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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Has the growth in interest in design helped to chase blatant philosophical materialism out of textbooks?

Has the growth in interest in design helped to chase blatant philosophical materialism out of textbooks?

Just wondering. Have you seen examples from recent textbooks that match these examples from the1990s through 2001?:

From Joseph S. Levine and Kenneth R. Miller, Biology: Discovering Life (D.C. Heath and Co., 1st ed. 1992, p. 152:
Darwin knew that accepting his theory required believing in philosophical materialism, the conviction that matter is the stuff of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its by-products. Darwinian evolution was not only purposeless but also heartless--a process in which the rigors of nature ruthlessly eliminate the unfit.

Suddenly, humanity was reduced to just one more species in a world that cared nothing for us. The great human mind was no more than a mass of evolving neurons. Worst of all, there was no divine plan to guide us.
(My source tells me that this language was not removed for the 2nd ed. in 1994.)

From Douglas Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology (1998, 3rd Ed., Sinauer Associates), p. 5:

Darwin showed that material causes are a sufficient explanation not only for physical phenomena, as Descartes and Newton had shown, but also for biological phenomena with all their seeming evidence of design and purpose. By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous. Together with Marx's materialistic theory of history and society and Freud's attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, Darwin's theory of evolution was a crucial plank in the platform of mechanism and materialism…

From William K. Purves, David Sadava, Gordon H. Orians, H. Craig Keller, Life: The Science of Biology (2001, 6th Ed., Sinauer; W.H. Freeman and Co.), p. 3:

Adopting this view of the world means accepting not only the processes of evolution, but also the view that the living world is constantly evolving, and that evolutionary change occurs without any ‘goals.’ The idea that evolution is not directed towards a final goal state has been more difficult for many people to accept than the process of evolution itself.

Hat tip for excerpts Stephen E. Jones, pictured above.


Eugenics and the Firewall: History is about the future, not the past ...

Jane Harris Zsovan, the author of a recent book on the surprising history of Social Darwinist eugenics (= forced sterilization) in Canada, talks about a recent interview (not available on line in total):
Paula Kirman interviewed me recently for her article: "A not so proud history." The interview appears in the Fall Winter 2010 issue of Prairie Books Now! As I told Paula, "History isn't about the past at all. It's about charting a future in which our children are not unwitting victims of our mistakes.``

The Province of Alberta’s Eugenics Board existed in the context of a populist political culture that viewed political dissent as something nearing treachery (eg: William Aberhart`s Accurate News and Information Act and the Manning government`s lawsuit against the IODE over its publication of criticisms of Alberta Social Services). That culture helped political `leaders` to create a dual sense of self-righteousness and victimization among the electorate.

As I tell Prairie Books Now!: ...
Well, hear it from her.

I’ve now read her book, and alert readers generally to it for this reason, among others: The key figures in making eugenics law in the Canadian province of Alberta were evangelical Christians. That’s not what people would expect based on recent history, but it demonstrates an important principle: People can be carried away by the idea of doing good, and find themselves locked out of their own culture without a key. Anyone interested in the history of dangerous do-goodism should get and read this book.


Intelligent design and common ancestry?

... the Darwinian cosmological story is subjected to an equally thorough shredding at each stage-by Denton, Johnson, Behe, and now Wells. A rare variation in this shredding is Behe's acceptance of common ancestry. The fact that he provisionally accepts common ancestry and yet remains a star in good standing shows Design's flexibility in tolerating members' evolutionary beliefs on certain topics.

- T. E. Woodward, Doubts about Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design (Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 2003) p. 199.
Of course, by far the most controversial claim is common ancestry between humans and apes.

Common ancestry with apes is a central article of the new Darwin religion. Darwin “freed” people to recognize their kinship with apes. Hence the 98% or 99% chimpanzee riff, replete with engaging images of wise-looking chimps, a staple of popular media. (How come they never show chimps devouring monkeys alive?) We now even have an evolutionary advice columnist, who can tell you what an ape would do in your situation (just the information you really need).

The actual percentage of genetic similarity is more like 72%, consistent with what we observe,however risky it may be tosayso.

Now, let’s contrast all that with a design perspective: From a design perspective, common ancestry is simply one factor to be investigated among others. In any given case, it might be true, but might not. There have been many examples of convergent evolution, where things that look very similar are not closely genetically related. Too common, in fact, for the bedrock certainties of popular culture and the Darwinism that it gladly funds.

Hat tip for Woodward, Stephen E. Jones

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