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Friday, August 31, 2007

Canadian journalist David Warren’s further thoughts on Darwinism as a crock

From “Unmoved Mover”
I should like to add today, a footnote to the column I wrote on Sunday, in which I again confessed to being a heretic in the holiest shrine of scientism, where random mutation and natural selection are worshipped by the high priests, and from whose ivory towers we hear the academic chant: “There is no God, but Darwin.”

[ ... ]

What struck me, hard, in reading so much more apoplectic rubbish about Darwinism, which I drew down on myself with my Sunday column, was the refusal to look at the key, the hinge, of the whole argument. For I wrote: “We can now roughly date the origin of our universe, and 15 billion years more-or-less is proving much too short a time for random processes to produce a non-random result. Verily, 15 billion times 15 billion years is still not nearly enough time.”

This, in a nutshell, is the insuperable problem with random mutation, and natural selection, so far as they are taken not as factors in an evolutionary development, but as the determinants of it. ...
Warren has been inundated with apoplectic rubbish since he started to reflect thoughtfully on the Darwin religion. At one point, he wrote to friends,
Meanwhile I return to several billion emails on Darwinism (I exaggerate), to one of which I replied thus:

... I am with you on the inherent deficiencies of computer models, but at a loss to know how Behe relies on them in any way. He is a microbiologist. His first book advanced the thesis of irreducible complexity in a microbiological way; his second book tied this in with the other problems of Darwinism. He is not a statistician, & in showing the astronomically long odds against a purely Darwinian account of the origin of anything, he is surveying other people's work. Using a computer, as they do (including Darwinists themselves until they discovered what a mistake it was) -- to calculate odds, given assumptions -- that is not computer modelling.

Verily, Behe & many others have attacked the computer modelling that has been imported into Darwinism itself to get around statistical & other problems.. (They love to create computer models, which are programmed in a circular way, to produce evolutionary results in electronic space that supposedly mimic reality. The weakness being they have left out most of the known environmental factors, together of course with all of the unknown ones.)

[ ... ]

To my mind, we have several religions in play in the world around us: in the West, chiefly Christianity, Islam, & Darwinism (plus small minorities of Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, &c). It may be a little unfair to call this last Darwinism, for Darwin has supplied only its cosmology; the larger religion takes the implications of this cosmology to vindicate a more universal denial of God, & replacement of His function in the universe with blind evolutionary forces. The idea of necessary material progress, though seriously damaged by actual human experience, is built into this larger worldview as it has been since the 19th-C, together with economic determinism, not necessarily in the Marxist form. Yet Marxism has provided the background materialist assumptions to its economic thinking, & Freudianism the moral assumptions. But of the three great Prophets of Postmodernity, I have come to think Darwin is by far the most influential, today, since Marx & Freud have been fairly thoroughly debunked, & are increasingly replaced by unanswerable New Age vagueness.

The thing is, Darwinism is a form of magic. The fact that it is a form of magic believed by academics (the high priests of our day) does not and cannot make it more plausible, any more than “scientific socialism” (Marxist economics) became more plausible because the brainiacs believed in it.

And on the ID guys, Warren writes,
Now, ID ain't a universal theory, in the way Darwinism is. It consists of observing that, as random mutation & natural selection do not adequately explain the way creatures are designed, & indeed, do not even come close --
& as, in particular, random mutation does not happen in nature except within easily demonstrated restraints of self-correction -- we must look for other explanations if we are to explain the phenomena of common descent (which both the ID & Darwin people take to be demonstrated as true, in opposition to the Biblical Creationists).

What the ID people demand is not the right to "attribute everything directly to God." I've never met a Christian, let alone a proponent of ID, who is THAT simple-minded, who does not gather that God works through agencies. Instead, the IDers demand the right to explore, publicly, alternative explanations of "evolutionary descent" from the Darwinian one. And these must necessarily involve looking at the phenomena in new ways, in light of the fact they do manifest design principles, in the extreme.
Warren agrees with me on the significance of Edge of Evolution

Lastly, let me draw your attention to this essay on defending society against funadamentalist cults in science, where he notes, among other things:
As Paul Feyerabend, one of my scientific heroes, wrote in his 1975 essay, "How to defend Society against Science":

"In society at large the judgement of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. Science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer."

Likewise Freeman Dyson, whose most recent book, Many Coloured Glass, is only the latest fruit of a lifetime of dangerously independent thinking, in which he has shamelessly crossed over from one scientific speciality to another -- as all the great scientists of history did. He devotes a robust chapter to cataloguing the marvellous accomplishments of men who refused to be intimidated by the dull, heavy hand of professional authority in his own time. And he adds today: ...
(Go there. Why should I spoil it for you?)

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