Modern evolutionary theory is mythical PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 24 February 2014 19:00

"...So I regard the modern synthesis as not theory based on science, but an origin story based on mythical entities. Then the most appropriate questions are, what natural philosophy is being supported by the story, and what is its relation to our other origin stories?"  More...

 
New section--"Genie" PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 23 February 2014 19:19

I am developing a talk for the general public and students in the humanities in which I urge them to demand new theories of evolution (besides creationism, that is) able to account for the evolution of "folk psychology"--consciousness, creativity and free will. To accommodate expressions of interest I've created a section in this site titled "Genie" project. See the section title at right. Click on that to see a couple of articles describing the new theory.

Want to comment? Send me an email, "genie" at evolvedself. com-

 
Edge question 2014: Coyne "Free will is dead" PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 January 2014 13:00

In an answer to this year's EDGE question comes an authoritative call for the abandonment of the term "free will." This call comes from Jerry Coyne, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago; Author, Why Evolution Is True.

"Among virtually all scientists, dualism is dead. Our thoughts and actions are the outputs of a computer made of meat—our brain—a computer that must obey the laws of physics. Our choices, therefore, must also obey those laws.... scientific experience... shows no evidence for a mind separate from the physical brain.... In short, the traditional notion of free will... is dead on arrival.... When pressed, nearly all scientists and most philosophers admit this. Determinism and materialism, they agree, win the day.... So why does the term "free will" still hang around when science has destroyed its conventional meaning?"

No if ands of buts here. He places me, as a dualist, outside the pale of scientific discussion.

"The illusion of agency [free will] is so powerful that even strong incompatibilists like myself will always act as if we had choices, even though we know that we don't. We have no choice in this matter. But we can at least ponder why evolution might have bequeathed us such a powerful illusion."

To me, this sounds like someone with a limited grasp on reality. How can we ponder anything about evolution if we have no choice in the matter? Does he realize how little sense he makes?  A comment.

 
Modern synthesis invokes supernatural aid PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 12 January 2014 16:24

Puzzle--how to get around these apparent dependencies of the modern synthesis on supernatural powers?

Natural selection works by whittling down the number of less-fit variations. As fast as it does so some agency must add new variations, otherwise natural selection would run out of variations to select from and evolution would cease. Failure to find a non-supernatural agency able to account for the creation of new variation led to natural selection being almost abandoned after Darwin's death.

But did the addition of genetic mutation help? Genetic mutation by itself leads to harmful mutations that, accumulating generation by generation, would lead to rapid extinction. Natural selection's effect, being so slight, can do little to slow that accumulation. But according to population statistics, when that slight effect acts in favor of beneficial mutations it can increase their incidence to make them the dominant form of their gene, although that would take millions of generations. For that time to be availalble something must be suppressing the accumulation of the harmful mutations that would otherwise lead to extinction in just a few generations. That can only be supernatural powers in the beneficial mutation.

Illustration: Take two species competing in the same niche. Both suffer genetic mutation but the second one has a perfect repair mechanism so no mutations survive into its phenotype. Until beneficial genes appear in the first species it accumulates harmful genes and extinction threatens. But once a beneficial gene appears, all that accumulation of harmful genes must supernaturally disappear and only beneficial mutations will increase in incidence, leading after millions of generations to eventual evolution and dominance in the niche. Without this supernatural power of the beneficial mutation, how else how can one account for mutations helping species evolve?

 
Zoonomia, by Erasmus Darwin: Review PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 18:28

I have read two texts published only 50 years apart, and experienced passing from the science of our time into the science of the previous age, and it’s been exhilarating. I began with “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation” written by Robert Chambers and published in 1844 (see my review in the "forum"), perhaps the first attempt by a professional science writer to summarize all scientific knowledge for the informed public. Now I have read “Zoonomia” published in 1794, written by Erasmus Darwin, Charles’ grandfather. Between the two, science fell into the order we are familiar with today. Here's a sample from Zoonomia:

Laying the ground for natural selection: “Every individual tree produces innumerable seeds, and every individual fish innumerable spawn, in such inconceivable abundance as would in a short space of time crowds the earth and ocean with inhabitants…. This arguments only shews, that the productions of nature are governed by general laws…” How much more of a clue could young Charles have had!

I heartily recommend reading first “Vestigies of the Natural History of Creation,” edition 11 or later if you can find it, and then “Zoonomia.” A lot of our present mentality got created in the intervening half century. Here's my review of Zoonomia.

 
What needs to be accounted for PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:12

I've concluded that no two anti-darwinists agree about what it is darwinism fails to account for. Come to that, darwinists may not agree with one another either. So I've compiled a list of what I think a theory of evolution should account for. Just such a list, in fact, may best reveal the inadequacies of darwinism. The list...

 
Why modern synthesis can't work PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 16:45

Writing on a friend's blog I came up with the following very simple account of why the modern synthesis couldn't work. I repeat it here.

Genetic mutation involves damage to genes. Damage to genes, left unrepaired, will impair a species’ performance, and as that damage accumulates generation by generation it will eventually lead to extinction. A species that repairs all damage to its genes will do better than one that doesn’t. And sure enough a very efficient gene-mutation repair process has evolved.

Now suppose someone points out it’s theoretically possible for damage to a gene to very occasionally result in an improvement, and that occasional improvements like that will offset all the harm the rest of the damage has caused, and that’s what drives evolution.

Crazy, right? But that’s exactly the basis of the modern synthesis. It’s what all evolutionists believe. It’s given as the mechanism of evolution in the National Academy of Science 80-page book for teachers, arrived at by a committee of 14 eminent experts. I've clocked 6000 visits to a page on this site making that argument and only this week had a reply--thanks Dan--and he gives me qualified support.

 
Arguments for free will PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 08:43

I believe I have free will. That is, I believe thought and action can originate in consciousness.  Here are my latest arguments in favor:

If your best judgment is that everything is determined while mine is that we have free will, one of us must be wrong. That means there isn’t a single determined path for arriving at this judgment that everyone is bound to follow. In fact, since the path one of us took was faulty the path the other took could be faulty too, even if by chance one of us arrived at the truth. That means we can’t know whether or not we have free will. But, through the placebo effect, belief in free will is likely to induce us to make greater effort in our favor, leading to more frequent success. Belief in free will is therefore preferable.

I can't separate consciousness and the experience of having free will--of being able to generate conscious thoughts and through them to initiate physical actions. When I wake I often recall having this experience in my dreams. If this is an evolved capability, then the experience of conscious volition must have sufficient impact on the physical world for it to evolve. If this is true of the experience of conscious volition while dreaming, we've no logic for assuming it can't have a similar effect while we're awake.

 
Darwinism's fallacies should tell against it PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 04 October 2013 15:51

Our experience of successive scientific discoveries first appearing counterintuitive has prepared us to take darwinism’s counterintuitiveness as an indication of its truth, when in fact it should perhaps warn us darwinism is false. In this article I take the claims behind darwinism, one by one, and lay out the fallacies I see behind them.

 
"Patterns of connection"--Gregory Bateson PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 October 2013 09:37

From Gregory Bateson's "Mind and nature: A Necessary Unity" I picked up the term "patterns of connection." For me, now, patterns of connection are what distinguish life from non-life. Chemical phenomena may exhibit scattered patterns of connection, but they are seldom embedded in other patterns of connection as is typical of life. Patterns of connection are found in both human minds and evolution. Patterns of connection are the very substance of life. Life consists of matter, and patterns of connection. That seems the essence of what life consists of. [Note: this article has the form of a book review but is posted in the section "Modern Outsiders" for its value in guiding non-darwinian thinking about evolution.] More...

 
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