Sunday, July 28, 2013

On Evolution: What's Wrong with the Definition?

A woman recently asked the following question on another forum respecting the theory of evolution defined as "descent from a common ancestor through random genetic mutations resulting in phenotypic changes that improve the ability of those organisms to survive and reproduce":

"I wonder if you have ever asked yourself why so many Americans have trouble with this definition?"

Speaking for myself, the definition is only part of the problem, but it's not difficult to understand why some reject it while others are skeptical. The word "random" in "random mutations and natural selection," is used to convey the notion that the mutations occur without respect to the benefit of the organism. Yet, when we look around us, we see life forms that, from the micro-level to the macro-level, exhibit what I would call a patently purposeful arrangements of exquisitely coordinated parts.

Some, like Michael Shermer, have admitted that life forms exhibit design, but he argues that this is a "bottom-up" natural design via natural processes. This clearly incorporates an equivocation, because while mutations that occur without respect to the benefit of an organism might be accurately described as part of a "bottom-up" process, they are not part of a "design" process. The two concepts are antonymous.

Random (in evolutionary theory) = To occur without respect to the benefit of the organism.

Design (from the Free Dictionary) = 1. a. To conceive or fashion in the mind; invent: design a good excuse for not attending the conference. b. To formulate a plan for; devise: designed a marketing strategy for the new product. 2. To plan out in systematic, usually graphic form: design a building; design a computer program. 3. To create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect: a game designed to appeal to all ages. 4. To have as a goal or purpose; intend. 5. To create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner.

So, for many of us, the problems with the theory begin to appear the moment it's uttered, and from there they accumulate via a process of variations (of faulty arguments, circular reasoning, and doubtful and/or indeterminate evidence from its proponents) and natural perception. Another big one is the circularity issue that I pointed out in my own review of Darwin's Doubt on Amazon's site, entitled "The Cambrian: Explosive Evidence Against Darwinism".

For me, one very telling observation is how those who favor Darwinism often seem incapable of carrying on a civil conversation. The only subjects that seem to compare when it comes to generating so much more heat than light are religion and politics, but for some of us that's not unexpected.