Thursday, November 25, 2010

Butler’s Ad Hominem Attack

  In "The Deadlock of Darwinism," Samuel Butler makes the charge that the ideas put forward by Charles Darwin, were anything but novel. This article will address this accusation, and consider whether it has any merit. In addition, it will also consider what the consequences of such an claim being true are for Darwinism.

  To demonstrate that Darwin's work is unoriginal, Butler appeals to the work of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck as well as that of Darwin's own grandfather. Both the works of Lamarck as well as Darwin's grandfather identify evolution as the mechanism by which variation amongst and within species occurs. Moreover, both of these works predate that of Darwin. Further, it is difficult to imagine that Darwin was unaware of either of their works, for Lamarck was well known, and the other is his own grandfather. While there does exist subtle variations between the three accounts, they all put forward evolution through a natural mechanism. Given these factors, it seems as though it is fair to say that Darwin is not the father of evolution, as he is often made out to be.

  If Darwin added very little to the theory of evolution, then why it is that he is ascribed credit to this discovery? I propose that the answer to this question is that Darwin popularised the theory of natural selection far better than those before him. Often times a populariser of an invention or discovery is wrongly given credit for being the inventor or discoverer. We can find other examples of this in history. For instance, Henry ford did not invent the automobile, or the production line, and yet he is often miss-credited as having done so; similarly, Alexander Graham Bell, did not invent the telephone, and yet his commonly thought to have. Ford was far more successful than his predecessors, and was consequently was considered the inventor of these things; so too was Darwin's book more successful than his predecessors/peers, and so too is Darwin considered to be the pioneer of evolution by many.

  Darwin is clearly then not the father of evolution, as he is often said to be. However, what then are the consequences of this revelation to the theory of evolution, or Darwinism? Whether or not the ideas presented by Darwin were novel or his own has no bearing on the strength or truth of those ideas. Butler's writing is a successful attack on the intellectual integrity of Darwin as an individual, but has not demonstrated that the ideas he championed are lacking in integrity.

  Thus, while Butler's charge is fair, it has not presented any challenge to the theory of evolution through natural selection. To have shown that Darwin was wrong, one would need to address the validity or soundness of the theories and arguments presented in his writings, attacking the man himself is not sufficient to demonstrate that his theories are flawed. However, what should be taken from Butler's argument is that Darwin did not alone come up with natural selection, and that it is an injustice that the individuals, who did more to develop the theory of evolution than Darwin did, are often not credited for the creation of this powerful theory.

The Strongest Voice of Critique is....

To me, the strongest voice of critique regarding would be balter's augment. The key reason to this is quite simple; I have grown up in a world where the idea of evolution through natural selection is generally accepted. It has been one of the fundamental beliefs to me in that sense. I learned it in middle school, as well as high school. There has been tremendous amount of time dedicated to the topic during my biology class in my early education. Therefore I have to admit, it is pretty hard for me to taking in any rejections which can be consider as powerful but then again has been proven to be insufficient to overthrown Darwin's theory over time.

However I find Balter's statement saying that" I don't need to be a scientist to critise Darwin's theory" is very unique. To my opinion academic integrity is above, all the most important thing in the world of science. Balter's writing pointed out how Darwin in some degree took credit for other people's work by talking about their findings like it was his own idea. I do find that is rather unpleasant. It might not be such a big deal in the past, but in today's value it is a total disgrace to the name of science. To be honest I was quite shocked when I first read Balter's paper, and thought it must be some sort of false acquisition, however after the discussion we had regarding his work, it seems quite clearly that Darwin did took credit for works that has done by other scholars in the same field.

Now I look back at Darwin's work, especially the "on the origin of species" which is basically an unfinished work which has been published pre-maturely just to catch the title of the "first one" in the field. No to mention the fact that whenever he finds a dead end in his agreement, he just simply says "I will discuss about this issue in my next book' which in lots of occasion has not been realized. I have to say he is certainly not as honorable as a scientist can be, in fact he might not even be as honorable as a scientist should be. I am so glad that in today's society the requirement for citing, referencing during academic paper is so strict to the point that it is nearly impossible for some to get away with using other people's working and take credit for them as if they were his own work.

At the end of day I still respect Darwin for his achievement or shall I say contribution for making the idea of "evolution through natural selection" becomes a worldwide generally accepted theory. However I would have to admit that he is nowhere near as glorified as I used to think he is.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What ever else Mr. Darwin was, he was not a Charles-Darwinian

The first time I read Deadlock on Darwinism, it was as though Samuel Butler had a personal vendetta against him; the tone was bitter with a tinge animosity.  After a second glance at the essay, Butler comes across as a passionate critic who simply wants to make the truth know.  Darwin was not the only scientist on Butler’s chopping block, he also took a close look at Wallace and treated him in just the same manner by saying their theories were both as mischievous as valuable. The major difference he made between the two was that Wallace’s writings on the theory of Natural Selection was easier to understand since he had no intention of speaking of evolution itself.  Moreover, Butler mentions how Darwin did not modify the main theory of evolution but had a way of making it come off as though it was his.  Samuel Butler praised Darwin for making his theory, as well as evolution, available to the general public knowing that the chance of them looking beyond the indisputable facts was improbable.

Although Butler made sure to point out Darwin’s lack of recognition to the real father of evolution, Buffon, as well as his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin- who before his grandson, believed that all organisms came from a single ancestor as well- he came back as to say Darwin wasn’t the first to do so.  Specifically, Butler mentions the invention of the steam engine as well as the microscope; in his exact words, “…the man who made the first teakettle did not foresee the steam engine.”()  From these examples he’s saying how all ideas come from someone previous, even if that person did not know its manifestation into something great; great ideas are an accumulation of smaller ideas.  The difference between Darwin and Thomas Savery, the inventory of the first steam engine, is that Darwin obviously knew the men who had contributed to evolution; one of the men was his grandfather!

Another problem Butler had with Darwin’s theory was his ability to contradict himself such as in the case of natural selection and use and disuse.  Samuel Butler disagreed with Darwin having both modes of evolution in one book as though it was the same theory.  Natural Selection suggests an accidental process where as use and disuses is the eventual loss or enhancement of a feature; which is by no means accidental.

A third critique on Darwin’s theory made by Butler was the transfer of genetic material from parent to offspring.  He proposed pangenesis which, in layman’s terms, says that injuries were passed through generations; he hypothesized that all cells were able to contribute in reproduction.  Butler compared this to Professor Weismann’s theory which said that it is diseases that are transferred to offspring through reproductive cells; this is similar to observations made by Mendel.  Weismann’s theory was based on experiments and numerous subjects where as Darwin’s few examples seemed to be rare coincidences.

All in all, Charles Darwin had a theory; a theory is not perfect it’s simply an idea that is to be scrutinized.  Butler was simply speculating a theory by pointing out the flaws with an intellectual view; he obviously knew this area of science considerably.  The most significant point Butler makes which proves that this essay was not a personal stab at Darwin was distinguishing between Darwinism and Darwin himself by saying, “…what ever else Mr. Darwin was, he was not a Charles-Darwinian.”

Butler, Samuel.  Essay on Life, Art and Science: Deadlock on Darwinism.  London: Ballantyne, Hanson & Co, 1908.  Print.

Shaw and Sociobiology

  In his Preface to Back to Methuselah, playwright Bernard Shaw outlines his understanding of the evolution of Darwinism. One facet of Darwinism that Shaw seems to take particular offence at is that it, in Butler's words, "banished mind from the universe." What begins simply enough as a butterfly springing "into the air to avoid the pounce of a lizard" ends by the reduction of all human behavior to the mere expression of inherited evolutionary traits, with an explanation of everything we say or do to an attempt to acquire the fundamentals of evolution: food and sex. Your favorite color, what music you like, or who you vote for are, according to Darwinism, simply genetically inherited variations in a competition with other variations for ultimate reproductive supremacy. It was undoubtedly rash theories such as these caused Darwin to part ways with Darwinism.

  Rather than dying out, this offshoot from the trunk of Darwinism has continued to grow finding its fullest expression in the Sociobiology of today. Writers such as E. O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins have continued the work of eradicating mind from the universe with a vigor that T.H. Huxley would admire and have, in recent years, set their sights on human morality and altruism. In the light of Sociobiology, human beings become essentially selfish creatures whose every action is done with an eye on increasing their chances of obtaining food, sex, and continued survival. Morality, for Wilson and Dawkins becomes a thin veneer that disguises true human nature and altruism merely an elaborate attempt at manipulation: a fireman doesn't risk his life entering a burning building to save people, but rather, because by saying he did he increases his chances of picking up chicks.

  The sociobiologists of today go to great lengths to produce experimental evidence that will prove their firmly held conclusions about humanity. This often involves citing instances of shipwreck or plane crash survivors who devour one another in order to survive, which is seen as providing a perfect example of "man in a state of nature." I do believe like the sociobiologist that much of human behavior can be explained in terms of evolution. However, in their haste to prove Sociobiology as a valid scientific theory: one that holds true in all places at all times seems premature, as I think Darwin himself would agree. In the Descent of Man Darwin refers to the mind as "the citadel," and as the name implies, he believed that it was essentially unknowable; one may be able to make inferences of its internal make up from exterior, bodily expressions but then, as now, too little is known about the mind and how it works for individuals to make sweeping statements about the fundamental nature of humankind. It seems that sciensteptific theories are like children, the parents of whom will never admit their children are not as capable as all the other children, even when the child might benefit from remedial learning; sociobiology seems little different in that its parents believe their theory to be the best and final explanation of the mind when so much still remains unknown.

Milton and I: Attacking Darwinism

            By early twenty-first-century standards, the laws governing heredity were improperly understood during Shaw's lifetime. We can however assess his criticism of Darwinism in terms of what he and his audience might have been expected to know in the 1920's.

            Shaw was not entirely ignorant about heredity: one story, possibly apocryphal, has him propositioned by the French actress Sarah Bernhardt who said of their amorous liaison, "Think of the children we might have with your brains and my beauty."  To which Shaw gives the legendary answer, "But what if they have your brains and my beauty?"  That Sarah was ten years his senior and he recently married may be neither here nor there; that she was then aged fifty shifts her interest more toward copulation for recreation than for procreation.  

       In 1921, Shaw completed his self-styled metabiological Pentateuch, Back to Methuselah, a series of five-plays which starts in the Garden of Eden arguably in 4004 BC — if we believe another Irishman, James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh — and ends in the year 31,920 AD.  The play is famous for its rare staging — an uncut performance time in excess of eight hours — and for the seventy-nine page preface infamous for its enormous length.  Shaw claims that he wrote neither for performance, but we should remind ourselves that Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg address — 271 words — remains one of the world's memorable performances.  Shaw argues that to acquire the wisdom for self-government humans must develop longer life spans.  His argument is not entirely sequential and obscures a critical contradiction — he initially dismisses Lamarckism only to resurrect it later under a different name.

            Shaw correctly points out that evolution was accepted, at least within the botanical and zoological science community, long before first publication of The Origin of Species.  He writes, "Then came the great poet [Goethe] who jumped over the facts [and came straight] to the conclusion . . . that there must be some common stock from which all the species had sprung"  Conversely, I am tempted to retort, "Then came the [not so] great playwright [Shaw] who trod over the facts [only to come] to the wrong conclusion.  

            Shaw claims that he was a Neo-Lamarckian, from which we infer that by 1921 he was no longer one.  He uses the example of learning to ride a bicycle — clearly an acquired skill — something neither inherited, nor inheritable.  In the very next section of his preface, he argues the converse.  This is wishful, if not crooked thinking by Shaw and amounts to a variant of Lamarckism under the name coined by Henri-Louis Bergson, creative evolution and Shaw's pet project — voluntary longevity.  Giant tortoises have life spans of up to two hundred years, several species of tree — hardly sentient beings — have natural life-spans of five thousand years or more, whereas mice live for three at most.  Even forgetting the fate of Jonathan Swift's Struldbruggs, Shaw's argument for antediluvian life-spans is delusional, and the evidence of biology is against him.  From Scripture he alludes to Methuselah's 969 years, not to mention Noah's 950, and Adam's 930; while conveniently forgetting about: Abraham's 175, Moses' 120, and King David's threescore years and ten.  Shaw quotes Psalm 90:10, but forgets that some things just are and that over many matters our will is profoundly ineffective.   

Shaw's Doubt of Darwin: The Creation of His Own Evolutionary Theory

Author: Jennifer Malcolm
   According to Bernard Shaw, Darwin's theory of evolution creates a sense of hopelessness for human kind; it ignores the beauty and purpose of life, and focuses on a fate that is unchangeable. His distrust of not only science but of religion too, leads Shaw to embrace his own kind of faith, which focuses on the spiritual will and the capabilities it could have. Essentially, he believes that the human will can influence and alter the process of evolution. Though he has persuading ideas, Shaw appears to apply Darwin's theory too rigidly to all aspects of life, and in a sense, seeks a human betterment that is questionable. Shaw's belief in evolution was more influenced by Lamarck than Darwin. Lamarck based most of his evolutionary theory on characteristics being achieved through want and desire, rather than through adaptation over time. According to him, living organisms change because they want to and have the drive to. In this sense, Shaw appears to intensify the power of the personal will; he ignores the physical abilities of the body and the environment in which it lives in. He essentially gives an unrealistic account of the will's capabilities while dismissing all other kinds of development that could be occurring.

   Shaw's beliefs also seemed to be persuaded and seduced by the political world around him. He lived during the time when fascism was emerging, and oppression of the human race was desired. During this time strong controlling leaders were considered to be the answer to the unruly masses of humanity and that the weak and inferior should be disposed of if progress was to occur. This in a sense skewed Shaw's opinions; it created this belief that an ideal state of being was a controlled one. To him, the stronger will that dominated and conquered the weaker, led to human betterment, which for many, would seem to be untrue.

   Shaw appears to apply the theory of evolution to society, when really it shouldn't be. Darwin's theory makes sense in biology, but doesn't explain the nature of human culture and how it develops. Everything from politics to economics evolves in different ways, and cannot be accounted for through the theory of evolution. This could be the reason why Shaw chose Lamarck's theory over Darwin's; it attempts to explain behavior and its effect on evolution. Shaw, essentially, is attempting to justify the importance and influence of the human will by applying a form of Darwin's theory.

   Bernard Shaw's belief that the human will can alter and influence evolution is an interesting one. Though his ideas may have some truth to them, he applies the theory of evolution to the human mind, which it was not made to explain. The "Creative Evolution" he believes in, is at times, hard to believe.

Bernard Shaw and Social Darwinism

   Shaw used his long preface to Back to Methuselah to criticize Dawrin's theory of evolution, saying among other things that it was a reduction of beauty and honour. Honour is an interesting word to use since it implies that the notion of survival of the fittest is the best phrase that Darwin could have used to explain the law of nature. But what Shaw fails to mention is that in the context of The Origin of Species Darwin used this phrase to explain that species survive if they are able to slowly, over a prolonged period of time, adapt to best suit the environment that they exist in within the greater realm of Nature. In this way, Darwin is agreeing with Pope's view that "Nature to all things fix'd the Limits fit" and that no species is able to overcome Nature. Humans, however, have been able to create their own artificial environments of urban and rural areas and to prosper within these created environments. However, we know that we can never become the master of Nature because we know that Nature is too wild and powerful to tame, since She still has the power to destroy our homes and cities through floods and earthquakes.

   Shaw is correct in his criticism that Darwin is applying his Whig political affiliation to his theory of evolution and not the other way round. Yes, Shaw is reading Darwin through his own Fabian views and applying a political criticism to a scientific theory. However, Shaw was also a believer in Social Darwinism in that he agreed with eugenics. In Act V of his play, he writes of how his characters in this new long-lived scientific future, all those children who are not deemed to be wholly perfect by the Ancients are murdered on the spot. Had Shaw been a true Socialist then he would not have been a believer in eugenics or a racist. Those who believe in Social Darwinism are twisting the words of Darwin's theory in order to support their own personal beliefs, much like the Neo-Darwinists are doing, rather then by looking for facts to support their own theories.

  Social Darwinism goes against the notion of survival of the fittest, because it supports the belief that humans have some sort of claim to be the superior species on the planet because of what we have been able to create. This is not the case, since we have merely evolved differently than other species have. Sharks have the ability to regrow their teeth and are in that way superior to humans, but we don't hear of a group of sharks advocating their form of Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism does go against Darwin because it takes Nature into our own hands and forcing the evolution of our species to go in the direction that a small group of people deem to be the "correct" way. Shaw advocates in his play that humans have the ability to use our intelligence to be able to live longer and that eventually humans will separate and the short-lives will eventually die out because society does not need them anymore. We are living longer at the beginning of this century then ever before but this is not due to our intelligence, it is due to the slow improvement of our diets that has been happening since the Industrial Revolution. If, as Shaw argues, the survival of the fittest means that humans with the highest level of intelligence will be able to live the longest simply by willing themselves to live longer, then why did Mozart die when he was 35, aside from the fact that he had never read Shaw's play.

By: Jennifer Jarvis

Chesterton and the Death of Rationalism by Evolution

   In Orthodoxy, Chesterton tackles Nietzsche claim that 'god is dead', death by evolution. He argues that if the theory of evolution is used as an argument for the end of faith or religion than this isn't simply a problem for religion alone; it is a problem for all thought and rationalism.

  For Chesterton the existence or fact of evolution is a non-issue: it only describes how man has ascended from apes. However, if that ascent can be said to "destroy religion", that is kill God, than it also kills 'the self'. His argument follows that if evolution is true, and that we have diverged from apes and diverged from fish and so on as we ascended from the trunk of the family tree, then it is false to think of ourselves as humans, and they 'as apes' and them 'as fish' and so on. We are all one and the same 'thing', not 'things' as Chesterton says. Such that we are same and this accounts for every-thing, we can not therefore discuss some-thing in terms of itself. We are it and importantly then cannot separate ourselves from our subject and think about it objectively and rationally.

   Chesterton's point that there is no 'man', and no 'ape' is well made: these titles and the concept of species are only a practical categorization, and abstract away from the impact of time on the different variations that have come and gone However, Descartes's famous quip is not so easily inversed as Chesterton argues. Like the continuance of religion, our ability to think about things is not diminished by the knowledge that we are all variations of the same thing. Through birth and death we are individual expressions and variations of a previous ancestor and our thoughts and rationalism's are not representative of all previous members, but only ourselves. In this sense we, as the conceptualized group of 'humans' are an infinite number of 'things', capable of cognition and independently can be rational, irrational, believe in a god or gods, or personally denounce the former as a fallacy. Importantly these are personal statements, not representative of the family, and up to each individual to decide individually. It is the independent cognition; separate from the family and unique each member that refutes Chesterton's statement and thus his argument.

  Notably, despite Nietzsche's statement and similar arguments by Dawkins, we have seen major religion continue to proliferate across the world especially in the US and it could hardly be said that the acceptance of evolution as a scientific fact has led to the destruction of religion. Quite the contrary, there has been a trend of rejecting evolutionary theory in the majority of the US population alongside this growth in religiousness. As the theory of evolution can be epitomized as the culmination of a specific individuals lifetime of rational thought, Chesterton's argument could be reinvented: perhaps it is the proliferation of religion that hearkens the destruction of rationalism?

Nicklas Baron

Chesterton's Destabilizing Writing Style

By Edward Yuen
  Chesterton's destabilizing writing style in his critique on Darwinism uses the reporter's tool of building trust with readers. This method was done through minimizing biases by not making judgmental statements, using common allusions and witty languages and lastly carefully structuring his work to build trust with reader before criticizing.

   Writing as a reporter, Chesterton presents one suggestion after another for each issue discussed. Unlike Darwin who uses absolute languages, Chesterton writing style of destabilizing presents known information in a fresh way, through coming up with hypothesis. Like most newspaper, information is presented to the reader without any judgemental statements, going straight to the information. Chesterton brings up his arguments and leaves the conclusion up to the reader to make. While Chesterton himself was already in support of one side of the argument, when there are ideas that he wishes to challenge, Chesterton did not out rightly label the opposing idea as false as fundamentalists would, but would call it probable.

   Chesterton's writing style of destabilizing is done through using references of known works of that time such as the Greek witch from Iliad and the odyssey. Frequently using a story telling style with lots of imageries to allow readers follow his writings and making it easier for readers to see his hypothesis. Probably through his experiences as a reporter he knows that imageries does get people's attention. Throughout the work, Chesterton builds a relationship with the reader to gain their trust which is essential for reporters to have if they want their reporting to be read and considered. He uses play on words, repetition and juxtaposition of similar words in the same sentence such as 'evolution and revolution' and describing cavemen as 'not only an artist but a naturalist; the sort of naturalist who is really natural.'. This does raise the question of whether he is trying to presenting himself as more credible through his witty usage of words instead of the evidence presented.  

   Chesterton's destabilization approach to critique evolution does have an element of wit, taking the readers through dispelling the biased picture of the cavemen, building up trust between the reader and Chesterton first. Chesterton upholds the confidence of the readers toward his credibility and objectivity through his carefully working reminding the readers the initial idea of violent males being coexistent with his idea of cavemen being artistic. It is later on when some amount of trust has been built, Chesterton begins to critique Darwinism using analogies from the previously established examples such as his argument against how animals are not doing what humans are doing and the idea of art as a differentiating factor. Both ideas if presented straight on may be difficult for readers to consider and may be more likely to be rejected as it opposes to Darwinian's idea of nature not advancing in leaps. While Chesterton attempts to remove human from nature, his usage of images of animals doing human actives does speak well about his point about the gap between human and other species. While his points are valid on a social level, he did not address much about the other points of Darwinism such as on natural selection, death and accumulation of traits which are later supported by molecular genetics. The questions he rose questioning the leap and lack of art in animals still has not been answered by science yet.

   Chesterton's destabilizing style of reporting has through minimizing bias, usage of language and careful structure of work has made ideas that would be difficult to be considered be received by readers. This combined with his questions does make his work a formidable work of criticism toward Darwinism. 

Shaw's Argument on the Influence of Circumstance on Shaky Ground

By: Damon M. Petrich

One of the arguments which I read with particular skepticism in Shaw's Back to Methuselah begins in the section entitled "The Humanitarians and the Problem of Evil". Shaw faults Darwin on the social and psychological implications of the banishment of mind from universe that his theory put forth, proclaiming that, "If all our calamities are either accidents or sincerely repented mistakes, there is no malice in the Cruelty of Nature and no Problem of Evil in the Victorian sense at all" (Shaw, pg. 58). Shaw refutes the ideas of Darwin and neo-Darwinians by pointing first to the writings of George Henry Lewes, who proposed that if circumstance indeed does govern character, individuals born and raised, "in English country houses, and sent first to Eton or Harrow, and then to Oxford or Cambridge, to have their minds and habits formed. Such a routine would destroy individuality" (Shaw, pg. 60). However, the fact that individuals such as Winston Churchill and Lord Robert Cecil emerge from similar circumstance with inherently different psyches is seen as evidence against Darwin and Owen by Shaw. Shaw then points to Lamarck's view of evolution in an effort to concrete his thesis by referring to the example of the giraffe which is able to extend its neck through desire and not circumstantial selection.

Many scholars have reached a consensus that environment and circumstance does, in fact, play a large role in the actions and behaviors of Man. Twin studies have long been used to evaluate the influence of environment on both monozygous and dizygous twins. Much of the results of twin studies confirm that twins sharing the same DNA have drastically different outcomes when raised in different environments and have similar outcomes when raised together. One might also look at studies of criminals plagued by psychopathy, most of whom experienced extreme childhood trauma that inevitable shaped their psychological behavior, rendering their free will powerless to the effects of these traumas and giving them an immutable animal desire to commit their crimes. Countless other sociological and psychological studies have led to the conclusion that circumstance is the biggest driving force in human behavior. Many studies of minority groups in North America, often faulted culturally for making up the largest portions of the criminal population, have also concluded that some of the biggest driving factors in their criminal behavior are socioeconomic depression and conflicting cultural values between dominant and minority cultures.

This is not to say that free will plays no part in the human experience, as ultimately we are responsible for the decisions we make. However, the psychological tools we use to make these decisions are largely influenced by circumstance, as exemplified above. Darwin too acknowledged that both free will and circumstance play a part in evolution, but that circumstance plays the more important role in this evolution. Given this, Shaw's argument against Darwin's ideas on the influence of circumstance on human behavior seems to have a weak evidentiary backing and has been proved to be unfounded over the course of the last century and a half.

Works Cited:
Shaw, B. "Back to Methuselah". Complete Plays (vol. 2). US: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1963.

Quine on Pragmatism

            "Science is a continuation of common sense" (Quine 20)- with this statement, Quine rejects the two dogmas of empiricism and the "double standard for ontological questions and scientific hypotheses" (21). Quine does this by proving that the two dogmas that logical positivism relies on are in fact identical; and each is flawed. He refutes analyticity by demonstrating that it is circular and reductionism by showing that it is too ambiguous in that it is impossible to verify single statements without adjusting all scientific statements. In doing so, he successfully argues that science and the "myth of physical objects [are] epistemologically superior" (Quine 19) in that, while they are posits as much as are the gods of Homer, they provide a better explanation for experience.
  Quine first refutes the "truths of reason and the truths of fact" (1), meaning a distinction between analytic truths and synthetic truths; Quine proves that they are "two sides of a single dubious coin" (1). He first breaks down the attempted definitions of analytic truth, by criticizing the Aristotelian idea of essence and meaning as elusive and too debatable to be useful (Quine 3). This leads to his conclusion that the problem of definitions- that truth by definition would necessarily imply some sort of meta-dictionary, which is nonsensical. Yet the suggestion by Leibniz of interchangeability is inconsistent with cognitive synonymy, and so fails to solve the problem of analyticity (Quine 9). Finally, he refutes the attempt by Carnap to revert to "the vagueness of ordinary language" (Quine 10). He does remark that analyticity might be save if it were possible to confirm the verification theory of meaning, but Quine maintains that to verify just one scientific statement at a time would be impossible, because the radical reductionism of Carnap is at best, sketchy, and at worst, defies the "translatability of statements about the physical world" (Quine 16). Once this has been proved, Quine is able to show that the two truths, analytic and reductionist, are connected to a degree that one cannot exist without the other (17).

            It is this very argument against reductionism that allows Quine to put forward his holistic pragmatism, that science has a "double dependence on language and experience; but this duality is not significantly traceable into the statements of science one by one" (17). Therefore, what we term scientific knowledge is only a useful system of explanations that have proved to be more useful than other theories. This is the form of pragmatism used by Darwin in explaining evolutionary theory, and how Quine posits Darwin to have superseded Aristotle's theories of essence and the Platonic idea of a priori truth.

            Thus Quine is successful in his arguments, by demonstrating that the two tenets on which logical positivism is based are dependent on each other and incorrect. He then demonstrates that both are false in asserting absolute a priori truth, and proposes the explanation of science as a whole field, of which all statements are dependent on each other, and of which any can be true depending on the entire system.

Works Cited
Quine, Willard Van Orman. "Two Dogmas of Empiricism." The Philisophical Review 60 (1951): 20-43.

Shuang Sanny Xu


Darwin vs. Pope: The Power of Nature and Reason

By Krista Allen

The lesson that Alexander Pope seems to be trying to impart in "An Essay on Man" is that man should follow (right) Reason and Nature in order not to overstep "his" limits as a being caught between God and animals. Arguably Darwin's theories can be taken as a way to overstep these limits, particularly when considering his investigations into the "natural order" and attempting to unlock "God's" knowledge of the processes propelling evolution. Though Pope's essay centre's around God and nature, Darwin's opinions and theories can be seen to be very compatible with Pope's idea of the natural world.

Darwin consistently refers to the "face of nature" in Origin of Species, and it is absolutely clear throughout that he has a profound respect for the animals and aspects of nature he is investigating, He purposefully steers away from speaking and about "God" and "His" natural order to show the reader the practical merit of his scientific findings. Darwin refers to how many "believe that very many structures have been created for beauty in the eyes of man, or for mere variety" (181-2) as compared to what he believes to be the spectacularly complex result of natural selection and thus, an intimate knowledge of the natural world. Pope's work points towards the belief that this knowledge is not worthy of man (being lesser than God and Nature) and should not be pursued. Darwin does not connect his theories with the much bigger themes of reason and nature as one entity, as Pope does, though Origin does speak to the interconnectedness of all nature.

The main divergence between the two texts seems to not be in the overarching idea of nature and man, but in the search for truth. Darwin is attempting to find the truth about aspects of nature that link to the propagation and survival of species while Pope is commenting on the basic idea of truth being found only through nature and God together. To Pope truth should no be pursued in order to figure out "God's" construction of the natural order, which Darwin could be seen to be doing. Pope suggests "that Reason keep to Nature's road" as anything other than this could cause a catastrophic break in the link that is God and Nature and that rules all things. In Origin Darwin has a very different idea of reason as a person being as rational as possible in order to discover the unknown secrets of the natural world. In Darwin rationality is a given, in Pope rationality is given by "God" and not to be used selfishly.

Both men pursue the ideas of the beauty of nature and the balance that needs to be struck between man and nature in order for the world to prosper. Both men also see knowledge of nature as beneficial to man but in different ways and for different means. Ultimately the main difference between Darwin and Pope is their view on reason and its implications in the natural order. If not for this one very significant distinction, these two eloquent descriptions of state of the natural world just may have met perfectly.

The 'Evolution' of Thought

   Darwinian Evolution has always been a point of contention for religion, particularly Christianity. In C.E. Chesterton's Orthodoxy , he argues that the current ideological majority of academia is suffering from lack of faith(1). Ideas posited by such great thinkers as Hume and Quine argue that the modern day scientific method, or positivism, relies too heavily on empirical evidence and not enough on other potential factors which can influence our human perception of reality(2). Chesterton took these ideas and with the method of defamiliarization – i.e. the process of pointing out a familiar concept and viewing it in a different light – expressed how his religious perspective can be justified within an academic framework.

   For Chesterton, orthodoxy does not equate to the fundamentalist doctrines it is associated with today. For him it takes on a more literal meaning directly related to its' etymology. The meaning of the word othodoxy for him is derived from the Greek words orthos 'right, true, straight' and doxa 'opinion, praise'. Unlike the fundamentalist meaning attached to the word today, Chesterton understood orthodoxy as a legitimate opinion worthy of consideration. His method caused a tremendous reaction; a defensive reaction so strong that one could categorize it as offensive. Interestingly the very positivists who regard themselves as the least likely to be subjected to fundamentalist thought become defensive when confronted with an opposing view.

   A good modern day example of this can be found in Mary Midgley's recent article "Against Humanism." In her article she outlines the potentially detrimental effects of positivism, which parallel Chesterton's stance in Orthodoxy. In this regard she and Chesterton both stand in opposition to the popular movement of Science. What is interesting about her article is not only does she points out some interesting flaws within the positivist movement, but also the positivists' reaction to her article. She argues that "Comte's simple recipe for grafting a new object on to traditional institutions – a new head on to the old body – did not produce the improved life-form he hoped for."(3). She also suggests that today, positivism's emphasis on empirical senses overshadow the necessary recognition of the other aspects of the human condition, ie. the spirit. It's not so much the point each author was taking that I wish to emphasize, but the means by which they express them and the reactions they received.

   Midgley posted her article on a public forum on the internet. The reactions to her post are posted on the public forum as well. Here we see that those who come from a positivist approach tend to react quite strongly to her philosophical suggestions. This defensive reaction can be seen by Claw's response when (he) states " was *midgley* who added the verb "feel" to "pitiless indifference" to create a non-sequitur that never existed in the original quote, [sic] which makes her rather dishonest, really. Essentially Midgely is claiming that nothing can be indifferent because she can write a sentence in which it "feels indifferent"...I'm sorry to say, rather typical of Midgely. She twists and folds quotations, then paraphrases them inaccurately, and then claims to have refuted them thereby... The idea that Hitchens is wrong about the problems of religion because religious humanism failed is rather typical of her muddled thinking."
This is only one example of many. Although Claw does make an interesting point he only goes on to discredit one part of her article by claiming it is twisted, applies this to ALL the rest of her thoughts and blames it on her "muddled thinking".

   Like Darwin, Chesterton, Midgley and Claw, most become ardent in their belief regardless of whether they are secular, religious, spiritual or philosophical. Most people seem to define themselves by what they believe in and often feel threatened when faced with an opposing view. The original creator of an idea cannot anticipate the changes that will occur upon its conception. The dialectical discourse seems to take an idea and often changes and remoulds it whilst being considered by others. If one can objectively remove oneself from one's bias it is clear to see that all the ideas that are being considered here and elsewhere are legitimate examples of not only humans' perception of reality, but also of humans' perception of self.

1. Chesterton, C.E. Orthodoxy.
2. Hume, David. Sceptical Doubts Concerning the Operations of the Understanding.
3. Midgley, Mary. Against Humanism.

Chesterton on Science and Darwinism

            In contemporary thought, science is considered to prize above all else the rational faculty of the human mind, and its ability to gain gradual and careful knowledge of the world around it. The freedom and ability of the individual that science implies is frequently contrasted with the rigid and outdated doctrines that religion hands down to its rationally-oppressed followers. In Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton proposes a reversal of this view, where it is in fact science that limits and confines the human mind, while Christian orthodoxy emancipates it. This reassessing of the scientific mentality on a whole can be convincingly applied to the scientific microcosm of Darwinism, and as such, is indispensible to the study of critical responses to Darwin's work.

            Chesterton's argument rests heavily on his definitions of 'intellectual freedom' and 'intellectual restriction.' Admittedly, there is a way of understanding intellectual freedom to be the crux of science, insofar as it can imply the autonomy of the individual mind, without dependence upon authoritarian bodies like the Church. However, this is not how Chesterton intends to employ the phrase, and because he builds his argument using alternative definitions that he offers to the reader early on, his argument sits on a sound foundation.

Chesterton sees intellectual freedom as being the at-peace mental state of orthodoxy and faith, and of mental health and sanity. The mind is free when it knows that it cannot understand or explain everything, and is consequently satisfied with there being some mystery in the universe. The underlying axiom is that the universe is too great and complex to be grasped by human reason. The mind is then restricted, oppressed, and dissatisfied when it exists within the confines of a worldview that says everything can be explained rationally, when it actually cannot. As Chesterton says, "As long as you have mystery, you have mental health.... [allow] one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid." (23)

Science demonstrates this idea of intellectual restriction for Chesterton. Science, defined by a materialist ontology, is a worldview 'of insane simplicity' because it rejects mystery. (Chesterton 18) Darwinism, if it is a scientific dismissal of supernatural mystery, posits a mechanism by which nature – without direction, aim, or greater purpose – requires of organisms slow but constant change. All life can be explained this way. Objectively speaking, adhering to this mechanistic view is to explain the world using a process devoid of inherent meaning, which claims to be able to explain all life, and which cannot be escaped. Natural selection is thus, as Chesterton says, "a fixed and godless fate" and an "incurable routine of the cosmos." (124)

It follows then that Darwinism cannot possibly be a liberal, intellectually emancipating worldview, just as science on a whole cannot be. By rejecting anything supernatural and mysterious in favour of singular, inevitable meaninglessness, this brand of Darwinism actually rejects intellectual freedom, and so for Chesterton, sanity itself.

Finally, while Chesterton's method of defamiliarizing us with science leads to orthodoxy being a much saner and more fulfilling doctrine, it remains to be proven beyond doubt that orthodoxy is the only reasonable source of mystery. If Darwinism and science are flawed systems, then it is possible that orthodoxy is imperfect as well. 

- Krisha Dhaliwal

Why Darwin "never puzzled anybody."

  Bernard Shaw criticized Darwin by saying that the secret to Darwin's popularity was "that he never puzzled anybody." Shaw says that Darwin never got too deep into his ideas that a regular person could not understand. All citizens, according to Shaw, were familiar with the concepts of use and disuse and were familiar with people taking natural selection into their own hands by eliminating breeds or traits in animals or plants that are weak or undesirable. People do this by making hybrids of dogs to have the fastest, most visually appealing, or most intelligent dog and eventually weeding out the undesirable by drowning the weakest kitten or puppy in a litter.

  Since people have undoubtedly heard of these actions, it would be fair to say that they would not be shocked by Darwin's theories. Shaw states, "Now if you are familiar with these three processes: the survival of the fittest, sexual selection, and variation leading to new kinds, there is nothing to puzzle you in Darwinism." While I feel this statement has some truth to it, I also feel that things are not as simple as Shaw makes them appear to be. You cannot say that breeding two types of animals together to get a "better" one is the same as weeding out the weaker humans to, in turn, have a stronger human race. Furthermore, breeding animals and eliminating the weaker ones is not the same as taking a human life. Human life is more precious than animals and we view breeding as morally acceptable while killing off weak humans is something one would be sent to jail for. Humans do not necessarily "breed" the way animals are bred. Humans reproduce for reasons much different than because someone has seen that they would produce a better offspring than what exists now, they reproduce out of love most of the time.

   Humans in the Western world are also given the freedom to choose the person they will mate with, whereas animals that are being bred by humans are not given that opportunity. The animals are bred strictly to benefit society by improving the animal's traits. With this being said, it seems that humans are the only species resisting natural selection at this point with the ideas of prosthetics, plastic surgery, and vision corrective surgery, just to name a few. In conclusion, I argue that Darwin did not convert the people and since Shaw said he did I would say that he is incorrect.

Alison Madill

Monday, November 22, 2010

Technology did not 'evolve' the same way life did... but it'd be nice if it did

  I would have liked to have begun this evaluative response to “Deadlock in Darwinism Pt 1” by heavily critiquing Samuel Butler’s targeted approach at not necessarily the theory of Darwinism, but more so the way it was brought about and discussed by Darwin and Wallace in their writings.  Alas, I felt this would be far too hypocritical, and as a recovering hypocrite I will thus say simply that I feel it tarnishes the already weak points that Butler brings up against the theory itself.

 One point made by Butler that was particularly troubling was in regards to the concept of evolution, by comparing the progress of living organisms with mechanical pieces such as a kettle and steam engine. Butler argues that because the progress of mechanics and technology was orchestrated step-by-step by an intelligent force (namely, humans), the evolution of species must have been done in the same way. He reasons that the first  step in the mechanical process did not imagine the final, or current, product, but that nevertheless each step was designed, and as so similarly must have been the development of organic matter.

 What Butler conveniently fails to mention is that organisms grow, and mechanical objects do not. The capability to grow, bring forth new life, and die, rests solely with the living only, and into this subsection machines and the mechanical do not fall. This is massively important because these traits, specifically to grow and spawn new life, is what pushes evolution forward. Genetic mutations, as described by both Darwin and Wallace, rely on new birth to take hold, and centuries of generations to become even a notable difference amongst  an otherwise-similar species. On the other hand, mechanical devices have no measureable ‘life’, with their ‘deaths’ only ever resulting from overuse and so-called ‘wear and tear.'

Butler calls this example sufficient in demonstrating the implausibility of evolution without the aid of an intelligent hand guiding it, ensuring to restate his previous claim that random mutations could never be enough to create change (despite the fact that nicks caused in rocks by flowing sediment in water over millions of years can cause canyons). After this point of evidence, Butler continues to attack the supporting biologists, claiming them simply human in their naïve adhesivity to the theory of evolution and natural selection.

Butler’s next analogy, comparing the collection of good traits as evolution against monetary wealth doesn’t even make sense. He says that the rich are not made by the poor going away, but in fact wealth doesn’t follow even remotely a similar path as biological evolution- could a person one day have a child that is born a millionaire? No, and thus the analogy is dead. On the other hand, a child could be easily born with a favourable trait, such as piercing eyes that attract the other sex with a voracity of no other physical feature, and if this occurred more than a few times in a population, it would quickly begin to take over.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen with money, and nor does it happen with mechanical parts or technology, but it really would be amazing if one day I awoke to a newly evolved phone- or even one with a slightly faster CPU.

Shaw's Views and Arguments Against Darwinism

  Similar to Butler’s argument against Charles Darwin, Bernard Shaw also claimed that Darwin was unoriginal in his ideas of evolution.  In providing his own beliefs of evolution, he takes a Lamarkian stance and believes in creative evolution: the notion that change is possible through desire and the will to survive. In Back to Methuselah, he claims that longetivity (long life in humans) is possible through creative evolution, and is the solution to societal problems: society has become very complicated and longetivity is required to understand these changes. His position generalizes to if people are able to live longer, they can better understand how to handle problems in society. He believed that longetivity was necessary for self-government. In the play, the last act displays a society in A.D. 31,920, where humans have evolved to become immortal against time, but he fails to provide any solutions to any societal problems as a cycle occurs where the characters from the first act (Adam and Eve) reappear – we (as an audience) are brought back to the start. People in this futuristic time period are still experiencing societal and social problems.

   Shaw does not make the critical mistake of making Charles Darwin and Darwinism synonymous.  He clearly states that Charles Darwin is a naturalist who promoted more ideas than just natural selection and sexual selection as Darwinians do.  However, to claim that Neo-Darwinism was to blame for wars and societal problems is far-fetched at best. Because Shaw was a socialist activist and one of the founders of the Fabian society, I believe that his political views have created a bias in his critique of Darwinism.  Charles Darwin, who was from a wealthy family, was a Whig in a Whig society. Darwin’s theory was accepted over any other mechanisms of evolution by the majority of the people because it was the simpler idea. As a Fabian, Shaw opposed Whiggism, thus, his engagement of Darwinism at a social level may be a politically driven argument.  He believes that Darwinism is socially malevolent and has caused no good in society.

   It is difficult to conclusively pin point what caused WWI. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was the trigger, but there were series of events occurring at the time: the power balance tensions between the European regions of Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman Empire, and British Empire to name a few.  It is possible that Neo-Darwinism in a Whig society was another factor in propelling the world into a regrettable era in history, but it is hard to believe that if Shaw was a Whig, he would have made the same claims. Fabians despise Whigs and coincidently, Darwinism is similar to Whiggism – a capitalist society where the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ is very relevant. It appears that he is committing a fallacy of affect as he is questioning the validity of Darwinism as he believes it resulted in the war. Not to claim that Shaw was wrong at any point in his arguments, but it seems as though his political agenda was a strong driving force in his critiquing against Darwinism.

Hiroshi Asada

Samuel Butler’s Improvements to Darwinism

The Essays on Life, Art and Science, by Samuel Butler provide stark criticism against Darwin and his writings on evolution. In the “Deadlock in Darwinism”, Butler by no means attempts to dismantle Darwin’s argument but rather, he intends to improve upon it. Therefore, what must be critiqued of Butler, is whether he achieves this aim or not? In his introduction of the “Deadlock”, Butler makes his position quite clear that he intends to show “how misled and misleading both these distinguished men (Darwin and Wallace) have been”. Furthermore, Butler is hypercritical of Darwin in that he admittedly writes in “the most out-spoken way” believing “their work to have been as mischievous as it as been valuable, and as valuable as it has been mischievous”. 
Instead of Evolution occurring in stages of chance and fortunate accidents, Butler maintains that there is “far too much evidence of design in animal organization to allow of our setting down its marvels to the accumulations of fortunate accident, undirected by will, effort and intelligence”. He is able to make his point by giving his readers a scientific foundation to work off of – such as making reference to Paley’s “Natural Theology” and descriptions of research conducted by men like Malthus and Wallace. Moreover, Butler is correct in his critique on Darwin. He wasn’t the first person to write about Evolution, and what’s more, there was no way that his theory on chance and happy accidents could be proven. However, what Butler has to say in response is just as objective. He claims that cunning plays a part in evolution – that behavior, effort, will and desire will have an effect on how one adapts. His ideas in this sense could be torn down just as easily as Darwin’s for lack of concrete evidence. What we know is that evolution happened. What we don’t know is how it did. How did the Giraffe stretch to become the animal with the longest neck? Is it due to his desire to reach leaves at the top of the tree? Or is the long neck a result of mutation that allowed him to live longer than the rest of his animal competitors? Is it a combination of both? What is strong about Butler’s argument is that it serves to Critique Darwin on his own terms. It is very clear that he read Darwin’s works, and wrote his response accordingly.
But is Butler successful in improving upon Darwin’s theory? The answer is, yes. He took the loopholes in Darwin’s writing and pinpointed them out. And he didn’t merely point a finger, he added something else into the mix that was scientifically backed and just as applicable as what Darwin put forth.  Butler has effectively identified the falsities of Darwinism as it had been accepted by his public and not necessarily broken the ‘deadlock on Darwinism’ but moreover, he has added another avenue to the deadlock through which one might hopefully find their way. 
Katelyn Letkemann

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Darwin as the God of Evolution?

By Yu-Chi Huang

Nine out of ten people has probably claimed they read Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Ten out of ten people has probably declared the theory of evolution came from Charles Darwin. So is that really the case? Personally, I have heard of Darwin's theory of evolution on natural selection and sexual selection, though, has never actually read any of his work until this class. I remember a friend came over to my house one day while I was reading Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. He, biology major, said Darwin's Origin of Species is the "bible" in biology. When asked if he had read it, the answer was a probable "no". Thus, who made Darwin the god of evolution?

Shaw and Butler both argued Darwin was not the primary evolutionist to come up with Natural Selection. It was just no one has the declaration like Darwin. My argument is Darwin's idea came out at the right time and right place with the right pillar. First, Darwin's idea was presented in an era where people were seeking for answers of how to define the world. Second, Darwin's reasoning was easier to understand, he, as a naturalist, brings upon nature to justify his analysis of evolution. On one of his voyage, he discovered 13 species of finches on Galapagos Island and found out that they all have different beak size and shape. The beak size and shape where related to different regime of food sources. He concluded when the original South American Finches migrated to the island, they modify to fit into the environment and adapt themselves to different conditions. The result of this finding has lead to Darwin's theory of natural selection. Third, Darwin's replication words have made people believe in his theory. Shaw criticize Darwin's repeat of words to be insufficient evidence to prove his point of view. In the end, Darwin parrot people into believing his theory not corroboration.

I correspond to Shaw's statement on Darwin is not the method of evolution but a method of evolution as he did not give enough evidence to convince me of his theories on evolution. The world is made out of our mental language of inspiration view. Physical cause and effect is not necessary, as we experience the sensation we have, the physical matter is just words we use to explain our experiences, as Hume would argue. Darwin is just using words to explain his experience which cannot be theories of evolution. We use experience to normalize the world; however, we will never be certain that things will still be the way it is in the next mirror minute. In this case, Darwin's believe on force of nature is put into question. In the end, the counter argument from Hume and Shaw has vanquished Darwin's Natural selection and has won my vote.

Darwinism is an Instrument of Control

Author: Sofie Zhao

  In Back to Methuselah, Bernard Shaw criticized Darwin's theory of the origin of species as "a ghastly and damnable reduction of beauty and intelligence, of honor and aspiration, to such casually picturesque changes as an avalanche may make in a mountain landscape." It is interesting that he mentions honor, and indeed the idea that in the phrase "survival of the fittest" represents the law of nature is the root cause of many unjust in society. This is the ideology that causes many men and women with ambitions to believe that the "end justifies the means," and that if they don't first become the predator, then they will become the prey. In the minds of these ruling predators, honor may not play a role in their decision making processes.

  The notion that Darwinism is scientifically proven is itself questionable. Usually the scientific method refers to techniques for investigating phenomena based on the gathering of measurable data. However over the years there have been many cases in which scientific results do not support neo-Darwinism claims. For instance, neo-Darwinists may claim that modern discoveries of molecular biology supported their theory and that if you analyze the DNA of plants and animals one would find how closely they are related. However Darwinism has not explained why there are more than 3000 species of frogs, all of which look superficially the same. But there is a greater variation of DNA between than there is between the bat and the blue whale (Milton). In addition, if neo-Darwinist's idea of gradual genetic change were true, then one would expect to find that simple organisms have simpler DNA than complex organisms. However while human DNA is contained in 23 pairs of chromosomes, the goldfish DNA is contained is 47 pairs, more than twice as many (Pauli). In reality, scientific data does not support neo-Darwinist theory.

  If Darwinism is not a proven scientific fact, why is it being endorsed in schools and in society as the predominated theory of human origin? Not only so, but any debates of Darwinism through mainstream media have been reported to be forbidden, except for some religious outlets where Darwinism is pitched against creationism, another pseudo science. To understand why Darwinism has been so successful even though it is not a scientifically proven concept, one must understand that Darwinism is of major importance to the ruling class of the society. The idea of "survival of the fittest" has been applied to the so called social Darwinism, in which strong leaders has justification to "enslave" other weaker human beings. Social Darwinism is also the foundation of the eugenics movement, in which "survival of the fittest" justifies the manipulation of genetic composition of a population, or in the extreme case the extermination of an unwanted gene pool. A real life example of such a eugenics program was the holocaust. It is also interesting to note that Darwin himself was a proponent of eugenics, which is why he married his own cousin, Emma Wedgwood, for the purpose of bloodline breeding.

  By convincing the general population that human civilization is just a chance occurrence through evolution or natural selection, the ruling class has in a way suppressed the population's spiritual development. By giving the population amnesia of the history of the species, and suppressing any debates of the true story of human origin, the population's minds have been numbed. Having forgotten about our spirituality, the population is more docile. The weak will quietly accept the ruling of the strong when they believe that it is the natural order of life.


Alexander Pope and the Preservation of Nature

  The readings that we have been introduced to during the last few months provide perspectives on nature, science, religion and God in relation to Charles Darwin's theories of evolution. Whether these perspectives are considered independently, in harmony with each other, or in contradiction to each other, they have provoked much discussion and critical thought. The power of nature on both a physical and spiritual level is extremely significant, as is the role that nature plays in connecting our lives and our existence to a higher level. This is evident within the writings of Alexander Pope who provides a clear perspective on the principal position that nature occupies within our universe. Pope believes that nature is divine, and as such is to be respected and trusted; perhaps even worshipped. "An Essay on Criticism" is a reminder that our survival is dependent on the success of nature. We must appreciate nature's ability to take care of itself and to allow it to evolve as it sees fit. Man should not attempt to direct or redirect nature rather nature should be the one leading man.

  Pope is aware of the value of nature and he is also aware that nature does not always receive the respect it deserves. Due to this, he considers it necessary to provide warnings and justification for nature to be taken seriously. In "An Essay on Criticism" Pope uses examples to confirm that nature is the one who sets both the limits and the standards by which man and science are measured and judged: "Nature to all things, fix'd the Limits fit," and "First follow NATURE, and your judgment frame/by her just Standard, which is still the same." Although it may be supposed that man makes the rules, this is not the case. Rules, like limits and standards, are set by nature: "Those RULES of old discover'd, not devis'd,/Are Nature still, but Nature Methodiz'd;" and like man, nature is held to these same rules. There must be rules or laws within nature in order for it to be able to survive and it is important that we are reminded of this.

  While Pope and Darwin may disagree philosophically about the connection between God and nature they both agree on the important role that nature plays in our lives. Pope's advice and observations to leave nature alone; to let it lead the way; that it sets the standards and limits; and that it is "unerring" can be directly linked to Darwin's theory of evolution. These ideas of Pope's are not dissimilar to Chesterton's thoughts in Orthodoxy whereby he warns humanity not to interfere in nature. He recognizes that nature is going to do something some day, but we should not anticipate and act, rather nature should be left alone (102). The clarification of nature's role, along with the concerns and guidance surrounding man's role in the preservation of nature, are timeless. Pope's essay, at the very least, acts as a reminder to all of civilization as to how valuable nature is to the survival of our world.

A Darwinian Rebuttal of Samuel Butler

Author:Maziar Sighary

  Charles Darwin is widely credited for his theories on evolution and natural selection. Samuel Butler's The Deadlock of Darwinism suggests that many of Darwin's ideas were not his own but instead taken from his predecessors. Butler states that the theories of evolution and natural were presented long before and that Darwin just tweaked the ideas and re-presented them. One of Butler's main points was that the theories of use and disuse had been proposed by John-Baptiste Lamarck long before Darwin published The Origin of Species. Butler argued that there was "no important difference" in the theories of Darwin and Lamarck except for the amount of influence of each part. I argue that this difference was very important and in fact explains the true genius of Darwin's work.

   Lamarck believed that use and disuse was the primary means of evolution with a small part of it being due to spontaneous variation, whereas Darwin said spontaneous variation is the main reason behind variation with use and disuse being secondary. This is not a small difference in the theory because this slight change actually changes the theory by making it true. Darwin knew that Lamarck's theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics was wrong. We now know that changes that happened in an animal's life aren't passed on to their offspring. If you were to cut the tail off a dog like a Rottweiler, the offspring of the dog would still have a tail. We also now know that traits can only be passed on through genes, and genes cannot be affected by the environment. These and other examples show that Lamarck's theory was essentially wrong. Darwin corrected the theory by explaining that spontaneous variation is the key and essential factor behind variation. Any other version of this theory is false.

   The theories that Butler claimed were stolen are like pieces of an intricate puzzle. What Darwin did is put the pieces together so you can see the whole picture. He took these theories, fixed any problems that he saw and put them together in a concise clear format that could be presented to the public. Darwin connects the theories and shows how cumulatively they can explain the variety of species on earth. Science has always been a cumulative field where the new generation builds off the theories of old. Copernicus was the first to suggest the heliocentric model of the solar system. Johannes Kepler corrected and added to Copernicus's theory by showing that the planets moved around the Sun in ellipses, instead of perfect circles as Copernicus had previously stated. Later Sir Isaac Newton was the first to propose that gravity was the reason behind the motion of the planets moving in ellipses. This is a classic example of how science is updated over time. This is essentially what Darwin did to many of the theories in question. Darwin changed the theories and put them in a context that made sense which is why he is till this day credited for his theories on Evolution.

In response to Shaw who believes progress is not the result of Evolution

By Golnar Naghavi

  One of the debates about Darwin's Evolution Theory is determining if progress is the direct result of Evolution. As long as Evolution can be related to different aspects of life, progress can also relates to different conditions such as society, politics, and science. Bernard Shaw believes that progress is not the result of Evolution. There are some other beliefs that Natural Selection theory causes some misunderstanding that species that are the biggest, the fastest, and the most intelligent will survive. Many academics who study Evolution think that this is a wrong understanding of Darwin's theory of Natural Selection. They explain that the fittest species means the species that are best suited with their environment. In other words, species can be small or slow and well adapted to the environment and survive. For example, turtle moves slow, but it adapted itself to its surrounding by having the hard shell that protects it from danger. However, this example itself demonstrates how turtle has evolved and improved the hard shell to survive.

  From a Butlerian point of view Natural Selection is the driving force in nature that creates new materials or organs. Moreover, the new functions are created that were not supposed to be useful in the past. I look at these new useful functions as progress and improvement. There is another view called Orthogenesis which is the hypothesis that life tends to move in a uni-linear direction due to some internal or external force. A lot of naturalist are the proponents of Orthogenesis and believe that life can change to different directions, but all directions end up on a progressive or more perfect point. Some of the Orthogenesis advocates have refused the theory of Natural Selection as the mechanism of Evolution. Yet, it seems to me that Natural Selection is the same force in Orthogenesis view and this force makes the progress in all organs.

  In my opinion, Evolution is going towards progress. Progress can be observed in creation of human from ape as human's mind is an advanced form of ape's mind. Also, I believe that human life in general makes progress and improves as time passes. In comparison with ancient time, science has improved and human has reached huge breakthrough in technology. I reject the idea that human being is not the improved version of other animals. If you compare human with animals, human is free to think, choose, decide, and be responsible for the choices he/she makes. Animals are not as conscious as human about the behavior they divulge and as Chesterton believes animals do not have the skills to create art. These examples all demonstrate that creation of human through Evolution from apes was an improvement.

  Another example is that women are more powerful and more effective in different societies nowadays in comparison with previous centuries. They break stereotypes that used to treat human beings based on their sex. Participation of women in society has caused improvement in different aspects of life such as politics and economy. For example, men had the pressure of being responsible for paying all life expenses. Entry of women into the workforce divided the responsibilities between the two. Thus, this showed progress of society that women can choose to work outside of home and can succeed in the work force. As a result, the Evolution goes towards progress. In conclusion, I believe that history displays a lot of improvements and as Evolution is related to all aspects of life, I conclude that Evolution results in progress.


Why Darwin converted the crowd

By Randi Weiss

  It was Shaw's opinion that the main reason Darwin's ideas became so popular in society was because they were easy to understand. In other words, his ideas weren't overly scientific, his presentation wasn't overly academic, and his propositions were already commonplace. Shaw felt that almost all citizens are familiar with ideas of use/disuse through various professions (gardeners, breeders, etc.) and the witnessing of events such as the drowning of the weakest puppy in a littler. Therefore, everyday citizens aren't shocked at the principles of Darwin's theories. Shaw states, "Now if you are familiar with these three processes: the survival of the fittest, sexual selection, and variation leading to new kinds, there is nothing to puzzle you in Darwinism." That is a bold statement, and I respectfully disagree with the ease at which he transfers the principles of selection from plants and domestic animals to human beings.

  First, regardless of if someone has seen a pea pod (or something of the like) destroyed because of suboptimal genetic characteristics, it is not easy to apply the same principle to something so preciously regarded as a human life. Breeding for perfect traits in domestic animals and vegetation is a common practice and morally acceptable, whereas the idea of "breeding" within the human population is not at all morally acceptable. Human beings are much too proud to swallow such a humbling pill. From this perspective, it almost seems that exposure to the practice of breeders would actually make the idea of humans being naturally selected even harder to accept. Second, it seems that human beings somewhat resist the actions of natural selection within our own species. Where a kitten may be drowned by a breeder because of an undesired/disadvantageous trait such as a missing paw or mutated ear, exceptions will be made for those with similar characteristics in the human population. Institutions for mentally ill, prosthetics for missing limbs, and even spectacles are developments which essentially prevent the same degree of selection from occurring in human species.

  On a whole, humans do not consider human selection and breeding morally acceptable and essentially work to resist this form of selection. Therefore I believe that Shaw is incorrect in his assumption that Darwin converted the crowd because the population was already accustomed to selection and the concepts of use and disuse.