Thumos11 wrote:you really can't have a logical conversation with someone who believes non-intelligent molecules can suddenly "decide" to build sophisticated biological machines just out of the blue for no apparent reason....
Quotidian wrote:I actually do agree... but the debate about evolution, creation, intelligent design and so on, has become very politically charged and is also extremely complicated and is full of competing agendas ...
I have been reading a counter-cultural critique of Darwinian materialism put forward by some little-known writers and journals:
Was Darwin Wrong?
Karl Popper and Owen Barfield And the Embattled Ideal of an ‘Open Society’
Hard Wired - How 'Mechanism' has Deceived the World
Fooloso4 wrote:Who is claiming that molecules “decide” anything? Who is claiming that molecules build? Who is claiming that out of the blue there is a jump from molecules to sophisticated biological machines? Certainly not scientists.
The idea that life began as a consequence of the combination of physical substances in the appropriate conditions is the meaning of 'a-bio-genesis', is it not? And from that basis, it is presumed that evolutionary processes take over - and gave rise to all living beings. This is an idea that has been subject to immense (and on-going) controversy, but that is nevertheless what the basic idea is, isn't it?
I referred previously to Betrand Russell's well-known essay A Free Man's Worship which says explicitly that mankind is 'the outcome of the accidental collocation of atoms', which at the time of its publication, in the early 20th Century, was thought to have been the decisive finding of science at that time, even though it was not strictly true.
Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, said much more recently that
'you,' your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. as Lewis Carroll's Alice might have phrased it: 'You're nothing but a pack of neurons.'
There have been other 'doctrinal statements' of philosophical materialism, such as Jacques Monod's book Chance and Necessity which likewise says that:
It necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation, and of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution: this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among many other possible or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis, the only one that squares with observed and tested fact. And nothing warrants the supposition - or the hope - that on this score our position is ever likely to be revised. There is no scientific concept, in any of the sciences, more destructive of anthropocentrism than this one.
through the microscope of molecular biology, we get to witness the birth of agency, in the first macromolecules that have enough complexity to ‘do things…..Love it or hate it, phenomena like this exhibit the heart of the power of the Darwinian idea. An impersonal, unreflective, robotic, mindless little scrap of molecular machinery is the ultimate basis of all the agency, and hence meaning, and hence consciousness, in the universe
From Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
Examples could be multiplied. So, please don't say that scientific materialism actually doesn't attribute agency to molecules. That is exactly what it does. Now it has started to become suspected that there are major problems with that idea, so there is a lot of hedging and hand-waving going on, around ideas like 'emergence' or 'self-organisation', and the like, but it's still all materialism: is says that living beings are the accidental outcome of chemical activities in dumb stuff, not to put too fine a point upon it. 'Philosophical materialism', which is the default philosophy of 'the secular academy' in our day and age, really does say that, and those who question it are subjected to intense criticism (which we will go into later.) But the underlying idea always is that 'matter' (nowadays often said to be 'matter~energy' due to the discovery of e=mc2) is all there is.
Fooloso4 wrote:Here are a few things I found [from the Cruse articles]
...In Darwin’s worldview there still is physical ‘substance.’ In fact apart from ‘chance’ that is all that there is in the theory, and words, of course, lots and lots of words …
Since when does the use of words disqualify something from being true? No evolutionary biologist claims that Darwin figured it all out. Darwin's contribution was one of if not the most important paradigm shifts in the history of science. The author goes on to confirm that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming; but he does not pause to consider that prior to Darwin such overwhelming evidence was not seen. It was Darwin who opened our eyes.The chemists that Darwin refers to, however, were not using metaphor in an attempt to dislodge the Designer God from nature, and so to deny the existence of divine Ideas in nature. Quite the opposite in fact, they still believed in a Designer God, so for them no problem in causal logic was created, like that which had arisen for Darwin himself, although he only barely noticed it. It is indeed subtle, yet a more total contradiction will not be found in all of logic.
Let’s look at this more closely because this is where he thinks Darwin’s logic was flawed. With the exception of mathematics all language is metaphorical. Whether or not the chemists in question believed in a Designer God is irrelevant to the fact that God is absent and finds no place in their explanations of chemical reactions. It is not Darwin but Cruse, the author of this article, whose logic is flawed. His argument appears to be that since the chemists believed in a creator their use of metaphor was not problematic, but since Darwin was attempting to dislodge the Designer God from nature and deny the existence of divine Ideas in nature his use of metaphor presents a logical contradiction. The irony is that the designer God was dislodged from chemistry, whether it was intentional or not. If evolution dislodges God from biology it makes no difference what Darwin’s intentions may have been.But you will recall that ‘mechanism’ is a human idea involving a human designer, and that Descartes was only able to attribute this idea to nature because he had included God the Designer in his plan. When science took God out of the equation, as was the case in the final version of Darwin’s theory, then all of the language of design ought to have gone out with Him. It did not, because without it the Darwinian theory just could not be seen to work. Instead we enshrined the word ‘mechanism’ as a dictionary definition of scientific materialism, and continued on as if there was nothing wrong with what we were doing; but there was, and very much so.
Cruse claimed earlier in the article that Descartes was the first to attribute the idea of mechanism to nature. He claims that there cannot be mechanism without design and purpose. He seems unaware of pre-Socratic atomists whose mechanical explanation did not include design or purpose or creator. More importantly for his own argument he passes over the fact that Descartes explanation of biology was purely biological. Finally he wants to disallow Darwin the use of the term design if there is no designer. He takes it as a given that there cannot be design without a designer and thus disregards the very thing that evolution demonstrates, how structures structure.
I am reading a book by Cruse and Robert Zimmer called Evolution and the New Gnosis. It is not without its flaws, but the basic idea that the notion of 'purposeless purpose', 'designerless design' and the like, are very confused ideas which are nevertheless central to molecular biology, is quite a valid criticism in my view.
He points out the fact that Darwin acknowledges that the very term 'natural selection' is a metaphor, but then continues to use it, where it adopts the characteristics of an agency or a do-er, that 'scrutinizes' and 'selects' and 'adds up' and does many other things, that molecules don't actually do. So the fact that it is a metaphor, really ought not excuse it from scrutiny. What is it a metaphor, for? Do you notice that in nearly all debates about evolutionary science on this forum, people will quite spontaneously say that evolution 'does' this, and evolution 'does' that? But strictly speaking - and here we really should be speaking strictly - evolution doesn't 'do' anything.
So Cruse and Zimmer are arguing that there is an unconscious projection of the attributes of the human mind onto the whole process of evolution, which is then used to support the notion that matter itself 'does' things or is an active agency.