Friday, April 18, 2008

An Observation on the Nature of "Evolution" and Darwin

There's a new movie out, called "Expelled." The film is an paean to the dubious propositions encapsulized under the rubric known as "Intelligent Design" (aka "Creationism"), and an attack on "Darwinism" (aka "Modernity"), disguised--and misrepresented to many participants--as a 'documentery.' Darwinism is equated with Nazism in the same way (and with the same amount of accuracy, by the same rhetorical tricks) as the Doughy Pantload equates liberalism with fascism, vegetarianism and probably blue eyes... Nixon flunky, pseudo-celeb, unprincipled hack/flack Ben Stein headlines. (If he were as smart as he pretends elsewhere, how did he get into this slick pile of shit? ... oh, yeah, the money...). PZ Myers has had some experiences with the film and its makers, and is worth reading on the matter, as with much else.

I'm not a geneticist. I'm a philosopher who's read Darwin, Gould, Dennett, as well as Galton, Malthus, Spencer (nobody reads Spencer anymore). And many others. I once engaged in a rather spirited colloquy about where human evolution actually occurred with Richard Leakey. And I've stayed at a Holiday Inn...

That said:
It seems to me that "Natural Selection" must be understood as an engine of consequences. It is "RANDOM" variation.

Therefore, it has nothing to say about the fitness of the source of the variation, only the success of the adaptation.

Hence any successful variation can arise from any member of the genetic community without effecting the survivability of the individual member in whom it happens to occur.

Only THEIR offspring might benefit...

Gould, in the frontice-piece of The Mismeasure of Man, quotes Darwin on poverty: “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

We're greatly sinful, aren't we?


Mr. Pelican said...

The more I see what humanity is capable of, the more I envy my dogs.

Anonymous said...

The newspaper ads for this are funny. They try to package Ben Stein as some sort of anti-establishment rebel. Anyone who falls for that branding is dumber than a bag of day-old dogshit.