Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Is Darwin Wrong?

Is Charles Darwin wrong?

Its not really something I've thought much about since I was 16, at a time when I gave such topics more attention than I do today.

The answer is simple though. Of course Charles Darwin is wrong. The man died in 1882. Do we really think that the end-all, be-all theory of where we came from and how we developed over thousands of years would end with Darwin? It would be amazing if he wasn't proven wrong many times over in the future as knowledge in regard to the genetics of all life grows by leaps and bounds and the context from which we look at our development evolves as well.

This is not to say Darwin doesn't deserve a ton of credit for the foot work he put into toward developing the foundation of genetics research and our understanding of how life develops. He not only deserves credit for the footwork he put into his research, but he was also able to provide a society whose core beliefs are simply supported by stories handed down from one generation to another with a rational and scientific alternative explanation to the questions of where we came. He gave science a voice within our society in answering some of our most basic, in depth, and important questions about life, and the significance of that cannot be overstated.

At what point does old science simply become today's religion though? People that lived 3000 years ago based their theories of we came from (their religion) on what they knew at the time. At that point people had big questions and a very limited amount of knowledge to answer those questions. Religion became as scientific as it could get. Much in the same way, Darwin's knowledge of genetics during his day was extremely narrow compared to a geneticist of today. Darwin explained our origins as best he could with the limited amount of knowledge he had. And now, just like religious zealots of yesterday cling to the science of days before, Darwin zealots cling to their own religion.

Science is the quest for truth and to discover that truth it is always healthy to remain skeptical of the current dogma which prevails in any field, especially those we know the least about. A new book has recently been published, written by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini and Jerry Fodor entitled What Darwin Got Wrong. It has been attacked viciously by pro-Darwin nuts who have been scared by their own ignorance of a slight chance that with a rejection of Darwin comes an onslaught of Creationism. They're wrong. Questioning Darwin is healthy if our own knowledge of our origins will ever progress.

You can read an interview of Jerry Fodor at Salon.com. What he says about Darwin and why Darwin is wrong seems very logical and I would think deserves serious consideration for any of us searching for the truth.

16 comments:

Sheldon Furlong said...

Seems he is simply giving his opinion rather then postulating an alternative theory. Which is fine. i see no reason why anyone would be up in arms.

The Theory of Evolution is a theory which may be a plausible explanation but it still remains a theory.

I like the Dawkins approach to the question which leaves the human open to the wonder of nature and question yet appreciate what might be an elegant answer to the question.

At least he is not posting a supernatural position on the topic and his opinion is simply his opinion.

Furlong said...

Well, he's basically saying the Darwin gathered all of this data which he felt supported certain conclusions (which are essentially opinions.)

Sheldon Furlong said...

Darwin took his conclusions and postulated a theory. Science has since attempted to test the theory which has resulted in several interpretations and...opinions.

This author is or does not seem to be offering an alternative theory but simply offering a negative opinion of Darwins. Which of course he has every right to do.

Chris said...

The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.

Chris said...

As I said, Dad, it is the same people attacking global warming attacking evolution: the anti-science crowd.

Furlong said...

"As I said, Dad, it is the same people attacking global warming attacking evolution: the anti-science crowd."

Yes, but that doesn't mean all people who question these theories are doing it for the same reason, and just because some people question them for stupid reasons, others question it for legitimate reasons.

Questioning the current dogma's of today is the duty of any individual seeking truth.

Furlong said...

"This author is or does not seem to be offering an alternative theory but simply offering a negative opinion of Darwins. Which of course he has every right to do."

I think he viewed Darwin's theory as being too simple. Darwin said giraffes have a long neck to eat, well, why couldn't a giraffe have a short neck like other animals to eat? Is the long neck trait for survival or is it the by-product of another trait the giraffe required for survival? He's saying traits are not isolated and exist interrelated with each other within the organism. I think its a fair observation. Let's not forget that the interview in a brief summary and the guy has done research and written a book about it.

Sheldon Furlong said...

'Let's not forget that the interview in a brief summary and the guy has done research and written a book about it.'

I am not disparaging this man in any way. He is entitled to his opinion. I would however say that it may be very easy to critize theory without a counter theory.

Zealots come in all shapes and sizes and as Darwin zealots go I think they provide very little to worry about.

I am far more compleed to be concerned re the zealots who promote the supernatural not as a theory but as fact.

To be clear, I do not mean those who quitly go through their lives who find comfort in the supernatural. I mean those who are "zealots" and would discount me because I do not

Furlong said...

"Zealots come in all shapes and sizes and as Darwin zealots go I think they provide very little to worry about."

I disagree. A Darwin zealot is still a zealot. Zealots prevent debate and restrict progress. The point is, Darwin was like a scientist 2000 years ago who said the world is flat. He is telling us what he can see and gave it a description. He was right that the world is a shape, but the shape was wrong because he couldn't see beyond his own understanding. This is true in many other sciences, and its why keeping an open, critical mind, is a must. Darwin gathered a lot of data, told us what he saw, and then hypothesized as to why. How likely do you think it is that he got the "why?" right when all he sees is flat surfaces all around him? Not likely.

"I am far more compleed to be concerned re the zealots who promote the supernatural not as a theory but as fact."

Science is moving past these people and they will be left in the dust. Do not waste your time on them, no matter how threatening they seem.

Sheldon Furlong said...

"Science is moving past these people and they will be left in the dust. Do not waste your time on them, no matter how threatening they seem."

Science has moved past what people?
Waste my time on who?
Who is threatening what?

From what I can tell science still considers Evolution as the most probable and likely answer. that is, other than the few scientists that also beleive in creationism.

I agree with your comments on zealots in general I just see Dawinian zealots as a very low profile on my radar screen.

That is why I like the common sense, practical views of Dawkins on both evolution and religion.

Furlong said...

"From what I can tell science still considers Evolution as the most probable and likely answer. that is, other than the few scientists that also beleive in creationism."

The either-or questions between creationism and evolution is false.

The data Darwin collected does not disprove creationism.

If I were to tell you a supernatural entity created all this, I would be a creationist.

If I were to tell you that the creation of our universe is something beyond our ability to conceive of, I would be telling you the same thing, only I wouldn't be labeled a creationist.

Its that "supernatural" word that people get tripped up on. What might seem supernatural can always be explained by science, but still seems supernatural at first glance.

"I agree with your comments on zealots in general I just see Dawinian zealots as a very low profile on my radar screen."

That's only because you've chosen to join that "side" of this stupid argument. If you were a religious zealot, you'd probably see religious zealots as very low profile on the radar screen compared to those evil evolutionists (whatever an evolutionist is).

Yes, Dawkins provides lots of commense you can figure out on your own without reading Dawkins.

Chris said...

The problem here is that evolution is not a fact that can be tested by "double-blind" tests. It will never have the certitude of the experiment. Therefore, those who assert that we must "see evolution" are boneheads.

Furlong said...

"The problem here is that evolution is not a fact that can be tested by "double-blind" tests. It will never have the certitude of the experiment. Therefore, those who assert that we must "see evolution" are boneheads."

The problem here is that God isn't a fact that can be test by "double-blind" tests. It will never have the certitude of experiment. Therefore, those who assert that evolution is absolute are boneheads.

Chris said...

"The problem here is that God isn't a fact that can be test by "double-blind" tests. It will never have the certitude of experiment. Therefore, those who assert that evolution is absolute are boneheads."

That's a very boneheaded reply, because the process that changes animals can be observed and theorized upon and concluded upon based on repeated results. That is also science. The God-concept can not be observed and can not be concluded upon based on repeated results. It can only be theorized upon. That's it.


Again, why is natural selection wrong?

Furlong said...

"That's a very boneheaded reply, because the process that changes animals can be observed and theorized upon and concluded upon based on repeated results. That is also science. The God-concept can not be observed and can not be concluded upon based on repeated results. It can only be theorized upon. That's it.


Again, why is natural selection wrong?"

Because it doesn't mean anything. Nature isn't an entity that can make selection. We have not seen the genetic material of one animal mutate into another. What we see is genetic material mixing and producing a result = procreation. This is something humans were aware of well before Darwin theorized that nature selects certain traits for animals, but fails to explain why only those traits and not others and how that selection is made.

Chris said...

"Because it doesn't mean anything. Nature isn't an entity that can make selection."

Yes, actually, it is - at least metaphorically speaking. An environment, or nature, is a complex of different factors that can destroy individual organisms. Individuals organisms are carriers of genetic material, which is a complex of successful mutations and new mutations. Therefore, when an organism dies, and does not reproduce, it can be said that nature "selected" (metaphor) that organism out of the gene pool.

"We have not seen the genetic material of one animal mutate into another."

We haven't seen the Big Bang, either, but by using logical argument, we can conclude, based on evidence, that it is the best explanation.

"What we see is genetic material mixing and producing a result = procreation. This is something humans were aware of well before Darwin theorized that nature selects certain traits for animals, but fails to explain why only those traits and not others and how that selection is made."


Again, where the mutations come from is an interesting question, but not one that disproves natural selection.