If there is ONE thing that really hacks me off, it is lying. Plain and simple. Dishonesty to further one’s twisted agenda at the expense of others who are used as pawns without consideration. A malignant disease that spreads and corrupts, masquerading as truth.
Maybe because I am physically incapable of lying (being aspie and all) or because it is singularly and fundamentally WRONG, the red mist instantly descends whenever I see someone lying to another. And this is becoming a regular occurrence thanks to the internet, a place where lies are constantly used to deceive, manipulate, and program others; where a small group of ‘nutters’ can easily overwhelm all reason, and create false just-so stories that suck in all who are unprepared, like some Supermassive Black Hole.
So what has this to do with Darwin? How can there be any ‘fuss’ over him? If this is what you’re asking yourself, then watch my short presentation and then read on (to watch with audio commentary: youtu.be/dJwp9i9d1UE)
One of the major, yet overlooked, problems with education is that while knowledge is constantly evolving, every person who passes through the system is only taught a current ‘snapshot’ that is obsolete by the time the student matriculates. Of course, the only way to avoid this problem is to teach our children how to learn, how to question, etc., rather than the out-dated paradigm in our schools.
But that is a topic for another blog post.
This post deals with a particular example of the damaging effect of this model, where science is the most vulnerable, and more specifically in the study of biology.
A brief history of biological knowledge
This is not intended to be an exhaustive and detailed account of the current status and theories of biology, and all those throughout history. Rather it is intended to be just a foundation upon which the main narrative of the post can be built… with various relevant details where necessary.
So where does ‘classroom biology’ stand at present?
No doubt everyone learned about Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, and thus everyone has an accurate understanding of the history and evolution of life on this planet. Slam dunk. But what if this is no longer the accepted biology paradigm? How would you know? Would all adults be recalled back to school and re-educated… correcting all the mistakes of their previously learned snapshots? No… and this is the problem.
Because of this disparity between what is known and what is believed to be known, anyone with an agenda can manipulate the masses by playing with the myriad of learned snapshots, that are no longer accurate, to further their own agendas.
And when someone tries to keep up-to-date with the latest information, (s)he is misdirected because his/her only mechanism of gathering the latest developments is via the internet. And it is here that the factional and fundamental groups with agendas have the loudest voice, and so are accepted as paragons of truth. It is far easier to take the word of some ‘professional’ rather than wade through difficult technical information in order to understand it oneself.
So what is the currently accepted model for biology according to all the comments and discussions on the web… whatever Richard Dawkins says, right? Wrong. In his particular case he has been out of the field for over 30 years and is dependent on stature and living on his outmoded views (which were just one set among many at the time), rather than continued study and investigation.
What is the currently accepted status then, if not that espoused by Dawkins? One thing to bear in mind is that all labels can persist long after their original meaning has been corrected. So when someone hears a scientist use the words ‘evolution’ or ‘darwin’ they probably are not referring to what is commonly understood.
At the time of Darwin, most knowledge was taught through the lens of established religions. Despite what may be said today by faction followers, the church at the time did not disagree with Darwin’s ideas. In fact, his theory is still accepted by the Catholic church, since it supports the church view of how we came to be who we are, rather than oppose it (though some extremists on both sides took issue, and are still muddying the waters today).
As this model, describing a possible mechanism to explain evolution, was used for predictions (as all good scientific theories are) it immediately hit problems. Darwin himself saw these problems (the most famous is known as Darwin’s Dilemma) as serious and terminal, but hoped that with time, they would be resolved. As of today, they are no further forward in resolving these issues, but rather than allow scientists to investigate further opponents at both extremes use these issues to attack each other and cloud the debate.
It should be noted for clarity that ‘evolution’ is an accepted concept, and that ‘Darwinism’ is just one (and popular) attempt to model this concept’s mechanism. Darwin’s theory, and evolution itself, are NOT the same thing. There are other models derived from current investigations in molecular biology, epigenetics, virology, evolutionary psychology, systems biology, and quantum biology (to name but a few) that both compliment, ‘fix’, or replace the Darwin model. This is why in the 1930s evolutionary theory took a new model: the theory of Modern Synthesis. But rather than get all adults back to school to teach them the difference, it was much easier to still refer to it as the ‘theory of Evolution’, since technically it still was a model for the mechanism… even though it was a different model. As such, schools did not update their syllabus to reflect this new model, and since ‘Darwin’ was synonymous with ‘evolution’, this is how the misdirection begins… with fundamentalists like Dawkins appealing to authority to dismiss a need for scientific inquiry, and justify his belief and cause… painting any attempt to explore new discoveries as an “attack from organised ignorance”, using ‘science’ to defend his ‘belief’, and divert money to his cause:
I am one of those scientists who feels that it is no longer enough just to get on and do science. We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organised ignorance.
Don’t get me wrong… I am not some crazed religious fundamentalist because I have called out Richard Dawkins. I am a genuine Skeptic, unlike him and his other fundamentalists who claim to be by proclaiming that skepticism is partisan and one-sided, and that this side is their stance, thus meaning they are therefore righteous and beyond challenge. As Dawkins’s quote shows, while scientists realise that there are questions to resolve and are working on understanding all the evidence concerning evolution, his small but vocal extremists, together with the opposing extremists, take advantage of the (as yet) lack of results from the scientists and the availability of the internet to corral people with out-dated paradigms to fight their corners by claiming there are no problems, and that each side’s ‘truth/facts’ are under attack.
Where are we now?
There has been a colossal amount of research into evolution through the disciplines of molecular biology, epigenetics, virology, evolutionary psychology, systems biology, and quantum biology etc., and as a result produced so much more information in the last few years alone, yet at the same time forcing us to accept new paradigms that both are unintuitive and contradictory to historically accepted models. Knowledge is evolving quickly, and the education system cannot hope to keep up. But once we are willing to let go of the old and explore the new, the diversity of complementary perspectives that each give to the never-ending complexity and beauty that is the natural world, is exciting. However, because of the ideologies of the two small extremist groups, the public are usually only offered one such perspective which then parades itself as if it were a complete theory:
The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science, especially in the schools of America.Richard Dawkins
So, as evident in Dawkins’s quote above, the public is presented with an artificial dichotomy that suggests that his faction is enlightened, true, obvious (if you are smart enough), and scientific and that if you do not agree with everything he says, you are by default ignorant, superstitious, stupid, a liar, and against science and progress. But in truth… is anyone at all like this? Isn’t it true that one can both be enlightened, intelligent, scientific, seeker of truth and still not agree with Dawkins’s world-view? You see, the two are not synonymous.
The term Ultra-Darwinism was coined by Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge (both atheists and professional scientific Darwinists), at the same time that Richard Lewontin, another atheist scientific Darwinist, coined the term Darwinian fundamentalists. And while proponents of Ultra-Darwinism might describe themselves as atheists, they are in fact Ultra-Atheists and do not represent atheists… despite it appearing that they do. And when pressed, they will admit to this.
In fact, these groups have opposing world-views which they each seek to replace the other’s, at the expense of the scientists and the public. The Ultra-Darwinist world-view is Materialism (or Ontological Naturalism), and is the progeny of natura pura, which is the idea that there exists a nature that is devoid of the supernatural, to the point that a desire for the supernatural comes later, if at all. This view cannot by its nature accept the religious Creationist world-view, which in turn cannot accept the Materialist world-view.
So what is the view that we are all presented with and accept as ‘true’?
The battle between the two fundamentalist factions has come at an enormous cost not only to the scientists but to everyone on this shiny blue-green marble. We have ended up in a supposedly natural world, which is devoid of that which we presume to be natural: people, free will, first-person language, colour, ethics, organisms, and life itself. You might be thinking I’m over-egging the ontological omelette a tad, so allow me to elucidate:
Nobel-winning biologist François Jacob has said, “Biology no longer studies life” and philosopher of science Michael Ghiselin answers, if we ask the question: “When did human life begin?”, with the answer “never.” This is the very liquidation of existence. In short, natura pura, or pure nature, has become the purification of nature; it is an act of ontological cleansing, one that is a product of very bad theology. And all this nihilism just to attempt to hold onto a discredited model, for fear of the consequences of losing it. So important it is to the factions that it becomes necessary for them to go to extremes in their defense. So it comes as no surprise to further hear more philosophers commenting similarly, such as Paul Churchland asking “Could it turn out that no-one has ever believed anything” and Thomas Metzinger saying “No such things as selves exist in the world: Nobody ever had or was a self.”
Of course there is absolutely no evidence for this nihilistic view, yet it is touted as fact across the internet. Just google Dan Dennett to see what I mean. And it is not just the ‘self’ that is lost. We are told by Michael Ruse and Edward O. Wilson that “Ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes.” And so, where does that logically take us… all for the sake of one faction maintaining supremacy over the other? After the demise of ethics, Ruse constructs the following world-view contention paraded as fact:
“Biological fitness is a function of reproductive advantages rather than of philosophical insight. Thus if we benefit biologically by being deluded about the true nature of formal thought, then so be it. A tendency to objectify is the price of reproductive success.”
The significance of the research undertaken by systems biologists is being stifled by the petty yet damaging ideologies of the opposing factions. And this is why the truth hasn’t been more prevalent in the usual discussions of evolution. After all, hearing people saying “we just don’t know” is not as entertaining as two sides shouting at each other from ‘unquestionable’ positions.
What is the ‘actual’ scientific model?
Touting themselves as the ‘Four Horsemen‘, the Ultra-Atheists had their charge bearers. In truth, rather than trying to banish superstition in favour of truth, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris (with help from Micheal Shermer), use(d) their prominence to attack personal disagreements with certain religions… and not the actual world-views they were hiding behind. As such they have created a false dichotomy between ‘religion’ and ‘science’ (even though there is NO contradiction between the two) to support their attack at the expense of their opponents. So are these horsemen accurate when they describe the state of the sciences?
Well, the actually working systems biologists have already destroyed Daniel Dennett’s idea of universal acid (which states that Uber-Atheism will burn through all falsehoods leaving only pure truth), as well as showing how Dawkins’s selfish genes were ill-conceived and subsequently now invalid. This should not be an attack on ‘science’ since science is evolving every day, as new discoveries are made. But since both these monoliths, or rather dogmas, of Ultra-Darwinism are merely there to prop up Materialism, which in the end is unfalsifiable nonsense, they are so important to them not as scientific truth… but as an appeal to authority, in order to support a belief system.
Despite all protestations from the Uber-Darwinists that science is Materialism is science, it clearly is not. The scientific method is a mechanism and not a belief. Materialism, on the other hand, is a belief system, and no appeal to science can change that. In fact, Richard Lewontin offers two very interesting confessions regarding the relationship between science and Materialism:
on the one hand,
“It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a materialist explanation of the world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by adherence to materialist causes to create an apparatus of investigation that produces materialist explanations”
and on the other hand,
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failures to fulfill many of its extravagant promises [. . .] in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism [. . . .] Moreover that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
So it is the duty of everyone, whatever their world-view, to arrest the progress of a few fundamental believers of an ideology… with all their very seductive just-so tales, and to cut through the BS wherever it is found. Only then can we be True Skeptics.
- Pope Francis: Catholic teaching has long professed human evolution
- Ultra Darwinism and Creation
- A refutation of Scientism
- Blinded by Scientism