horizontal gene transfer Intelligent Design

If traits can jump between the branches of the tree of life, classical Darwinism is dead

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And yet that’s what they are saying:

We all must play the game of life with the cards we’re dealt, so the common aphorism goes. In biology, this means organisms must compete through natural selection with the genes and anatomy they were born with. But the saying is a lie. Okay, it’s not exactly a lie, but modern research suggests that the game of life is far more complicated than we had anticipated. There are opportunities to swap cards and even steal other players’ hands. …

Examples of acquired metabolisms abound in nature. Some are familiar, like the microbes in a cow’s gut that enable it to digest cellulose. Others are more common but less well-known. For instance, consider the symbiotic fungi that help plants source minerals from the soil. And then there are truly unusual acquired metabolisms, like sea slugs that steal chloroplasts from their food so they can photosynthesize.

University of California – Santa Barbara, “What happens when traits jump between branches of the tree of life” at ScienceDaily (May 3, 2022)

It’s called horizontal gene transfer.

The paper requires a fee or subscription.

54 Replies to “If traits can jump between the branches of the tree of life, classical Darwinism is dead

  1. 1
    JHolo says:

    Sorry, but classical Darwinism is just natural selection operating on heritable traits. Where these heritable traits originated was never addressed in classical Darwinism. Just that they had to arise.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    Great writing by Harrison Tasoff, who deserves a proper byline.

    HGT might be easier to handle if we think of it as metanutrition. We eat things to give us energy and to build proteins with our existing functions. AND we eat things to gain new functions.

  3. 3
    BobRyan says:

    Another nail in the coffin. There are so many flaws with Darwin that the coffin has more nails than wood.

  4. 4
    jerry says:

    so many flaws with Darwin

    Actually not.

    Darwin’s ideas of changes as outlined in #1 are well validated. It’s basic genetics.

    So why is UD obsessed with genetics since Darwinian change has nothing to do with Evolution? Is it because they don’t understand Darwinian change?

    By definition and logic Darwinian change has nothing to do with Evolution.

              It is self refuting.

    So why the constant stoking of the fires. Is it to get comments?

    That’s not working because most OP’s mentioning Darwin get little reaction.

    Aside: we had an OP on HGT a couple weeks ago. All was covered then.

  5. 5
    Sandy says:

    Darwin’s ideas of changes as outlined in #1 are well validated.It’s basic genetics.

    Why do you beat this dead horse? Darwin knew nothing about function of this “microscopic lump of jelly-like substance “, how the cell was perceived back then. If a man who knows nothing about computers says that he thinks that computers work because of the qualities of the screen that doesn’t make him the father of processors, just an witness of something he observed but didn’t understand .

  6. 6
    jerry says:

    Why do you beat this dead horse?

    Because it is true.

    Darwin knew nothing about function of this “microscopic lump of jelly-like substance

    Neither did Mendel.

    Both Darwin’s and Mendel’s ideas led somewhere and thus relevant. In fact #1 is absolutely right on. So the comment about what Darwin knew is Irrelevant!

              Beating up on Darwin is fruitless.

              Diminishing the importance of his ideas is not.

  7. 7
    jerry says:

    Interesting phenomenon – have humans adapted to believe things that are not true?

    It seems that way. What one believes is based mainly on emotions. Does that mean our emotions are a survivability characteristic and generally can recognize threats but not necessarily truth?

    If the truth/falsity of something is threatening to our safety we seem to have no problem. But if it has no immediate bearing will we be much less likely to recognize what is right and good?

  8. 8
    JHolo says:

    Jerry: In fact #1 is absolutely right on. So the comment about what Darwin knew is Irrelevant!

    Is this you agreeing with me. Quick, pass me the smelling salts. 🙂

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    Is this you agreeing with me

    You are just repeating what I have said many times before.

    So are you just repeating me?

    Will you continue to speak the obvious?

    An obvious one is Darwinian change has nothing to do with Evolution. One obvious proof is that it is self refuting.

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The Darwinian tree of life was proposed as evidence for common ancestry (as nested hierarchy) and for molecules-to-man evolution. New features, supposedly, could be traced by mutational paths. Common morphology meant ancestry as did genetic similarity.
    So, if the tree of life of supposed nested hierarchy is destroyed, then evidence for neo-Darwinism is weakened. Non-ancestral species can have the same morphology.

  11. 11
    Viola Lee says:

    Jerry, how would you define evolution? I’m confused about what some of our distinctions mean, so could you clarify what evolution means to you.

    Thanks.

  12. 12
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Without clarity of definition it sounded like “evolution has nothing to do with evolution”.

  13. 13
    Querius says:

    The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed, egg-laying, toothless (in adults), poison-spurred (in males, glucagon, anti-insulin venom similar to that in a Gila monster), aquatic mammal (non-placental, non-marsupial) with a sixth (electrosensory) organ and waterproof fur that’s found only in Australia. It has scent glands on the sides of its neck and stores fat in its tail.

    This Frankenstein creature’s genome is supposedly as bizarre as its phenome.

    “This genome provides a unique perspective on what the genomes of our earliest mammalian ancestors may have looked like. It is fascinating that what we think of as being reptile-like and mammal-like features can co-exist in the same genome.”
    – Dr. Adam Felsenfeld, head of NHGRI’s Comparative and Sequencing Analysis Program.

    Gosh, now how did reptile-like and mammal-like features come to co-exist in the same genome?

    I just mention this to elicit the usual COULDA MIGHTA MUSTA science fiction responses typical of Darwinist apologists.

    -Q

  14. 14
    jerry says:

    how would you define evolution?

    There is no common definition of the word “evolution.”

    Which is why I use the term “Evolution.” I capitalize the E to emphasize what the debate is about. Here is a definition of evolution with a small e.

    What is the best definition of evolution?

    evolution is a process of gradual change that takes place over many generations, during which species of animals, plants, or insects slowly change some of their physical characteristics.

    Absolutely true and describes genetics perfectly but is not Evolution.

    Also – allele change has been a common definition but is trivial.

    To understand the Evolution debate here is something I wrote on this website 16 years ago.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-argument-from-incredulity-vs-the-argument-from-gullibility/#comment-40952

    This could be better organized and rewritten a little but is “spot on!”

    Darwinian change is just micro evolution or what is better known as genetics. So whenever you see Darwin and evolution linked just think genetics and you will be right.

    I have been making the same points for 16 years and no one has said that they are not correct. They are just ignored.

  15. 15
    Viola Lee says:

    I read your old post, Jerry. Under Evolution you include the origin of life, the transition from one cell to multi-cell organisms and then more complex organs, speciation, and then variation within species due to genetic mutations and natural selection, this latter being Darwinism. That pretty covers the whole history of life.

    So above you write, “An obvious one is Darwinian change has nothing to do with Evolution,” but in your post you include Darwinism in tier 4, so it has something to do with Evolution, it would seem you are saying.

    So, can you explain what you mean by Darwinism, and why it has nothing to do with Evolution?

  16. 16
    jerry says:

    So, can you explain what you mean by Darwinism, and why it has nothing to do with Evolution?

    There is a debate on how life changed in the last 3.5 billion years.

    I laid out that debate in terms of four different phases of change. The debate separates the first tier (origin of life) from the rest and says this is a different issue. Primarily because Darwin separated it out. So be it.

    Call it anything you want but it is still a change involving an origin, this time the first life. The other three tiers have all been discussed under the term, “evolution” but they are very different from each other.

    Tiers 2 and 3 are about the origin of new complex systems and I distinguished them based on the complexity of these systems. I’m sure there could be a better classification.

    This is what the Evolution debate is about. What caused these changes/origins?

    Tier4 are just small changes within a species and called micro evolution and is essentially the same thing as the science of genetics. This is where Darwinian processes have been observed and which poses no issue for ID.

    But if you read any textbook on evolution, it will spend nearly all its pages on micro evolution and just speculate on the other origins offering no proof.

    So Darwinism only applies to tier4 and is not part of any dispute. One can argue that Darwin’s ideas are great design and part of the design of life.

    Now Darwin and everyone of his day knew nothing about the complexity of life. That has only emerged over the last 160 years especially the last 60 years.

    So he speculated and got a lot of things wrong which many want to also call Darwinism but the part in #1 is valid. So did a lot of others who then made some very devastating decisions based on this lack of knowledge.

  17. 17
    Viola Lee says:

    So are you saying, Jerry, that mutations and natural selection have not played a role in tiers 2 and 3?

  18. 18
    jerry says:

    that mutations and natural selection have not played a role in tiers 2 and 3?

    Not in origins!

    There were certainly species then just as now. They had offspring which were governed by the rules of genetics. In other words tier4 always existed from the beginning of life.

    But the other origins which are the essence of the debate, no.

    No mechanism yet discovered can explain the origins of the complexity especially when it had to happen almost simultaneously.

    For a long while, the concept of plasticity was popular. This just said small physical changes added up over time to very different physical change as if a plastic was slowly being remolded by the environment.

    However, these physical changes involved the changes to astronomically complicated coding and the idea of plasticity has faded.

    No one understood the complexity of the cell let alone the complicated systems necessary to live. So they assumed simplicity and change was not that difficult.

  19. 19
    Viola Lee says:

    So you are saying that tier 4 Darwinism has been active throughout the history of life within species, but can’t account for the class of changes you call origins, such as new organs, body plans, and species. I think that is what you are saying.

    My question now is when ID, in whatever way it does, creates a change that counts as an origin, does it do so by purposely changing genetic structure rather than genetic structure change by regular mutation? It would seem to me that those big changes must include big changes in genes, so the question is not whether genetics is involved but rather what causes the genetic changes. Would you agree with any or all of that?

  20. 20
    Fred Hickson says:

    Jerry beating strawmen to a pulp. 😉

  21. 21
    Fred Hickson says:

    Jerry beating strawmen to a pulp. 😉

  22. 22
    JHolo says:

    Jerry: But if you read any textbook on evolution, it will spend nearly all its pages on micro evolution and just speculate on the other origins offering no proof.

    But can’t the same be said about plate tectonics and mountain formation, canyon formation, the tidal locking of celestial bodies and numerous other phenomenon that occur over very long time frames?

  23. 23
    jerry says:

    My question now is when ID, in whatever way it does, creates a change that counts as an origin, does it do so by purposely changing genetic structure rather than genetic structure change by regular mutation? It would seem to me that those big changes must include big changes in genes, so the question is not whether genetics is involved but rather what causes the genetic changes. Would you agree with any or all of that?

    No one knows.

    People can speculate on how an intelligence might do it. There is the issue where does the information for body plans lie. It does seem that it is not in the genome.

    I suggest you read Stephen Blume on his epiphany from believer in natural evolution to skeptic. There are many unanswered questions. The big one – what decides where each cell type is placed during gestation.

    That is where the changes have to be made. It does not seem to be in the genome.

  24. 24
    jerry says:

    But can’t the same be said about plate tectonics and mountain formation, canyon formation, the tidal locking of celestial bodies and numerous other phenomenon that occur over very long time frames?

    You are using the plasticity model.

    That happens under the four forces of physics. What has to be explained in life is infinitely more complicated.

    By the way ID has no problem with plate tectonics etc..

  25. 25
    Viola Lee says:

    So, Jerry, you are saying that major changes such as with body plan or speciation are not encoded in the genes, but are somehow activated in some other way? That is, after a cell starts to grow in a specific individual, some other force other directs aspects of its growth?

    Also, it seems to me there is a distinction between where the information comes from and where it is embodied: intelligence changes the genes and then the genes produces different creature. But you are saying that genes, but something else, plays a major role in development. is that what you are saying?

  26. 26
    Sandy says:

    Jerry
    Both Darwin’s and Mendel’s ideas led somewhere and thus relevant. In fact #1 is absolutely right on. So the comment about what Darwin knew is Irrelevant!

    🙂 What knew Darwin that animal breeders didn’t know for thousand of years before Darwin ? In the years 1960-1970 after genetic code was discovered darwinism should have disappeared but that would have been too much for the establishment that built their careers on falsehood of darwinism , written thousands of books . Their image would have been …not very pleasant for the public. So they printed same fake arguments for evolution in school books and brainwashed generation after generation till today.
    Today is worse epigenetic inheritance add more complexity over already complex genome, proteome, glycome.

  27. 27
    jerry says:

    you are saying that major changes such as with body plan or speciation are not encoded in the genes, but are somehow activated in some other way?

    That seems likely.

    I suggest you read Stephen Blume.

    That is, after a cell starts to grow in a specific individual, some other force other directs aspects of its growth?

    My guess is some code somewhere.

    That’s speculation. Meyer describes possible codes in the cell wall. But as of now no one knows anything about such a process. They have been fixated on DNA.

    But you are saying that genes, but something else, plays a major role in development. is that what you are saying?

    Yes.

    It’s speculation based on the needed size to control everything. Each cell has to be placed in a very specific location. The genome doesn’t seem large enough for that.

    There should be research on this and I guess there is. If there is research I am not aware of it. There’s so much going on. It would be on simple species at first.

    Some have said it’s in the supposedly junk DNA but human junk DNA varies greatly from other species. Each species’ offspring is primarily identical except for variations in the genome. How does something so precise happen.

    Somebody will piece it together some day. It will not redeem Darwin. What is happening is incredibly complicated. Darwin’s basic processes which are not unique to him (except – natural selection) are not powerful enough to create the information necessary.

    there is a distinction between where the information comes from and where it is embodied

    Yes.

    Unknown where the information comes from. But there is lots of speculation on that too. You have been reading this site.

    Aside: I’m leaving for California early in the morning so may not respond much. Still packing.

  28. 28
    Querius says:

    According to his book, Evolution 2.0, Perry Marshall claims there are five, maybe six ways that a genome can change. The weakest one is random mutation.

    1. Transposition
    2. Horizontal gene transfer
    3. Epigenetics
    4. Symbiogenesis
    5. Genome duplication
    6. Random mutation (maybe rarely)

    He’s offered a $10,000,000 US prize to anyone who can replicate cellular evolution. Details here:
    https://www.herox.com/evolution2.0

    -Q

  29. 29
    tjguy says:

    In order for traits to jump between the branches of the tree of life, they have to originate somewhere – somehow. THAT was what Darwin was trying to explain! But it looks like we’re back to square one! Whether or not random mutation is capable of this or not is a HUGE question!

  30. 30
    Querius says:

    Yep! And this is what the $10 m prize in @28 is all about.

    -Q

  31. 31
    AaronS1978 says:

    You know I’ve been thinking about this evolution wouldn’t even be that bad if certain religious atheists didn’t use it to try to slay God or replace God

    If the general expectation wasn’t this Richard Dawkins style version of Darwinism standard evolution would be just fine with this

    Moreover it could just be called a system of adaptation that was built into the organisms by the creator

    Instead we got some asshole who claimed that evolution makes you intellectually fulfilled And another one that says evolution is a corrosive acid that the roads tradition and leaves revolution

    It’s crap like that that makes me hate the concept of evolution, it’s the simps for it

  32. 32
    Querius says:

    AaronS1978 @31,

    My doubts about evolution started in high school when I noticed that biology and geology each used the other for dating purposes and to reconcile odd strata. I also read about trans-strata fossil trees that supposedly stood in place upright for millions of years while many layers formed around them. Not very likely.

    In college, I recognized that abiogenesis exemplified by von Helmot’s famous spontaneous generation of mice experiment, where he left dirty rags with some bits of food in a corner for a few weeks, was remarkably similar to one in which one leaves a dirty earth with some bits of food for a few billion years, resulting in the spontaneous generation of life. In that biology class, I was also exposed to a number of chemical cycles including the ADP-ATP cycle, which didn’t seem very simple to me. Also, single celled organisms were recognized as a vast and complex organic cities of fantastic complexity!

    I believe it was at that time, I suggested that it was far more likely that gut bacteria evolved humans and animals simply as exoskeletons for improved survival considering their vastly higher rates of reproduction (and resulting evolution). After that, I gave up the old idea except as maybe a fine-tuning mechanism at best.

    -Q

  33. 33
    Viola Lee says:

    re 31 to Aaron. You write, “Moreover it could just be called a system of adaptation that was built into the organisms by the creator.”

    Actually I think that is what a lot of people believe, but the prominent materialists such as Dawkins have “poisoned the well” so to speak. But lots of people here at UD disagree with you, as they seem to be very much against religious people who accept evolutionary theory.

    Here’s a quote from the book “The Species Seekers” on this subject, from about the time Darwin wrote “The Origin of Species”

    Even before publication, the clergyman, naturalist, and novelist Charles Kingsley already saw that evolutionary thinking and religious faith were separate and capable of coexisting: … I have gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of Deity, to believe that he created primal forms capable of self development into all forms needful…as to believe that he required a fresh act of intervention” to fill every gap caused by the natural processes “he himself had made. I question whether the former be not the loftier thought.” It might be better, that is, to believe in a God who promulgated laws and let them take their natural course, than to believe in a God obliged, as Buffon had put it, to busy himself about “the way a beetle’s wing should fold.

  34. 34
    AaronS1978 says:

    @ 32 My first out came when I started to study microbiology and saw the complexity of both DNA and the actual cell

    @ 33 Exactly my point throughout all of school I never ever doubted my faith or evolution until people like Dawkins and Dennet started moving their mouths. Poisoning the well is a perfect way of describing it. Because there was no conflict in my mind until they brought that conflict to me

  35. 35
    Viola Lee says:

    Then don’t pay attention to them. Their materialism is a metaphysical overlay on top of a scientific description. Seeing God as present in natural processes is also a metaphysical overlay, but it one’s choice as to which metaphysics one wishes to adopt in one’e life.

  36. 36
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Nobody I know cares about evolution at all. I bring it up once in a while and the conversation goes nowhere. Most of these people are God-believers of some kind and they just think evolution is a certain, scientific truth and no intelligent person could question it. But they also know nothing about evolution and care nothing about it since it has zero importance in their life (as they see it). If they had to talk about Dawkins, they just think of him as an extreme atheist and they laugh him off. But they’ll think his science is 100% correct. Anybody who questions evolution is a Bible fundamentalist, so they’ll start talking about Bible stories.
    Darwinian theory is at the root of our culture today and people don’t realize how destructive it is. Dehumanizing nihilism makes people hopeless – or they think science will solve every problem and that just creates fear and turmoil.

  37. 37
    Viola Lee says:

    SA writes,

    Darwinian theory is at the root of our culture today and people don’t realize how destructive it is. Dehumanizing nihilism makes people hopeless – or they think science will solve every problem and that just creates fear and turmoil.

    I’ve been using this phrase: I think those are both gross mischaracterizations. I think there are very few nihilists and who because of that who feel hopeless and I think there are very few “scienticism-ists” who think science will solve every problem. I just think there are lots of people who don’t share your religious or political views, and that you project these false negative perceptions on the world because of the dichotomous idea that things are either white or black.

    My 2 cents from watching the discussions here.

  38. 38
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Darwinian theory is at the root of our culture today and people don’t realize how destructive it is.

    Let’s agree tests must exist so that nobody can contest(like in a court of law)the place where will be sent after death.

  39. 39
    asauber says:

    “the dichotomous idea that things are either white or black”

    Some things are. The idea that things are never white or black is a dichotomous idea.

    Andrew

  40. 40
    Silver Asiatic says:

    VL

    I think there are very few nihilists

    The nihilist says that you came from nothing significant and you will end the same. There’s no life after this one and therefore all you do and all you love and all you live for are simply gone. They end with nothing. There’s nothing to hope for because nothing matters.
    What kind of hope can you give people? It will all end with nothing. There is no final justice for those who have been wronged. Why should anyone care? What is there to hope for?

  41. 41
    Viola Lee says:

    And how many nihilists do you know? I know absolutely no one who is a nihilist and most of the people I know would probably be classified as liberal Christians or humanists. Not one is a nihilist.

    You are tilting at a philosophical windmill that doesn’t really exist in real people.

  42. 42
    asauber says:

    “You are tilting at a philosophical windmill that doesn’t really exist in real people.”

    VL,

    This is obviously false.

    Andrew

  43. 43
    Querius says:

    Silver Asiatic @36,
    Yeah. In fact, my objection to Darwin’s theory is not on theological grounds, but that it’s simply lousy science.

    If anything, the assumption of randomly generated features, some of which might be not selected against, has functioned to slow scientific progress by assuming that some organs and nearly all DNA are leftover junk without any function.

    “Following the science” has a dark side. It involves eugenics, forced sterilization, brutalization of indigenous people, and environmental harm (Kaibab plateau intervention, introduction of pest control species into the Hawaiian Islands, and culling thousands of elephants under the mistaken belief that they were harming the local ecosystem).

    In the past, there were scientists who once advocated detonating nuclear explosions at the poles to combat “global cooling” and the possible onset of a new ice age. Glad we didn’t “follow the science” then?

    Shouldn’t we also credit science for the introduction of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons? An accident with such weapons can wipe out nearly all life on earth. Woohoo! Here’s a charming book on the various nuclear accidents and how the U.S. nearly nuked itself on a couple of occasions:

    https://www.amazon.com/Atomic-Accidents-Meltdowns-Disasters-Mountains/dp/1605986801/

    The book is absolutely hair raising! Plus you’ll learn about a technique called “tickling the dragon,” which killed a number of nuclear scientists.

    -Q

  44. 44
    Querius says:

    Regarding Nihilism, I don’t think a lot of people identify as such. They just get seriously depressed and some even commit suicide in high school. This is very sad and those culpable never take responsibility. They just suggest counselling and drugs.

    Also consider existentialism. One definition reads as follows:

    Existentialism
    Existentialism is a form of philosophical inquiry that explores the problem of human existence and centers on the subjective experience of thinking, feeling, and acting. For example, in the view of an existentialist, the individual’s starting point has been called “the existential angst”, a sense of dread, disorientation, confusion, or anxiety in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.

    In contrast, The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the believers in Galatia . . .

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

    And this has been my own personal experience. Although one certainly needs have the wisdom to avoid the frauds, charlatans, abusive institutions and relationships, and power and money schemes endemic to all human activities.

    -Q

  45. 45
    jerry says:

    Let’s avoid the 2000 lb gorilla in the room and maybe we can get 200 redundant comments.

  46. 46
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Viola Lee
    And how many nihilists do you know? I know absolutely no one who is a nihilist and most of the people I know would probably be classified as liberal Christians or humanists. Not one is a nihilist.

    You are tilting at a philosophical windmill that doesn’t really exist in real people.

    😆 Wow where do you live? The left is full of nihilists that live only with short memory “goals” fed by their hidden puppeteers (tasty bones: racism ,BLM, feminism , what now when men are women? 🙂 , children groomed as young as possible, climate change, vaxx, war,abortion nazi, etc…

  47. 47
    asauber says:

    “Regarding Nihilism, I don’t think a lot of people identify as such.”

    I haven’t done a scientific study, but I suspect that a lot of people are Functional Nihilists. They just don’t know they are because they don’t know philosophy or related jargon.

    Andrew

  48. 48
    Silver Asiatic says:

    VL

    And how many nihilists do you know? … You are tilting at a philosophical windmill that doesn’t really exist in real people.

    I paraphrase you in return – that’s a gross misunderstanding.
    Here’s a brief article that explains:

    Darwinism, the Meaninglessness of Life, and of Death
    https://evolutionnews.org/2016/04/darwinism_the_m/
    Coyne is by no means alone in claiming Darwinism, with its insistence that all organisms have arisen through chance events (mutations) without plan or purpose, leads logically to the position that human life has no meaning or purpose. In my book The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life, I provide many examples of evolutionary biologists and other intellectuals who argue Darwinism sweeps away the benighted notion that human life has meaning.
    In a video on YouTube, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne states that science has demonstrated that

    the universe and life are pointless….Pointless in the sense that there is no externally imposed purpose or point in the universe. As atheists this is something that is manifestly true to us. We make our own meaning and purpose.

    Duke University philosophy professor Alex Rosenberg shows the same inconsistency. He co-authored an article in 2003, “Darwin’s Nihilistic Idea: Evolution and the Meaninglessness of Life,” in which he dismissed morality as an illusion. However, Rosenberg assured us that we have nothing to fear, because nihilism has no effect on our behavior, since “Most of us just couldn’t persistently be mean, even if we tried.” Rosenberg needs to take some of my history courses — or just read the news — if he doesn’t think many people could be mean to each other.

    Rosenberg’s book is “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality”. Some clips from user reviews (people agree with his nihilism):


    — We can’t avoid the persistent questions about the meaning of life?and the nature of reality. But science is the only means of answering them.

    — Alex Rosenberg in his book makes it clear that atheism is not an option but the only reasonable explanation of the universe.

    — In The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, Alex Rosenberg asserts that modern science has ended the debate for all time. “The basic things everything is made up of,” writes Rosenberg, “are fermions and bosons…that’s it” (p. 21). Physics tells us what reality is and there is nothing more.

    — The scientist view of reality requires abandoning common notions of purpose, self, morality, immortality.

    — Absolutely fantastic book. And Dr. Rosenberg called me back when I called his office to discuss. He really is a nice nihilist!

    — If Rosenberg is correct:
    1-There are no free will (nor literal moral responsability for our actions) and therefore “anything goes”.
    2-There are no objective moral values nor duties, because physics doesn’t know of any “moral” dimension to physical matter.
    3-There are no any reason at all to be “moral”.
    4-History has no meaning nor purpose and we cannot learn anything of it.
    5-Love has not moral nor spiritual dimension beyond being exclusively the biologial “solution to a strategic interaction problem”. What other thing could “love” be according to physics and biology?
    6-We’re here just in virtue of dumb luck. There is no purpose at all for the universe’s existence, no to our existence.
    7-When we die, everything will continue as before… except us.
    These claims are explicitly asserted in pages 2 and 3 of the book, and defended in the whole book.
    Throughout the entire book and with an easy to understand narrative style of writing, the author wondrously shows that science is our exclusive guide to reality, that physics is the whole truth about reality, and that the physical facts fix all the facts.

    — The worst part of this book is the subtitle. Rosenberg provides us with an excellent atheist’s guide to reality, but he doesn’t help us enjoy life without illusions. Rosenberg doesn’t deal effectively with the emotional impact that some of these truths can have. This is the one thing that existentialist philosophers understood that contemporary analytic philosophers don’t. Reality is depressing. Rosenberg’s solution? Rosenberg’s only tip to enjoying life without illusions? Prozac. This answer is so unsatisfying that I’m apt to believe it’s a joke. To be fair to Rosenberg, the problem of how to deal with reality is difficult, but I think he should have avoided the issue raised by the subtitle completely.
    (P.S. I haven’t tried Prozac, but I’ve tried numerous other antidepressants including talk therapy. They haven’t helped in the slightest with my existential dread.)

    — It’s the hard cold truth, even harder than I thought.

    — Rosenberg persents himself as the intrepid philosopher following his premises to their logical conclusions, further even than fellow-travellers in atheism such as Dawkins and Dennett. For Rosenberg the premise is “scientism”, that the world described by physics is all that there is. Literally. Everything else is an illusion: meaning, consciousness, free will, right and wrong. He has no truck with Dennett’s idea that moral philosophy is making progress towards an absolute morality. And unlike Dawkins, he does not see the scientistic world view as offering a substitute for religion — it is just the way things are and if we want to be intellectually honest we have to accept it.

    — Story-telling is the greatest enemy of rationality, as Rosenberg argues, and he dismisses all meaning as an illusion or a metaphor.

  49. 49
    Silver Asiatic says:

    AS

    I haven’t done a scientific study, but I suspect that a lot of people are Functional Nihilists.

    I agree. It just means there is no ultimate meaning, purpose or goal for life. We came from nothing and end with nothing. It’s just basic atheism, which a lot of people proclaim these days – they just don’t use the term nihilism, but that’s what it all is. It’s just nothing but matter and energy – no meaning, morality, purpose.

  50. 50
    Silver Asiatic says:

    LCD

    The left is full of nihilists that live only with short memory “goals” fed by their hidden puppeteers (tasty bones: racism ,BLM, feminism , what now when men are women? ? , children groomed as young as possible, climate change, vaxx, war,abortion nazi, etc…

    Agreed. It’s all personal-interests trying to fill the huge gap of meaninglessness. It’s just basic Darwinism really.

  51. 51
    Viola Lee says:

    Sure, you can find people who present the views you don’t like. My point is that those don’t apply to the very vast majority of everyday people.

    But we can’t prove that, and you guy’s stereotypical prejudices are extreme, so I won’t bother saying anymore. I’ve been enlightened enough! 🙂

  52. 52
  53. 53
    Viola Lee says:

    re 52: that is atrocious.

  54. 54
    Querius says:

    So what’s the difference between functional Nihilism and Existentialism?

    -Q

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