UD PRO-DARWINISM ESSAY CHALLENGE
On Sept 23rd, I put up an essay challenge as captioned, primarily to objecting commenter Jerad.
As at October 2nd, he has definitively said: no.
Joe informs us that Zachriel has tried to brush it aside:
Try Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859). It’s a bit dated and longer than 6,000 words, (the 6th edition is 190,000 words), but Darwin considered it just a long abstract, and it still makes for a powerful argument.
This is, frankly, a “don’t bother me” brush-off; telling in itself, as a definitive, successful answer would have momentous impact on this blog.
There is a serious matter on the table, to be addressed in the context that there is now a significant empirically grounded challenge to the claim that blind chance forces and mechanical necessity can account for the world of life. And, that reminds us to mention that the co-founder of the theory of evolution from 1869 on argued for intelligent evolution, specifically publishing his views at length in The World of Life. Which, is still a powerful argument that that world is “a manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose.”
Hey, let’s add a vid:
For instance, here — with simplified paragraphing — is a comment in Wallace’s preface:
. . . the most prominent feature of my book is that I enter into a popular yet critical examination of those underlying fundamental problems which Darwin purposely excluded from his works as being beyond the scope of his enquiry.
Such are, the nature and causes of Life itself ; and more especially of its most fundamental and mysterious powers growth and reproduction. I first endeavour to show (in Chapter XIV.) by a care-ful consideration of the structure of the bird’s feather; of the marvellous transformations of the higher insects ; and, more especially of the highly elaborated wing-scales of the Lepidoptera (as easily accessible examples of what is going on in every part of the structure of every living thing), the absolute necessity for an organising and directive Life-Principle in order to account for the very possibility of these complex outgrowths.
I argue, that they necessarily imply first, a Creative Power, which so constituted matter as to render these marvels possible ; next, a directive Mind which is demanded at every step of what we term growth, and often look upon as so simple and natural a process as to require no explanation ; and, lastly, an ultimate Purpose, in the very existence of the whole vast life-world in all its long course of evolution throughout the eons of geological time.
This Purpose, which alone throws light on many of the mysteries of its mode of evolution, I hold to be the development of Man, the one crowning product of the whole cosmic process of life-development ; the only being which can to some extent comprehend nature; which can perceive and trace out her modes of action ; which can appreciate the hidden forces and motions everywhere at work, and can deduce from them a supreme and over-ruling Mind as their necessary cause.
For those who accept some such view as I have indicated, I show (in Chapters XV. and XVI.) how strongly it is sup-ported and enforced by a long series of facts and co-relations which we can hardly look upon as all purely accidental coincidences. Such are the infinitely varied products of living things which serve man’s purposes and man’s alone not only by supplying his material wants, and by gratifying his higher tastes and emotions, but as rendering possible many of those advances in the arts and in science which we claim to be the highest proofs of his superiority to the brutes, as well as of his advancing civilisation.
From a consideration of these better-known facts I proceed (in Chapter XVII.) to an exposition of the mystery of cell-growth ; to a consideration of the elements in their special relation to the earth itself and to the life-world ; while in the last chapter I endeavour to show the purpose of that law of diversity which seems to pervade the whole material Universe.
In short, Darwin’s co-founder — and a man who was at least as learned on the substantial evidence as Darwin was — plainly argued at book length with copious evidence, that the evidence on the ground strongly points to design and purpose even within an evolutionary frame. Brushing the challenge off off by pointing to Darwin’s book, fails the giggle test.
So, here is the challenge, placed before the Darwinist (and similar), Blind Watchmaker Thesis objectors to design theory; especially those at TSZ:
UD PRO-DARWINISM ESSAY CHALLENGE: Compose your summary case for darwinism (or any preferred variant that has at least some significant support in the professional literature, such as punctuated equlibria etc) in a fashion that is accessible to the non-technical reader — based on empirical evidence that warrants the inference to body plan level macroevolution — in up to say 6,000 words [a chapter in a serious paper is often about that long]. Outgoing links are welcome so long as they do not become the main point. That is, there must be a coherent essay, with
(ii) a thesis,
(iii) a structure of exposition,
(iv) presentation of empirical warrant that meets the inference to best current empirically grounded explanation [–> IBCE] test for scientific reconstructions of the remote past,
(v) a discussion and from that
(vi) a warranted conclusion.
Your primary objective should be to show in this way, per IBCE, why there is no need to infer to design from the root of the Darwinian tree of life — cf. Smithsonian discussion here — on up (BTW, it will help to find a way to resolve the various divergent trees), on grounds that the Darwinist explanation, as extended to include OOL, is adequate to explain origin and diversification of the tree of life. A second objective of like level is to show how your thesis is further supported by such evidence as suffices to warrant the onward claim that is is credibly the true or approximately true explanation of origin and body-plan level diversification of life; on blind watchmaker style chance variation plus differential reproductive success, starting with some plausible pre-life circumstance.
It would be helpful if in that essay you would outline why alternatives such as design, are inferior on the evidence we face. [As an initial spark for thinking, contrast my own survey of origins science here on (note the onward resources page), the definition of design theory in the UD resources tab top of this and every UD page, the Weak Argument Correctives in the same tab, the general resources that pop up on clicking the tab itself, and the discussion of design theory in the NWE article here. You may also want to refer to the site of the IDEA Center, and the Discovery Institute CSC site as well as Mike Gene’s Telic Thoughts. Notice IDEA’s essay on the case for design here.] . . . .
I would put this up as an original post, with preliminary contextual remarks and an invitation to respond in the comments section.
I will not submit the post with a rebutting markup or make an immediate rebuttal. In fact, let me make the offer to hold off my own comments for at least five initial comments. I will give you two full days of comments before I post any full post level response; though others at UD will be free to respond in their own right.
And BTW, I am making this offer without consulting with the blog owner or others, I am sure they would welcome a serious response . . . [NB: I have given how to contact me in the original Sept 23 post, I will not repeat that in a headlined original post.]
That challenge is on the table. In truth, it has always been implicitly on the table. For, as I went on to note on Sept 23:
Now, at any time, in essentially any thread at UD any serious and civil design theory objector could have submitted such an essay, breaking it up into a multi part comment if desired . . .
And, it is quite clear that if there were a cogent, empirically well-grounded blind watchmaker thesis account of the origins of the world of life, there would be no design theory movement in biology.
(There would still be a serious design argument in cosmology, but that is a different matter. That does, however, show that strictly speaking design theory has no need to make its case in the world of life; it is because of the blatant weight of the evidence that there is a design movement on phenomena in the world of life.)
So, there you have it, there is a challenge officially on the table.
Let us see if any of the many objectors to design theory at TSZ or elsewhere — I would even accept a parallel post and discussion here and at TSZ (though, no, I will not be commenting there if that is done) — will be willing to step up to the plate. END