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The worldview of Darwinian Evolution

The essay stimulating this blog emerged from the Darwin Bicentennial year, when surveys of “educated lay people” in Switzerland revealed that only 20% had any clarity of thinking about Darwin’s theory of evolution. About half explained it in a circular way, another 20% implied some form of Lamarckism and the remaining 10% talked about evolution being a flow towards complexity. These responses evidence “poor understanding” and two major reasons are suggested to explain the observations. The first is “The theory of evolution is counterintuitive” and the second is “The theory of evolution opposes most people’s worldview”. The worldview issues are of considerable importance to the issues considered here. It is worth asking: what is a Darwinian worldview? and why do most people have a different worldview? The first paragraph of the essay is significant for its candour:

“Early teaching of the basic principles of science by qualified teachers, together with the creative involvement of scientists, will help the general public to appreciate what the theory of evolution calls for, namely a worldview based on reality rather than on mysticism and dogma.”

OK, so Jacques Dubochet, the author of the essay, is linking Darwinism to a worldview based on reality, and most of the general public, even those that are educated, have worldviews based on mysticism and dogma. At least this tells us where he’s coming from.

For more, go here.

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13 Responses to The worldview of Darwinian Evolution

  1. ‘You would not want to live next door to a materialist who lived consistently within his worldview’ – Paul Nelson

  2. “OK, so Jacques Dubochet, the author of the essay, is linking Darwinism to a worldview based on reality, and most of the general public, even those that are educated, have worldviews based on mysticism and dogma.”

    This is quite typical. The keynote speaker at the Darwinian Centennial celebration at the University of Chicago said that materialism eliminates the need for the props of traditional religion, and predicted that materialism would itself become a new religion to take the place of traditional religion. Dawkins famously said Darwinism makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Materialists take great pride in the idea that they alone have an understanding of reality and realize the absolute pointlessness of life, the universe and everything.

    I should add that “Darwinism” (i.e., the materialistic story of the development of life on earth), is not necessarily the same as pure materialism. It is, however, the creation myth of the materialist, and as such, is often presented as supporting (or even necessitating) materialism.

  3. Met my 1st ‘ID’ proponent the other day, and wanted to ask a question to someone who is a part of the ID movement… Google suggested this blog… so here goes:

    At what point does an ID proponent declare that science does not ‘work’? I know that there are apologists for many subtle levels of ID, but in general my understanding is that there is some suggestion that 1)Earth is not billions of years old, and 2) humanity did not evolve from lower-order species… and the reason for both of these statements is “god did it”.

    So the question is this: where is the disconnect? Does an ID proponent ‘believe’ in Dalton’s Law? Boyle’s Law? Newton’s Laws of Motion? Is one mole not always = 6.02X10^23? And not just chemistry, but physics as well… the Doppler effect, or ballistic motion, or the motion of photons through a vacuum… all of these are repeatable and predictable, and to my mind not at all dependent on ‘belief’.

    Clearly chemistry and physics ‘work’. The reactions are predictable, repeatable, and universal. Your computer works… the electrons flow as they are ‘predicted’ to flow according to scientific principles. Your TV, iPad, car, SatNav… not to mention more esoteric things like the Sandia Labs ZMachine… all of it works according to the predictions of these existing rules.

    Now we take a step back, and talk ID. If we are to believe that the human understanding of chemistry and physics are valid (all observable data clearly support this) then at what point does the ID proponent decide that ‘science’ no longer applies?

    Is there a specific thing in the ID canon that says “at this point, chemistry and physics no longer apply, and if the isotopic decay rate (or any other method, from dendrochronology or palynology to geology) says the world is 4+ billion years old… it is wrong. Even of all other predictions based on this understanding of the universe bear out, we do not ‘believe’ it”.

    I do not understand, but would like to get some clarification on that. Just seems rather… odd. Either I am missing something, or ID is really really out there. Strange that I have never bothered to inquire before… but better late than never.

  4. bornagain77 @ 1:
    Thanks for this comment. Although I chose not to comment on it in the blog, there is an interesting paragraph in the essay – towards the end. Here it is:

    “The theory of evolution discards finality from the realm of the living world. In the absence of a transcendental answer or dogma, human beings, who can elaborate complex representations and act intentionally (the word “conscience” could find its place here) are responsible for their future and are left with the difficult task of finding out what they should do with their own life. Fortunately, nobody faces a blank slate. Every human civilization has grappled with the question of “self-made destiny”. The recurring solution is generally close to The Golden Rule of Moral Philosophy (http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule, consulted 9.10.2010), embodied in the sentence: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (The Bible, Matthew, 7:12). There are plenty of variations on the theme but the fundamental idea has remained the same for a few thousand years. It is a good start for constructing one’s own moral and political posture in life.”

    It appears to me that within the Darwinian worldview this “Golden Rule” has no more significance than “Everyone for themselves” or “Survival of the fittest”. Numerous people have chosen to operate in a Darwinian mode – and these are the neighbours we might want to avoid! There is no rationale for Darwinists to say such people are wrong. They have a real problem with the concept of “evil” – they know that there are evil things, but their worldview cannot get beyond prioritising it and saying “that’s your choice”.

    The author could have pointed out that within his worldview, no moral judgments are allowed, so no one can really say Hitler or Stalin behaved in an “evil” way. However, this is never allowed to be part of the public face of Darwinism. I am sure we can think of reasons why.

  5. Eric Anderson: “Materialists take great pride in the idea that they alone have an understanding of reality and realize the absolute pointlessness of life, the universe and everything.”

    Wrong, for the record. I am clearly one of the people you are talking about… but the conclusion is NOT that life is “pointless”, it is that we must self-define our own point. There is no external influence giving empty meaning to things.

    See the difference?

  6. as to:

    I should add that “Darwinism” (i.e., the materialistic story of the development of life on earth), is not necessarily the same as pure materialism. It is, however, the creation myth of the materialist, and as such, is often presented as supporting (or even necessitating) materialism.

    I’ve often asked atheists to prove that ‘materialism’, which under-girds their worldview, is true, for I can present solid evidence that it is false:

    How Teleportation Will Work -
    Excerpt: In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. — As predicted, the original photon no longer existed once the replica was made.
    http://science.howstuffworks.c.....ation1.htm

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://www.research.ibm.com/qu.....portation/

    Researchers Succeed in Quantum Teleportation of Light Waves – April 2011
    Excerpt: In this experiment, researchers in Australia and Japan were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, “alive” again and unchanged. This is a major advance, as previous teleportation experiments were either very slow or caused some information to be lost.
    http://www.popsci.com/technolo.....-computing

    Unconditional Quantum Teleportation – abstract
    Excerpt: This is the first realization of unconditional quantum teleportation where every state entering the device is actually teleported,,
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....2/5389/706

    The following articles show that even atoms are subject to teleportation:

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    It is also very interesting to note that the quantum state of a photon is actually defined as ‘infinite information’ in its uncollapsed quantum wave state:

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    More supporting evidence for how information interacts with energy is found in these following studies:

    Single photons to soak up data:
    Excerpt: the orbital angular momentum of a photon can take on an infinite number of values. Since a photon can also exist in a superposition of these states, it could – in principle – be encoded with an infinite amount of information.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/7201

    Ultra-Dense Optical Storage – on One Photon
    Excerpt: Researchers at the University of Rochester have made an optics breakthrough that allows them to encode an entire image’s worth of data into a photon, slow the image down for storage, and then retrieve the image intact.
    http://www.physorg.com/news88439430.html

  7. Continued: This following experiment clearly shows ‘classical’ information is not an ‘emergent property’ of any solid material basis as is dogmatically asserted by some materialists, but is in fact a subset of quantum information:

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    Anton Zeilinger has followed in John Archibald Wheeler’s footsteps (1911-2008) by insisting reality, at its most foundational level, is ‘information’.

    “It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom – at a very deep bottom, in most instances – an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that things physical are information-theoretic in origin.” John Archibald Wheeler

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

    Zeilinger’s principle
    The principle that any elementary system carries just one bit of information. This principle was put forward by the Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger in 1999 and subsequently developed by him to derive several aspects of quantum mechanics.
    http://science.jrank.org/pages.....z17a7f88PM

    In the beginning was the bit – New Scientist
    Excerpt: Zeilinger’s principle leads to the intrinsic randomness found in the quantum world. Consider the spin of an electron. Say it is measured along a vertical axis (call it the z axis) and found to be pointing up. Because one bit of information has been used to make that statement, no more information can be carried by the electron’s spin. Consequently, no information is available to predict the amounts of spin in the two horizontal directions (x and y axes), so they are of necessity entirely random. If you then measure the spin in one of these directions, there is an equal chance of its pointing right or left, forward or back. This fundamental randomness is what we call Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.
    http://www.quantum.at/fileadmi.....t/bit.html

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    Quantum Entanglement and Teleportation – Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5705317/

    John 1:1-3
    In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.

    (of note: ‘Word’ in Greek is ‘Logos’, and is the root word from which we get our word ‘Logic’)

    music:

    Steven Curtis Chapman – Live Out Loud
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVLHTqdkwZ0

  8. “that we must self-define our own point.”

    Your defining a *subjective* point. Assigning your own purpose to the specific arrangement of matter that is you. That is a subjective purpose to life. You may say that your purpose is to paint. Or to race cars. To fix cars. Or to methodically stalk and kill people. But these are subjective assignments. Under the umbrella of materialism, there is no *objective* purpose for life. And under the umbrella of materialism, there is no way to determine if fixing cars is more or less valid then stalking and killing humans.

    Therefore the killers assignment of purpose is no less valid than the car mechanics assignment of purpose.

  9. “Earth is not billions of years old…”

    Majority accept a 13.4 by old universe, and a 4.5 by old earth. I think you have propagandized understanding of ID.

    “If we are to believe that the human understanding of chemistry and physics are valid…”

    It is generally the understanding of these disciplines that lead many to question the plausibility of the proposed mechanical OOL scenarios.

  10. BeerBaron you mentioned:

    Dalton’s Law? Boyle’s Law? Newton’s Laws of Motion?

    It might interest you to know that all the names behind those laws were people who were avid Christians. In fact the vast majority, if not all, of the founders of modern science were avid Christians, as opposed to just nominal Christians. Why should this be??? It turns out that it is the Judeo-Christian worldview which provides the necessary philosophical foundation in which to presuppose that the universe is governed by rational ‘transcendent’ laws that have been imposed on it by the rational transcendent mind of God, and that we, being made in God’s image have it within ourselves the ability to grasp and understand these laws. No other philosophy provides this basis!

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://vimeo.com/16523153

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

    Christianity Is a Science-Starter, Not a Science-Stopper By Nancy Pearcey
    http://www.pearceyreport.com/a.....post_4.php

    Jerry Coyne on the Scientific Method and Religion – Michael Egnor – June 2011
    Excerpt: The scientific method — the empirical systematic theory-based study of nature — has nothing to so with some religious inspirations — Animism, Paganism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Islam, and, well, atheism. The scientific method has everything to do with Christian (and Jewish) inspiration. Judeo-Christian culture is the only culture that has given rise to organized theoretical science. Many cultures (e.g. China) have produced excellent technology and engineering, but only Christian culture has given rise to a conceptual understanding of nature.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47431.html

    In fact atheism/materialism can be forcefully argued to be ANTI-science!

    This following site is a easy to use, and understand, interactive website that takes the user through what is termed ‘Presuppositional apologetics’. The website clearly shows that our use of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality cannot be accounted for unless we believe in a God who guarantees our perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy in the first place.

    Presuppositional Apologetics – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

    Infinite Multiverse vs. Uniformity Of Nature – Presuppositional Apologetic – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6853139

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale.
    For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Materialism simply dissolves into absurdity when pushed to extremes and certainly offers no guarantee to us for believing our perceptions and reasoning within science are trustworthy in the first place:

    Should You Trust the Monkey Mind? – Joe Carter
    Excerpt: Evolutionary naturalism assumes that our noetic equipment developed as it did because it had some survival value or reproductive advantage. Unguided evolution does not select for belief except insofar as the belief improves the chances of survival. The truth of a belief is irrelevant, as long as it produces an evolutionary advantage. This equipment could have developed at least four different kinds of belief that are compatible with evolutionary naturalism, none of which necessarily produce true and trustworthy cognitive faculties.
    http://www.firstthings.com/ont.....onkey-mind

    “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”
    CS Lewis – Mere Christianity

    “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” – Charles Darwin – Letter To William Graham – July 3, 1881

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” J. B. S. Haldane ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

    This following video humorously reveals the bankruptcy that atheists have in trying to ground beliefs within a materialistic worldview;

    John Cleese – The Scientists – humorous video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

  11. but the conclusion is NOT that life is “pointless”, it is that we must self-define our own point.

    If one understands the meaning of eternal life, one sees that any other so-called point is pointless indeed.

  12. Please, stop projecting strawman caricatures.

    You may find it significant to note that the understanding that phenomena tend to trace to causes rooted in mechanical necessity and/or chance and/or Art, goes back to at least Cicero and Plato.

    What Design theory has done is to formalise the process of inference through the so-called design filter which infers these three major causal factors as best explanation per empirically tested reliable signs.

    Necessity — explanation by law — comes first; and is marked by low contingency [high consistency] of outcomes under similar initial conditions. Where there is high contingency, the source traces to chance or choice, and we can discern these on their signs, e.g. no-one here has a problem distinguishing the posts in this thread from random typing: fyhi2jgjuhg034rbv. The latter is the overwhelmingly likely outcome of a chance based process, once we have a big enough degree of complexity that the atomic resources of our solar system or the observed cosmos would be fruitlessly exhausted, i.e 500 – 1,000 bits. This, as the space of possible configurations will be overwhelmingly dominated by nonsensical and/or non-functional, non-specific patterns. (The fraction of ASCII text strings of post length that would make a coherent message that responds to context, is astonishingly small relative to the field of possible configs.)

    That is, functionally specific, complex organisation and related information are strong signs of design.

    In short, as you exemplify, the design inference perspective will help to clarify what is happening in an empirical investigation or a phenomenon or object. Design thought is not simply a manifestation of the Dawkins “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” slanderous talking point.

    (Try reading here as a start, and here on the explanatory filter and the scientific method.)

    GEM of TKI

  13. CMBB:

    As a footnote, you may wish to read here on, on the usually unacknowledged or unrecognised implications of the materialist frame of thought that usually tries to call itself scientific; and here on on soundly building a worldview.

    This UD post here may help you balance your view of science and its roots. (Cf here too.)

    GEM of TKI

    PS: You seem to have picked up much of your idea of what design theory and thought are about from the strawmannish caricatures too often propounded by objectors. I suggest you may find the weak argument correctives here at UD helpful.

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