Darwin’s Horrid Doubt

Charles Darwin argued that the species (humans among them) arose by a process of natural selection. Under this argument, an organism is a machine. It is run by genes which “desire” to reproduce themselves in the next generation. (No, genes dont really have hopes and dreams, they dont desire things. But they act as though they do. Consider Dawkins’ work. He backs this up a lot.) 

It follows (as Darwin admitted) that our lives, experiences, and subsequent actions are simply actions that aim to reproduce our genetic code. The central nervous system, advanced though it is, therefore is nothing more than a machine designed to take stimuli and order them in such a way as to reproduce our genes. 

With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or are at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any such convictions? (Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, vol 1 written in 1881.  Interestingly this was the year before Nietzche declared that God was dead.)

This was Darwin’s horrid doubt. Under the naturalistic worldview (Darwin’s worldview), there is no reason to believe that the purpose of our CNS is to tell us accurately what is going on in the world around us, for their is no reason for us to know anything about our world. The purpose is to manipulate us into reproducing and spreading our genetic codes.  

Patricia Churchland (an influential modern philosopher who works at the University of California at San Diego) asks what the nervous system is for. She says it enables us to succeed in the four “F”s: Feeding, fighting, flighting and reproducing (sorry.). It is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Evolution guarantees – if it is successful in that organism, if that organism is naturally selected – appropriate behavior, but not true beliefs. It just makes behavior appropriate for survival.

Darwin therefore doubted that our CNS could give us a reliable picture of the world around us. There is no reason for it to do so. All it does is take stimuli and spit out responses that help us survive and reproduce.

Consider this idea with cows or fish or dogs first, and not with people.

Then consider that we humans arose the exact same way. There is no reason to believe that our reasoning or perception are reliable are any more reliable than a monkey’s.

Naturalistically, then, there is a problem with epistemology. There is no reason to believe that we can actually know anything for sure. (It follows, somewhat ironically, that there is therefore no reason to believe that we can know that natural selection, evolution, etc are true.)

This is what Alvin Plantinga calls an evolutionary argument against evolution. It is based on Darwins very own “horrid doubt” (his words).  I care little however for the way it is an argument against evolution. That is merely a small, somewhat humorous, sidenote. The real concern here is what it says about naturalistic epistemology.  But that hardly has the same ring as “an evolutionary argument against evolution.”

The Christian Worldview breaks with Darwin. It holds that we are created by God in his image, and that he gave us the ability to think and reason and perceive the world around us so that we could accurately perceive Himself and worship Him. We cannot worship what we cannot know, so God has given us a way to know.

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Presuppositions, Presuppositions

Reading Salvo Blog this week, I found a post on Bill Maher and his new movie, “Religulous.” Here’s a link to it. It’s a video of Maher on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart talking about his movie. I must concur with Bobby Maddex in saying that Bill Maher is just as “religulous as the rest of us.” Only difference is, he doesn’t realize it.

I don’t have the video, the link above will take you to it on Salvo’s website. Suffice it to say that Jon Stewart nearly falls out of his chair as Bill Maher blasphemes his way into the Jon’s audiences’ collective heart. They really yuck it up over Maher’s telling of the biblical narrative.

This is followed by Maddex’s cutting commentary. If you are familiar with Ravi Zacharias, you will understand the “road-runner tactic” Maddex uses. The commentary is priceless.

Here’s the crux of the matter. Bill Maher is just as religious as anyone else. His religion is just a lot different than mine – may be the same as yours. His religion, like mine rests on certain philosophical presuppositions – which are nothing like mine. His are such things as: there is no God, Darwin was right. Whatever else these are, they are philosophical presuppositions. There is no way for him to know these things. They aren’t demonstrable. They aren’t things that can be known in the same way that it can be known that the sky is blue. They are simply things he believes to be true.

Two things:

First, his religion goes nowhere. All meaning is lost. Everything in life, including life itself, is an accident. There is no value in life, love is nothing but chemicals in the brain, loyalty is an illusion as we all strive put our genes into the next generation – survival of the fittest and all that. 

Secondly, the basic presuppositions mine rests on, namely that God is the creator and sustainer of the world and that he has a plan that he is working out in his own time and means, has been accepted by most people throughout all of human history. On top of this, it was written down by men who I identify with on a family level.  How do we know Jesus rose from the dead? We saw him. We saw him. The church, my family, whom I belong to, whom I trust, saw him. And I have faith that it is true – objectively true. As true as “Noah’s flood.”

Sometime soon, I will speak more about this faith. Or I will hearken to Francis Scheaffer on it.  Until then, consider Maher, Maddex, and leave a comment if you so desire.

Published in: on October 1, 2008 at 7:20 pm  Comments (7)  
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Peppered Moths or Peppered Truth

In dealing with Worldview, one of the key concepts is Origin. Every worldview has to explain our origins. Where did everything come from? How did the earth get here? How did people get here? If a worldview is to be even remotely complete, it must answer the great question of Origins.

The dominant secular theory of our day, which is the basis for what is taught in schools, is evolution. Now the term evolution is thrown around a lot to mean many different things. That is OK as long as we know what we are talking about. But what we are talking about with respect to Origins is naturalistic Darwinistic evolution: that is that genetic mutation and natural selection are solely responsible for the variation of the different species, they are the mechanics of how we humans came to be.

Just a few weeks ago, in a conversation I had with a guy, he sited the Peppered Moths as being pretty amazing proof for evolution.

Above is a photo of a sign in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. If it’s a little too small to read, this is what it says:

Change happens when genetic traits are passed on, in different combinations each time, from generation to generation. In the last 100 years the population of peppered moths in England went from being mostly light to mostly dark, because pollution darkened the bark of their favorite trees. There are many examples of evolution in action, but this one is often referred to because it has been so well documented. (italics added)

Here is a common picture of the moth’s on “their favorite trees.”

The argument goes that before factories were producing so much pollution, the trees were white, enabling he light colored moths to blend in. Once the factories started polluting, the trees were stained a darker color, so the moths, in turn, evolved to become much darker so that they could still conceal themselves on the trees. This a great story. The evidence seems undeniable.

It seems undeniable. Nancy Pearcy describes a bit of a discrepancy however:

In recent years, however, a small problem has come to light: Peppered moths don’t actually perch on tree trunks in the wild… How then do we explain the photographs we see in textbooks? It turns out they were staged: To create the photos, scientists glued dead moths onto the tree trunks. One scientists… acknowledged that he glued dead moths on the trees.

I know. Its crazy. But the moths are still used as proof, as evidence to convince people who know no better. Textbook writer Bob Ritter explains “The advantage of this example of natural selection is that it is extremely visible… Later on, they can look at the work critically.”

This is a classic case of pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. This case is so well documented – or mis-documented – that it must be used to prove a false theory. The problem here is that this is the evidence. Its not that this is just an illustration to prove a theory. Without the evidence, there is no theory. There is merely a failed hypothesis.

Granted, this one instance does not disprove evolution. It does however show that the evolution proponents will go to extreme lengths including lying and faking scientific evidence in order to defend their ideas of origin. And without an atheistic origin to stand on, there is no worldview to be built.

Published in: on August 30, 2008 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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