Evolution Intelligent Design

Sometimes Denton sounds like a Darwin who got way more right

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From Michael Denton’s Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis (2016):

The grand river of life that has flowed on earth over the past four billion years has clearly not meandered slowly and steadily across some flat and featureless landscape, but tumbled constantly through a rugged landscape over endless cataracts and rapids. No matter how unfashionable, no matter how at odds with current thinking in evolutionary biology, there is no empirical evidence for believing that organic nature is any less discontinuous than the inorganic realm. There is not the slightest reason for believing that the major homologs were achieved gradually via functional continuums. It is only the a priori demands of Darwinian causation that have imposed continuity on a basically discontinuous reality.

No matter now “unacceptable,” the notion that the organic world consists of a finite set of distinct Types, which have been successively actualized during the evolutionary history of life on earth, satisfies the fact far better than its Darwinian rival. (p. 112)

Note: Discontinuity in the inorganic realm? Dr. Denton seems here to refer to the fact that mathematical facts, physical laws, and chemical elements do not shade imperceptibly into each other; they are discontinuous.

There is a cultural (and in some places legal) need to defend Darwinian biology, irrespective of evidence. Denton would like to move beyond that, to ask how patterns take shape in life.

See also: Michael Denton on the discontinuity of nature: Denton focuses on the many examples of fundamental features of life forms, like the pentadactyl limb of vertebrates, that are uniform, but serve no adaptive purpose, pointing perhaps to discoverable physical patterns in nature, like the patterns in the chemical elements.

and

Denis Noble: Evolution needs replacement, not extension. A more honest statement is that the synthesis needs to be replaced.

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4 Replies to “Sometimes Denton sounds like a Darwin who got way more right

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Indeed. Chemistry is not derivable from Physics. There’s no reason to believe that Biology is derivable from Chemistry.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    …or “ought” derivable from “is”.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky,

    I will answer in brief.

    Hume’s “surpriz’d” guillotine argument does establish that ought cannot be injected into the world — thus, any worldview aiming to be accurate to reality — at any level subsequent to world-root.

    We also face the dilemma that conscience is deeply embedded in our inner life, urging us to the right and the truth in ways that pervade all of mindedness. So if its testimony that we are responsibly free and duty bound is delusional, as there are no firewalls in our inner life, human rationality comes under taint of general delusion. Absurdity, we cannot escape the force of ought and cannot escape the impulse of responsible rationality. Not even the hyperskeptic dismissing others as . . . in the wrong or else unable to confidently attain the right.

    Credibly, we are under moral government of OUGHT, and live in a world that IS.

    So, how can this be resolved at world-root level?

    Not by DERIVING ought from is, but by seeing how they can be fused inextricably.

    The only serious candidate for such fusion is that they are both to be found in the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

    Which includes persisting in the path of the right and the true despite stumbles along the way.

    Even, crawling, if we must.

    KF

  4. 4

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