Darwinism Intelligent Design Philosophy

Philosopher: Darwinism vs. evidence was always a sore point

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Laszlo Bencze, on reading Neil Thomas’s Taking Leave of Darwin (2021), notes,

I am currently reading Neil Thomas’s recent book, Taking Leave of Darwin. He highlights Darwin’s rhetorical tricks in a most engaging way:

Curiously, Darwin himself acknowledged and indeed drew attention to the lack of fossil evidence—he even, as he put it, “had difficulty imagining by what gradations many structures had been perfected,” adding, “Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?… as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the Earth?” [Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859), p. 129]

Yet, as Gertrude Himmelfarb (who did more than any other critic to unmask Darwin’s rhetorical evasions) noted, Darwin’s technique here and elsewhere was “to assume that by acknowledging the difficulty, he had somehow exorcized it,” coming up with a faux confession aimed at propitiating critical dissent. Thereafter, misgivings are whisked away by rhetorical legerdemain cum disarming self-effacement, and he proceeds, in a famously circular argument, to blame the fossil record itself for not providing the evidence he desired (lacing this with the pious hope that future fossil finds would prove him right). His hope that the gaps would be remedied after his day has not, however, been fulfilled to date. —Taking Leave of Darwin, Neil Thomas, p. 76 – 77

This rhetorical technique continues today in almost every explanation of or defense of evolution. Sound criticisms are not answered. Rather they are “pooh poohed” away as the pathetic limitations of inferior minds whereas the superior minds of evolutionists “see no problem” with any fanciful evolutionary speculation. How could the irreducible complexity of the flagellum have evolved bit by bit? No problem. Another cellular organelle was co-opted. Of course that vague term is meant to be understood as a comprehensive answer. Criticisms of such vagueness evoke Darwin’s classic response “I see no reason why it couldn’t have worked out that way.”

“Life from non-life? Yes, that is an amazingly difficult problem and we agree that no one has the slightest idea how it happened. Nonetheless, we see no reason why it should not yield to scientific advances in chemistry.” Problem acknowledged and solved. “Move along now. We’ve got business to attend to.”

The “other business” has too often been the huge fists of the law and social exclusion.

That’s really what Darwinists are expert at.

18 Replies to “Philosopher: Darwinism vs. evidence was always a sore point

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    This seems unfair. Darwin himself had an appropiate mix of humility and boldness, clearly distinguishing facts from assumptions. He asked questions and tried to answer them. His modern cultists lack humility and never ask questions.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    Darwin had an interesting idea that works in the real world. It led to modern day genetics.

    It’s just that the idea is limited and the evolution debate has nothing to do with DNA even though that is how one aspect of evolution is defined.

    There are several types of evolution. Genetics, originated by Darwin and his ideas and his supporters, is just one small part of the term.

    if you want to win the evolution debate, it has to be redefined.

  3. 3
    chuckdarwin says:

    Who is the philosopher to whom this headline refers? Thomas is a literary historian, Himmelfarb (spouse of neocon Irving Kristol) was a political historian and the link related to Laszlo Bencze shows him to be a photographer (maybe I’m missing something).

  4. 4
    jerry says:

    maybe I’m missing something

    Yes, you are!

    Darwin and his ideas have nothing to do with the evolution debate.

    You should change your name to something relevant.

  5. 5
    Querius says:

    Jerry @2, 4,

    if you want to win the evolution debate, it has to be redefined.

    Do you have any ideas how? Darwinism has been falsified so many times by new discoveries that it seems that Darwinism is the only thing that evolves. Darwinism also provided “scientific” support for eugenics, various genocides (Namibia and Australia immediately come to mind), colonialism, and a racial manifest destiny.

    You should change your name to something relevant.

    Any ideas? It seems to me that Chuckdarwin is actually HIGHLY appropriate since science should indeed “chuck” Darwin for a fresh start that’s compatible with post-19th century scientific discoveries.

    “Darwin” also reminds me of Darwin, Australia and the museums there displaying the cultural artifacts the Australian aboriginals that suffered from European genocidal policies. As Darwin triumphantly wrote

    Wherever the European has trod, death seems to pursue the aboriginal. We may look to the wide extent of the Americas, Polynesia, the Cape of Good Hope, and Australia, and we find the same result . . .

    The sad story is described here:
    https://allthatsinteresting.com/australia-genocide

    -Q

  6. 6
    jerry says:

    Do you have any ideas how?

    Yes, by saying Darwin was 100% right about small changes and natural selection. But then saying the changes only lead to intra species change.

    So it’s not the right process to cause species change. So the science says look elsewhere.

    ID follows the science. Chuckdarwin is following the wrong science. So ID are proud Darwinists but it has nothing to do with the Evolution debate.

  7. 7
    Querius says:

    Ok, I see what you mean, Jerry.

    Natural selection can modify allele frequency based on environmental pressures. However, random mutations haven’t been able to produce NEW features or new body plans, and there seems to be a limit both in the amount of change and the velocity of change.

    Have you ever read Marshall’s Evolution 2.0?
    https://www.amazon.com/Evolution-2-0-Breaking-Deadlock-Between-dp-1944648755/dp/1944648755/ref=mt_other?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1630701652

    According to this book, there are a number (5-6 IIRC) of designed-in methods that promote change and the regions subject to change are limited. I think you’ll enjoy the book if you haven’t already read it.

    Beyond DNA, there’s also (multiple and overlapping) epigenetic codes that allow for changes in, for example, beak size and shape in Darwin’s finches in a single generation. Some contributors here have also mentioned “sugar codes.” For example,
    https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/yale-scientists-unlock-sugar-code-to-regulate-in-vivo-and-ex-vivo-blood-stem-cell-production/

    -Q

  8. 8
    jerry says:

    Beyond DNA, there’s also (multiple and overlapping) epigenetic codes that allow for changes in, for example, beak size and shape in Darwin’s finches in a single generation. Some contributors here have also mentioned “sugar codes.”

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/darwinism-in-1954-inherent-improbability/#comment-559965

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/kirk-durston-information-decrease-falsifies-essential-darwinian-prediction/#comment-570102

  9. 9
    Querius says:

    Ah, yes.

    And I noticed that your points were quickly was derailed into the exact definition of a species that someone insisted was determined by “regular” interbreeding (presumably in contrast with occasional, recreational, and spring break interbreeding). lol

    But I guess that the supposed “tree of life” is much too important to be accosted by pesky DNA analysis.

    -Q

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry

    So ID are proud Darwinists

    Darwin tried to explain the origin of species from an entirely materialist viewpoint – and he failed miserably. Keeping his name alive as if he discovered natural selection (which Wallace discovered before him) doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

  11. 11
    Silver Asiatic says:

    CD

    Thomas is a literary historian, Himmelfarb (spouse of neocon Irving Kristol) was a political historian

    If Darwinism was really a scientific project, you’d have a point. But instead it is an historical conjecture and theological proposal – so it would be appropriate for historians to weigh in. Quite a lot of what Darwin was doing was just pure literary expression. There are what-if scenarios, just-so stories and theological deconstruction. Thomas has a strong background in analysis of propaganda and brainwashing techniques so he also seems very well qualified for the task.

  12. 12
    chuckdarwin says:

    My question was simply a truth in advertising matter–who’s the philosopher referenced in the headline? Wasn’t looking for a bunch of jive talk about Darwin, et al.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Chuckdarwin cries foul that his namesake hero ‘Charles Darwin’ is being maligned with “jive talk”.

    Chuckdarwin claims he is simply interested in “truth in advertising” and feels that literary and political historians have no footing in which to legitimately criticize Darwin’s supposedly scientific theory. Yet as Silver Asiatic pointed out at post 11,

    If Darwinism was really a scientific project, you’d have a point. But instead it is an historical conjecture and theological proposal – so it would be appropriate for historians to weigh in. Quite a lot of what Darwin was doing was just pure literary expression. There are what-if scenarios, just-so stories and theological deconstruction. Thomas has a strong background in analysis of propaganda and brainwashing techniques so he also seems very well qualified for the task.

    If Chuckdarwin was really interested in ‘truth in advertising’, as he is trying to claim that he is, then he would honestly admit that Darwin’s theory is not now, nor was it ever, a real and testable scientific theory, but that it is merely a ‘secular creation myth’ that is falsely advertised to the general public as being a real and testable scientific theory.

    As Querius pointed out at post 5, “Darwinism has been falsified so many times by new discoveries that it seems that Darwinism is the only thing that evolves.”

    But alas ChuckDarwin, like his namesake Charles Darwin, is not really interested in ‘truth in advertising’, ChuckDarwin is, in fact, only interested in dishonest rhetorical slights of hand that make it seem as if his arguments have anything more than hot air going for them.

    And since ChuckDarwin brought up the subject of ‘truth in advertising’, it is interesting to note that, as a little boy, Charles Darwin, by his own admission, “was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods”.

    “I may here also confess that as a little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was always done for the sake of causing excitement. For instance, I once gathered much valuable fruit from my father’s trees and hid it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless haste to spread the news that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit.”
    – Charles Darwin – The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume I – pg 14
    http://charles-darwin.classic-.....age-14.asp

    As should be needless to say, that defect in Darwin’s character, (i.e. “as a little boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods”), does not presently look good for ChuckyD appeal for ‘truth in advertising’ considering that Himmelfarb’s current criticism is that Darwin was using “rhetorical evasions” in order to deal with falsifying evidence against his theory.

    And if we were to go further with ChuckDarwin’s appeal for ‘truth in advertising’, we could also mention the fact that Darwin’s book, ‘Origin of Species’. (despite being falsely advertised as some kind of great scientific masterpiece), Darwin’s book, in reality, was not really a scientific book at all. In fact, Darwin’s book had/has no real-time experimental evidence, nor mathematics, within it to support his theory, but instead his book was mainly filled with faulty theological argumentation.

    Which is hardly what one would expect from one of the supposedly greatest science books ever written.

    Here is a list of the faulty theological arguments, (instead of scientific evidence), that Darwin used in his book to try to establish his theory as valid.

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    Excerpt: The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action; as Dilley observes:
    I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation): ?1. Human beings are not justified in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind.
    2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern.
    3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the ‘simplest mode’ to accomplish the functions of these structures.
    4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part’s function.
    5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms.
    6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter.
    7. God directly created the first ‘primordial’ life.
    8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life.
    9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.
    10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    A few related notes,

    Anti-Science Irony
    Excerpt: In response to a letter from Asa Gray, professor of biology at Harvard University, Darwin declared: “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.”
    When questioned further by Gray, Darwin confirmed Gray’s suspicions: “What you hint at generally is very, very true: that my work is grievously hypothetical, and large parts are by no means worthy of being called induction.” Darwin had turned against the use of scientific principles in developing his theory of evolution.
    http://www.darwinthenandnow.co.....nce-irony/

    SKEPTICS OF DARWINIAN THEORY
    Sedgwick to Darwin
    “…I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly, parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow, because I think them utterly false and grievously mischievous. You have deserted—after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth—the true method of induction, and started us in machinery as wild, I think, as Bishop Wilkins’s locomotive that was to sail with us to the moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved, why then express them in the language and arrangement of philosophical induction?”
    Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873) – one of the founders of modern geology. – The Spectator, 1860
    http://veritas-ucsb.org/librar.....itics.html

    Was Darwin a Scholar or a Pitchman? – Michael Flannery – October 20, 2015
    Excerpt: By and large, the scientists of his day were not much impressed with Darwin’s theory. John Herschel called natural selection “the law of higgledy-piggledy,” and William Whewell thought the theory consisted of “speculations” that were “quite unproved by facts,” so much so that he refused to put the book on the shelves of the Trinity College Library.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....00191.html

    “nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin(ism) can be described as scientific”
    – Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922 – February 2, 1974) a philosopher of mathematics and science, quote was as stated in 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture?

  14. 14
    jerry says:

    doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

    I’m trying to tell you how to win the debate.

    Darwin’s ideas are extremely important. They just don’t have anything to do with the Evolution debate. Neither do Watson and Crick’s.

    That’s the irony of featuring Darwin or DNA in any debate on evolution. Both are irrelevant. Neither is Mendel. All are important, very important for genetics. But genetics is not Evolution.

  15. 15
    jerry says:

    who’s the philosopher

    So is the Evolution debate really over the criteria of who can be called a philosopher?

  16. 16
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry

    They just don’t have anything to do with the Evolution debate.

    How do you define the evolution debate? What does it entail?

  17. 17
    jerry says:

    How do you define the Evolution debate?

    The only way anyone cares about.

    New body plans, new capabilities.

    By the way should we always use a capital “E” when referring to the actual debate that matters?

    Aside: I’m sure others have their inputs.

  18. 18
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Jerry

    The only way anyone cares about.

    Do you think that evolutionists do not care about their own claim that changes in DNA drive evolution? In other words, is “anyone” the folks on our side of the debate, or both sides? If both, how did you determine what evolutionists care about? Do they even think there is a debate?
    In my view, they think they’re proclaiming ‘settled science’ and I have heard “there is no debate” as well as the idea “there are no weaknesses in evolutionary theory”.

    Regarding the capital E – it’s good to ask for consensus. In my view, ID is all about trying to get evolutionists to understand some things. Also, we usually don’t get the authority to define the terms, except for our own use (and they usually reject our rules anyway).

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