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Darwin, religion, and the blind cave fish

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Only religion prevents us from seeing the Darwinian truth about evolution.

Or at least that’s what one would think reading ScienceDaily:

Generally seen as antithetical to one another, evolution and religion can hardly fit in a scientific discourse simultaneously. However, biologist Dr Aldemaro Romero Jr., Baruch College, USA, devotes his latest research article, now published in the open access Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO), to observing the influences a few major religions have had on evolutionists and their scientific thinking over the centuries.

“Since the advent of Modern Synthesis we have a pretty consistent set of evidence that evolution is not linear, that there is not such a thing as direction for evolutionary processes, and that nothing is predetermined since natural selection, the main evolutionary mechanism, is a process that is not moved by any mystical force, nor directs beings toward a particular end,” points out Dr Aldemaro Romero Jr..

“Therefore, I hope this paper serves as a warning to scientists that no matter what reductionist view they have in the way they practice their research, if they do not understand the historical roots and the philosophical framework of their research, they are doomed at presenting only a very partial (and many times biased) view of nature,” he concludes. More.

Abstract: Evolution has always been considered a battleground between religion and science. Despite that perception, there are some indications that religious beliefs have influenced and continue to influence some current interpretations in evolutionary biology. To that end I present evidence on how pervasive the theological idea of predestination, which has been long discussed in the the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions, has influenced some of the elucidations of the nature of biological evolution. I will concentrate on the history of ideas about the evolution of cave organisms to epitomize the strong influence of religion on some evolutionary ideas as shown not only by some of the interpretations but also by the terminology still used today. I conclude that scientists need to understand the historical and philosophical framework of their research if they really want to claim that their work is really value-free. Paper. (public access) – Aldemaro Romero Jr. The influence of religion on science: the case of the idea of predestination in biospeleology. Research Ideas and Outcomes, 2016; 2: e9015 DOI: 10.3897/rio.2.e9015

It’s as if Dr. Romero has never heard of the possibility that Darwinism (the Modern Synthesis) is under siege from within the academy and—whatever his point is—simply doesn’t deserve to be the scale for values around evolution that he is making it out to be.

See also: How can we believe in naturalism if we have no choice?

If naturalism can explain religion, why does it get so many basic facts wrong?

and

Blind cave fish and devolution (= getting their eyes back)

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2 Replies to “Darwin, religion, and the blind cave fish

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Romero states:

    Although the author makes it clear that fellow scientists do not claim their findings based on religion, he notes that “words matter and that words can hide a lot of the philosophical baggage that sooner or later may influence their ultimate conclusion.”

    Since Dr. Romero is concerned with the philosophical baggage hidden within the words that scientists use, perhaps he would like to examine why it is impossible for biologists to describe molecular biology without using words that imply purpose and agency?

    The ‘Mental Cell’: Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking! – Stephen L. Talbott – September 9, 2014
    Excerpt: Many biologists are content to dismiss the problem with hand-waving: “When we wield the language of agency, we are speaking metaphorically, and we could just as well, if less conveniently, abandon the metaphors”.
    Yet no scientist or philosopher has shown how this shift of language could be effected. And the fact of the matter is just obvious: the biologist who is not investigating how the organism achieves something in a well-directed way is not yet doing biology, as opposed to physics or chemistry. Is this in turn just hand-waving? Let the reader inclined to think so take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness1.
    One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges. In this era of Big Data, the message from every side concerns previously unimagined complexity, incessant cross-talk and intertwining pathways, wildly unexpected genomic performances, dynamic conformational changes involving proteins and their cooperative or antagonistic binding partners, pervasive multifunctionality, intricately directed behavior somehow arising from the interaction of countless players in interpenetrating networks, and opposite effects by the same molecules in slightly different contexts. The picture at the molecular level begins to look as lively and organic — and thoughtful — as life itself.
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt.....ell_23.htm

    This working biologist agrees with Talbott’s assessment:

    Life, Purpose, Mind: Where the Machine Metaphor Fails – Ann Gauger – June 2011
    Excerpt: I’m a working biologist, on bacterial regulation (transcription and translation and protein stability) through signalling molecules, ,,, I can confirm the following points as realities: we lack adequate conceptual categories for what we are seeing in the biological world; with many additional genomes sequenced annually, we have much more data than we know what to do with (and making sense of it has become the current challenge); cells are staggeringly chock full of sophisticated technologies, which are exquisitely integrated; life is not dominated by a single technology, but rather a composite of many; and yet life is more than the sum of its parts; in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them.
    Furthermore, I suggest that to maintain that all of biology is solely a product of selection and genetic decay and time requires a metaphysical conviction that isn’t troubled by the evidence. Alternatively, it could be the view of someone who is unfamiliar with the evidence, for one reason or another. But for those who will consider the evidence that is so obvious throughout biology, I suggest it’s high time we moved on. – Matthew
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....nt-8858161

    Also of note:

    The formal Darwinism project – June 2015
    Excerpt: Today, as molecular biologists choose to call some of their discoveries ‘mechanisms’, and ascribe ‘functions’ to enzymes, they use purposive language and so they also adopt the design approach. It is arguably impossible to undertake work in many areas of biology without doing so:
    https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/the-formal-darwinism-project/

    Of related note, since Darwinian evolution has no real time empirical evidence to prove that it can create functional information, nor does Darwinian evolution even have a rigid mathematical basis to test against as other overarching theories of science have, and since all of science itself is ultimately dependent on a epistemology that necessarily incorporates Theological presuppositions about the rational nature of the universe and our ability to understand that rational basis, then (faulty) theological premises must lie at the core of Darwin’s theory. And indeed faulty theology is found to lie at the core of Darwin’s theory! (or is that ‘lie at the core of Darwin’s religion?’)

    Charles Darwin’s use of theology in the Origin of Species – STEPHEN DILLEY
    Abstract
    This essay examines Darwin’s positiva (or positive) use of theology in the first edition of the Origin of Species in three steps. First, the essay analyses the Origin’s theological language about God’s accessibility, honesty, methods of creating, relationship to natural laws and lack of responsibility for natural suffering; the essay contends that Darwin utilized positiva theology in order to help justify (and inform) descent with modification and to attack special creation. Second, the essay offers critical analysis of this theology, drawing in part on Darwin’s mature ruminations to suggest that, from an epistemic point of view, the Origin’s positiva theology manifests several internal tensions. Finally, the essay reflects on the relative epistemic importance of positiva theology in the Origin’s overall case for evolution. The essay concludes that this theology served as a handmaiden and accomplice to Darwin’s science.
    http://journals.cambridge.org/.....741100032X

    Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of theology? – Dilley S. – 2013
    Abstract
    This essay analyzes Theodosius Dobzhansky’s famous article, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” in which he presents some of his best arguments for evolution. I contend that all of Dobzhansky’s arguments hinge upon sectarian claims about God’s nature, actions, purposes, or duties. Moreover, Dobzhansky’s theology manifests several tensions, both in the epistemic justification of his theological claims and in their collective coherence. I note that other prominent biologists–such as Mayr, Dawkins, Eldredge, Ayala, de Beer, Futuyma, and Gould–also use theology-laden arguments. I recommend increased analysis of the justification, complexity, and coherence of this theology.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23890740

    Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys – Paul Nelson – September 22, 2014
    Excerpt: It is a little-remarked but nonetheless deeply significant irony that evolutionary biology is the most theologically entangled science going. Open a book like Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True (2009) or John Avise’s Inside the Human Genome (2010), and the theology leaps off the page. A wise creator, say Coyne, Avise, and many other evolutionary biologists, would not have made this or that structure; therefore, the structure evolved by undirected processes. Coyne and Avise, like many other evolutionary theorists going back to Darwin himself, make numerous “God-wouldn’t-have-done-it-that-way” arguments, thus predicating their arguments for the creative power of natural selection and random mutation on implicit theological assumptions about the character of God and what such an agent (if He existed) would or would not be likely to do.,,,
    ,,,with respect to one of the most famous texts in 20th-century biology, Theodosius Dobzhansky’s essay “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (1973).
    Although its title is widely cited as an aphorism, the text of Dobzhansky’s essay is rarely read. It is, in fact, a theological treatise. As Dilley (2013, p. 774) observes:
    “Strikingly, all seven of Dobzhansky’s arguments hinge upon claims about God’s nature, actions, purposes, or duties. In fact, without God-talk, the geneticist’s arguments for evolution are logically invalid. In short, theology is essential to Dobzhansky’s arguments.”,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....89971.html

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    There is no such thing as religion. Its just conclusions, whatever the source, about the invisible world of God/spirits and what he thinks and wants us top do.
    Religion just nicely itemizes these conclusions in their genre.

    I don’t see why these conclusions , called religion, would influence conclusions/investigation into blind cave fish or anything.

    the world/universe of nature is a finished thing since creation week.
    There has been no more creation since creation week.
    So one could study the finished project without other conclusions from the invisable world.
    Only God/Satan interfering would affect nature and confuse investigation.
    otherwise these contrary conclusions don’t mix.
    The bible only speeds up understanding natures conclusions in this or that.

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