Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is Darwinism Dying?

[satirical cartoon by Thomas Nast, from Harper's Weekly, August 19, 1871]

Interestingly, I don’t seem to be alone in regarding the current theory of evolution to be nonsense. After decades of claiming it's a "fact", not a "theory", there seem to be increasing grumblings within even the secular scientific community.

The old theory cannot be jettisoned however until something new, but equally Godless, is formulated. A new and improved idol must be created before the old one can be publicly discarded.

I think we can expect to hear more about this in the next few years.


zdub said...

A new and improved idol must be created before the old one can be publicly discarded.

Yeah, that's called science. It's constantly being refined as new knowledge is gained. That is the opposite of religion, in which fundamental beliefs never change regardless of what new information may arise.

zdub said...

Oh, and did you read the whole thing, particularly the part that said: None of these concerns provide a scintilla of hope for creationists

jewish philosopher said...

"That is the opposite of religion, in which fundamental beliefs never change regardless of what new information may arise."

That's news to me. I actually did change my religion. Read my bio.

"None of these concerns provide a scintilla of hope for creationists"

If you are a dogmatic atheist, nothing ever will.

avrum68 said...

"If you are a dogmatic atheist, nothing ever will."

The fact remains that besides the tiny minority (a la the creator of this blog), most folks parrot their parent's values. Hence, without exception, all my "atheist" friends grew up in secular homes. And most, but not all, of my religious friends grew up in religious homes.

Like JP, I grew up in a secular home, but always felt the majesty of our world, and pondered the absurdity of the "it's all a big accident" hypothesis. That, and one life changing experience in Banff, and it was a slow acceptance of many of the tenets of Jewish belief and lifestyle.

Marrying a religious doctor, and spending time with her religious oriented doctor friends, demonstrated, for me anyway, the ability to be a staunch rationalist yet observe a religious lifestyle at the same time.

Dave said...

One man changes his religion that is according to your fuzzy logic the same as saying religion changes. You really are amusing!

jewish philosopher said...

Dave, are you smoking those funny cigarettes again?

What about scientific theories; do they themselves change in some Platonic ideal world or do people's belief in them change? The latter, no?

Dave said...

It is science vs. religion not a theory vs religion.

jewish philosopher said...

And just like scientific opinions change, religious opinions change. I don't see much difference.

Dave said...

Here is a partial list. See your Rabbi ask him to revise these:
Fox poison on poultry (Drusoh), Womens anatomy (Lighter blood vs Darker), Worms in fish(, Eggs in hens (Rovoh says every egg that was laid today was complete yesterday hence eggs are banned if they are laid on yomtov), Flat earth.... (zmanim) I will leave the rest to you. All of these have rulings based on them.

jewish philosopher said...

Talmudic legislation is based on the science known at that time. So?

If we would change Talmudic law every few years to keep up with the latest articles in Science magazine, you would say it's unstable. If we keep it the same, you'll say it's fossilized.

jewish philosopher said...

I think what you're trying to say is that religion is based on faith while science is based on fact, therefore science is inherently superior.

In fact, both are based on fallible human understanding.

Dave said...

“Talmudic legislation is based on the science known at that time.”

1: Why sacrifice truth for sake of constancy

2: True or false:

Zdub: “fundamental beliefs never change regardless of what new information may arise.”

Or perhaps can you get the good Rabbi to change some of those laws after all.

What I am "trying to say" is exactly as I say. What you are trying to do is shift the argument.

jewish philosopher said...

God wants constancy in Talmudic law, however no rabbi would advise looking to the Talmud to treat illnesses.

Whose fundamental beliefs don't change? Mine have.

Dave said...

Now how about beliefs within a religion? Good you're getting there!

jewish philosopher said...

Are changes made "within" scientific theories? Or are old theories replaced by new ones? I guess it depends on how you want to describe it.

I personally think I'm far more open minded than all those "new atheist" scientists who keep chanting "evolution is a fact".

Joebaum said...

Scientific facts can be changed but whats right and whats wrong can not be changed, Thats why Judaism will always remain the same,

Dave said...

Are changes made "within" scientific theories? Or are old theories replaced by new ones?

I don't need to tell you that both are true.

Eli Federman said...

Can Evolution Fit into the Torah?

Judaism insists that the world is not the result on an accident or the result of blind chance but is the result of a purposeful act of creation. Once this principle of divine creation is accepted Judaism allows much latitude in belief as to how creation was affected. There is not religious objection to the acceptance of the theory of evolution provided that it is agreed that each stage in the evolutionary process was brought about by the guiding force of G-d. R’ Ovadia Sforno states that the creation of humankind was the end of a long process that began with an animal that gradually evolved until this hominid creature was given the G-dly soul and received the image of G-d. Rav Kook explains that just as the nation of Israel evolved spiritually from 49 levels of impurity to 49 levels of purity, so to did G-d use evolution in the physical process of creation. The gematria – the numerical value for the word nature in Hebrew, equals G-d.

There are remarkable similarities between the account of creation as given in Genesis and the theory of evolution, first, light was created, then the firmaments, followed by sea, land and vegetation. The creation of the heavenly bodies was followed by fish and birds, and then by land animals. Only finally, at the culmination of G-d’s work, was man created. Indeed, the Bibles description of the creation in a natural progression points to its divine origin because no mortal at the time of Moses could have known that modern geologists also hold that plants and water-based animals were the first to be created. The Ramaban on Genesis 2:7, writes about the guided evolution of life, from inert matter to Adam. The Ramban also says that six days of creation in the biblical account were six periods or stages of creation. In any case the length of the first three days before the creation of the sun must have been different in length from our measurements of time by the sun. A thousand or even a million years are in G-d’s sight as only one day, Psalam 90:4. What is suggested by the six days is that the time in creation, however long in itself, was insignificant to the Eternal.

The traditional Jewish method of reckoning years from the creation of the world appears at first sight to be difficulty. No scientist would accept that that the world was created some 5,767 years ago. However, if the Hebrew date is reckoned from the end of creation of the sixth day when fully developed human was created, the difficulty disappears. Science would agree that modern human as we know it is no older that some six thousand years.

The Bible does not deny that man developed from the ape, but it does deny that man is a soulless simian. Science has yet to explain how man who developed from the ape became endowed with speech, mind, soul, and personality, how he has a feeling for the higher things in life – religion, morality, and ethics. Nor is there a single factor that can explain the birth of life or of natural evolution. Science explains given matter how the world functions. However, the Torah explains why the world was created – to be lived in accordance with the divine will.

There is no conflict between science and Jewish religion. Science reveals a world charged with G-d’s grandeur. The more our scientific knowledge increases the more we will be able to appreciate the marvels, and wonders of G-d’s creation.

jewish philosopher said...

Eli, many great rabbis have rejected evolution, and I believe with good reason.

alex said...

Hi JP,
I think you'll find this clip interesting:

"Still, I think it is disingenuous to argue that the origin of life is irrelevant to evolution. It is no less relevant than the Big Bang is to physics or cosmology. Evolution should be able to explain, in theory at least, all the way back to the very first organism that could replicate itself through biological or chemical processes. And to understand that organism fully, we would simply have to know what came before it. And right now we are nowhere close. I believe a material explanation will be found, but that confidence comes from my faith that science is up to the task of explaining, in purely material or naturalistic terms, the whole history of life. My faith is well founded, but it is still faith. "