The Mysteries of Evolution: 1. Darwinian evolution is a non-random process

During my research on consciousness I have come across more than a few of the so-called mysteries of evolution mainly uttered by Richard Dawkins who seems to have no problem at all that science has not been able to explain them in terms of evolutionary processes… (More of them in my upcoming posts).

What I’ve found really interesting was Dawkins’ public statements that Darwinian evolution and its main mechanism–natural selection–are non-random.

Really? Why didn’t he say so 40 years ago?

But this is not the best part of the video I’ve linked. Watch carefully how Dawkins is treading lightly to avoid the obvious connection that can be and should be made between non-random process and purpose of evolution, because that could implicate that life could have been intelligently designed…

So, this must be one of those mysteries of evolution where (Darwinian) evolution, although being non-random, lacking purpose and forethought, is still mysteriously able to create beautiful living things Dawkins can’t doubt anymore they are and reluctantly acknowledges it…

However, by Dawkins claiming that unintelligent and yet on-random processes with no purpose are able to design and create living organisms that intelligent humans can’t even dream about replicating, he ascribes god-like-creative powers (much, much superior to humans) to nature.

It’s mind boggling how devious this man is. If there was a hell, he would be burning his ass there for his deceit.

However, what we mustn’t forget is the fact that the popularity of atheism-driven-evolution of life by whatever processes popularized by Dawkins and many others is induced by the need and demand for such a set of beliefs, whether they are true or not.

Why?

As I have said it many times before, we live in a post-fact, post-truth society where the truth for many (and more and more every day) no longer matters.

Many people couldn’t careless what the truth is, and simply put, just don’t want to her it.

So, they are looking for ideas that suit their own personal needs and wants. Dawkins and others are just simply filling the void.

Here is one of my favorite quotes that relates well to the post-fact, post-truth society we live in today.

If you have read it too many times and are already tired of it, don’t read it!

It’s a quote from the movie The International.

Agent Eleanor is desperately trying to nail a bank and expose the banking system for what it really is – crooked and dishonest.

But her boss is trying to prevent her as he sees that this would stir a lot of problems as there are many powerful people and institutions who benefit from the dishonest operations of the banking system… The kerfuffle could shake up the society’s trust in the banking system,  which is built on the propaganda that it is clean and trustworthy…

The persistence in the belief in the illusionary and unfounded ideas in some sense applies to the many avenues of our society today including the atheism-driven-evolutionary belief system.

Many people want dishonesty and lies to continue because they don’t want to change their views and lifestyle. They don’t want to hear the truth because this means inconvenience and accountability.

They just want to hear what suits their views and lifestyle.

Here is the quote:

“Eleanor Whitman: We are just trying to get to the truth!

New York D.A.: I get it! But what you need to remember is that there’s what people want to hear, there’s what people want to believe, there’s everything else, THEN there’s the truth!

Eleanor Whitman: And since when it’s that OK? I can’t even believe you are saying this to me! The truth means responsibility, Arnie!

New York D.A.: Exactly! Which is why everyone dreads it!”
– The International film 2009

92 thoughts on “The Mysteries of Evolution: 1. Darwinian evolution is a non-random process

  1. J-Mac,

    Many people want dishonesty and lies to continue because they don’t want to change their views and lifestyle. They don’t want to hear the truth because this means inconvenience and accountability.

    Now you’ve been shown Dawkins did mention what you think he should have mentioned 40 years ago will you change your views?

  2. Kantian Naturalist: Here’s the problem: it’s really important for the Uncommon Descent crowd that Dawkins be held up at the paragon of All Things Darwin.

    And yet it was Alan Fox who ran to Dawkins in order to conclusively demonstrate that evolution is decidedly non-random. So I think you have it backwards.

  3. Mung:
    The first mystery of evolution is why no one understands it.

    The only mystery is why creationists are unable to understand it, no matter how many books they read it and no matter how many times it is explained to them.

  4. Kantian Naturalist: The only mystery is why creationists are unable to understand it, no matter how many books they read it and no matter how many times it is explained to them.

    Let me explain what is truly a mystery. Why people think that young earth creationists don’t understand evolution. That’s the real mystery. It’s just another anti-creationist PRATT.

    Let me explain this, again.

    I don’t know of a single creationist who believes that all the species extant today were specially created by God. Even the most ardent young earth creationist accepts that all extant species evolved (by descent with modification) from a few species who were present on the ark and thus survived the global flood.

    Surely you know this already and thus are just perpetuating a myth. And that’s bullshit, sir.

  5. Mung: And yet it was Alan Fox who ran to Dawkins in order to conclusively demonstrate that evolution is decidedly non-random. So I think you have it backwards.

    I think that was a tactical error on Alan’s part. There are much better places to go in order to show that evolution is non-random. Eliot Sober, for example, in his Evidence and Evolution. But that’s for serious philosophers of evolutionary theory.

  6. Mung:

    And yet it was Alan Fox who ran to Dawkins in order to conclusively demonstrate that evolution is decidedly non-random. So I think you have it backwards.

    KN:

    I think that was a tactical error on Alan’s part. There are much better places to go in order to show that evolution is non-random. Eliot Sober, for example, in his Evidence and Evolution. But that’s for serious philosophers of evolutionary theory.

    No, Alan and I quoted Dawkins specifically in order to refute J-Mac’s claim:

    What I’ve found really interesting was Dawkins’ public statements that Darwinian evolution and its main mechanism–natural selection–are non-random.

    Really? Why didn’t he say so 40 years ago?

    Quoting Elliott Sober won’t help when the claim is about Dawkins.

  7. Kantian Naturalist: But that’s for serious philosophers of evolutionary theory.

    I’ve considered discussing it here at TSZ, but you’re right, it would go over the head of most. Besides, who needs evidence anyways. Of course, we shouldn’t ignore his Reconstructing the Past either.

    The average poster here at TSZ seems unable to explain why they believe what they believe about evolution. It’s all very vague. Like religious mumbo-jumbo. A serious engagement with Sober would probably open some eyes.

  8. J-mac wrote:

    As I have said it many times before, we live in a post-fact, post-truth society where the truth for many (and more and more every day) no longer matters.

    Many people couldn’t careless what the truth is, and simply put, just don’t want to her it.

    So, they are looking for ideas that suit their own personal needs and wants.

    Examples of a post-truth society in biology classes at Evergreen State University:

    http://evergreen.edu/catalog/offering/feminist-epistemologies-critical-approaches-biology-and-psychology-14272

    HT: https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/

    How is knowledge generated from a feminist theoretical perspective? Looking closely at the history of science and the construction of gender in biology, we will explore feminist interventions into knowledge production in these fields.

    The history of women’s intellectual production and thought has long been silenced or suppressed by patriarchal structures, and to a great extent continues today through institutionalized sexism, androcentrism, and heteronormativity. This program will provide an opportunity for upper-level students familiar with mainstream methodologies within the natural sciences who wish to examine feminist critiques of such epistemologies and engage in research through a critical lens.

    We will read feminist philosophy of science, sociological studies on science and how it operates in society, research on women scientists, and critical deconstructions of sociobiology and the related field of evolutionary psychology. Possible topics to be examined through feminist lenses are developmental biology, fertilization, reproduction, sex determination, sexuality, and gendered social norms.

    That’s an example of post-truth feminist crap in biology. Do temperature readings, weight measurements, or any other empirical observation have to go through a feminist epistemological lens to make them valid?

    Students pay a lot of borrowed money and their parent’s money to be taught crap at EverGreen State, and then when a white guy insists on teaching his biology students in defiance of the white-hating feminist left-wing regressive cultural gestapo, he gets threatened with violence.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/social-justice-activists-demand-biology-professor-resign/

    That is picture of what a post-truth society wants.

  9. Maybe Yet Another Analogy would help. Mutations are like technological innovations – you can’t predict what new ideas will crop up when, they just do. Natural selection is like the market, which rewards some ideas enormously, while rejecting others. Market selection is like natural selection – it filters out what works, but it doesn’t invent anything. Invention is a different process.

  10. keiths: Quoting Elliott Sober won’t help when the claim is about Dawkins.

    You are correct.

    However, I still think that Sober, Ruse, and others are better at getting at what’s really going in evolutionary theory than Dawkins is. Sadly, Dawkins gets all the attention.

  11. Kantian Naturalist: However, I still think that Sober, Ruse, and others are better at getting at what’s really going in evolutionary theory than Dawkins is. Sadly, Dawkins gets all the attention.

    Not that I haven’t read Ruse either.

    Or that Ruse doesn’t likewise give the nod to Dawkins.

    Oh snap.

    Philosophy of Biology

  12. In Sober’s Philosophy of Biology, Second Edition (2000) Dawkins hardly gets a mention. Not really. He gets more mention than Darwin, lol!

  13. Mung:
    The first mystery of evolution is why no one understands it.

    Mung continues to project his ignorance onto everyone else.

  14. From the OP:

    However, by Dawkins claiming that unintelligent and yet on-random processes with no purpose are able to design and create living organisms that intelligent humans can’t even dream about replicating, he ascribes god-like-creative powers (much, much superior to humans) to nature.

    Evolution has to do at least as well as a bumbling and perhaps even malevolent deity would do. The mystery is why proponents of evolution don’t see how their arguments are religious in nature.

    https://philpapers.org/rec/DILCDU-2

  15. Mung: Why people think that young earth creationists don’t understand evolution

    Come on Mung, It’s time for you to come out the YEC closet already

  16. Mung:
    The mystery is why proponents of evolution don’t see how their arguments are religious in nature.

    Gotta be all that religious material evidence, those religious scientific tests, and that pesky religious statistics and math. Not to mention Occam’s religious razor.

  17. dazz: Come on Mung, It’s time for you to come out the YEC closet already.

    Even young earth creationists accept descent with modification. Painting them as evolution deniers is misleading at best.

    Again, let me repeat another point I’ve made in the past. Young earth creationists are in fact HYPER-evolutionists. Darwin on Viagra. Dawkins on steroids. Claims to the contrary are either due to ignorance or are pure unadulterated bullshit.

    There’s no need for “TSZ skeptic” to become synonymous with “TSZ liar” so why go there?

  18. Kantian Naturalist: However, I still think that Sober, Ruse, and others are better at getting at what’s really going in evolutionary theory than Dawkins is. Sadly, Dawkins gets all the attention.

    Do you generally think that philosophers are better at understanding a given field than specialists in that field are? Or just better at writing about it? Or what?

  19. John Harshman: Do you generally think that philosophers are better at understanding a given field than specialists in that field are?

    What difference does it make? Can you make a Tree of Life? Or are you just not expert enough in that field?

    WTF does it mean to say you are an expert in the field of biology? Did you take an exam?

    The “experts” cannot even define the domain of their study. What is Life?

    They can’t define what a species is.

    They can’t define what evolution is.

    What a massive failure.

    The philosophers can certainly do no worse than the alleged “experts”.

    Perhaps the philosophers can teach humility.

  20. Kantian Naturalist: You’ve just been reading the wrong books, mate. Materialistic evolution isn’t the only game in town. Theistic evolution is alive and kicking. For starters, there’s Finding Darwin’s God …

    In reading Finding Darwin’s God I learned more about Kenneth Miller than I learned about either Darwin or God. I learned that he is a liar. I learned that he is a deceiver. So I encourage people to read Kenneth Miller, but for rather different reasons than you have for recommending him. 🙂

  21. Mung: In reading Finding Darwin’s God I learned more about Kenneth Miller than I learned about either Darwin or God. I learned that he is a liar. I learned that he is a deceiver. So I encourage people to read Kenneth Miller, but for rather different reasons than you have for recommending him.

    That’s funny. I learned the same thing about you from reading your posts.

  22. Dawkins is being devious. Nobody in origin subjects, who intend to reach audiences, are devious. People don’t think that including devious people.
    Everything is just error or incompetence or ignorance.
    Dawkins gave a strange answer. He seemed to say creatures get better as the generations go by. What/ this is not true. Poorly said.
    The question, he seemed to not understand, was about randomness being the origin for complexity in biology. THIS IS exactly what evolutionism says.

    We had essays on TSZ on evolutionism which posters contributed to. Me too.
    Evolutionism is about biological populations,reproducing themselves, changing from one body plan to another regardless of how much change.
    Then this kept happening under selective pressure from any cause on earth.
    We are living in the existing results.
    Yes its random with no goal however many boundaries interfere like physics.

  23. I wonder what j-mac thinks a theory is.

    Does he think that evolutionary theory would be that regular patterns are produced randomly?

    That’s, you know, the province of creationism, where there’s really no reason for anything. So, I suppose that it is what he thinks a theory is, what evolutionary theory is, since he seems to know nothing about science, let alone about evolutionary theory.

    Is the rest of his series going downhill from this travesty? It’s hard to imagine it getting worse, but I can’t be sure that such a possibility is beyond him.

    Glen Davidson

  24. Mung,

    Young earth creationists are in fact HYPER-evolutionists.

    Only the ones who recognise the difficulty of getting a few million species on the Ark. That’s not all of them, and we see distinct hints of a hard-line species immutabilism among our very own contributors here.

  25. Mung: And yet it was Alan Fox who ran to Dawkins in order to conclusively demonstrate that evolution is decidedly non-random. So I think you have it backwards.

    Ran to Dawkins? J-mac made the false suggestion that Dawkins has held contrary positions regarding selection having a non-random bias. I merely pointed out the error.

    On the other hand, I am intrigued by KN’s animus towards Dawkins. There seem to be two Richard Dawkins: the science populariser who wrote a string of excellent books on evolutionary biology (he’s the one I’m familiar with) and the hero of the anti-theists in the US (a niche he seemed to fall into accidentally and very profitably).

  26. I enjoy Dawkins’s science works – it’s an interesting perspective. Couldn’t give two hoots for his atheism.

  27. John Harshman: Do you generally think that philosophers are better at understanding a given field than specialists in that field are? Or just better at writing about it? Or what?

    I think that philosophers can be better than scientists at explicating the conceptual foundations of a scientific theory, if they understand that theory at least as well as scientists do.

    For example, I think Tim Maudlin is at least as good as (say) Steven Hawking on whether general relativity is compatible with the reality of time, or that Michael Friedman is at least as good as any physicist on explaining why Newtonian mechanics and general relativity rely on incompatible conceptual foundations. Hilary Putnam and Nancy Cartwright are excellent on the philosophy of quantum mechanics because they not only understand the equations and experiments of QM but also have thought long and hard about what a theory is.

    Likewise, really good philosophers of biology — Peter Godfrey-Smith, Philip Kitcher, Sandra Mitchell, Michael Ruse, Eliot Sober — have thought at least as hard as Mayr or Dawkins about what it means to ascribe function to an organ or trait, or the epistemological roles of different concepts of “species.”

  28. Kantian Naturalist: Likewise, really good philosophers of biology — Peter Godfrey-Smith, Philip Kitcher, Sandra Mitchell, Michael Ruse, Eliot Sober — have thought at least as hard as Mayr or Dawkins about what it means to ascribe function to an organ or trait, or the epistemological roles of different concepts of “species.”

    That might certainly be true, though I’m unaware of Dawkins, specifically, having thought or written much about either function or species. Is this the “what’s really going on in evolutionary biology” you allude to? Or is it something else?

  29. Whopps. I meant to say Dawkins IS NOT being devious. context should explain it anyways.

  30. J-Mac:
    Joe Felsenstein,

    What else is natural selection doing and how does that apply to Dawkins’ statement about non-random processes being able to create things beautiful?

    Why would natural selection make things beautiful if they are not necessary for survival? Is hairy, good looking man more likely to get laid and reproduce than a bald, ugly man?

    An interesting question, but in order to really address it, you (or whoever is really interested in the concept) needs to define “beautiful”.

    The fact is, most organisms have a variety of traits. Many (like “beauty”) only indirectly impact survival or differential reproductive success. And of course, the impact of said traits fluctuates over a given time-frame, because their usefulness in given environments fluctuates over given time-frames as the environment fluctuates over given time-frames. Human “beauty”, for example, has over the years not just increased the likelihood of directly attracting a mate, but has also increased the likelihood of success in certain careers, likelihood of getting certain jobs to begin with, is associated with greater economic income and influence, greater responsibility, greater levels of trust, etc…all of which increase the odds of not only producing offspring, but having said offspring survive to reproductive ages themselves.

  31. J-Mac:
    Joe Felsenstein,

    What else is natural selection doing and how does that apply to Dawkins’ statement about non-random processes being able to create things beautiful?

    Why would natural selection make things beautiful if they are not necessary for survival? Is hairy, good looking man more likely to get laid and reproduce than a bald, ugly man?

    J-Mac, do you consider beauty to be an inherent attribute of a thing?
    If so, I believe you are either making a category error, or you are projecting your subjective reactions onto the universe. Different people can have very different opinions about what is beautiful. Beauty does not exist in the universe; it only exists as a concept in the human mind.

    Do you agree?

  32. Robin,

    Hmmm. Is beauty in men really getting them better jobs etc? I don’t think so.
    I think good looks only helps get one confidence.
    Anyways its the successful men who get the better looking women and so make, on a curve, better looking boys and girls.
    so its not that better looking people do better because of looks but because they are better. they are better because better looking women get selected by better men.
    cause and effect.
    I always find the upper classes are, on a curve, more attractive in looks. yet it isn’t the looks that makes their kids do better. Its smarts.
    Men who are less attractive can more easily find mates, or better looking women, if they are attractive to women based on accomplishment/money.

    beauty is based on symmetry exclusively as i see it.
    So there is no such thing as beauty but only accuracy in symmetry.
    However since this accuracy is so little approached, probably non existent right now, WE HUMANS invent a category called beauty.
    yet its really just that all of us are inaccurate in symmetry.
    i think ACCURACY/beauty shows there is a God. god is all about symmetry.

  33. Robert Byers: Hmmm. Is beauty in men really getting them better jobs etc? I don’t think so.

    A study by Harvard University found that investors were more likely to put money into ventures if the man making the pitch is handsome.

  34. Robert Byers:
    Robin,

    Hmmm. Is beauty in men really getting them better jobs etc? I don’t think so.

    Well, maybe instead of assuming, you should do a little research:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201109/good-looks-will-get-you-job-promotion-and-raise
    http://www.businessinsider.com/attractive-people-are-more-successful-2012-9
    https://scienceblog.com/14974/who-knew-good-looking-people-get-better-jobs/
    http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/attractive-people-land-job-interviews-study-article-1.1452436

    I think good looks only helps get one confidence.

    This would be a good example of why we actually test hypotheses. Your hypothesis above would be wrong.

    Anyways its the successful men who get the better looking women and so make, on a curve, better looking boys and girls.

    …and on average, more successful men are also more beautiful.

    so its not that better looking people do better because of looks but because they are better. they are better because better looking women get selected by better men.

    Once again, your hypothesis here is wrong.

    cause and effect.

    Except that your premise about the cause is wrong.

    I always find the upper classes are, on a curve, more attractive in looks. yet it isn’t the looks that makes their kids do better. Its smarts.
    Men who are less attractive can more easily find mates, or better looking women, if they are attractive to women based on accomplishment/money.

    The statistics show that while unattractive men (and women for that matter) can be successful by compensating for lack of looks with ambition and smarts, the fact is that attractive people do have advantages.

    beauty is based on symmetry exclusively as i see it.

    You’d be wrong about this too, but that’s for another discussion…

    So there is no such thing as beauty but only accuracy in symmetry.
    However since this accuracy is so little approached, probably non existent right now, WE HUMANS invent a category called beauty.
    yet its really just that all of us are inaccurate in symmetry.
    i think ACCURACY/beauty shows there is a God. god is all about symmetry.

    Robert, I would suggest you stop guessing and assuming how things are and go actually find out how things are.

  35. OMagain: A study by Harvard University found that investors were more likely to put money into ventures if the man making the pitch is handsome.

    if so, studies these days are discredited everywhere, IF so it still just taps into a prejudice that handsome men are better/smarter. Because it seems that way in high school and later. They are more confident on a curve.
    So this confidence is associated with success.
    Yet its not on beauty.

  36. Robin,

    Everyone is figuring things out. your quoted studies are just that. They only repeat what I heard decades ago.
    people are not stupid. they do not, in serious money making matters, pick attractive people over unattractive.
    these studies fail to see that attractive people are simply better people. its always that way.
    There are other issues obviously also.
    I always expect shorter, less attractive dudes(if I can tell being a guy myself) have inferior jobs then taller better looking dudes.
    In fact height would go along with better jobs for men if they scored it.

    its all just another example how all human accomplishment is based on curves in a population.
    Looks simply gives a person more confidence which gives them more ambition/expectatyion.
    Then looks makes looks. Better looking men make better looking kids.
    IF these better looking men have better/smarter jobs IT WOULD BE that their kids would have likewise better jobs/smarter.
    Their being better looking masking/hiding the real reason for the better jobs.
    Its all about intelligence and ambition. Not looks.
    Looks are a minor influence and along for the ride.

    i don’t see why you see beauty as not symmetry . I guess you mean its in the eye of the beholder. It isn’t. In fact your beauty claim for better jobs etc would only work with common presumptions of beauty.

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