Saturday, June 01, 2013

Once more unto the breach dear friends: The False Dichotomy Zone.

The polarization between academic establishment evolutionists and North American IDists is apparent in the following quotes taken from the blog of IDist Cornelius Hunter. (See Being an Evolutionist, on Darwin's God, June 1)

Do you think the world arose spontaneously? No one would agree with that, not even an evolutionist. But that is, in fact, what evolutionists believe. Indeed they say it is a fact. A fact as much as gravity or the round Earth. There must be no design, no final causes, no teleology. The world must have arisen by itself—spontaneously. And no, natural selection does not change that. There is no magic ratchet or feedback loop to make the hypothesized evolutionary process not a spontaneous process
And what is evolution per se? That the species arose according to random events and natural law—chance and necessity. Biology had no guiding hand, no design or final causes. It must have arisen spontaneously. That, as Lakatos would have put it, is evolution’s hard core.

The dichotomy of choice being forced upon us here is between a something-for-nothing, random, blind spontaneity and the guiding hand of an eminent homunculus designer. The concept that physics is replete enough to provision the generation of life via “chance and necessity” (sic – better: law and disorder) registers with Hunter as evolution’s hard core sin and in Hunter’s mind the antithesis of the guiding hand of design and final causes. Of course, he has no proof that physics is unable to provision evolution (...let alone proof that in Platonic space there are no law and disorder systems capable of generating life). Actually, however, he may just be right about this and more physics may be needed. But to Hunter that is anathema because that’s just more “chance and necessity” (sic), what Hunter calls evolution’s hard core and therefore it can’t entail design and final causes! To him it’s either an ancillary designer or the nonsense of nothing generating something; he's not giving us a third way.

I was also interested to read this:

But be careful. Evolutionists never really meant that neoDarwinism was a fact. I know that is what they said, and quite forcefully. But they said that only because neoDarwinism was the current version of evolutionary theory. What they really meant was that evolution, broadly construed, is a fact. NeoDarwinism, like all particular hypotheses of evolution, was always forfeitable. Hypotheses of evolution can be thrown under the bus at any time. What cannot be questioned is evolution broadly construed, or as Ernst Mayr used to put it, evolution per se.

Is evolution the specific conjectured mechanisms of change or, broadly construed, is it simply a description of the changes in natural history over large tracts of time?  If it is the latter then William Dembski is an evolutionist as Ken Ham claims he is, and ironically so is Old-Earth Hunter! But according to Hunter the hard core of evolution is “chance and necessity” (sic), something his ropey category system won’t allow to be identified with design and teleology. Hunter is pushing people into polarized boxes; if you believe that law and disorder have generated life then you can’t be an IDist! He has defined evolution as lacking in design. This is the major category error I have talked about many times before on this blog.

If one is out to refute the academic establishment’s understanding of  evolution, or even the efficacy of any law and disorder system to generate life, one needs to do so for the right reasons and not because of some fancied homunculus philosophy that by definition  force fits people into the only categories that Hunter understands.

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