Monday, August 24, 2015

Clean Up Job

There has been some confusion as to the points I was making in my Saturday post, which seems to have gained some traction as it has an unusually large number of readers.

1. I wasn't giving a "proof" of the existence of God.  That so many seemed to believe that was what I was doing exposes an occupational hazard for someone who looks into these questions.  I absolutely believe in God, I do not try to offer proofs of God's existence for reasons which have nothing to do with the topic I was dealing with.  The problem isn't with God, it is with human limitations.

2.  I wasn't giving a "scientific proof" for intelligent design by God.  I don't know how much more explicit I could have been when I said two sentences into it,   

"I think intelligent design probably can't be addressed in any way with science, disproving it or confirming it.  It, like all other ideas, is rejected or accepted on the basis of non-scientific persuasion." 

 The entire point of the piece was that the alleged use of science to "prove" that there is no intelligent design is full of logical disconnects and folly.

Even to assert that science can show that there is no intelligent design of the universe, of life, is to misrepresent both the science that is alleged to do that and the nature of what the attempts to do that actually does prove, that phenomena could have been the result of intelligent design because any experiment any scientist does will be the product of an intelligent design.  That argument grew out of thinking about the alleged science of abiogenesis which has tried, experimentally, to show that life could have arisen spontaneously, without intelligence or intention.  That such scientists could claim that only shows that they willingly choose to ignore that their experiment was entirely the product of intelligent design and there is no way to remove those vectors from their work or its meaning, especially in their use of it.

3.  My illustration using natural selection showed that in two ways it, as well, could not be used to disprove intelligent design.

a.  As A. R. Wallace said, Charles Darwin, in order to come up with the idea used the intelligent design of human animal breeding as a form of what he proposed happened in nature, as well.  If that was the actual origin of his idea, I'm not really certain but it was certainly a major component in the idea.  He, furthermore, exposed the fact that the entire idea, in its Darwinian form, betrayed that component of intelligent design through the term "natural selection".   Wallace, the "co-discoverer" of natural selection pointed out that was widely noticed in the first years after it was introduced in science and as it was gaining influence, not by ignorant people but by "intelligent persons"  Notice how he put it, himself,

I have been so repeatedly struck by the utter inability of numbers of intelligent persons to see clearly or at all, the self acting & necessary effects of Nat Selection, 

"Self acting".  Even as he was trying to influence Darwin to cleanse natural selection of implications of intelligent agency being involved,  Wallace couldn't keep from implying it, himself.  He imbued Natural Selection with having a self, something which is done over and over again by the most rigid and fundamentalist atheist-materialist fanatics whenever they are talking about natural selection.   The idea, in itself, the creation by Wallace and Darwin of a force which is asserted to drive the origin of species, was, itself, a construct of intelligent design.  I have become entirely skeptical that any such one force exists in reality, I think it is an imposed framing required by the scientific community and educated, elite society, not anything real in nature.  I think its actual provenance is betrayed by how it is really thought of in use, in science.

b. That last point is also related to my other line of argument in this area, that Darwin's stated inspiration, the economic ideas of the Malthus, were, as well, imbued with intelligent designs of human beings misrepresented as aspects of nature.   That was something which was noticed by William Cobbett in his Advice To Young Men, of 1829 when he pointed out that Malthus mistook the law of Britain (and other places) for the law of nature when the law of nature would have quite the opposite effects that Malthus advocated.  Under the law of nature, instead of the poor being reduced in numbers through starvation and privation, as Malthus advocated, the poor would, as able, take the property of the aristocracy as they could, clear out all of the markets as needed, etc.

The audacious and merciless MALTHUS (a parson of the church establishment) recommended, some years ago, the passing of a law to put an end to the giving of parish relief, though he recommended no law to put an end to the enormous taxes paid by poor people. In his book he said, that the poor should be left to the law of Nature, which, in case of their having nothing to buy food with, doomed them to starve. They would ask nothing better than to be left to the law of Nature; that law which knows nothing about buying food or any thing else; that law which bids the hungry and the naked take food and raiment wherever they find it best and nearest at hand; that law which awards all possessions to the strongest; that law the operations of which would clear out the London meat-markets and the drapers' and jewellers' shops in about half an hour: to this law the parson wished the parliament to leave the poorest of the working people; but, if the parliament had done it, it would have been quickly seen, that this law was far from 'dooming them to be starved.'

c.  Marilynne Robinson, in her great, great essay, Mother Country, pointed out that the entire basis of Malthusian theory, was based in one of the longer lasting efforts at intelligent design, the British class system, with its enormous edifice of laws, institutions, customs and imposed habits of thought that successfully stole the entire land for the monarch, the landed nobles, the aristocracy and turned the common people of Britain into helots, beating that system into them so completely through everything from violence, fear of falling to the absolute bottom and shame that they were one of the most thorougly oppressed and habitually accepting of people.  Malthus, which Darwin incorporated in an inverted form into natural selection depended on a man-made design, the British economic system.  That Darwin and his first supporters were of the class that was a beneficiary of that system, so often expressed in a carefully managed way so as to produce a bubble of tranquility around its favored class with a grinding oppression and violence not always just beyond view, but utterly dependent on well managed violence and oppression thought of their habitual life as nature is certainly true.  As I said, Karl Marx, who had originally been enthusiastic about Darwin, no doubt as a support for materialism, reconsidered it and saw that that is exactly what Darwin presented as science (see the second footnote from Saturday's post).   Marx, whose prescriptions are a total disaster, was, never the less, one of the most gifted, if inconsistent, intellectual critics in Western intellectual history.  In that second analysis of natural selection, Darwinism, he was spot on.

Far from showing that species could have come about without design by an intelligent agent, what natural selection, as it was constructed by Darwin and others and as it continued within science, shows is that an imaginary force, natural selection, can be saturated in aspects of intelligent design unadmitted or unnoticed by the very scientists who want to use it to "prove that an intelligent designer isn't needed" for more than a century and a half.   I would like an explanation of how they can tease out the many aspects of intelligent design which the idea is made from in order to use it that way.


The argument I got into in the comments over Darwin's eugenics is another matter, though related.  For any new comers to this blog, I did a long series of posts on that topic and revised them once.  I could probably write another series at least as long using material I collected in researching it and it's always dangerous to get me on that topic.

I will state that the case that Darwin was the inspiration of eugenics and that he supported it in its earliest stage, both encouraging its inventor Galton, promoting his early eugenics as hard science, as well as Ernst Haeckels' extreme eugenic conclusions, including killing of the disabled and asserting the beneficial effects of the extermination of named ethnic groups for the surviving people is so clear from reading him and his citations that that case is proved.

That his children, especially Leonard, and Francis Darwin, perhaps as much George Darwin, but also Horace as well as other members of the Darwin family and inner circle who knew him stated his obvious support for eugenics seals the case in a way that no one who never knew the man could honestly be held to disprove.

They had a standing, especially in confirming that what their father said, he really meant, that no one denying that but who never knew Charles Darwin intimately could honestly be said to have.  One of the Darwin children is not contradicted by the others on this point.  Any case exonerating Charles Darwin of being the inspiration of eugenics and a supporter of it which ignores both what he said and what those who knew him intimately said is not doing honest history, they are ignoring and distorting the primary documentary evidence for dishonest purposes.

Francis Galton named Charles Darwin's natural selection as his inspiration in inventing eugenics with the full knowledge and approval of Charles Darwin.  Nothing that any post-WWII revisionist can say can possibly overcome that evidence, no use of Darwin's own, pathetic escape clause about "aid which we must give" can overcome the many times more words he wrote as hard science. contradicting them.

1 comment:

  1. I've had the same concern with "mind" and "brain" as, now, I have with "natural selection."

    As you say, "selection" implies a rational process of decision; or at least a process of decision. And who is deciding?

    Personally I'd just toss the idea of "natural selection," because really it's meaningless (and I think some writers on evolutionary theory are coming to this conclusion). Evolution does not even infer (or shouldn't, rather) "progress" toward a telos (Aristotelian thinking; when we aren't thinking like Plato). We are not 'advancing" toward "perfection". There is simply change, and to the extent that means some species survive and others don't, that explains why there are still living things on the planet.

    It doesn't explain a process of perfecting life. Some survive, some don't. Survival itself, of the species, is not really the goal; it's just the outcome. If the species doesn't survive, it isn't around to examine, except in the fossil record. But given the richness of the fossil record (and the fact it can't represent more than a small percentage of all species that were ever on the planet), it's clear life thrives, even if species don't survive until the present day.

    So the real question is not "survival of the fittest." The real question is: what is "life," that it is so persistent and so abundant?

    Sort of like "what are humans, that they have such imaginations, such thoughts, such awareness of the cosmos?". Brain is an organ; mind is a concept. And yet most people speak of "brain" when they mean "mind," and vice versa; as if the terms were synonyms, and interchangeable.

    Enamored of science, we continue to run down rabbit trails.