Skip to comments.So You Think You Are a Darwinian?
Posted on 02/08/2003 7:54:52 AM PST by Ethan Clive Osgoode
Darwinism's Dilemma (part I: Cave Man)
Darwinism's Dilemma (part II: Hard Man)
And so far it is the best argument the evos have against creation. But you all have convinced me that your problem is not with creation, but with a Creator, not with the belief, but with the believers, else you would have simply blown us all away with a demonstration of logic and evidence.
Esp not on FR, although at least two have left darwin's plantation.
I must be a Darwinist, 'cause I am a slave to 4 cats. Why else would I put up with a houseful of cat hair, the ever present threat of stepping in a hairball, claw "antiquing" on my walnut windowsills, $2000 vet bills, etc., etc.
Refer to the last two articles that this guy wrote, which were posted on this site. He has a knack for beginning his articles with something either false or pointless.
When I read the late David Stoves essay So You think you are a Darwinian? in this journal, I supposed that biologists or philosophers of biology would have been quick to respond. But the last eighteen months have shown no sign of this happening. Perhaps people professionally involved with evolutionary theory have better things to do, and in some circumstances silence is indeed the best reaction. But not, I think, on this occasion. Darwin himself spoke wearily of the standard of criticism not uncommonly reached by theologians and metaphysicians when they write on scientific subjects; by perpetuating that unfortunate standard we do philosophy a great disservice. Stoves essay is also reprinted in a collection of his works - a collection with accolades by no less than David Lewis and Stephen Stich on the cover. A book-length expansion of his views is now published, although in this paper I shall confine myself to replying to his arguments as they have appeared in this journal. People who do not know better will think that there must be something right in his criticisms. People who do know better may think that philosophy richly deserves its exile to the margins of serious intellectual pursuit. So I hope a very brief comment by a philosopher may do something to restore our tattered dignity.
Stove presents a list of ten Darwinian falsities, and tells us that there are many more. The ten are:
1. The truth is the total prostitution of all animal life, including Man and all his airs and graces, to the blind purposiveness of these minute virus-like substances, genes. (Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene)
2. ' it is, after all to a mothers advantage that her child should be adopted by another woman. (ibid.)
3. All communication is manipulation of signal-receiver by signal-sender (ibid.)
4. Homosexuality in social animals is a form of sibling-altruism: that is, your homosexuality is a way of helping your brothers and sisters to raise more children. (Robert Trivers, Social Evolution)
5. In all social mammals, the altruism (or apparent altruism) of siblings towards one another is about as strong and common as the altruism (or apparent altruism) of parents towards their offspring.
(W. D. Hamilton, The Journal of Theoretical Biology, 1964)
6. no one is prepared to sacrifice his life for any single person, but everyone will sacrifice it for more than two brothers (or offspring), or four half-brothers, or eight first-cousins. (ibid. p. 269)
7. Every organism has as many descendants as it can.
8. In every species child-mortality - that is, the proportion of live births which die before reproductive age - is extremely high.
9. The more privileged people are the more prolific: if one class in a society is less exposed than another to the misery due to food-shortage, disease, and war, then the members of the more fortunate class will have (on the average) more children than the members of the other class.
10. If variations which are useful to their possessors in the struggle for life do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive), that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. (Charles Darwin)
These ten are billed as central, indispensable and characteristic theses of Darwinism. However, Stove also notices that some of them are only held by some evolutionary biologists. These he calls ultras, or in other words those who have been most enthusiastic in applying Darwinian explanations to a whole variety of behavioural or other features of people and animals. But although he urges that it is fair to attack a doctrine or approach by attacking its ultras, this is surely false. For whereas Darwinism claims that some features of living things are adaptations, in a sense we define below, the ultras either think that all of them are, or at least that certain favourite (alleged) features of people or animals are. This is not so much an extreme version of Darwinism, as a recipe for misapplication of it. The ultras are also apt to deliver glib interpretations of the significance of Darwinism, and this point becomes important when we return to the first three falsities that Stove presents, all taken from the writings of the ultra Richard Dawkins. But rather than go through his ten Darwinian falsities, in his order, I shall start with the worst example, which also serves to introduce the basics.
The sixth of the parade is supposed to come from W. D. Hamilton, whose paper The Genetical Evolution of Social Behaviour has been the fountainhead of much modern evolutionary theory. Here again is the quotation Stove uses, in the words he gives:
no one is prepared to sacrifice his life for any single person, but everyone will sacrifice it for more than two brothers [or offspring], or four half-brothers, or eight first-cousins. (p. 269)
Stove scrupulously explains that the italicization is his own, and so is the insert in square brackets. But they are scarcely necessary to justify his own scathing denunciation of Hamiltons view. It is one of the characteristic Darwinian propositions, Stove tells us, which is obviously false: either a direct falsity about our species or, where the proposition is a general one, obviously false in the case of our species, at least. The publishers advertisement for Stoves book also claims that Stove has falsified the prediction that an animal will sacrifice itself for three siblings. And the unwary reader might well think Stove has a point, for the proposition is obviously false about our species, so if Hamilton and Darwinians believe it, they must be badly astray.
But here is the actual quotation from Hamilton:
To express the matter more vividly, in the world of our model organisms, whose behaviour is determined strictly by genotype, we expect to find that no one is prepared to sacrifice his life for any single person, but that everyone will sacrifice it when he can thereby save more than two brothers, or four half-brothers, or eight first-cousins (p. 16)
By missing out the first twenty-five words, Stove presents a mathematical truth about Hamiltons model as a contingent falsehood about human beings.
If Stove knew what he had done, then I think he can only be defended in the words Sir Peter Medawar used of Teilhard de Chardin in his famous review in Mind, 1950: its author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself. But if on the other hand he did not see how the omission matters then Stove is in effect committing one of the very fallacies that critics claim lie at the heart of vulgar or pop sociobiology, which is that of inferring actual propensities to behaviour and their explanations, from genetic models (other fallacies imputed include that of inferring the existence of a gene for any aspect of the phenotype, just because it exists, and that of inferring the identity of kinds of behaviour and of evolutionary history, from superficial analogies across species).
Why does the omission matter so much? Hamiltons paper was centrally a contribution to population genetics. It was the first formal presentation of the concept of inclusive fitness: roughly, the extent to which the genetic material of an organism is represented in future generations. Hamilton saw that this measure will sometimes increase if a gene codes for self-sacrificial behaviour. In particular, sacrifices of the type described, in a population, such as we are, whose members get half their genetic material from each parent, will actually lead to more of an individuals genetic material being represented in the next generation than a non-sacrificial alternative. So, under stable evolutionary conditions, if there is a variant of a gene (an allele) that codes for such behaviour, then we would expect animals in which it is present to become predominant in a population, compared with those with an allele that does not code for such behaviour. Hamilton went on to apply the model to solve a famous problem for Darwinian theory: how it can be that in species of hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps), sterile workers exist? Why would evolutionary pressures not have weeded them out? The answer is that sterility could have evolved under pressure of selection because, given the particular way genetic material flows through the population, sterility of the worker can actually increase its genetic representation in future generations: the sterile worker farms its mother to produce more sisters, to whom it is more closely related than it would be to its own offspring. So from the standpoint of inclusive fitness sterility can be adaptive and it would not be weeded out by evolution. This is a possibility theorem, similar, for example, to Haldanes earlier answer to the question of how the gene for sickle cell anaemia, which is almost always lethal, could persist in human populations. The answer is that although 80% of people with sickle cell anaemia die before reproducing, the condition requires the homozygote (SS), the person having received the S gene from each parent. However, people with the heterozygote (AS) have other advantages over those who are AA, notably resistance to malaria. It is as if there is an urn in which a proportion of balls are S, and a proportion A. Drawings are made two at a time: SS means none go back, AA means one of the two quite fairly often goes back, but AS or SA means that one of the two much more often goes back, and that explains why S persists in the population in the urn. In fact, the S gene is more prominent in precisely those populations that are more at risk from malaria.
Now return to self-sacrifice. Nothing in the theory so far predicts that we, or any other species should behave self-sacrificially in just the way Haldane and Hamilton described. Why not? Obviously, one reason alone suffices: the naturalized epistemology is too demanding. That is, it is obviously extremely hard to recognize the degrees of relatedness that Hamilton describes, and to adjust any behaviour efficiently to reflect them accurately (especially remembering the smaller fractions involved as degrees of relatedness decrease). A likely economical solution might be an approximation or kludge: sacrifice yourself more readily for animals that look like your parents or that smell familiar, for example. Or even: dont sacrifice yourself at all under any circumstances. But furthermore, we dont know the costs that would attach to having behaviour determined by any more accurate device. In some circumstances, obviously, there would be costs in terms of interference with other interesting and potentially adaptive mechanisms such as that of reciprocal altruism regardless of kin.
But quite apart from this, nothing in Darwinian theory allows you to say that because some pattern of behaviour would increase the amount of some type of genetic material in future generations, therefore it will exist. It does not as it were allow you to say that whatever is right, is. Nor does it allow you to say that because some trait exists, therefore it is an adaptation, so that whatever is, is right. Darwin himself was not a Panglossian: he thought that natural selection is 'insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life. But he did not think that opportunity is always offered (in fact, he specifically discusses circumstances favourable or unfavourable to the operation of natural selection, in chapter 4 of the Origin). He also thought that natural selection is but one agent of change, and one factor responsible for the features of species and their members at any time.
Why does opportunity not always offer? Genes flow through populations through time, their numbers in any generation varying with many factors, but centrally with the reproductive success of organisms that possess them. This means is that if the difference between the presence of one allele at a locus and the presence of another allele, causes a difference in the properties of the organism carrying the gene, and if that difference causes superior reproductive success of the organism, then the frequency of the occurrence of the one allele will rise compared to that of the other. If this is what explains the presence of the phenotypical difference, then the property is called an adaptation. This is just definition and mathematics. The empirical and testable question whether a particular trait is in fact an adaptation. So the first reason why opportunity does not always offer is that it is history and chance that determine whether one allele and another exist, and get into the competitive situation in which natural selection can operate in the first place. All this is standard theory. Even the ultra Dawkins, for instance, offers a list of six constraints on perfection, and discusses still others. The six are: time lags (animals are often out of date); the biological patchwork apt to be generated by historical constraints, or in other words the fact that evolution has to work by degrees on what is already present; the available genetic variation that exists for evolutionary pressure to work upon; constraints of costs and materials, imperfections at one level arising because of adaptations at another; and finally the existence of malevolence in the environment: perfection in the python is death for the monkey. Interestingly, Darwin was well aware of the general nature of these constraints, and himself suggested the principle of functional change in structural continuity to explain the evolution of incipient forms of structures that only gain their present use later.
Hamiltons result certainly led to the search for kin-related sacrificial and altruistic behaviour in nature. It also led to various incautious claims that the phenotypical trait, here a propensity to adjust behaviour to degrees of relationship, is found in various human contexts, although the anthropological consensus is that this is not so (typically social kinship matters to us more than blood ties, although of course they may coincide). It led to the search for other traits that might, if they are the expression of a genetic variation, be likely to stabilize or increase in a population not because of direct reproductive success, but only through factoring in Hamiltons indirect effects, or inclusive fitness: patterns of fighting, warning, mating, caring, adoption, infanticide, and so on.
Where does this leave Stove? He certainly finds a familiar target in his first quotation from Richard Dawkins, for nothing in evolutionary biology supports the image of ourselves as blind, or unable to pursue our own purposes, nor do they justify the rhetoric of us as prostituted to other, hidden purposes, possessed by virus-like substances within us. Stove is perfectly within his rights to join many commentators in finding Dawkinss language completely inappropriate. Of course, Dawkins knows and often says that genes have no brains, and hence no purposes and no self-interest. His problem is that he wants to say this, but at the same time to promote an interpretation of the biological facts that is actually inconsistent with it (but formed the core of his populist appeal). Thus he believes that our only hope in moral and political affairs to 'defy the selfish genes of our birth and rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators; had Stove confined himself to pointing out that nothing in the literal science gives any license to us to think that we do, or could do, or need to do, any such thing, then he might have performed a useful service. What he should not do is read the unhappy rhetoric back into the doctrines of evolutionary biology. Dawkinss peculiar vision of us as mere vehicles for purposive genes is of his own making. It is not a tenet of Darwinism. But Stove is not within his rights to ignore Dawkinss technical use of terminology, as Dawkins pointed out in his rebuke to Mary Midgley in this journal a long time ago, and it is this that is at work in the second and third thesis.
Hamiltons result led to work, such as that of R. Trivers that Stove goes on to cite, suggesting the we do find direct expression of inclusive fitness in patterns of behaviour. The idea is that there are patterns of behaviour that can be interpreted as illustrating an unconscious calculus of genetic flow. Trivers speculates that the rate of homosexuality in populations is one such. Now although Triverss work is relatively unguarded it is not to be criticized as expressing outright psychological falsity. Trivers does not suppose, as Stove implies (p. 269) that homosexuals are really saying to themselves: let me promote the reproductive success of my relations. How can I do that best? I know, I shall opt out of the reproductive race, by coupling only with others of my own sex.' Sure enough, if this were homosexual psychology, then presumably gays would spend less time cruising and more time nurturing siblings, nieces and nephews (and in fact, could perhaps do better for their genes by just confining themselves to these laudable activities, and giving up sex altogether). But one of the points of Triverss work is to show that a pattern of behaviour can exist without an organism planning, or even having the capacity to plan, in terms of it (in fact, the relevant example in his book Social Evolution is lesbianism amongst gulls). All the homosexuals are doing is finding members of the same sex attractive. But the theorist asks: why they are doing this? And how is it possible that a gene for doing it (if it is an adaptation) should survive, when it is obviously harmful to direct reproductive success? The answer might, in principle be given by the Hamiltonian calculation, just like the sterility of worker bees or ants. But it might not be: the explanation is speculative, and faces all the obstacles I have mentioned, and perhaps more.
A theory such as this is speculative because we have to know the heritability and the plasticity of human patterns of behaviour before even beginning to theorize about which features of it are adaptations, in the sense given above. To take the classic example: if we lived only in an English speaking environment, and observed the remarkable rapidity with which infants learn English, we might conclude that there is a gene for speaking English. We would clearly have been misled; at best there might be a gene for learning whichever language is spoken by those around us. Perhaps the threat of genetic determinism is less troublesome once we realize that in many respects we may only be determined to be flexible. There are certainly genetic, heritable, instructions for growing proteins, and hence for growing the general-purpose cognitive and emotional engine called the brain. Equally certainly the brain imposes some limits: limits on what we can see or hear, or the size of our long or short term memories, for example, just as gravity puts limits on the size we can grow, or the distance we can fly. But more interesting behaviour is a different matter. Psychologically and culturally the empirical evidence shows massive flexibility within whatever limits there are, just as it shows it linguistically. A priori then, homosexuality in humans is at least as likely to be a consequence of various social and cultural factors as any kind of adaptation.
This kind of defence may seem too good to be true, and it may be appropriate here to make one remark about the question of whether Darwinism is an empirical, testable scientific theory, or whether it deflates into the tautology that survivors survive. The correct response is that these are not the only alternatives. Darwinism is better seen as a framework within which the right questions can be asked. It does not itself tell us which phenotypical properties are adaptations. But it does imply that some are, and the empirical work comes in discovering which ones these are. It is applying the genetic model in any particular way that leads to falsifiable empirical science, and there are many classic studies showing how it can be done.
Stoves main further point (supposed to refute all but the final one of the ten falsities) is that human beings obviously do not reproduce as prolifically as they can. This is certainly true, and the anthropological evidence is that cultural norms show great flexibility and variation in what counts as an appropriate pattern of childbearing. So, says Stove, the human being falsifies a central plank of Darwins theory, which is that every organism has as many descendants as it can. Stove says roundly: there can clearly be no question of Darwinism making an exception of man, without openly contradicting itself (p. 271).
Unfortunately it is simply untrue that Darwinism implies that every organism has as many descendants as it can, in the sense Stove intends, in which it means bears or begets as many children as is biologically possible for it to do (Stove must mean this, or the subsequent calculations of mortality rates become irrelevant). A kind of organism that did breed to its biological limit could easily be selected against: most obviously if all its many offspring promptly starved, where fewer would have survived. This is why Stoves gloss is not at all equivalent to the quotation from Darwin that he actually gives, which talks of the striving (tendency would have been better) to maximize numbers, something which can sometimes best be done by restraint in child-bearing.
To understand this situation let us suppose a constant environment in which the number of human beings cannot grow significantly beyond its present level. Suppose the population is one of Trimmers, who find it less costly, more healthy, to restrain their rate of reproduction to roughly two children per couple, and the status quo is thereby maintained. Suppose the population now is invaded by a number of Breeders, who devote a great deal of energy to breeding up to their biological limit of ten or fifteen children per female. Suppose that a propensity to breed or to trim is controlled by a single gene. Would we expect the Breeders to displace the Trimmers? Not at all. We know that in the end, the actual number in the population remains the same: this is Malthuss grim truth. So the question is going to be: who is dying? The environment is one in which two people can be replaced by two people. Breeders are trying to rear ten or fifteen. Their children are less likely to get fed properly, are therefore weaker, more prone to disease, and are less able to survive. Perhaps the parental investment in breeding leads to less investment in upbringing, so that breeders are not intelligent or strong, and therefore fail to be sexually selected by the healthiest partners. Perhaps Trimmers find the reversion to Malthusian controls on population sufficiently abhorrent to mount other strategies against the Breeders, and so on. In fact, in biological theory, producing a small number of intensively cared-for offspring leads to one kind of selection (K-selection); it is distinguished at least by degree, from producing the largest possible number of offspring (r-selection). Birds produce few eggs, and care for them intensively; fish produce huge numbers of eggs, and dont care for them at all. We are like birds, but whereas they have presumably no control over the mechanisms that regulate the size of their clutch, we do.
Again Stove might more reasonably have applied the fact that many human beings dont care to reproduce to Dawkins rather than Darwin. That is, a good way of ridding oneself of his image of us as robots under the control of our purposive genes is to reflect that the goal of reproducing at all, let alone reproducing prolifically, is one that many people simply do not have. Nor need there be any huge psychological cost, as if such people were constantly fighting a strong innate urge to reproduce, forced on them by the swarming armies of purposive genes inside them. But when thinking about Darwin himself, we must remember that, quite apart from its description in the Origin of Species (e.g. in chapter 4), parts two and three of The Descent of Man, that is, two thirds of the entire book (and it is not short), concern sexual selection in animals and human beings. Darwin considered sexual selection (the differential preference of members of one sex for members of the other) as a major agent of evolutionary change through time, comparable to human breeding of domesticated animals. A bird, for instance, refrains from mating with another bird who is not preferred; Darwin describes in chapter 14, and returns later to, the vivid case of several peahens who, when debarred from an admired male, remained widows during a whole season rather than pair with another bird (chapter 21). But by exercising sexual selection an animal refrains from the indiscriminate urge to reproduce whenever biologically possible. So Stove is in the extraordinary position of holding that Darwins most discussed agent of evolutionary change is in fact inconsistent with a central, indispensable tenet of the theory.
Because he misinterprets Darwin, Stoves calculations of infant mortality rates in a stable population in which people do reproduce as often as they can, are quite beside the point (pp. 271-272). Of course all human societies take steps to control their fertility, by late marriages, long periods of suckling, restraints on permissible periods of intercourse, and so on, just as in birds there are mechanisms that regulate the size of clutches of eggs. There is no theorem of Darwinian biology that if a variation appears that has larger clutches it will oust the others: it all depends on what happens next.
As for Stoves last thrust, in which he finds Darwinism inconsistent with the existence of injurious attributes in animals, it simply depends on taking a rhetorical passage of Darwins for a non-negotiable literal tenet of the science (p. 275). Darwin knew that we get diseases, just as he knew that we have parasites, and eventually die. Injurious traits such as alcoholism and aneurism are not inevitably weeded out, any more than things which are more clearly under genetic control, such as sterility or susceptibility to malaria are weeded out, and, ironically, it is work such as Hamiltons or Haldanes that explains why. The single example above, of the persistence of a gene for the horrible disease of sickle cell anaemia should be enough to show why evolutionary biology is committed to no such optimism. How could it possibly be? As we have already said, typically a success in one organism is a difficulty for another.
To anticipate misunderstandings, I should repeat that none of this is any kind of defence of any of the interpretations, or misinterpretations of Darwinian theory that go under the banners of sociobiology, or evolutionary psychology. On the contrary, the point about the evolution of a flexible, multi-purpose brain is precisely intended to unsettle any crude inference from human phenotype (as discovered, for instance, in the tendencies of some human population at some time) back to genetic determination, or from genetic model to actual behaviour. The sociobiologists or ultras may sometimes commit these fallacies (perhaps the second underlies falsity number five, which I have not attempted to defend). But we simply share it with them if we fail to distinguish their misinterpretations of Darwins legacy from the legacy itself. In his paper Stove chose not to attack the perversions of Darwinian theory, but the theory itself. I believe philosophers need to understand that his weapons were hopelessly ill-adapted to doing this.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1 D. C. Stove, `So You Think You are a Darwinian? Philosophy 69, 1994, 267277. This is the not the first of Stoves appearances in this journal on the subject: see also A New Religion Philosophy 67, 1992, 233-240.
2 Cricket versus Republicanism (Sydney: Quakers Hill Press, 1995).
3 Darwinian Fairytales (Aldershot: Avebury Books, 1996).
4 W. D. Hamilton, 'The Genetical Evolution of Social Behaviour, The Journal of Theoretical Biology VII ,1964, 1-52.
5 R. Dawkins, The Extended Phenotype, (Oxford University Press 1982), ch 3.
6 R. Dawkins The Selfish Gene (Oxford University Press, 1976). The quotations are from pp. 200-201 of the 1989 edition. See also p. 332. That Dawkins is in a muddle is evident from the assertion that we, that is our brains, are separate and independent enough from our genes to rebel against them: a remarkable feat, one would have thought. We dont rebel against our brains by using them. Of course we can think up a sense in which it might be true: we 'rebel against our genetically coded height, for example, every time we climb a ladder. But in this sense it is not true that we alone on earth rebel against our genes. A bear sheltering in a cave is rebelling against its genetically coded tendency to freeze in bad weather, in just the same sense. Like many others, Dawkins was trying, but failing, to derive some sweeping human or philosophical interest from the biology and of course it was the belief that he had done that which gave the book, interesting as it is in its literal science, its wider reputation. This is also why there is something a little disingenuous in simply sheltering behind the claim that words like 'selfish or advantage, or purpose or 'manipulate are being used in a technical sense. If I write and profit from a book on popular biology which I call, say, The Nazi Within, it is a little cheeky of me to say that I was simply using the term Nazi in a technical sense in which it means bit of chemical that replicates itself over time. This is, I think, the real point buried in Midgleys paper (p. 448) that Dawkins failed to answer.
7 R. Dawkins In Defence of Selfish Genes, Philosophy 56, 1981, 556-573; M. Midgley, Gene Juggling, Philosophy 54, 1979, 439-458. The second and third of Stoves list of Darwinian falsehoods depend upon misreading technical uses of terms 'advantage and 'manipulation as they are used in Dawkinss writings. But see also the previous note.
8 R. L. Trivers, The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology, 46, 35-37.
9 R. L. Trivers, Social Evolution (California: Benjamin/Cummings, 1985) , 198-200.
10 The superficiality of the genetic story is scathingly criticized in Not in Our Genes, Steven Rose, Leon Kamin, and R. Lewontin, (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1984), 260-261.
11 H. Kettlewell, The Evolution of Melanism (Oxford University Press, 1973) is one of the most revered. One wonders what Stoves explanation of the relative frequency of black and speckled moths in town and country would be.
12 I would like to thank James Maclaurin and David Braddon-Mitchell for helpful conversation and biological information.
Whatever. It seems to me that it says a lot about evolutionists if they are so quick to dismiss and bury the founder of their theory. But hey, who am I to say, after all, I am not an evolutionist.
Seems to me that is the very argument that the evolutionists make. For after all what is 'natural selection' other than an argument from consequences? That is the central argument of evolution. Therefore, so if you want to defend your atheist theory, it seems to me that you need to take his argument seriously instead of dismiss it with rhetorical nonsense.
It seems that evolutionists always say that refutaions of their theory have nothing to do with evolution. However, they always seem to turn around the next day and use the very same arguments that have been refuted the very next day.
How is this article a strawman argument? What does it say that is not true about evolution? Have you anything to say besides what is essentially a rhetorical dismissal of the article or would you care to give some evidence that it is incorrect?
Well actually, Ted Kazinsky (sp?) had Al Gore's book in his hut (or whatever you wish to call it) and it was thoroughly underlined. So your statement is absolutely false and shows you to be a Clintonian disinformationist.
Well, that may be true, however, the above only shows the truth of the statement by one of the greatest intellectuals on FR - "evolution is whatever lie you want it to be" by f.christian.
I reserve a fair portion of my contempt for idiots who do the whole personality cult thing. Darwin isn't a religious icon, he was just a dude with some ideas. You could even say the same about Jesus or Newton or Galileo. The point being that the message is important, not the messenger. If you fixate on the messenger, you've likely missed the message.
The creationist camp seems far more prone to putting people on pedestals, and assuming that everyone else does as well, though it certainly isn't restricted to that crowd. Since this is essentially a fallacious premise, I don't see anything wrong with evolutionists or anyone else dismissing Darwin as being relevant to the issue. If your point doesn't hold after you've dismissed your figureheads and sacred cows, you didn't have much of a point to begin with.
Evolution is an immensely powerful creative process. From the intricate biochemistry of individual cells to the elaborate structure of the human brain, it has produced wonders of unimaginable complexity. Evolution achieves these feats with a few simple processes--mutation, sexual recombination and natural selection--which it iterates for many generations.source at www.sciam.com
Now computer programmers are harnessing software versions of these same processes to achieve machine intelligence. Called genetic programming, this technique has designed computer programs and electronic circuits that perform specified functions.
In the field of electronics, genetic programming has duplicated 15 previously patented inventions, including several that were hailed as seminal in their respective fields when they were first announced. Six of these 15 existing inventions were patented after January 2000 by major research institutions, which indicates that they represent current frontiers of research in domains of scientific and practical importance.
Some of the automatically produced inventions infringe squarely on the exact claims of the previously patented inventions. Others represent new inventions by duplicating the functionality of the earlier device in a novel way. One of these inventions is a clear improvement over its predecessor. Genetic programming has also classified protein sequences and produced human-competitive results in a variety of areas, such as the design of antennas, mathematical algorithms and general-purpose controllers. We have recently filed for a patent for a genetically evolved general-purpose controller that is superior to mathematically derived controllers commonly used in industry. ...continued at the Scientific American Digital
Yup, I am sure you will not. There is nothing to bash, no Christianity to insult and since it is true, there is nothing to refute. Better let the thread die eh? Like the leftist media, when you cannot bash the opposition you just try to make sure it does not get a hearing.
Has it occurred to you (or the author of the above) that perhaps the reason for the lack of response is that what the article says is true?
no one is prepared to sacrifice his life for any single person, but everyone will sacrifice it for more than two brothers [or offspring], or four half-brothers, or eight first-cousins.
Well, regardless of the semantic argument about numbers, the point is that an organism is 'hard coded' genetically or however, to do what is good 'for the species'. This is obviously false as the many examples of criminals, sociopaths, and Clintonites show quite well. Their morals are quite explicitly 'if you do not get caught, it's okay.
Dawkinss peculiar vision of us as mere vehicles for purposive genes is of his own making. It is not a tenet of Darwinism.
Stove must be saying something right when your 'refutation" of Stove needs to bash the prime living Neo-Darwinist in an attempt to refute him. If Dawkins is an idiot (as your author and I agree) then we certainly must throw away all his excuses for evolution out the window must we not??????
I reserve a fair portion of my contempt for idiots who do the whole personality cult thing.
Well, humans are human and hence not perfect, so we can agree on that. However, it seems to me that when in order to defend the theory of evolution you have to attack the founder, the originator, the person who laid the basis for the whole theory and who set its parameters, then I think that maybe, perhaps, it can be argued that it is the theory that is the problem and not the originator? I mean, how can the person who started the theroy by absolutely wrong in the details of the theory and the theory still be correct???????????
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