The Darwin downhill chronicles were spiced recently by top drawer “gentlemanly” Darwinist Wilson calling arch-Darwinist Richard Dawkins a “journalist”.
This from a review of Wilson’s new book on the meaning of human existence, written by a Washington Post groupie:
To posit such a power to choose, as Wilson does repeatedly in “The Meaning of Human Existence,” raises a conundrum that he never squarely addresses, not even in the chapter titled “Free Will.” He predicts that neuroscientists will soon identify the physical basis of consciousness, revealing the material processes that give rise to our emotions and thoughts. If what we call mind is only a side effect of material processes, which proceed from a skein of cause-and-effect that reaches back to the big bang, then the conscious “self” may believe that it freely chooses how to behave, but that belief, Wilson implies, is an illusion.
“Confidence in free will is biologically adaptive,” Wilson argues. It protects us from fatalism. Reassured by imagining that we exert conscious control over our lives, we keep on reproducing our kind. But in a material universe governed entirely by physical laws, he concedes, free will does not exist “in ultimate reality.” Then what is the point of exhorting readers to embrace the theory of evolution, to preserve the Earth’s wealth of living things, to overcome bigotry and put an end to war? How could we, by conscious effort, change our actions or beliefs?
Despite this seemingly fatal flaw in his enterprise, we should be grateful that Wilson, so late in his illustrious career, still appeals to reason and imagination in hopes of enlightening us about our nature and inspiring us to change our destructive ways.
Wilson is a guy who wants to give half the planet to wild animals. And we are supposed to look up to him.
This you can take to the bank: It won’t be the Beltway cocktail set’s half, you can be sure of that. No major “enviromentalist” will have to sacrifice bicoastal homes or private planes. It is always the lesser breeds, the lower classes, and the “Dear Pastors” who take the hit.
If that ever changed, we could consider listening briefly to Wilson on the meaning of existence.
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