Intelligent Design

WD400 Disputes Dobzhansky

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Many Darwinists are fond of quoting Theodosius Dobzhansky who wrote “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.”

It is good to know there are folks like wd400 — himself an evolutionary biologist — who believe in modern evolutionary theory but acknowledge that biologists can get along perfectly well without even understanding evolution, much less depending on it as Dobzhansky would have had us believe.

In a comment to a prior post wd400 writes:

Unfortunately a lot of molecular biologists (Collins included) don’t understand much about evolution.

Here is a partial list of the awards won by Dr. Collins (per his Wiki entry):

While leading the National Human Genome Research Institute, Collins was elected to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. He was a Kilby International Awards recipient in 1993, and he received the Biotechnology Heritage Award with J. Craig Venter in 2001.[45][46] He received the William Allan Award from the American Society of Human Genetics in 2005. In 2007, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[47] In 2008, he was awarded the Inamori Ethics Prize[48] and National Medal of Science.[49] In the same year, Collins won the Trotter Prize where he delivered a lecture called “The Language of God”.  Collins and Venter shared the “Biography of the Year” title from A&E Network in 2000.[50] In 2005, Collins and Venter were honored as two of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report and the Harvard University Center for Public Leadership.[51]  Collins received the Albany Medical Center Prize in 2010 and the Pro Bono Humanum Award of the Galien Foundation in 2012.[

So, evolutionary biologist wd400 acknowledges that “a lot of molecular biologists,” including one of the world’s leading biologists, former Director of the National Institutes of Health and leader of the human genome project Francis Collins, can do their jobs perfectly well without even understanding evolution, far less depending on it.

Good for you wd.  Good for you.

I also admire this little bon mot from wd:

[Richard] Dawkins was a great popularizer (before he bacame a full time internet troll)

UPDATE:

To be perfectly fair I should point out that in the comment thread below, wd400 demurs to the assertions raised in this post.  In fact, “demur” does not quite capture his reaction, for it was far from demure.*  When confronted with the logical conclusions that ineluctably proceed from his own statement, he did the verbal equivalent of this:

_____________
*There is nothing like a fine play on words; of course that was nothing like a fine play on words. 🙂

61 Replies to “WD400 Disputes Dobzhansky

  1. 1
    Jack Jones says:

    Mr Arrington

    You probably know that Richard Dawkins said that Ben Carson does not understand evolution, so he must believe that Ben Carson did his work and became a world renowned neurosurgeon, without needing to know evolutionary just so stories.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    The ability to generate just-so stories demonstrates knowledge of evolutionary theory.

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    Yes Mung. I have often marveled at the fact that evolutionary biology appears to be the only scientific discipline in which the researcher’s ability to imagine a story counts as positive evidence for the theory.

  4. 4

    Evolutionary theory is more like Evolutionary Folk Tales. Whether or not it is literally true isn’t the point, the point is that it keeps the ideological, cultural narrative alive for the comfort of current and future generations of materialists.

  5. 5
    wd400 says:

    I don’t know what compels you to write these childish (attempted) point-scoring posts. If you wanted me to clarify what I had said I would have been happy to, instead you create this ridiculous bombastic post.

    For the record. It should be obvious to anyone that it’s quite possible for Dobzhansky’s quote to be correct (it’s a great essay by the way) and for many molecular biologists to not know much evolutionary biology.

    For genomics in particular, evolutionary biology has provided many tools for understanding genomes. But that doesn’t mean everyone that uses the tools understands their underpinnings. Indeed, it’s quite possible to depend on evolutionary biology without understanding much of it. Collins own position is largely a political and organisational one, so that’s even more the case for him.

  6. 6
    Jack Jones says:

    Apparently wd400 evolved to become an evolutionary biologist by posting on uncommon descent, how that works is strange but apparently posting on the net made him mutate into an evolutionary biologist, does that constitute evidence that one day after many generations that a non human creature will result?

    hahaha

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    wd400 @ 5 engages in what those of us raised in the south call “crayfishin'” So named because crayfish swim backwards.

    It is amusing to watch a Darwinist furiously backtrack after being shown where the logic of one of their own statements leads.

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    BTW, for wd400’s statement at 5 to be true, the following series of statements would also have to be true:

    1. Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.

    2. The human genome project is “in biology.”

    3. Collins does not understand evolution,.

    4. Therefore, the head of the human genome project is unable to make sense of the human genome project.

    For those of you who believe this, I have some ocean front property in Kansas I would like to sell you.

  9. 9
    Jack Jones says:

    Mr Arrington, It’s clear that you have studied in correctly utilizing logic, that is why you are tearing Professor Moran (who talks as if he is the worlds foremost authority on evolution) to shreds, it is why his cheerleaders who rely on rhetoric rather than reason are getting torn to shreds too.

    It is very entertaining to witness.

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    For those of you who believe this, I have some ocean front property in Kansas I would like to sell you.

    What is the beach like?

    Any danger of shark attacks?

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    wd400 @ 5:

    I don’t know what compels you to write these [denigrating qualifiers deleted] posts.

    It is a fair question that deserves a response.

    It is amusing to watch people like you run in horror from the logical conclusions that ineluctably proceed from their own statements.

    So the answer is “it is amusing.”

  12. 12
    Jack Jones says:

    After seeing Larry Moran and his Moranites get toasted, roasted scrambled and fried by Mr Arrington and other commentators here, But yet they are able to get themselves back together in one piece and come back for more.

    This is interesting folks, Is this self organization?

    Is it a built in mechanism, does it involve mutations? are they rapidly mutating back into being suckers for punishment that are getting beaten more than a prime Mike Tyson battered his opponents?.

    Just wondered folks.

  13. 13
    wd400 says:

    If you’d like to address the contents of my post please do.

  14. 14
    Box says:

    David Berlinski understands evolution:

    You know, nothing is so apt to provoke the indignation of Darwinian biologists as to remark that the centerpiece of their theory is perfectly empty because it is, in fact, a trivial truth: whatever survives, survives. And Darwinian theory does not really get beyond que sera, sera. And there are all sorts of elaborate strategies designed to circumvent that objection, but whenever they’re investigated seriously, they always return to the same point of triviality. Darwinian biologists simply have nothing much better than what survives, survives. They’ll call it differential reproduction—namely, what survives, survives. This may be just a fact of life. (…)

    What has it ever told us beyond what survives, survives? We have no independent assessment in any respect—and this is a point of difference in physics—as to what qualities in a living system will establish its survivability. That is to say, we cannot look at an organism and say: “These are the qualities from a theoretical point of view, a general theoretical point of view, that we would predict would be favored under certain environments.” There is no mapping from an environment of such-and-such a nature and an organism of such-and-such a nature to a prediction about which organism is possessing which qualitative – forget about quantitative, they’re nowhere near that – will survive and which won’t. We can’t say that. All we can do is look at what happens in the evolutionary record, but that’s not scientific. We could have done that before Darwin. (…)

    You’ve got one eel that has to travel across the Atlantic to the Sargasso Sea to reproduce and another eel that doesn’t. Can we say in advance, looking at the eels, given the saltwater environment, this is what we will predict? No, we can’t, we just have to look and see. There’s nothing wrong with looking and seeing, but, you know, we don’t need a theory for that.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    wd400 @ 13:

    I have addressed the contents of your post.

    I pointed out that when confronted with the logical conclusions that ineluctably proceed from your own statement, you did the verbal equivalent of this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5BxrvWtTuU

  16. 16
    Mapou says:

    I enjoy watching a good ass whupping. I even got cheetos and beer for the occasion.

  17. 17
    Jack Jones says:

    Mr Arrington said “I have addressed the contents of your post.

    I pointed out that when confronted with the logical conclusions that ineluctably proceed from your own statement, you did the verbal equivalent of this:”

    Wd400 seems to be losing his sight and cannot see Mr Arrington’s post, Becoming blind just like a blind cave fish, is that entropy or evolution?

    PZ Myers claims to be a fish, is wd400 becoming a blind fish but one that does not live in a cave? Is he a different species of fish to PZ myers?

    Is this entropy or evolution over time?.

    Are you a lumper or a splitter?

    It is interesting.

  18. 18
    wd400 says:

    Well, you can play you first year philosophy games if you like. (Though it should be pointed out I didn’t say 3. You don’t have to know much about evolution to know we are related to other animals, and without that knowledge it’s very hard to understand genomes).

    And the conclusion was actually my point in the first There is much about the human genome that Collins doesn’t understand — he was mistaken about the number of genes it would contain (when evolutionary biologists made accurate predictions much earlier), he was mistaken about the degree of horizontal transfer in the human genome when they first published it, he is now mistaken about how much junk it contains.

    But my larger point posts like this make it impossible to actually discuss any topic and so it degrades into tribalism and point scoring. That doesn’t interest me at all, so I’ll leave you to it.

  19. 19
    Jack Jones says:

    wd400@18 “can play you first year philosophy games”

    Philosophy is known as the love of wisdom.

    You scoff at this.

    When you reject wisdom then it is not a surprise that you are doing so badly.

  20. 20
    Barry Arrington says:

    wd400’s first statement:

    Unfortunately a lot of molecular biologists (Collins included) don’t understand much about evolution.

    Barry’s reductio ad absurdum argument:

    1. Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.
    2. The human genome project is “in biology.”
    3. Collins does not understand evolution,.
    4. Therefore, the head of the human genome project is unable to make sense of the human genome project.

    wd400

    Though it should be pointed out I didn’t say 3.

    wd, would you accuse me of playing first year philosophy games again (ouch, that really smarts), if I point out that you did in fact say 3.

  21. 21
    Box says:

    We should keep in mind that, according to naturalism, no one understands evolutionary theory. According to naturalism no person exist — including a person with the forum name WD400 who is an evolutionary biologist. Existence is exclusive to particles – fermions and bosons. There is simply nothing over and beyond that.
    We all know that those particles are non-rational, purposeless and are not at all interested in evolutionary theory; or any other theory.
    It follows that, according to naturalism, there can be no entity “who” is capable of understanding evolutionary theory.

  22. 22
    wd400 says:

    Yes Barry, I said if you wanted to play games that’s the sort of thing you’d have to deal with. If, instead, you want to actually understand something you should read the posts and think about them.

  23. 23
    Jack Jones says:

    @22 wd400 “Yes Barry, I said if you wanted to play games that’s the sort of thing you’d have to deal with. If, instead, you want to actually understand something you should read the posts and think about them.”

    Code for- The internet evolutionary biologist cannot refute what Mr Arrington posted so decided to throw a tantrum instead.

  24. 24
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Existence is exclusive to particles – fermions and bosons. There is simply nothing over and beyond that.

    Sure there is. There are cohesive collections of particles, such as molecules, magnates, and moons.

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    Well, all I have to say is wd400 is no Theodosius Dobzhansky!

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung, Lake Nicaragua has some seriously vicious sharks. KF

  27. 27
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF,

    I dove among bull sharks off the coast of Costa Rica a few years ago. Fascinating creatures.

    Obligatory joke: Why did the sharks not bite me? Professional courtesy.

    Interesting historical fact: Before the ultimately settled on Panama, there was serious consideration given to building the canal through this region and incorporating the lake into it.

  28. 28
    Box says:

    Zach: There are cohesive collections of particles, such as molecules, magnates, and moons.

    Zach, you are right, there is just fermions and bosons and combinations of them. Problem is that none of that stuff is about any other stuff. If “we” are not able to think about stuff we surely cannot understand stuff — evolutionary theory included.

    THE BRAIN DOES EVERYTHING WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT ANYTHING AT ALL.
    Science must even deny the basic notion that we ever really think about the past and the future or even that our conscious thoughts ever give any meaning to the actions that express them.
    Introspection must be wrong when it credits consciousness with thoughts about birthdays, keys, and bosses’ names. But the mistake introspection makes is so deep and so persuasive, it’s almost impossible to shake, even when you understand it. At first you won’t even be able to conceive how it could be a mistake. But it has to be. The mistake is the notion that when we think, or rather when our brain thinks, it thinks about anything at all.
    We have to see very clearly that introspection tricks us into the illusion that our thoughts are about anything at all.
    Thinking about things can’t happen at all. The brain can’t have thoughts about Paris, or about France, or about capitals, or about anything else for that matter. When consciousness convinces you that you, or your mind, or your brain has thoughts about things, it is wrong.
    Physics has ruled out the existence of clumps of matter of the required sort. There are just fermions and bosons and combinations of them. None of that stuff is just, all by itself, about any other stuff. There is nothing in the whole universe—including, of course, all the neurons in your brain—that just by its nature or composition can do this job of being about some other clump of matter. So, when consciousness assures us that we have thoughts about stuff, it has to be wrong. (…)
    Therefore, consciousness cannot retrieve thoughts about stuff. There are none to retrieve. So it can’t have thoughts about stuff either.
    [Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide To Reality, Ch.8]

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, how — in sufficient detail to show the soundness — do you get a self-aware, conscious, responsibly free and warranting thus knowing unified “I” from a collection of particles interacting under quantum laws etc? Can you derive conscious rational responsibly free contemplation from blindly mechanical computation, in other words? Why do people like Provine hold that you cannot and why did this get enough respect to be a U Tenn Darwin Day keynote, Feb 1998? Do you have a response to Pearcey’s concerns (I will again clip) sufficient to resolve the matter? Or are you simply asserting materialism, dressing it up in a lab coat and demanding that we kowtow? KF

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Pearcey, with a snippet of Provine . . . clip the link and go through wayback machine:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . . An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

    [–> that is, responsible, rational freedom is undermined. Cf here William Provine in his 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.” [ENV excerpt, Finding Truth (David C. Cook, 2015) by Nancy Pearcey.]

  31. 31
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Problem is that none of that stuff is about any other stuff.

    Your comment included that “According to naturalism … Existence is exclusive to particles – fermions and bosons. There is simply nothing over and beyond that.” There are many forms of naturalism, most that admit to the existence of objects above and beyond fermions and bosons — regardless of the non-representative position of a particular naturalist.

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, I think that may be back on the cards, and yes there was a project in I think the 1870’s which failed. Oddly one of my grandfathers worked on the Panama Canal. He was with the mosquito inspectors. KF

  33. 33
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: how — in sufficient detail to show the soundness — do you get a self-aware, conscious, responsibly free and warranting thus knowing unified “I” from a collection of particles interacting under quantum laws etc

    No one knows.

    kairosfocus: Or are you simply asserting materialism, dressing it up in a lab coat and demanding that we kowtow?

    We didn’t assert materialism, merely pointed out that most naturalists don’t have a problem with identifying objects above and beyond fermions and bosons.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, ya gotta SHOW the emergence mon, not merely assert it. There is not a linear extension from Na + Cl –> NaCl to conscious rational, responsible freedom. But such freedom is actually a necessary condition of having a real argument. And yes, that pesky self referential incoherence of evolutionary materialism is popping up again. Its not just nobody knows HOW (but it must be), the issue is of a radically, categorically distinct order of reality that is our first fact: conscious rationality. KF

  35. 35
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: ya gotta SHOW the emergence mon, not merely assert it.

    Um, the assertion is that no one knows how “unified ‘I’ from a collection of particles interacting under quantum laws” occurs.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, Its not just nobody knows HOW (but it must be), the issue is of a radically, categorically distinct order of reality that is our first fact: conscious rationality. A big clue that evolutionary materialism or same plus poof magic emergence etc, are in deep self-referential incoherence as just pointed out via Pearcey and Provine, with others up above. This is break-point for any worldview rooted in matter-energy interacting blindly by chance and necessity. But I am confident there is no intent to take such seriously so long as it is thought that the lab coat clad magisterium holds institutional high ground and can call up career busting barrages administratively and agit prop carpet bombing through the captive media. Hence, we are back at the domineering, parasitical, self-referentially incoherent ideology driving a grand march of suicidal folly for our civilisation. KF

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Those who know of what happened with German culture from 1800 – 1945 should ponder Heinie’s 1831 prophecy in the context of the worldwide trends of our civilisation:

    Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [–> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . do not overlook the obvious], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame [–> an irrational battle- and blood- lust]. …

    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

    Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world.

    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [–> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [–> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns] will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831]

  38. 38
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF,

    Argument deals with evidence and logic. Zach is not interested in evidence and logic. He worships at the alter of materialism, and if you try to drag him away from that alter with reason, he puts his fingers in his ears and goes into full “Miracle Max Mode”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEBoXET-9Yk

    His faith is very strong.

  39. 39
    Andre says:

    I find it fascinating that just about every single NS & RM, Neutral & Drift garden variety evolutionist all ignore the established law of bio-genesis when they make their molecules to man done so by luck, chance and time claim.

    Why is that?

  40. 40
    Robert Byers says:

    AMEN> Evolution is not true. Actual biology research therefore couldn’t be relevant to a false idea. It isn’t.
    Biology has nothing to do with history of how biology came to be. Its another subject.
    One is about here and now matter and mechanics and the other about process of how matter/mechanics came to be before it did.
    Evo bio is about the invisable past events. not present events.
    Many creationists study and love biology. Nothing to do with evolution.
    History of biology does matter but its history.

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, I believe he needed an opportunity/challenge to address the matter, and in any case the facts of balance on the merits needed to be established, given the now obviously false impression of great objective facts and rationality on the part of the materialist magisterium. KF

  42. 42
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: Its not just nobody knows HOW (but it must be), the issue is of a radically, categorically distinct order of reality that is our first fact: conscious rationality.

    That’s nice, but doesn’t constitute a scientific and testable explanation of how an “I” occurs.

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    Zachriel, without this fact in hand, of self aware responsibly and rationally significantly free selves, science is impossible as is any rational discourse. This is a self evident truth. Science is not the be all and end all of reality, rationality and knowledge. It is evolutionary materialist scientism — already in trouble on the scientism and demonstrably further in trouble on the self referential incoherence side (through this very issue) — that critically depends on the project of extracting an “I” scientifically from blind watchmaker chance and necessity in a wholly material world. That burden, which you admit has not been met, has not been met and in fact it is doubtful — to be as restrained as possible — that it can be met, due to the category issues involved. Further to this, the attempt to reduce ground and consequent insight on free and responsible rational contemplation to blindly mechanical cause-effect chains due to blind chance and necessity, is arguably an attempt to get north by heading due west. KF

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me amplify the challenge:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . . An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

    [–> that is, responsible, rational freedom is undermined. Cf here William Provine in his 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.” [ENV excerpt, Finding Truth (David C. Cook, 2015) by Nancy Pearcey.]

  45. 45
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: Science is not the be all and end all of reality, rationality and knowledge.

    No, it’s not. So you agree there is no scientific explanation for the origin of consciousness, as noted above.

    kairosfocus: Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Humans don’t have perfect knowledge of the world, the “truth”. Rather, sensation is fraught with perceptual limitations and distortions. Nonetheless, reasonably accurate knowledge of the world is reproductively advantageous. One advantage humans have is abstraction, which allows the breaking down of complexes into simpler components (including the use of instrumentation), and for the sharing of these abstractions, resulting in greater accuracy and assurance.

  46. 46
    Jack Jones says:

    “39 Andre

    I find it fascinating that just about every single NS & RM, Neutral & Drift garden variety evolutionist all ignore the established law of bio-genesis when they make their molecules to man done so by luck, chance and time claim.

    Why is that?”

    I made the law of biogenesis argument over on The blog sandwalk, BTW… Funny for somebody who hates being called a Darwinist to call his blog sandwalk after the path behind Darwin’s home and put on the side of the page

    “The Sandwalk is the path behind the home of Charles Darwin where he used to walk every day, thinking about science. You can see the path in the woods in the upper left-hand corner of this image.”

    He also says “Most of us know that Charles Darwin was the greatest scientist who ever lived ”

    http://sandwalk.blogspot.co.uk.....-ever.html

    Moran thinks he was so great but seems to take being called a Darwinist as an insult. Strange person that Moran.

  47. 47
    Barry Arrington says:

    Zach:

    Nonetheless, reasonably accurate knowledge of the world is reproductively advantageous.

    Says you. Say a caveman gets the answer wrong (that tiger is very nice and likes to play hide and seek; I will join the game and go hide) and survives even though he was wrong.

    What is important is that the caveman survived, which is possible (under the hypothetical) even though he was wrong about the tiger being nice and he was wrong about what he was doing (playing a game).

    It is easy to make up stories about how being able to detect truth is advantageous for selection. It is just as easy to make up stories about how it is not.

    The point you are missing is that evolutionary theory does not “predict” which characteristics are selectively advantageous except in retrospect, when we say the organisms that happened to survive were most fit.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, if we are not responsibly and rationally free, the whole project of the life of the mind collapses. And that includes the importance of seeking, being free to seek and free to assess whether thoughts and claims say of what is that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. A worldview that radically undermines rationality and responsibility undermines freedom and the way it itself was arrived at, ending in self referential incoherence. But then Haldane already pointed that out in 1927. KF

  49. 49
    Zachriel says:

    Barry Arrington: Say a caveman gets the answer wrong (that tiger is very nice and likes to play hide and seek; I will join the game and go hide) and survives even though he was wrong.

    That position would probably lead to death. Eventually play ends, but the tiger would still be hungry. Furthermore, you have only to watch what happened to your friend who liked to play with the tiger to realize the existential danger.

    kairosfocus: if we are not responsibly and rationally free, the whole project of the life of the mind collapses.

    That’s nice, but not a scientific explanation.

  50. 50
    goodusername says:

    Barry,

    What is important is that the caveman survived, which is possible (under the hypothetical) even though he was wrong about the tiger being nice and he was wrong about what he was doing (playing a game).

    Ok, so in that case the caveman got lucky. But how long is such luck going to last?

    Perhaps by chance he’ll choose to hide from every dangerous animal, and happen to hunt every animal that’s relatively safe to hunt, and bumble through life just getting lucky, and have children who manage to do the same (as if luck is hereditable).
    Does that sound realistic?

    You may as well make the argument that vision is worthless because you can just happen to step around every obstacle by chance and happen to reach out for food when food happens to be in reach, etc.

    After all, if accurate knowledge of the world is irrelevant than why have any senses (vision, hearing, touch, etc) at all?

    I don’t think Mr. Bean and Mr. Magoo would manage too well IRL.

  51. 51
    Barry Arrington says:

    GUN asks:

    Ok, so in that case the caveman got lucky. But how long is such luck going to last?

    If it lasts long enough for the caveman to reproduce, it has lasted long enough. GUN, this is really elementary stuff. I am surprised you are disputing it.

    Besides, you are missing the point. The caveman did not get lucky. He did the right thing for the wrong reason. It is doing the “right thing” that selection selects for. The reason the organism did the “right thing” is invisible to selection.

  52. 52
    Barry Arrington says:

    Zach

    That position would probably lead to death.

    You are missing the point. Running and hiding leads to life. The caveman’s wrong conclusions led him to do the thing that caused him to survive. Doing the thing that causes you to survive will not “probably lead to death.” What an odd thing to say.

    Again, motive is invisible to natural selection. The only thing that is visible is what the organism actually does. And if he does the thing for the wrong reason, selection does not care. He will survive.

    For someone who defends materialist evolution all the time, you don’t seem to understand some fairly basic principles. That would bother me. Does it bother you?

  53. 53
    Zachriel says:

    Barry Arrington: Running and hiding leads to life.

    The claim is that the belief that tigers just want to play results in a successful survival strategy. It does not. When the game ends, the tiger is still hungry. Watching someone getting eaten by the tiger is also a big clue. The tiger isn’t playing.

    Barry Arrington: Again, motive is invisible to natural selection.

    The belief leads to a non-successful survival strategy.

  54. 54
    Zachriel says:

    Barry Arrington: If it lasts long enough for the caveman to reproduce, it has lasted long enough.

    Human reproduction takes close to twenty years. The tiger will have a meal or two within that time span.

  55. 55
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Human reproduction takes close to twenty years.

    BWWWWAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Only if you don’t know what you are doing

  56. 56
    Virgil Cain says:

    Ok, so in that case the caveman got lucky. But how long is such luck going to last?

    If evolutionism is true, it’s all luck.

  57. 57
    goodusername says:

    Barry,

    If it lasts long enough for the caveman to reproduce, it has lasted long enough. GUN, this is really elementary stuff. I am surprised you are disputing it.

    Besides, you are missing the point. The caveman did not get lucky. He did the right thing for the wrong reason. It is doing the “right thing” that selection selects for. The reason the organism did the “right thing” is invisible to selection.

    It’s not just luck – it’s preposterous luck. Someone just happening to to do the right behavior, for reasons that have nothing to do with reality, time after time, every day, for every creature and danger he encounters, year after year… well, you get the picture.

    You’re missing the point. If you’re going to argue that “reasonably accurate knowledge of the world” isn’t relevant to survival and evolution, than we’re not discussing a one off thing.

    If you are discussing a one off thing, than you’re likely describing all of us. (After all, we’ve probably all, without realizing it, encountered dangerous situations at one point or another and just happened to do the right thing for the wrong reason and luckily survived. There have probably been several times, at least, that I could have been a youtube star if someone was filming.)

    What you’re arguing is akin to claiming that a real life actual Mr. Bean or Mr. Magoo is just as likely to survive and breed as someone basing his actions on reasonably accurate knowledge of his surroundings.

    Yes, I absolutely do dispute that.

    Perhaps the reason that the caveman doing the “right thing” is invisible to selection – but the odds of the caveman doing the right thing are astronomically less without accurate knowledge of the world.

    If you dispute that, you may as well dispute that a blind and deaf caveman is just as likely to survive as a caveman with five good working senses.

  58. 58
    Barry Arrington says:

    Zach,

    The belief leads to a non-successful survival strategy.

    The belief that he should run and hide from the tiger leads to non-successful strategy?

    See what you did there? You could not answer the hypothetical. So you changed it.

    If I was unable to respond to my opponent’s hypothetical and instead had to change the hypothetical and pretend I was responding to it in order to maintain my point, I am pretty sure it would bother me. It might even lead me to reevaluate my position. Does it bother you? Will you reevaluate your position?

  59. 59
    Jack Jones says:

    Robert ByersNovember 13, 2015 at 12:31 am

    “AMEN> Evolution is not true. Actual biology research therefore couldn’t be relevant to a false idea. It isn’t.
    Biology has nothing to do with history of how biology came to be. Its another subject.
    One is about here and now matter and mechanics and the other about process of how matter/mechanics came to be before it did.
    Evo bio is about the invisable past events. not present events.
    Many creationists study and love biology. Nothing to do with evolution.
    History of biology does matter but its history.”

    Robert,

    The tax mooching just so story telling evolutionary biologists aka moth and butterfly collectors are not gonna give up though, They have to feed their families too.

  60. 60
    Mung says:

    Laws of Nature + chance quantum fluctuations = Loaded Dice

  61. 61
    Zachriel says:

    Barry Arrington: The belief that he should run and hide from the tiger leads to non-successful strategy?

    That wasn’t your claim. Your claim was that the belief was the “tiger is very nice and likes to play hide and seek; I will join the game and go hide”. When someone tires of playing hide and seek, they stop hiding and yell “Olly olly oxen free!” Furthermore, when you see what the tiger did to your mate, you should be able to figure out that the tiger isn’t playing.

    Barry Arrington: See what you did there? You could not answer the hypothetical. So you changed it.

    See what you did there? You could not support your hypothetical. So you changed it.

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