Monday, February 08, 2010

The Fractured Fairy Tale of Darwinian Evolution

Realism, n., an accurate representation of human nature, as seen by toads. --Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Or blind lizards, as the case may be.

As we have discussed in the past, the irony is that evolution is strictly impossible if one accepts the materialistic presuppositions of metaphysical Darwinism.

Again, the idea of evolution was around long prior to Darwin, and in fact, in the first five editions of The Origin of Species, he didn't even mention the word. Rather, he only slipped it into the sixth edition in 1872, apparently hoping that no one would notice that he was 1) redefining the plain definition of a word, in order to 2) take his theory well beyond science, and into the world of religion and metaphysics.

It is this novel fantasy of evolution-without-divinity that is so insane and destructive, not the mere science of natural selection, with which we have no problems at all. Only after Darwin was the word "evolution" widely imposed on his theory, a word that had previously referred to the idea that things unfold or "evolve" toward their prototype, like acorn to oak tree.

Thus, in point of fact, "Nothing is less like Darwin's doctrine than the idea that new species should already be present in their ancestors, from which they only have to evolve in the course of time."

As Gilson points out, when Darwin inserted the word "evolution" into later editions of the Origin, he was purloining a term "already in use to signify something completely different from what he himself had in mind," i.e., "the inverse movement of in-volution, the un-rolling of the in-rolled, the de-velopment of the en-veloped."

One might say that Darwin's thinking devolved (in terms of philosophical sophistication) as he came to be increasingly dominated by his theory: "The more one comes to know Darwin, the more one is persuaded that, from the day when he conceived the idea of transformation of species, he felt charged with the scientific mission of revealing to men a truth which was in his eyes indubitable; but this scientific truth was at the same time the reverse of a religious certitude which he himself had lost. The antireligious always has a bit of the religious in it" (Gilson).

The reason for the latter well-documented phenomenon is that the person who has lost his faith in reality has an inner need to "proselytize" and convert others in order to not feel alone in his cosmic meaninglessness. This is the work of mind parasites. You might say that the kryptonite of mind parasites is that they must always induct others into their fantasy in order to go on being. They have no energy of their own, but must be "fed" by certain types of relationships with projected parts of the psyche -- even if the relationships are frustrating, self-defeating, and growth-stifling.

This is the only way to account for the obnoxious proselytizing energy of the materialists, for if the psyche is just an illusory byproduct of matter, why should they of all animals care what others think? In contrast, if truth exists, human beings naturally wish to radiate it to others, in imitation of their Creator. That's my position: I love truth, and just get a joy out of sharing it with other folks. But I fail to see how materialism can account for truth, love, and a passionate love of truth that has no immediate relevance whatsoever to genetic survival.

As Cardinal Schönborn points out in his foreword to Gilson's From Aristotle to Darwin & Back Again: A Journey in Final Causality, Species and Evolution, "reductionist accounts of evolution" are only "the visible parts of an intellectual iceberg," so that "the issues that lie under the surface of the current evolution debate are ultimately far larger and more important."

That is, in case it's not obvious, our contemporary zeitgeistberg goes much deeper than the often unedifying debates about intelligent design, or creationism, or separation of church and state, for ultimately it has to do with the preservation of man qua man, and the very possibility of truly human civilization.

Clearly, an unprecedented amount of change has occurred over the past three or four centuries. But change is obviously not synonymous with progress. And it is an absurdity to suggest that conservatives are somehow "opposed" to change.

Rather, what the conservative specifically wishes to conserve are the tried-and-true mechanisms that lead to progressive change, not just change for the sake of changing. Every conservative should know that a complex and dynamic system only preserves itself through change, and only changes through preservation (think of your body).

Something unique and unprecedented in human history occurred with the American founding. Somehow, Americans stumbled upon the very means to unleash human potential through liberty, individual initiative, free markets and representative democracy, to become the unrivaled economic, scientific, and political leader of the world. How did they do it?

I just recently read What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, and there is an instructive passage about the American intellectual consensus of the early 19th century, at the very time we began our ass-kicking world-historical ascent (and bear in mind that this is a secular scholar with no religious agenda whatsoever):

"As this chapter is written in the early twenty-first century, the hypothesis that the universe reflects intelligent design has provoked a bitter debate in the United States. How very different was the intellectual world of the early nineteenth century! Then, virtually everyone believed in intelligent design. Faith in the rational design of the universe underlay the worldview of the Enlightenment, shared by Isaac Newton, John Locke, and the American Founding Fathers....

"The commonly used expression 'the book of nature' referred to the universal practice of viewing nature as a revelation of God's power and wisdom. Christians were fond of saying that they accepted two divine revelations: the Bible and the book of nature." (Raccoons, of course, accept three, including the mirrorcle of the human subject.)

Howe goes on to say that the belief that nature revealed the divine power and wisdom "constituted one of the principal motivations for scientific activity in the early republic, along with national pride, the hope for useful applications, and the joy of science itself.... The perceived harmony between religion and science worked to their mutual advantage with the public" (emphasis mine).

So, the very roots of America's scientific dominance reflect precisely what we were saying yesterday about the balance and harmony of idealism/rationalism and empiricism, and the relevance of that balance to the progress of science. Do I wish to conserve this harmony? Indeed I do -- not in order to prevent the further evolution of human potential, but to make it possible! Perhaps the radical materialists have failed to notice that it has only been with the ascent of secular fundamentalism and the stranglehold of liberals on our public schools that America's educational decline commenced.

To be continued....

31 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Perhaps the materialists have failed to notice that it has only been with the ascent of materialism and the stranglehold of liberals on our public schools that America's educational decline commenced.

For the well-meaning types who can't or don't want to follow their own metaphysic to its inevitable ends, this might be true. For others, though, the educational decline was and is their express purpose.

2/08/2010 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

David Warren notes that the hoary old saw about life's origins in a "primordial soup" has been decisively disproven by a group of researchers.

Naturally those researchers have simply dragged the just-so storyline underwater (literally). Instead of soup producing nuts like us, underwater sea-vents are the new and improved substitute for God. The terrestrial tureen is grossly insufficient say the boffins. What we really meant was that life started in via sous vide.

Heathens. They just keep stirring the pot!

What will the whacky heathens dream up next?

2/08/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

This leaves me with more questions about Dr. D.

Why so many revisions. Why suddenly the insertion of “evolution”. Did he not know what it meant. Why didn’t he invent another word (did he coin ‘natural selection’). Was it some careless thing he almost did not even notice that he did – because maybe others were using it at the time with renewed interest although incorrectly. If it was an afterthought, why so much weight given to it by the readers. Why won’t I use the question mark.

2/08/2010 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I forget how far back that soup so pregnant with life was just waiting for that non-magical lightning bolt to arrive but, with all these billions of years since, why hasn’t it happened again?...like oodles of times. In other words, where is the second wave of dinosaurs from the second soup? Surely, with all this chance lying around doin nuthin… You just get one chance?

2/08/2010 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

GB wrote:

Rather, what the conservative specifically wishes to conserve are the tried-and-true mechanisms that lead to progressive change, not just change for the sake of changing.

A popular floor mat based on one commonly used during WWII in London.

And from neo-barbarian central (Boing Boing) we find the leftist version.


GET EXCITED AND CHANGE THINGS.

Leftism can't be reduced much more pithily than that. Note that we are not ordered to "get excited and change things that are unjust so that they become just". Nope. Just CHANGE THINGS.

My puppy has more sense than this, but then he passed the infant stage some months ago.

2/08/2010 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Rick:

From the Warren article I linked above, re your observations:

The sort of environmental flukes on which the Darwinian depends for his salvation are all very well if you have infinite time. But as we began to realize, about the time Primordial Soup was first served, the universe wasn't nearly old enough -- by a factor approaching infinity -- for any meandering and purposeless scheme to achieve the sort of results we see all around us.

2/08/2010 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

The antireligious always has a bit of the religious in it.

Shor'nuff.

I've always been a little put off by the overly enthusiastic. The AGW people with their hands over their ears shouting, "The science is settled" is not much different than my friend who was always trying to drag me to a Benny Hinn event.

2/08/2010 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

The Mini Bandit is smarter than your average prof.

Seriously. He learned very early on not to soil his living quarters every day.

2/08/2010 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Grant Maher said...

Regarding dinosaur bones: these could have been placed in the soil by the Creator specifically to challenge or faith in Scripture.

There never were dinosaurs; they are unlikely, and there wasn't enough time for them to come into being anyway.

The entire phony fossil record was placed to expose gullible humans. If they fall for it, then they aren't worthy.

There are many such faith challenges out there. The trick is to not to read books other than the Bible. That will help immensely.

2/08/2010 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Grant:

You don't have the remotest clue what is going on here. There are plenty of sites for stubborn middlebrows on both "sides" of the "creationism debate" to flaunt their shallow intellects.

Your "logic" approaches the following: Northern Bandit is against Stalinism ergo he is against sharing.

2/08/2010 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Grant: So, God is a liar?

By the way, which Bible? The one the church originally used (the Septuagint in Greek with Wisdom of Sirach, Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, Susannah, Judith and Maccabees) or the later revision that dropped those books?

I'm really interested to know; I've heard many opinions about this supposed 'bible' but I've never quite seen which one they mean.

2/08/2010 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I thought Mr. Grant was joking.
For the record..

2/08/2010 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Thanks, NB.
Nice pooch too!

Mine's not doing so well. Bad legs. And his second favoritest thing in the world is using them as much and as fast as possible.

2/08/2010 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ricky, I suspect Mr. Grant is doing as Mr. Grant has always done. At least now he has a name.

I'm sorry to hear about Fido, though. Poor fella. I hope he gets as much of his favoritest thing as possible :)

Back to why I was going to comment,
The reason for the latter well-documented phenomenon is that the person who has lost his faith in reality has an inner need to "proselytize" and convert others in order to not feel alone in his cosmic meaninglessness.

With that in mind, this article is particularly interesting. It touches on a jihadist as opposed to a materialist, but I suspect they are driven by similar motivations.

2/08/2010 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

If he was joking I retract the comment and apologize. We get so many fruitcakes here...

2/08/2010 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Julie sez: "At least now he has a name."

Yes, I only know one song with San Jose in the title.

2/08/2010 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Thanks, Julie.

RE Mr. Grant, sometimes "crazy" can come across as "joking", no doubt. I'll assign joking until he says more crazy. But skimmd his blog and it's not looking too good for lil Harpo..

Mr. Grant, what do you have to say for yourself?

2/08/2010 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"How very different was the intellectual world of the early nineteenth century! Then, virtually everyone believed in intelligent design. Faith in the rational design of the universe underlay the worldview of the Enlightenment, shared by Isaac Newton, John Locke, and the American Founding Fathers...."

As I so startlingly discovered 20+ years ago when I set out to prove to a friend that the Founding Father's were essentially atheists and religionists hijacked all their ideas afterwards... well... at least the effort succeeded in slapping myself awake... nothing like setting out to prove what you've taken on authority to be true, to teach you not to take on authority what you don't know to be true!

(Well... that last may be too glib, it can be taken too far too easily (See Descartes & Mill for how holding 'doubt' as a primary can destroy all knowledge and even the possibility of knowledge), you pretty much have to accept things on authority... just always remember to be on the look out for contradictions.)

I saw some leftie's assexertion the other day about how 'the left are the only people who still uphold the ideals of the Enlightenment'! What a crock, the proregressive left is what perverted and brought to an end the Enlightenment, or at least the portion of it known to and supported by the Founding Fathers. The belief in a rational design of the universe, and a purpose for it, is the only thing that could have brought about the Enlightenment and America... and only denial of such a design, and/or of any way of knowing it, could have taken us away from it.

But on the bright side, reality exists and we can know it and we can discover it, and the cult of the lie is always that close to being destroyed by the truth.

wv:reerear
word veri is urging someone to watch theirs

2/08/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

grant said "The entire phony fossil record was placed to expose gullible humans. If they fall for it, then they aren't worthy."

Speaking of the gullible and unworthy.

2/08/2010 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Regarding grant, whichever way you take his comment, he comes out looking bad. He's revised his earlier profile and picture and other blog links, but I skimmed them the other day, and what with this and that and his other stilted comments, grant - you remind me of your carl grubber... self portrait?

2/08/2010 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger grant said...

Nobody bought the "implanted fossil bones" theory. It was weak; I admit it.

Now as for the geothermal vent hypothesis: scientists of late theorize life could have originated at hot-water sumps on the deep ocean floor, then evolved into everything we see now.

How plausible does that seem?

Money changes hands around this issue; these "researchers" are making a bank on our tax dollars sending their flashy submersibles miles down to study these things.

Or are they really earning their pay?

What if these so called "deep sea vents" are really only 100 feet down in the Salton Sea and can be filmed with a movie camera in a zip-lock freezer bag? Maybe that's where the creepy footage comes from?

Probably there are no "deep sea vents." These Darwinists scientists are pulling the wool over our eyes to make a buck and their reputations.

If they lie about deep sea vents, what else will they lie about? The whole theory can't be trusted and should be thrown out.

2/08/2010 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

grunt said "What if these..."

Talk about putting Descartes before the horse's ass.

2/08/2010 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Deep sea vents? Still, even if a cell were produced somehow - where would the hydroporin come from? And the nucleotide chain (even if only a ring) and other mechanisms? The problem with the science is mostly that it is too speculative (not that it isn't *possible* that it is correct mechanically) and too hard to demonstrate its correctness. There needs to be some reproducibility; even with astronomy where you can't 'reproduce' things you can make theories and calculations and then have them shown to be correct based on readings of position, spectrographs, etc. You can't make a reproducible experiment but you can prove or disprove your theories and calculations using the stars. With this Darwinism, you can't either create a reproducible experiment or demonstrate macroevolution in action through observations that match the theory. It's all smoke and mirrors.

2/08/2010 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Oh. That Grant.

It was funny while it lasted!

2/08/2010 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"The antireligious always has a bit of the religious in it" A bit more than a bit, I've noticed. Funny, how we're the only species on the planet that moralizes. As Hubby always asks, from whence does this moral obligation to the environment arise? And what on earth in macroevolutionary theory justifies these "greenies" (always makes me think of them as nauseated) imposing their ad hoc morality over another person's liberty? After all, the only real "obligation" we have in a Darwinist scenario is to pass our genes on to another generation. I guess one is free to pluck one's "morality" out of thin air, but wish these faddists and fearmongers would be consistent with their "whatever floats yer boat" mentality in other moral matters, and avoid dictating it to the rest of us.

2/08/2010 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/08/2010 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

Bob,

It seems that the tendency I have noticed in your writings to demonize, deny complexity, and divide thinkers into the good guys vs. the bad guys is affecting your understanding of Darwin, who you seem to equate with his materialist and fervently atheistic misinterpreters. On p. 272 the last edition of Origin of Species,, he wrote “… It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life. Who can explain what is the essence of the attraction of gravity? No one now objects to following out the results consequent on this unknown element of attraction; notwithstanding that Leibnitz formerly accused Newton of introducing “occult qualities and miracles into philosophy.”

I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one. It is satisfactory, as showing how transient such impressions are, to remember that the greatest discovery ever made by man, namely, the law of the attraction of gravity, was also attacked by Leibnitz, “as subversive of natural, and inferentially of revealed, religion.”

A celebrated author and divine has written to me that “he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws.

.....The belief that species were immutable productions was almost unavoidable as long as the history of the world was thought to be of short duration; and now that we have acquired some idea of the lapse of time, we are too apt to assume, without proof, that the geological record is so perfect that it would have afforded us plain evidence of the mutation of species, if they had undergone mutation.”

Darwin here was clearly showing his sympathy with the views of the above mentioned clergyman and proposing that the "history of the world" and creation, was not "of short duration" as literalists maintain, but an ongoing process not inconsistent with a higher reality which/who was the source of the laws of nature and natural selection.

2/08/2010 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Ken:

I don't think Bob has written anything which conflicts with what you've written, but that's just my take.

He has made it clear repeatedly that his attack is on "metaphysical Darwinism". As for Darwin, he was no angel. In one passage he:

dreams of a future for mankind when the black races of man, as well as the mountain gorilla of Africa, will hopefully become extinct, thus enhancing the chances for the evolutionary advancement of the more "civilized" races of man.

If anything I'd say Bob has been too soft on Darwin the man.

2/09/2010 05:09:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Yes, NB. And that's probably not the only one. I believe there was a similar quote at the end of "Expelled".
I only watched it once, but Berlinski put it well at one point, paraphrasing "I'm not suggesting that (say atheism) will lead to the extermination of "lesser" humans, but that it requires it."

By the way, that video needed more Berlinski in it.

2/09/2010 07:12:00 AM  
Blogger Ilíon said...

"I thought Mr. Grant was joking.
For the record..
"

I'm gonna go with trolling.

2/26/2010 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Ilíon said...

RR: "Why so many revisions. Why suddenly the insertion of “evolution”. Did he not know what it meant. Why didn’t he invent another word (did he coin ‘natural selection’). Was it some careless thing he almost did not even notice that he did – because maybe others were using it at the time with renewed interest although incorrectly. If it was an afterthought, why so much weight given to it by the readers. Why won’t I use the question mark."

As I understand it, Darwin intentionally avoided the word 'evolution' -- instead using the cumbersome locution “descent with modification” -- precisely because the word ‘evolution’ already long-established had a teleological meaning quite at odds with the anti-teleology he was pushing. I think he finally used the word ‘evolution’ in his tome following Huxley.

2/26/2010 09:28:00 PM  

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