Archive for the ‘determinism in evolutionary biology’ Category

We are survival machines

September 7, 2009

‘We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules (of DNA) known as genes.’

This is gene selectionism rigorously applied to define man. It is laudable of Dawkins that he is consistent.

The only purpose of life is DNA survival: a person is nothing more than than DNA’s way of making more DNA like itself.

In brief, gene selection theory posits that particular types of genes improve their own chances for survival by making, or improving, organisms that are themselves good at surviving and reproducing. Natural Selection ensures that the world will be determined by those types of genes that happen to be good at making plants and animals that are good at passing their genes on to descendents.

Philip Johnson, Testing Darwinism, IVP, 1997, p.69-70

Naturalism of La Mettrie

August 24, 2009

Not that I call in question the existence of a supreme being; on the contrary it seems to me that the greatest degree of probability is in favor of this belief. But since the existence of this being goes no further than that of any other toward proving the need of worship, it is a theoretic truth with very little practical value. Therefore, since we may say, after such long experience, that religion does not imply exact honesty, we are authorized by the same reasons to think that atheism does not exclude it.

Let us not lose ourselves in the infinite, for we are not made
to have the least idea thereof, and are absolutely unable to get back to the origin of things. Besides it does not matter for our peace of mind, whether matter be eternal or have been created, whether there be or be not a God. How foolish to torment ourselves so much about things which we can not know, and which would not make us any happier even were we to gain knowledge about them !

I do not take either side.

La Mettrie

Julien Offray de La Mettrie (December 19, 1709 – November 11, 1751) was a French physician and philosopher, and one of the earliest of the French materialists of the Enlightenment. He is best known for his work L’homme machine (“Machine man”[1]), wherein he rejected the Cartesian dualism of mind and body, and proposed the metaphor of the human being as machine. Wikipedia

This work of La Mettrie’s denies the soul in man.

Is Evolution self-refuting?

August 7, 2009

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.

[Darwin C.R, letter to W. Graham, July 3rd, 1881, in
Darwin F., ed., “The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,” [1898],
Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. I., 1959, reprint, p.285]

Can the mind of man, descended, as I believe, from the lowest animal be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?


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. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.

Neo-Darwinist, Haldane J.B.S., “When I Am
Dead,” in “Possible Worlds: And Other Essays,” [1927], Chatto
and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209)

The contradiction between materialism and reality arises
frequently in biology, but it is most inescapable when we consider the human mind. Are our thoughts “nothing but” the products of chemical reactions in the brain, and did our thinking abilities originate for no reason other than their utility in allowing our DNA to reproduce itself? Even scientific materialists have a hard time believing that. For one thing, materialism applied to the mind undermines the validity of all reasoning, including one’s own. If our theories are the products of chemical reactions, how can we know whether our theories are true? Perhaps Richard Dawkins believes in Darwinism only because he has a certain chemical in his brain, and his belief could be changed by somehow inserting a different chemical.

Johnson P.E., “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds,” InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1997, pp.81-82

The conclusions of the mind depend ultimately on their survival value and not on their truth.

David Lack

Determinism – biology

August 6, 2009

Charles Handy quotes a friend:

You may have more faculties, and live longer, but basically, we are sophisticated geraniums. So lie back and enjoy it. Do what your instincts tell you.

The Hungry Spirit, p.79