Getting it in the neck

I’ve returned more than once (including in song) to the theme of tetrapod pentadactyly, because it opens up structuralist and other non-Darwinian aspects of evolution to consideration. A close runner up for my interest is the case of the giraffe (no song on that, so far), because it was an icon of Lamarckian evolution that became an icon of Darwinian evolution – before both tales were shown to be mere folk-tales by the actual study of giraffes: the long neck cannot possibly be explained by access to high sources of food, either by Darwinian selection or Lamarckian acquisition. Continue reading

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The modern myth about design arguments

I’m grateful to GD for pointing us to an article about the Cappadocian theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, and his use of science language. The writer works just 20 miles down the road from me, it seems, and there is indeed a freely available version of it here. The particular (small, but important) thing I took from this piece was how in arguing against the materialist pessimism of Epicurus, the saint, through the mouth of his dying sister, says that Epicurus and those like him failed to understand that “a Divine power, working with skill and method, is manifesting itself in this actual world, and, penetrat[es] each portion.” That speaks to the necessity of divine immanence against the semi-deism so prevalent in theistic evolution now.

But here I want to pick up a more general point. Continue reading

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Still hanging in the air…

…unanswered questions on BioLogos style evolutionary creation.

Dennis Venema published the penultimate part of his series Evolution and the Christian on BioLogos a week ago (the final episode was an appeal for speaking out the truth in love – well, I’m all for that). Continue reading

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Fundamentalism, materialism and their family reunion

The ongoing series on BioLogos in which former Creationists testify to their coming to peace with evolution says more, in my view, than the simple message that evolution and faith are compatible. It says something about conversion psychology. Continue reading

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Léon Croizat and other lunatics

Many years ago I was part of a group of doctors in Essex, UK, who met with local police officers to discuss drug misuse. The police spokesman, tongue firmly in cheek, said: “Essex doesn’t have a drug problem, because we don’t have a drugs squad.” Later, of course, one was formed, and as if by magic there was a problem to solve. Continue reading

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Reality check

One of the things I noted in the post about my reading of Sir Arthur Eddington’s The Nature of the Physical World was the way that a mind-based metaphysics reverses the emptying out of reality that materialism entails. Since I think this is a significant insight I want to devote a whole post to unpacking it a bit more. Continue reading

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Aposematism around the world

DSCF5549sThis little chap was climbing the evolutionary ladder to our greenhouse recently. I’m referring to the warningly gaudy (aposematic) caterpillar rather than his cryptic slug friend, destined to be both drab and a toad’s meal. It prompted me to read a little on warning colouration and mimicry, which we debated here a little, some time back. I wasn’t too surprised that it has been a major, and contentious, topic of discussion since Darwin. Ernst Mayr said in 1982 that a biological concept which could clearly and unambiguously explain mimetic phenomena would also solve all other biological problems. Continue reading

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Another century-late review

41jdmVneAALFollowing my custom of busting the myths that are spun about previous generations by reading the original sources, I finally got round to reading some Alfred Russel Wallace, in the form of his last (1910) book on a biological subject, The World of Life.

Just to remind you of Wallace’s role, he was the co-discoverer of the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution by natural selection, published in the 1858 paper On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. By CHARLES DARWIN, Esq., F.R.S., F.L.S., & F.G.S., and ALFRED WALLACE, Esq. Communicated by Sir CHARLES LYELL, F.R.S., F.L.S., and J. D. HOOKER, Esq., M.D., V.P.R.S., F.L.S, &c. Continue reading

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The environment – random with respect to teleology

DSCF4817Here’s me with one of my main guitars. Even most non-guitarists will recognise it as a Fender Stratocaster (though mine is a Tokai copy), the most successful model of electric guitar ever made. It was released in 1954, and remains the worldwide market leader, pretty much in its original form. Even Fender’s “improvements” have proved unable to compete with the original post-war technology. To what can one attribute its 60 year dominance of a crowded market? Continue reading

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Keeping science and religion separate (not)

My attention was drawn to an article by philosopher of science Stephen Dilley, in which he examines just what a surprisingly prominent place is given to theological arguments in Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. I must acknowledge upfront that I found the downloadable version of the article on Hump subscriber Ian Thompson’s Theism website, so he’s covered this issue already. But it does no harm to spread the information wider, I guess. Continue reading

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