Skip to comments.But is it Good for the Conservatives - Darwinism and its Discontents
Posted on 05/14/2007 4:59:48 PM PDT by jocon307
They only had two and a half hours to settle some knotty questions--Does reality have an ultimate, metaphysical foundation? Is there content to the universe?--so they had to talk fast. But not fast enough. By the time the formidable panel discussion was over last week, I, as a member of the audience, had even more questions about the nature of reality than usual.
This hardly ever happens at a think tank, even Washington's most audacious and interesting think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. One reason AEI stands as the capital's premier research organization is that it alone would think to assemble a quartet of intelligent and accomplished people to debate the implications of Darwinism for political thought and public policy. Specifically, the panel's title was "Darwinism and Conservatism: Friends or Foes?" Its moderator was Steven Hayward, the biographer of Ronald Reagan, and in the quartet he conducted were Larry Arnhart, a political scientist from Northern Illinois University; John Derbyshire, an author and a blogger for National Review Online; John West, a political scientist formerly of Seattle Pacific University and now of the Discovery Institute; and his colleague at Discovery, George Gilder, the legendary author of Wealth and Poverty, Microcosm, The Spirit of Enterprise, and Life After Television. (Gilder is routinely and correctly called a visionary, partly because he's the only man on earth who can imagine life without television.)
(Excerpt) Read more at weeklystandard.com ...
Am I supposed to read past this point?
What a presumptuous statement.
sorry, I didn't get past the title.
I don't have a telie, does that make me a visionary?
A few quotes
...”Conservatives need Darwin,” he said. Without the scientific evidence Darwinian theory offers, conservative views would be swamped by liberal sentimentality. The left-wing view of human nature as unfixed and endlessly manipulable has led to countless disastrous Utopian schemes. Hard-headed Darwinians, on the other hand, see human nature as settled and enduring and stubbornly unchangeable, and conservatives can wield the findings of Darwin to rebut the scheming, ambitious busybodies of the left and their subversion of custom and tradition...
Thus Gilder offered a concession by way of a compromise: “Darwinism may be true,” he said, “but it’s ultimately trivial.” It is not a “fundamental explanation for creation or the universe.” Evolution and natural selection may explain why organic life presents to us its marvelous exfoliation. Yet Darwinism leaves untouched the crucial mysteries—who we are, why we are here, how we are to behave toward one another, and how we should fix the alternative minimum tax. And these are questions, except the last one, that lie beyond the expertise of any panel at any think tank
I find the usefulness of Darwinism to be a separate question as to whether it was “True” the same way that Newtonian Physics is undeniably useful, and answers many questions, but turned out to be severely flawed and simplistic, as Einstein expanded the understanding. I have no difficulty accepting that Darwinism may be useful but wrong
A similar dichotomy occurs if you study the mental symbols one uses if you view the Universe as the "Only Thing" or those symbols used if the Universe is a subset of a "Greater Thing"
A few quotes from C.S. Lewis
Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.
Unless thought is valid we have no reason to believe in the real universe.
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
IMO, in the context of socioeconomics and culture, "Darwinism" (one of the lamest terms ever - like calling general relativity 'Einsteinism") is like a gun in the sense that what matters is the person wielding it. Science (like religion) has countless times been shown to be less a guide for society than a way to conceal and/or obfuscate the intrinsically irrational (ex ante) terms of the debate.
There is nothing INTRINSIC about evolution via natural selection that goes against conservatism, or even theism writ large for that matter (specific interpretations of certain holy texts sure, but even that is true of quantum mechanics and general relativity - by extension, is quantum mechanics damaging to conservatism or Christianity? Of course not! How completely silly, pons asinorum all).
What a dope. Of course the theory of evolution is not a "fundamental explanation for creation or the universe." It is not supposed to be, except in the fevered minds of anti-evolutionists seeking their next strawman.
Neither is germ theory, the theory of gravity, or any other single theory in science "a fundamental explanation for creation or the universe," but I don't see them being trashed as the theory of evolution is.
The uses of Darwinism as a framework for a “World-view” however leads to tremendous problems for a Conservative, or one who accepts a non Universe Centric metaphysic
Darwinism is an intellectual package deal. Accepting its larger scientific claims about the origins of life, and about how human nature came to be the way it is, requires acceptance of its much less appealing philosophical suppositions: that the universe is a random, directionless process, that human existence has no point or purpose, that free will and the sanctity of the self are ultimately illusions.
First, the theory of evolution makes no claims about the origin of life.
Second, disagreement with the implications of a theory does not logically constitute a scientific argument against that theory.
You may not like it, but gravity says you are not going to fly unassisted like a bird. Your personal feelings about the subject have nothing to do with either the existence of gravity, or the accuracy of the theory of gravity.
(Personally, I think gravity sucks!)
The powerful edifice of the Sciences are predicated upon a few assumptions, one of which is that Reason is Valid. The very lens through which we see and understand the Universe, Reason, and it’s validity, is difficult to explain in principle by using Logic and Reason. The use of Reason to explain Reason creates an immediate problem with circular logic. A thing cannot be used to explain itself. Kant in “A Critique of Pure Reason” faced this with the assumption that Reason must be accepted “A Priori” within humans as a valid process. This leads to many problems in that we cannot say that Reason is Valid, only that it is present and useful.
This is the boundary zone found with Metaphysic. The most fundamental question therefore, is the Universe all there is, or is there a “Superset” reality to the Universe. By extension, is Reason Valid in itself, or is there a Thing from which Reason is a derivative.
Darwinism is like this, are all processes in the Universe self contained and internally complete, or are the events in the Universe a subset of a greater “Meaning”. I, for one, find the internal consistancy of the Universe to be immensely comforting, as the lawful and consistant nature of the universe acts as a pointer toward understanding the nature of that which created all. I accept a source of Reason to be present, external to the Universe to give validity to Reason in human minds.
For those that are interested, you can watch the entire panel discussion here.
To claim that all life is descended from a common ancestor is to make a claim about the origin of life, namely that it only happened once.
“To claim that all life is descended from a common ancestor is to make a claim about the origin of life, namely that it only happened once.” Tailgunner Joe
Try this. :)
“..man is not descended from animals, but rather, vice versa. Put another way, the human being is not “animal plus X.” Rather, various animals are “human prototype minus X,” just as life is not “matter plus Y,” but “life minus Y.” (If I recall correctly, this was an argument in Schumacher’s Guide For the Perplexed.) ...” ~ Robert W.Godwin
Drinking from God’s Firehose
Robert W.Godwin [aka Gagdad Bob] , Ph.D is a clinical psychologist whose interdisciplinary work has focused on the relationship between contemporary psychoanalysis, chaos theory, and quantum physics. bttt