Home » Darwinism, Intelligent Design, Philosophy » Classic Darwinian Texts — (soon to be, if not already) On the Ash Heap of History

Classic Darwinian Texts — (soon to be, if not already) On the Ash Heap of History

I just pulled out my 1972 edition of Jacques Monod’s “classic” work, Chance and Necessity, subtitled A Philosophy for a Universe without Causality.

From the back cover:

The outstanding French biochemist, winner of the Nobel Prize, here explains to the layman his revolutionary approach to genetics and its far-reaching ethical and philosophical implications.

For some time now, the unpleasant idea has been dawning on mankind that it may owe its existence to nothing but a roll of some cosmological set of dice. But until recently hard proof has been missing and the larger philosophical implications have remained obscure. What Jacques Monod is here to say in his difficult but important book is that the proof is now available and the implications may necessitate a revolution in human thought.

Read Monod’s book — a foundational Darwinian text. Nowhere in it does he ever address probabilistic resources; he just assumes on faith that random mutation and natural selection can produce everything. And pay special attention to the final chapter: The Kingdom and the Darkness, in which he philosophizes about the “socialist ideal.”

An opening quote by Albert Camus at the beginning of the book gives away Monod’s agenda. I’ve read Camus (best known for The Stranger) and Camus’ philosophical compatriot, Jean-Paul Sartre (best known for Nausea), the famous French existentialists who were instrumental in promoting 20th century nihilism. I read them in the original French, in pursuit of my Masters degree in French language and literature.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

28 Responses to Classic Darwinian Texts — (soon to be, if not already) On the Ash Heap of History

  1. Gil,

    Interesting how Monod says,

    “For some time now, the unpleasant idea has been dawning on mankind that it may owe its existence to nothing but a roll of some cosmological set of dice.”

    It contrasts so strongly with Dawkins’ continual assertion that Darwinism “is not a chance process”. Dawkins even claims that he knows of no evolutionary scientists that say Darwinian evolution is a process based on chance.

    It seems to me that Dawkins is a determinist of some sort, believing that everything is due to necessity, while others like Monod and Gould hold that random chance holds sway.

    As we IDists know, the only way to resolve this tension between chance and necessity is to recognize design.

  2. I have read Monot myself and was under the impression that I understood it. However, I did not see signs of a socialist or nihilist agenda.
    can you please fill me in on that? if possible with precise quotes.

  3. I have not read Monod or “Monot”, but re: The Stranger; a dreary, existentialist view run amok in a world of dead emotions, I’ve read. It is the quintessential “I don’t care” book of hopelessness. It has been years, but that is what I remember of it. Thinking back on it to this day makes me want to gag a little.

    Gil, I am curious. What is the line from Albert Camus’s text that Monod quoted?

  4. From Monod:

    Where then shall we find the source of truth and the moral inspiration for a really scientific socialist humanism, if not in the sources of science itself, in the ethic upon which knowledge is founded, and which by free choice makes knowledge the supreme value – the measure and warrant for all other values? … A utopia. Perhaps. But it is not an incoherent dream. It is an idea that owes its force to its logical coherence alone. It is the conclusion to which the search for authenticity necessarily leads. The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty.

    The Camus quote is from The Myth of Sisyphus. From Wikipedia:

    The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus… In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man’s futile search for meaning, unity and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternity. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers no: it requires revolt. He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to forever repeat the same meaningless task of pushing a rock up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes “The struggle itself is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

    The essay concludes with an appendix titled “Hope and the Absurd in the work of Franz Kafka”. While Camus acknowledges that Kafka’s work represents an exquisite description of the absurd condition, he maintains that Kafka fails as an absurd writer because his work retains a glimmer of hope.

    Of course, this is all just a bunch of philosophical gobbledygook. It is Camus’ desperate attempt to explain why one shouldn’t commit suicide after having accepted nihilism, which he has, and which he considers to be the true human condition. So Sisyphus can be happy rolling a stone up a mountain for all eternity, knowing that life is absurd? Please, give me a break.

    Just like Camus, Monod makes a desperate attempt to find meaning after having concluded that Darwinism has proven that life is meaningless. The bottom line is that Darwinism is materialistic, nihilistic philosophy masquerading as science.

  5. Gil,

    Camus wasn’t a nihilist. Nihilists don’t care whether they live or die. They don’t believe any one thing is better than another. That’s essentially why most people have a problem with nihilism. Camus included.

    Camus was an absurdist, a completely different philosophical tradition than nihilism. And its not just an atheistic philosophy either; Christian existentialist Kierkegaard has been classified as an absurdist by many. Absurdists believe that life is full of contradictions and ultimately makes no sense, but that it’s worth living anyways (Kierkegaard and Camus had different reasons to live, of course).

  6. StuartHarris:
    “It contrasts so strongly with Dawkins’ continual assertion that Darwinism “is not a chance process”. Dawkins even claims that he knows of no evolutionary scientists that say Darwinian evolution is a process based on chance.”

    He asserts that it is not a “chance process,” as natural selection (key word being SELECTION) is anything but a chance process. Mutations, however, are considered “chance.” You’re totally taking the quotes out of context.

  7. cdf – I find it interesting that you said “natural selection (key word being SELECTION) is anything but a chance process.”

    Are you then implying that natural selection could be intelligently guided? (That would be included in the set “anything but chance,” as that is the opposite of chance.) Or do you refer to some law that requires natural selection to always go uphill? If so, what is that law?

    Perhaps the idea you had in mind is that “natural selection… is anything but a chance (or intelligently guided) process.” Or, more succinctly, “natural selection operates according to natural (or physical) law.” I would like to know more about this law of natural selection. Any references that could help me?

  8. Nihilists don’t care whether they live or die.

    Nihilists! . . .I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.
    –Walter Sobchak (noted unwitting absurdist)

  9. Gil, I also read Monod’s book in the first 70′s and I’ve just re-read it recently to check it vs the actual overwhelming appearance of ID.

    My impression is that Monod’s book is as largely dated today as largely overextimated was in the past. No probabilistic computations, no doubts about the fact that strict materialism was mere truth, etc. But what I’ve found very pathethic is the last chapter in which Monod call for a new alliance based on science and knowledge. It has been very instructive for me to recogniz as bad ideology what in the past I had considered an authorative and clever proposal.

  10. Natural SELECTION implies a guiding force behind it. Of course NS is random and occurs by chance. NS is NOT a mechanism- it’s an end result. Those who live longer and have offspring (those are the ones that had traits that were considered “selected” for), but as there is no guidance to this, there’s nothing selected for to begin with.

    NS isn’t a mechanism, in that it’s not some force present during mutations…it’s simply what we’re left with AFTER the chance and random and unguided mutations.

    I always wonder why Darwinists (esp.) say that NS is a mechanism that makes the whole process a non-chance event, but then deny that there’s any guidance behind any of it. The lack of guidance itself is the lack of it being non-chance.

  11. By the way- what Stuart was referring to was the quote that we owe our lives and everything around us to a roll of the dice and nothing more…correct?

    If that was the quote referred to- a roll of the dice is completely a chance event. No one guides what numbers the dice land on. You could roll it 100 times and never get two of the same numbers in a row.

    So, yes, if we owe our lives to a roll of the dice- he’s saying we owe our lives to chance. If rolling dice isn’t a chance event, tell me how, so I can board a plane to Vegas!

  12. sorry… accidentally hit enter.

    As I was saying… OR stated another way, that the liquid had a selective advantage to make it through the filter paper over the solid impurities.

  13. Kairos:

    My impression is that Monod’s book is as largely dated today as largely overestimated was in the past.

    Precisely my point. In light of what we now know, Monod’s “classic” seems terribly naïve even when it comes to the science, not to mention the ideology. The connection between Darwinism and a new religion of sorts (scientific socialist humanism, whatever that means) is also made clear.

    Consider the following quote from Thomas (Darwin’s Bulldog) Huxley’s grandson, Julian Huxley, at the Darwinian centennial celebration of 1959. Julian gave the keynote address, focusing on a repudiation of religion:

    In the Evolutionary pattern of thought there is no longer either need or room for the supernatural. The earth was not created, it evolved. So did all animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body. So did religion. Evolutionary man can no longer take refuge from his loneliness in the arms of a divinized father figure.

    Julian made it clear that Darwinian theory was ushering in a new era of a new religion of evolutionary humanism.

    Darwinism has always been about promoting materialistic ideology and philosophy, and never much about real scientific inquiry.

  14. If all of this does not twist your mind into knots, check this out:

    http://www.qsmithwmu.com/moral....._smith.htm

    Excerpt:
    “But I argue from moral nihilism to the nonexistence of God. A further interesting twist is that I reverse the usual argument for nihilism. Traditionally, it is argued that nihilism is true because God does not exist. I argue the converse; God does not exist because nihilism is true.”

    Quentin Smith argues that “everything has value”, but at the same time that “It does not matter what actions humans or other agents perform” since future time is infinite. And then he and others like him go on with dubious and twisted trails of reasoning and logic.

    Is this a perfect example of someone brilliant who gets caught in all sorts of logic traps without even realizing it?? The brilliance of man meets the total dearth of wisdom and vision. Ah yes, atheism at its finest!!

  15. JasonTheGreek:

    YEs, this is exactly what I have been trying to bring to attention here on a few posts over the past several months.

    To me it is strange that Darwinists describe NS as a “force”, when it is merely the description of the results, being that of replicators out-replicating each other. By talking about it as a mechanism, people then begin to ascribe all sorts of attributes to it, even “intelligence” (see Feebles…)

  16. He asserts that it is not a “chance process,” as natural selection (key word being SELECTION) is anything but a chance process. Mutations, however, are considered “chance.” You’re totally taking the quotes out of context. – cdf

    If a tiny mutation produces a survival and reproduction advantage, and the critter gets struck by lightening or is eaten by a predator before the mutation can be passed on, then is natural selection not at least partially random? What am I missing?

  17. CDF: He asserts that it is not a “chance process,” as natural selection (key word being SELECTION) is anything but a chance process. Mutations, however, are considered “chance.” You’re totally taking the quotes out of context.

    http://www.beliefnet.com/story.....889_1.html

    INTERVIEWER: “You said in a recent speech that design was not the only alternative to chance. A lot of people think that evolution is all about random chance.”

    DAWKINS: “That’s ludicrous. That’s ridiculous. Mutation is random in the sense that it’s not anticipatory of what’s needed. Natural selection is anything but random. Natural selection is a guided process, guided not by any higher power, but simply by which genes survive and which genes don’t survive. That’s a non-random process. The animals that are best at whatever they do-hunting, flying, fishing, swimming, digging-whatever the species does, the individuals that are best at it are the ones that pass on the genes. It’s because of this non-random process that lions are so good at hunting, antelopes so good at running away from lions, and fish are so good at swimming.”

  18. russ:

    “If a tiny mutation produces a survival and reproduction advantage, and the critter gets struck by lightening or is eaten by a predator before the mutation can be passed on, then is natural selection not at least partially random? What am I missing?”

    Yes, being struck by lightning would be considered random… but how often does that happen? Not enough to really be considered a factor.
    However, being eaten isn’t really random. Predators will tend to go after the “weaker” prey, therefore those who are best adapted to avoid the predator would have a selective advantage. This is not random, and is a great example of natural selection.

  19. Sorry if I’m over-posting, but it occurs to me that Las Vegas-type slot machines are set up so that over time, the house has a slight advantage, even though the customer can win big on any given pull. Does that mean that these gambling machines’ operation is “anything but random”? After all, a beneficial mutation can be wiped out by a lightening strike, forest fire or unfortunate encounter with a predator, just as a gambler can win big, despite the odds being against it over the long run.

  20. 20

    DAWKINS: “That’s ludicrous. That’s ridiculous. Mutation is random in the sense that it’s not anticipatory of what’s needed. Natural selection is anything but random. Natural selection is a guided process, guided not by any higher power, but simply by which genes survive and which genes don’t survive. That’s a non-random process. The animals that are best at whatever they do-hunting, flying, fishing, swimming, digging-whatever the species does, the individuals that are best at it are the ones that pass on the genes. It’s because of this non-random process that lions are so good at hunting, antelopes so good at running away from lions, and fish are so good at swimming.”

    This comment is ludicrous. Because an animal has a random, unguided mutation that allows it to run a bit faster in NO WAY makes the process “guided.” Dawkins here makes the obvious mistake of attributing guidance to the process. He says it’s guided by “simply which genes survive and which don’t.” There is absolutely no guidance at all there. Which genes survive and which don’t is a chance event- in NDE there is no ultimate blueprint or plan, there’s no “right” path for the genetic mutations to take. They just happen on accident and the end result is what is labeled “natural selection.” It doesn’t actually select anything. No gene is selected, as the term selected infers a guiding hand and a blueprint, which NDE says doesn’t exist. It’s completely unguided and unplanned and accidental.

    The fact that he says which genes survive and which don’t is a form of gudiance is, in itself, absurd. It makes no sense at all. Some mutations pop up then disappear. NS, as he refers to this magical “guided process” doesn’t prefer or select a gene, then make sure that it sticks around in the genome. An animal can have all the offspring in the world, and there’s nothing to say that the mutation won’t suddenly revert itself. If there’s nothing outside of sheer dumb luck and outliving your neighbors to “guide” the process- then we shouldn’t expect there to be any foreknowledge of the future, or any selection going on. ACTIVE selection that is- labeling a gene “selected” because it’s still around after so many generations is totally distorting the meaning of the very word “selecting.”

    If it all comes down to which animal is lucky enough to outlive the other animal- that’s random. That’s chance. The only other choice is that the process is somehow guided by SOME force. NS, as I said, isn’t a mechanism really, it’s the end result and nothing more. An end result cannot possibly also be a guiding force.

  21. 21

    Random:

    ‘lacking any definite plan or order or purpose; governed by or depending on chance’
    ‘In ordinary language, the word random is used to express apparent lack of purpose or cause’
    ‘Lack of predictability, without any systematic pattern.’
    ‘Having no plan, seemingly haphazard.’
    ‘Having no predictable pattern’

    Some would say that in science “random” simply means that it’s not automatically unguided (necessarily), but that we couldn’t pinpoint where the next mutation would occur or what mutations would occur in what part of the body and what the result would be. This lack of knowledge of any future for the organism is, in my mind, itself a chance event. If there’s no knowledge of what will mutate next or what the result will be…if you theorize that it’s impossible to know, then you’re basically admitting it’s unguided. Anything that is completely unguided must be a chance event. If it’s guided by any force, it becomes a non-chance event by definition.

    I’m not seeing how an animal living longer than another…and doing so via some mutation that somehow helped it survive equals ‘non-chance’ or ‘non-random’. I’m sure a dinosaur could kill about anything around, but then a meteor hits the planet and they’re unlucky somehow and that kills them off. Wasn’t the meteor hit a chance event? Doesn’t that mean a chance event killed them off? What good do the genetic mutations that supposedly went through to get to the stage they were at matter when the chance event put an end to all of it? A dino is bigger and stronger than thousands of other animals, yet the dinosaurs all died out. Not because another animal gained a genetic advantage, but because of a chance event in which the smaller animals somehow lucked out.

  22. “Yes, being struck by lightning would be considered random… but how often does that happen? Not enough to really be considered a factor.
    However, being eaten isn’t really random. Predators will tend to go after the “weaker” prey, therefore those who are best adapted to avoid the predator would have a selective advantage. This is not random, and is a great example of natural selection.” – cdf

    Yes, but every improvement in the body–no matter how small–is supposed to determine survival. That means a mutation for an improved toenail is supposed to cause the survival of a specimen in the face of all the other things that threaten the life and reproduction of an animal—predators, disease, weather, accidents, being at the wrong place at the wrong time in a thousand different ways. Life is not a lab where all these variables can be isolated. The tinyiest changes which are part of Darwin’s gradual process wouldn’t seem to have a chance in the face of all these other factors, i.e. all this noise.

    Maybe someone can say this better than me?

  23. “Natural selection is a guided process”?

    That from the same guy who told us that natural selection is blind and without purpose.

    I don’t know what world Richie lives in but in the real world there just aren’t any blind and purposeless guides.

    What Richie doesn’t tell you is the animal that is so good at running away from lions are usually the first to hit the waiting ambush.

    And if fish are so good at swimming why did some leave the water?

    The Deniable Darwin: Sheer Dumb Luck

    “Chance alone” the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Jacques Monod once wrote, “is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, is at the very root of the stupendous edifice of creation.”

    The sentiment expressed by these words has come to vex evolutionary biologists. “This belief,” Richard Dawkins writes, “that Darwinian evolution is ‘random,’ is not merely false. It is the exact opposite of the truth.” But Monod is right and Dawkins wrong. Chance lies at the beating heart of evolutionary theory, just as it lies at the beating heart of thermodynamics.

  24. CDF:
    Predators will tend to go after the “weaker” prey, therefore those who are best adapted to avoid the predator would have a selective advantage.

    Not always. Ever been hunting? Biggest buck with the biggest rack…

  25. CDF,

    We never witness prey getting stronger, smarter, more intelligent, or exhibiting better sensory organs. They remain the same. It is the best falsification of Darwin that I know of and it is happening right in front of our eyes every day.

    Every ecology in the world may change its percentage composition somewhat over time but the actual inhabitants seem to remain immutable.

    Occasionally we hear about some change of alleles such as color changes but that is it. Not much to write home about but it is all Darwinists have except for the ocassional test tube experiment.

    Why?

    What a bankrupt theory that Darwinists adhere to!

  26. #14

    Darwinism has always been about promoting materialistic ideology and philosophy, and never much about real scientific inquiry.

    Agree, and this is the reason why a darwinist will never accept even the remote possibility that ID be a scientific program. After all ID has broken his toy …

  27. I know someone will read this, even if it’s just DaveScot or one of the other sheep who won’t allow my comments to be posted… so I feel it’s worth my five seconds. I find it quite disconcerting that you allow me to post a simple argument, and when I get arguments in response from other posters, you won’t allow the comments I submit to rebut these arguments to be posted.
    I did notice, however, you allowed one of my posts which was accidentally cut of (and thus nonsensical) to be posted… making me look all the more a fool with no real argument.

    Thanks a million
    -Chris

  28. CDF-

    I don’t know the content of your diasallowed posts but you appear “mostly harmless” (Doug Adams ref) to me.

Leave a Reply