Archive for the ‘evolution undermines ethics’ Category

A(nother) hoax in the name of science

January 5, 2010

Archaeoraptor” is the generic name informally assigned in 1999 to a fossil from China in an article published in National Geographic magazine. The magazine claimed that the fossil was a “missing link” between birds and terrestrial theropod dinosaurs… It led to a scandal when it was definitely proven to be a forgery through further scientific study. The forgery was constructed from rearranged pieces of real fossils from different species. Zhou et al. found that the head and upper body actually belong to a specimen of the primitive fossil bird Yanornis. A 2002 study found that the tail belongs to a small winged dromaeosaur, Microraptor, named in 2000. The legs and feet belong to an as yet unknown animal.

The “Archaeoraptor” scandal has ongoing ramifications. The scandal brought attention to illegal fossil deals conducted in China. It also highlighted the need for close scientific scrutiny of purported “missing links” published in journals which are not peer-reviewed.

Wikipedia

NB this was not the first nor will it be the last in the desparate attempt to prove ‘missing links’ that remain…missing. Never mind that hoaxes are ‘unethical’ – it’s the survival of the fittest theory that counts: whatever it takes.

On the basis of strict evolutionary naturalism that kind of altruism should have died out of the human race long ago

December 16, 2009

An individual’s self-sacrificing, altruistic behavior toward his or her blood kin might result in a greater survival rate for the individual’s family or extended clan, and therefore result in a greater number of descendants with that person’s genetic material. For evolutionary puposes, however, the opposite response–hostility to all people outside one’s group–should be just as widely considered moral and right behaviors. Yet today we believe that sacrificing time, money, emotion, and even life–especially for someone “not of our kind” or tribe–is right. If we see a total stranger fall in the river we jump in after him, or feel guilty for not doing so. In fact, most people will feel the obligation to do so even if the person in the water is an enemy. How could that trait have come down by a process of natural selection? Such people would have been less likely to survive and pass on their genes. On the basis of strict evolutionary naturalism that kind of altruism should have died out of the human race long ago. Instead, it is stronger than ever.

Source: Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Scepticism (Hodder & Stoughton, 2008), p. 148.

Nature is not interested one way or the other in suffering, unless it affects survival of DNA

November 24, 2009

…nature is not cruel, only piteously indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous-indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose…

but Nature is neither kind nor unkind. She is neither against suffering nor for it. Nature is not interested one way or the other in suffering, unless it affects survival of DNA.

Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden, 95-96, 131

This is more consistent with his atheistic presuppositions than The God Delusion where he realises he had better make an attempt at establishing some kind of morality. However, given Naturalism, the words good and evil are both meaningless. He was consistent to his philosophy in River out of Eden, but inconsistent in that he doesn’t live that way. He was inconsistent to his Naturalism in The God Delusion but aware of needing to explain the moral impulse he feels.

The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own increased prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass

November 14, 2009

The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own increased prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass – a conscience that swings free of both social history and individual luck.

Richard Rorty, in P.E. Johnson, Testing Darwinism, IVP,  1997, p.89

 

 

 

This is partially quoted in http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft9602/reviews/reason.html

All life is bound up in three theses: Struggle is the father of all things, virtue lies in blood, leadership is primary and decisive

November 2, 2009

Man has become great through struggle… Whatever goal man has reached is due to his originality plus his brutality… All life is bound up in three theses… struggle is the father of all things, virtue lies in blood, leadership is primary and decisive…’The whole work of Nature is a mighty struggle between strength and weakness – an eternal victory of the strong over the weak. There would be nothing but decay in the whole of Nature if this were not so. States which offend against this elementary law fall into decay…through all the centuries force and power are the determining factors Only force rales. Force is the first law. Force was more than the decisive factor in any situation; it was
force which alone created right. ‘Always before God and the world, the stronger has the right to carry through what he wills. History proves: He who has not the strength – him the “right in itself” profits not a whit.

Adolf Hitler, Hitler:A STUDY IN TYRANNY, Alan Bullock, pp.398-9

Science is actually one of the most moral, one of the most honest disciplines around — because science would completely collapse if it weren’t for a scrupulous adherence to honesty in the reporting of evidence

October 4, 2009

Science is actually one of the most moral, one of the most honest disciplines around — because science would completely collapse if it weren’t for a scrupulous adherence to honesty in the reporting of evidence…

…It’s a rewarding question, whatever your personal morality, to ask as an evolutionist where morals come from; by what route has the human brain gained its tendency to have ethics and morals, a feeling of right and wrong?

Richard Dawkins

But if morality is just a feeling why is one ‘feeling’ good and another’s bad? Feelings are just different from one person to another like the size of our feet. There is no ‘good’ or ‘right’ size of feet. Further, why is honesty to be valued, indeed science itself, if it has no proven usefulness in terms of survival value?

Evolution provides us no basis for morals

September 12, 2009

I hear much of the “ethics of evolution.” I apprehend that, in the broadest sense of the term “evolution,” there neither is, nor can be, any such thing. The notion that the doctrine of evolution can furnish a foundation for morals seems to me to be an illusion, which has arisen from the unfortunate ambiguity of the term “fittest” in the formula, “survival of the fittest.” We commonly use “fittest” in a good sense, with an understood connotation of “best; ” and “best” we are apt to take in its ethical sense. But the “fittest” which survives in the struggle for existence may be, and often is, the ethically worst.

Thomas Huxley, An Apologetic Irenicon, The Fortnightly Review (November 1892)

Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game

September 8, 2009

We would like to think of ourselves as necessary, inevitable, ordained from all eternity. All religions, nearly all philosophies, and even a part of science testify to the unwearying, heroic effort of mankind desperately denying his own contingency. …The universe was not pregnant with life nor the biosphere with man. Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game. Is it any wonder if, like the person who has just made a million at the casino, we feel strange and a little unreal?… then man must at last wake out of his millenary dream; and in doing so wake to his total solitude, his fundamental isolation. Now does he at last realize that, like a gypsy, he lives at the boundary of an alien world. A world that is deaf to his music, just as indifferent to his hopes as to his suffering or his crimes… If it is true, as I believe, that the fear of solitude and the need for a complete and binding explanation are inborn—that this heritage from the remote past is not only cultural but probably genetic too—can one imagine such an ethics as this, austere, abstract, proud, calming that fear, satisfying that need? I do not know.

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 his duty.

Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity, 1971

Evolution robs man of significance

September 8, 2009

It has also been shown that purpose and plan are not characteristic of organic evolution and are not a key to any of its operations. Man was certainly not the goal of evolution, which evidently had no goal. He was not planned, in an operation wholly planless.

G.G. Simpson

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