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.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s