Recent Philosophical and Scientific Challenges to Darwinism

Here are some highlights from a worthwhile piece at the Intercollegiate Review. The article is an excerpt from the Book, “Darwin Day In America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science”  The title alone is fascinating and points to something that is blind to many of my science-loving friends that don’t seem to understand the difference between science and philosophy.

Perhaps most interesting to me is the way that any dissent on the topic of evolution, even when based on scientific observations and coming from other scientists and atheists is treated as “dangerous.”

Perhaps most interesting to me is the way that any dissent on the topic of evolution, even when based on scientific observations and coming from other scientists/atheists is treated as “dangerous.”  Scientists have felt oppressed in the past, and these feelings are justified. They felt that open inquiry was not allowed.  Seems like they are returning the favor.  We look down at radical islamic countries with their anti-blasphemy laws, but we have our own blasphemy code.  If you suggest that maybe, perhaps, that possibly darwinism doesn’t exactly follow from the evidence itself… you may find angry crowds gathering around you with a heap of stones.

Now listen to John West for yourself:

 

“If someone prior to 2012 had predicted that Oxford University Press would publish a book with the title Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, one might have wondered about his sanity, or at least about how familiar he was with current discourse in elite academia. But Oxford did in fact publish the book, and the intellectual aftershocks have yet to subside.

“The book’s author, philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a professor of long standing at New York University and the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and election to such august bodies as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. It is a testament to Professor Nagel’s stature that his dissent from Darwinian theory was allowed to be published at all. But his stature has not prevented a flood of abuse and even occasional suggestions of creeping senility….

“Nagel attracted special displeasure for praising Darwin skeptics like mathematician David Berlinski and intelligent-design proponents like biochemist Michael Behe and philosopher of science Stephen Meyer. As the New York Times explained, many of Nagel’s fellow academics view him unfavorably “not just for the specifics of his arguments but also for what they see as a dangerous sympathy for intelligent design.” Now there is a revealing comment: academics, typically blasé about everything from justifications of infanticide to the pooh-poohing of pedophilia, have concluded that it is “dangerous” to give a hearing to scholars who think nature displays evidence of intelligent design.

“Nagel ultimately offered a simple but profound objection to Darwinism: “Evolutionary naturalism provides an account of our capacities that undermines their reliability, and in doing so undermines itself.” In other words, if our mind and morals are simply the accidental products of a blind material process like natural selection acting on random genetic mistakes, what confidence can we have in them as routes to truth?

“The basic philosophical critique of Darwinian reductionism offered by Nagel had been made before, perhaps most notably by Sir Arthur Balfour, C. S. Lewis, and Alvin Plantinga. But around the same time as the publication of Nagel’s book came new scientific discoveries that undermined Darwinian materialism as well. In the fall of 2012, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project released results showing that much of so-called junk DNA actually performs biological functions. The ENCODE results overturned long-repeated claims by leading Darwinian biologists that most of the human genome is genetic garbage produced by a blind evolutionary process. At the same time, the results confirmed predictions made during the previous decade by scholars who think nature displays evidence of intelligent design.

“Even critics of Darwin’s Doubt found themselves at a loss to come up with a convincing answer to Meyer’s query about biological information. University of California at Berkeley biologist Charles Marshall, one of the world’s leading paleontologists, attempted to answer Meyer in the pages of the journal Science and in an extended debate on British radio. But as Meyer and others pointed out, Marshall tried to explain the needed information by simply presupposing the prior existence of even more unaccounted-for genetic information. “That is not solving the problem,” said Meyer. “That’s just begging the question.”

“C. S. Lewis perceptively observed in his final book that “nature gives most of her evidence in answer to the questions we ask her.” Lewis’s point was that old paradigms often persist because they blind us from asking certain questions. They begin to disintegrate once we start asking the right questions. Scientific materialism continues to surge, but perhaps the right questions are finally beginning to be asked.

“It remains to be seen whether as a society we will be content to let those questions be begged or whether we will embrace the injunction of Socrates to “follow the argument . . . wherever it may lead.” The answer to that question may determine our culture’s future.”

via The Book That Deflated Darwin Day | Intercollegiate Review.

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