Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Darwin's extinction event?

It may come to a shock to many of you, but I like a lot of  Darwin's work.
Just as I have met many agnostics and atheists over the years who say 'I don't mind Jesus at all, it is the Christians I don't like' .
In a similar but opposing vein, I don't mind some of Darwin's work, it is just some of the Atheists, most of the Communists, almost all of the Nazis and pretty much ALL of the Social Darwinists types I don't like.

Unlike many of his modern worshippers, I have been to Darwin's cottage and stood by his impressive tomb at Westminster. I have actually read his work.
I feel I have come to know the man and the theory quite well over the years.
Do I agree with Darwin's theory? No. Of course not.
It is a theory. He did not even believe in it. He had some faith in it, he had hopes for it... but 'BELIEVE'? No. That is the realm of modern Darwinism. Of modern Scientific Dogma.
Darwin stood against the dogma of the day, and when his ideas became acceptable - his work BECAME the new dogma of a new day. Ironically, I think he would have liked that.
He was, after all, a creature of the Academe.
Darwin had no problem with a 'regent priesthood' of academia, he just felt that HE should be the Arch-Bishop. In order to do that he needed to overthrow the previous orthodoxy of, what he perceived to be Cartesian and Scholastic (dualist) approaches to the issue of 'Origins' - or the origin of life.
Now I am sure I do not have to rhyme off all the folks who took umbrage with old Chuck's theory. Everyone from the worlds biggest names in philosophy, palaeontology, history, mathematics, physics, biology, and even the mind behind the DNA revolution.
Many have seen and do see incoherence and big 'problems' with the idea.
I am among that number.
But for all that, Darwin's biggest critic  may have been Darwin himself, at least in his lifetime.
Charles Darwin, in all his years of travel and research - in all his fossils and all his time in the oldest beds and shales he could find access to - had hit a wall.
It is a period in the geological record we now refer to as 'The Cambrian Explosion' was this wall.
It is a subject that is often glossed over in schools with a few brief and facile paragraphs in biology textbooks - as opposed to entire pages on finch beaks and erroneous 19th drawings of embryos - but it is incredibly important to understanding the limits  of Darwin's ideas. His own limits.
It is also quite interesting and very relevant to recent discoveries in the fossil record.
Darwin's pinned his theory on this period. He theorized that all life on earth had evolved from a single 'common ancestor', and that this ancestor's spawn had slowly evolved by a process known as natural selection.
The idea goes something like this: Way back when 'something' happened that created specific organic proteins. Then again 'something' combined these proteins into a living cell (so far -  almost 100 years on-  totally impossible in the lab).  Then these cells evolved into 'transitory' life forms, that combined to become multicellular organisms.
This all happened in the biggest of all 'somethings': The Cambrian Explosion.
This Cambrian period is unlike any on the fossil record. Suddenly, from seemingly nowhere pop up all sorts of full functional organisms. These strange otherworldy beings ruled or world for millions of years and then almost completely died out.
Darwin theorized that all modern life had descended from those few survivors of that extinction event. It should be noted, at this point, that the 'somethings' referred to above do NOT infer a divine or supernatural influence.
Darwin had theorized soley material causes, apparently unconcerned with regression or (medieval or modern) notions of potential. Like so many of his proto-scientistic contemporaries, Darwin  was extremely selective in his use of philosophy.
But he was quite pragmatic, and is often described as a 'realist'. He knew when he faced an obstacle.
Darwin's biggest obstacle was the Cambrian, and he knew it!

Darwin could not find his transitory fossils in the pre Cambrian. There was nothing of note. He was forced to reconcile with this idea, and seems to come to the conclusion that the fossils were too fragile to be common, and/or that the then current science  (19th century) and methods involved  were too primitive. He was assured by those ideas, and felt quite confident -after a lapse- that they would one day be discovered. Should nothing ever be discovered, or should other complex life be discovered (worse than nothing) his whole theory would need a rethink.
But to this esteemed scientist, this enigma was unthinkable.
Science would prove him correct, once the technology had been designed and the beds could be discovered. The Gordian knot would be cut!
Darwin's promissory materialism - his utterly modern blind faith in the progress of science, technology and the future - was only half right.
Both the beds and the technology do exist today, but the discoveries are not what the early evolutionists, led by Darwin, would have expected to find at all. 
A fact illustrated by how these rather recent discoveries are constantly attacked and spun out of recognition by the academe and their lackeys in the MSM.
What has been found?
Fully formed, complex sponge colonies dating from the precambrian. Large colonies of complex symbiotic nature.
Creatures from way up the tree of life.
Several branches up, in fact.
When  Chinese scientists first discovered the spores they were ridiculed and scorned for it. Cranks. Hoaxers. Commie slaves. The dreaded title 'ID'.
You name it.
Now we have not only had repetitions of the first find, but  full blown complex sponge colonies. Not just the eggs, the whole critter. Whole critters. Lots of them.
It seems Darwin's little garden did not end at the back wall, just his ideas and theory did.
There is a forest of life that exists outside his materialist equation - that is to say WITHIN the materialist paradigm.
It seems Darwin's model is outmoded. It has been selected for removal by nature.
Is that  irony or what.  His attempt to remove teleology from the Origins argument with his seminal work led to the research that in turn resulted in the  'Natural Selection' of his theory. Nature herself, has killed of the notion with the very fossils Darwin attempted to dethrone her with.
For all our differences, I cannot help but feel a bit sorry for the old Master and Prof.
It seems a very human mistake.
Perhaps man's need to explain everything in material terms, rather than the origin of life, is the real emergent epiphenomenon we see here?

one of the recent MSM article with academic spin intact:


  1. I have always wondered why Darwin waited 25 years before publishing his Origin of Species: probably because Wallace was right behind him! And why he said it was a long argument. That, to me, doesn’t seem like somebody sure of himself.

    I like to compare this way of doing things to Einstein’s publications in 1905 and 1915: here was a guy who knew where he was going. But even then he made a blunder with his cosmological constant, because a universe having a beginning did not appeal to him.

    Well, I guess scientists remain men!

  2. Too true, Pépé.
    Excellent example of the constant, too. Scientists are just as susceptible to human bias anyone. In fact, I would argue many are more so. Why? In short, because many live very isolated and concentrated existence. The cause or root is what we in military circles would refer to as 'tunnel vision'.

    It reminds me of a VERY crude joke, that I can think I can safely relate on this infernal blog - and analogize to the scientistic mind.

    A man is stranded on a desert Island.
    All he has with him is a few bags of grain, a bucket, and a donkey. But, he is industrious. So he stays well fed, and in no time has an irrigated and ploughed field.
    But he is 'lonely'. He spends years dreaming of ways to relieve his passions and eventually, in his madness focuses on the Donkey.
    He sneaks up on the donkey, and places the bucket down behind him and prepares to 'mount' the beast in a way not fit for sane men. But, JUST then the Donkey detects something's wrong and walks away.
    This scene repeats itself countless times, as if it were meant to. The man becomes increasing angry, and increasing determined to hump this poor donkey, but every time he gets close - the donkey walks or runs away.
    One windy day, as he sat on the beach muttering to himself, he heard a distant cry.
    Off the shore, in the distant foam he saw a figure.
    Someone is out there drowning!
    The man jumped into the sea and swam with all his strength.
    He found a woman in distress and brought her to shore.
    Once ashore he looked on her with amazement.
    She is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Curvy, slim - but not skinny. A pretty face. Big boobs...and almost completely nude, her clothes having been torn off at sea.
    She sits up in the sand and looks at him with deep gratitude and says: 'You have saved my life from certain death, and I am grateful. I want to repay you somehow! I will do ANYTHING you want me to. Just ask!'
    The man's face lit with an insane glow and he began to laugh hysterically.
    The woman confused, asked him what he wanted her to do?
    The man stood up, dead serious and shaking his fist at the clouds says 'Hold that damned donkey still for me!'

  3. Golly,

    Two ignorant men talking to each other ...

    Sorry to rain on your mutual admiration society gentlemen, but both Newton and Einstein knew that attractive gravity would produce a collapsing Universe.

    Newton postulated a spatially infinite Universe, wrongly thinking that this would mean that it would not have a centre upon which it could collapse.

    Einstein was informed by the best astronomers of his day that the Universe (at the time just thought to consist of the Milky Way Galaxy) was neither expanding nor collapsing. Einstein knew that it had to be either collapsing or expanding, so he added his fudge factor, the cosmological constant, to keep it static.

    It was only later that it was realized to be expanding, removing the need for the cosmological constant, and even later for it to be realized that the expansion was accelerating, perhaps reintroducing the cosmological constant as Dark Energy.

    1. WOW!
      Welcome to the Faustian. Nice to see you comment, even if it just to 'snark'.
      Allow me to educate. A retired pathologist (with several degrees and good taste in music) is no more well rounded that any other sort of well educated rounded academic on the subject of Cosmology.
      Just because I did not study medicine does not mean I do not have a grasp on this subject, nor does the fact that my career path is military infer that I am not highly educated myself.
      We disagree on the constant? Well so did many other intelligent people. It does not mean they are ignorant of all the facts.
      I may be aware of some things YOU are not, Bach. Has that EVER occurred to you?

    2. BTW,
      What did you think of the joke?


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