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Mr. Darwin Can’t Get a Break
It can’t be easy to be Charles Darwin right now. (I mean, for reasons beyond the obvious.) A meticulous researcher and a serious and deeply respectful man, Mr. Darwin spent years carefully documenting and refining his seminal* theory of evolution through natural selection, delaying its presentation until similar discoveries by fellow British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace prompted him to go public and secure his claim as the father of evolutionary theory.
(And what is it with our British cousins, that they should produce simultaneously two men of such insight?)
Imagine for a moment if Galileo, whose encounter with the Catholic Church has been described in this fine piece by our own @Roderic, was today the target of pseudo-scientific sniping for Galileo’s enthusiastic support of the heliocentric model, and that a cottage industry of questionable academic rigor persisted in attempting to tear that theory down. Ponder a world in which the work of Isaac Newton (another big name in British science) was deemed risible by a gaggle of modern critics, despite his having discovered much of classical physics and — oh, yes — co-invented the calculus because plain old math wasn’t quite up to his needs.
Think about that, because that’s what Mr. Darwin has to put up with every single day.
Okay, there’s nothing wrong with questioning science. In fact, to do science is to question science: that’s what science is all about. But while doing science always entails questioning science, the act of questioning science is not always doing science (if that makes sense: it’s one of those p implies q does not imply that not-p implies not-q situations).
A couple of days ago the British newspaper The Telegraph ran a story about a criticism of Darwin mounted by the woke folks at Sheffield University in the UK. That story is paywalled at The Telegraph, but Breitbart is covering it here. The gist of the story is that the school deems evolutionary biology the stuff of white supremacy. The Telegraph quotes the school as writing “It is clear that science cannot be objective and apolitical…. [T]he curriculum we teach must acknowledge how colonialism has shaped the field of evolutionary biology and how evolutionary biologists think today,” and as calling for the “whiteness and Eurocentrism of our science” to be deconstructed.
It’s bad enough that Darwin’s work is attacked via pseudo-science from the right, as I mentioned recently in this piece (paywalled behind Ricochet) about the work of Stephen Meyer. Now the great naturalist is in the left’s crosshairs as well.
What caught my eye about the Breitbart piece (which was linked indirectly by Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit) was, first, that it is about Darwin, a man I admire and with whom I share a birthday, but also that it mentioned Sheffield University. That august institution came up here recently in this piece I wrote about a
quack woke geophysics lecturer at Sheffield calling for an end to the structural racism of the geoscience field. Or something.
* I have read that “seminal” is no longer considered appropriate, when discussing contributions in science. I can’t imagine why not.Published in Science & Technology
I see a ton of evidence for it as does nearly everyone familiar with the subject who isn’t skewed by religious faith.
Regardless, that’s not the point of the question. My point is can you accept macroevolution if the argument filled in the gaps of ignorance we have right now with better fossil and DNA evidence?
So, @henrycastaigne, I’m going to introduce a new topic on this long and perhaps exhausted thread.
You’ve commented that you’d like to genetically engineer what you consider to be an undesirable trait, this enthusiasm for spirituality, out of the human animal. That strikes me as a radical (and not in the good sense) kind of approach, a dangerous disregard for Chesterton’s cautionary principle of not discarding things until you know why they exist.
I think common sense should prompt us to ponder the evolutionary value of something that seems so universal among people and so powerfully motivating. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if that drive to comprehend our place and our function in terms greater than the material has value to us, and is an expression of something that nature has concluded contributes to our survival.
In short, it seems to me that thinking you know better than a million years of evolution when it comes to something so abstract and non-obvious as our deep-seated yearning for and sense of the numinous is the kind of hubris I expect from less rational folk.
You could not be more wrong. I don’t think we are even remotely capable of genetically engineering the yearning for spiritual and even we could do it I would not want to. Frankly, I view the advancement of science as being a spiritual thing. For some reason, the genetic make up of scientists is such that they value what they can verify. Out of love of knowledge and curiosity they purse what is True. Love of science is a correct application of spiritual yearning.
But the vast majority of humanity doesn’t want to believe in what is True. They believe in Christianity or Atheism depending the feelz. It is sentimentality and emotionalism that degrades we humans and lessens our potential and virtue.
I wish to tie human spirituality with reason. Christians in my experience ignore evolution because they don’t like it. Not because they sincerely interpret the evidence in a different way like many scientists do in good faith. In a similar fashion, socialists ignore basic economics. Anti-vaxxers (not related to the Covid Vaccines) ignore decades of research in favor of conspiracy theories.
Reason can’t reach these people in my experience. We need to have many kids die from easily preventable diseases in order to convince the anti-vaxxers. We need to continually have countries turn out like Venezuela because we can’t learn basic economic policy. Even then we might just blame all this on the illuminati or whatever.
I can’t imagine humans without spirituality. I can imagine humans with better spirituality because of improvements in genetic health however.
Really great thing about being a scientist is that you are trained to have access to materials and tools and the skills to interpret certain information that is pretty much completely inaccessible to the average person. Yet they don’t seem to seize being human with human failings like greed, pride, or hubris.
This essentially makes them high priests with special knowledge where science is concerned.
For me, a layman, to accept what scientists are claiming requires me trusting that they are telling the truth or that they have done due diligence in their work. History shows that for me to simply trust “the science” because some expert says I should would make me a fool.
So far, trusting GOD (not man) has not led me astray. I am told by my special book of fairy tales that God has revealed himself to everyone and there are no high priests with secret or special knowledge. In other words, anyone claiming knowledge of God can be verified by me with scripture. Is it tidy? No. It is so incredibly messy and not accurate. But so far, I’m pleased with the results.
We have seen repeatedly where the scientific elite have failed in their prognostications and directions. If I choose God over science, it’s because one of those is more trustworthy than the other.
That’s not going to convince you. I get it. You don’t agree. But you can keep trusting that smart humans aren’t lying to you and I’ll prioritize the magic book of invisible fairies in the sky.
If only they were lying to others. The worst lies in science are the ones scientists tell themselves out of Pride. You and I rather agree on human fallibility. It is not scientists but the scientific method that reveals what is True.
I am not a scientist because I suck at it. I do not know why, but no matter how hard I studied or busted my butt, I could never pull out more than a B in the subject, and frequently a C. I got straight As in math, so this isn’t some I’m too stupid for it.
When it comes to my faith in God, how creation happens and how the end of the world occurs, the details are not that important to me. I hold certain things in loose terms. Meaning, I can take them or leave them as new (vetted) information comes in without the core being compromised.
If I were a scientist, I would “pursue scientific truth.” But I am not. See above. As such, my pursuit of scientific truth involves a trust I can not give without extraordinary evidence of truth. And being an increasingly ADD mom that spends too much time on Ricochet and rewatching Psych episodes, I have more important things in life I should be directing my energy too (like being productive and nurturing) rather than wading into the detailed weeds of evolutionary experiments that I do not have the background to understand.
You say tomato, I say tomato.
We’re not talking about eliminating smallpox here. You wish to outsmart a million years of evolution and tweak something deep and mysterious in the human psyche. Because you think you know better than all that natural selection.
Man, where have I heard this kind of thing before?
Well, first of all I really shouldn’t have so pointedly made this about your statement personally. I have thought about it and regret that. Secondarily, thinking is thinking regardless of whether anyone calls the event supernatural or not: the argument touches on what supernatural even means. The Big Bang — or at least our understanding of it — is by my definition supernatural, and with it being a one time irreproducible thing, is exposed to questions about it (and other creation theories) and the very bizarreness of the theories presented about it, makes it — supernatural.
The Big Bang or whatever it was, if anything, that formed the universe out of nothing (otherwise it would be a steady-state universe) is by scientific standards “miraculous”, and unexplainable, and it doesn’t exist [today] and has never been observed in nature. It’s only an extraordinary and very unnatural mystery.
And believing any theory about the origins of the universe just as clearly takes gobs and gobs of “faith”, to the exclusion of other more rational explanations.
Buddhists would say similar things and so would deeply spiritual Native-American people. Christianity is obviously a sophisticated form of culture and philosophy that usually makes people be nicer to their families and charitable to the poor. Ideally it makes people less racist because Jesus wasn’t about the racism and it makes them skeptical of political leaders.
So while Christianity is incredibly useful I am not sure why I should believe that GOD led you and not the better parts of the Christian tradition.
One of the things that make it hard to talk productively about this topic is that there’s so much baggage that goes along with our assumptions. People of a scientific bent are often perceived to be contemptuous of people of faith; people of faith are often perceived to be wallowing in ignorance. Part of the problem is the kind of hubris Henry C. is spouting, nonsense like “Love of science is a correct application of spiritual yearning.” It’s a deeply foolish thing to say (and not even a scientifically sensible thing to say) in that it presumes that one very fallible man believes that he knows the “correct” application of something none of us understands. Whatever else he might have to say, however sensible, is tainted by such arrogance.
I respect faith, even though I do not consider myself a spiritual man. I wish to defend faith from scientists who don’t understand the limits of science, and science from men of faith who don’t understand the necessary standards of science — and everyone from people who lack respect for either. I hope no one misconstrues my comments as disparaging of faith, or of science.
Yes. Yes I am. We are designed to feel and not to think. Our politics is dominated by superstition and wishful thinking. Over a hundred years of socialist failure can’t end socialism because most people aren’t persuaded by facts so why not genetically engineer people who can be moved by facts.
Admittedly, this is humanity 2.0 rather than humanity 1.5 I’m talking about. First we get rid of some genetic diseases, schizophrenia and sickle cell anemia and the like. Also, in the update to humanity 1.5, we will be genetically engineering people to not be ugly and to have a high I.Q. To genetically select for evidentiary based thinking is going to be a ways away. Like three generations away.
As far outsmarting millions of years of evolution. Why not? We are evolved to superstitious racists. We aren’t made in the imagine of G-d as far as I can tell. We are made in the image of an ape that managed to outcompete the other hominids and bend nature to his will. Why not leave our crueler and more savage impulses behind and become more what we should be rather than what we are. Admittedly this is far away. But I am being entirely serious when I refer to the myth of Shub Niggurath as being an accurate meta-truth of what nature is.
Nature is something to be defied rather than worshipped. That includes our own nature.
For Henry Racette, I would recommend this video.
There aren’t enough agnostics out there. I am curious as to what you think his analysis of science is.
It’s sequitur if the arguments are good, and its non sequitur if they aren’t.
No, I think Shawn is right. Mixing incompatible domains just doesn’t work.
I believe HR has said more than once that science should not be taken to provide any good evidence for G-d’s non-existence.
Your face is immature.
I got some William James for you. If you’ll take the time to listen to someone smarter than you.
Smarter than I am, too, of course.
And all humans made in the image of G-d, etc.
I thought your objection was that we should call such a conclusion a matter of religion or philosophy, not of science.
Ah, yes. This is one thing that gave me that impression of your views:
But perhaps your views are unclearly stated.
My view is: If the arguments are good, the conclusion follows from the premises.
That, of course, is simply how logic works. One may, of course, object to logic. But one is not able to do so logically.
And one may certainly object that the arguments are poor, or that they have false premises.
And one may certainly object that certain conclusions are in the category of religion or philosophy but not science. You have, I believe, two respectable reasons for this sort of objection!
I don’t ill enough of humanity to think that we are made in the image of G-d. And I do think ill of humanity.
Ok, but the point was only that there are additional reasons in Christianity to not be racist.
Even misanthropes have a seat at the great Ricochet table.
But there is always a slowest one in every prey herd.
Yes. I always assumed, though I could be wrong, that predators generally pursue the stragglers, whether because those are the ones that are young or old or sick. It’s just common sense.
[ I confess that I did not expect this post to get promoted. The comment thread has tried even my patience. Nonmember visitors here should be aware that this really only happens when Saint Augustine and I get into a lengthy and pedantic debate. Ricochet is normally much more fun. ]
It’s not easy to disagree with incredibly important and complicated things. However, Ricochet does allow people to disagree on these rather important points. I do wish that we disagreed in a more agreeable manner but I think it’s more important to have intellectual honesty where we disagree. We must defy our creator Shub after all and be more like Aristotle and/or Yeshua.
No evolutionary apologist has ever been able to account for irreducible complexity and they never will, because the evolutionary model is absurd, or rather, non-factually based religion desperately clung to in opposition to overwhelming data.
??? No. That simply isn’t true. If it was true, China or some other country would have adopted a different system of biology to outcompete the U.S. The only way that you can get so many different people to agree for so long is if it was the best explanation currently.