Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?

From: Ian Glendinning (
Date: Sat Oct 09 2004 - 11:05:50 BST

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "RE: MD On Faith"

    Yes Scot,
    that's what I meant ...

    Dawkins (Mount Improbable) and others have spent millions of words arguing
    the probablity aspects in great detail concerning the wonders of biological
    / physical / functional development, but the outcomes are not incredible.
    The "beat the odds" way of looking at it starts from the teleological
    fallacy that there is some purposeful entity trying "to beat" those odds.
    The probablities are simply that - actual outcomes amongst many
    possibilities. We're dealing with complex systems. The "random" chance
    aspects apply only to a certain small proportion of those events (eg
    mutations and environment) in these huge webs of events, many more of which
    are directed by biological and sociological drives of the players involved.

    I'm confident Darwinism (in its widest sense) can and will explain the rise
    of consciousness too, at least I see no reason yet to say it will be

    My big problem with Dawkins is his (exclusive) tunnel vision for scientific
    Despite being the person who coined memes, he misses the emergent complexity
    of the involvement of consciousness in the web of evolution, which is not
    surprising, since so far science has struggled to find a place for
    consciousness anywhere. Dawkins is explicitly paid to promote science as the
    Simonyi Professor for the public advancement of science, or whatever.

    But we're getting there - eventually science will learn that objectivity
    isn't everything. (In fact huge tracts of science already have at both ends
    of the scale - fundamental physics and the science of consciousness itself -
    together, Holochory maybe ?). It's just social and political collective
    consciousness of science - the memes - political correctness - you know,
    funding, budgets, winning (binary) arguments, etc - that seems to hang onto
    simple, discredited objective scientific rationale for its syllogistic

    BTW, I'm currently reading Dr James Austin's "Zen and the Brain".
    I've only just started, but it's an amazing (800 page) mix of detailed brain
    physiology, consciousness research and Zen experience.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Scott Roberts" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Saturday, October 09, 2004 2:18 AM
    Subject: Re: MD On Faith

    > Ian,
    > > What - I'm no Dawkins fan, but Scott, surely there are still not people
    > > trying to suggest Darwinian evolution is not a credible fit with the
    > > objective science. I've been round this cycle several times already even
    > in
    > > my time on this board. Science is great in its place, and biology is a
    > good
    > > place for it.
    > I'm not sure if I've unpacked all the negatives in what you said, but I
    > think you are saying that Darwinian evolution is a credible fit with the
    > objective science, so it should be taught in biology. Is that right? If
    > The Intelligent Design folks claim that for evolution to work solely
    > through chance and natural selection (which is what I take Darwinian
    > evolution to mean) requires frequent beating of 1 in 10^150 odds. If they
    > are right, then it is not a *credible* fit with the objective science. It
    > is logically possible, but not plausible. Of course, the ID folks may be
    > wrong on the calculation of probabilities, but it remains that the
    > Darwinians have to face up to the situation that we normally see things
    > increase in entropy than not if left to chance. To continually beat the
    > odds, whatever they are, over billions of years just doesn't seem likely.
    > To this I would add another objection, namely the impossibility of
    > consciousness arising from non-conscious material. But the argument is
    > tricky, so I won't repeat it here. What there certainly is not is a
    > Darwinian account for the birth of consciousness. But if Darwinism can't
    > account for the rise of consciousness then there is no point in using it
    > for an account of biological evolution.
    > Given all this, the only reason to accept Darwinism as an explanation of
    > evolution is that a belief in materialism requires it (which alone should
    > make one suspicious). That's not science, and it shouldn't be taught as
    > science.
    > - Scott
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