by Brad Nelson 3/19/15
Mr. Kung thought it would be a good idea to present a summary of the whole Darwinian/Intelligent Design conundrum. So I blame him if this reads badly or seems irrelevant. 😉 I have to do it this way because it takes the pressure off.
The following is not a brag. I admit to being quite dense compared to people such as Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute and the author of a couple excellent books on intelligent design. I’ve usually had to work hard to understand things that come somewhat easily to other people. That’s my cross to bear but, added with a bit of resolve and petulance, it’s a driving force to try to stay informed.
So I’ve read a ton of books in the past six months…ever since Glenn’s excellent and annoying Corvettes and Creation article. And I say “annoying” because that’s what piqued my interest to delve beyond the public veneer of Darwinism. And this pursuit has since cost me a great deal of time and money regarding the purchase of various books and the hours spent in the difficult pursuit behind and beyond the disinformation and ideological zealotry surrounding this subject…sometimes on both sides. So, thank you, Glenn. 🙂 That list of books I’ve recently read includes:
Darwin’s Black Box
The Signature in the Cell
The Edge of Evolution
The Evolution Revolution
Icons of Evolution
Plus various articles and essays by David Berlinski, miscellaneous videos, and miscellaneous articles and videos from Evolution News.
Also included in the mix (and extremely important in regards to getting at the truth) are various books on the philosophy of atheism/naturalism, including:
The Devil’s Delusion
God and Stephen Hawking
The Trouble with Physics
All of the above are top-notch books. And it took a whole lot of reading to blast through the clutter of disinformation which is the calling card of the naturalists/Darwinists. It’s fairly steeped in the culture, and conservative culture is not left unaffected. And to understand the underlying philosophy of naturalism/atheism is, in part, to understand why the theory of neo-Darwinism is so full of fraud, exaggerations, and just plain kool-aid in the first place. (Hint: It’s a fundamentalist religion.)
But what I’m going to do in this essay is not hit you over the head with a lot of notes and links. You can do the reading for yourself, and I suggest that you do. Make up your own mind. However, because I am an objective and honest reviewer and philosopher, if you simply don’t have the time and want to gain an inkling for what is really going on, I will give you a somewhat concise summary.
First, no one knows how life started, at least not with the objective ability to demonstrate this. And no known process, other than intelligence, could be capable of it. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some unknown process. But even then, what has been discovered so far is that life is not a function of matter. It’s a function of information (at the very least). The materialist, gene-centric view of the cell and of life is dead, or should be dead.
Matter is a mere tool of information just as your RAM, hard drive, and video screen are the tools of the software programs that run underneath it all and allow your computer to do useful work. The gene should be infused with no more majesty or mysticism than a brick, even though enough of them can form the Great Wall of China (but only because of a wall designer in the first place).
Life is so astoundingly complex and is integrated into complex systems resembling (and likely surpassing) what you see on a printed electronic circuit board. And although a future unknown cause of the emergence of life is conceivable, in theory, to conceive of an “unknown process” capable of creating the digital information in DNA and the complex integrated systems inside the cell is to likely posit some sort of creative process that can look ahead. And that implies something more than a dumb, repetitive, algorithmic “law of nature.”
The fossil record does not show or suggest common descent, a core element of Darwinism. Instead, it shows species suddenly coming into being, staying more or less the same over long time spans, and then vanishing from the fossil record (if they have indeed gone extinct). Every attempt at a Darwinian “tree of life” gives a mess of convoluted results. Worse, natural selection/mutation — the main theoretical driver of neo-Darwinism creation — has not been shown to create anything more complex than seasonal variations in a finch’s beak. All forms of purported Darwinian evolution (with rare and specific exceptions as described by Behe in The Edge of Evolution) are just shifting between the expression of existing variations, not the creation of variation (aka “survival of the fittest” rather than “arrival of the fittest”). Or the purported “evolution” (including the acquisition of immunity to a chemical by some organisms) is due to a degradation of existing function (what Behe calls “the scorched earth tactic”), not new function. There are many stories from Darwinists which try to say otherwise, but it’s a continual “Where’s the beef?” moment. They have nothing but just-so stories told using the authority and stature of science.
And most scientists now know this. Akin to the global warming fraud, there is so much vested interest in forwarding the existing paradigm that it’s a question only as to whether the lies of omission are greater than the lies of commission regarding pretending that neo-Darwinism is still a credible theory. Neo-Darwinism exists substantially to suit the ideological leanings of atheists and those in the scientific establishment who want to forward a metaphysics of the merely material. It certainly does little to explain the facts as we know them.
And they wish to self-define any truth as belonging exclusively to the citadel of science. Their convenient logic is that anything outside of the paradigm of naturalism is not science and thus is not fundamentally a fact. And this state of affairs maintains them as the guardians of what-is. However, their reductionist/materialist view is so ideologically rigid and so intent on explaining away inconvenient things, eventually (and naturally) these views get taken to their logical extreme wherein naturalists commonly deny even their own minds (the mind having done the impolite thing by being most decidedly immaterial).
So basically atheism/naturalism is sort of a Kooksville. It leads to absurdity and self-refutation. It does so because naturalism (the belief that matter is all there is and has ever been and ever will be) combined with Darwinism says that the only reason we have the traits that we do (including the thoughts and ideas in our head) is because they provide some survival advantage, thus we cannot tell which (if any) ideas or thoughts are just useful and which are true — including, you might see, the entire idea of naturalism itself. So I do not use the word “kook” lightly but use it to reinforce the fact that this is a foundation built upon something even lest solvent than sand. No wonder the atheists/materialists must yell so loudly. They doth protest too much.
The apparent successor to neo-Darwinism is the theory of intelligent design which Stephen Meyer and others forward not as a religion couched in science but as a historical science. A historical science is a science regarding things we can no longer directly experience. The Big Bang and aspects of geology are historical sciences. No one can create another Big Bang to test their theories, so there is a lot of historical spelunking that goes on. Neo-Darwinism tries to be a historical science (although I agree with those who say it is short of being a theory and is little more than a collection of just-so stories). The legitimacy of a historical science is based on the idea that effects that we see in the past are best explained as the result of causes that are known to be in operation today. In Meyer’s terms that includes intelligence in regards to life.
The implications of intelligent design are as stunning as they may be brief, for once one has deduced an intelligent designer, one wonders just how much more there is to be learned of causes. The effects, well yes, we can study DNA and the details of life for centuries and likely never get bored and never run out of new things to discover. But if life itself was created by a designer who is not around to be interviewed, that would seem to put up a distinct wall regarding how far certain areas of basic inquiry can go.
Another offshoot competing with, and actively undermining (even if this is not their intention), intelligent design as a successor to failed neo-Darwinism are various theistic evolutionary theories, some of which try to use the bible as evidence for proving a literal interpretation of Genesis (including a young earth and all that). My opinion on that is that this is just as misguided as the atheists/naturalists using the intransigence of their naturalist ideology to blind them from the facts of the world.
In summary (of this summary), one may safely ignore what the neo-Darwinists are saying. One may be cautiously intrigued by the approach of intelligent design. And one should leave all forms of theistic evolution alone. It’s the same muddle as Darwinism, but from the opposite end. But quite aside from all that (where politics, entrenched establishments, and metaphysics collide), the real show is in studying biology. If you can, watch a few videos on the internet regarding the transcription of DNA, the production of ATP, motor proteins, cellular replication, or many other things. Despite the fact that neo-Darwinism is a useless (probably even inhibiting) label thrown on the top of some very good science, there is in fact much excellent science being done and wondrous discoveries being made, almost daily.
In fact, the discoveries are of systems so complex, so integrated, so “irreducibly complex,” that neo-Darwinism becomes a laughable idea on the face of it. As for what could produce such systems, well there’s the rub. This points to the fascinating wide-open field of future discovery.
The bottom line is that neo-Darwinism is defunct as a theory and has been for some time. It lives only on the groupthink and vested interest of scientists. Some don’t want to rock the boat, for to say that one doesn’t believe in neo-Darwinism is a serious career risk, just as it is regarding global warming. For many others they like having science self-defined as the decider of all truth because of their naturalist metaphysics which demotes all other forms of knowledge to mere opinion. Others, particularly the vocal atheists who seem to set the agenda for the rest, are just axe-grinding religious zealots. In the case of generally unhinged people such as Richard Dawkins, one wonders if perhaps, when he was a boy, a vicar ran over his puppy. There seems to be extra spin on the disdain of the main talking-head atheists/Darwinists.
In this whole business it has been very difficult for any and all sides to separate facts from the strident and over-zealous wish that a particular metaphysics or belief system win out. Well, my advice is to turn it off and actually study some of the amazing facts of biological life. We live in an age of great discovery. And I can’t help thinking that some of the enthusiasm for this discovery is dampened because to frankly promote what is being found would be to cement in the minds of most the idea of a Creator. That is the logical conclusion.
But however one looks at it, do look at it. I think Jonathan Wells’ book, The Icons of Evolution, is actually a good place to start. He does an excellent job debunking neo-Darwinism. He gives you the near full spectrum (minus the nitty gritty philosophy that Lennox and Bo Jinn do so well) including showing the fraudulent nature of Darwinism as an ongoing propaganda campaign in contrast to the real story of various biological facts. And he makes those biological facts interesting and relatively easy to understand.
As for the biological facts of DNA, proteins, RNA, and all the fascinating micro-machinery of life, the details are nothing less than astonishing. You may have heard, for instance, of Francis Crick’s “central dogma” regarding DNA. It’s that DNA makes RNA and RNA makes protein. That’s it. End of story. But as has since been learned, this is no longer even marginally true. A string of DNA, for instance, may (via editing and splicing by special proteins quite outside of the control of DNA) can produce all kinds of different proteins…even hundreds. How can an undirected, random process evolve that seems to have the brain of a computer? Good question. To be able to ask that question is to go beyond the strict and stifling dogma of neo-Darwinism and begin to understand how remarkable life really is.
Still, the big mysteries endure. Is there a God? If so, what is this Creator like and what is the overall purpose of this universe, if any? And what started life? If it was indeed designed, by whom, when, how, and how many times? The big questions still endure even while the strident dogma (hopefully) falls aside and makes room for a true appreciation for life and this universe.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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