Thursday, September 13, 2007

Delusion XIX - Do I agree with him?

In some ways I feel I am "more" atheist than Dawkins is. He believes that in principle the existence of God can be proven - I don't. This tends to place me in an almost unreachable place for evangelists, while Dawkins agrees with them on this point. He also agrees with evangelists that an instantaneous magical design/creation by a supernatural entity is analagous to human design/creation of, say, a watch. I say that a high enough technology is indistinguishable from magic, but the progression of design of watches is as evolutionary as the progression of life on Earth. Complex design without complex precedents to work from is a fantasy either way, no matter how intelligent the designer. Thus, design/creation doesn't even exist as a separate thing to evolution to me - so in that sense, I am also further from creationist ideas than Dawkins. Dawkins is also ideologically rigid in his ideas on evolution. I am much more open to research on group selection, Lamarckism and panspermia - aspects which Dawkins has a completely closed mind to - Much like evangelists he challenges us to "prove" that these things exist before he will consider them - But as an authority on biology he asks us to reject them until then. My mind is way more open to new scientific ideas than his is. I am in some ways an "apologist" for religions, and that is partly because I believe religion to have large selective significance, and particularly because it takes warped associative logic to demonstrate religion's "badness"


Anonymous said...

Lamarckism is a buncha bologna. You might say you're more open minded to it but in this instance that's just another way of saying you don't know enough about to see why it's a fraudulent theory

Marco said...

Can you please point me to a site with a scientific disproof of Lamarckism? I define Lamarckism as the "environment" directly generating genetic changes that can be passed down to the next generation. Recent discoveries about RNA suggest a mechanism is not only possible, but likely. Do you refute this new information? I think your mind is as closed as the Pope's if you think this latest research is irrelevant to the argument.

Dr. Clam said...

I think marco is just using a different definition of Lamarckism, anonoymous. The theory advanced by Lamarck, which would see the offspring of the village blacksmith invariably having more developed muscles due to his exeritions, was clearly wrong. Though not at all fraudulent. I do not think that the word means what you think it means.
However, if we use it as shorthand for "inheritance of acquired characteristics" like Darwinism is commonly short for "natural selection of beneficial characteristics", then I think marco is right and any well-informed person would agree with him. There is plenty of evidence that the environment of a mother long before conception can influence the properties of offspring, that viruses can write themselves into their host's DNA, etc.
Marco has said in the past that an organism that could evolve the capability to undergo more classically directed Lamarckian adaptation through a conventional Darwinian mechanism would have a strong selective advantage. Is this not, if you squint at a little sideways, exactly what bacteria have done with their exchange of plasmids?

Dr. Clam said...

P.S. The Pope's mind is not closed.

Dr. Clam said...

Yes, you are definitely more atheist than Dawkins. The opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference, and rabid theophobia is not the opposite of religion.

(Hmm, remind me to put the screws on the Groose for some comments on the Origin of Life when next we meet...)