Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Evolution Genre: From Immanuel Kant to Barry Starr

Genre: A category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content. Evolutionary thought and its literature, though centuries old, reveals a consistent and particular style, form, and content. There is a common style of thinking running through evolutionary thought that transcends cultural influences. It is not beholden to a particular academic discipline, religion or philosophy. Here is a simple example.

I recently discussed the human chromosome count evidence that evolutionists promote. The strength of the argument comes from theology, not science. Specifically, two of our chromosomes are fused together and this, according to evolutionists, falsifies design. As evolutionist Barry Starr wrote:

An alternative explanation is that the designers fused the two chromosomes together when they created humans. ...

The difficulty with this idea is that there is no obvious advantage to having 46 chromosomes instead of 48. ...

And even if there were, a designer who can easily put in the 60 million or so differences between humans and chimpanzees should be able to accomplish whatever results a chromosome fusion gives more elegantly than sticking two ape chromosomes together.

Now compare this to how the great philosopher Immanuel Kant evaluated our solar system's configuration, with the planets orbiting the sun in the same direction, and in roughly the same plane. Kant argued that there was no functional reason for the design, and if there was then God shouldn't have done it that way. As I wrote in Science's Blind Spot:

First, why do planets revolve about the sun in the same direction, for "it is clear that here there is no reason why the celestial bodies must organize their orbits in one single direction." If they were arranged by "the unmediated hand of God" then we would expect them to reveal deviations and differences. As Kant wrote:

"Thus, God's choice, not having the slightest motive for tying them to one single arrangement, would reveal itself with a greater freedom in all sorts of deviations and differences."

And this reasoning also applied to the fact that the planetary orbits all lie in the ecliptic. Furthermore, the fact that the orbits do not precisely lie in the ecliptic also mandates a naturalistic origin:

"If it was for the best that the planetary orbits were oriented on a common plane, why are they not oriented with extreme precision? And why has a portion of that deviation remained in place, when it should be avoided?"

For Kant, there must have been a natural force or process that placed the planetary orbits in the ecliptic, but not precisely due to interference and interactions. It must be the mark of a natural process, for God would have aligned the orbits perfectly:

"If what the philosopher said is true, that God constantly practices geometry and if this is reflected in the methods of the general natural laws, then certainly this principle of the unmediated work of the Omnipotent Will would be perfectly traceable and the latter would reveal in itself the perfection of geometrical precision."

Starr's and Kant's arguments are not exactly parallel, but notice the common framework:

1. There is no reason for the observed design.
2. And even if there was a reason, it wouldn't matter for it is a bad design anyway.

As with most such examples in the evolutionary literature, it is doubtful that the geneticist Starr borrowed from the cosmologist / philosopher Kant from 250 years earlier.

In the lexicon of evolution, the argument is analogous not homologous. Parallel development is common within the literature, such that similar ideas and concepts repeatedly appear. The literature presents a particular style, form, and content. It is a genre.

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