The Science of it All

GMO again

From Wikipedia (yes, I do use it sometimes, since it is the leading liberal bias learning tool):

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food. The term GMO is very close to the technical legal term, ‘living modified organism’, defined in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which regulates international trade in living GMOs (specifically, “any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology”).

The Biosafety Protocol makes clear that products from new technologies must be based on the precautionary principle and allow developing nations to balance public health against economic benefits. It will for example let countries ban imports of a genetically modified organisms if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence that the product is safe and requires exporters to label shipments containing genetically altered commodities such as corn or cotton.

Genetic modification involves the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes. Inserted genes usually come from a different species in a form of horizontal gene-transfer. In nature this can occur when exogenous DNA penetrates the cell membrane for any reason. To do this artificially may require:

  • attaching the genes to a virus
  • physically inserting the extra DNA into the nucleus of the intended host with a very small syringe
  • with the use of electroporation (that is, introducing DNA from one organism into the cell of another by use of an electric pulse)
  • with very small particles fired from a gene gun.

Other methods exploit natural forms of gene transfer, such as the ability of Agrobacterium to transfer genetic material to plants, or the ability of lentiviruses to transfer genes to animal cells.

There is controversy over GMOs, especially with regard to their use in producing food. The dispute involves buyers, biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, non-governmental organizations, and scientists. The key areas of controversy related to GMO food are whether GM food should be labeled, the role of government regulators, the effect of GM crops on health and the environment, the effect on pesticide resistance, the impact of GM crops for farmers, and the role of GM crops in feeding the world population.

Opponents of genetically modified food claim risks have not been adequately identified and managed, and they have questioned the objectivity of regulatory authorities. Some health groups say there are unanswered questions regarding the potential long-term impact on human health from food derived from GMOs, and propose mandatory labeling or a moratorium on such products. Concerns include contamination of the non-genetically modified food supply, effects of GMOs on the environment and nature, the rigor of the regulatory process, and consolidation of control of the food supply in companies that make and sell GMOs.

My brother, Roy Marshall, has a blog at http://choose-eat-live-well.blogspot.com/ where he does a much better job of pointing out the problems with GMO and the political and financial ties to it.

Me, I’ll try to explain what GMO is and why it is not always what it seems.   First we need to understand the normal (simplified, of course) process of gene recombination. The way it occurs in nature, without any outside influences. For a primer you can go to: https://larryemarshall.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/biblical-biology/

Below you see how two plants (could also be animals, fish, sheep, etc.) are combined. This could be a simple pollination under the traditional plant breeding. Pollinating from smooth peas to wrinkled peas, wavy rows of corn kernels to straight rows. As you can see, besides the one yellow gene that creates the difference there are several other genes that assist in the process. Now then, in the bio-tech version they discovered the gene that creates the difference and transpose it. However, they have no idea what the other ‘helper’ genes are or do so they can’t identify them and transfer them.

how_biotech_works

The four-year, US$31-million project to sequence maize (Zea mays) was led by a US-based consortium of researchers who decoded the genome of an inbred line of maize called B73, an important commercial crop variety. The 2.3-billion-base sequence — the largest genetic blueprint yet worked out for any plant species — includes more than 32,000 protein-coding genes spread across maize’s 10 chromosomes. Sections of DNA called transposable elements, which can move around the genome and cause mutations, are the most abundant parts of the sequence, spanning almost 85% of the genome.

http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091119/full/news.2009.1098.html

The human genome has approximately 3.3 billion base-pairs. There are an estimated 20,000-25,000 human protein-coding genes. Protein-coding sequences account for only a very small fraction of the genome (approximately 1.5%), and the rest is associated with non-coding RNA molecules, regulatory DNA sequences, LINEs, SINEs, introns.

Notice how the plant genome has almost as many base pairs as the human genome.

base_pairs2

Base pairs group together to form genes, genes group together to create chromosomes, chromosomes end up being what is transferred from one zygote to another during the reproductive process.

A gene is the molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. The word is used extensively by the scientific community for stretches of deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) and ribonucleic acids (RNA) that code for a polypeptide or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains. Genes hold the information to build and maintain an organism’s cells and pass genetic traits to offspring. All organisms have genes corresponding to various biological traits, some of which are instantly visible, such as eye color or number of limbs, and some of which are not, such as blood type, increased risk for specific diseases, or the thousands of basic biochemical processes that comprise life.

Down through history, advances in knowledge of our bodies (many by biblical scientists) have given us new ways to intervene in the course of ‘natural events’ and this will be no exception. Such possibilities have always caused ethical tensions to surface. We have been made in a particular way; do we have the ‘right’ to ‘interfere’? Even atheists are capable of similar thoughts—instead of being concerned about interfering with God’s handiwork, they are concerned with interfering with the ‘course of evolution’ or similar.

 

Christians who look at the ‘big picture’ through the history of the Bible, founded in Genesis, have an advantage in being able to judge such matters. They can consider these other factors:

  1. God’s Genesis 1:28 mandate to humanity to ‘have dominion’ over creation has never been revoked—advances in knowledge are not in themselves anti-God.
  2. New knowledge, or new technological possibilities, are not in themselves evil (Titus 1:15)—they may be used for good or evil purposes.
  3. Humanity is fallen—hence there needs to be great caution where advances in knowledge are applied.
  4. The world is not the same as God originally made it—it is a broken, cursed world (Genesis 3:17–19, Romans 8:20–22)
  5. Where technological ‘fixes’ are applied to people’s bodies, if the purpose is to bring about healing, this is unlikely to be ‘opposing God’. It is always seen as blessed in Scripture to oppose, locally and temporarily, the enmities brought about by the Curse (e.g. the Fall set people against each other, yet ‘blessed are the peacemakers’). Following Christ’s example as the great Healer, it can always be seen to be blessed when fighting against the disease resulting from the Curse.

Strictly speaking, no discussion of moral or ethical questions makes any sense without a logical basis for such a discussion, which means that a set of moral/ethical absolutes is required. Where God’s revelation to humanity, the Bible, is rejected as authoritative, there can be no basis outside of the shifting sands of fallible human opinion.

Genetic engineering has nothing to do with evolution. Evolution involves things happening ‘by themselves’. Deliberately manipulating the genetic code in a plant, for instance, involves intelligent effort and purpose, the very opposite of Darwinism. Genetic engineering may be used for good in reversing harmful mutations that are the result of the Curse, or it could conceivably be used for evil. For instance, it could be used for the purpose of one human ‘having dominion’ over another, something that is excluded from the Genesis mandate to ‘subdue the earth’.

  • Genetic engineering of plant crops to get better yields, for instance, may not be morally wrong biblically, but it involves ‘wisdom issues’. I.e. in a particular instance, it may be wise or foolish. To help Christians make such decisions, good science, real science, is important. Also, a consideration of the motivations—is it going to help feed the world’s starving millions, or is that the ‘spin’ put out by some huge corporation planning to make a killing in the wealthy developed countries? There seems to be no single, simple set of answers applicable to each unique situation; rather, biblical principles must be applied on a case-by-case basis.
  • There are vexed questions such as: who gets to have this information? Should everybody know what diseases they are predisposed to suffer from in old age? Should insurance companies have the right to test the DNA of people applying for life coverage?

And that is why we should examine carefully every claim that a GMO product is good for us or good to feed to animals that we will eat, or it will kill weeds better and not harm flowers of vegetable plants, etc. We need to check on who is making the claim and why. In addition, do the research by both those for the GMO and those against.

Long-term effects are important and there is none of those that have been done yet.   It is like watching the video of the tire being bounced up and down on a machine for 1 million times which is equivalent to 60,000 miles according to the manufacturer. However, when I buy a tire, they wear out in 40,000 miles because the potholes and bumps and dips in the streets I travel do not match the up and down of the machine in any way shape or form.

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Evillution

Jucy Lucy

NS

Natural Selection  April 10 at 11:16am ·

(My comments as usual.)

Baboon thoracic vertebra bone found in famous Lucy skeleton..

However the analysis conducted by scientists also confirms that the other 88 fossil fragments belonging to Lucy’s skeleton are correctly identified. And the mislabeled baboon bone fragment doesn’t undermine Lucy’s important position in the evolution of our lineage.

Read more:http://goo.gl/WJmhfq

lucy

From Wikipedia: In paleoanthropology, usually only fossil fragments are found and only rarely are skulls or ribs uncovered intact; thus this discovery was extraordinary and provided an enormous amount of scientific evidence. Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago, and is classified as a hominin (Any member of the zoological “tribe” Hominini (family Hominidae, order Primates), of which only one species exists today—Homo sapiens, or human beings http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1126544/hominin ).

hominin

(Strange, isn’t it, the skull of Salelanthropus tchadensis had to of come from a skull that looked different and it created a different looking skull for the Gorillini group which then should have had several different types to end up with the ones we now know as the African great apes- but none exist. By the way ‘Lucy’ is the skull for Australopithecus afarensis).

The skeleton shows evidence of small skull capacity akin to that of apes and of bipedal upright walk akin to that of humans, supporting the debated view that bipedalism preceded increase in brain size in human evolution. (Major assumption here. Standing upright would create the need for a larger brain, maybe. You might need to look farther and understand what you are seeing, maybe it would create greater use of the other two appendages, still a guess. I can think of two bideal animals where the brains size hasn’t increased much: an ostrich and an emu).

The short url above goes to this page:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27325-baboon-bone-found-in-famous-lucy-skeleton.html#.VSf0hZMYGK0

“Baboons were a close match, both in shape and size,” says Williams. “So we think we’ve solved this mystery. It seems that a fossil gelada baboon thoracic vertebra washed or was otherwise transported in the mix of Lucy’s remains.” (Interesting hypothesis –this vertebra was washed into the same area were the rest of the bones of ‘Lucy’ were discovered, or “Lucy’ might have eaten the baboon, but then again the baboon bones would not have been buried at the same time as “Lucy’.)

 

He stresses, though, that the analysis, which he will present at a meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society in San Francisco next week, also confirms that the other 88 fossil fragments belonging to Lucy’s skeleton are correctly identified. And the mislabeled baboon bone fragment doesn’t undermine Lucy’s important position in the evolution of our lineage. (So, I’ll continue the charade at this prestigious event and make it harder for anybody else to criticism me.)

http://creation.com/new-evidence-lucy-was-a-knuckle-walker by David Catchpoole

“ ‘Early Man walked on all fours’ proclaims one news headline, while another asks, ‘Did Lucy walk on her knuckles?’ News media releases of the latest scientific ‘discovery’ about human origins1 herald the finding that the fossil ‘Lucy’ (Australopithecus afarensis) has the same wrist anatomy as ‘knuckle-walking’ chimpanzees and gorillas.

Some of the media said this was a surprise to evolutionists, who now have to abandon their theory that ‘our early tree-dwelling ancestors came down from the trees and were already adapted to walking upright.’ But evolutionists who insist that Lucy walked upright have already modified their story to accommodate the new information on Lucy’s wrist anatomy. Refusing to concede anything other than upright walking they say that her knuckle-walking wrist joints are a leftover (or ‘vestige’) from an early ancestor who came down from the trees and walked on her knuckles as chimpanzees and gorillas do.

But did australopithecines like Lucy walk upright? Careful study of the skeletal anatomy of australopithecine fossils indicates a stooped gait, probably similar to the ‘rolling’ knuckle-walk of chimps.

Sadly, in this regard the public are often misled by inaccurately reconstructed statues and images of Lucy displayed at museums and in textbooks, etc., as her feet (and hands, for that matter) are often portrayed as startlingly human-like. Many evolutionists themselves concede such errors, acknowledging that australopithecine hands and feet were ‘not at all like human hands and feet; rather, they have long curved fingers and toes’—even more so than apes today that live mostly in the trees.”

640px-Lucy_Skeleton

“Lucy Skeleton” by Andrew from Cleveland, Ohio, USA – Lucy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lucy_Skeleton.jpg#/media/File:Lucy_Skeleton.jpg

(The bones shown in white are the ones that they have imagined are the ones necessary to fill in. The brown bones are the ones they have actually uncovered in and around the area where the skull bones were found. Notice that in the ‘imaginary’ reconstruction, they show the elongated feet and hands that are not typical of a Homo sapiens. The blue part of the frontal rib cage is completely speculative-imagining that IF the fossil was bipedal this is how it should look, if the fossil wasn’t bipedal the rib cage would look completely different. )

 

Evillution

The Implosion of Evillutionary Theory endnotes

The Implosion of Evillutionary Theory endnotes
So let us discuss some of the endnotes in the previous document. The purpose of this exercise is to hopefully let you understand how these great ‘thinkers’ and important ‘scientists’ of our time (usually tenured professors at various universities on your tax dollars) think about you.

1 Evolutionary epistemology refers to three distinct topics: (1) the biological evolution of cognitive mechanisms in animals and humans, (2) a theory that knowledge itself evolves by natural selection, and (3) the study of the historical discovery of new abstract entities such as abstract number or abstract value that necessarily precede the individual acquisition and usage of such abstractions.

Point 1: What is a cognitive mechanism? That can best be described like this: If I tell you to sit, you will feel a reflex to sit, whether you choose to follow it or not. That reflex to sit when you hear the word would be a cognitive mechanisms. Point 2: If everything you know has evolved through natural selection, then how can you ever know anything new? What would be the purpose of having scientists since there is nothing new to discover, it has already been evolved in someone’s mind somewhere. Point 3 seems to me to be a little bit abstract. I wonder if they could clarify it?

 

2 Instinctive behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior. The simplest example is in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a clearly defined stimulus. Any behavior is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors.

The most famous is the “Fight or flight” response- do I run away to fight another day or do I fight and maybe not have another day? The most used instinctive behavior is sexual activity- in the lower classes of animals this instinct is used pretty much strictly for reproduction. Humans have changed the reflex into a pleasurable activity more so than for reproductive purposes. (The book 50 Shades of Gray Kind of defeats the instinctive angle doesn’t it).

 

3 John Nicholas Gray is an English political philosopher with interests in analytic philosophy and the history of ideas. He is a critic of utopian thinking in the modern world. Gray sees volition, and hence morality, as an illusion, and portrays humanity as a ravenous species engaged in wiping out other forms of life.

The history of ideas is a field of research in history that deals with the expression, preservation, and change of human ideas over time.(Kind of like a history book?) The history of ideas is a sister-discipline to, or a particular approach within, intellectual history. Work in the history of ideas may involve interdisciplinary research in the history of philosophy, the history of science, or the history of literature. A syllabus for an Honors level History of Ideas class at Arizona State University: http://barretthonors.asu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/HON394-History-of-Ideas-Syllabus-Fall-2013-Grzanka.pdf  Ideas are usually construed as mental representational images of some object. Ideas can also be abstract concepts that do not present as mental images. Many philosophers have considered ideas to be a fundamental ontological (the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations) category of being. The capacity to create and understand the meaning of ideas is considered to be an essential and defining feature of human beings. In a popular sense, an idea arises in a reflexive, spontaneous manner, even without thinking or serious reflection, for example, when we talk about the idea of a person or a place. Seems to me to be a lot of thinking about what thinking is.

 

4 Crick was an important theoretical molecular biologist and played a crucial role in research related to revealing the genetic code. He is widely known for use of the term “central dogma” to summarize the idea that genetic information flow in cells is essentially one-way, from DNA to RNA to protein.. His later research centered on theoretical neurobiology and attempts to advance the scientific study of human consciousness.

Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics, medicine (including neurology), genetics, and allied disciplines including philosophy, physics, and psychology. It also exerts influence on other fields, such as neuroeducation and neurolaw (Bet you didn’t know there was such a thing- neurolaw practitioners seek to address not only the descriptive and predictive issues of how neuroscience is and will be used in the legal system, but also the normative issues of how neuroscience should and should not be used. The most prominent questions that have emerged from this exploration are as follows: To what extent can a tumor or brain injury alleviate criminal punishment? Can sentencing or rehabilitation regulations be influenced by neuroscience? Who is permitted access to images of a person’s brain?). The term neurobiology is usually used interchangeably with the term neuroscience, although the former refers specifically to the biology of the nervous system, whereas the latter refers to the entire science of the nervous system. (So basically they are trying to study how and why you think and also find ways to get criminals off by blaming their thinking and not their actions for the dirty deeds done dirt cheap- sorry AC/DC song there)

 

5 Eric B. Baum is an American computer scientist, artificial intelligence researcher and author. He is known for his materialist and evolutionist theories of intelligence and consciousness, set forth in his 2004 book What is Thought? (ISBN 0262524570). In his book, Baum claims that intelligence, consciousness, qualia (a term used in philosophy to refer to individual instances of subjective, conscious experience) and free will are fully explained by evolution’s mandate to “exploit the compact structure of the world.”

Baum proposes that underlying mind is a complex but compact program that corresponds to the underlying structure of the world. He argues further that the mind is essentially programmed by DNA. We learn more rapidly than computer scientists have so far been able to explain because the DNA code has programmed the mind to deal only with meaningful possibilities. Thus the mind understands by exploiting semantics, or meaning, for the purposes of computation; constraints are built in so that although there are myriad possibilities, only a few make sense. Evolution discovered corresponding subroutines or shortcuts to speed up its processes and to construct creatures whose survival depends on making the right choice quickly. Baum argues that the structure and nature of thought, meaning, sensation, and consciousness therefore arise naturally from the evolution of programs that exploit the compact structure of the world. Compact: occupying a small volume by reason of efficient use of space. Structure : the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex. (Taking this concept to the far ends of the earth-no I am not a flat-earther, can’t you recognize a figure of speech when you see one, see Pinker below- one would think that humans raised in the Arctic circle would have an entirely different set of evolution programs than a camel herder in the Sahara or the Peruvians or Tibetans living along the edges of the mountains. And yet either one of them could be a computer scientist or a pediatrician or an evolutionary scientist.)

 

 

6 Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. His academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. His experimental subjects include mental imagery, shape recognition, visual attention, children’s language development, regular and irregular phenomena in language, the neural bases of words and grammar, and the psychology of innuendo and euphemism.

In philosophy, a computational theory of mind names a view that the human mind or the human brain (or both) is an information processing system and that thinking is a form of computing. Despite being vigorously disputed in analytic philosophy in the 1990s, the view is common in modern cognitive psychology and is presumed by many theorists of evolutionary psychology; in the 2000s and 2010s the view has resurfaced in analytic philosophy.(Some great scientists limit what they can imagine our brains can accomplish by trying to make them into a computer. Our minds are so much more than a complex calculating, image recognition piece of machinery. We can think for ourselves and computers can only process what is provided them). An innuendo is an insinuation or intimation about a person or thing, especially of a disparaging or a derogatory nature. A euphemism is a generally innocuous word or expression used in place of one that may be found offensive or suggest something unpleasant. (You either say something good or bad about the person and this guy gets paid to study how what and why you said what you said.)

 

 

7 Leon Wieseltier is an American writer, critic, amateur philosopher and magazine editor. Wieseltier has published several books of fiction and nonfiction. Kaddish, genre-blending meditation on the Jewish prayers of mourning. Against Identity is a collection of thoughts about the modern notion of identity. Wieseltier also edited and introduced a volume of works by Lionel Trilling entitled The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent.

(You and I have a moral obligation to not be stupid. Intelligence finds it own balance by connecting circles of disparate ideas that appear, on the surface, to have no shared meaning with the core goal of making everything fit better together for the advancement of our personable goals. Intelligence binds those ideas together and creates new connections for understanding. Is intelligence a value? Yes, but he is to decide who is intelligent or stupid.)

 

8 Thomas Nagel is an American philosopher whose main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics. Nagel is well known for his critique of reductionist accounts of the mind, specifically the neo-Darwinian view, of the emergence of consciousness.

Religious reductionism generally attempts to explain religion by boiling it down to certain nonreligious causes. A few examples of reductionistic explanations for the presence of religion are: that religion can be reduced to humanity’s conceptions of right and wrong, that religion is fundamentally a primitive attempt at controlling our environments, that religion is a way to explain the existence of a physical world, and that religion confers an enhanced survivability for members of a group and so is reinforced by natural selection. The “hard problem” of consciousness is figuring out the relationship between mind and matter and why some matter gives rise to unitary subjects and why others don’t. Why am I conscious, and you, and my cat, but not the chair or the rock? We have literally no certainty as to what objects in the universe, other than ourselves, are also subjects because we can only know our own self as a subject. We must, then, use reasonable inference to determine what other objects in the universe are also subjects.(And if I decide that a particular rock has a consciousness and you don’t which one of us is right?)

 

9 Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science. Most of Gould’s empirical research was based on the land snail genera Poecilozonites and Cerion. In evolutionary theory, he opposed strict selectionism, sociobiology as applied to humans, and evolutionary psychology.

Gould championed biological constraints such as the limitations of developmental pathways on evolutionary outcomes, as well as other non-selectionist forces in evolution. In particular, he considered many higher functions of the human brain to be the unintended side consequence or by-product of natural selection, rather than direct adaptations. Gould believed this understanding undermines an essential premise of human sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. (Biological constraints- sounds a lot like Margaret Sanger talking about euthanasia of the certain humans with less intelligence –see Wieseltier above or those presumed dumber due to amount of melanin in their skin.)

 

10 Kenan Malik is an Indian-born English writer, lecturer and broadcaster, trained in neurobiology and the history of science. As a scientific author, his focus is on the philosophy of biology, and contemporary theories of multiculturalism, pluralism and race.

Malik has long campaigned for equal rights, freedom of expression, and a secular society, and in defense of rationalism and humanism in the face of what he has called “a growing culture of irrationalism, mysticism and misanthropy”. In the 1980s, he was associated with a number of Marxist organizations, including the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and Malik wrote for the RCP’s magazine Living Marxism. Malik’s main areas of academic interest are philosophy of biology and philosophy of mind, scientific method and epistemology, theories of human nature, science policy, bioethics, political philosophy, the history, philosophy and sociology of race, and the history of ideas.(I only have one question- how can you be sure his ’scientific’ work is not slanted toward his political beliefs.)

 

11 John Lennox is a mathematician, philosopher of science, and Christian apologist. He is a leading voice defending the notion of the relationship between science and religion. Lennox is considered to be a leading figure of the evangelical intelligentsia movement.

(What can I say one intelligent person in the entire group)

Evillution

The Implosion of Evillutionary Theory

The Implosion of Evillutionary Theory

(The endnotes are important part of this article, please make sure you read them as you follow the thought process from start to finish –LEM)

A major way to test a philosophy or a particular worldview is to ask a simple question: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are always fatal to any particular worldview because contradictory statements are of necessity, logically false. “This circle is square” is a contradiction, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that the theory itself fails to meet. Therefore, it refutes itself….

An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology[1], a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value. Now, if you think about it (provided the theory allows you to think about it in this manner, that places what you are thinking pretty much in the realm of basic animal instincts[2]).

So let us apply the concept of ‘logically consistent’ to the theory itself. Since it was selected for the survival instincts of humankind and not for the absolute truth — it discredits its own claim to be the truth..

Many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting (or completely ignoring) the inherent logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray[3] writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” While it doesn’t exactly jump off the page at you (one reason why he is a Professor- he knows how to rewrite the truth) there is a contradiction in that statement?

Gray is essentially saying, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

Self-referential absurdity is a lot like the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

Another example comes from Francis Crick[4]. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” However, that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory has a hard time surviving itself.

Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct behavior that may end up in genetic format overtime. It is not the scope of this article to discuss that, but I will one day soon. In general (and YouTube is full of animal paradoxes), if a cat thinks dogs are friendly the cat may not live long. However, false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum[5] says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker[6] writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The consequence is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard to be used, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but completely or partially false.

This produces an evolutionary dilemma, which even a dimwit like me finds puzzling. Evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value. (So making a conscious choice to grow my hair long in the 70’s –free will– so I would fit in with my peer group –sense of self– was not my choice, it was dictated by millions of years of evolutionary natural selection. I wonder why so many other people didn’t grow their hair long –not the ladies mind you, just the men).

So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory kind of makes a laughing stock of itself.

A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier[7] writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel[8] asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.”

People are sometimes under the impression that Darwin himself recognized the problem but most authors play games with the order of his writings. They typically cite Darwin’s famous “horrid doubt” passage where he questions whether the human mind can be trustworthy if it is a product of evolution. That passage reads: “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.”

However, Darwin’s theory itself was a “conviction of man’s mind-specifically his.” So why should it be “at all trustworthy”? Darwin never confronted this internal contradiction in his theory and why not? He expressed his “horrid doubt” selectively — only when considering the case for a Creator.

Darwin, from time to time, admitted that he still found the idea of God somewhat persuasive. He once confessed his “inward conviction … that the Universe is not the result of chance.” It was in the next sentence that he expressed his “horrid doubt.” The previous sentence is left out of most texts giving an imprecise viewpoint of what he was thinking. Therefore, the “conviction” he mistrusted was his lingering conviction that the universe might not be the result of chance.

In another passage Darwin admitted, “I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man.” As was typical of him he immediately veered off into skepticism: “But then arises the doubt — can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?”

Specifically, can the mind be trusted when it draws “grand conclusions” about a First Cause? Perhaps the concept of God is merely an instinct programmed into us by natural selection, Darwin added, like a monkey’s “instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”

In brief, it was on occasions when Darwin’s mind led him to a theistic conclusion that he dismissed the mind as untrustworthy. He failed to recognize that in order to be logically consistent; he needed to apply the same skepticism to his own theory.

Modern followers of Darwin still apply the theory selectively. Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould[9] wrote, “Darwin applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of nature,” in which “mind, spirit, and God as well, are just words that express the wondrous results of neuronal complexity.” In other words, God is an idea that appears in the human mind when the electrical circuitry of the brain has evolved to a certain level of complexity.

To be logically consistent, however, Gould should turn the same skepticism back onto Darwin’s ideas, which he never did. Gould applied his evolutionary skepticism selectively — to discredit the idea of God.

Applied consistently, Darwinism undercuts not only itself but also the entire scientific enterprise. Kenan Malik[10], a writer trained in neurobiology, writes, “If our cognitive capacities were simply evolved dispositions, there would be no way of knowing which of these capacities lead to true beliefs and which to false ones.” Thus “to view humans as little more than sophisticated animals …undermines confidence in the scientific method.”

There you have it. Science itself is at stake. John Lennox[11], professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, writes that according to atheism, “the mind that does science … is the end product of a mindless unguided process. Now, if you knew your computer was the product of a mindless unguided process, you wouldn’t trust it. So, to me atheism undermines the rationality I need to do science.”

Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.

The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.

 

Have you been reading the references as I have presented them to you in the article? The reason why will now become apparent. I have expounded upon each of the following endnotes at the following link:

 


 

[1] Evolutionary epistemology refers to three distinct topics: (1) the biological evolution of cognitive mechanisms in animals and humans, (2) a theory that knowledge itself evolves by natural selection, and (3) the study of the historical discovery of new abstract entities such as abstract number or abstract value that necessarily precede the individual acquisition and usage of such abstractions.

[2] Instinctive behavior is the inherent inclination of a living organism towards a particular complex behavior. The simplest example is in which a very short to medium length sequence of actions, without variation, are carried out in response to a clearly defined stimulus. Any behavior is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors.

[3] John Nicholas Gray is an English political philosopher with interests in analytic philosophy and the history of ideas. He is a critic of utopian thinking in the modern world. Gray sees volition, and hence morality, as an illusion, and portrays humanity as a ravenous species engaged in wiping out other forms of life.

[4] Crick was an important theoretical molecular biologist and played a crucial role in research related to revealing the genetic code. He is widely known for use of the term “central dogma” to summarize the idea that genetic information flow in cells is essentially one-way, from DNA to RNA to protein.. His later research centered on theoretical neurobiology and attempts to advance the scientific study of human consciousness.

[5] Eric B. Baum is an American computer scientist, artificial intelligence researcher and author. He is known for his materialist and evolutionist theories of intelligence and consciousness, set forth in his 2004 book What is Thought? (ISBN 0262524570). In his book, Baum claims that intelligence, consciousness, qualia (a term used in philosophy to refer to individual instances of subjective, conscious experience) and free will are fully explained by evolution’s mandate to “exploit the compact structure of the world.”

[6] Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and popular science author. He is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. His academic specializations are visual cognition and psycholinguistics. His experimental subjects include mental imagery, shape recognition, visual attention, children’s language development, regular and irregular phenomena in language, the neural bases of words and grammar, and the psychology of innuendo and euphemism.

[7] Leon Wieseltier is an American writer, critic, amateur philosopher and magazine editor. Wieseltier has published several books of fiction and nonfiction. Kaddish, genre-blending meditation on the Jewish prayers of mourning. Against Identity is a collection of thoughts about the modern notion of identity. Wieseltier also edited and introduced a volume of works by Lionel Trilling entitled The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent.

[8] Thomas Nagel is an American philosopher whose main areas of philosophical interest are philosophy of mind, political philosophy and ethics. Nagel is well known for his critique of reductionist accounts of the mind, specifically the neo-Darwinian view, of the emergence of consciousness.

[9] Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science. Most of Gould’s empirical research was based on the land snail genera Poecilozonites and Cerion. In evolutionary theory, he opposed strict selectionism, sociobiology as applied to humans, and evolutionary psychology.

[10] Kenan Malik is an Indian-born English writer, lecturer and broadcaster, trained in neurobiology and the history of science. As a scientific author, his focus is on the philosophy of biology, and contemporary theories of multiculturalism, pluralism and race.

[11] John Lennox is a mathematician, philosopher of science, and Christian apologist. He is a leading voice defending the notion of the relationship between science and religion. Lennox is considered to be a leading figure of the evangelical intelligentsia movement.