Does evolution shine light on determinism?

How we think the world works is bound to be influenced to some extent by our origin story, I believe.  What we assume about our own nature will influence all our logic and natural philosophy. A dramatic change in origin story will throw into doubt all existing concepts. That’s what I believe happened a couple of centuries ago with the discovery that we, along with all other living creatures, evolved. I think we need to reconsider all our existing systems of logic and philosophy from scratch.

OK, I know that’s partly just a romantic phantasy. But let me give you an illustration. Let me suggest how the discovery of evolution throws light on the logic behind physical determinism. More...

Issue of the Month: Populations statistics challenged by a little figuring

How convincing is the modern synthesis, today’s dominant evolutionary theory? That’s hard to say, because it’s protected from inspection by a massive wall of abstruse mathematics. How sound it is, however, you can gauge by how massive a defense is mounted in response to any chink being pointed to in that wall. Instead of making the synthesis more convincing, the massiveness of that defense--like the thickness of a scab--testifies more to how tender and vulnerable are the tissues lying beneath it. Example of such massive defenses are the legal arguments professional evolutionists mount against challenges that go by the name “irreducible complexity”. More...

Challenge--find the error in the Modern Synthesis

According to the Modern Synthesis, the evolution of a complex organ such as an elephant’s trunk arises through a series of logical steps. Could there be an error hidden in them? Follow along as I trace through the seven steps.

My conclusion: only the first two steps are not flawed. Step 3 may not in practice be true. The rest are wrong. There is precious little of the Modern Synthesis left; it is not merely flawed, it is a fairy story along the lines of Jack and Beanstalk.

Oops! I've given away the answer! Well, take the challenge anyway, and see if you agree with me.

Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel: Review

I welcomed this 128-page book as a quick roundup of ideas available for thinking about mind and cosmos and evolution, as reported by a highly-qualified and respected philosopher. Turned out, for me, a philosopher may not be the person best qualified to write on the subject. I relished the promise of his program: “The great advances in the physical and biological sciences were made possible by excluding the mind from the physical world…. I find it puzzling that this view of things should be taken as more or less self-evident, as I believe it commonly is."

And I welcomed his call for new concepts. “The world is an astonishing place, and the idea that we have in our possession the basic tools needed to understand it is no more credible now than it was in Aristotle’s day.” So far, so good. More...

"Random walk" analysis of evolution

"Random walk" is a procedure for analyzing progress in random processes over time. Can we use it to analyze evolution? When I do that I end up with a result I find truly shocking--all of evolution can be accounted for in terms of the mechanism responsible for generating the very first living creature able to grow, sustain and reproduce itself. Implications--until we understand the process responsible for the origin of life we won't understand the rest of evolution. And natural selection cannot be part of that process, because until living creatures could reproduce there was no succession of generations for natural selection to operate on. In other words, we don't yet know anything about the mechanism of evolution.

For this analysis I compared the progress of evolution as a random walk to estimates of evolution's actual progress. This analysis is so powerful I see it placing great priority on finding ways to measure evolution's capabilities over time. My estimates of evolution's actual progress were in terms of lengths of genomes and the "functional intelligence" of living creatures. More...

"Evolutionaries" by Carter Phipps. Review

On reading “The Phenomenon of Man” I anticipated it dividing concern with evolution into two streams. One, to which I subscribe, would resist its siren song and continue to be about redefining human nature on the basis of discoveries about evolution. The other, inspired by "The Phenomenon..." would be about redefining evolution on the basis of pre-existing convictions about human nature. Sure enough, that second stream has developed into an "evolutionary" movement, as Phipps describes it in this book. And at the heart of this movement is a community of writers associated with the magazine EnlightenNext (formerly What is Enlightenment?) that Phipps served for over a decade as executive editor.

Phipps defines the community’s quest as the convergence of interest in “The Phenomenon of Man”with the spiritual wisdom of Sri Aurobindo. Member of this community take evolution to mean any sort of thing changing, without reference to whether the cause has anything to do with biological evolution. More...