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Old 02-10-2009, 10:55 AM   #1
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Default (It's the offseason!) George Will on Darwin, Evolution and Lincoln...

http://www.ohio.com/editorial/commentary/39353197.html

Darwin and Lincoln still evolving at 200 years
By George F. Will
Washington Post

Published on Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009
WASHINGTON: ''Descended from the apes!'' exclaimed the wife of the bishop of Worcester. ''Let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known.''
An American majority resists such an annoying notion, endorsing the proposition that ''God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.'' Still, evolution is a fact and its mechanism is natural selection: Creatures with variations especially suited to their environmental situation have more descendants than do less well-adapted creatures.
This Thursday, the 200th anniversary of the births of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, remember that Lincoln mattered more. Without Darwin, other scientists would have discerned natural selection. Indeed, Darwin's friend Alfred Wallace already had. Without Lincoln, the United States probably would have been sundered into at least two nations. Probably into more: Southerners, a fractious tribe, would not have played nicely together in the Confederacy for very long.
Unlike Lincoln, Darwin still disturbs humanity's peace of mind. Some people flinch from the idea of natural selection, aka ''survival of the fittest,'' because it suggests Lord Tennyson's ''nature, red in tooth and claw.'' But Darwin, in the last paragraph of The Origin of Species, saw beauty:
''Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.''
Walt Whitman, seared by Lincoln's war to guarantee the nation's survival, adopted a materialist's mysticism about the slaughter: Human immortality is in earth's transformation of bodies into an ''unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centuries hence.''
After Copernicus dislodged humanity from the center of the universe, Marx asserted that false consciousness we do not really ''make up our minds'' blinds us to the fact that we are in the grip of an implacable dialectic of impersonal forces. Darwin placed humanity in a continuum of all protoplasm. Then Freud declared that the individual's ''self'' or personhood is actually a sort of unruly committee. All this dented humanity's self-esteem.
Still, many people of faith find Darwinism compatible with theism: God, they say, initiated and directs the dynamic that Darwin described. In the end, Darwin, in spite of perfunctory rhetorical references to ''the Creator,'' disagreed. As a scientist dealing with probabilities, and with a profoundly materialist theory, he had no intellectual room for a directing deity that wills a special destination for our species.
Darwin's rejection of premeditated design helped to validate an analogous political philosophy. The fact of order in nature does not require us to postulate a divine Orderer, and the social order does not presuppose an order-giving state.
As a practical matter, we cannot expel government from our understanding of society as Darwin expelled God from the understanding of nature. But Darwinism opens the mind to the fecundity of undirected, spontaneous, organic social arrangements to Edmund Burke and Friedrich Hayek.
Speaking of government, in 1973 Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. It said that when identifying an ''endangered'' or ''threatened'' species, the government should assess not only disease, predation and threats to its habitat but also ''other natural . . . factors affecting its continued existence.'' Natural factors?
Four years later, the act held up construction of a Tennessee dam deemed menacing to the snail-darter minnow. Ed Yoder, a learned and sometimes whimsical columnist, noted that it was under Tennessee's ''monkey law'' that John Scopes was tried in 1925 for teaching biology in a way considered incompatible with Genesis. While not equating Tennessee's law with ''a measure so enlightened'' as the 1973 act, Yoder noted:
''Both measures involve legislative interposition in the realm of biological change; and which will have involved the greater hubris is yet to be seen. Tennessee's ambitions were comparatively modest. It sought only to conceal the disturbing evidence of natural selection from impressionable school children. The Congress of the United States, one is intrigued to learn, intends to stop the nasty business in its tracks.''

Having accomplished that, it should be child's play for Congress to make the climate behave. Pick your own meaning of ''child's play.''
Will is a Washington Post columnist. He can be e-mailed at georgewill@washpost.com.
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Old 02-10-2009, 04:46 PM   #2
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Default Re: (It's the offseason!) George Will on Darwin, Evolution and Lincoln...

Yep...

Someday it will evolve to realizing the rest of the academic world left Hegel's theories behind decades ago!!

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Old 02-11-2009, 07:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: (It's the offseason!) George Will on Darwin, Evolution and Lincoln...

George Will is off on this one?
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Old 02-11-2009, 03:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: (It's the offseason!) George Will on Darwin, Evolution and Lincoln...

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Originally Posted by revefsreleets View Post
George Will is off on this one?
to his point on govt., no. But I think the illustration is bad. Even if I agreed with evolution, because Hegel's theory has been uprooted.

In other words, I don't think the illustration makes sense with the point of the article, if you look at all beyond the surface of the illustration.

Also, I would disagree with him about govt., but I define govt. not at the national level, but at the level of local society working together. In that sense, order must come from a govt., whether it be an official govt., or an unofficial meeting of local folk.

Don't forget, at my core, I agree with Machiavelli that govt's first responsibility is to keep order, even with force if necessary. The Prince doesn't have to be liked, but MUST be respected.
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Old 02-11-2009, 05:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: (It's the offseason!) George Will on Darwin, Evolution and Lincoln...

I've given some thought to this since we last "sparred" (for lack of better word).

If you begin with the notion that Evolution "has to be wrong" (because you religious indoctrination requires that belief), than it becomes quite easy to ignore all the data that goes against your belief and focus only on that which supports your beliefs. At the end of this post I will source some very interesting stuff I found on a website about Hegel and Darwin and evolution, but, first to address my prior point.

This isn't a court of law. You can't crumble whole arguments based on minor points, or by attacking the credibility of "the witness". A great example would be to say that the entire body of Sigmund Freud's work is poppyc ock because a few of his theories have been disproven.

You'd throw out the baby with the bathwater, in other words.

I respect your faith, and understand that you MUST refute evolution based on the belief system you've chosen, but Evolution IS considered scientific fact, so I'll "carry on" so to speak.

Anyway, here are a series of interesting articles about Hegel and Darwin for any who care to read them. It IS important to note that although Darwin built on some of Hegel's thoughts, they were quite seperate, and when you start filling in all the blanks with the resaerch done SINCE Darwin, it makes refuting Evolution via "The Hegel Approach" kind of obsolete. It's like saying the rotary engine CANNOT work because it's different than the accepted view of how an internal combustion engine works, even though rotary engines are working every day in millions of cars.

http://www.marxists.org/reference/ar.../houlgate1.htm

(If you click the link you can just keep clicking more links out of it in succession)
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Old 02-13-2009, 03:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: (It's the offseason!) George Will on Darwin, Evolution and Lincoln...

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Originally Posted by revefsreleets View Post
I've given some thought to this since we last "sparred" (for lack of better word).

If you begin with the notion that Evolution "has to be wrong" (because you religious indoctrination requires that belief), than it becomes quite easy to ignore all the data that goes against your belief and focus only on that which supports your beliefs. At the end of this post I will source some very interesting stuff I found on a website about Hegel and Darwin and evolution, but, first to address my prior point.

This isn't a court of law. You can't crumble whole arguments based on minor points, or by attacking the credibility of "the witness". A great example would be to say that the entire body of Sigmund Freud's work is poppyc ock because a few of his theories have been disproven.

You'd throw out the baby with the bathwater, in other words.

I respect your faith, and understand that you MUST refute evolution based on the belief system you've chosen, but Evolution IS considered scientific fact, so I'll "carry on" so to speak.

Anyway, here are a series of interesting articles about Hegel and Darwin for any who care to read them. It IS important to note that although Darwin built on some of Hegel's thoughts, they were quite seperate, and when you start filling in all the blanks with the resaerch done SINCE Darwin, it makes refuting Evolution via "The Hegel Approach" kind of obsolete. It's like saying the rotary engine CANNOT work because it's different than the accepted view of how an internal combustion engine works, even though rotary engines are working every day in millions of cars.

http://www.marxists.org/reference/ar.../houlgate1.htm

(If you click the link you can just keep clicking more links out of it in succession)
I don't hae time to go through the articles right now. . . but do intend to.

However, to set one point straight... my faith doesn't demand negating evolution. There are many very strong Christians who hold to evolution as the method by which the creation account came into being. If you look at the Genesis account, it is a highly stylistic writing. So it can be posited that what is held is a poetic teaching of God's creation (via evolution) and subsequent break with humanity.

Based on the things I have seen and questions I have, I just am not convinced of the argument.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:33 AM   #7
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Default Re: (It's the offseason!) George Will on Darwin, Evolution and Lincoln...

http://www.ohio.com/editorial/commentary/39541577.html

Found this interesting...

Charles Darwin's way of changing everything
By Verlyn Klinkenborg
New York Times


Published on Friday, Feb 13, 2009

NEW YORK: I can't help wondering what Charles Darwin would think if he could survey the state of his intellectual achievement today, 200 years after his birth and 150 years after the publication of On the Origin of Species, the book that changed everything. His central idea — evolution by means of natural selection — was in some sense the product of his time, as Darwin well knew.

He was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin, who grasped that there was something wrong with the conventional notion of fixed species. And his theory was hastened into print and into joint presentation by the independent discoveries of Alfred Russel Wallace half a world away.

But Darwin's theory was the product of years of patient observation. We love to believe in science by epiphany, but the work of real scientists is to rigorously test their epiphanies after they have been boiled down to working hypotheses. Most of Darwin's life was devoted to gathering evidence for just such tests. He writes with an air of incompleteness because he was aware that it would take the work of many scientists to confirm his theory in detail.

I doubt that much in the subsequent history of Darwin's idea would have surprised him. The most important discoveries — Mendel's genetics and the structure of DNA — would almost certainly have gratified him because they reveal the physical basis for the variation underlying evolution. It would have gratified him to see his ideas so thoroughly tested and to see so many of them confirmed. He could hardly have expected to be right so often.

Perhaps one day we will not call evolution ''Darwinism.'' After all, we do not call classical mechanics ''Newtonism.'' But that raises the question of whether a biological Einstein is possible, someone who demonstrates that Darwin's theory is a limited case.

What Darwin proposed was not a set of immutable mathematical formulas. It was a theory of biological history that was itself set in history. That the details have changed does not invalidate his accomplishment. If anything, it enhances it. His writings were not intended to be scriptural. They were meant to be tested.

As for the other fate of so-called Darwinism — the reductionist controversy fostered by religious conservatives — well, Darwin knew plenty about that, too. [U]The cultural opposition to evolution was then, as now, scientifically irrelevant[/U]. Perhaps the persistence of opposition to evolution is a reminder that culture is not biological, or else we might have evolved past such a gnashing of sensibilities.

In a way, our peculiarly American failure to come to terms with Darwin's theory and what it's become since 1859 is a sign of something broader: our failure to come to terms with science and the teaching of science.

Darwin does not fit our image of a scientist. From the 21st century, he seems at first to bear a closer resemblance to an amateur naturalist like Gilbert White in the 18th century. But that is an illusion. Darwin's funding was private, his habit was retiring, and he lacked the kind of institutional support that we associate with science because it did not exist. But Darwin's extensive scientific correspondence makes it clear that he was not the least bit reclusive intellectually and that he understood the character of science as it was practiced in his day as well as anyone.


We expect these days that a boy or girl obsessed with beetles may eventually find a home in a university or a laboratory or a museum. But Darwin's life was his museum, and he was its curator. In June 1833, still early in the five-year voyage of the Beagle, he wrote about rounding Cape Horn: ''It is a grand spectacle to see all nature thus raging; but Heaven knows every one in the Beagle has seen enough in this one summer to last them their natural lives.'' (In this same letter, he celebrates the parliamentary attack on slavery in England.)

The rest of Darwin's life did in fact revolve around that voyage. As you sift through the notes and letters and publications that stemmed from his years on the Beagle, you begin to understand how careful, how inquisitive and how various his mind was. The voyage of the Beagle — and of a young naturalist who was 22 at its outset — is still one of the most compelling stories in science.

Darwin recedes, but his idea does not. It is absorbed, with adaptations, into the foundation of the biological sciences. In a very real sense, it is the cornerstone of what we know about life on Earth. Darwin's version of that great idea was very much of its time, and yet the whole weight of his time was set against it. From one perspective, Darwin looks completely conventional — white, male, well born, leisured, patrician. But from another, he turned the fortune of his circumstances into the most unconventional idea of all: The one that showed humans their true ancestry in nature.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Klinkenborg is a New York Times editorial writer.
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