- See my review of Dawkins book The God delusion.
http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=dawkins_29_2 ".....Natural selection is an improbability pump—a process that generates statistical improbability. It systematically seizes the minority of random changes that have what it takes to survive and accumulates them, step by tiny step over unimaginable timescales, until evolution eventually scales mountains of improbability and diversity whose height and range seem to know no limit. Yet it is so magnificently simple that you can pare Darwin’s big idea down to a single sentence (again, this is a neo-Darwinian way of putting it, not quite Darwin’s): Given sufficient time, the non-random survival of hereditary entities (which occasionally miscopy) will generate complexity, diversity, beauty, and an illusion of design so persuasive that it is almost impossible to distinguish from deliberate intelligent design....."
rephrase: ".....Natural selection .... seizes the minority of random changes that have what it takes to survive and accumulates them, ..... over unimaginable timescales ....
rephrase: ".....Roger Rabbit .... seizes ... changes that .... survive and accumulates them...."
rephrase: "....The changes that survive are accumulated ..."
"survive", "seizes" and "accumulated" all alludes to the same fact making Dawkins paragraph a tautology and his conclusions from such a non-sequitur, his Adaptation might be right but not because of his argument.
"Before the coming of life on earth, some rudimentary evolution of molecules could have occurred by ordinary processes of physics and chemistry. There is no need to think of design or purpose or directedness. If a group of atoms in the presence of energy falls into a stable pattern it will tend to stay that way. The earliest form of natural selection was simply a selection of stable forms and a rejection of unstable ones. There is no mystery about this. It had to happen by definition" (Ref 9, p.13)
This explanation is based on the misconception that I have already mentioned, that living creatures evolve to do things 'for the good of the species' or 'for the good of the group'. It is easy to see how this idea got its start in biology. Much of an animal's life is devoted to reproduction, and most of the acts of altruistic self-sacrifice that are observed in nature are performed by parents towards their young. 'Perpetuation of the species' is a common euphemism for reproduction, and it is undeniably a
p.14 This line of thought can be put into vaguely Darwinian terms. Evolution works by natural selection, and natural selection means the differential survival of the 'fittest'. But are we talking about the fittest individuals, the fittest races, the fittest species, or what.' For some purposes this does not greatly matter, but when we are talking about altruism it is obviously crucial. If it is species that are competing in what Darwin called the struggle for existence, the individual seems best regarded as a pawn in the game, to be sacrificed when the greater interest of the species as a whole requires it.
To put it in a slightly more respectable way, a group, such as a species or a population within a species, whose individual members are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the welfare of the group, maybe less likely to go extinct than a rival group whose individual members place their own selfish interests first. Therefore the world becomes populated mainly by groups consisting of self-sacrificing individuals. This is the theory of 'group selection', long assumed to be true by biologists not familiar with the details of evolutionary theory, brought out into the open in a famous book by V. C. Wynne-Edwards, and popularized by Robert Ardrey in The Social Contract. The orthodox alternative is normally called 'individual selection', although I personally prefer to speak of gene selection.
p.17 In the beginning was simplicity. It is difficult enough explaining how even a simple universe began. I take it as agreed that it would be even harder to explain the sudden springing up, fully armed, of complex order-life, or a being capable of creating life. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is satisfying because it shows us a way in which simplicity could change into complexity, how unordered atoms could group themselves into ever more complex patterns until they ended up manufacturing people.
Darwin provides a solution, the only feasible one so far suggested, to the deep problem of our existence. I will try to explain the great theory in a more general way than is customary, beginning with the time before evolution itself began. Darwin's 'survival of the fittest' is really a special case of a more
Notes on selfish gene
- "....selection of stable forms and a rejection of unstable ones...." which is the same thing Empedocles, Lucretius wrote. rejection <=> unstable , sentence is tautology.
- Natural selection, the bind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind's eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker
Question: Why isn't this blind automatic process stupid?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8PNvplrmHI ".....A quarter of an eye is better than no eye at all. ....." 16min
Dawkins assumes that a fraction of an eye will see a fraction as good as an eye. An eye is Composite Integrity of parts, the balance of parts , not the number of parts enables a function(Marcel Schützenberger) within the constraints of engineering redundancy(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redundancy_(engineering) and aesthetics. See Phillip Johnson who replied to Dawkins partial eye issue elsewhere. Aesthetics has not been mentioned in the Irreducible Functionality IC debates, the human face would look inappropriate with block eyes for example. Eagles, octopus , owls and humans eyes are constructed and optimized for their respective environments. Creatures living under water would go blind from UV exposure above the surface.
- "....Potentially viable evolutionary pathways have been proposed for allegedly irreducibly complex systems such as blood clotting, the immune system and the flagellum, which were the three examples Behe used. Even his example of a mousetrap was shown to be reducible by John H. McDonald. If irreducible complexity is an insurmountable obstacle to evolution, it should not be possible to conceive of such pathways....."
With 'evolutionary' here is meant gradualistic(Adaptation) as Platonic(law of excluded middle) opposite to spontaneous. Darwin identified IC in the works of Aristotle. IC or Irreducible Functionality, laws of logic and falsifiability itself isn't falsifiable. This inability to differentiate between what we experience(mouse trap) and what use to express said experience is one of the major reasons why the origins debate is so acrimonious. Nobody gets worked up or hammers the table over Ohms law for example. It should be deeply unsettling to Behe, Dembski etc. that the Adaptationists were in fact correct: Irreducible complexity isn't falsifiable.
- "....It is illustrative to compare a mousetrap with a cat, in this context. Both normally function so as to control the mouse population. The cat has many parts that can be removed leaving it still functional; for example, its tail can be bobbed, or it can lose an ear in a fight. Comparing the cat and the mousetrap, then, one sees that the mousetrap (which is not alive) offers better evidence, in terms of irreducible complexity, for intelligent design than the cat. Even looking at the mousetrap analogy, several critics have described ways in which the parts of the mousetrap could have independent uses or could develop in stages, demonstrating that it is not irreducibly complex. ....."
Reducing the parts of Behe's mousetrap decreases Engineering redundancy and increasing parts does not necessarily increase redundancy , it is the optimization of the engineering functionality and redundancy of which the number of parts are a side-effect.