If You Want to Pontificate About Darwin…

If You Want to Pontificate About Darwin… May 8, 2013

showing that “randomness” proves that evolution does not move toward an end, be sure you don’t do it around Ye Olde Statistician. He writes:

a) Mutations supposedly occur at random.  But natural selection is directed toward an end.  It weeds out the bad one (defects) and so is directed toward the perfection of a species (perfect: “thoroughly made”), i.e., greater adaptation to a niche.

b) When we think of randomness our thoughts naturally turn to things like casinos and games of chance.  But such games need to be arranged precisely to ensure that very randomness.  There is no such thing as “probability.”  There is only “probability with respect to some given model.”  The game of craps does not merely depend on the rules for counting points, but on the fact that two dice are six-sided, with different numerals on each side.  There is nothing so artificial as a casino.

c) Most Darwinian fanboys (and even some scientists) have no true grasp of statistical processes.  “Randomness” is not a cause of anything, since it is an abstraction.  When they say “chance” they usually mean “unintentional” and “not the common course of nature,” thus putting it in the same category as “miracle.”  Even the most luridly chance event is caused, say a man brained by a hammer dropping from the roof while he (the man, not the hammer) is on his way to lunch.  Everything in the event is caused.  The fall of the hammer and its kinetic energy can even be described in precise Newtonian equations.  The man was walking beneath that point because he was hungry, it was his lunch hour, and his favorite diner was just down the block from his office.  The hammer fell because the workman on the rooftop nudged it with his foot (material cause) and the geometric placement of the tools (formal cause).  So what they mean is “that doesn’t happen all the time,” which it does not, and it was unintentional (which it was).  So it is invisible to scientific analysis, not being the common course of nature, a repetitive “law.”

d) The argument from chance is often made by the vary same people who argue on other occasions that “everything is determined by the inexorable laws of physics” and are blissfully unaware of the logical contradiction.

When you note that things move toward an end, worshipers in the cult of Darwin seem to invariably hear a naively childlike belief that “Mr. Flower chooses to turn his face to the sun” or “Mr. Theropod decided to evolve into Mr. Tyrannosaurus”.  You are then treated to a massively condescending explanation that evolution does not work through the volitional acts of organisms choosing to mutate or non-sentient critters acting sentiently.

Yes.  We know.  Nor does the arrow choose to hit the target.  And yet the arrow moves to an end once the archer lets it fly.  So does the extremely unsentient rock when you drop it.  Volition is not required for a thing to move toward its end.  The “end” of evolution appears to be the multiplication of species.  And all “evolution” means is “unrolling” (Latin “evolvere” = “to unroll”).  In short, it means that potentialities present in creation from the start–and put there by You Know Who–are tending toward their ends.  That’s why Augustine can say:

It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth.  In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in tmes to come.  [Emph. added]

On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11

And St. Thomas can write:

Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship. — Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268

Indeed, as Mike Flynn (aka “Ye Olde Statistician”) points out:

Thomas Aquinas touched on the issue tangentially during a discussion of other matters.

Objection 3. Further, nothing is said to be complete to which many things are added, unless they are merely superfluous, for a thing is called perfect to which nothing is wanting that it ought to possess. But many things were made after the seventh day, as the production of many individual beings, and even of certain new species that are frequently appearing, especially in the case of animals generated from putrefaction.
Reply to Objection 3. Nothing entirely new was afterwards made by God,  but all things subsequently made had in a sense been made before in the  work of the six days. …. Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species  of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars  and elements received at the beginning. ….
— Thomas Aquinas, Summ.Theol. I, 73, 1, ad. 3 et resp. 3
Now, Thomas was relying on science that we now know was wrong.  Pasteur and others showed much later that living things do not in  fact arise from non-living things.  But the example is purely illustrative.  Thomas clearly states that new species (implicit or potential in the old) are brought forth by purely natural powers; and this would be the case whether it really was the stars and the elements causing putrefaction or cosmic rays from the stars causing a mutation in an element of a genome.  He did not suggest that new species arose because of a violation of natural law.
And that is why Thomists resist  *both* atheist materialists *and* intelligent design guys.  The atheist materialist constantly proffers the directedness of nature with the right hand (“Organisms adapt so that they can survive”) while with the left hand taking all that away and trying to assert that evolution has no ends because it is “mindless”.  It tries to constantly state that nature obeys inexorable laws while denying there is a Lawgiver.  Meanwhile, ID argues not from the fact that there are Rules in nature, but that there are mysterious seeming exceptions to rules: a God of the Gaps.  Thomas doesn’t argue for God from the exceptions to the rules.  He argues from the existence of the Rules.  He doesn’t see God the First Cause at war with Nature the secondary cause.
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