"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

An Amateur Thought On Darwinism

Far be it for me---hardly an expert on evolutionary theory and such, but a casual reader of Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, Matt Ridley, Richard Dawkins, Paul Rubin, and others---to offer grand insights into the Darwin/intelligent design debate or similar issues. At the same time, it strikes me that Jay Homnick is missing something in his brief post: An acknowledgment that Occam's Razor is particularly applicable in this debate. The simplest theory consistent with the facts is appropriate to adopt as the null hypothesis. Early in "The Selfish Gene," Dawkins offers a simple model of how mere chemicals in an early Earth ocean might have evolved into life as we know it today; I have seen no refutation of that model, and it leaves no need for a Creator.

But that is the basic problem with Darwinism as it has come to be celebrated as the conventional wisdom, its adherents sneering at those who dissent as yahoos. It does not explain the origin of matter, and I have not found a Darwinist willing to confront that conundrum. But that may reflect only my own ignorance in this area.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends,

It has always been clear to me that the simplest theory based on the facts is a Creator with a plan. Otherwise, you have no first cause, and Darwinism does not break any new ground toward dispensing with a first cause.

All Darwin is helping to solve is a flaw in the original Greek theory, much quoted by Maimonides and his contemporaries, that "haolam kadmon" (the Hebrew phrase; I don't know the Greek original): the world always existed and is itself that first reality that requires no explanation of origin (as the Intelligent Creator is in the other model). That theory could not survive the evidences of science and archaeology that Man had not always been present. Darwin offers the alternative that the first reality is the unformed world with the potential to improve itself via survival of the fittest.

There is a philosophical flaw in Darwin in that anything with a built-in bias toward improvement implies a system in motion, which again creates a demand for a first cause. The Greek idea really requires a static world to be philosophically consistent.

But scientists have been able to cheat a little on the philosophy by a feat of prestidigitation, getting us to keep an eye on the cleverness of the science. Here I agree with Mr. Karnick that this science is falling short in explaining the initial reality. And I made the further point in my post that the cleverer the science the less it is Occam's Razor to say that it happens by itself.

Ironically, the only way to save Darwin from ruthless killers like Hunter and me is to invert the perspective and say that rather than being a system for improvement, evolution is a system for destruction, because it is constantly wasting gigantic amounts of change, and the tiny bit that survives is a fluke; even that little bit will probably ruin itself through mutations before very long. But that is so incredibly counterintuitive; if it passes the test of scientific simplicity, it still runs counter to the human sense that things improve over time.

In an unpublished essay that I wrote a few years ago and may have mislaid, I pointed out that fate has been terribly unkind to Darwin by virtue of constantly revealing greater and greater complexity of creation, infinitely more than Darwin could have ever imagined. For scientists who understand the intricate coding of DNA and the sub-microscopic movements of subatomic particles to claim that Darwin satisfies Occam's Razor is sophistry of a very high order.

Again, I thank Messrs. Baker, Zycher and Karnick for their gracious hosting and for their tireless seeking of truth. God likes to play Hide-and-Seek, but not forever.

Jay D. Homnick