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A Darwinian tries to coopt the Gaia hypothesis

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You know, James Lovelock’s idea that the whole Earth is a living being? A Darwinian tells us that some prominent biologists are beginning to agree, provided Darwinism is allowed to co-opt the idea:

The notion that the Earth itself is a living system captured the imagination of New Age enthusiasts, who deified Gaia as the Earth Goddess. But it has received rough treatment at the hands of evolutionary biologists like me, and is generally scorned by most scientific Darwinists. Most of them are still negative about Gaia: viewing many Earthly features as biological products might well have been extraordinarily fruitful, generating much good science, but Earth is nothing like an evolved organism. Algal mats and coral reefs are just not ‘adaptations’ that enhance Earth’s ‘fitness’ in the same way that eyes and wings contribute to the fitness of birds. Darwinian natural selection doesn’t work that way.

I’ve got a confession though: I’ve warmed to Gaia over the years. I was an early and vociferous objector to Lovelock and Margulis’s theory, but these days I’ve begun to suspect that they might have had a point. So I’ve spent the past five years trying to ‘Darwinise Gaia’ – to see widespread cooperation as a result of competition occurring at some higher (even planetary) level. I can see a few paths by which a Darwinian might accept the idea that the planet as a whole could boast evolved, biosphere-level adaptations, selected by nature for their stability-promoting functions.

W. Ford Doolittle, “Is the Earth an organism?” at Aeon

Well, once you Darwinize Gaia, it’s just Darwinism. That’s true of everything, of course.

The essay is worth a read. On reflection, if Darwinism weren’t failing, wouldn’t Darwinians just continue to scorn Gaia? Imagine them having to look for places to be now…

See also:

Michael Le Page , Colin Barras , Richard Webb , Kate Douglas and Carrie Arnold, Evolution is evolving: 13 ways we must rethink the theory of nature, New Scientist (September 23, 2020).

and

Kate Douglas, We’re beginning to question the idea of species – including our own, New Scientist, (December 11, 2019)

11 Replies to “A Darwinian tries to coopt the Gaia hypothesis

  1. 1
    Belfast says:

    Sure.
    And when you ‘Darwinise Gaia’ you can Darwinise General Motors, and Darwinise voting fraud …..
    You can do it, you know.
    Darwinian evolution predicted Hitler, chewing gum, beach parties, the Great Depression, Covid and World War 3.

  2. 2
    AaronS1978 says:

    It Allowed people who like to connect dots habitually to be intellectually fulfilled

    Humans like to find patterns and things even when there is no pattern at all. Darwinism gives them a scientific excuse to do it all the time that’s why you can explain a toaster with it

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    It’s funny because if you really look at it Darwinism is innately selfish except when it’s altruistic. Then suddenly altruism has a survival benefit that somehow out weighs the selfish portion of it. But who declared that the selfish portion is actually less affective then the altruism portion of it

    We did because we’d like to connect the dots so whatever we have Darwinism can explain it, doesn’t matter what it is, it explains everything. All the mistakes and all of the successes. there’s nothing it can’t explain and that’s why it’s a shotty bullshit theory

    There needs to be a major push back against that for that reason all, nothing can disprove it

    As they all classically say when some contrary comes up “it’s what you would expect”

    Go ahead change my mind, show me a Reasonable Way Darwinism can be disproven without invoking God coming down and saying evolution isn’t true, give me an actual way

    If you can’t then it’s a god of gaps theory

    And you should toss it out like god of gaps garbage.

    And if you don’t then you’re just hypothetical
    trash like the theory

  4. 4
    BobRyan says:

    Egos do not exist in nature, yet exists within people.

  5. 5
    JVL says:

    AaronS1978: Humans like to find patterns and things even when there is no pattern at all. Darwinism gives them a scientific excuse to do it all the time that’s why you can explain a toaster with it

    Good year 1978. For me at least.

    Isn’t some part of detecting intelligent design in nature also a form of pattern recognition? Looking for digital codes, etc?

    Go ahead change my mind, show me a Reasonable Way Darwinism can be disproven without invoking God coming down and saying evolution isn’t true, give me an actual way

    The two classic ways mentioned by Darwin himself are: find a biological structure or process that could not have come about via small, incremental steps (the irreducible complexity gambit) or find a fossil that is manifestly out of place (rabbits in the PreCambrian for example).

    You wouldn’t expect the vast edifice of Unguided Evolutionary theory to crumble immediately; if you managed one of the above you’d have to be ready to defend your position. (Apparently Einstein’s Relativity was very much scorned and ridiculed for a number of years before it was accepted.) No widely supported field of study is going to give up the ghost quickly which is as it should be really. But those kind of things is where I’d focus my energies if I were trying to topple unguided evolution.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    JVL is still confused. Neither Darwin nor anyone else has shown any biological structure or process that could have come about via small, incremental steps. And neither Darwin nor any evo can account for the existence of rabbits.

    There isn’t any edifice of unguided evolution. There isn’t any way to test its claims. Evos are liars and bluffing cowards.

  7. 7
    AaronS1978 says:

    Jvl
    I’m sorry that you failed to change my mind
    I mean one of the things that you just mentioned above which is a creature that out of place in the era that it was in was mentioned in the thread before. But if you think about it is exactly what you would expect from Darwinism

    Darwins examples of refuting him have been shown multiple times (From particular fish to the Flagellum of a cell) however there is nothing evolution cannot explain it is a God of gaps As all examples given are exactly what you would expect to see from evolution

    It’s a God of gaps

  8. 8
    AaronS1978 says:

    Oh and let’s talk finding complexity and design in nature! it’s a little bit different from connecting the dots and finding patterns
    And yes we do use that to find intelligent design you’re right and you’re also wrong

    Yes we have a psychological need to find patterns and to connect the dots and it’s both helpful and not helpful. In the example of the triangle

    There’s no actual triangle there but you think there’s a triangle because the dots are arranged in that pattern but the reality is there’s only dots arranged in a pattern of a triangle. The docs will not carry the function of that triangle and will not be a triangle if arranged any other way. You only see the triangle because of the fact that the dots resemble an object that you find familiar

    Intelligent design looks for more than just dots arranged in the pattern of a triangle
    It’s about seeing a pattern that has a function and has impact. It’s more than just a pattern it’s a functional impact that affects other systems that in it self is part of another system and that system could not have gotten there because of enough time and a process of elimination

    DNA holds a structural pattern that has digital code encrypted in it

    This is more than just connecting the dots this looks like a programmed pattern that offers information that actually has affect in a cell

    The connected dots pattern has no affect nor does it prove that there’s a triangle on that sheet of paper

    Now initially when we found DNA we did think that it was intelligently designed nothing screams an intelligent designer more than a program and programmer

    However here comes Darwinian evolution

    Through millions of years of trial and error this DNA slowly built itself and every single program there is

    No intelligence required In fact I didn’t really have to explain it that much

    DNA went from being a sign that there could possibly be a God to a mindless program that strips everybody of their free will, puppeteers your entire existence because evolution designed this program over millions of years of trial and error and everything you do is subconsciously pre-programmed into you by this DNA. It’s exactly what you would expect to find with evolution. DNA became the calling card of natural selection because natural selection can work on that I mean trial and error, it doesn’t matter it’s literally the same thing

    And Given enough time anything can happen! wow that sounds like God of gaps

    And what do you know DNA is one of the most complex structures we’ve encountered code wise it’s actually more complex than the toaster in my kitchen

    And Darwinian evolution can explain my toaster to

    It’s god a gap’s that makes everything selfish and horrible and steals freedom from everyone Including yourself

    It’s honestly not scientific

  9. 9
    JVL says:

    AaronS1978:I’m sorry that you failed to change my mind

    I wasn’t trying to change your mind; I was trying to answer your question.

    I mean one of the things that you just mentioned above which is a creature that out of place in the era that it was in was mentioned in the thread before. But if you think about it is exactly what you would expect from Darwinism

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand what you are saying.

    Darwins examples of refuting him have been shown multiple times (From particular fish to the Flagellum of a cell) however there is nothing evolution cannot explain it is a God of gaps As all examples given are exactly what you would expect to see from evolution

    I think it is important to be very sure that you have done as much as you can to check on what unguided and natural processes are capable of. I would say that we have not yet explored all of that realm yet. I would say that it’s too early to pull the plug on what unguided processes are capable of. That is just my opinion.

    Intelligent design looks for more than just dots arranged in the pattern of a triangle
    It’s about seeing a pattern that has a function and has impact. It’s more than just a pattern it’s a functional impact that affects other systems that in it self is part of another system and that system could not have gotten there because of enough time and a process of elimination

    But it starts with seeing something that matches what you think must be created by an intelligent being. It matches some pattern in your mind.

    It’s god a gap’s that makes everything selfish and horrible and steals freedom from everyone Including yourself

    It’s honestly not scientific

    You’re entitled to your opinion but that’s not the same as a scientific analysis.

  10. 10
    AaronS1978 says:

    JVL you are also entitled to your opinion and it
    also is not scientific

    It’s painfully amazing to me how the unguided process produced living systems that seem to only be able to replicate them selves but we can’t reconstruct them in a lab and make them go mechanically

    Darwinism explains anything
    It Is a God of gaps
    I mean that’s the whole purpose of God of gaps which is To explain all the gaps
    There’s nothing absolutely nothing evolutionary theory cannot explain
    Those aren’t opinions, those are facts, and that is why the theory is not scientific it’s God of gaps evo-psych is literally that practice gone wild

    So you are entitled to your opinion too
    nice chat

  11. 11
    ET says:

    All science starts with observations, JVL. And yes when we observe something that we know of only one possible cause, we have a right to infer that cause until someone can demonstrate otherwise. Science 101- cause-and-effect relationships

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