Wednesday, December 21, 2005

You can't prove a pig can fly by showing that butterflies have wings

Cardinal Schönborn's re-explanation, "The Designs of Science", in First Things
following much debate as to what he was on about : Finding Design in Nature, NYT, July 7, 2005

This latter courtesy of The Schönborn Site which summarises the argument in its weblog

I'm not too happy with the distinction the Cardinal makes between Darwinism and neo-Darwinism. Google: neo-darwinism gives a wide selection of references on neo-Darwinism, these {1} and {2} being the first two on the listing.

The Cardinal starts his argument in Finding Design in Nature with :

Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.
It is understandable, if you believe in a creator, how you might see the patterns of nature to be proof of God's plan. However, in this stylised debate, we get nowhere unless we are allowed to go beyond these unprovable assertions to questions about order (and disorder) in biological systems, phenotypic, genetic, biochemical, electrical. For example, the neuronal system is pretty much the same mechanism right across the animal kingdom, and though it may be used to argue for a supernatural plan, it also shows certain things stay the same in nature: every aspect of biology is not in a continuous flux explained by mutation and natural selection. All the best arguments for evolution (pre- or post genetics) are based on evidence beyond the reach of the human eye. SEE Plagarized errors and molecular genetics

And please : evolution is not about the origin of life, but the connection between one individual organism and another. When you talk of a species you are talking about a set of individuals. In evolution this is whether they survive to breed or not. Add to that that these individuals exist mostly in groups (populations) and that these populations range about in habitats.


If you want to compare like with like, then you need a set of correct analogues to start with.

In this 1997 paper, Empathy and Analogy, by Allison Barnes and Paul Thagard, we get a little snippet [ section 2. Analogy as a cognitive process] which shows us how Darwin used analogy to push his case. If you teach evolution by starting with the ideas in the Origin of Species this is what you start with, though strangely this is not science but logical inference. The science is the observation bit that animals are bredd into different configurations and that there are different configuration in nature without man's interference.

I recommend Revisiting Science in Culture: Science as Story Telling and Story Revising
if you are a bit hazy about what science is.


other sources:

Argument by Analogy

Wiki: analogy

Analogy vs. metaphor


One of the problems I face in this is the anthropomorphic nature of God's relationship with Man.

Another is that of the human ability to find pattern in everything, even faces in clouds if we have a mind to. In essence this is about subtraction, not adding. We can't (don't unless we are strongly autistic) live in real time with everything we sense. We don't remember everything we see or hear or smell. This would be too much for us to cope with. So we simplify things down (or rather our brains do it for us.

it is interesting to note, too, that one of the best ways to remember things, a set of objects, a shopping list, is to place them in a framework such as a virtual museum, with the scissors in the hand of the man in the foyer, the rubber along the top of the picture frame of the Mona Lisa in room 1, and so on.

Perhaps that's why we like stories so much!


Our relationship to God is based on our consciousness of him. Presumably that is why theologians have always had a problem with the relationship between the animals and God. If they are not conscious in the way we are, how can God exist for them? That wasn't a problem when the Bible was written. They took a secondary role: something that God put there for us to use. Attitudes to our fellow creatures have shifted as society has changed.

All this is essentially about how we SEE God, not so much how he really is, or what he can do. We are bound to think and feel he is something or other, and can do certain things because we have brains to think and feel.


God is necessarily a priori but we argue for him a posteriori !


All this then leads, in a necessary segue, to objectivity and subjectivity, a very big, though mostly philosophical topic of great interest. Before we know it we are re-visiting Plato's forms and all sorts of other technicalities working everything right up to the present day with Chalmer's "Hard problem" and qualia!

Neo-Darwinism: What is at Stake? Tom Bethell
I don't think this is very helpful, but he has a few starting points for discussion.

Evolving Thoughts on the other hand is full of interest and important things which even a non-expert could make an effort to get to grips with.

This site deals with evolution and theology in a comprehensive hypertext based on 'God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A textbook in science and religion.' The author Dr. Christopher Southgate the Co-ordinating Editor of God, Humanity and the Cosmos, trained originally in research biochemistry. He is now a poet and editor, and Part-time Lecturer in Theology at the University of Exeter. His last book was A Love and its Sounding (University of Salzburg, 1997).

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For an explanation of what he was on about, you might visit the site I direct.

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