Friday, June 12, 2009

Vitalism as Strawman Null Hypothesis

Recent epigenetics findings highlight a problematic trend. Evolution faces ever increasing scientific challenges as its predictions continue to go wrong. All the while evolutionists, for the most part, continue to issue non responsive responses. Most of what I have heard from evolutionists regarding epigenetics falls into the usual categories of denialism, but one evolutionist told me that epigenetics poses no problems for evolution because the mechanisms are, well, just that--mechanisms.

This argument is very simple: The epigenetics mechanisms are natural, and therefore they fit well within evolutionary theory. This argument draws a (false) dichotomy between vitalism and evolution. In this banal view of nature, vitalism is evolution's foil--if a mechanism isn't violating natural law, then it evolved.

In his 2005 book Before Darwin: Reconciling God and Nature, Keith Thomson uses this argument (see Science's Blind Spot for discussion). Could this be an emerging argument for evolution? If so, it demonstrates how desperate the defense has become.