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Darwinism IS a beautiful theory. but then so is astrology

David Gelernter, by Doc Searls (Flickr: 2010_08_05_techonomy_154) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I mean, if you leave out the crackpots, the idea that the stars, which are much more significant in size than Earth, rule our destiny makes sense. It’s beautiful and it was just what court intellectual needed, centuries ago. It doesn’t happen to be true.

The idea that natural selection acting on random mutation could fill the world with exquisitely complex life forms makes sense to fashionable intellectuals today and it doesn’t happen to be true :

In a recent essay (Posted: May 1, 2019 ) in the new issue of The Claremont Review of Books, “Giving Up Darwin,” he credits reading Stephen Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt as the primary cause of his rejecting neo-Darwinian evolution, a “brilliant and beautiful scientific theory” but one that’s now been overtaken by science. The problem is that, as Huxley once pointed out, a beautiful scientific theory can be destroyed by just one “ugly fact.” (Thomas Henry Huxley, Presidential Address at the British Association (1870); “Biogenesis and Abiogenesis”, Collected Essays, Volume 8, p. 229.)

“Its beauty is important. Beauty is often a telltale sign of truth. Beauty is our guide to the intellectual universe—walking beside us through the uncharted wilderness, pointing us in the right direction, keeping us on track—most of the time.”

Sean Pitman, ““A fond farewell to a brilliant and beautiful theory” – David Gelernter” at Detecting Design

The poet John Keats (“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all”) would not have liked this message: Sometimes one must choose between beauty and truth.

See also: The Manhattan Contrarian on David Gelernter abandoning Darwinism. What would an urban sophisticate make of doubts about Darwinism? Once the enforcement trolls have been banished below stairs, hasn’t Darwinism become something people patter at cocktail parties, so that others know that they are bicoastal and just deplore! their privilege? Instead of being genuine deplorables who might doubt?

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The "Darwinism IS a beautiful theory" meme, to me, proves the cliche, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Beauty being everywhere, the particular place where the eye of a particular beholder finds its preferred beauty says more about the beholder than it says about either beauty or his eye. People think beauty signals good when nothing could be farther from the truth. The axis along which beauty derives its force, or lack thereof, is aesthetics. And aesthetics, in its pure form, relates to moral considerations not at all. Yeah astrology and Darwinism are both beautiful. Orwell's vision of the future where a boot stomps on a human face forever is, along that axis, likewise beautiful. It wouldn't have the moral force it has if it weren't aesthetically beautiful independent of moral considerations.
But always – do not forget this, Winston – always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever.
Along which line, don't discount the purely-aesthetic beauties -- as subtle as the curves on a woman -- which can be experienced nowhere like they can be along the edge of a purpose-dug ditch when delivering pistol shots, one each, to the backs of kneeling prisoners' heads. Watching alive bodies transform themselves into dead meat, instantaneously but for their various (not to mention comical) throes; listening as the pleas and wails diminish and turn finally into silence; feeling the surge of energy -- nay pure power -- radiate from one's solar plexus, to the tips of one's fingers, to the top of one's head, and the tips of one's toes. It's a beautiful thing. jstanley01
Darwin gave us a beautiful narrative, with a sciency feel. Then challenged people to prove him wrong. Except that isn't how science works. ET
When you peel off the accretions on both theories, an essential difference shows up. Darwin says that life developed by random variation selected by fitness. The selection part is unquestionably true, but the claimed evidence for the random variation part is rapidly disappearing. Astrology says that our behavior and fate are determined by when we were born. The fate part is unquestionably true. People born in 1925 had to endure much harder conditions than people born in 1975. The behavior part has been dismissed until recently, but it turns out that birth season is one of the factors modulating epigenes. Animals born in winter have different innate behaviors than animals born in summer. So astrology is gaining beauty as we learn more REAL science, while Darwinism is losing beauty. polistra

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