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Evolution for Everyone

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Stephen Webb has an excellent review of David Sloan Wilson’s Evolution for Everyone here.  It opens as follows: 

The dirty Darwinian secret is now out of the closet: If evolution is true, then it must be true about everything. Most Darwinians used to be very restrained about the relevance of their theory for cultural and moral issues, for obvious reasons. If evolution is true about everything, then randomness and competition are the foundations for the highest human ideals as well as the lowest organic life forms. Scientists have trouble enough restricting Darwinism to biology. What if that restriction is unscientific? What parents would want their children being taught that Darwinism explains not only speciation but also altruism?

Some Darwinians take inordinate glee at the prospects for a thoroughly Darwinized curriculum and the wreckage it would cause for traditional moral and religious beliefs. Others are eager to persuade us that Darwinian imperialism would be good for us. David Sloan Wilson, distinguished professor of biology at Binghamton University, falls into the second camp. In Evolution for Everyone (2007), he laments the specializations in higher education that keep Darwin’s theory from being applied to every field of knowledge.

"If Darwinism is this trivial when applied outside biology, why would we non-biologists imagine that it is deeper when it is restricted to biology? One cannot help but suspect that if evolutionary theory looks absurd, simplistic, and circular when applied to something as complex as religion, then it might look the same way when applied to biological organisms." Right on! idnet.com.au
grendelkhan, "Aren’t the ideas contained therein an emergent property of the book?" No. They are merely symbolic triggers, created by, and for, intelligence outside the book itself. mike1962
"What does the fact that a theory scares the pants off you have to do with its truth?" - Grendelkhan Time out. Can we clarify defitions here? Do Darwinists claim their origins theory is "true" or merely a powerful explanatory tool? Do Darwinists seek "truth" or do they merely seek useful explanations compatible with the assumption that "the cosmos is all that is, all that ever was and all that ever will be." russ
What does the fact that a theory scares the pants off you have to do with its truth? How does this differ from "if evolution happened, I (or someone I'm going to handwave into existence for the purposes of this argument) am going to go on a baby-eating rampage!" ? If the applications seem like bad science (it's impossible to tell from the linked article), you should be able to criticize them on scientific grounds--e.g., this result isn't rigorous, that theory doesn't adequately explain the evidence, and so on. Also, why does the fact that something can be broken down into its component pieces with no hand-wavey magic have to do with "meaningless arrangements"? Isn't a book made of nothing but ink and paper, from a material point of view? Aren't the ideas contained therein an emergent property of the book? Strict reductionism leads to arbitrarily silly results, which is why it only exists as a strawman. The false dichotomy proposed appears to be between strict reductionism and some kind of weird animism, which is just silly. grendelkhan
THREAD HIJACK WARNING -- Sharon Begley, who may be the loudest opponent of I.D. in the media, has a column in Newsweek in which she indicates President Bush is mentally unstable. She quotes persons with good credentials from respected universities and they appear to be offering diagnosis which she is treating seriously. Needless to say there is no indication these psychiatric professionals ever met with much less interviewed the subject. Ms. Begley is the publication's "science" editor. Thought this might be of interest. tribune7
I'd believe the same. I'm always interested in how many assert, on the one hand, that there is no God, no meaning, no purpose, no real goal or point or design to life - and in the same breath, then argue how we should best live and believe and think and do things. Cognitive dissonance? Maybe there's an evolutionary psychological explanation for why atheists behave in such a manner. nullasalus
...otherwise it's a very good article. "He is especially taken with the power of dance. “Could we establish world peace if everyone at the United Nations showed up in leotards?” He thinks the answer is obviously yes." Everything Wilson says is merely a manifestation of a particular arrangement of molecules in his head. Why should anyone care, except those who already agree? The materialist Wilson essentially asserts there is no absolutely meaning, only matter in particular configurations. And that he thinks the world society should operate in a particular fashion. But there's no bridge between the two in his mind, except "consensus." But why should consensus matter to those of us who disagree with the consensus? I guess we have to be "re-educated." In my opinion, reductionist tripe like Wilson espouses feels good to the new ager and fulfilled atheists looking for justifications for their feelings, but those who hold the reigns of power just laugh at such useful idiots. Because *they* know what is really going on here. It's social Darwinism alright. And the real power holders like to fry the little misty eyed ones like Wilson when they are no longer useful. You'll see. mike1962
"The dirty Darwinian secret is now out of the closet: If evolution is true, then it must be true about everything." I think you mean if *darwinian* evolution is true it is true about everything. I'm really coming to hate the E-word. Phillip Johnson is right. mike1962

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