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Tom Wolfe on Evolution as a Theory of Everything

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From Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech,

By now, 2014 [when Chomsky’s critic Everett appeared], Evolution was more than a theory. It had become embedded in the very anatomy, the very central nervous system of all modern people. Every part, every tendency, of every living creature had evolved from some earlier life form—even if you had to go all the way back to Darwin’s “four or five cells floating in a warm pool somewhere” to find it. A title like “The Mystery of Language Evolution” was instinctive. It went without saying that any “trait” as important as speech had evolved… from something. Everett’s notion that speech had not evolved from anything—it was a “cultural tool” man had made for himself—was unthinkable to the vast majority of modern people. They had all been so deep-steeped in the Theory that anyone casting doubt upon it obviously had the mentality of a Flat Earther or a Methodist. (pp. 253–54)

Wolfe does not sound like an orthodox believer here. He ought not to be thinking for himself like this, ought he?

See also: Tom Wolfe on how speech let humans rule planet: Yet no one has any idea how language started.


Scientific American: Chomsky largely overturned It’s hard not to see this in relation to Tom Wolfe’s recent The Kingdom of Speech, where he sends up Chomsky along with Darwin.

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One Reply to “Tom Wolfe on Evolution as a Theory of Everything

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    I’ve just finished reading Tom Wolfe’s book. While I thoroughly enjoyed most of his book, I have to say I was disappointed towards the end where he basically hitches his wagon to the hypothesis of language being merely an ‘artifact’ created by man. Like a tool.

    To hold that language is merely an artifact created by man, like a tool, is to completely miss the main point of Intelligent Design (ID).

    It is as if Wolfe has never been exposed to ID, although I know for a fact that he has been exposed to ID. Yes, that is him in the audience at the 2:30 minute mark of the following video:

    Stephen Meyer & Eric Metaxas Discuss Darwin’s Doubt at Socrates in the City

    How Wolfe can hold that language is ‘merely’ an artifact created by man, after being shown that the creation of information by an intelligent agent in past earth’s history is the main argument of ID, by no less than Stephen Meyer himself, is beyond me.

    Other than that, and other than the few swipes he took at Christianity, I thoroughly enjoyed his book and highly recommend it.

    A little 101 on the ID argument

    Stephen Meyer: Charles Darwin’s Methods, Different Conclusion

    Intelligent design: Why can’t biological information originate through a materialistic process? – Stephen Meyer – video

    John Lennox – Is There Evidence of Something Beyond Nature? (Semiotic Information) – video

    The Onset of Information on Earth – UprightBiped
    Excerpt: There are two distinct categories of semiotic systems. One category uses representations where the arrangement of the medium (like a pheromone) is reducible to the physical properties of the medium itself; the other uses representations that have a spatial (dimensional) orientation and are not reducible to their physical make-up (like the words on this page). The first type is found throughout the living kingdom. The second type is found nowhere but in recorded language and mathematics (and in the genetic code).
    This leads to an intractable observation of physical reality; the singularly-unique material conditions required for dimensional semiosis, which would ostensibly not exist on Earth until the rise of human intelligence, were entirely evident at the very origin of life. They are the physical means by which the living cell became organized.

    The Origin of Information: How to Solve It – Perry Marshall
    Where did the information in DNA come from? This is one of the most important and valuable questions in the history of science. Cosmic Fingerprints has issued a challenge to the scientific community:
    “Show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.”
    “Information” is defined as digital communication between an encoder and a decoder, using agreed upon symbols. To date, no one has shown an example of a naturally occurring encoding / decoding system, i.e. one that has demonstrably come into existence without a designer.
    A private equity investment group is offering a technology prize for this discovery (up to 3 million dollars). We will financially reward and publicize the first person who can solve this;,,, To solve this problem is far more than an object of abstract religious or philosophical discussion. It would demonstrate a mechanism for producing coding systems, thus opening up new channels of scientific discovery. Such a find would have sweeping implications for Artificial Intelligence research.

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