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Darwin Unhinged: The Bugs in Evolution, by Fred Reed

Astronomers pay not the slightest attention to Creationist ideas. Nobody does—except evolutionists. We are dealing with competing religions—overarching explanations of origin and destiny

… “Creationist” is to evolution what “racist” is to politics: A way of preventing discussion of what you do not want to discuss. Evolution is the political correctness of science.

… The Theory of Evolution is not just about biological evolution. It is part of a grand unified theory that seeks to explain everything (except things that it can’t explain, which it ignores). It runs briefly as follows: First came the Big Bang. Subatomic particles flew in all directions, coalesced into atoms and into molecules and stars. Planets formed, then oceans, and then life came about by chemical inadvertence. Evolution produced trilobites, dinosaurs, mammals, and us. In the popular version, though not in the scientific, evolution produces ongoing betterment.

It is not particularly plausible. As someone said, evolution writ large is the belief that a large cloud of hydrogen will eventually turn into Manhattan. But, like a religion, it provides an overarching explanation of origins–the Big Bang–and destiny–we are getting better and better–and gives us a sense of understanding the world.

In this, it serves the purposes of a religion and is treated as such by its adherents. They react to questioning with anger and they see their hated opponents as Creationists–that is, adherents of another religion. Note that while in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925, Christian fundamentalists tried to outlaw Darwin, today evolutionists appeal to the courts to outlaw mention of Creation in the schools. This is not rational. Can anyone believe that describing Creation in high schools will deter students from studying biochemistry, and turn them into intellectual loin-cloth wearers burning textbooks?

Interestingly, atheism has to be part of the evolutionist’s mental equipment since if any sort of god exists, or if there is life after death or anything beyond the laws of physics, then these things might influence existence in a way outside of physics–and this cannot be allowed.

Before going further, let us look at some of the questions  ignored by evolutionism.

In Evolution Writ Large nothing exists but physics. The Big Bang was physics, chemistry is the physics of the interactions of atoms, biochemistry a subset of chemistry and therefore also physics. Everything that happens in a cell is physics  (to include biochemistry). Everything that happens in a living body, from movement to thought, is physics. Mutations are physical events. The behavior of DNA follows the laws of physics.

Note that biological evolution is always regarded as an indivisible entity, yet in fact, it consists of several distinct components that are logically separable. First, that life came about accidentally in the ancient seas (highly shaky and certainly not demonstrated). Second, that evolution occurred (as the fossil record would seem to show beyond a reasonable doubt). Third, that natural selection drove evolution (demonstrable in some cases, plausible in a great many, and highly unlikely in yet others). Fourth, that random mutations drive natural selection (very shaky, but crucial to evolutionism). Fifth, that nothing else drives it.

The unwillingness to recognize that these are separable leads to a tendency to believe that when one of them can be demonstrated–natural selection, say–it is regarded as confirmation of the whole edifice. It isn’t.

… Living organisms are just too complicated to have come about by accident. This, it seems to me, is apparent to, though not provable by, anyone with an open mind.

… When you find in nature systems of an unfathomable complexity that nonetheless work flawlessly, it is not unreasonable to suspect that they were designed, and perhaps sustained, by someone, or something. I have no idea who or what or why.

Equally mysterious—equally impossible, I would say—is how biological systems can function at all, no matter how they came into being. The workings of every detail of, say, a human body can indeed be explained mechanistically, in terms of chemistry and physics, and this is the result that comes out of experimentation. In the laboratory, you can show, or seem to show, that enzyme A binds to enzyme B, activating enzyme C and allowing enzyme D to do whatever enzyme D does. (You can show that a massive federal program makes sense in detail. But does it work in practice?)

But to believe that 180 pounds of infinitely complex, interacting chemical reactions (me, for example) can go on for seventy years without utter collapse requires powers of belief beyond the wildest imaginings of religious faith. The whole is less possible than the sum of its parts. Something is going on that we do not understand.

… Just as a baseball game cannot be derived from or be explained by plane geometry, which does not contain matter, energy, time, or space of three dimensions, neither can such things as thought, consciousness, morality, volition, or exaltation be explained by physics. The desire to strangle your mother-in-law does not fall out of the equations of motion. When evolutionists try to explain behavior such as altruism in terms of physics (which is what they are doing, though most of them don’t know it) they are like a plane geometer trying to explain a cheeseburger in terms of lines and angles in a plane. It can’t be done. The trouble with the sciences (though not with all scientists) is exactly this, that they try to explain within the domain of physics things that are outside of its purview.

… the brain cannot, and thus we cannot, make choices. Physical systems cannot choose what to do. A bowling ball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument cannot decide to fall up, or sideways, instead of down, nor choose how fast to fall, nor how far. Similarly, the end point of a physical system is determined by starting conditions. A molecule of a neurotransmitter binds ineluctably to a receptor because of stereochemistry and charge. It cannot bind.

It follows then that we cannot choose one action over another. Our thoughts are predetermined by the physicochemical states of our brains. We think what we think because it is physically impossible to think anything else. Thus we cannot think at all. QED.

Unless Something Else is going on. I don’t know what.

… Most people think that, “fitness” meaning “suitability for a purpose,” survival of the fittest means that the smarter, stronger, and faster survive and produce more offspring than the stupid, weak, and slow. It does not. The study of such things is called population genetics and, as a professor of it says, “In population genetics, fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, nothing else.” That is, fitness does not promote survival, butis survival. The circularity is well known: Why do they survive? Because they are fit. How do you know that they are fit? Because they survive.

If fitness means the rate of successful reproduction, we encounter the interesting conclusion that a woman with a genetic IQ of sixty and twelve retarded children by forty-five drive-by fathers is more fit than a Harvard math professor who runs Triathlons but has two children.

If instead of “fitness” with its almost inescapable overtones of  “superiority,” we used “reproduction rate,” clarity would follow. Perish forbid.

A staple of evolutionism is that evolution works to maximize the number of offspring, thus passing on successful genes. This is plausible but, in the case of us, counter to observation (but why to let facts debilitate a perfectly good theory?) The populations of advanced countries, all of which could easily support larger numbers of people, are actually falling. For example, Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Russia. In Mexico, as the standard of living rises, the birth rate falls sharply. How one passes on one’s genes by not passing them on is a mystery of population genetics.

Meanwhile, the populations of black Africa, the civilizational equivalents of the unwed mother with an IQ of 60, grow rapidly. Which is to say that in advanced countries, reproduction of individuals is inversely proportional to circumstances favoring it–intelligence health, wealth, and education. Among nations, as noted, a similar phenomenon exists.

When this is pointed out, evolutionists hem and haw (or should I say hem and her?), sometimes say that evolution no longer applies to humans, (though they simultaneously insist that evolution is ongoing and rapid) and then often blame falling populations on contraception, as if this were an outside force, like drought or a new predator. But saying that contraception causes falling populations ls like saying that spears cause hunting. People wanted to eat, so they invented spears. They wanted not to have children, so they invented contraception. Not passing on one’s genes is now almost a preoccupation.

Another peculiarity is populational altruism. Countries with declining populations intentionally import inferior but more-fecund genetic groups. Sweden for example imports black Africans. In the United States, the white population feeds and clothes a huge number of genetically utterly distinct blacks, and actually seems to be growing them. The Darwinian advantage of this is elusive.

Evolutionists insist that human evolution continues today at a rapid pace. There is nothing illogical in this to the extent that it is a matter of selective breeding and that evolution is defined as a change in phenotype.  In some cases, it can be shown to happen.

Consider for example cognitive stratification, in which very smart people tend to go to Ivy universities, marry each other, and produce smart children. The children will tend to revert toward the mean but, as they interbreed, the mean will rise. Thus a fairly distinct subpopulation comes about.

While such things certainly can occur, problems arise in the evolutionists’ casual attribution of traits to evolutionary change. The first is that “selective pressure” usually cannot be measured and cannot be correlated with its purported results. Traits are regularly attributed to genes that have not been demonstrated acted upon by selective pressures that cannot be quantified to produce results that cannot be correlated with the pressures. The second is that results often seem to be inversely related to what would seem to be an obvious selective advantage.

Often it seems that evolution is driven less by selective pressure than by theabsence of selective pressure. Before the advent of modern medicine, people with inferior genetic endowments– low resistance to disease, or possession of genetic diseases such as diabetes, serious retardation,  etc.–tended to die before reproducing. This selective pressure served to keep those diseases at a low level in the population. Today the defective are kept alive to reproductive age, have children, and thus rapidly increase the prevalence of those diseases in the population.

There is the curious fact that traits of very little obvious value flourish, while those seemingly important do not. Consider the epicanthic fold, which makes the Japanese and Chinese slant-eyed. Evolutionists I have read assert  alternately that the fold serves to conserve energy or to protect the eye against icy winds, thus furthering survival. Characteristically, they cite no studies demonstrating that the fold does either of these things: In evolution, plausibility substitutes for evidence. The fold has become universal in the populations, suggesting that powerful selective pressures must have been responsible.

But what pressures? Do we really believe that the fold provides enough protection to the eye, if it provides any at all, to result in its possessor having more children than others? Do foldless Vikings go blind? Where is the evolutionary noise level? At what point is the selective advantage, if any, so slight as to make no difference?

Which brings us to a baffling question. Why does a trait with very little or no reproductive value–the fold–become universal, when traits such as high intelligence, great physical prowess, astonishing eyesight, and so on do not become even common? The genes for all of these already exist in the population without the need for mutations.

If traits that conduce to reproduction become evermore prevalent, it follows that traits that do not become prevalent do not conduce to reproduction. These would seem to include the aforementioned–intelligence, strength, and so on–as these seem no more common now than in c classical antiquity.

If human evolution continues today at a rapid pace as evolutionists say (and indeed it may) it follows that selective pressures must be fairly intense. It is reasonable to ask, what pressures to what end? Cognitive stratification–the self-selection of people with IQs of perhaps 130 and up–qualifies and may lead to a blurry-edged yet distinct subpopulation.

Yet pressures would otherwise seem to be low now. In modern human populations, in which almost no one dies in infancy, almost everyone marries, and almost everyone has the same small number of children, the number of offspring is not determined by life-or-death selection. The football captain gets the prom queen, but the class nerd gets the nerdette and can have as many children. Almost everyone lives past reproductive age, so there is little culling effect as the slow are eaten by wolves. The genetically sickly are kept alive and allowed to reproduce by medicine. Consequently, it is hard to image Darwinian selection occurring with much ferocity.

Nor  can I see evidence for more than minor changes in the 2500 years since Fifth-Century Athens. Statues by Phidias and Praxiteles and later Roman copies show people exactly like us. It is impossible to give IQ tests to the long dead, but Plato and Archimedes seem very like the best minds of today, and the writing of such as Xenophon are indistinguishable in complexity, clarity, and quality of mind from good modern writers. Nothing suggests that the ancients were any less athletic, bellicose, or agile than we are, or that they had senses any less acute. The 2500 years of rapid evolution appear to have produce a net of zero.

… the behavior of social insects is probably more complex than that of whales. It is inexplicable, or at least unexplained.

Straight-line evolution, for example in which Eohippus gradually gets larger until it reaches Clydesdale, is plausible because each intervening step is a viable animal. Darwin himself pointed this out. In fact, it is just selective breeding. Yet many evolutionary transformations seem to require intermediate stages that could not survive.

… Evolutionists insist that irreducible complexity does not exist. If this is true, then any biological system can be simplified step by step back to its origins without producing  intermediate stages that could not survive. In particular, a living cell, the functionally important parts of which seem irreducibly complex, can be simplified bit by bit to produce the original First Critter.

… The problems with sexual selection are twofold. First is that sexual selection requires a pre-existing attraction to large breasts. Otherwise in a cave society when the first woman through mutation appeared with big ones, we would hear one cave man say to another, “Geez, Urk Urk, what’s wrongwith Sally?” “Beats, me, Ralph. Maybe it’s cancer.” But why would there be a preference for large breasts when there were no large breasts to prefer?

The second problem is that  if sexual selection favored large breasts, by now most women would have them, which visibly is not the case. (Again, compare Greek statues of 2500 years ago look like us.) And of course, when the sexually-selected trait became general in the population, it would cease to be of advantage.

The Problem of Consciousness

… While consciousness seems the defining characteristic of life, (“I am conscious, therefore I am.”) or at least of the higher forms of animal life, it cannot be derived from physics. It cannot even be detected. Are ants conscious–or, for that matter, rocks? Are dogs less conscious than people, and ants less conscious than dogs.? Or are they just less intelligent? How could we tell? The questions may seem silly, but they are not. They are tied up with our ability to make decisions, which physics says we cannot. Again, our brains, which are physical systems, cannot act on decisions any more than a dropped bowling ball can decide to fall sideways.

Here is something outside of physics, and therefore outside of evolution, which must be ignored, and is.

… When people have engaged in a bitter ideological war over a theoretical ship dear to them, they tend to overlook the cracks and stains and leaks in the planking. Evolutionism is full of such. An unaffiliated skeptic can point them out in droves.

In evolution, traits which conduce to survival, and thus to the passing on of genes, are supposed to flourish, while traits that work against this happy passing on, or simply do nothing, are supposed to be eliminated. Does this happen?

Often, yes. Not infrequently, no.

An obvious problem is a male homosexuality. Homosexuals seldom have children. How does not passing on one’s genes contribute to passing on one’s genes?  The condition would seem to be a prime candidate for elimination by evolution, yet it has apparently been with us forever. If this cannot be explained away, then something is wrong with the theory in at least this case.

… Other reproductive traits suffer from similar inexplicability: what are the  reproductive value of suicide, masochism, sadism, schizophrenia, and so on? Should these not be filtered from the gene pool? Must we invoke viruses to explain these too? Schizophrenia: A Neanderthal who thought that the CIA put transmitters in his teeth and tried to shake hands with Kodiak bears might limit his reproductive opportunities. While a suicide who blows himself up with a bomb may be said to be disseminating his DNA, it serves a little reproductive purpose. Yet all of these things have been with us forever.

… What doesn’t make sense is the agonizing pain caused by many circumstances about which, pre-medicine, the victim could do nothing. Kidney stones, for example, are paralyzingly painful. A choroidal hemorrhage, behind the retina, is hideous. The agony has no utility since the premodern sufferer could do nothing about it. For that matter, the contribution of migraines to survival is not apparent, as a person rolling on the ground and clutching his head would seem vulnerable to ingestion. On and on. Why the abundant pain receptors with no function? Why do they not, like Marx’s state, wither away?

Perhaps instead of asking, “How does evolution explain a thing?” we should occasionally ask “Does evolution explain it?”

Morality

Clear examples of things outside the domain of physics are morality, right and wrong, Good and Evil. A Darwinist cannot say that some things are intrinsically wrong. “Wrong” cannot be derived from physics. Instead, he must show that moral behavior exists because it promotes the passing on of genes. Thus I nurse my brother back to health when he has a broken leg because together we can protect ourselves and our women better and thus pass on our genes.

This, of course, runs into all sorts of problems. In Moslem countries, “honor kills” are thought acceptable: killing one’s daughter on discovering that she had engaged in sex before marriage (thus offering to pass on her, and her father’s, genes, but never mind). In Christian countries, this is called “first-degree murder,” and likely results in Dad’s sitting in a funny chair with wires running to it. Are we to believe that Moslem genomes contain a kill-daughter gene? Or is the obvious  explanation, culture, to blame?

It is interesting that evolutionists do not believe their own doctrine. Suppose a Darwinist found out that my hobby was using a blowtorch to torture to death children with severe genetic retardation. He would be horrified.

“Why?” I would ask. “We certainly do not want them passing on their extremely defective genes. Caring for them expends resources that would be better spent in raising more children to pass on our genes. Torturing them has no more evolutionary meaning than killing them instantly. Actually, all I am doing is terminating certain chemical reactions and allowing others to begin. What then is your objection?”

His objection would, of course, be that torturing children is wrong. But, again, “wrong” doesn’t exist within the domain of physics, and so of Darwinism. Domain bloat.

There is Something Else involved. I do not know what.

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