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March 8, 2005

The debate over evolution.

Relevant quote of the day:

“Proteins are what you get when you string amino acids together. . . [and] there may be as many as a million types of protein in the human body . . . To make them you need to assemble [some or many] amino acids in a particular order, in much the same way that you assemble letters in a particular order to spell a word. To spell collagen, the name of a common type of protein, you need to arrange eight letters in the right order. But to make collagen you need to arrange 1,055 amino acids in precisely the right sequence. But—and here’s an obvious but crucial point—you don’t make it. It makes itself, spontaneously, without direction, and this is where the unlikelihoods come in. The chances of a 1,055 sequence molecule spontaneously self-assembling are [mathematically] nil.” (Visualize a Las Vegas slot machine large enough to accommodate 1,055 little wheels with 20 symbols on each wheel. How long do you suppose you’d have to pull the handle for those symbols to come up in the right order? E.g., if you reduce the spinning wheels to 200, the odds against all 200 coming up in the right sequence is 1 in 10 with 260 zeroes behind it—itself larger than the number of all atoms in the universe. And that’s for 200, not 1,055)
Bill Bryson (from A Short History of Nearly Everything.)

One ought consider the fact that a single, microscopic living cell carries more data than all of the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica!

Or that there is nothing in the record--biochemical, anatomical, genetic, or archaeological--to substantiate evolution. The entire human collection of ostensibly proto-human bones in the world’s museums wouldn’t fill a decent sized box, yet we are expected to accept these, and the testimony of an ever decreasing handful of “experts,” that they confirm the theory. Right !! And we can prove that the moon is made of green cheese, based upon similar “science.”

Things are heating up. The Scopes Monkey trial is again being discussed as if it proved Darwinism. It didn’t. It proved that courts are ill-equipped to handle such a complex question.

“Scholars” are now railing against Intelligent Design. Overlooked, amongst other things, is the fact that even Darwin considered his concept a theory. (You’ve heard of the “theory of evolution,” I’m sure.)

Truth be known, Godlessness is in trouble. Many of today’s most thoughtful scientists, philosophers, intellectuals and doubtful clerics are coming to the (to me, obvious) conclusion that belief in Darwin’s theory requires more “blind faith” than a belief in some sort of omniscient, omnipotent power--call it God, or whatever you choose. As with the legal concept of res ipsa loquitur: “the facts speak for themselves.” At least they do for those paying attention, and willing to listen and consider them.

Darwinism and Atheism have as many frauds, psychopaths and careerists as do their antitheses: creationism and religion. And the latter group is now being joined by these legions of the best informed, most knowledgeable people on the planet, who are concluding—some reluctantly—that there is no way around the facts.

Read The Blind Watchmaker, or other such ostensibly factually informative texts, and you might be tempted to believe—at least until such time as you reflect upon what is offered, not for consideration, but as fact. Dawkins and Diamond have written numerous such tomes, all of which skirt the actual issues in debate. One prototypic of such books is The Beak of the Finch, which details how the beak evolved. Overlooked is that showing how the beak adapted to ensure survival within a given species is an incredible remove from the theory of a single paramecium becoming a man, and by pure accident at that. (After all, the paramecium didn’t have to become a monkey, or a man, to survive . . . now did it?

No one informed by the facts argues with intra-species evolution. Actually, few argue over inter-species evolution. Rather, they argue that design requires more than luck or good fortune, and they prove it with statistics. Just as (the Scottish economist) Adam Smith identified “the invisible hand,” so too does evolution require such a hand. Perhaps, as well, what we might broadly consider “a mind” intent on creation and evolution to some particular end . . . or, maybe, just a challenge to a force with such a capacity? It certainly exceeds my pay grade, not to mention my (relatively) feeble mind.

Read, additionally, How Blind is the Watchmaker, by Broom & Dembski, or the devastating Not by Chance, by Spetner (the “most rational attack on evolution that I have ever read.”-E. Simon: Biology Dep’t at Purdue University). And, do not to overlook Darwin’s Black Box, by Behe (“No one can propose to defend Darwin without meeting the challenges set out in this superbly written and compelling book.” - D. Berlinski.)

Generally we find ourselves amidst the perpetual struggle to explain, rather than sanctify, varietal theories as realities which fall within the construct of scientific revolutions. Once the world was flat. (Indeed, more than once.) Once the universe was centered about the earth, till later when we “discovered” heliocentricity. Now we recognize that within the cosmos we are but the tiniest of backwaters in a miniscule solar system which is part of a proportionally only slightly larger galaxy. We are honest enough to admit to this so what is the problem with dissecting the original “theory of evolution.” After all, old Nick (Copernicus, 1473-1543) labored long and hard over his theory, which took centuries to reach anything like consensus. Galileo was “housebound” because the clergy wasn’t quite up to believing what he had to hypothecate, and now, several centuries later there are still things yet to be proven about Einstein’s theories, themselves nearly 100 years old.

So why must we accept Darwinism, hypothecated in the 19th century, without challenge or debate? Even Darwin wasn’t sure that what he observed had anything like universal application, and there are (literally) tons of books arguing of the issue. Barnes and Noble list 11,364 entries.

If you have an informed opinion feel free to comment. But, as a reminder, avoid being “the unarmed man.” (see top of this page:)

Posted by respeto at March 8, 2005 1:24 AM