Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Why Do We Care About Evolution and Abiogenesis?

Quite often materialist scientists complain: why are there so many people who don't understand a thing in biology and yet dare speak about biological matters? When will these IDiot believers shut up?! They say, everything is explainable by reduction to necessity and chance, and consequently no God hypothesis is needed! 
  • Unfortunately, such is the sad reality of the blogosphere where proponents of the theory of Intelligent Design are sometimes disparagingly called IDiots, see for example Prof. Laurence A. Moran's blog (Toronto University).
Indeed, few would want to challenge, say, the law of energy conservation, the theory of elasticity, organic chemistry or solid state physics. It is a matter of course just because practice is the ultimate test for any scientific hypothesis. Critics of ID rightly say that scientific debate requires a certain level of knowledge especially in such a complex issue as evolution. On the other hand, complication very often can make the water too muddy to see anything clearly. So what is it in the contemporary evolution theories we want to argue about? Below I will very briefly try to justify our doubts about the central evolutionist claim that law-like necessity of incremental selection over random variation is sufficient to explain the observed biological functionality. In an attempt to think aloud about this, I will mention two very important things.

First, inasmuch as reductionism attempts to explain life, there immediately arises the question, is it all that simple? There is no doubt that evolution itself is observed. The question is then not about evolution per se, but about the extent of evolvability. Can such controversial models as Prigogine's dissipative structures adequately explain the observable, in particular the stability and persistence of the existing life forms? Where do semiosis and biofunctionality really originate? Can we extrapolate the spontaneous emergence of low-information redundant regularity to biological systems? Where is empirical confirmation of this hypothesis? Why does biofunctionality or semantics not appear spontaneously in practice like crystals from a over-saturated solution (cf. Stuart Kauffman's crystallisation of life)? We all know that our planet is life-friendly and yet why is spontaneous emergence of life from inorganic matter not observed on Earth today? It is even more problematic in view of the fact that for spontaneous generation of life to be a plausible hypothesis prebiotic processes should be observable in astronomic quantities for very long periods of time, possibly for millions of years. All of those questions are really hard.

Secondly, it is about ideology. Had evolutionists not tried to advocate for materialistic models as the only legitimate explanation of the origin and existence of our world (in particular, neo-Darwinian models with respect to life), there would have been no attacks against the exaggerated role of science in our world views and, furthermore, of reductionism in science. Undoubtedly, scientific truth is equally valuable to theist scientists as to atheists or maybe even to a greater degree simply because theistic philosophical frameworks have a place for meaning. So should we really be that hasty trying to do away with the notorious "mystique of life"? Ideology is everywhere including scientific thought, where it can be a real splinter in the eye. We have reason to suspect that the whole ID controversy boils down to the simple problem of whether to allow alternative theories access to schools. In our dark age of tolerance why do we see such obstinacy here? I believe the reason is a priori materialism. Even more regrettably, the reluctance to look at scientific evidence objectively is too often justified in the name of science. 


1. K.Y. Eskov, A History of the Earth and Life on It (in Russian, К.Ю. Еськов, История Земли и жизни на ней). 
2. I. Prigogine, I. Stengers, Order out of Chaos.
3. D. L. Abel, The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity
4. D. L. Abel, The First Gene.
5. R. Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker.
6. S. Kauffman, The Origins of Order
8. P.W. Anderson and D.L. Stein, Broken Symmetry, Emergent Properties, dissipative Structures, life: Are They Related, Self-Organizing Systems: The Emergence of Order (Eugene Yates, ed.), Plenum Press, 1988, pp . 445-457.

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