Evolution’s Sticky Wicket
Philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, said that progress in science comes only after the prevailing generation of scientists dies off and a new generation of young scientists take over.
The older generation is wed too tightly to their reputations, grants, kudos, and positions to risk any of them for new ways of thinking.
Young Turks, on the other hand, have little to lose in taking brash, exciting new ideas to challenge old, established theories.
Dramatic paradigm shifts occurred in early twentieth-century physics when brash, young Turks got Nobel prizes for challenging Newtonian physics with Quantum Mechanics and Relativity.
We might well expect the same to occur with the current breed of biologists who are stuck in a debate over which word to use to describe their views — fact or theory — instead of concentrating upon more meaningful scientific examination of evolution’s basics.
There appear very few biologists studying origins out in the field, compared to the eight years Alfred Russel Wallace (Russel spelled correctly) studied hundreds of thousands of insects, birds and reptiles in the Amazon and Malaysian jungles.
Wallace coined the term Natural Selection as a mechanism driving evolutionary change and co-founded evolution with Darwin.
The differences in these two men though, were dramatic.
Darwin was a wealthy aristocrat who spent only 19 days ashore studying species in the Galapagos Islands and the rest of his life studying in his backyard gardens.
Wallace, on the other hand, spent eight years in jungles studying species. He came from a working class family, and had to earn his living selling his collections of species and his writings.
Wallace was more widely considered the founder of evolution in its first fifty years, rather than Darwin.
But twentieth century biologists opted for Darwin as their choice as the founder of evolution for a simple reason.
Darwin claimed accidental mutations in species created new species to the exclusion of God.
And as one of its loudest proponents today, Richard Dawkins, said in his book, The Blind Watchmaker, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
That exclusion of any sort of direction in evolution has been the sticky wicket of today’s biologists. Dawkins argues that there is direction, Survival of the Fittest. But that is a spurious argument. What is it that survives? The fittest! What are the fittest? Those that survive! It is called a tautology by logicians, saying the same thing in different words to imply a causal relation.
Dawkins claims that the predominant majority of biologists believe in Darwinian evolution as opposed to Creation by a Divine Power.
That too is a specious argument, that adds no proof of his statement. Logicians call it argumenta ad populum.
Replacing God with Darwin
While most serious biologists who adopt an atheistic view are more considerate and less ardent about their beliefs than Dawkins, their followers aren’t so tolerant. And the mockery of the Christian fish symbol has taken on a menacing aspect.
Early in Life Wallace Turned Against Religion, But Later . . . .?
Now the reason I bring up Wallace is because he was far more open-minded than Darwin.
Wallace did have doubts about religion early in life.
In his autobiography he said he found two reasons he could no longer accept the faith of his fathers.
First, he confronted the perennial paradox of a good and omnipotent God:
Why is there evil in the world if God is both all good and omnipotent? If he is all powerful why doesn’t he eliminate evil? And if he is all good why did he allow evil to enter the world in the first place?
Since no one could answer these questions to his satisfaction, Wallace gave up his belief in God.
Then, too, he could not accept the hell-fire and damnation sermons he heard in church. How could a good God create or tolerate a hell in which sinners are doomed to suffer forever?
So he considered himself, at best, an agnostic the rest of his life.
But at the very end, in his last essays on evolution he expresses some very revealing spiritual, if not religious, thoughts.
In his book, Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, his last essay is “The Limits of Natural Selection as applied to Man.” Here is what he says at the end of this essay:
While we have no knowledge of any other primary force, it does not seem an improbable conclusion that all force may be will-force; and thus, that the whole universe, is not merely dependent on, but actually is, the WILL of higher intelligences or of one Supreme Intelligence.” (parens and capitalization in original. p 368. Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection)
So Why Is Wallace’s Science Not Studied In School Biology Classes?
I certainly do not have an answer. Some would argue that it is because of the Atheists’ war on Christianity.
There may be a lot of truth in that. That isn’t to say there isn’t. It is just that I haven’t followed that aspect of the debate.
However, I do know that Wallace lived among more than fifty different jungle tribes during the eight years he studied species. And he carefully observed the ways and habits of these tribal peoples.
His questions about the limitations of evolution applying to humans, raised questions that seem to me to continue to be problems for the theory.
He argued that characteristics of the human being are inexplicable by survival driven evolutionary theory. Such as our standing upright on two legs, instead of on all four as apes do.
And our hairless bodies, or growing hair where it offers the least protective defense against the weather, are incongruous designs of human physiology. Likewise the size of our brain in proportion to body-size compared with other mammals that have larger brain-to-body ratios, yet have not gained intelligence along lines of the human anatomy.
Then, there is the bigger question of our human advanced intelligence and consciousness, and why this would have become an asset with our smaller brain-to-body ratio than in some other mammals.
His collection of essays in his Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection raises these, among other, “problems” of evolution.
If it seems like I am a dissenter of science.
I’m a rebel against dogmatism, in whatever form it takes. And thus far, I find a lot of desperation among some radicals on both sides of the Creationist/Darwinist debate, although it appears more vociferous and nasty on the Darwinian side.
As I understand it, the principles of science reguire defenders of a theory to prove it, not those opposed to prove the theory false. Einstein gave proof of Relativity Theory and physicists gave proof of Quantum Physics.
So far, the only “proofs” of Darwinian Evolution’s Theory of origins is a long list of evidences within species, but virtually nothing to support the origin of any new species from an older species, no human from ape especially.
I hope that when Darwinians die off, a new breed of young Turks will come up with more plausible defense of the theory, or perhaps a more rational theory of origins. Something along the lines of how Quantum Physics came to terms with the wave-particle conundrum, to replace the either/or view of Newtonian physics.
After all, a number of biologists have already begun to see there “seems to be” intelligent design, though they say they know it is merely “an appearance.” It’s sort of like saying that, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is only “an appearance” of a duck.
And, as for the argumenta ad populum, claiming that because a lot of biologists believe in Darwinian evolution makes it a “fact” not “theory.” That would certainly have made it a fact that the world is flat not round, since the majority of scientists a few centuries ago believed it flat making it a fact.
We need hard evidence to make a fact a fact, not new definitions of words like fact and theory.