Oct 312005

Furthermore, David C. Stove, in his Darwinian Fairytales wrote about Design in Biology:

“We would all say, because we all know it to be true, that calculating-machines, automobiles, screwdrivers and the like, are just tools or devices which are designed, made, and manipulated by human beings for their own ends. Now, you cannot say this without implying that human beings are more intelligent and capable than calculators, automobiles, screwdrivers, etc.”

P. 171

“… the famous old ‘design argument’ for the existence of God …received its classic formulation in William Paley’s Natural Theology, (1802). But of course Paley did not invent the argument. For centuries before he wrote, it had been carrying conviction to almost every rational and educated mind.”

“It continued to do so for another 50 years after Paley wrote. This is a historical fact which deserves to be known and reflected upon, yet it has been almost completely forgotten. Far from having suffered a fatal blow at Hume’s hands in 1779, the design argument entered the period of its greatest flourishing only between 1800 and 1850. In 1829, for example, the Earl of Bridgewater provided a large sun in his will for a series of books to be written by the ablest authors, which would argue, not from revelation or from authority but rationally, for ‘the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation.’ [From a ‘Notice’ prefixed to Bell, Sir C. (1874), The Hand, (9th edition), George Bell and Son, London.]”

p. 181

“… someone who has tried in recent decades, as I have, to convince silly undergraduates of the merits of Paley’s classic book…”

“… in the last 30 years, Paley has had his revenge on Darwinism, for more than a century of undeserved contempt. The explanation of adaptation by reference to the purposes of intelligent and powerful agents has come back into its own. And its reinstatement has turned out to require only some comparatively minor changes to the theology involved.”

p. 182

“When he was an undergraduate at Cambridge, Darwin was required to study Paley’s Evidences of Christianity, (1794). He tells us in his autobiography that ‘the logic of this book and, as I may add, of his “Natural Theology”, gave me as much delight as did Euclid.’ Again: ‘I do not think I hardly ever admired a book more than Paley’s “Natural Theology”. I could almost formerly have said it by heart.’ [The first of these passages is from Darwin, F. (ed ) (l888), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, John Murray, London, Vol. l, p. 47; the second passage is from ibid., Vol. II, p.219.]”

“It is important to realise, (and pleasant to record), that the vulgar contempt for the design argument was never shared by Darwin, or by any intelligent Darwinians who belong to what might be called ‘the pure strain’ of intellectual descent from him. Well, this fact might have been anticipated. In any game, the formidable players are the best judges as to which of their opponents are formidable, and which are not.

“Richard Dawkins, likewise, is full of a proper respect for Paley’s explanation of adaptation. He even thinks so well of it that he cannot, he tells us, ‘imagine anyone being an atheist at any time before 1859’ [the year of agnostic Darwin’s Origin of Species; quoted from Dawkins, R. (1986), The Blind Watchmaker, Longman, p. 5.]”

“Dawkins has some disagreements with Paley, of course; but this really is a matter of course. When did two theists ever agree on all points? For example, Paley believed in the benevolence of God: see his chapter XXCI, ‘Of the Goodness of the Deity’. Dawkins, on the other hand, as we saw in Essay VII, ascribes to the gods of his religion a ruthlessly selfish character.”

“Then, Paley, being a Christian, believed (see his chapter XXV) in ‘The Unity of God’; whereas Dawkins is a polytheist, as any adherent of the gene religion must be. But after all, the precise number of the gods is a comparatively minor point. Let it be one, or three, or 30,000 (as Hesiod computed), or a number rather larger than that, (as gene religionists believe).”

p. 183

“A function or adaptation is something which ‘is produced by design, and not by happenstance’ [Williams, G. C. (1974), Adaptation and Natural Selection, Princeton Paperback, p.261. Italics not in text.] In particular, Williams insists, it is not enough to prove that something is an adaptation, that it is beneficial to the organisms which possess it. “the demonstration of benefit is neither necessary nor sufficient in the demonstration of function … It is both necessary and sufficient to show that the process is designed to serve the function’ [ibid., p.209.Italics not in text] ‘[T]he demonstration of effects, good or bad, proves nothing. To prove adaptation one must demonstrate a functional design‘ [ibid., p. 2I2. Italics not in text] Could Paley himself have said fairer than all this?”

p. 184

“Here are some more passages which are fully representative of Williams’ book, in that they point equally to the Paleyan explanation of adaptation by super-human purposeful agents, and to the present day identification of those agents with genes. ‘[E]very adaptation is calculated to maximise the reproductive success of the individual, relative to other individuals…’ [ibid., p. 160. Italics not in text] An adaptation is ‘a mechanism designed to promote the success of the individual organism, as measured by the extent to which it contributes genes to later generations of the population of which it is a member’ [ibid., pp.96-7.Italics not in text] ‘Each part of the animal is organised for some function tributary to the ultimate goal of the survival of its own genes.’ [ibid., p. 256.Italics not in text]”

p. 184-185

“Foxes, seals, etc., are not designers: they are designed. ‘[S]eals were designed to reproduce themselves”‘ [ibid., p. 189. Italics not in text], ‘[T]he real goal of development is the same as that of all other adaptations, the continuance of the dependent germ plasm’ [ibid., p. 44. Italics not in text] [T]he organism chooses its own effective environment from a broad spectrum of possibilities. That choice is precisely calculated to enhance the reproductive prospects of the underlying genes. The succession of somatic machinery and selected niches are tools and tactics for the strategy of genes‘ [ibid., p. 70. Italics not in text]. Could Dawkins himself have said fairer than all this?

“In short Williams, like Dawkins, differs from Paley only about the number of the gods responsible for adaptation, and about their moral quality: not about their existence, purposiveness, intelligence, or power.”

“Late in his book Williams, as though he felt he had still not done enough homage to the author of Natural Theology, goes out of his way to quote and praise a passage of Paley, on the subject of – of all shop soiled examples! – the human eye. The passage is instructive, but too long to be quoted here [ibid., pp.258-9]. I suspect that Williams wrote it partly for the purpose of shocking the duller witted, or more historically ignorant, of his fellow Darwinians.”

p. 185

“Thus has Paley had his long delayed revenge on Darwinism. For more than a hundred years, the proudest boast of Darwinians had been, that they had at last complied with Bacon’s famous injunction, and expelled ‘final causes’ from their science. Paley was remembered, when he was remembered at all, only as the most atrocious of all offenders against that injunction. And yet we find, in the last third of the 20th century, many Darwinians of the highest reputation ascribing adaptation to the purposive activity of beings which possess more than human intelligence and power. This is certainly a sufficiently remarkable historical comeback; even if Paley redivivus has had to settle, (as I said), for plural and immoral divinities.”

“Dawkins, in order to make clear the great difference between the Paleyan explanation of adaptation and his own Darwinian one, writes (for example) as follows. ‘Natural selection … has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all.’ [Dawkins, R. (1979), The Selfish Gene, Paladin Books, p. 5]”

p. 186

“Of course it is not just the statement that genes are selfish, of which Dawkins owes his readers a translation into respectable non-purposive language. He equally owes us similar translations of all his countless statements about ‘manipulation’ by genes, about the ‘tools’ and ‘tactics’ they make use of for their own ‘ends’, about the ‘rivalry’ between alleles ‘for’ a place on the chromosome, and so on. Williams, similarly, owes us a translation into non-purposive language of all his innumerable references to adaptations as things which don’t just happen in the ordinary casual way, but are designed. Even if Williams has forgotten the fact, it is a fact about the meaning of a common English word, that you cannot say that something was designed, without implying that it was intended; any more than you can say that a person was divorced, without implying that he or she was previously married.”

“…Rational people, however, treat all such claims with extreme caution. But when a certain group of people make claims of this sort, and at the same time give themselves out as accepting the Darwinian explanation of adaptation, then a rational person will exercise a double dose of caution. At the very least he will ask to see their translation manual, so that he can satisfy himself as to what they really mean, when they describe genes as designing, manipulating, competing, being selfish, etc. That they do not mean what they say, we know both from their own admission, and from the Darwinian explanation of adaptation. But what they do mean, they do not tell us. No translation manual exists, or even the beginnings of one.”

p. 190

“Darwin… published in 1862 a book entitled The Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Fertilised by Insects. He knew, and all his readers knew, that he did not really mean the word ‘contrivances’. Everyone understood perfectly well, (a) that you cannot call something a contrivance without implying that it was intended, and (b) that Darwin did not mean that these ‘contrivances’ of orchids were ever intended by anything.”

“He therefore owed his readers an explanation of what he did mean by ‘contrivances’: a translation of that word into language free from the implication of intendedness. But he never gave such an explanation or translation.”

“I do say, though, that Darwinians cannot reasonably expect, any more than anyone else can, to be allowed to have things both ways. They cannot, on the one hand, describe adaptations as contrivances for this or as designed for that, while denying that they mean that these adaptations were ever intended; and on the other hand, decline to explain what they do mean by expressions like ‘designed for’ and ‘contrivance for’.”

p. 191

“”although design arguments for the existence and purposes of God are at least 2,400 years old, virtually no one before the 17th century ever based a design argument on the adaptation of organisms. In fact, (as far as I know), only one person ever did: Galen, the great doctor and medical writer of the 2nd century A.D., who laid the foundations of human anatomy.

In the 17th and l8th centuries, indeed, the design argument based on adaptation ‘ran riot’, and pushed every other special form of that argument””

p. 194

“”when Plato or Aristotle or Cicero or Aquinas had employed a design argument, it had never been from adaptation. It was always from some fact, or supposed fact, of astronomy, or of general or terrestrial physics: from almost anything in the world…”

p. 195

“”Darwinians, rather than admit that their theory is simply not true of our species, brazenly shift the blame, and designate all of those characteristics ‘biological errors'””

p. 221

Note: In bold, Stove’s emphasis, and original pages of the above quotations.

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