Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Materialism or Bust

Yet to be published...
There is a considerable amount of double-think promoted around the relationship of chemical evolution to biological evolution. I had a hard time figuring out what "Origins of Bust" (as it is referred to several times) was supposed to mean, or whether it may be presumed to have any shared understanding. What Mr. Downard means by "Origins or Bust" is "if life did not (and cannot) originate naturally, then it did not (and cannot) have evolved." Mr. Downard may well be knowledgeable enough to know that the Intelligent Design framework does not require there to be no macroevolution (though for many of us the continued lack of a suitable mechanism for the "theory" makes the evidence for macroevolution seem that much sketchier), so it's possible that he is simply drawing attention to things that are largely irrelevant to Meyer's arguments.

Aside from this though, I find Mr. Downard's understanding of this so-called "trope" misrepresents what I think and what I think many others of us think who find this mystery so compelling against naturalism. If the "origin of life" problem points to a need for an intelligent cause because the sum total of all unintelligent causes described/predicted by physical laws are collectively insufficient, then invoking that intelligent cause in other situations where material causes are categorically insufficient does not "multiply entities beyond necessity." There are plenty of problems within the macroevolutionary scheme--even without looking at the explanatory hurdles of the "origin of life" problem"--that speak to a need for an intelligent cause for macroevolution even for many who find the "reptile-to-mammal" evidence compelling.

To go back to Mr. Downard's understanding of "origin of life" significance for so-called "science deniers," a teleological cause for origin of life does not necessitate a teleological cause for biological diversity--but for many the necessity of teleological causation in the biosphere is more readily apparent in origin of life, and if it's necessary for life to start it makes people wonder whether it might be a better explanation for other things that appear to be designed for a purpose. The secular miracle of abiogenesis is supposed to remain a blank check on explanatory power--and everyone pretends that it must have perfectly reasonable (i.e. natural) explanation because almost ever since Darwin we have been pretending that science has always required that leap of faith. I think Mr. Downard's characterization is more apt description (however still imperfect) of how blindly optimistic the application of the apparent "success" of macroevolutionary theory has caused so many to suppose that we must be close to some coherent account on the origin of life, to the point of even supposing that some sort of natural selection also explains chemical evolution. It's "Naturalism or Bust," the contrapositive of what Downard imagines "creationists" typically have in mind.

Conveniently, it is forgotten how much work natural selection did in making the unificatory abduction seem to be better-supported than it was--except by those holdouts who still believe in the wonder-working power of selection. The "theory" of evolution, in whatever sense it has coherence, is a troubled theoretical framework. The "unificatory" power of Darwinian explanation seems to be not the least bit troubled (in the consensus groupthink of "tortucan" Darwinism) by natural selection becoming a less and less plausible mechanism. Selection turns out to have merely been an imaginary stand-in for what the "consensus" would like this yet-to-be-found mechanism to be capable of.  It becomes more acceptable when the paucity of coherence in the origin of life speculations is apparent.