Monday, January 29, 2007

Glenns Confused About Evolution

GleNn Greenwald is rightly appalled by the other Glenn. His post is brilliant as always. However, both Glenn's seem to be a bit confused about the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Glenn G (for good no irony intended) quotes and criticises Glenn R (for Rotten no irony to be had here)


Sunday, January 28, 2007
Just "evolution in action"

(updated below - updated again)

Glenn Reynolds points to this article from The Independent which reports that a "leading Islamic doctor is urging British Muslims not to vaccinate their children against diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella because they contain substances making them unlawful for Muslims to take." Reynolds' response:


JUST THINK OF IT AS EVOLUTION IN ACTION


I don't think there is any evolutionary theory that celebrates or finds purpose in


Quite so. All reputable evolutionary theories are versions of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Thus they are theories in natural science. Such theories do not celebrate or find purpose. They seek to explain.

There is another school of thought which makes a God of selection and declares that its will be done. This form of power worship has helped lead its most famous adherent, Adolf Hitler. Confusing this view with the theory of evolution by natural selection developed by Darwin Weissman et al is a category error. Scientific theories do not celebrate or find purpose.

Glenn G agrees with commenters who argue that his argument becomes false if it is purged of his tautalogical assertion.

The full argument (which is true no matter what follows the word in) is

"I don't think there is any evolutionary theory that celebrates or finds purpose in the death of children as a result of stupid actions taken by their parents."

this is exactly as true as

"I don't think there is any evolutionary theory that celebrates or finds purpose in the death of adults as a result of stupid actions taken by themselves."

However the statement

"There is no evolutionary theory that asserts that the death of children as a result of actions taken by their parents has lead to outcomes which all normal people consider wonderful"

is clearly false. Standard evolutionary theory has an automatic hypothesis for why we love our children (might be false and hasn't been tested but sure makes sense). The argument is that those of our great to the nth aunts and uncles who did not love their children, let them die and arent't the great to the nth grandparents of anyoone, while those of our great to the nth grandparents who loved their children managed to keep some of them alive. Thus the instinctive love of parents for their children was selected, was created by natural selection.

The theory, as such, does not contain the assertion that this process caused a good outcome. Normal people can doubt that parental love was created by natural selection. However, no normal person thinks that it is a bad or neutral thing.

And yes I am using "normal" in a way which shows that I am not a moral relativist.

The rest of Greenwald's post is wonderful (as always). The crude abuse of evolutionary theory by Reynolds and the confused response resulting from Greenwald's horror, helps us understand why so many people reject the theory of evolution by natural selection. If one makes a God of selection, one risks moral depravity. denying that it has created life's wonderful diversity is one way to deny that selection is God. The other way is to just say "duh. Who ever said it was ? (Goodwin's law is suspended so you can answer that one, although he wasn't the first or the last)".

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "1/29/2007 01:57:00 PM":

Glenn Reynolds is simply a loutish idiot, and attending to him for a moment is impossible, but you are perfectly correct on evolution. Good grief; why don't we know more?




Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "1/29/2007 01:57:00 PM":

Let me also make clear again, how offensive I find Glenn Reynolds in passing for I never ever would think of reading him directly.



Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "1/29/2007 01:57:00 PM":

Hallo! ;)
heh... what unbalanced newz!
what do U think about it?

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