Thursday, July 19, 2012

Honest Darwinians

Here is an intriguing video in which two Darwinians (Richard Dawkins "Darwinian medicine" advocate Dr. Randolph Nesse) talk about natural selection, the human body, and its implications for medical practice.  It is about nine minutes long but worth listening to completion.  I was put on to it by the Discovery Institute.

Repeatedly, Nesse talks about the “design” of the human body.  Dawkins stops him on more than one occasion to remind everyone that this “design” is only apparent.  Nesse agrees, of course, but even comments more than once that, in spite of the fact that he is using the word “design” in a special sense, it always seems like the best word to describe his view of the human body.

There is an utterly fascinating book by Cornelius Hunter titled Darwin’s Proof where this point is explored in detail.  Hunter shows that Darwin and modern Darwinians begin with a theological view about how God should have made things, and then conclude from the fact that God did not make things the way they think He should have that God cannot be responsible for things as they are – especially in regard to living things.

To confirm Hunter’s thesis, when Nesse qualifies his use of the word “design” he stops to explain that, although the body seems designed, it is very poorly designed. No intelligent being, he claims, would design a body that way our bodies are designed.  Ergo, we cannot be designed.  The whole thing is completely captivating.

Near the end of the video, Nesse gives and illustration he likes to use in regard to how selection works in organisms.  He says it is analogous to the way we empty the change from our pocket at the end of the day into a jar.  Everyday, all sorts of coins go in.  But when we take out the coins we want in the morning, we tend to take the silver coins because they are worth more.  So what goes in is random, but via selection, what comes out is not.

It doesn’t seem to occur to the good Doctor that his illustration of selection presupposes the presence of an intelligent selector.  Those poor Darwinians!  But, in the end, they are honest.

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