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Darwin’s man, Jerry Coyne, brushes off Scott Turner and homeostasis

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We wondered when Jerry Coyne, a longtime Darwin stalwart, would take time to diss J. Scott Turner’s Purpose and Desire:What Makes Something “Alive” and Why Modern Darwinism Has Failed to Explain It, given that his disapproval is becoming a sort of imprimatur. We hope he can still do this sort of thing emeritus forever:

Well, no, we don’t have a well-supported Darwinian explanation for the origin of life, but we do have Darwinian explanations that good people are working on (see Nick Lane, Addy Prosser, Gerald Joyce, Jack Szostak et al.), so the claim that there are “no Darwinian explanations for the origin of life (or of the gene)” are simply false. And our lack of understanding, which is due to our not being there when life started, surely doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with abiogenesis as a naturalistic theory, much less with “materialism.” I’m not sure what Turner means by “a hard time explaining what an organism is”, but if they mean individuals, then no, we don’t have a hard time with that; they are simply the genome-carrying descendants of an original life form. We also have theories about how multicellularity evolved. And we certainly have explanations for why living things are “well-designed”; it’s called natural selection. But there are glitches in design as well, and those glitches are evidence not for purpose or conscious design, but for mindless evolution constrained to work with the materials it has.

Coyne sounds like a bureaucrat explaining why a once-thriving city is now a hellhole: Good people are working on it:

Now what Turner’s evidence is for “purpose, intentionality, and striving” I don’t know, and I suppose I’ll have to read this book (I’ve requested it via interlibrary loan); but these claims have been made over and over again since 1859, and none have stood up.

Getting and reading the book might be an idea for Coyne. A century and a half of Darwinians hammering down reports of failure and alternative proposals is beginning to tell. That sort of thing tends to make a field top-heavy with dullards who go along to get along, not pioneers of great new ideas.

Ann Gauger comments at Evolution News & Views: Ann Gauger comments,

I’d very much like to hear a detailed account from Coyne of the evolution of homeostasis, rather than a simple declaration that it can be selected.

The evolution of homeostasis requires the coevolution of multiple parts. Control systems in vertebrates can be quite baroque, so it would be unfair to ask questions about homeostasis there, so let’s go to one of the simplest kinds of homeostasis — just one part of the regulation of sugar metabolism in E coli. … More.

But let’s be honest here: Darwinism, well-founded or otherwise, is an easier and cheaper way to get a biology degree than any non-Darwinian approach could be, even if it makes much more sense. If that fact is not confronted, we won’t understand why the difficulties of the evolution of homeostasis, among other things, are just not confronted. Or even confrontable at present.

See also: Ann Gauger’s cautious assessment of Scott Turner’s Purpose & Desire

7 Replies to “Darwin’s man, Jerry Coyne, brushes off Scott Turner and homeostasis

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    Science has ‘mine and Buckley’s chance’ of fathoming the nature and origin of life. Mind, too, for that matter, although, while vanishingly microscopic, the chance of our understanding the latter would seem (intuitively) to be a teeny fraction better.

    The atheists must know, as everyone else does, they are paddling a submerged canoe. They are like the road-runner: paddling furiously six feet over the top of a cliff for several seconds, while a delayed gravity gets its act together.

    But needs must, if they are to continue to adhere to their now thoroughly discredited world-view; a world-view that is mocked more and more by the advances in science, and its not even as if they have either been able to make the teeniest progress, or (rationally) see it in prospect.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    “Control systems can be baroque”…. NICE phrase. Calls to mind the multiple counterpoints of a harpsichord concerto.

    The more I study this stuff, the more I’m coming to suspect that there were several designers working in competition and merging their solutions. Each system has software, firmware, hard-wired electrical feedback, and self-regulating pure mechanics. The designs seem to come from different minds, but all work together for the same purpose.

  3. 3
    J-Mac says:

    Isn’t it strange that no quantum physicist is working on the explanation for the origin of life?

    Shouldn’t it be obvious by now that there is more to life that some molecules coming together in primordial soup by unknown process?

    Have Darwinists ever heard that subatomic particles are the fundamental building blocks of life?

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    Wow. Nice post, J-Mac. Spot on. There is no way around that point. A real, literal science-stopper!!!! Hilarious. The whole issue QEDed!

  5. 5
    ET says:

    And yet Darwin’s claims have been made since 1859 and none have stood up. Natural selection has been a failure as an alleged designer mimic. There isn’t a creative mechanism to be had from the blind watchmaker.

  6. 6
    jstanley01 says:

    Like teenagers engaging in selective hearing, more and more as their theory slips from unlikely to impossible, Darwinists are engaging in what can be best described as selective mental retardation. As a survival strategy, lol…

  7. 7
    groovamos says:

    jstanley @6 good one. Professional Darwinists have mouths to feed, and speaking one’s doubts or otherwise to flout the fashion is not the way to get it done.

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