts the reality of biological evolution. Why do you consider a group that contains at least 1 in 7 people on the planet to be a rarity?

"You raise a good point. I may need to moderate my language, adjust my paradigm a bit. It's just that Darwinism and Darwinian is good short-hand.

Even if it's erroneous?"

It's not erroneous --


Then why did you say that I had a good point?

it's used by countless others, including confirmed atheists

Not as a short-hand for materialism it isn't.

-- Darwinism and Darwinist as terms go beyond what the man himself believed -- just like, to give a theological example -- Calvinism vs. Calvin the man.

That's irrelevant, since virtually no one equates Darwinism with materialism.

"So, you now disagree with the article you originally cited?"

No. The key phrase is "the cultural and philosophical implications", and the key word is "implications". Implications may not be scientific, and may not necessarily follow, but, certainly, at the popular level, they do.


So why are you deliberately perpetuating the myth that there are such implications?
Why did you claim that the "Money quote" of the article you linked to was "Darwinism undercuts the very possibility of rational truth" if you think that it's merely a popular belief?

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"