This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
So, what's the weakness?I thought that the ID folks thought that evolutionary theory is incomplete, but it's hard to see how the failure to fill in the last detail, as it were, is a weakness in evolutionary theory. Not if evolutionary theory really is neutral on religious matters.
Anonymouse, Why don't you list one actual strength of 'modern evolutionary theory?' You know: something rational, logical, non-circular, non-question-begging, and preferably something which doesn't logically entail that reason is impossible, that knowledge is impossible, that minds don't actually exist.'Modern evolutionary theory' is the Creation Myth of atheism/materialism. As such, it suffers the intellectual flaws of atheism/materialism.If 'modern evolutionary theory' were not the the Creation Myth of atheism/materialism, then the atheists/materialists would not get their panties in such a knot over ID. For, after all, the IDists *are* evolutionists ... they just don't offer the pinch on incense to Chuckie D and to materialism.
Right-wing Christians love to whine about potsmodernism, but their tactics are no better. You think 1+1=2? TEACH THE CONTROVERSY! Maybe it equals 5. Now, students... debate!For your information, Ilion, evolution predicts several basic things that have been verified. Common descent (all species related), common architecture and common composition (no titanium, nuclear-powered mice) and a fossil record in which animals and plants appear in a developmental series (no Cambrian rabbits).DESIGN DOES NOT PREDICT THIS!!! Design is compatible with this. There's a difference. The theory that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by space aliens is compatible with the evidence. The theory that he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth is likely because that theory predicts the evidence we see.Essentially, ID is a conspiracy theory that has no evidence. Evolution has been convicted based on a mountain of evidence, but ID folk claim it was framed by an alien superintelligence who designed us in the exact way that purposeless evolution would have done. How convenient.The sick part is that ID people think their conspiracy theory is tied for plausibility. Try that at a criminal trial. When the investigation starts, theories might be equally plausible. By the time the trial concludes with the suspect convicted based on fingerprints, DNA and eyewitness accounts, competing theories are no longer at equal plausibility level. An alternate theory that predicts the defendant was framed is compatible, right? The alternate theory has to predict those same false fingerprints, DNA, etc. Is the alternate theory at an equal plausibility level? NO! Does that fact that we don't know exactly what the defendant had for breakfast that day grant more credence to the alternate conspiracy theory? NO!And the same thing applies to minds. The physical brain has been convicted based on hundreds of separate pieces of evidence about function and behavior. All these things didn't have to be that way if minds were non-physical. Oh, but wait! Let's pretend that voodoo and neuroscience are at equal levels of plausibility! Let's pretend that while naturalism has passed many tests that might not have passed had minds been non-physical, there's no price to be paid by reviving that old zombie, the non-physical mind.
ID is a fine theory, but it is not science, its philosophy--really the old argument from design in new dress. Everything should be debated, including the literal existence of electrons or even the material world. But in the context of High School science, the discussion is out of place. It is just a distraction. In any event, even if ID was a scientific theory, it is impossible to grasp it w/o a thorough (beyong HS textbook) understanding of evolutionary theory.What makes this issue so frustrating is that it seems both neo-darwinians (Dennett, et al) and the ID people seem to think evolutionary theory has something to do with theism. It doesn't.
Another pressuposition seesm to be that for a belief about the world to be rational, it has to be scientific. .. and I thought positivism was dead.
Gordon,What makes this issue so frustrating is that it seems both neo-darwinians (Dennett, et al) and the ID people seem to think evolutionary theory has something to do with theism. It doesn't. It depends. If your theism says that we are designed (as in Christianity, Judaism and Islam), then this issue has everything to do with your theism. The evidence clearly shows that it is extremely unlikely that we're designed.If your theism says God didn't design us, then, yes, evolutionary biology probably has nothing to say about your theism.
Dr Logic:(1) Historically, Christians have distinguished primary and secondary causes. Certainly for the Medievals, God is the ultimate cause, but that does not mean that we cannot by observation discover a string of natural causes. So, if you accepted this view, God would be the primary cause, The process of evolution would be the secondary cause.(2) God could design me directly or indirectly by means of an evolutionary process. Evolutionary theory only counters the claim that I am directly designed(3) of course if you agree with me that what I am really is a soul, not a mere corporeal husk, then it may be that I am designed, and the physical process of evolution is irrelevant.I think you are making a mistake in supposing that it is a part of evolutionary theory that God does not intervene in nature. The naturalism of evolutionary theory, indeed of all science, is methodological, not absolute. To suppose otherwise is to confuse natural science with metaphysics.
Gordon,You're presenting a case (in #1 and #2 primarily) for how God can be compatible with what has been observed. I'm sure God is compatible, but that's not sufficient.I'll cart out the deck of cards analogy...Suppose I have a deck of cards that has either (1) been sorted by suit and rank, or (2) been shuffled. Initially, you don't know which process prepared the card order.I start dealing cards off the deck... 2 of clubs, 3 of clubs, 4 of clubs, 5 of clubs, 6 of clubs.Both possible deck orderings (shuffling and sorting) are compatible with this data. However, the odds that the deck was shuffled are far far smaller than the odds that it was sorted. (About 1 in 311 million, IIRC.)Yes, God could have designed life and coincidentally that design could look like the result of unguided evolution. The problem is that you're ignoring all the other ways God could have designed life that don't look like unguided evolution. And you can't ignore those other ways things could have been done without some penalty - you don't get to fine-tune for free.I can reach the same conclusion even if I don't start from a position that evolution excludes design. I just have to account (as in PAY) for the fact that most forms of design don't look like evolution. Design can only recover that lost ground by predicting something specific and something as rare as a designed world that looks evolved. But it is the hallmark of supernatural claims that they refuse to predict anything at all (otherwise they start to look natural). So supernatural claims like ID are not only deep in debt (epistemologically speaking), but they have no hope of ever paying those debts by making specific predictions.The same goes for minds. Non-physical minds don't need physical central nervous systems, brains, physical memories, processing power or anything else. They certainly don't need things as esoteric as regions of the brain that will result in Capgras delusion when broken. These are all cognitive cards apparently being dealt off a sorted deck, NOT a shuffled deck. Of all the kinds of non-physical minds that are possible, ours are the kind that look like physical minds? Dualists don't get to pretend that this evidence for material minds has no bearing on the probability that minds are physical systems, at least, not for free. (3) of course if you agree with me that what I am really is a soul, not a mere corporeal husk, then it may be that I am designed, and the physical process of evolution is irrelevant.No, you are not a soul, but neither are you a husk. You can't be a husk for something that doesn't exist. You are a person.
Doc:Is it a priori more unlikely that God would create a universe that includes evolutionary processes? I have no idea, so I don't follow the card analogy. My evidence base is just way too small.Interestingly the card analogy has also been used in the much more interesting fine tuning argument--based on the initial conditions of the universe.None of the materialst theories of mind have given any plausible account of the introspective facts of consciousness, qualia or intentionality, so I think the case against materialism is quite strong. (the case for *souls*, I admit, is not as obvious--but I think unity of consciousness considerations tell against a bundle view both at the present time and through time--the so called specious present
Gordon,Is it a priori more unlikely that God would create a universe that includes evolutionary processes? I have no idea, so I don't follow the card analogy. My evidence base is just way too small.God has unlimited options open to him, and you ought to spread your probabilities around equally over all options.If you pick all your probability to lie in the "God uses evolution" bucket, then that's like me picking all my probability in the card shuffling analogy into the "The cards are shuffled to get 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 of clubs" bucket without justification. Now, you could do something very cool, like devise a specific, predictive theory about God. This would be analogous to me creating a specific, verifiable theory about the shuffling process which explains why 2,3,4,5,6 of clubs happened to turn up.But, gosh darn, wouldn't you know it, ID doesn't want to talk about God, er, the designer, let alone devise predictive theories about him/her/it.Interestingly the card analogy has also been used in the much more interesting fine tuning argument--based on the initial conditions of the universe.Except that it doesn't help with God because just saying there's a God doesn't predict that there will be a fine-tuned universe either. In effect, you just move the fine-tuning to God. Plus, fine-tuning is okay if you can make predictions. Physics does this. When you fine-tune God to produce the physics, you don't get any new predictions. You just give the illusion of explanation where none exists.None of the materialst theories of mind have given any plausible account of the introspective facts of consciousness, qualia or intentionality, so I think the case against materialism is quite strong. (the case for *souls*, I admit, is not as obvious--but I think unity of consciousness considerations tell against a bundle view both at the present time and through time--the so called specious present Well, I disagree with that, but even if it were the case that science hasn't yet explained these things, that doesn't make the alternative more likely. I return to the trial analogy. If we convict the suspect based on fingerprints, DNA etc., but don't know how he traveled to the murder scene, does that make it likely that he was framed by space aliens? We would never allow an appeal on the basis that we don't know all the information about the events in question. All we need to prove the case is to prove that there are many a priori unlikely facts predicted by the suspect's guilt.
Amusingly Misnamed Person: "Right-wing Christians love to whine about potsmodernism, but their tactics are no better. You think 1+1=2? TEACH THE CONTROVERSY! Maybe it equals 5. Now, students... debate!"Oddly enough, one never sees physicists, for example, claim that *any* theory of physics is as firmly established as 'modern evolutionary theory' (which, by the way, is neither modern, nor evolutionary, nor an actual theory, and thus I always put the phrase, which I seem to have invented, not that there was any great mental difficulty involved in the invention, in mocking quote marks).In arithmetic, which the Amusingly Misnamed Person, following general "Darwinist" practice, imagines he can co-opt in support of 'modern evolutionary theory,' that '1+1=2' is a necessary truth, it is *true* and it cannot be otherwise in any possible world. This truth is logical and is supported by rigorous logic (unlike "Darwinism"). And, in fact, as '2' is merely the name for '1+1' (i.e. counting once more past one), to say '1+1=2' is exactly to say '1+1=1+1.'Moreover, with arithmetic, we do not teach our that '1+1=2' by trying to outlaw all denials of that truth -- imagine arithmetic in the hands of "Darwinists!" Rather, we teach the children that '1+1=2' by *demonstrating* that it is true (something "Darwinists" will never even attempt with their pretend theory).What's even more amusing about Amusingly Misnamed Person's ploy here is that science isn't even about truth, in the first place -- at any rate, for the past two centuries or so, since the "free thinkers" managed to redefine it, it hasn't been about actual truth. So, on the one hand, 'modern evolutionary theory' not only isn't actually true (for it is illogical, and illogical things are necessarily false) but it also isn't actually scientific, and on the other hand, even if 'modern evolutionary theory' were actually scientific, it could still never rise to the level of the truth that '1+1=2,' for mere science cannot do that.ALSO, if Gentle Reader is *really* paying attention, he will notice that the Amusingly Misnamed Person does not himself really have a problem with post-modernism ... rather, he whinges because "Right-wing Christians" condemn post-modernism, even as he employes post-modernist "argumentation" to lie about "Right-wing Christians."Amusingly Misnamed Person: "For your information, Ilion, evolution predicts several basic things that have been verified. Common descent (all species related), common architecture and common composition (no titanium, nuclear-powered mice) and a fossil record in which animals and plants appear in a developmental series (no Cambrian rabbits)."What an illogical (and irrational) fool this Amusingly Misnamed Person is."Evolution" does not "predict" these things. And they have not been "verified."Amusingly Misnamed Person's examples are, rather, merely an example of the illogic and circularity of "Darwinist" "thought:" posit 'X,' ignore any evident against 'X,' claim 'X' is "verified."Gentle Reader, if he is observant and thoughtful, will recognize that my response to the Anonymouse exactly (and devastatingly, once the truth of the claim is grasped) answered his not-seriously-asked question "So, what's the weakness?" but pointing out that 'modern evolutionary theory' is inherently illogical and that the "logic" of it entails the denial that we can reason, that we can know truth, that our minds (which is to say, ourselves) actually exist. So, 'modern evolutionary theory' is both irredeemably illogical and utterly anti-rational -- what further weakness does a *rational* person demand to have explicated?Common descent: "Evolution" neither "predicts" nor "verifies" the doctrine of common descent. And it cannot, even in principle, be verified, much less proven -- for any evidence adduced to support the doctrine can *also* support other beliefs, including the belief of "special creation." But then, "Darwinists" do detest proof and logic, do they not?Rather, the doctrine of common descent is an fundamental assumption of "evolution" -- and which assumption, by the way, they themselves are quietly abandoning these days. Yet, count on it: they will never say something so simple as "We were wrong about that." And, when they've fully abandoned it, and the textbooks have been reprinted, they will try to claim that it is a "creationist lie" that they ever did claim that common descent is the truth.Logically, one cannot "verify" what one has assumed and one certainly cannot *prove* what one has assumed -- at best, one can show that the evidence does not contradict the assumption. But that, of course, requires that one look at all relevant evidence, which is something "Darwinists" are ever loath to do.Common architecture: Once again, this is not a "prediction" of "evolution." It is rather, a common observation. Moreover, as evidence for 'modern evolutionary theory,' it is quite underdetermined, which is to say, it can also be used as evidence for many other beliefs, including the belief of "special creation."Common composition: Once again, this is not a "prediction" of "evolution." It is rather, a common observation. Moreover, as evidence for 'modern evolutionary theory,' it is quite underdetermined, which is to say, it can also be used as evidence for many other beliefs, including the belief of "special creation."Amusingly enough, there are some organisms which are a bit "uncommon" -- yet "Darwinism" claims to "explain" them also. For instance, it was long thought that there were only twenty amino acids in use in biology -- and this was touted as evidence for, or even "proof" of, "Darwinism." Yet, for the past several years it has been known that there are at least twenty-three amino acids in use in biology -- and the former claim that the "universal genetic code" (now called the "canonical genetic code") was evidence for, or even proof of, "Darwinism" has been quietly sidelined.Now, another amusement about these two "new" amino acids is that they are coded for by regular "old" codons which in most organisms code for the "standard" (or "canonical") amino acid. Which is to say, there is no *chemical* requirement that some particular combination of base-pairs codes for some particular amino acid.No Cambrian rabbits: All hail the Glorious Circle! Goodness, where would "Darwinists" be if they could not "argune" in circles!Amusingly enough, the knowledgable "Darwinists" know -- and some will even admit it -- that the fossil record" cannot logically be used to support 'modern evolutionary theory.'The *reason* there are no "Cambian rabbits" is because a rabbit fossil is -- by definition -- not Cambrian.Moreover, that "developmental series" the Amusingly Misnamed Person touts is a figment of the imagination -- it doesn't actually exist. And, worse, there are many places in the world where hundreds of square miles of "older" fossils are *on top of* "newer" fossils.REMEMBER: a "mechanism" or "theory" which "explains" everything and its denial, and by the same means, explains nothing.
Why don't you list one actual strength of 'modern evolutionary theory?' You know: something rational, logical, non-circular, non-question-begging, The twin-nested hierarchies. The discoveries of the naked mole rat and Tiltaalik rosea. The fossil history of the genus Homo.You only asked for one, but I know how much you like your things in threes.and preferably something which doesn't logically entail that reason is impossible, that knowledge is impossible, that minds don't actually exist.Since evolutionary theory implies none of those things, that offers no additional barrier.
I posted a response to comment 11 at my blog. It seemed too long for a comment thread.
With reagrds to the original link, I find Mr. Garner's psoition disingenuous. The claim is that the "strennths and weaknesses" languages will be used to bring in unscientific criticisms motived by religion, not religion directly. They are designed to denigrate science generally and evoltution specifically, as opposed to any offer value to the field.
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