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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Quotes of the day: Darwin, Alberts, Forrest, 'n' me

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"There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows."
(Francis Darwin (editor), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (New York: D. Appleton, 1887), Vol. I, pp. 278-279.)

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"Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned."
(George Gaylord Simpson [major mid-20th century Darwinian evolutionist], The Meaning of Evolution, revised ed. (Yale University Press, 1967), p. 345.)

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"We have established scientifically some disquieting facts: (1) human beings have evolved from nonhuman life forms, meaning that (2) at one time we did not exist, and that (3) according to paleontological and astronomical evidence, at some time in the future we shall cease to exist. Furthermore, from a scientific standpoint, there is no discernible reason that we had to evolve in the first place, and there is no guarantee that we shall continue to evolve successfully; more hominid species have become extinct than have survived. The price of such knowledge has been the gnawing question of whether human existence has genuine meaning if it was constructed with cranes rather than supported by skyhooks, as Daniel Dennett says.

"The problem of meaning is easily resolved for those who embrace a preconstructed system of meaning such as religion. However, religion cannot help us find meaning in any honest sense unless it can assimilate the truth about where human beings have come from, and the only real knowledge we have about where we came from we have acquired through science."
(Barbara Forrest [current Darwin lobbyist who testified in the current Dover case], "The Possibility of Meaning in Human Evolution," Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science 35.4 (Dec 2000), 861-889, p 862, notes omitted.)

This last comment, by Forrest, is interesting because it is incompatible with any "revealed" historical religion such as Christianity, Islam, or Judaism, all of which insist that the most important knowledge of who we are and where we come from is received through revelation. Actually, Buddhism would claim that too, if we go by the importance attached to the Buddha's sermons The fact that some Churches Nobody Goes To Any More ( in the words of the Relapsed Catholic have made their peace with this kind of thing - and after all, what current fashion haven't they made their peace with? - is really irrelevant to the fundamental contradiction. This is part of the background to the Caldwell suit against UCal Berkeley, and fundamental to understanding the public opposition to Darwinism (as opposed to various theories in science advanced against it, such as Behe's concept of irreducible complexity).

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From By Design or by Chance?:

Many of the greatest scientists of previous centuries, for example, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Newton, Faraday, and Kelvin, believed that the universe was intelligently designed, and that its design was detectable.21 So great was the influence of these men that key terms or units of science measurement are named after them (e.g., the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the Copernican solar system, and units of measurement such as the pascal, newton, farad, and kelvin.) Newton, who died in 1727, is widely regarded as the greatest Briton who ever lived.
(Denyse O'Leary, By Design or by Chance?: The Growing Controversy on the Origins of Life in the Universe (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 2004), p. 193.)
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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