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4/18/2018 3:26 am  #1

Theory of Evolution - yes or no

This is another poll type thread. By the theory of evolution I mean the Darwinian theory in current mainstream biology: The theory of origination of (all) species from a (single) common ancestor by natural selection.

Is this theory compatible with your religious views or with the rest of your philosophy? If not, what's the solution?

But if the two are compatible, I'd be happy to hear about that too.


4/18/2018 4:05 am  #2

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

*Shrug* As long as one doesn't attempt to give vague evolutionary explanations for moral and aesthetic facts I have no problem with said view. Even a naturalist could live with my qualifer though.

Last edited by DanielCC (4/18/2018 4:06 am)


4/18/2018 6:34 pm  #3

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

Our physical bodies = (probably) the result of divinely orchestrated evolution
Our souls = not the result of evolution; God's living breath

That more or less sums up my view.

Noli turbare circulos meos.

4/19/2018 3:32 am  #4

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

Admittedly I have been served the generic story of evolutionary history every since middle school, and I haven't fiercely studied the subject for
myself. It's partly due to the fact that I don't see it conflicting with a theistic and religious worldview. As long as the theist permits that human beings evolved to be the way they are because God willed it to be so, they're all set. I also think human exceptionalism with regards to our intellectual capacities will come to the forefront of certain circles of philosophy. It's hard enough for the materialist and naturalist to give an evolutionary (generally seen as a purely material and mechanistic process) origin for the mental, let alone the intellectual capabilities of human beings (logical and abstract thought).

Last edited by RomanJoe (4/19/2018 3:33 am)


4/22/2018 4:30 am  #5

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

As soon as I was fed the evolution theory (in public school), it sounded suspicious. Luckily biology normally is more about the differences between species instead of commonalities or about the proposed lineages, so evolution theory did not become obstacle to my studies.

Having studied some more of it later, I have determined that the theory of evolution in its Darwinian form is metaphysically, conceptually, and methodologically flawed. Not to mention what you get when you go on to derive morality etc. from it.

Complex things don't bring about themselves from simpler things. Instead, complex or composite things tend to fall apart when left on their own. When we take this empirical observation into metaphysics, we need to posit a cause for composite things. The relevant question becomes: Is Darwinian natural selection a sufficient cause?

But there are more serious questions: Is natural selection a cause at all? Who selects and what gets selected? Obviously, there is nobody to do the selection. So what gets selected, how and why? In a standard textbook, the authors write, "given a population of individuals the environmental pressure causes natural selection (survival of the fittest) and this causes a rise in the fitness of the population. ... Based on this fitness, some of the better candidates are chosen to seed the next generation by applying recombination and/or mutation to them."

This sort of fitness is evidently nothing but the sum of those who end up surviving a bit longer for no particular reason. As such, natural selection looks conceptually more like an outcome or effect instead of a cause. And given no particular reason and force other than "environmental pressure", natural selection is not selecting anything specific, even if it were a cause, but as said, conceptually it looks like the opposite of cause.

Further, environmental pressure in question has to be of a particular moderate kind in order to promote survival in organisms, but we know that there are very different immoderate kinds of environmental pressures that straightforwardly kill. And even when given enough luck to be dealing with just the right kind of moderate environmental pressure, how is that, being moderate, sufficient to bring about new species? And how do you test all that? So the conceptual problem leads to the methodological problem.

Are biological organisms things of the sort that tend to evolve (into other species) or do they rather tend to stick to their own species? The latter seems to be more obviously the case, so the former should need specific tests to be proved. Do we observe speciation from common descent these days? Sure, we can experiment on adaptation, mutation, artificial selection and separation of populations, but all this falls under microevolution that has never been in dispute. The mainstream evolutionist claim is that microevolution unproblematically turns into macroevolution (Ernst Mayr, "transspecific evolution is nothing but an extrapolation and magnification of the events that take place within populations and is misleading to make a distinction between the causes of micro- and macroevolution") but let's have something scientifically testable, something better than a metaphysically, conceptually, and methodologically untenable bald assertion.

Finally, there has been much backpedalling in mainstream evolutionary biology. They don't want to speak about evolution in true sense anymore, in the sense of progress and obvious improvement. Darwin said, "...natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection." In contrast, the referred textbook says, "It is easy (although somewhat misleading) to see such a process as if the evolution is optimising... Let us note that many components of such an evolutionary process are stochastic. During selection fitter individuals have a higher chance to be selected than less fit ones, but typically even the weak individuals have a chance to become a parent or to survive. For recombination of individuals the choice of which pieces will be combined is random." If so, then why (and, more scientifically, how) would plants turn to bugs and fishes or whatever and those further to reptiles, birds, mammals, and humans? It's plain to the eye that there is an obvious hierarchy among species and Darwin devised his theory to give a natural explanation to it, but modern evolutionary biologists are radically silent about the qualitative aspects of the hierarchy, perhaps realising the explanation is insufficient and methodologically not rigorous.

In my opinion, the root of the problem lies in the fact that the modern evolutionary biology was created by statisticians, not biologists. Ronald Fisher, the guy who thought up the formula that reconciled Mendelian genetics with natural selection, was a statistician. J.B.S. Haldane, the guy who invented biostatistics and established population genetics as a distinct field, was also a statistician. Following them, all current geneticists (the central subfield in modern biology) are number-crunchers rather than true biologists. The probably most-cited scientist of all time, Joe Felsenstein, is most cited because he devised the computation program/model with which modern geneticists work...

A true biologist would look at the anatomy and observe how the organism functions as a whole, and how species gradually adapt to new environments - or don't. In contrast, statisticians only look at numbers. With algorithms and formulas, any number can be transmogrified into anything and statisticians-turned-to-evolutionary-biologists think the same easily applies to genes, organisms, and species. They see no problem there. It doesn't occur to them that they are dealing with entities of biological material, not with abstract numbers.

In summary, biology was just fine up to Mendel, but went downhill beginning with Darwin.

     Thread Starter

4/22/2018 7:12 pm  #6

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

No inherent problem, especially considering God, in principle, as the source of all causality in the natural world.

One possible issue might be with ironing out dogmatic (?) declarations by various Popes vis à vis methods for interpreting scripture. Were I to be dogmatically beholden somehow, to accept six-day creation 6 000 years ago, then things might get "interesting" (although at that point its more about geology and astronomy and the theological problem of the intelligibility/deceptiveness of the created universe than about biological evolution).

Other than this, what concerns me is that I see so many people with whom I am otherwise sympathetic (Catholics of a more or less traditionalist bent) making transparent errors in dealing with the concept of evolution. For example, ubiquitously agreeing with the non-scientific metaphysical claims popularly packaged along with evolution, and jettisoning the baby with the bathwater. This is often coupled with equivocation (associating biological evolution one-for-one with doctrinal evolution) or frustrating straw-men on the level of "monkeys giving birth to men" or what have you. To say that this doesn't damage their credibility, and thus my confidence in my own beliefs, would be a lie. If they're so misguided here, what else are they wrong about? It really does bother me.

Last edited by Wyvern (4/22/2018 8:09 pm)


4/23/2018 3:34 am  #7

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

Wyvern wrote:

... frustrating straw-men on the level of "monkeys giving birth to men" or what have you.

I would very much appreciate if you could please spell out how "monkeys giving birth to men" is a strawman.

For example, just this weekend I saw the most recent National Geographic documentary about Yellowstone, and the last sentence in the voiceover there was (and I am quoting as accurately as my memory allows), " extraordinary species of apes - our ancestors."

If "monkeys giving birth to men" is not part of the Darwinian theory of evolution, then what is there instead? What is the more accurate depiction?

     Thread Starter

4/23/2018 9:50 am  #8

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

First of all, apes are not monkeys. So right off the bat, it gets the lineage wrong.

Secondly, this sort of straw-man is stated in such a way as to give the impression that something resembling a modern ape (or even a currently-existing ape) gave birth to a fully formed human at some point, which wildly misconstrues the process.


4/23/2018 10:35 am  #9

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

Both monkeys and apes (and humans) are said to be simians, so I don't see how it gets the lineage wrong.

Let's look at it again:

A.  "Monkeys gave birth to men."
B. "An extraordinary species of apes is our ancestors."

What is the crucial nuance that makes statement B true and statement A a strawman? Admittedly, statement A is exaggerated and simplified, deliberately pointed, but I don't see how it's outright false. It gets the ballpark right.

It could just as well be stated that "Humans evolved from bacteria." What objections can a believer in universal common descent have?

     Thread Starter

4/23/2018 11:46 am  #10

Re: Theory of Evolution - yes or no

Both monkeys and apes (and humans) are said to be simians, so I don't see how it gets the lineage wrong.

Because monkeys are a separate branch of the family tree, a branch which does not include Homo sapiens. Therefore it is simply incorrect to involve "monkeys" anywhere in the discussion, period. Humans are not descended from monkeys in any way. Literally nobody believes this.

What is the crucial nuance that makes statement B true and statement A a strawman? Admittedly, statement A is exaggerated and simplified, deliberately pointed, but I don't see how it's outright false. It gets the ballpark right.

I already explained exactly what the problem was. I won't do so again.

And no, it doesn't "get the ballpark right" any more than the "what caused God" argument gets the ballpark right on first cause arguments. It doesn't "simplify", it displays a stunning, and I mean stunning, degree of ignorance of what is even being proposed. In fact, if I remember correctly, Dr. Feser explicitly uses the "monkeys gave birth to humans" as an analogy for precisely that. Of course, tautologically the statement "apes give birth to humans" is correct insofar as it happens all the time (humans, in strictly biological terms, are a type of ape, and thus give birth to apes).


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