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Thursday, September 20, 2007

David Warren's further correspondence with the Darwin fans

I don't know what I would do without my regular fix of Toronto journalist David Warren, who - having made clear that he thinks Darwinism a crock - is constantly hearing from anxious Darwin fans, who don't know what they'll do if it isn't true.

If life cannot be produced accidentally by jiggling chemicals in a test tube, ... apparently life makes no sense to them - or something like that anyway.

Warren continues to offer boilerplate responses (one must live, after all). Indeed, he appears to know some of the same Darwoids as I hear from, to judge from their inimitable prose style:
"Atrociously bad, pig-ignorant garbage." ... "Mixture of gall & negligence." ... "Sheer brazen quality of this ignorance is a wonder to behold."

This is what's said ABOUT the likes of me, third-personally, by the more articulate correspondents advising my editors to sack me. The letters to me personally are, however, much ruder. As usual, among the charges, I am a "faggot," or at least a "closet fag."

[ ... ]

Many, many, of my apoplectic correspondents refer me to websites on "The God Delusion," & other standard sources for atheist proselytizing. Several correspondents refer to a website where Michael Behe's "claims" are "refuted" in a similar manner to the above (i.e. with a lot of more-or-less clinical abusive language).
And apparently, many of these ill-tempered illiterates have taken to styling themselves "the New Enlightenment."

Warren also muses on the "survival instinct":
This is where it becomes interesting: at the very point where post-modern Darwinist "evolutionary biology" throws up its hands (or alternatively, declares victory, & then cuts & runs).

I am hardly saying the instincts, including the survival instincts (really they are complex & plural), don't exist; I am only pointing out that they are non-material. Which is not to say that their operation does not correspond to particular, detectable parts of the brain -- i.e. the "amygdala," in the higher vertebrates: the emotion centres. Only that you won't find them there. It is the part of the brain that is working when survival & other emotional issues are at stake, but the instinct to live & not to die is in itself an arbitrary, "irrational" thing (i.e. super-rational; or if you prefer, the premise that precedes the logical proposition). It has to be "posited" in some sense. Once it is posited, we can begin to make some sense of the machinery. Until it is posited, the machinery makes no sense.

Already we are "lost in space," or rather, entering the territory of "Intelligent Design."

I said the survival instincts are complex & plural. Think I mentioned before watching a rabbit, once, simply give up the struggle against a Doberman, when the rabbit was out of breath, & out of cover. That is a common trait among many animals at all levels of the food chain (& it is further interesting that, from that point, animals often seem to experience neither panic nor pain). If you think about it carefully, you will see that it is behaviour that cannot possibly be explained in any conceivable Darwinist way. It can in no possible way advance the cause of rabbit survival.

But so are so many other things, inexplicable on strictly Darwinist assumptions. The survival instinct works both on the individual, as individual, & on the individual on behalf of his tribe or species or even allied species. Survival itself would be impossible without the most complex instinctual arrangements -- which are also minutely inter-dependent. All the convincing progress that has been made (by Tinbergen, contemporaries & successors) in understanding instinctive behaviour in animals has been possible only because various abstract, arbitrary, "immaterial" requirements have been assumed from the point of departure.

What I am saying is that the instinctive behaviour of animals -- conscious, semi-conscious, & entirely unconscious -- provide a parallel universe to the purely material, organic one, for the purpose of demonstrating the impossibility of development by trial & error. Not only does a machine not work when it is missing parts, or missing fuel, or has external obstacles in its way, &c; it also doesn't work when it is not driven.

Returning to the question of origins, the scandal is that the most primitive unicellular organisms discoverable on this planet are already monstrously complex, & already require genomic instructions that could fill telephone directories. Under some circumstances I'm willing to be a putz, & say, "yes, that's the product of trial & error, & it just happened to work out nicely," but this is too much for me. I am simply not capable of credulity on that scale.

But even supposing we started the day with just one happy-accident instruction, & built from there (this is where the 15 billion times 15 billion times 15 billion years for trial & error will come in really handy), I don't get why that first organism wanted to survive & reproduce? It has no way of knowing that the odds against it even existing are infinity to one. Why doesn't it just wink, & call it a day?

Even the ancient Greeks had trouble grasping why a man would want to live, given that life is full of pain. There is nothing self-evident about the survival instinct.

But some other day we may raise the stakes further by climbing from organism & instinct, to consciousness, & beyond.


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