Sunday, May 28, 2006

Darwinian Fairytales

I just wasted some time reading the work Darwinian Fairytales by David Stove. This work is a bit closer to the discussion that we should have about Darwinianism than the silly Intelligent Design debate that was the rage last year. The idea that humans should be classified as a primate, or that we descend from an ancestors that apparently branched off other species of primates is an elegant theory that fits in well with the fossil record and all the evidence we have in form of DNA and biology.

Noting that man has a common heritage with the rest of the critters on this little blue planet of ours is not a problem.

The problem with Darwinianism is all of the philosophical fluff that has been injected into the science of evolution. Darwinianism itself is largely a fusion of Kant / Schopenhauer transcendentalism with with select 19th century prejudices.

Arguably, many philosophers have tried to use new sciences to construct new religions with the scientist as priest and the gene as the new diety (the causal agent that manipulates our existence).

The work has a few insightful essays on the excesses of Darwinian philosophies. The work does a good job showing that metaphors like the selfish genes or the struggle for survival provide an incomplete view of the reality of evolution. The article evens takes a few jabs at scientific determinism and the inanity of sociobiology (Unfortunately, the book was written before evolutionary psychology became the craze.)

The real value of evolution is the increased understanding it gives of the make up of the universe. Unfortunately, the beautiful science of evolution is often used as the basis for garbage philosophies. The science of evolution shows us how the life on this world came to be, but it does not completely explain why man is here.

We appear to be sitting on a very old planet in a very large universe. The real science of evolution is expanding our understanding our this situation. Philosophies such as scientific determinisms, Darwinism, and attempts to raise science to a religion have detracted from this understanding.

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