Thursday, February 4, 2016
On Undirected Evolution, and Other Euphemisms For Design of the World
The Heartland Institute site has an admiring post on a new book by Matt Ridley, on "The Evolution of Everything". By "evolution", Ridley means undirected evolution (also known as Darwinian evolution), and as the title indicates, he applies the idea to everything.
My response is to republish, on this blog, an article I wrote back in 2008 for Helium.com:
Ten years ago, as a result of a personal scientific research program I had begun more than a year earlier, I discovered an ancient design in the world - not an isolated artifact or two, you understand, but a worldwide design. (You can read a bit about it at www.lulu.com/hdhsciences.) After several years spent proving that design scientifically (I am a professional scientist, in physics), I discovered my work had only just begun: I still had to figure out how to communicate my discoveries to the world, a world whose main authorities - science and religion - were, just at the time I sought recognition for my work, divided into diametrically opposite, warring camps over the very idea of design of the natural world; and both regarded the design I found as anathema to the polar-opposite positions they had each staked out.
A verifiable design is like a jigsaw puzzle, whose overall picture becomes ever more apparent the more pieces one correctly places. The pieces of the puzzle I found were of several kinds: The precise shapes of constellation forms on the celestial sphere and the matching forms of landmasses on the Earth ("As Above, so below," the ancient tradition said); the precise placing of landforms to represent important conceptual features of the celestial sphere as recognized by science (such as the ecliptic, or path of the Sun, and the vernal equinox, the zero point of celestial longitude, or right ascension); the precise positioning of the Earth's continents according to a famous ancient, global symmetry (a dodecahedron design); clear design features around the poles of the ecliptic (defining the axis of the entire solar system, indicating its deliberate design as well); and uncounted precise associations between these features on Earth and sky, and the ancient sacred traditions of all the peoples of the world - the common themes, objects and characters of myths and legends, word usages, other religious traditions, and megalithic monuments of precise construction mimicking the precision of the design.
This design, involving a re-formation of the Earth and solar system, invalidates the principle of uniformitarianism underlying evolution theory, and invalidates the assumptions behind plate tectonics. These, the two central theories of all the life and earth sciences, are overturned wholesale, and science knows nothing about it, refuses to even hear of it.
Peer-reviewed science journals will not accept articles about a design of the world; individual scientists will not respond to queries about it, much less condescend to take time to study the overwhelming evidence; and religious authorities do not want to hear that someone other than an all-powerful Creator was responsible for any part of the world as we now find it (although I stress that what I found was a re-formation of the world, not a creation). I have tried to make the book I wrote - The End of the Mystery - available to the public (at the above-named site), but in the present intellectual climate of war, between two powerful and opposing authorities, the revolutionary discovery of a third position, and a more complex reality, has so far been too much for the average man or woman to embrace.
The person who claims a design of the world is widely considered a crazy fool by the many defenders of science today, both scientists and laypersons; identifying oneself as a scientist does not guarantee respect even from the unlearned, much less from the many self-sure scientific amateurs and experts. Yet once I had assured myself of the reality of the design I had found, I could see many hints to design in well-known phenomena. For example, the solar system is littered with moons orbiting the main planets, more than 135 the last time I checked (Jupiter alone has 62 listed moons now). Yet Earth's moon is unique, being both perfectly round like the Sun, and of just the right apparent diameter to completely eclipse the Sun - the Moon's average apparent diameter is 0.527 degrees, while the Sun's is 0.533 degrees. It is Earth's only moon, and the only moon, in a system littered with moons, that can not only precisely eclipse the Sun as seen from its mother planet, it does so regularly, and on a precisely repeating, 18.6 year cycle. Science today believes the Moon was not always at its present distance from the Earth, making it even more unbelievable that it should now be at just the right distance, purely by chance, to precisely eclipse the Sun as it regularly does.
There are many such clues to design of our world. Indeed, our modern earth and life sciences are all weak and unsupported by hard evidence to the precise extent and in the precise ways that they ignore the possibility of design.
While that may seem, to the scientist comfortably working within the parameters of current theories, a harsh and unconsidered judgment, it is easily illustrated. Here is an example, from biology, which was used as a featured example of the "overwhelming" evidence for evolution, in an article ("Was Darwin Wrong?") in the November 2004 issue of National Geographic magazine; so it was meant to be taken as among the best evidence confirming Darwinian, or undirected, evolution:
The Madagascar orchid - Angraecum sesquipedale - has a unique, 11-inch long nectar receptacle, far too deep and narrow for almost all insects, even moths with their extended proboscises, to obtain nectar from it. It is such a unique variation that Charles Darwin himself was drawn to it, and he predicted that there must be a moth, equally unique, with an 11-inch proboscis, to draw nectar out of so deep a receptacle. In fact, forty years later (the article relates) just such a moth was found, the Madagascar sphinx moth, Xanthopan morganii praedicta. This is an example of a very common, wide-ranging phenomenon that is called "co-evolution" (also "mutual adaptation"). There are many variations of orchids that offer different, individual examples of "co-evolution", and in fact, the whole range of flowering plants, the angiosperms, are generally dependent upon animals for their reproduction, and so are "co-evolved" with those animals. I have seen it written more than once, in recent years, that most evolution is in fact co-evolution. That is how important the example given here and in the National Geographic article really is: It exposes a fundamental characteristic, called "co-evolution," in the development of the vast array of lifeforms - both plants and animals - on Earth.
The tendency for evolutionists is to interpret the Madagascar orchid-moth pair as the moth following the orchid in its variation; that is, as the orchid's receptacle lengthened, the moth's proboscis lengthened to be able to probe it successfully. Indeed, it hardly makes sense the other way around, that the moth's proboscis might have begun to lengthen, and the orchid's receptacle lengthened in response - what, to get away from an overlong probe?
The National Geographic article emphasized that the discovery of the moth "confirmed Darwin's forecast." But Darwin, under his own theory, would have to have been arguing that the orchid must have developed its unique variation in order to follow the variation in the moth - that the moth's variation required the orchid's - in order to predict the existence of the moth from the fact of the orchid as he did. And we see that is nonsense; why should the orchid receptacle lengthen precisely to follow the length of the moth's proboscis - it doesn't need to. If Darwin had known about the moth and not the orchid, he could have legitimately predicted the orchid on the basis that the lengthening receptacle of the orchid required the moth's proboscis to lengthen - the moth would have needed to undergo some such variation, to survive as it did.
The truth is, Darwin did not predict the moth based upon his theory. The only way he could predict the moth from the orchid would be to intuit that such a unique variation in the orchid implies a design, the intent of which was to match it to an equally unique moth. Darwin unconsciously did what any competent logician would do, who believed that things don't happen without reason in nature, that everything has its particular use. Put another way, any competent reasoner - including a child - should be able to tell, upon seeing both the moth and the orchid, that they were made for one another. Yet Darwin was so focused upon interpreting everything in terms of his own theory, he deluded himself that he was using that theory in making this prediction; and it is a strange fact that, over a hundred years later - a hundred and more years of debate, scientific research and development - his mistake is still upheld as a triumph of scientific prediction, and a triumph of Darwinian theory.
Looking even more deeply into this example, it is hard to understand why biologists would have so long accepted such a stunning example as this one as even being consistent with the theory, much less a sterling example of it. Evolution is currently believed to proceed by natural selection of random mutations. This means that a particular mutation, or variation in one species, has no direct influence upon what mutations may occur in another species, however closely they are associated in nature. The lengthening of the orchid nectar receptacle proceeded, it is supposed, through a sequence of variations - one variation would not force it to lengthen to precisely 11 inches, it would have to make it past two, three, and so on, in stages. The moth would have to undergo a precisely similar sequence of variations to get to an 11-inch proboscis. At every point along the development of the 11-inch receptacle and the 11-inch proboscis, the moth would have to undergo just the right variation. Its variations would have to precisely track the entire series of variations undergone by the orchid (or vice-versa, since under the theory the orchid might just as well track the moth as the other way around, however counterintuitive that may be to our minds). Yet the theory provides no way for even one variation of the orchid to force the precisely-needed variation in the moth, much less an extended sequence of variations in the orchid to force an exact tracking of that sequence in the moth. And what is the result of this precise "co-evolution" of the two species: A quite unnecessary variation in both, taken to unnecessary extreme, without increased survival value to either. The theory is shredded by this one example alone; across the full range of living, "co-evolved" things, it is made ridiculous to uphold it.
There is overwhelming, world-ranging evidence surely indicating a progression in living things, but it is equally overwhelmingly a progression of design. A proper study of living things on Earth shows that they are remarkably "co-evolved," and that fact - that overwhelming fact - proves the progression, the development of life as we observe it, was not undirected. There must be design behind it, on more than one level. In the example presented here, we have looked at the level of just one, particularly remarkable, "co-evolved" pair of species.
I am 59 years old now; all my life, we have been assured that science is self-correcting. Yet for all my life, it has not been self-correcting. Science is in critical condition, and its symptoms of distress are being widely ignored. (These symptoms include dogmatic debates, particularly over evolution, and the most improbable speculations - such as unobserved, "dark matter" making up to 99% of the universe - needed to save current theories.) In many instances, science is trying to ride on the back of a still-advancing technology - as in telescopic observations of an incredibly varied and structured cosmos - but failing to explain, much less predict from current theory, what it finds.
The discoveries we read about are hyped to make them appear more important than they really are. Science now markets itself to the public through the media, driven by profit and influence, not desire for hard, dependable knowledge. And science has become a religion, in direct conflict with traditional religions, with its own incontestable dogmas - against intelligent design, for example - and its own religious defenders/warriors.
Science has become too much like a religion driven by fear of diametrically opposed ideas, rather than by love of a higher truth and an overarching unity.
------- And one or two points I summarized in my blog post "Challenge to Science and Religion" back in 2009:
Undirected evolution is invalidated 1) above all, by its denial of meaning (or truth, or higher reality) underlying the physical world; 2) by a great deal of positive evidence of design on every scale of observation throughout the biological realm (such as the many remarkable examples of "co-evolution" and its deeper, characteristic presence, across the entire class of flowering plants, for example); and 3) most surely by the world design I uncovered, which communicates a coherent message encompassing, and thus surely the original motivation for, all of the ancient, religious obsessions held in common by men worldwide.
The term "evolution" is abused and universally applied [N.B.-- as by Matt Ridley in his book] because it is only a robust metaphysical reality, not a physical one; across all fields to which it is applied, it merely reflects human learning. Here is the fundamental philosophical truth that needs to be apprehended by all sides today: "Evolution" requires design, and design requires an overarching, prior intelligence. Undirected evolution is a logically inept metaphysics, a fundamental confusion of the mind, and the "intelligent" in "intelligent design" is superfluous.