Friday, April 28, 2017

A Contrast From Isaiah 55 - I Think This Is It With The Letter To William Graham For Now

Having read a lot of what Charles Darwin wrote in his life, reading lots of what his closest colleagues, his sons, one of his grandsons have said about him and his theory, having studied the effect of his theory in human history, it struck me last night that that letter he wrote to William Graham on July 3, 1881 condenses so much that is wrong with both his theory as a real force in human culture and the materialism that came to use Darwin as its chief icon.

Darwin's purpose is, explicitly twofold, first his desire to fight off any idea that science could be taken as a clue that there might be purpose in the universe, then to whine that Graham had slighted his theory.  

He, himself identified his chief point on which he disagreed with what Graham said in his book, "The Creed of Science"

The chief one is that the existence of so-called natural laws implies purpose. I cannot see this. 

In doing that, Darwin pretty much declares himself to be on the side of his materialist-atheist colleagues.  The reason that the idea of purpose is anathema to materialists - who are almost uniformly atheists - is that purpose would imply God, not just any old nature, pagan god, but God the Creator.  That has certainly been the chief ideological use of the claim often heard in the naive declaration that "science proves there isn't any purpose in the universe" or from those merely seeming to be more informed, "science proves there is no need of a God".

Well, science is incapable of doing either,  Any scientist who makes that claim for science shows that they have a naive understanding of science because even a successful description of a physical phenomenon or a successful prediction of an effect doesn't touch the question as to why it is like that, though it may manage a partial explanation of how it is like that.

If, as I will point out again, there is not a single particle in the material universe that physics has understood comprehensively and exhaustively, there is certainly no force or, for that matter, a "physical law" that science has understood comprehensively and exhaustively.  There are certainly aspects of those which are as unreachable as an electron and, something which always comes as news to many, including many scientists, when we talk about "physical law" we are talking about a humanly made explanation of phenomena.   If you want a good example, one of the most brilliant of all recent physicists, Richard Feynman, repeatedly noted that no one really understood one of the most successful of all scientific endeavors, quantum theory.

You would think that atheists would understand at least that much, that it was human beings who came up with what was human understanding of these matters and transmitted them to other human beings who haven't always agreed to what they mean.  You would think that Darwin, whose own law would prove so much a matter of controversy and dispute, even among those who believed in it during his life time, even from his co-inventor of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, would have grasped that much of it.

As for his examples debunking the possibility of believing that there might be purpose in nature, those are naive in the extreme.

... yet taking the laws as we now know them, and look at the moon, where the law of gravitation – and no doubt of the conservation of energy – of the atomic theory, &c. &c. hold good, and I cannot see that there is then necessarily any purpose. Would there be purpose if the lowest organisms alone destitute of consciousness existed in the moon?

His example of gravitation and conservation of energy and the atomic theory on the moon and his claim that they have no purpose there merely shows he is confusing the localized interests of  human beings who are observing all of that, including a very naive naturalist at Down, Beckenham, Kent for a comprehensive view.  He just can't see why, since it's no use to him, there couldn't be some other purpose that doesn't directly concern him and his interests.  Considering the developing science he was a part of would, in the coming decades, come to understand that for even many terrestrial species the moon and its phases would have an enormous importance in their successful reproduction, his example was naive in the extreme.  I won't go into his assumption that the "lowest organisms" of the moon, which existed merely in his own, self-interested, biased imagination would be "destitute of consciousness".  You would have thought that the renowned naturalist and scientist, Darwin, of all people, would have understood that you can reliably make no such assumptions about species you hadn't actually observed,   Though his theory was based on exactly an exception from the requirement of actual observation and analysis of actual examples in nature.  His ideological descendants, those foremost self-declared champions of empirical knowledge and scientific method would go whole hog on that, perhaps from his example.

But, as all atheists who do battle on this issue, he discounts the most obvious problem for their declaration that there is no purpose in the universe,  God its creator could have purposes that have not been revealed to people, not even the most extravagantly adulated scientists of our species, but which we might not be able to grasp, totally or even in part.  After all, we don't, and, currently, science holds that we can't know everything about even one, single, electron in some of its most banal aspects.   That there might be things we can't know is something that the author of Isaiah had thought of.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.   

It is certainly not a proof of purpose in the universe but it is a good reminder that there is no reason to believe that if there is a purpose in such a thing as gravitation and conservation of energy and "the atomic theory" operating on the moon or here or at the edge of the universe (whatever that means) that we very well might not grasp it.  It could be too subtle or too big to wrap our limited understanding around.

Perhaps that insight into that came to the author of Isaiah through a lens of humility that is, also, anathema to atheist-materialists.  That scientists, especially, it seems to me, British scientists, at Darwin's time, the foremost beneficiaries of the British empire and the horrible British caste system might be arrogant enough to believe they had full and ultimate knowledge is increasingly unsurprising to me.  That Americans and others who benefited from inequality could be as arrogant is no more of a surprise.

Darwin's statement made right after that, expressing his conviction that the universe is the way it is NOT by chance only shows just how naive he was.

But I have had no practice in abstract reasoning and I may be all astray. Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance.

He couldn't quite understand that without purpose in the universe, without the universe being the product of intention,  the only default position that it was as it is due to chance.  Today's materialists in cosmology have understood that problem and have turned probability onto a creator god by inventing quadrillions of unknown, unknowable, universes as talismans to fend off a God they fear is implied in our one, known universe having an absolute beginning.

I have followed a bit of the many attempts to get past the crisis in atheism caused by the currently believed absolute beginning of the universe.  I've read them either inventing many universes or claiming that our one universe has bounced through an infinite number of incarnations throughout an infinite past and have been amazed and amused at the intellectual contortions that rival any Cirque de Soleil show.  I am not certain but I believe the attempt to extend the universe through a series of previous lives in the infinite past has been criticized on what it would do to the Second Law of Thermodynamics which would seem to require that the whole thing should have wound down into total chaos in the infinite past, but my knowledge of that argument is limited.  Though I don't believe the atheists have answered it, yet.

My original reason for looking up this letter was in answer to an atheist who claimed that no one believed our minds were really just caused by the chemistry and physics found in our heads, by chance.  After noting that Darwin's closest continental colleague, Ernst Haeckel had said just that in a book Darwin had endorsed as the highest of science without reservation, I noted that Darwin had expressed his fears at the implication of that, the demotion of human minds and the complete product of those minds, himself.   In that I noted that Darwin showed considerably more sophistication than the contemporary atheists who would claim that "no one believes that" even as exactly that claim pretty much rules current neuroscience and its allied field, it is the whole basis of socio-biology and evolutionary psychology and all of the many, similar schools of behavioral and social science which have been consigned to the large boneyard of discontinued science.  The mixture of atheist-materialist ideology into science has proved to be anything but a reliable means of generating durable and reliable knowledge.  Though it has certainly proven to be a fecund source of temporarily believed and at times dangerously applied belief that the claims of such scientists are reliable knowledge.

Which leads to the second paragraph in which Darwin breezily twists history to his liking and then uses natural selection to assign biological value to "so-called Caucasians" valued as "higher" and "Turks and "an endless number of the lower races" valued as "lower" and eagerly anticipated the day when the "higher" would exterminate the "lower" in absolutely explicit terms.  Which would, even in Darwin's days, certainly have been the greatest series of mass murders in all of human history.  See my last two day's posts for details.  Which leads me to contrast that with the verse in Isaiah right before the one I quoted above.

Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

I think anyone who would not see which world view, which view of reality is more likely to lead to mass murder on an epic scale and which carries far less potential for that and which may, especially in the widest context of the Law, the Prophets and the Gospels, impede mass murder is probably either not very bright or they are completely dishonest.

Yet it is also a huge program of atheists in the modern world to assign all evil to the way of thinking which says that mass murder is not good while lying as they laud the one which has, repeatedly, from the beginning, asserted that mass murder is healthy for the human species, or at least the survivors taken to be superior.

You should consider that for Darwin, living an easy, wealthy, upper caste life in Britain, surrounded by all comforts and elegencies, nursing his many illnesses. praised as one of the foremost figures in human civilization,  he was a really bloodthirsty advocate of "struggle for existence," that is deadly violence.  Genocidal violence, since in his theory, entire populations of people needed to die for there to be "progress".   In his letter, as in others, he classifies those who he anticipates carrying out the mass murders of those he deems inferior as being more "civilised" than those they murder.  Talk about a twisted system of valuation.  It is no great shock that Nietzsche took his inspiration from Darwin.  And Nietzsche was not the last or nearly the most influential of those whose thinking was influenced by Darwin's science.

I could go on and on about the many inconsistencies in Darwin.  Consider how he turns "civilisation" into a sword he turns every which way depending on how he wants to use it.  He often attributes a purported biological crisis in the human population to "civilisation" because it allows those he deems unfit to live and have children.  This is the "crisis" which, for him and his colleagues, leads to eugenics and enthusiam for the murders of those deemed "inferior".  But, then he claims that those with the highest level of "civilisation" are superior to the "savages" who, in his previous, argument that "civilisation" was dysgenic, kill off their "unfit" and so "those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health".  But then he claims they are, never the less. destined to be exterminated by their "more civilised" "superiors".   I can only think that this double-speak went unremarked on because he was mostly presenting it to people with his same economic and class interests.   His double-speak doesn't end there.

My favorite example of that is though he decried the fact that those he deemed weak in body and mind would have children and so, according to Darwin, propagate their defects,  he was a constantly ill hypochondriac (one of the current theories is he was lacto-intolerant) who, for all of his demonstrated and frequent complaints about his health, which in others he would have called biological unfitness, he had many children, many of whom, in his name were stalwarts in the British eugenics movement.  None of them, so far as I can see, ever saw the discrepancy between Charles Darwin's claims, his life (especially his hypochondria) and his ideological claims.

So much, contained in that two-paragraph letter.  When you read it in a wider context of Darwin's work and life, the position of his theory of natural selection in history and in the wider history of materialist-atheist ideology in the real world.

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