Christian Relaunch

Natural Selection

Darwin made not one but three important statements. He was right about one and wrong about the others.

(1) He co-discovered the mechanism of natural selection and its role in the development of specific life-forms.

(2) But he also claimed, and it is widely believed, that this discovery gives us a possible mechanism to explain the existence of life as a whole including the human species, and

(3) that this supports the idea that everything is an accident.

(1) This is enormously important and he deserves credit for being the first to explain it.

(2) Contrary to the popular myth, natural selection is not an adequate explanation for the existence of life as a whole.

As shown for instance by Barrow and Tipler, the time required to give a decent probability of producing by sheer chance the kind of animal life we see on Earth would dwarf the age of the universe. So even a hypothetical outside observer of man, without insight into human consciousness, would be faced with a choice between the obvious explanation that "it was intended" and the perverse one that "it arose by chance".

In The Sky At Night in March 2010, Paul Davies admitted that "we haven't a clue" how likely it is that DNA would spontaneously arise from amino acids in early-Earthlike conditions. This was intended only as a warning against overoptimism in the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence, but it reminds us of the weakness of the supposition (taken for granted by Davies and all other participants, and a necessary assumption of Grand Darwinism) that this did occur on Earth.

When Darwin introduced his myth about the origin of species by natural selection, he supposed that a few million years was enough time for the evolution to have occurred. As the complexity of life gradually became clear, it was recognised that more time was required, so behold, more time was generously provided. (Time is cheap when there are no witnesses to these supposedly remote past ages.) Finally it occurred to Darwinians to allow themselves not only a lot of time but an infinite array of parallel worlds, with the stipulation that everything that could possibly happen does happen in one of them. This way, regardless of the facts, the hypothesis will fit. Very convenient. But not very scientific.

(Lyell already advocated allowing for an unlimited past, but that was in geology not biology so I think the above historietta is fair.)

An alternative way of grabbing more time is Lee Smolin's "cosmological natural selection", in which each universe spawns some offspring universes via black holes which are white holes in the successor. This theory may be more robust than the other, but is equally ad hoc.

(3) More importantly, this inference confuses the mind and the brain. To claim that they are the same thing is simply a logical error. The question at hand is whether the mind is an accident, not whether the brain is an accident. If I thought that the human brain was an accident, that would certainly lead me to revise my ideas about the relationship between the mind and the brain with which it seems to be associated, but it is not relevant to the present (and more important) question.

Back to God our Maker.