Sunday, November 25, 2007

Five facts about 'Darwinism'

When reading creationist articles, I often get surprised by the extent to, which they get things wrong. Therefore I have here gatherede five central facts about, what Charles Darwin actually wrote, so I have somewhere to refer to, when debating creationists ;-)

Fact #1:

Charles Darwin was building on an already established idea of transformation or evolution.

In Origin of Species, Preface, Darwin writes:

I will here give a brief sketch of the progress of opinion on the Origin of Species. Until recently the great majority of naturalists believed that species were immutable productions, and had been separately created. This view has been ably maintained by many authors. Some few naturalists, on the other hand, have believed that species undergo modification, and that the existing forms of life are the descendants by true generation of pre-existing forms. Passing over allusions to the subject in the classical writers, the first author who in modern times has treated it in a scientific spirit was Buffon. But as his opinions fluctuated greatly at different periods, and as he does not enter on the causes or means of the transformation of species, I need not here enter on details.

Lamarck was the first man whose conclusions on the subject excited much attention. This justly-celebrated naturalist first published his views in 1801; he much enlarged them in 1809 in his "Philosophie Zoologique,' and subsequently, in 1815, in the Introduction to his "Hist. Nat. des Animaux sans Vert├ębres.' In these works he upholds the doctrine that species, including man, are descended from other species. He first did the eminent service of arousing attention to the probability of all change in the organic, as well as in the inorganic world, being the result of law, and not of miraculous interposition. Lamarck seems to have been chiefly led to his conclusion on the gradual change of species, by the difficulty of distinguishing species and varieties, by the almost perfect gradation of forms in certain groups, and by the analogy of domestic productions. With respect to the means of modification, he attributed something to the direct action of the physical conditions of life, something to the crossing of already existing forms, and much to use and disuse, that is, to the effects of habit. To this latter agency he seemed to attribute all the beautiful adaptations in nature; -- such as the long neck of the giraffe for browsing on the branches of trees. But he likewise believed in a law of progressive development; and as all the forms of life thus tend to progress, in order to account for the existence at the present day of simple productions, he maintains that such forms are now spontaneously generated.

So, the key to it all was, whether new species were possible or not.

[Remaining four facts will follow]

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Antony Flew was until 2004 a rather unknown philosopher, whose earlier claim to fame was a disproof in the 1950s of the possibility of the Christian god. However, in 2004 it was announced thathe had become a deist -- seeing that the complexity of living organisms made abiogenesis unfeasable. The IDists were not slow to celebrate the event, while atheist Richard Carrier tried to downplay the conversion. Carrier's version of the conversion can be found here. Recently, a book, There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, listing Antony Flew as author together with the Christian apologist Roy Abraham Varghese. Mark Oppenheimer has written a New York Times article (here), which critically examines the book, the friendship between Flew and various Christians and the correspondence between Carrier and Flew. Several bloggers have addressed the issue, and I will here list the blog entries:
  • PZ Myers (Pharyngula): Roy Varghese and the exploitation of Antony Flew
  • Myers mainly quotes Oppenheimer for the mental decline of Antony Flew.
  • Richard Carrier (RCs Blogs): Antony Flew's Bogus Book
    Carrier claims that the book isn't written by Flew -- it is written as comtemporary Christian apologetics.
  • Mark Perakh (Talk Reason): Flew, Schroeder, Varghese: What a company!
    Perakh tones down the conversion; deists are really just a variety of atheists.
  • William Dembski (Uncommon Descent): I Liked the Old Atheists Better

    Dembski prefers the intellectual honesty and civility of an old-school atheist like Antony Flew for the crass and unruly behavior of the newer varietysuch as Richard Dawkins. Add to that the Flew is no longer an atheist.

    The article is followed by a message from Flew stating that he stands by the book. It was written by Varghese, because Flew is too old to write, but he has read the book and claims that it is his words.

About Me

A Christian in Satanist clothes