History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Outbreak of teleological debates…

August 23rd, 2008 · 5 Comments

Myers on teleology, with a citation from Pangloss rides again.

One of the casualties of the science/religion debate, especially with a question such as teleology, is the crystallization into false alternatives. The question of teleology has been vitiated by this syndrome. Religious usage has wrecked the usage of the term ‘teleology’, as Kant pointed out in his own way, attempting to rescue something with the phrase ‘natural teleology’. It is possible to forget ‘god’ for a moment, and consider ‘teleology’ in terms of naturalism. A pernicious aspect of any such discussion, however, is the way religionists try to equate any evidence of teleology with a theistic issue, and the merry-go-round begins again.
The question of convergence is difficult, and there is no general ‘teleological’ principle that is going to work on the universal and the particular at the same time, so the issues raised by Morris et al. need to stew in their various specializations. Morris does stumble on the right idea: think in terms of directionality, instead of teleology, even if they might often amount to the same thing.
But it is not true that science has banished teleology. A close look at the sequence from Newton to Kant might suggest a better historical narrative here than the current fallacy of scientism, which has snowballed into the false assumptions so evident in so much Darwinism.

Here I will stop, and simply insert a plug for a look at the eonic effect, whose demonstration summons up the empirical evidence of directionality in historical terms. One needs to stop thinking about metaphysical teleology, and look at an example of directionality. We can see one in the eonic effect, barely, and the paradox of teleology seems as if both teleology and anti-teleology were false! The contradiction reconciles itself in a particular kind of oscillating structure of alternation swinging between the extremes! Remarkable. Directionality suggests, but does not constitute quite the same thing as teleology necessarily. The study of the eonic effect is useful because it proceeds indirectly with zero discussions of teleology except in the margins, and at the end of doing something more empirical.
This remarkable character of oscillation expressing directionality, the way it reconciles two opposites, is reminiscent of the issue raised in Kant of the ‘antinomies’ of teleological judgment, which amount to saying the debate is ‘endless’, because both poles are false: the truth is something different.

In any case, natural teleology gives an avenue to bypass misleading design arguments. It is hard to think of anything more complacent, if not panglossian, than the assumption that Darwinian natural selection foots the bill for total explanation here.

Tags: Evolution · The Eonic Effect

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tony Sidaway // Aug 23, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    I followed your link in good faith but I see you’re simply promoting this self-published book which seems to be largely devoid of any coherent argument or evidence.

  • 2 nemo // Aug 23, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Well, I guess that’s that, eh. Five minutes and your done, if that many minutes.
    The website contains several hundred pages, five minutes, wow.
    A self-published book is the best option at this point, since the design/Darwin publication industries insist on propaganda.

    Strange, how can you make such a conclusion without reading the book?

  • 3 Nick Gotts // Aug 24, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Rubbish can often be recognised very quickly. In your case, both this post, and “The Eonic Effect” combine handwaving with show-off name-dropping. If you do have something worth saying, which I don’t for a moment believe, you need to find a way to convey its key points quickly and clearly.

  • 4 nemo // Aug 24, 2008 at 8:23 am

    This isn’t a comment, but an excuse for one. Please reread. Your statement is invalid: The Eonic Effect, which you are desperate to dismiss without looking at it, demonstrates a valid falsification of Darwinian views on the descent of man.

    I think that it is Darwin’s book on human evolution that is rubbish, and very seriously misleading rubbish.
    Your are overconfident and think that groupie Darwinism is enough for the debate over evolution.
    If I make it quick and clear the complaint will be that it is too superficial, OK?
    I am wise to these games.
    There is a lot of good material on the eonic effect at http://eonic-effect.net.
    Read it before you produce kneejerk reactions.
    My post stands as is.

  • 5 nemo // Aug 25, 2008 at 12:11 am


    1. The Eonic Effect: Climbing Mt. Improbable

    One of the most tenacious claims of defenders of Darwinism is that of the randomness of evolution. By and large, despite various efforts of writers such as Richard Dawkins to claim that natural selection is ‘non-random’, Darwinian theory is about random evolution. And yet this assumption is contradicted by world history itself, where we can see clear evidence of a non-random pattern exhibiting the properties of evolution, ‘evolution of some kind’. We can call this the eonic effect. This pattern gives real meaning to the phrase ‘Climbing Mt. Improbable’.

    2. Enigma Of The Axial Age

    One of the enigmas of world history is the phenomenon of the Axial Age. The study of the eonic effect can throw especial light on the resolution of its riddle, and the complexity of its interpretation. The discovery of the Axial Age in the nineteenth century is one of the fruits of modern historiography as it has become a global study for the first time. The Axial data is a reminder to not take history for granted and to consider that the issue of historical evolution must remain open as long we are confined to short intervals of chronicle, or isolated streams of cultural emergence. And the question arises as to how we should understand this spectacular phenomenon in which multiple civilizations in parallel undergo a relative transformation of their content.

    3. History And Evolution: A New Model Of History

    The rise of science has seen the extension of its methods and perspectives into all fields of human knowledge, and yet it is significant that no science of history has ever been successfully created. In part this is due to its complexity, and more fundamentally due to the failure of the assumptions of universal reductionism. The reasons for the confrontation with this limit are not mysterious and were clearly outlined by the philosopher Kant, whose system of critiques sounded a master chord in the discourse on causality and freedom. In a nutshell, the science of history must confront the reality and significance of the idea of freedom. But if we adopt the perspective of freedom can we create a science at all? This issue is the object of multiple insights by a host of students of history and theory, among them Isaiah Berlin with his critique of the idea of historical inevitability, and Karl Popper with his attack on what he called ‘historicism’, a term with a long history, but one to which he gave an idiosyncratic, but useful, definition, putting it in close concordance with the issue of historical inevitability.

    4. Kant’s Challenge: Idea For A Universal History

    As we move to study the eonic effect and construct the eonic model we make a strange discovery: the relationship to the philosophy of history. And we also uncover a curious and elegant secret behind the enigma of the eonic effect itself. The idea of a model is to bring home the project of science applied to history, but on the way we are forced to consider the issue of freedom in the context of causality and this summons up the classic discourse of the philosophers of history, most especially that of the philosopher Kant whose sudden, almost mysterious, appearance at the climax of the Enlightenment both fulfilled and challenged or deepened that movement. The irony, and strange secret uncovered, is that the philosophy of history shows strong correlation with the eonic sequence itself. This point is elusive and will dawn on one gradually, to show an extraordinarily deep side to the pattern of universal history the eonic sequence uncovers.

    5. The Old Testament: An Eonic Riddle

    Our understanding of the Old Testament is in crisis. The tide of Biblical Criticism and archaeology has eroded our sense of divine action, or of divinity acting in history. Traditionalists are frozen in biblical literalism, and heading over a cliff oblivious to their situation, while arrogant Darwinian reductionism only compounds the confusion by offering no insight into religion beyond the Social Darwinist vulgarity of the cadres of scientism.

    6. One Endless Argument: Surviving The Darwin Debate

    It is not without significance that the Darwin debate has been called ‘one long argument’, the phrase being Darwin’s. The publication of Darwin’s Origin precipitated a debate that has never resolved itself, and which was soon joined in the next generation after Darwin by the various religious groups that now seem to cast the conflict as one between science and religion. That polarity is misleading since the real source of the the dialectical immortality of the question would seem rather to lie in a polarity of science with itself, or science with scientism: perhaps science needs a better theory, not a religious replacement. And this suggests that we are in the presence of some kind of ‘antinomy’ of the type explored by the philosopher Kant in his classic ‘critique of reason’.

    7. The Oedipus Paradox: The Legacy Of Social Darwinism

    One of the most ambiguous legacies of the rise of ‘Newtonian’ science has been the status of social theories in relation to the successes of theoretical physics. In fact, the issue is arguably present already in the question of biological science, but has shown itself to be especially acute on the issue of cultural evolution, or history. Is there a science of history? This question has assumed a number of forms, with a number ideological overtones, the most famous being the historical inevitability argument tabled by Isaiah Berlin with respect to ‘marxist’ theories. Associated with this is another such cousin argument, that of Karl Popper, in his Poverty Of Historicism, where his critique of so-called ‘historicism’ addresses just this paradox of freedom and causality in the claims of science in leftist ‘prophecies’ taken as scientific predictions of revolution.

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