Darwin's Black Box - Michael J. Behe and Intelligent Design

Not sure where to put this...
Given your recent posts, you should definitely check out the Pleomorphism thread, a part of which is trying to figure out what viruses are about.

What is the minimum viable unit of life?
Check that same thread and consider the microzymas as an interesting option.

Could the DNA/RNA have spontaneously formed (along with its replication mechanism) in a nutrient rich soup
Nonsense.
Or was the cell there first, in some form of lipid membrane that just managed to capture enough of a combination of nutrients and minerals for them to magically have the exact combination of properties necessary for them to become a vehicle for life?
Nonsense.

None of this can plausibly happen by accident. (Which is kind of backed up by the 80 pages of this thread.) DNA itself, never mind a whole cell, had to be engineered with much foresight. Most likely more or less together, since one without the other doesn't make much sense. (At least not in the world we know.)

Still, the microzymas, being much smaller than a cell and apparently an autonomous form of life, are a very interesting piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately mainstream science ignores them completely, so we don't know all that much about them. That's something we're trying to change with that thread I linked.
 
Check that same thread and consider the microzymas as an interesting option.
Been burning through that thread. Fascinating!

Nonsense.

Totally agree - was deliberately structuring those concepts to indicate their implausibility, but I am not an expert and was trying not to be too aggressive about it! ;-)

Still, the microzymas, being much smaller than a cell and apparently an autonomous form of life, are a very interesting piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately mainstream science ignores them completely, so we don't know all that much about them. That's something we're trying to change with that thread I linked.

So far, I see the Microzymas as some form of cellular “seed” or spore. But for it to behave that way, it must contain all the information of all its final form(s) - just in a physically tiny compressed format.

As such, it must contain all the complexity and advances in function of the most modern of any of its forms.

Where I was going was the opposite direction - what is the most primitive viable thing that could actually be said to be alive?

(To understand anything I have to reduce it to its fundamental entities and concepts... Modern cells are the biochemical equivalent in complexity of an iPhone, and, just as an iPhone would be useless to study if trying to understand the basics of electricity, I see the current cells as being just too complex in their structure for me to get to their fundamentals...)

From that perspective, could we get down to a few strands of primitive DNA in a cellular membrane as being the minimum viable lifeform? Is that possible?

Now, my bet is that the answer to the above is also nonsense, and the minimum viable lifeform (as we know it) is not very different to anything we see today, and that your pleomorphism thread contains many of the answers we need to eventually understand it. I just feel paralyzed and incapable when I can’t meaningfully contribute to a discussion like this...

Apologies if my questions are stupid - I am operating way outside of my area of expertise...
 
Now, my bet is that the answer to the above is also nonsense, and the minimum viable lifeform (as we know it) is not very different to anything we see today
My suspicions would also be along those lines. The thing is that trying to reduce things to minimum components would make sense if Darwinian evolution was true, but if ID is the real source of the cell, then maybe trying to break it down into smaller viable units is a pointless approach. It doesn't seem like you can get to a simpler life form than a bacterium, assuming we stick to the model we know, i.e. DNA and ribosomes and all that stuff. Maybe there's something simpler made of completely different stuff (somewhere out there), but then that wouldn't tell us much about the life forms we know anyway.

Basically, I'd say that you can't have overly simple life forms, because life is not an overly simple thing. Life, as I would define it at least, requires some form of consciousness and potential for some form of learning. So as for "a few strands of primitive DNA in a cellular membrane"... the question would be, what does it do? What does it experience? IMO, if a smaller life form (than bacteria) of this kind was possible, then it would probably be all around us, in massive numbers.

If organic life is designed and 'made' by advanced consciousness, then there's no particular reason why it should have to start from something more simple than what we know. As is explained in Signature in the Cell, the very basic operations (transcription, translation, replication) already require over a hundred proteins and a considerable length of a nucleic acid (and stuff to hold it all together and keep it stable). I don't see a plausible way of reducing it to something simpler that's alive on its own, but I also don't see a reason to try to do that.

The microzymas kind of turn everything even more upside down (if starting from a Darwinian perspective), because while they're the smallest (it seems) and according to Bechamp even necessary for cells to exist, the almost scary fact is that, exactly as you said, "for it to behave that way, it must contain all the information of all its final form(s)". So this smallest unit of organic life (as far as I can see at this point) is already loaded with complexity difficult to fathom (and poorly understood, if we can even use that word).

I've said that the discovery of the microzymas is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) discoveries of the last two centuries, and we should be making thousands of Rife microscopes and exploring the hell out of this. But we're clearly under the control of something that doesn't want us to know or understand any of it. Not that it can stop us, though!
 

Kay Kim

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Without anything to back it up, my own belief is that space is about as "sterile" as the earth's oceans

I am not so sure about the space is sterile or not, but according to the transcripts, the Earth’s ocean was first teems with all kinds of basic life forms.
Because 4D STO’s creative force engineered first in sea water, then thereafter they constantly upgraded to new better diversity of life forms.
And when we mover to 4D, one of our job is to be find new world or planet and creates new lifeforms too! Probably everyone will find new exciting job to do satisfy life in living.

March 23rd 2019

(L) The Cs said that STS took over about 300KYA, and by then, all the major creating and engineering of life forms as we know them now was a done deal. If Love is the power of creation, that’s why 4D STS can’t create; they can only modify or interfere, suppress, etc. So in a real sense, our world was created by Love and is truly, jaw-droppingly amazing

September 22nd 2018

(Pierre) René Quinton hypothesized that the first living cells developed in sea water. Is that true?

A: More or less, yes.

Q: (Pierre) Why does Quinton plasma have such beneficial properties compared to ordinary saline solution?

A: Basic life energy imprint.

Q: (L) It's like water with memory?

A: Yes

Q: (Pierre) And the seawater is the basic life environment...

A: Yes

Q: (Pierre) It's not because of chemistry or whatever, but it's the right environment for connection with the information field...

A: Conductive as well, in more ways than one!

Q: (Pierre) What are they alluding to here? That it's conductive in an informational way and also in an electrical way?

A: Yes

(L) You haven't read enough yet. It's impossible without the first step, manifestation of basic cellular life.

(Approaching Infinity) So how does the first cell manifest?

A: Partly correct, pair.

Q: (L) Well, what is the other part of it?

A: Genome manufactured in 4th density and sent through realm curtain in a manner similar to how virii are transmitted.

Q: (L) So the elements were developing, were present, and jostling around together in the primordial soup or whatever... But then the genome was manufactured.

(Pierre) It goes both ways: downside up, molecules reaching critical mass, and from top down - from 4th density down to 3rd.

(L) So in a sense, that's the basic thing about intelligent design. There is a lot of parts to it that rely on the nature of the physical world itself and how all the different elements - which themselves come into being via information - accumulate or gather or interact. And then a direct intervention is added. That's what it amounts to.

A: Yes indeed!!!

Q: (Joe) Who sends it through the realm curtain from 4th density?

A: Transient passengers. Perhaps the term will have more meaning now?

Q: (Approaching Infinity) I would imagine that if there's this information being sent through the realm curtain into 3rd density, if you were an observer watching in the sea water with amicroscope, it might appear as if the cell just manifests. It just takes form and looks like it came out of nowhere.

A: Very close indeed!

Q: (L) Has this sort of direct intervention happened more than once? Like when major changes of DNA have occurred, or when there were major changes in the so-called evolutionary record?

A: Yes

Q: (L) So basically we are indeed surrounded by an intelligence that is more than we can even comprehend.

A: Yes. We have been saying that!

March 23rd 2019

A: It is actually good. Coming to knowledge that is sure by your own efforts locks it in at the belief center, and thus gives added power. All who seek to graduate to 4th density must seek knowledge. In 4D, eventually it will be your job to engineer lifeforms on new worlds.

Q: (L) Well, from what I've been reading about the engineering of the lifeforms on this world, that gives me the idea that 4th density intelligence and abilities are so...

A: Stupendous is the term.

Q: (L) Yeah, stupendous. Reading these books has just blown me away.

(Pierre) You mean the level of engineering?

(L) The level of engineering, the level of intelligence, I mean... Obviously, there have been experiments. Look at the book, Prehistoric Life. You can SEE minds working on engineering creatures. Then they decide, oh, we don't like that one. They wipe out the whole planet and then a whole new bunch appear. That's engineering. They didn't like the old design. There were some of the old designs that REALLY were bad, I'm tellin' you! [laughter] I swear, you can see in that book. There were some really BAD ideas! Serious design flaws.

(Joe) You said in the forum that every single species was individually engineered out of the experimental parts that were previously engineered through billions of years of Earth's history. So, I was wondering... They said in a previous session that life here was seeded. First, primitive life was given. But to what extent was the progress of all the species on Earth directly created?

A: As Behe suggests, at the family level
...
A: Following the idea there is a certain amount of experimentation and even gestation of some "parts" in other lifeforms or in other realities before transference to this one.

March 21st 2020

Q: (Pierre) I have a question about viruses. Most of those mass extinctions happen because of cometary bombardments. The same cometary bombardments that end life, I think maybe they introduce new life through the viruses they carry. If you study mass extinctions, right after you have a boom of life…. dinosaurs disappeared, and then BOOM! Are viruses from comets the main driver of evolution?

A: Yes
 
... if ID is the real source of the cell, then maybe trying to break it down into smaller viable units is a pointless approach. It doesn't seem like you can get to a simpler life form than a bacterium, assuming we stick to the model we know, i.e. DNA and ribosomes and all that stuff.

That is exactly where I was going when I said earlier that it would probably end the debate. ;-)

(I made the mistake of commenting before completely reading the thread, and was not aware of what has already been uncovered.)

The microzymas kind of turn everything even more upside down (if starting from a Darwinian perspective), because while they're the smallest (it seems) and according to Bechamp even necessary for cells to exist, the almost scary fact is that, exactly as you said, "for it to behave that way, it must contain all the information of all its final form(s)". So this smallest unit of organic life (as far as I can see at this point) is already loaded with complexity difficult to fathom (and poorly understood, if we can even use that word).

I've said that the discovery of the microzymas is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) discoveries of the last two centuries, and we should be making thousands of Rife microscopes and exploring the hell out of this.

Was looking into Rife microscopes based on Ketone Kop's post on the thread: Session 4 July 2020. There is something really interesting there. I believe that the Rife Scope really can be used to "see" features that are much smaller than possible using a conventional microscope by using low-level UV and bio-luminescence to stimulate light emissions directly from the microzymas.

(Shining visible light through, or bouncing visible light off, something causes a much greater set of optical artifacts than having a tiny entity emit light directly - especially when stimulated by much shorter wavelength energy... Also, a very low level of optical emission would reduce interaction between photons. It would be entertaining to build something that was able to take very slow "photographs" at that level of magnification.)

Rife was definitely operating at the fringes of optical technology, but I believe he really was able to see organic entities that have been swept under the rug by the high priests of the orthodoxy.
 

Ennio

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
The MindMatters show had the opportunity to interview a very knowledgeable, very exuberant author, Ken Pedersen, who assisted us in broadening some of our conceptions of Intelligent Design. We hope you enjoy the show as much as we enjoyed talking to him.

MindMatters: Interview with Ken Pedersen: Quarks, DNA, Consciousness - It's All Information, Always Has Been

Evolution vs. intelligent design; scientism vs. science; the accidental-universe worldview vs. the information-system worldview - these are the battle lines for what is perhaps one the most essential scientific/religious and philosophical debates in the world today. Are we the product of a series of accidental mutations, built on top of accidental chemistry, accidental particle physics, and accidental quantum theory? Or were we - and the cosmos - designed? In his book Modern Science Proves Intelligent Design: The Information System Worldview, author and electrical engineer Ken Pedersen asks this question and uses his extensive knowledge of multi-layered information processing systems to provide the answer.

Subatomic particles, biological cells, and whole planetary and cosmic environments could only have been the product of incredibly complex design, all built on the mysteriously non-physical bases of energy and information. Armed with his background in mathematics, and contemporary research about DNA (among other things), Pedersen gives us to understand why the Neo-Darwinists are no longer able to credibly argue their position. At a time when the world is bereft of meaning, when the nihilistic, materialist, relativist and atheist worldview is plaguing the hearts, minds and souls of people everywhere - the profound implications for how we view life, the universe, and ourselves may be revitalized with a true understanding of what science is actually telling us.


 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The MindMatters show had the opportunity to interview a very knowledgeable, very exuberant author, Ken Pedersen, who assisted us in broadening some of our conceptions of Intelligent Design. We hope you enjoy the show as much as we enjoyed talking to him.
Thank you for this edition of MindMatters; it is a great interview with Ken Pedersen and he clearly enjoyed the varied and lively discussion of the points he makes in his book. Together you cover a lot of ground, from smaller than the smallest to greater than the greatest as well as the implications of the overwhelming evidences of design for the meaning of life, the history of mankind and the choices that face us today as individuals and society. Of course not all will agree with him, as far as the conclusions he draws about the implications of what he has uncovered, but many who have been brought up with a materialist world view, may in this discussion find questions to reflect upon, if they are at all interested in the subject.
 

genero81

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Together you cover a lot of ground, from smaller than the smallest to greater than the greatest as well as the implications of the overwhelming evidences of design for the meaning of life, the history of mankind and the choices that face us today as individuals and society.

I watched most of it last night. Very good. I cut it a little short because it was late and my eyeballs were starting to roll back in my head.
 

genero81

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
7. Could we find the first cause of the formation of things in the intrinsic properties of matter?

“But, then, what would be the cause of those properties? There must always be a first cause.”

To attribute the first formation of things to the intrinsic properties of matter would be to mistake the effect for the cause, since such properties are themselves an effect that must have a prior cause.

8. What about the opinion of those who ascribe the initial formation of all things to an accidental combination of matter, in other words, to chance?

“Another absurdity! What reasonable man would consider chance to be an intelligent agent? Besides, what is chance? Nothing.”

The harmony that governs the workings of the universe reveals certain determined combinations and designs, and thus an intelligent power. To ascribe the first formation of things to chance would be nonsense, because chance is blind and cannot produce intelligent effects. If chance were intelligent, it would no longer be chance.

9. Where may we see in the first cause an intelligence which is absolute and superior to all other intelligences?

“You have a proverb that says, ‘The workman is known by his work.’ Well then, look at the work and search for the workman! Pride is what engenders incredulity. A conceited man cannot imagine anything above himself, believing himself to be an independent freethinker. Poor creature, who could be brought down by a mere breath from God!”

We judge the power of an intelligence by its works. Since no human being could create that which is the product of nature, the first cause must be an intelligence superior to mankind. Whatever may be the prodigies accomplished by human intelligence, such intelligence itself must have a cause, and the greater its accomplishments, the greater the first cause must be. That intelligence is the first cause of all things, however one may call it.

Kardec, Allan. The Spirits' Book (New English Edition) (Translation Series of Classical Spiritist Works 1) (pp. 4-5). Luchnos Media LLC. Kindle Edition.
 

scotseeker

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
The MindMatters show had the opportunity to interview a very knowledgeable, very exuberant author, Ken Pedersen, who assisted us in broadening some of our conceptions of Intelligent Design. We hope you enjoy the show as much as we enjoyed talking to him.
Thank you Ennio, what a wonderful MindMatters show! I just ordered the book and can’t wait to read it as well. Incredible insights into our Universe, Galaxy, Earth and all the wonders here, including ourselves. It really opened my mind into unlimited possibilities, both seen and yet to be seen. Thanks for pointing it out to the forum and me!
 

Ennio

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Spurred on by the positive response to the last show we did on ID with Ken Pedersen (as well as our own interest in the subject!), we, the folks at MindMatters, wanted to add a few more ideas to the mix:

MindMatters: Opening One's Mind to the Implications of Intelligent Design

One of the most profoundly enlightening and potentially life-changing areas of study one can pursue today is that of intelligent design: the idea that life, in so many of its forms, is so complex - and on so many levels - that it couldn't possibly have come into being without the information injected into it by some form of 'higher intelligence'. While one cannot say with absolute certainty what that 'higher intelligence' may actually be, or whence it comes (or how it 'designs'), the conclusion that human beings - and much of physical reality itself - is no mere series of accidents is now quite clear. Anyone paying attention to the data, science and logic of ID research can plainly see it.

All of this understanding, however, begs for more questions. For instance: If the 'information system' hypothesis of reality is correct, then what does that say about the nature of the mind and its relationship to information? If information is 'non-material' in the sense that we understand physical reality, what does that suggest about the state of reality itself? And does the dogmatic, materialistic, neo-Darwinist worldview effectively block one's mind from assimilating real knowledge of the world and expanding on our understanding of consciousness itself, and of ourselves, as carriers of information? The implications for these lines of inquiry are as staggering as they are endless. And considering how limiting and damaging the 'accidental worldview' - and all of its offshoots are - perhaps it's time that humanity at large now comes to know what's truly at stake.


 

genero81

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Great job guys! I enjoyed hearing Corey speak a little more than usual. You all do a great job vocalizing in a coherent manner ideas that are not always that easy to put into words. And you do it with a video camera pointed at you! Not sure I could do that. The end result though is a unique, high quality discussion. Now, I may be a little biased being familiar with most everything referenced but still... nice work. :thup:
 

zak

Dagobah Resident
I've had this in my pocket for a while, i thought i'd read it and then post it.
But at this rate i risk forgetting it for good, so without having read everything i share it as it is.
Intro:
The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution
Casey Luskin
“There are no weaknesses in the theory of evolution.”1 Such was professed by Eugenie Scott, the de facto head of the Darwin lobby, while speaking to the media in response to the Texas State Board of Education’s 2009 vote to require students to learn about both the scientific evidence for and against neo-Darwinian evolution. For those who follow the debate over origins, Dr. Scott’s words are as unsurprising as they are familiar. It seems that almost on a daily basis, we find the news media quoting evolutionary scientists declaring that materialist accounts of biological and chemical evolution are “fact.” Students who take college-preparatory or college-level courses on evolution are warned that doubting Darwinism is tantamount to committing intellectual suicide—you might as well proclaim the Earth is flat.2 Such bullying is enough to convince many that it’s much easier on your academic standing, your career, and your reputation to just buy into Darwinism. The few holdouts who remain are intimidated into silence. But is it true that there are “no weaknesses” in evolutionary theory? Are those who express doubts about Darwinism displaying courage, or are they fools that want to take us back to the dark ages and era of the flat Earth?3 Thankfully, it’s very easy to test these questions: all one must do is examine the technical scientific literature and inquire whether there are legitimate scientific challenges to chemical and biological evolution. This chapter will review some of this literature, and show that there are numerous legitimate scientific challenges to core tenets of Darwinian theory, as well as predominant theories of chemical evolution. Those who harbor doubts about Darwinism need not be terrified by academic bullies who pretend there is no scientific
debate to be had.
58 pages on PDF
 

Attachments

  • Top-Ten-Problems-with-Evolution-Casey-Luskin.pdf
    365.8 KB · Views: 11

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
What is interesting in the article below from 2010 is the title, that Darwin's theory is not supported by modern geological findings, but contrary to what one might expect, the article is not so much about modern findings, but about Patrick Matthew, who: in 1831 had a the same idea, as is now prevalent, of gradual and catastrophic periods alternating. Besides, Matthew had the idea of evolution before Charles Darwin and Aflred Russel Wallace, - and they recognized this - but somehow Darwin was promoted. So was Darwin's theory of evolution then a ripoff and a diversion? Perhaps not entirely, Darwin was a great observer and investigator see: Darwin and the scientific method by Francisco J. Ayala PNAS June 16, 2009 106 (Supplement 1) 10033-10039; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0901404106 but one major problem is that if more had had the same drive to investigate and observe as Darwin had, they probably would not be adherents of Darwinism, as it is taught and promoted.

Here is the article that mentions Patrick Matthew and his contribution:
NOVEMBER 9, 2010

Darwin's theory of gradual evolution not supported by geological history, scientist concludes

by New York University
Charles Darwin's theory of gradual evolution is not supported by geological history, New York University Geologist Michael Rampino concludes in an essay in the journal Historical Biology. In fact, Rampino notes that a more accurate theory of gradual evolution, positing that long periods of evolutionary stability are disrupted by catastrophic mass extinctions of life, was put forth by Scottish horticulturalist Patrick Matthew prior to Darwin's published work on the topic.

"Matthew discovered and clearly stated the idea of natural selection, applied it to the origin of species, and placed it in the context of a geologic record marked by catastrophic mass extinctions followed by relatively rapid adaptations," says Rampino, whose research on catastrophic events includes studies on volcano eruptions and asteroid impacts. "In light of the recent acceptance of the importance of catastrophic mass extinctions in the history of life, it may be time to reconsider the evolutionary views of Patrick Matthew as much more in line with present ideas regarding biological evolution than the Darwin view."

Matthew (1790-1874), Rampino notes, published a statement of the law of natural selection in a little-read Appendix to his 1831 book Naval Timber and Arboriculture. Even though both Darwin and his colleague Alfred Russel Wallace acknowledged that Matthew was the first to put forth the theory of natural selection, historians have attributed the unveiling of the theory to Darwin and Wallace. Darwin's notebooks show that he arrived at the idea in 1838, and he composed an essay on natural selection as early as 1842—years after Matthew's work appeared. Darwin and Wallace's theory was formally presented in 1858 at a science society meeting in London. Darwin's Origin of Species appeared a year later.

In the Appendix of Naval Timber and Arboriculture, Matthew described the theory of natural selection in a way that Darwin later echoed: "There is a natural law universal in nature, tending to render every reproductive being the best possibly suited to its condition…As the field of existence is limited and pre-occupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better suited to circumstance individuals, who are able to struggle forward to maturity…"

However, in explaining the forces that influenced this process, Matthew saw catastrophic events as a prime factor, maintaining that mass extinctions were crucial to the process of evolution: "...all living things must have reduced existence so much, that an unoccupied field would be formed for new diverging ramifications of life... these remnants, in the course of time moulding and accommodating ... to the change in circumstances."

When Darwin published his Origin of Species nearly three decades later, he explicitly rejected the role of catastrophic change in natural selection: "The old notion of all the inhabitants of the Earth having been swept away by catastrophes at successive periods is very generally given up," he wrote. Instead, Darwin outlined a theory of evolution based on the ongoing struggle for survival among individuals within populations of existing species. This process of natural selection, he argued, should lead to gradual changes in the characteristics of surviving organisms.

However, as Rampino notes, geological history is now commonly understood to be marked by long periods of stability punctuated by major ecological changes that occur both episodically and rapidly, casting doubt on Darwin's theory that "most evolutionary change was accomplished very gradually by competition between organisms and by becoming better adapted to a relatively stable environment."

"Matthew's contribution was largely ignored at the time, and, with few exceptions, generally merits only a footnote in modern discussions of the discovery of natural selection," Rampino concludes. "Others have said that Matthew's thesis was published in too obscure a place to be noticed by the scientific community, or that the idea was so far ahead of its time that it could not be connected to generally accepted knowledge. As a result, his discovery was consigned to the dustbin of premature and unappreciated scientific ideas."
While looking up Darwinism, it turned up that even the interpretation of Darwinism could have taken a different turn than it did.
Another important evolutionary theorist of the same period was the Russian geographer and prominent anarchist Peter Kropotkin who, in his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), advocated a conception of Darwinism counter to that of Huxley. His conception was centred around what he saw as the widespread use of co-operation as a survival mechanism in human societies and animals. He used biological and sociological arguments in an attempt to show that the main factor in facilitating evolution is cooperation between individuals in free-associated societies and groups. This was in order to counteract the conception of fierce competition as the core of evolution, which provided a rationalization for the dominant political, economic and social theories of the time; and the prevalent interpretations of Darwinism, such as those by Huxley, who is targeted as an opponent by Kropotkin. Kropotkin's conception of Darwinism could be summed up by the following quote: [...]
 

luc

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
I wrote this little "article" a year ago in a document to wrap my head around some of these Darwinian arguments and vent a little. Just found it again and thought I'd share, fwiw:



Free Will and Darwin’s Magic Wand

That many scientists implicitly or explicitly deny that we have free will is almost comical. It is, after all, common sense that we can choose how to act, however small that choice might be.

But look, so the story goes, hasn’t science proven stronger than common sense before? You see, so the story continues, you once thought it was common sense that the earth was flat and the sun revolves around it; hasn’t science shown otherwise?

Then comes the inductive hammer: therefore, everything common sense holds dear is fair game.

The difference between flat earth and free will, it seems to me, is this, though: that the earth is round can be common sense – after all, it is common sense now. Whereas full-fledged determinism cannot be common sense. Just try living your life taking it seriously and see how it goes.

We have direct experience of free will: everyday, we take decisions, and everyone – without exception – works under the assumption that we have choices. You don’t need to be an epistemological skeptic to see that our knowledge of our own experience is much more direct than, let’s say, our knowledge of quarks and electromagnetism.

Another way this has been formulated is that any metaphysical theory that doesn’t account for such a basic experience as free will is not worth much. And as we all know, everyone loves free will, swears by it, and most importantly, lives by it. No matter what they say.

Darwinian jungle

Darwinism is a bit like the magic wand of scientific materialism: whenever you run into problems about determinism, free will, the mind-matter problem etc., just invoke evolution: something exists, therefore it must have been useful in the distant past, which explains why it exists. The problem, however, is that this sort of thinking quickly leads to “platonic heights of incoherence,” to borrow a phrase from David Berlinski.

Consciousness, some argue, evolved to help us survive. Who could deny that human ingenuity is useful in many ways? However, some of these people also claim that consciousness is just an illusion. Two things:
  • An illusion is just another form of consciousness. So even if it’s an illusion, consciousness still exists and must have come about somehow.
  • If by illusion you mean “something that can’t do anything”, then how could it have been evolved?
To put it another way: if you believe our consciousness is just an illusion that “soothes us” and is therefore helpful, then it clearly does something: it would make a difference were it absent. If you believe, on the other hand, that it can’t change anything (determinism), then evolution could not have brought it about.

To their credit, many Darwinists are not prepared to give up free will so easily. What is, perhaps, morally laudable, though, only leads to more confusion.

Some believe, for example, that “ironically, we have evolved traits that allow us to overcome biology.” How is that supposed to happen? Behind such phrases, it seems to me, there’s again the implicit idea that our consciousness must have evolved somehow. Remember the Darwinian logic: it exists, therefore it has evolved. Some genetic mutation has led to a bit of consciousness, and this proved useful, and so our lucky mutant got lots of offspring, and so on.

But this (again) ignores the crucial matter of free will. Are we biologically determined? Apparently not, if we can overcome our Darwinian programming. This means we have free will. But if we have free will now, haven’t we – as humans – always had free will? And if so: couldn’t we have overridden our genetic programming in the distant past, too – just as we are capable of doing today? What, then, is left of Darwinism?

Or are these Darwinists saying that free will itself evolved? That we are genetically determined… not to be genetically determined? Well, at least this would fit the general logic: if it exists, it must have been useful, and therefore, it evolved. Problem solved.

Or is it? After all, by that logic, toasters also “evolved,” as did cars and central heating (to borrow again from Berlinski). Nifty devices, these, after all.

This whole confusion about free will, determinism, evolution and so on has a simple explanation, I believe: the moment you allow the slightest hint of free will, this puts mind over matter – and blows scientific materialism to pieces. But if you deny free will, on the other hand, you blow common sense to pieces. Too many people in the scientific community apparently want to have it both ways.

Darwin’s magic wand to the rescue.

Or is the denial of free will, with all its profitable shock value, while at the same time invoking Darwin to avoid being eaten by the offended mob, itself a stable evolutionary strategy?
 
Top Bottom