Home » Intelligent Design » Jerry Fodor: Natural Selection Has Gone Bust

Jerry Fodor: Natural Selection Has Gone Bust

Jerry Fodor

In a provocative article in the latest London Review of Books (18 October 2007), philosopher of science and cognitive scientist Jerry Fodor of Rutgers University argues that “the classical Darwinist account of evolution as primarily driven by natural selection is in trouble on both conceptual and empirical grounds.” As he elaborates,

The high tide of adaptationism floated a motley navy, but it may now be on the ebb. If it does turn out that natural selection isn’t what drives evolution, a lot of loose speculations will be stranded high, dry and looking a little foolish. Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon. In science, as elsewhere, ‘hedge your bets’ is generally good advice.

Fodor has long been a critic of the use of natural selection in explaining human cognitive architecture. I recall as a graduate student hearing him lecture (as a visiting professor) on the topic, and was stunned by his blunt dismissal of adaptive accounts of human psychology. Now, Fodor doesn’t think much of intelligent design, and he isn’t challenging common ancestry: see, for instance, the last couple of paragraphs of this paper.

But lately his critique of Darwinian reasoning has expanded well beyond the boundaries of cognitive science, where he mainly policed runaway adaptive storytelling in the old days. Nightstick in hand, Fodor has recently been bopping heads right in biology itself:

In fact, an appreciable number of perfectly reasonable biologists are coming to think that the theory of natural selection can no longer be taken for granted….The ironic upshot is that at a time when the theory of natural selection has become an article of pop culture, it is faced with what may be the most serious challenge it has had so far. Darwinists have been known to say that adaptationism is the best idea anybody has ever had. It would be a good joke if the best idea that anybody has ever had turned out not to be true.

Bop. Solid ash nightstick, glossy black finish.

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51 Responses to Jerry Fodor: Natural Selection Has Gone Bust

  1. 1

    We need more Jerry Fodors out there. It takes courage to stand up to the oppressive regime on Materialists that currently controls academia. We need to have more academics get fed up and speak out against the Darwinista and raise the public conscience about the travesty that is academia in this country. Once I’m tenured, I will also add my name to the list of those who are willing to speak the truth.

  2. ProfessorSmith, if that’s your real name, I bet you can speak out now, just hedge your comments with a nod to the materialist god, such as

    Nor I do suppose that the intentions of a designer, intelligent or otherwise, are among the causally sufficient conditions that good historical narratives would appeal to in
    order to explain why a certain kind of creature has the phenotypic traits it does.

  3. Off Topic:

    This is a cool Christian Music Video…It made me think of “Intelligent Design” all the way through it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6bBxO37LE4

  4. The notion that natural selection ever produced anything or has any creative power is simply absurd on its face. Natural selection throws stuff out. New things are not created by throwing old things out. Natural selection is death, and death has never created anything new.

    It seems to me that this should not be difficult to understand — except, apparently, for those who are philosophically committed to a certain ideology.

    Over the last three months at my job in the aerospace R&D field I’ve been tasked with learning and using a finite element analysis (FEA) program called LS-DYNA. I was warned that it would be tough, and indeed it has been. I’ve been on the steep part of the learning curve, and in the process of producing my first real-world FEA simulations I made a lot of mistakes. LSD (the computer program, not the drug, although they are both mind-altering) is so sophisticated that one must be something of an expert in order to get off first base.

    During this learning experience my failed or flawed LS-DYNA simulations generated many gigabytes of data that were cluttering up my hard disk, so once I figured out how to make stuff work I removed the clutter to free up disk space.

    Deleting junk from my hard disk contributed nothing to making stuff work.

  5. GilDodgen, in defense of Dr. Fodor, I am sure that he percieves random mutation to be bundled into that which he refers to as “natural selection”, or which he refers to as “adaptation”. While you and I would both agree that the chance that random mutation produces anything valuable is minimal, it at least produces something different than existed before. When included, your blanket statement, “The notion that natural selection ever produced anything or has any creative power is simply absurd on its face” seems to be a slight exaggeration. Not much, but a little bit.

  6. I am not sure Fodor includes random variation over time as part of the scheme. No one else seems to make this mistake. But the term natural selection was the chosen one to worship so is the one given most of the play in the Darwinist paradigm. He doesn’t even discuss genetic drift which is what most evolutionary biologist believe causes most change.

    As a whole I found this mush. He is a clever writer but not one that seems to understand all the implications of NDE. This may be a result of the audience he is addressing to in this particular publication. He has to show off his literary skills as part of his bona fides.

    The fact that some traits come along for the ride just means they are tied to the same chromosome as the desired trait and if the parasitic trait is deleterious then the desired trait will not succeed. But random variation should take care of that according to NDE.

    I am not sure I see any clear thinking here, just attempted cleverness. The NDE advocates should tear this piece apart.

  7. bfast, you really have a point:

    “I bet you can speak out now, just hedge your comments with a nod to the materialist god”

    Indeed, aren’t we beginning to get tired of such a strange group of scientists, all of them intelligent and brilliant people, who are suddenly realizing the deep flaws of darwinian evolution theory, and have the courage to declare that, and yet are quickly dismissing intelligent design “just because it is intelligent design”, without even considering it, or at least acknowledging that there are people in the world who have been saying the same things for years, before they did, reaching different conclusions?

    What right have these people, so detailed and lucid in their critics to the existing paradigm, to desperately stick to new absurd proposals and reasonings, which make the same darwinian arguments they criticize look quite reasonable and simple in comparison, and yet simply ignore or self-sufficiently condemn the impeccable model of ID?

    So you, the shapiros and koonins and fodors, please have a little bit more courage and honesty, and at least try to “address” and recognize the point of view of other scientists, like Dembski and Behe, who have been having more courage and honesty than you, before you, and have never tried any final, desperate evasion from truth.

    Just for curiosity, I only hope that Fodor may be successful in convincing everybody that natural selection “isn’t” the driving force of evolution (which, obviously, is perfectly true: design is the only observable driving force of anything which could be called evolution). After all, NS, with all its faults, is certainly the smartest obfuscating tool among the many not so smart concepts of darwinism, and I really wonder what kind of gimmick could take its place, if it were dismissed by its same inventors. Which weapon will they be left with? Genetic drift? Hmm… I would not like to be in their shoes!

  8. 8

    bfast,
    No, that is not my actual name. I chose the pseudonym “Smith” for its generic qualities. I supposed I could just as easily chosen “Doe” or any other pseudonym, but I figured “Smith” would make it obvious that I was hiding my identity.

    And, your point is well taken about paying homage to the Materialist god. In their zeal to affirm their ideology, they readily welcome any nod towards their faith. The problem, however, is that I have too much integrity to kneel before “Mannon”. Instead, I will bide my time, continue my research, then reveal my ID sympathies when I have established my tenure position. I’m three years away and I’m not going to screw it up. But, once I’ve attained some security, I will have the freedom to finally come out in full force for ID science. In the meantime, I’m doing my part to bring up the next generation to see through the Materialist lies. I have a couple students that I know are ID friendly, and some others that I suspect are. There’s more of us than the Materialists say there are, and if they knew how many they would be afraid.

  9. So you, the shapiros and koonins and fodors, please have a little bit more courage and honesty, and at least try to “address” and recognize the point of view of other scientists, like Dembski and Behe, who have been having more courage and honesty than you, before you, and have never tried any final, desperate evasion from truth.

    Film critic and social commentator Michael Medved tells of attending a pre-release screening of the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” by a group of critics, including himself. The group left the theater gasping at what an aweful piece of work they had been forced to sit through. He fully expected the film to be panned the next day. But when the reviews came out, they were all glowing. When he challenged a colleague on the inconsistency of his post-screening comments and his actual review, the critic responded something to the effect of not wanting to be on the same side as the Religious Right, Jerry Falwell, etc.

    Perhaps these scientists are in the same position. They would rather keep their mouths shut, and even perpetuate falsehoods, rather than be associated in any way with opponents of materialism.

  10. Natural selection could be the driving force of evolution quite easily if only the variation was there to drive. The achilles heel of NDE is not natural selection but the lack of diversity in the genome to drive anywhere.

    That is what the Edge of Evolution was about, no new variation develops to allow natural selection to go anywhere. That is why we say natural selection is a conservative force, not because it cannot drive novelty but because it doesn’t have the resources on which to act

  11. Jerry, genetic drift is just a simple variant of natural selection. With genetic drift, the selection quotient is 0, an allele is neither being selected for or against. The frequency of the allele follows the wind of change. There is no technology here for producing anything new, any new alleles.

    GilDodgen’s wisdom, “The notion that natural selection ever produced anything or has any creative power is simply absurd on its face” applies equally well to genetic drift.

    There are only two proposed forces in the Modern Evolutionary Theory — Random Variation and Natural Selection. Everything else is an observed or proposed phenomenon of these two forces. That’s the beginning and end of the theory. The problem with the theory is that natural selection cannot possibly create anything new, no matter what the selection quotient. Random Variation does produce new stuff — new garbage. That’s pretty much all. What we are is not the product of RV+NS, not in a million years!

  12. wikipedia has a short but good discussion of genetic drift and its relationship to natural selection. Each is involved in determining changes in allele frequencies in a population. When there is no natural selection benefit for an allele, genetic drift will eventually drive an allele to either 0 or 100% frequency. But it may take a long time.

    New alleles can only come from variation in the genome of an offspring and thus starts the natural selection and genetic drift process rolling in a potentially different direction or as in most cases eliminates the new allele.

  13. Fodor is a philosopher, not a scientist. He may be a genius, but he has never done an experiment (other than thought experiments), and actively eschews consideration of data. He lined up behind Chomsky about 30 years ago to inveigh on an issue he had never studied — child language acquisition — because Chomsky (who was also not a developmental psychology or biologist) suggested that linguistic universals must be innate, and that explanation apparently appealed to Fodor. When that edifice crumbled under the weight of data, Fodor didn’t defend his earlier position. He simply dropped it, and his views play no role in the field of child language acquisition today.

    His lack of appreciation of the difference between philosphy and empirical science is clear in his comment: “In fact, an appreciable number of perfectly reasonable biologists are coming to think that the theory of natural selection can no longer be taken for granted…”

    Empirical scientists don’t take the theory of natural selection for granted. They require evidence. That is not the same as provisionally accepting that a theory is currently the best explanation for the data, and a good source of new and testable predictions.

  14. The problem with genetic drift and neutral mutations is that, whatever their relevance in the real world, they remain random events. NS is the only part of darwinian theory which is supposed to bring a “non-random” contribution to evolution, and even that is not true unles one admits that the changing fitness landscape which is the driving force of NS be non-random in respect to the potentialities for life, which has no reason to be true unless one admits design at the level of the fitness lamdscape.

    In any case, if darwinists “renounce” to NS, completely or in part, they are left with pure random events. And maybe they should read Dembski, or rehearse their mathematics.

    By the way, has anyone noticed that the “featured article” about ID on Wikipedia (a couple of days ago) boldly restated, without a trace of shame, the ludicrous argument of the “unlikely hand of cards” as a rebuttal to Dembski? Here is where my tolerance really starts to fade…

  15. I’m assuming you’re using “RV” to encapsulate lateral gene transfer, endosymbiosis, and other potential mechanisms that are possibly the mechanisms for creating complex genomes. Don’t want to give the impression to readers we’re not aware of these proposed mechanisms.

  16. I think the use of the term random variation rather than random mutation should be the standard phrase since random mutation seems to imply a SNP which obviously is not the paradigm these days. Give them all they want and they still can’t show the new variation showing up in the offspring to drive natural selection in multi-cellular organisms which is what Fodor is discussing. He is discussing pigs with wings not bacteria.

    HGT and bacteria is I believe a whole other issue.

  17. There is a debate going on over here:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/.....EH0HZZXVX4

    About Dr. Behe’s book;

    Since it relates to this thread, I just want to point out one of my post and a response;

    Smokey:stated:
    Only an ignorant or dishonest person could misrepresent that as “hippos can turn into whales.”

    Are you now saying that evolutionists now don’t believe hippos can turn into whales?”

    If so then you are not only lying to me but more importantly lying to yourself… And that makes you the dishonest one!

    This is Just another example of the smoke and mirrors that evolutionists use… Evolutionists see evolution where they want to see it, in the dark murky shadows of cutting edge molecular biology, or suggestive similarities of molecular sequences, and once this evidence is fully clarified in favor of ID, they move on to some other murky area that can’t be seen clearly and claim proof of evolution! I’ve seen this pattern repeatedly!!! You see evolution for Higher Organisms, is defeated in the first order through the vast amount of slightly deleterious mutations that have been proven. (Sanford Genetic Entropy 2005) If you really want to see some smoke and mirrors, ask any evolutionists what happens to all the numerous “slightly detrimental” mutations to DNA that are far below the power of natural selection to remove from a individual before they spread throughout the population.

    The plain fact of Behe’s book, that people with common sense for this issue can clearly see, is that something with far more mutational firepower, than any higher life forms even come close to having, is producing exceedingly trivial results with far greater opportunity for developing the impressive complexity you see!

    To which this response was given to my post:

    Cunningham: “Evolutionists see evolution where they want to see it, in the dark murky shadows of cutting edge molecular biology, or suggestive similarities of molecular sequences, and once this evidence is fully clarified in favor of ID, they move on to some other murky area that can’t be seen clearly and claim proof of evolution! I’ve seen this pattern repeatedly!!! ”

    Dark murky shadows? There is nothing dark and murky about molecular biology. What is dark and murky is your understanding of it. Suggestive similarities in DNA sequences is not the primary evidence for common descent. It is the common errors in sequences (eg. in pseudogenes) and the common mobile elements that can be traced through lineages to establish evolutionary branch points. If this is dark and murky to you, then you need to learn some molecular biology. Education is the cure for what ails you.

    “If you really want to see some smoke and mirrors, ask any evolutionists what happens to all the numerous “slightly detrimental” mutations to DNA that are far below the power of natural selection to remove from a individual before they spread throughout the population.”

    This is an oxymoron. How does one define a “slightly detrimental mutation that is far below the power of natural selection to remove”? What about it is detrimental if selection has nothing on which to act? If mutations are below the power of natural selection to remove them, they ultimately either disappear by drift, or are fixed in the population by drift. In other words, they are neutral. If mutations are detrimental, by definition, they are removed from the population by selection. You like to talk about smoke and mirrors, but it is you and the other intellectually vapor-locked religious fanatics from the “anti-Discovery Institute” and “Uncommon Descent into Irrationality” who are masters of deceit and misdirection.

    “… something with far more mutational firepower, than any higher life forms even come close to having, is producing exceedingly trivial results with far greater opportunity for developing the impressive complexity you see! ”

    The evolution of HIV from a simian form is in no way “trivial”. It allowed the jump of the virus into humans. Nevertheless, a virus is not an appropriate for the evolution of cellular life forms. Viruses have size contraints because they must be packaged and sent out of the cell.

    Does anybody but me see the sleight of hand?”

    As this is pertinent about a paper I’m attempting to write, I would like some good feedback on this controversy.

  18. My understanding of Fodor’s article is that he—as MacT points out—has a predilection for some form of ‘innate’ tendencies (nature, for lack of a better word). He therefore sees “evo-devo” as a solution to the problem that Darwinism (=adaptionism) presents. “Evo-devo” seems to provide some ‘endogenous’ structure, leading to a kind of ‘channeling’ of phenotypes, thus being the greater determiner of final form. I see this as his basic argument.

    The good news, IMHO, is that this retrenchment away from Darwinism to ‘evo-devo’ represents an undermining of the accepted paradigm (Darwinism), and, hence, a major re-thinking of evolutionary knowledge. Ultimately, it would seem to me, the question would have to be asked, “Whence this underlying ‘endogenous’ structure?” This would likely represent the next step leading to the larger question of the origin of ‘information’. I put information within quotes because Fodor himself uses this language in his article. Any such discussion of ‘information’ would, IMO, logically lead ultimately to a more-or-less ID position. Thus the good news.

    Finally, I think it was a little over a year ago when we were having our discussion with our Princeton PhD, whose name eludes me, wherein our Princeton PhD basically said that NDE was dead, he being an ‘evo-devo’ devotee. I think we should salute this transition taking place in mainstream evolutionary circles.

  19. I believe evo devo fits just nicely into the NDE paradigm so using it does not do anything to change anything. Evo Devo just says there is an underlying regulatory part of the genome that controls formation of the the organism during gestation and beyond.

    It is this regulatory section that is affected by random variations and thus produces the changes in the offspring to drive natural selection. Most people were used to discussing protein coding sections of the genome and all evo devo does is shift the location where the random variation happens.

    The real question is how did the regulatory sections arise.

  20. 20

    bornagain77,
    For your clarification, you said:

    “Are you now saying that evolutionists now don’t believe hippos can turn into whales?”

    What this Darwinist may mean (if they are not ignorant of their own theory as so many of them are) is that hippos and whales share the same ancestor which is posited to be a large hippo-like creature. The evolutionist in question may comment that you sound ignorant for not knowing what they meant, when in actuality they are really saying what you are, just that instead of hippo, they mean hippo-like. I wouldn’t let them go on this, but would clarify that you intended “hippo” to mean a large land animal that supposedly went back into the seas. HTH.

  21. I believe the gradualists all tout the forrest animal to whale scenario. In fact I have seen that used as the best example of a fossil transition supporting gradualism.

    There were no hippos or hippo like creatures in that picture. It was based I believe on bone structure not genetics. Hippos I believe come from a genetic analysis. Correct me if II am wrong.

  22. 22

    Oops. In my comment #8 above, I incorrectly wrote “Mannon” when I, of course, meant “Mammon.” Methinks I type too fast sometimes.

  23. 23

    Yes,jerry, if you go back far enough whales would have come from a hoofed animal according to Materialists. Along the line, a hippo-like animal appears, although not hippo-like in stature, but more in activity, or so the story goes. HTH.

  24. Natural selection is not much more than a 0 = 0 statement — it always has been — it’s only use is to beg a larger question.

    Maybe back in the day when we were “analog” it might have been enough to do some handwaving at the blogs of protoplasm. We now know that we are “digital” and that knowledge increasingly isn’t lending itself to the same handwaving.

    Over at Myers’ site I had someone explain that the reason we could statistically get from Chimps to Humans in 100,000-300,000 generations rested on the “fact” that:

    “Of all of the differences found, only about 580 genes have undergone positive selection, and of those only a handful are critical to the difference between us and our cousins.”

    …now that’s an oversimplification, new additions have to added to the genome to create a human as well — but that’s where they’re at. Most of DNA is supposedly noncoding, and that means we only have to sort out relatively few changes as in the example of human to chimp evolution.

    I believe we are close to a point where those sorts of numbers are in serious trouble. Given what’s coming down the pike with a new understanding of RNA, and realizing how much DNA is actually in play — a full understanding of the factors is going to put those numbers statistically out of reach.

    I give Darwinism ten more years before it completely degenerates into musings over panspermia, and multiverses.

  25. offcenter:

    ten years? I hope you are exaggerating! Let’s say three, and hope for the best…

  26. off center:
    In interest of your monkeys to man comment;
    Over at Myers’ site I had someone explain that the reason we could statistically get from Chimps to Humans in 100,000-300,000 generations rested on the “fact” that:

    “Of all of the differences found, only about 580 genes have undergone positive selection, and of those only a handful are critical to the difference between us and our cousins.”
    I would like to point out that
    The actual rate of Chromosomal rearrangements is unknown. Evolutionary assumptions about the recent divergence of chimp and man require high rates of such changes. These changes can affect large pieces of DNA, and so for the evolutionary scenario to work, many thousands of nucleotides on average, must move in this way every generation.

    I haven’t done the math but certainly a significant portion if not all of these “required” mutations would also be required to be somewhat “beneficial”! Yet what is found for “beneficial” mutations?

    “Bergman (2004) has studied the topic of beneficial mutations. Among other things, he did a simple literature search via Biological Abstracts and Medline. He found 453,732 “mutation” hits, but among these only 186 mentioned the word “beneficial” (about 4 in 10,000). When those 186 references were reviewed, almost all the presumed “beneficial mutations” were only beneficial in a very narrow sense- but each mutation consistently involved loss of function changes-hence loss of information. He was unable to find a single example of a mutation which unambiguously created information. While it is almost universally accepted that beneficial (information creating) mutations must occur, this belief seems to be based upon uncritical acceptance of RM/NS (Random Mutation/Natural Selection), rather than upon any actual evidence.”(Dr. J.C. Sanford PhD., Genetic Entropy: 2005 pg. 26 and 27)

  27. I would also like to point out that since the figure of 100,000-300,000 generation was given by you, and let’s even give the evolutionists the benefit of a doubt and say that the ancient genome was only halfway between modern man and chimps (1% of 3.5 x 10^9 = 35 x 10^6), then .5 times 35 x 10^6 equals 17.5 x 10^6 beneficial SNP that are required to be generated for man to exist in the evolutionary scenario of the top limit of 3^5 generations given by evolutionists between monkey-like ancestor and man. Thus approx. 18 x 10^6 divided by 3 x10^5 equals 6 x 10^1 = 60 beneficial SNP required per generation..

    Yet even using the evolutionists low end estimate for deleterious mutations of 999 out of 1000, we will find that 60,000 total mutations are required per generation to even generate the 60 beneficial ones we are required to have for a successful evolutionary scenario.

    What do you want to bet that the oldest human fossil we can find and sequence the DNA from, will not be noticeably divergent from modern man!

  28. bornagain77:

    I hear you –while arguing over at that _other_ site, I gave the example of elephants, with their considerably longer gestation period. Could the Earth even sustain a herd large enough to to pull those statistics from?

    I think once the “non-coding” DNA leg is kicked out from underneath them they’ll flounder in the statistics. At any rate, as the years go by, our understanding of the genome and how it functions is only going to get more, and more interdependent/complex by several orders of magnitude. It’s just going to get worse and worse for the materialists.

    I get the feeling that we have only found the data set — DNA — and that before too long we’ll find the operating system. When we do, evolution will be finished as a concept.

    Panspermia, here we come!

  29. ProfessorSmith:

    bfast,
    No, that is not my actual name. I chose the pseudonym “Smith” for its generic qualities.

    Twas a joke, honest. Why would you use your real name, then say, “Once I’m tenured, I will also add my name to the list of those who are willing to speak the truth”? You wouldn’t be Mike Gene of telic thoughts fame in disguise, would you?

  30. Jerry:

    wikipedia has a short but good discussion of genetic drift and its relationship to natural selection.

    If you read the wikipedia discussion on genetic drift you will notice, “In population genetics, genetic drift (or more precisely allelic drift) is the statistical effect…” I repeat “there are only two proposed forces in the modern evolutionary theory” Statistical effects are not forces. Genetic drift, the statistical effect of what happens when the quotient of natural selection is 0, can destroy the allele of interest, or can obliterate all other alleles of a particular gene in a particular species. In any case, as a variant of natural selection theory, it only has the ability to destroy. All new data, according to MET is caused by random variation, by accidents. The only positive (data increasing) force available to the MET is random variation — and random variation is very good at making garbage, and pittiful at making anything but garbage. Hense, the modern evolutionary theory is garbage.

  31. bfast,

    How is what you said any different from what I said? Genetic drift and natural selection are two separate processes which can theoretically operate at the same time. If you want to call them variants go ahead but they are different concepts and are treated as such by genetics.

    I am not sure what you are debating.

  32. 32

    bfast,
    Yes, of course, I get it now.

    No, I’m not Mike Gene in disguise. I’m just a mild-mannered professor that got into biology as an undergraduate and started to learn the truth about what they aren’t teaching us and finally converted to the ID side of things as time went on.

  33. Jerry, I am contending that there are only two forces within the modern theory of evolution — random variation, and natural selection. I contend that genetic drift is a “statistical effect” rather than a force. I find it to be scientific blowharding on the part of evolutionary biology to be claiming that there is anything more to the theory than these two forces.

    Once we recognize the simplicity of the theory, rather than being baffled by the bull, we can more accurately judge its efficacy.

    This theory is painfully simple, painfully hollow, and painfully inadequate to explain anything that vaguely resembles life as we know it.

    ProfessorSmith, or whatever your name is (I don’t know if you are aware but Mike Gene is a pseudonym as well), I don’t want to blow your career up, but I am wondering what your religious perspective is. I remember chatting with another young professor who lost his faith in darwinism while doing his thesis. I found his lack of religious faith to be a compelling proof of the non-religious nature of Id.

  34. Off center;
    Continuing on the previous topic of the rate of variation to human genome from chimp common ancestor being at least 60,000 SNP generated per generation to generate the 60 positive mutations needed for the evolutionary scenario to be considered viable :

    I looked around on the web and
    I found this very interesting 40,000 year old ancient DNA study of anatomically correct modern humans from Austrailia:

    http://www.godandscience.org/e.....ional.html

    Of special interest:
    five of those bases correspond to natural variations found in modern Aboriginal people, showing that those five bases were not lost at all. This leaves only a five base difference, certainly within the range of variation found among modern humans.

    This is absolutely crushing evidence to the evolutionary scenario:
    The 40,000 year old DNA was found within modern variation of aboriginals!!!

    The authors go on to note:

    Overall, the lack of “evolution” for humans over the last 40,000 years stands in sharp contrast to the large differences seen between modern humans and Neanderthals over the same period of time.

  35. jerry:
    I believe evo devo fits just nicely into the NDE paradigm so using it does not do anything to change anything.

    I wonder if you missed my point, and the point that Fodor was making. I have no doubt that those who hold the ‘evo-devo’ position firmly believe this explains ‘evolution’, but ‘evo-devo’ is not the same thing as classic NDE. Classic NDE relies on gradualism; ‘evo-devo’, OTOH, as explained in The Plausibility of Life, gives rise to major phylogenetic change. That’s why Fodor talks about Gould’s criticism of classic NDE’s gradualistic understanding of the fossil record. Remember, too, that Darwin insisted on gradualism. The move away from classical NDE to ‘evo-devo’, as I was attempting to point out, represents a retreat, therefore, from classical Darwinism. Now ‘evo-devo’ adherents might think they’re in a better position to explain evolutionary phenomena—and I would agree—but this ‘better explanation’ is bought at a price; and the price is: how do you explain the presence of these Hox genes that you rely upon for your explanations. You see, once they’ve moved away from gradualism, they can’t move back. Without gradualism, they lose their prized pet, which is ‘intermediate forms’. It’s as if these Hox genes suddenly arose—which seems to be more and more the case from what is being reported in scientific journals. Well, then, how did they suddenly arise. And from an information theoretic position, how could such ‘information’ arise so suddenly. They’re really left in a very difficult position I think.

  36. Pav,

    I am sure that some will still want to fall on the sword of gradualism but all they really care for is a naturalistic explanation whether it is big or small. That is why the term random variation is more appropriate because it can encompass large scale changes to the genome into NDE. They constantly use these large scale changes such as gene duplication, endosymbiotic, hgt etc.

    Their use of evo devo is not a rational approach but another naturalistic” just so” approach using these complicated regulatory sections as the source of the real changes. Like anything else in the genome there is no credible explanation for how these complicated formations could arise.

    After reading Hunter’s book, all is clear on how they think. They have to find an explanation, That is all that is necessary. Don’t expect reason.

  37. jerry,

    While my assessment of Darwinists is the same as yours, i.e., they’re unreasonable (in that they won’t allow the facts to lead them to where they should go), I still think we’re seeing a major retrenchment on the part of the Darwinist establishment.

    Now Fodor isn’t an actual ‘hands-on’ practicioner, nevertheless, he expresses (1) a dissatisfaction with strictly classical NDE explanations, and (2) a view that ‘evo-devo’ represents some kind of ‘endogenous’ structure. This last viewpoint, it seems to me, more than vaguely hints at a ‘nature’ to things—something anathema to a materialist. I see this as a significant crack in the wall of Darwinian dogmatism—a healthy sign.

    Will this cause materialists to abandon their positions or their way of thinking? No. But I’m not so foolish as to think that anything will ‘prove’ to a committed materialist (/atheist) that ‘life’ was ‘designed’. In Scripture we read: “They have Moses and the prophets. If they don’t believe them, then they won’t believe even if someone should rise from the dead.” The power of the human mind (and the Devil to boot) to deceive and to be deceived, is immense.

  38. O/T Sorry to do this but can anyone remember what was the thread that was about why some Christians accept evolution – one reason being that they have a “high” view of God such that they can’t imagine that He would involve Himself with the details of creation?

  39. Janice,

    Darwin is part of many Christian’s theology. It has to be be according to them. The whole history of it is in Hunter’s book. First it was the cosmology then it was life. It all has religious origins.

    It has been part of several threads over the last year but the details are in Hunter’s book. It was dominates those at ASA. To these people, those who propose ID worship a lesser God.

  40. Some more interesting tidbits relating to the lack of evidence for human evolution:

    A recent study examined the mutation rate for humans. Using “conservative assumptions” the authors found that the overall mutation rates was 4.2 mutations per person per generation, with a deleterious rate of 1.6 (11). When using more realistic assumptions the overall mutation rate for humans become 6.7 with a deleterious rate of 3.1. Such a high rate should have resulted in extinction of our species long ago. They stated in their conclusion:

    “The deleterious mutation rate appears to be so high in humans and our close relatives that it is doubtful that such species, which have low reproductive rates, could survive if mutational effects on fitness were to combine in a multiplicative way. (“Eyre-Walker, A. & Keightley, P. D. 1999. High genomic deleterious mutation rates in hominids. Nature 397, 344-347.)

    The authors had to rely upon a rare association of mutations, termed synergistic epistasis to explain why the numerous hypothesized deleterious mutations have not overwhelmed our genome. Instead of postulating the obvious (that the human genome is not as old as evolution would teach), evolutionists must rely upon the improbable to retain the evolutionary paradigm.

    Does that sound familiar????

    http://www.godandscience.org/e.....scent.html

  41. Jerry, you mention ASA. What is ASA?

    Janice:

    some Christians accept evolution – one reason being that they have a “high” view of God such that they can’t imagine that He would involve Himself with the details of creation?

    I have come to an understanding of this “high view” of God. The theory is that if God created something at the beginning that was the product of an infinite mind, he surely doesn’t need to tweak it along the way. This, however, is the theory presented by Michael Denton in “Nature’s Destiny” as an ID hypothesis. I refer to it frequently as the “by law” hypothesis. Whether the intelligent event was all in a single flash (big bang) at the beginning, or whether the course of history was adjusted along the way by an intelligent agent makes little difference. If the big bang was intelligently initiated, even if it was done in such a way that no interference is called for to get to man, we still are intelligently caused.

    I believe that there are two variants of “theistic evolutionists”. There are those whose view of god is so small that he only acts as an observer to a great cosmic accident; and there are those whose GOD is so BIG that He made a perfect, tweak-free explosion some 13.5 billion years ago. The latter are IDers, whether they’ve figured that out or not.

    (I actually think there’s a third camp that wants to be liked by the Christian community on Sunday, and by their scientific buddies on a work day. These are wishy-washy people pleasers that will follow whatever wind blows.)

  42. bfast,

    ASA is an abbreviation for the American Scientific Affiliation, an American organization of Christians in science. Just search UD and they will show up. There were a couple of big dust ups earlier this year with them. They are an association of scientists but all they wanted to do was discuss theology. Now, I know why.

    However, they are just the tip of the iceberg in this debate which has been going on since the late 1600′s and has essentially been instigated and won by what we refer to here as theistic evolutionists. I never knew the history and the depth of the debate over the last few centuries till I read Hunter’s book.

    The materialistic debate is rooted in religion and atheists are late comers to it. First, it was about the cosmology of the universe and solar system beginning with Newton’s findings and then in the 19th century accelerated with Darwin and his ideas concerning life.

    A God that tinkers or gets involved in day to day events is not worth our worship. He essentially is One who can’t shoot straight. I am being a little coarse but that is the gist of the debate.

    I suggest everyone here read it. It is relatively short, inexpensive and I personally believe more important than anything Johnson, Dembski or Behe has written even though I love their work.

    As I said in an earlier post there will not be any further debate as to what theistic evolutionist means after reading it.

  43. bfast,

    Theological naturalism is the proper term to describe the philosophy of those who are theistic evolutionists. We just refer to them by the latter term when evolution is being discussed.

  44. Pav,

    Dr. Alan MacNeill’s first comment in a past response, stated the following here…

    “Before people on this list start hanging the crepe and breaking out the champagne bottles, I would like to hasten to point out that evolutionary theory is very much alive. What is “dead” is the core doctrine of the “modern evolutionary synthesis” that based all of evolution on gradualistic changes in allele frequencies in populations over time as the result of differential reproductive success.”

    For those interested, the discussion is a good overview of current Dawinian guards speculation as to how they see evolution theory unfolding.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nism-dead/

    He gives a revised history of how evolutionist accepted changes and that it is ID supporters who do not understand or know this.

    The problem however is many uninformed evolution supporters do not know this level of detail. In fact, masses of evolutionary believers do not know the current level up upheval or “revolution” as Dr. MacNeill liked to phrase it.

    Nor is Evo-Devo fully accepted even within the core today as the solution. Dr. MacNeill admits it is only leaning in these directions.

    And he never fully answers Pav’s questions.

    History of endosymiosys…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endosymbiotic_theory

    Even as Prof MacNeill points out Lynn Margulis paper in 1969, he neglects the truth of history past.
    She was largely seen as heretical for a long period of time within the evolutionary camp and has only recently been embraced as a materialist savior.

    It is only recently that they have publically shifted to the point that it can begin to matter in student textbooks.

    EvoDevo will not save them.

    It is but one part of the puzzle.

  45. Folks,

    I wouldn’t call Professor Jerry Fodor exactly an ID ally, not would I say that he is entirely a skeptic of Darwinism.

    If you read the article, did anybody notice this statement he made :

    “What used to rile Darwin’s critics most was his account of the phylogeny of our species. They didn’t like our being just one branch among many in the evolutionary tree; and they liked still less having baboons among their family relations. The story of the consequent fracas is legendary, but that argument is over now. Except, perhaps, in remote backwaters of the American Midwest, the Darwinian account of our species’ history is common ground in all civilised discussions, and so it should be. The evidence really is overwhelming.”

  46. I am strictly refering to this article and what is written in it. I am uncertain if the intent of the author is to prove that Natural Selection has gone bust.

    As a follow up to my previous post, perhaps I should summarize what I believe to be Jerry fodor’s main point …

    1) Because it can only select from phenotypes that are already available, natural selection is therefore limited in what it can select for,

    2) Such traits tend to become widespread in a population even when they themselves are not specifically selected for.

    I am not sure how to the above points are wrong or even incompatible with Darwinism and how it can be interpreted as a bust for natural selection. Can someone explain to me how this article gives such an impression ?

  47. I wouldn’t call Professor Jerry Fodor exactly an ID ally, not would I say that he is entirely a skeptic of Darwinism.

    The differences in opinion are pointed out straightaway in the OP. I’ve seen plenty of posts by people other than ID supporters or declared Darwinism skeptics at UD – it’s not like only ID proponents have interesting things to say.

    As for the points, I’ll leave details to others here – I’m not a big ID science proponent myself. But I imagine that once it’s shown that traits can become widespread even without selection involved (And if it’s shown that such traits can come about without there being a current or prior advantage to them), explaining them becomes a bit problematic.

    I don’t doubt standard evolutionary theory can absorb that easily. Then again, it can absorb anything it needs to.

  48. SeekAndFind, if I read Fodor correctly (and the only thing I know about him is this article) it would seem that when he uses the term evolution, he is referring to common descent. I, as many IDers such as Behe, concur that there is at least a VERY STRONG case for common descent.

    If you read “common descent” for “evolution” within this article, you will find that it makes complete sense, especially when discussing baboons. It would seem, however, that Fodor’s understanding of ID is sufficiently limited as to think that common descent invalidates ID.

    That said, he seems deeply dissatisfied with RV + NS (in all of its complexity which would cover evodevo and genetic drift) as an explanation for how common descent happened.

  49. 49

    bfast,
    I wasn’t aware that Mike Gene is a pseudonym as well. I guess my schtick isn’t new.

    I don’t want to seem rude, but I shy away from talking about my religious perspective when dealing with ID science because I wish to keep the discussions scientific. I am theistic, although I’m pretty liberal in my leanings. Of course, if you talk to the Darwinist troll on my blog, I’m in league with Kent Hovind in some nefarious plot to destroy the world. ;)

  50. I think it’s fairly clear that Fodor’s chief complaint is with “adaptationism”: the insistence that every feature of an organism must be an adaptation to some environment, whether past or present.

    He observes that there are serious conceptual and empirical problems with adaptationism, and that while popularizations of evolution are rife with adaptationism, it is increasingly contested among biologists. These are not new observations per se, but this may well be the first time an intellectual outside of biology with Fodor’s acumen, rigor, and wit has presented these observations in a periodical as influential as the London Review of Books.

    In other news: today I noticed that Steve Fuller has a new and quite “pro-ID” book out, called Science vs Religion? Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution. I’m only one chapter in, but on that basis I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history or sociology of science from a “pro-ID” angle.

  51. [...] Pigs Don’t Fly“. You can get a good ‘take’ on this essay by reading Paul Nelsonat Uncommon Descent. (Maybe read this by Fodor: The Trouble with Psychological [...]

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