Friday, October 3, 2014

God Redux

In a Times Op-Ed piece entitled “God, Darwin and My College Biology Class” (NYT, 9/27/14), David P. Barash, an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington makes the following assertion: “The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator.” Adding benevolent to the mix complicates the argument. Let’s make it simple. Does science explain everything? For instance, Thomas Nagel, a professor of philosophy and law at NYU and an avowed atheist has asked how naturalism “can account for the appearance, through the operation of the laws of physics and chemistry, of conscious beings like ourselves, capable of discovering those laws and understanding the universe that they govern.” (“A Philosopher Defends Religion,” The New York Review of Books, 9/22/12). The philosopher John Searle has remarked that free will and quanta are unanswered questions. Add to that the question of how something could be created out of nothing, an old favorite on the disenchantment talk circuit. Everyone wants certainty. Those who believe don’t like it that science diminishes or extinguishes God’s role. Those who hone to a rationalist and analytic view of the world quote the last proposition of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof must one be silent.” But such certainties are neither spiritual nor scientific. Hamlet’s famous line, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” still points to the fact that we may have to leave open items on our teleological agendas.


  1. People who like to oppose evolution and even many wbo support it fail to distinguish a random mechanism from a gaming structuture. A roulette wheel is random but leads to a house-biased payoff scheme.

    Evolution exploits not radomness but rather the house advantage which life provides.

    Life reproduces DNA far faster than non-life (which has no house advantage) does. It's DNA is simply more likely to occur than "random" DNA which is mors likely to fade away than reproduce. I think that "natural selection" is a poor choice of words for what is far deeper.

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  3. I have to think about this. For instance is it randomness or survival that is at work in evolution?


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