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Darwin and Design : Does Evolution Have a Purpose?
by Michael Ruse (Author) 

   The infinite loop of the Darwin debate

The sense of design in nature, and evolution, is an issue that might prosper 
better anywhere but in a monotheistic and/or a Darwinian culture. For the 
debate over design, which has gone on too long and is really a stalemate, is 
more a battle over religious or secular foundations of culture, in which 
misleading or specious arguments on both sides constantly confuse the issue. 
The 'design sense', if not the argument by design, is a primordial intuition, 
impossible to avoid, clearly evident in Heraclitus, who wasn't a Southern 
Baptist, and not yet stultified by the sophistries on both sides of this 
question. The point is that Heraclitus clearly groped for the middle ground 
beyond Zeus, something like 'logos', he was fishing for words. 
Would we were still so fresh in our perceptions. There is no escape from this 
'design sense', for example, as we examine the stupendous complexity and 
developmental subtlety of biochemical structures. Couldn't the profession at 
least stop deceiving students to the degree of admitting this might be the 
result of a complex system, a point made by such as Kauffman in At Home in 
the Universe? Too much to hope for. This interesting but self-limiting new 
work by M. Ruse,which is a useful read, reviewing the history of the issue 
from the ancients to Darwin and successors, declares early on, as proven, its 
stubborn allegiance to the bone of contention, the efficacy of natural 
selection as the mechanism of evolution. That freezes the argument from the 
beginning, and illustrates the concealed metaphysical derivation at work in 
most biological thought on evolution, where the final desired conclusion is 
made the first assumption. I fear the result is to go around in circles, even 
though the tale of the nineteenth century development of biology remains 
interesting. One can understand the care, and not a little defensiveness, 
Darwinists wish to bring to their heritage of revolt against the world of 
Paley, but it should be a simple matter to acknowledge the limitations of 
natural selection, acknowledge the 'design sense' without exploiting it as 
the 'argument by design' and proceeding with no more than a partial claim to 
the nature of evolution. But no such luck. I think Ruse unwittingly shows the 
difficulty early on in the book where he lumps the philosopher Kant together 
with Paley. But Kant has no business being given this treatment, and in many 
ways went to the heart of the problem in the progression of his thought from 
a 'critique of reason' to a 'critique of teleological (and esthetic) 
judgement'. The Darwin, as he indirectly foretells, is stuck in the loop of 
the 'antinomy of teleological judgement', and this dialectical infinite loop 
has gone since the beginnning, and is the one thing that even brilliant 
scientists might get wrong, in case we fall for the claim that so many Nobel 
prizers can't be wrong. 
It is a pity Kant has been sidelined here. And a scandal. The Kant profession 
is so intimidated that no reply to this nonsense will be forthcoming, 
Darwinian philosophers simply get a free hand. The point is that Kant shows 
the way to distinguishing divinity from nature, and a cautious way to deal 
with teleological questions in nature, without bringing in theology. And the 
early nineteenth century biologists before Darwin had a thriving research 
tradition in this vein, one that Darwin did not truly rebut. 
Anyway, the book is breezily interesting in its own way, and has a summary of 
the recent 'intelligent design'movement brouhaha. But the intelligent design w
ing is too sneaky to be trusted, ditto the Darwinists. Perhaps the subject 
should be exported to a non-Christian country that has never heard of Darwin, 
then we might get somewhere. Tierra Del Fuego?



John Landon
Website for
World History and the Eonic Effect
http://eonix.8m.com
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