Two fallacies in darwinism

I've detected in Darwinism the appearance of two logical fallacies. Fallacy 1 is the belief that the products of a random process modified by a filter (a stochastic process) can amount to a design process of any degree of complexity in less than the duration of the universe. Fallacy number 2: the eternity=plausibility fallacy. Some things just aren't possible even if you set a random process to work for eternity, despite how potent an eternity of randomness seems (to some people). A hurricane in a motorcycle junk yard will never blow together a rocket capable of going to the moon because the junkyard doesn't contain the necessary fuel.

How does the combination of genetic mutation and natural selection fare in this respect? Take fallacy 2. Starting with bacteria, can you through mutations of bacterial genes over any period at all create the bone, muscle, gristle and nerves needed to make a mammalian leg? Possibly, no. The potential of bacterial genomes may not include being turned by single-point genetic mutations into mammalian tissues. But proponents of the creativity potential in random processes may judge yes, because of the intoxication induced by contemplation of the productivity of random processes operating over millions of years. And they're the ones who insist that the rest of us cannot possibly appreciate what's possible in a million years! The whole story...

The Master and His Emissary: Iain McGilchrist. Review

I had a strong personal interest in the theme of this book, its author seemed highly qualified in both of the Two Cultures, so I dove into it with great delight and anticipation. After reading each paragraph I would stare off into space, rapt, before returning to read even more closely, until it seemed I would grind to a half before I got halfway through.

But after some time I realized my close reading was returning insufficient nourishment. The author was providing a density of quotes and references appropriate for readers much more professionally engaged than I was. And later still I realized the author was trying to enroll me in a mission to rein in the left hemisphere, before he'd convinced me of the need for the mission. I seemed to have strayed into an academic post-modern shootout. I ran for cover. More...

Evolution for the humanities: draft of new book

I'd welcome feedback on a 25-page draft of manuscript for a new book. Download a pdf here.

Point of interest 1. From the implications of us having evolved I pursue a line of logic leading to a new basis for human nature and a new dualist view of the universe. Point of interest 2. It's structured around a dozen what I refer to as "heuristics," mental devices for thinking in new directions. My goal is to reconcile us having evolved with us experiencing being conscious and having some measure of creativity. In effect this is like going back to the original discovery that we evolved and rethinking what it means from scratch. I come up with new "heuristics" in place of Darwin's--that evolution "means" living creatures becoming adapted and that a plausible mechanism driving that is natural selection. I fear I may have stepped so far outside the norm that I am no longer comprehensible--that's been reaction so far. Do you like being challenged? Here's an opportunity.

Uncommon Descent website

I've just discovered the website uncommondescent.com and I'm trying to figure out what to make of it. It appears to be a forum for non-creationist advocacy of intelligent design. I am of course intrigued, being a non-creationist IDer myself. But reading the definition of ID on the site made me realize what concessions I've made to avoid confrontation on the topic. In my experience, confrontation prevents discussion from taking place on any other terms than the discourse of darwinism. In effect, scientism filibusters any discussion of human origins.

Why bother fostering belief in ID? My primary motive is not to straighten out science, it's to protect the general culture from being damaged by scientism, now made respectable by appearing in the form of theories of evolution that limit the agents in our origin story to physical processes. It's not so much those theories I object to (though I do think them shockingly flawed science), it's how the scientism they promote can coarsen society at large. So I've decided to go around science and talk directly to the humanities, in terms of a discourse based on not on flaws in darwinism but in terms of ID itself. Only the humanities have the clout to speak to science on anything like equal terms. I'm working on coming up with a discourse in terms of humanities concepts that skirt confrontation with darwinism, such as consciousness and the self.

Below is the first paragraph of the site's definition of ID, and what my version would be:

The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.

My version: I choose to account for certain features of living things in terms of an intelligent cause rather than in terms of a purely physical process such as natural selection. This doesn't constitute a challenge to other people's belief that what I think is intelligent design in living creatures is an illusion. I can develop my account of living creatures in terms of intelligent design any way I want as long as I don't claim it's science.

And here is my latest attempt to win public support for my version of the ID program while not waking up Darwin's bulldogs.

How to celebrate Darwin Day

In 1838, an unmarried teenager named Victoria ascended the throne of Britain. By then, Charles Darwin was already an adult, in his late twenties. If by “Victorian” we mean the period of Victoria’s rule the exploits for which Darwin is famous—the voyage on the Beagle and his coming up with natural selection--are “Pre-Victorian.” He had no talent for mathematics or philosophy, usually thought essential for a great scientist. He is a figure from such a distant past, and so ill-prepared for the role of great scientist, why does it occur to anyone today to celebrate his birthday?

The reason is, because we celebrate not him but something in ourselves.... By celebrating Darwin’s victory we in effect choose  to turn back and celebrate his victory rather than to face forward, deal with our fears, and move on. Fears? What else could account for criticisms of Darwinism being greeted, today, with fingers-in-the-ears chants of “Creationist! Creationist!”?

I have a proposal. Let’s regard Charles Darwin, like his Grandfather Erasmus, as a pre-Victorian pioneer in evolutionary thinking, while we turn to constructing new theories that can account for what we know is true of at least some evolved creatures—us: we can be conscious, creative, and experience exercising free will. More...

Rare living creature not sighted, may be mythical.

Just as it's conceivable a living creature could be found that would disprove Darwinism, the same could be true if a certain living creature couldn't be found. The creature in question is the Beneficial Mutation, the existence of which was confidently predicted in the 1940s as part of the Modern Synthesis. In fact, if the Beneficial Mutation could be shown not to exist, the Modern Synthesis itself might be brought into question. Much therefore depends on this rare creature being sighted. More...