Darwinian Evolution: science or philosophy?

Evolution: Claims and Evidence Part 1.

Animal Diversity, Wikipedia “Animal” entry

To true believers in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, it means that all creatures have descended from one or a few single-celled ancestors by random gradual genetic modification over long periods of time, and that only the fittest survive through “natural selection,” which is made up of factors such as competition, predation, disasters, isolation and environmental changes. In the words of the Theory it is descent with modification through natural selection. The claim of the Theory of Evolution is not just variability of offspring within a species as seen in breeding practices, from dogs to flowers to food crops, but the creation of totally new unique species (and advancing up the “evolutionary tree” from species and genus to phylum and kingdom) as far removed from each other as the whale and the hippopotamus. Some refer to within-species variation as microevolution, and Darwinian Evolution, by contrast, as macroevolution. In arguments supporting Evolution, proponents often equivocate; that is, they interchange definitions in the middle of an argument to win by illegitimately adding an air of legitimacy. In particular, micro- and macroevolution are often used interchangeably as Evolution although they are two different phenomena.

“If I have erred in giving to natural selection great power, which I am far from admitting, or having exaggerated its power, which is in itself probable, I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations.”

  — Darwin in Descent of Man

In this quote, we see the political tactics used to argue for the theory. Scientists of the day did not argue for creation from nothing (ex nihilo) for each creature, but Darwin sets it up as a straw man argument, rather than address the still unknown means. Others agreed that change had happened, but did not have any evidence of a mechanism. Neither did Darwin.

We know that Evolution’s assumed means is defined as common descent with modification through natural selection, but is it science? Our aim here is not to argue the merits of one theory over another, but to decide whether it is merely a scientifically based belief or science in pursuit of the truth. Remember, science is the pursuit of truth about the predictable, repeatable and measurable aspects of the universe with which we can or could conceivably interact. To be science, it must be testable, verifiable and falsifiable. It should also make predictions about future outcomes.

Even if it is true that today’s animals are descended from extinct animals of the past, is Darwinian Evolution science or philosophy? Is it founded on experimental and observational evidence for and against, or is it a belief system based on faith? What are the mechanisms? Is the evidence for them valid and sufficient? Is there reason to believe that the conclusions drawn from experimentation are plausible? The fact that there is no other viable theory that excludes a creator as a possibility doesn’t make it true or even science[2]. A Theory is generally an educated guess that fits observation better than any other explanation. In historical sciences[3], it is called inference to the best explanation. But, is it plausible and can it pass the tests outlined above?

I have concluded that Evolution is not fully science because it relies too heavily on deduced conclusions that are not well connected or supported by the facts or experiments. Proponents argue that there is sufficient evidence to prove that it is true. Some others have said that the statement “natural selection through survival of the fittest” is merely a tautology or truism because the conclusion is self-evident within the statement. By definition, those that survive are the most fit to survive or they wouldn’t survive. How is that anything but a statement with circular reasoning?

The Theory of Evolution relies heavily on rationalism rather than empiricism, on deductive reasoning rather than induction from experiment or observation of the phenomenon at work. Empiricism is all about experimentation and facts. Rationalism is all about drawing conclusions about what must have happened, based on mental or logical principles. In science, rationalism must always be supported by empirical results. A theory based on observation must be the starting point followed by experimentation to support or disprove it. In this case, there is not enough observational information to call it a theory. It is a hypothesis. Since we cannot go back in time to recreate or test events, Evolution is necessarily more about conclusions drawn from forensics than about facts revealed through experimentation.

“I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly; parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false & grievously mischievous — You have deserted—after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth—the true method of induction—& started up a machinery as wild I think as Bishop Wilkin’s locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved.  Why then express them in the language & arrangements of philosophical induction?”

  — Adam Sedgewick, noted geologist who had taught Darwin, after reading Origin of Species

What about descent with modification? Is there direct evidence of that? The only directly connected evidence of descent with modification is in modern experimental genetics and breeding. Both of these have failed to produce a single new species, much less a new genus, despite more than a hundred years of breeding experiments on short life span species (e.g. fruit flies, plants, yeasts, bacteria). They have only produced varieties of a given species. Breeders, including Darwin, have long known that the spectrum of such variation is limited about a norm and often returns to original type. For example, breeding fruit flies may result in red or black eyes, short or long wings, etc. but not another fly species. Species, by definition, are sterile with respect to natural breeding with other species. Hybridization is the artificial crossing of distinctly different species. Hybrids are generally sterile, and new crossings of the original species must be made to produce viable seeds or offspring. Many of our modern commercial crops are hybrids so that new hybrid seed must be purchased each year. Crossing a horse and a donkey produces a sterile mule, not a fertile half-horse, half-donkey. To produce more mules, more crossings are necessary.

One important source of indirect evidence is the fossil record, which is anything but a continuous series of small modifications from one species to another. In contrast, new species seem to arise without precedent, presumably due to the incompleteness of the fossil record. Darwin knew of this discontinuous fossil record, but assumed that the gaps would eventually be filled by more exploration. This never happened.

The fossil record shows that animals existed in the past that were different from those that live today, but there is not one, even remotely, complete series showing gradual change into another species. Despite the attempts to connect fossils to living species, such as the famous horse or man lineages, none have really been connected by discrete small changes from one to another. Similarity of form and large leaps are said to prove small changes and direct connections. It is all inference from incomplete data to fit the preferred theory. This is not to say that there have not been connections, but that they are far from being proven.

Instead, Darwinists have always relied on similarity of form (homology) to imply descent from one to the other. It is interesting to note that there are countless species living today that have remained relatively unchanged for most of earth’s history. Yet this is not seen as a falsification of the theory. They are merely assumed to have been extraordinarily fit for all of the changes the earth has seen. These Panchronic species include such delicate creatures as frogs and algae and are supposed to have survived ice ages, meteorite strikes, volcanoes, etc. Yet, today we are told that pollution or a couple of degrees shift in temperature will cause their extinction. What’s wrong with this picture?   See the box below for a short list of Panchronic species.

Panchronic species include some members of the following groups          (short list):

Dragonfly, cockroach, ant, termite, fruit fly, mosquito, beetle, flea, spider, scorpion, centipede, crocodile, frog, snake, shark, jellyfish, coral, squid, starfish, horseshoe crab, bony fish, lung fish, fern, ginkgo, mushroom, bacteria, yeast, mold, single cell and colony organisms, algae and lichens.

Recently, biochemists have compared DNA gene sequences and the proteins for which they encode. These do seem to track with homology in that similar animals living in similar circumstances have similar genes and enzymatic proteins. To imply a date of separation from a common lineage, they estimate the (assumed) rate of mutation and count the differences in the molecules. Unfortunately, these projected dates do not agree within the same organism for different gene markers. Such estimates rely, at least in part, on the age of assumed fossilized common ancestors to set the assumed mutation rates. This is circular reasoning. The link is assumed and then the differences are fitted to it afterwards.

Only about 1% of genes encode for proteins that make up the thousands of enzymes and cell structures. Most of the rest of the DNA is poorly or not understood at this time[4]. Because internal metabolic functions at the cellular level must necessarily be similar in all species for life to exist, and enzyme systems involved in these processes are so structurally specific to their functions, it is not surprising that they are so similar; it is surprising that there are any differences at all in these DNA sequences and the proteins (enzymes) they encode.

It was easy to believe in Evolution when our knowledge of the world, the nature of cells and the fossil record was sketchy. When Charles Darwin first proposed his theory, cells were thought to be simple bags of gelatin. No one knew of the complex molecules like DNA, RNA, and metabolic enzymes, or structures such as mitochondria, Golgi apparatus or genes that carry on a galaxy of mind-bogglingly complex processes inside each cell.

Darwin believed that hereditary information was passed down through “gemmules” that each cell in the body shed and that then migrated to the reproductive cells. This belief is called pangenesis because every cell in the body got a vote in the outcome. By this scheme, inheritance of acquired characteristics seemed plausible. Darwin emphasized use and disuse as causing Evolutionary changes. Advances in the knowledge of the biology and biochemistry of the cell make it harder and harder to believe in Evolution as it had originally been presented. In recognition of this uncomfortable situation, in the twentieth century a revision of the theory was agreed upon among evolutionists. It is known as Neo-Darwinism, and included biochemical similarities and concepts of molecular Evolution.

“I am actually weary of telling people that I do not pretend to adduce direct evidence of one species changing into another, but I believe that this view is in the main correct, because so many phenomena can thus be grouped and explained.”

                                                         — Darwin, letters (emphasis added)

Could Evolution be true? Maybe. Is it fact or belief? At this point, it is a belief. Only the atheist NEEDS it to be true to “prove” that a creator is not needed. However, those who believe in a higher power don’t NEED it to be false, because a being that could create a universe and life itself could surely use this means to create new species. Is it science? No, it is a scientifically based belief system, a philosophy.

Continued in Next Blog Post

[2] This is a logical fallacy known as Argument from Silence (argumentum ex silentio) whereby an argument is deemed valid due to the absence of a theory or evidence to the contrary. Also Argument from Ignorance whereby absence of another explanation is used to validate a premise.

[3] Historical science is the study and attempted reconstruction of events that occurred in the past, as contrasted by science that studies existing phenomena.

[4] Most of the other 99% is called “junk DNA” and is only now beginning to yield its functions. Just because scientists have “read” the entire sequence in man and some other creatures, that doesn’t mean they understand it. It would be like unearthing a large library of books written in an extinct language that no one understands and declaring that the contents have actually been understood.

Evolution: Setting the Stage Part 4

Charnia Pre-Cambrian fossil
Charnia Pre-Cambrian fossil

Evolution from the Beginning

When Charles Darwin published On the Origen of Species in 1859 evolutionary theories had been around for a long time. The third century BC Greek philosopher Epicurus derived a form of evolutionary theory from Democretus’ atomic theory. Lucretius, first century BC Roman poet, proposed it as a logical necessity of naturalism in order to explain life arising from nature alone without divine intervention. It was resurrected in the Renaissance through the Age of Enlightenment in a number of forms. See the table.

Charles Darwin had been introduced to evolutionary theories through his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, a physician, inventor and poet. See an evolutionary verse in the box below. Erasmus Darwin was a friend of William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge and their contemporaries who admired his poetry. Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein after reading of his galvanic experiments on animals. He was an advocate of evolution by acquired characteristics, a theory later popularized by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and which was still later discredited as having no viable mechanism. Charles’ family was wealthy, being associated with the Wedgwood fortune. Both sides of the family were Unitarian free thinkers, but the Wedgwood side leaned toward Anglican, at least socially. In this environment and later through his brother Erasmus’ circle of friends, Charles was exposed to the intellectual elite of the day.

Organic life beneath the shoreless waves

Was born and nurs’d in ocean’s pearly caves;

First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,

Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;

These, as successive generations bloom,

New powers acquire and larger limbs assume;

Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,

And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing.

— Erasmus Darwin, The Temple of Nature, 1803


 Evolution theories before Darwin (click to follow link)

Charles’ father Robert was a physician and wished for Charles and his older brother Erasmus Alvey Darwin to follow suite. The brothers attended medical training together at the University of Edinburgh. Erasmus graduated as a physician, but was retired on a pension at age 26 by his father because of his frail health. He spent the rest of his life entertaining the intellectual elite. Charles did badly in medicine, probably because his interests lay elsewhere. While there, he studied with naturalist Robert Edmund Grant who was a proponent of Lamarck’s acquired traits evolutionary theory and homology, a belief that similar form meant common ancestry. He learned stratigraphic geology from Robert Jameson and also studied plant classification and taxidermy.

Later, his father sent him to Christ’s College where he received a BA in theology. His father had procured a position for him as an Anglican pastor, but Charles never was ordained and did not practice. More interested in natural history, he studied botany and geology and aspired to travel for study in the tropics, a popular avocation of young men of independent means. One of his professors, John S. Henslow, got him an unpaid position on the HMS Beagle as gentleman’s companion to Captain Robert FitzRoy on a voyage to map the coastline of South America. Darwin spent his time collecting fossils, plants and animals from South America to the Galapagos Islands to Polynesia. Because Professor Henslow popularized the collections he sent back before his return, Darwin was a celebrity when he arrived home.

When Charles returned from his five year around the world trip in 1836, he published detailed journals of the trip, as well as other scientific books, and delivered papers to the Geological, Geographical and Zoological Societies. He spent another twenty years studying barnacles, pigeon breeding and similar subjects. He never addressed Evolution in any of these publications. He did not publish On The Origin of Species for 23 years! Supposedly he did not publish earlier because he feared reprisals, but being of independent means, being recognized as an authority in his field, and actively dialoging with leaders of the day about other theories of transmutation of species, this seems to be a thin excuse invented by later authors. This excuse was never alluded to in his book. Instead, he described working on it steadily over all those years and that he chose to publish his “abstract” (On the Origin of Species) due to failing health, although he said it would take three or four more years to complete his work.

It wasn’t until Alfred Russell Wallace, a naturalist and admirer, sent Darwin his observations and theory of Evolution while still away on a voyage to the Malay Archipelago and Borneo, that Darwin’s theory was (hurriedly?) presented and published, establishing primacy over Wallace. To his credit, when his friend Charles Lyell presented the joint papers[1] to the Linnaean Society, Darwin acknowledged Wallace as co-founder of the theory. Claiming to have sat on his theory for over twenty years, he rushed to publish On the Origin of Species which he described as an unfinished manuscript without supporting facts, acknowledgements or references[2]. This state was little improved even in the Sixth (and last) Edition, which was only minimally changed from the first edition except for historical recognition of others before him and attempts to address some of the most important scientific criticisms.

I have always wondered whether Wallace was the true originator of a theory that Darwin had overlooked in his own observations, although he had written letters to Joseph Hooker and Asa Gray earlier hinting at an evolutionary theory. Did Wallace provide the link that brought all his speculations together? Because he was backed up by his friends Joseph Hooker and Charles Lyell in his claim of primacy, we may never know. It is sure that the scientific reputation of Wallace declined, while Darwin’s grew. It is interesting to note that Wallace later rejected the theory as lacking both mechanism and sufficient evidence. Others have also speculated about Wallace being the true originator of the theory.

[1] Presented as On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties; and On the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. It was composed of two papers, Wallace’s On the Tendencies of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type and Darwin’s Abstract Extract from an Unpublished Work on Species along with Abstract of a Letter to Asa Gray (to establish primacy).

[2] On the Origin of Species, first edition, Introduction, paragraph 3 & 4.

Evolution, Setting the Stage, Part 3

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

Darwin’s circle of friends and mentors was largely composed of the intellectual elite of the day, many of whom embraced progressivism, socialism, atheism or agnosticism and various other popular philosophies of the day. Darwin himself stated in some of his correspondence that one of his goals was to do away with religion.

…hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true: for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.

— Darwin, letters

After the initial presentation of a paper to the Royal Society, the philosophy, (theory), of Evolution was published in the popular press, much like other popular philosophies of the day, not in scientific journals. Its arguments were more philosophical than scientific, offering little evidence other than similarity of forms between fossil and living animals, and observations that the existing forms were well suited to their functions, both of which had been widely accepted earlier. Contrary to popular accounts, from the beginning, many people in academia, the sciences, philosophy and the clergy enthusiastically embraced the new philosophy of Evolution. To the clergy, it was the means whereby God had created our world.   To the anti-religion elite, it meant God could be replaced altogether, along with any inconvenient moral limitations.

Championed more like a political campaign than a scientific theory, after some early opposition by other scientists it became accepted by the dominant elite, so that scientists had to either adopt it or become obsolete. Any opposition was branded as ignorance or religious tyranny in heated debates where Evolution proponents used a straw man[1] argument in which they presented Darwinian Evolution versus creation ex nihilo of each species.  Most people of the time recognized that changes had taken place,  so that their logical arguments actually involved a lack of scientific evidence for the theory as presented.

In some respects, that picture has prevailed to this day. It is this political tactic that has been repeated in other areas of science to promote new theories, to squash opposition to them and for junior scientists to unseat senior scientists from positions of authority. That is why progressivism and Darwinism, aka Evolution, is so important to later scientific philosophies and developments.

“I have read your book with more pain than pleasure. Parts of it I admired greatly; parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow; because I think them utterly false & grievously mischievous — You have deserted—after a start in that tram-road of all solid physical truth—the true method of induction—& started up a machinery as wild I think as Bishop Wilkin’s locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon. Many of your wide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved.  Why then express them in the language & arrangements of philosophical induction?”

— Adam Sedgewick, noted geologist who had taught Darwin, after reading Origin of Species

The theory of Evolution was based on the economic philosophy of Thomas Malthus whose book, An Essay on the Principles of Population, 1798, predicted that population would outgrow food supplies resulting in starvation. Like Malthusian philosophy, the mechanism of Evolution, survival of the fittest through natural selection, depended on competition for scarce resources as the basis of survival. In the introduction to the first edition of On the Origin of Species[2], Darwin explains Evolution as “this is the doctrine of Malthus applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms[3].”

At the time, there were two opposing theories about the development of the earth. One was catastrophism; the other was uniformitarianism. Catastrophism, supported by Georges Cuvier, the father of paleontology, proposed that the earth had gone through repeated sudden upheavals. Uniformitarianism, promoted by Charles Lyell, geologist and friend of Darwin, proposed an earth where no major changes had taken place except gradual modification over vast periods of time. Darwin had taken the first volume of Lyell’s book, Principles of Geology, on his voyage around the world. Needless to say, Darwin favored Lyell’s position. Later, Darwin accepted Lyell’s theory as supporting his claims of gradual changes over vast periods of time. Cuvier, who had died before Darwin’s time, had opposed uniformitarianism and the earlier evolutionary theories, to be discussed in the next post.   Evolution needed long eons of time for the proposed changes to take place, so uniformitarianism was the chosen philosophy that would facilitate it.

It is interesting to note that until the late twentieth century, uniformitarianism was the accepted dogma[4]. Today, as the best explanations for the fossil record and evolutionary changes, long periods of uniformity interspersed by brief catastrophic events of various sorts are favored. Thus, catastrophism is favored along with elements of uniformitarianism in the form of plate tectonics, formerly known as continental drift[5] which had been rejected earlier. The renewed interest in catastrophism was fostered by the recognition of meteorite strikes and craters as a prehistoric reality that would fit past mass extinctions best.

I have witnessed the acceptance of catastrophism, widespread meteorite craters and plate tectonics, since the 1970s. When I first started my independent studies into science and earth’s mysteries, catastrophism, widespread meteorite craters and continental drift were considered fringe theories. Serpent Mound, an earthwork by the prehistoric Hopewell culture in southern Ohio, is on the edge of an ancient four mile wide weathered meteorite crater. When I first visited Serpent Mound in the early 1980s, the visitor center still had the display claiming it was a crypto-volcanic crater. Although the strata were of dolomite and other sedimentary limestones with no hints of volcanic rock, the prevailing theory proposed an underground gas explosion caused by cryptic or hidden volcanism. Since that time, over 200 meteorite craters have been identified, most of them not readily recognizable due to weathering or other obscuring forces, including the one off the coast of Yucatan that is credited with the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous era.

The re-acceptance of these theories is an example of how science should work. In science, inconsistencies in current theories are met by new data, and questions are answered by formation of new theories or acceptance of once rejected old ones. That is not to say that politics had nothing to do with it. On the contrary, the plate tectonics theory was pushed through in the popular press in the same way that Darwinian Evolution was. Established geologists that did not immediately go along with the theory were publicly ridiculed and defamed in a way that could only be described as scandalous. It was a scientific revolution in geological circles.

 [1] Straw man argument is one where an easily defeated weaker premise is substituted for the real opposition view in order to appear to win the argument, i.e. the author attacks an argument different from (and weaker than) the opposition’s best argument

[2] Complete title and subtitles of the book is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, published by John Murray, London, 1859.

[3] Introduction, paragraph 8, describing Chapter 3, Struggle for Existence.

[4] Dogma – established opinion put forth as authoritative, especially without adequate grounds.

[5] Alfred Wegener, 1912, and earlier proponents.

The Evidence that CO2 is Not the Problem


Source: Robert A. Rohde (Dragons flight at English Wikipedia) – This figure was created by Robert A. Rohde from published data and is part of the Global Warming Art project. http://www.atmo.arizona.edu/stud

This figure requires a bit of explaining. The top spectrum shows the wavelengths at which the atmosphere transmits light and heat as well as the “black body” idealized curves for no absorption. It is a little misleading because the data is not based on actual solar and earth data. It is based on two experimental heat sources, one centered at 5525 K (5252o C or 9485o F), the approximate temperature of solar radiation, and one centered in the range of 210 to 310 K (-63o C to 36.8o C or -82oF to 98o F), the approximate temperature range of re-radiated heat from the earth. In reality solar radiation power, (Watts/m2/micron), shown in red, is six million times as strong as the power of re-radiated heat from the earth, shown in blue.

The other spectra are absorption[1] spectra. The top one shows the relative percent absorption by total atmospheric gases at various wavelengths, (note that this spectrum is practically the inverse of the transmission spectrum above it), and the spectra below that show the absorption wavelength ranges of individual atmospheric gases, but not the relative strength of that absorption in reality. As experimental, not real atmospheric, data they can only tell us the wavelength ranges of the absorption, not their relative strengths.

Note that CO2 absorbs in the 15 micron range[2], which is within both the range of re-radiated heat and the strong absorption by water vapor, of which the CO2 peak forms a mere shoulder. This is used to claim forcing of water vapor by CO2, without regard to the real near-saturation level of CO2 absorption.  Lesser CO2 peaks in the 2.7 and 4.3 micron ranges also only contribute in a minor way, the first is completely covered by a water vapor absorption peak and the second forms a shoulder in another water vapor peak. These minor peaks occur in a region where both solar radiation and re-radiation are minimized. Methane and nitrous oxide are also shown to be minor players, having narrow absorption ranges and low concentrations. Note too that ozone blocks most of the ultraviolet light from the sun.

The CO2 hypothesis is based on bad science; first that of John Tyndall, 1862, and then of Gilbert Plass, 1955.

  1.  In 1872 John Tyndall measured the heat absorption of various atmospheric gases over the entire wavelength range of his heat source. He found that water vapor and CO2 absorbed more strongly than other atmospheric gases such as oxygen and nitrogen. Oxygen and nitrogen, major components of the atmosphere, had little or no absorption of heat in the range tested. It is important to note that his experiments did not separate the heat into specific wavelengths.

Quote: “…if, as the above experiments indicated, the chief influence be exercised by the aqueous vapour, every variation of this constituent must produce a change of climate. Similar remarks would apply to the carbonic acid [CO2] diffused through the air… they constitute true causes, the extent alone of the operation remaining doubtful.”

Contributions to Molecular Physics in the Domain of Radiant Heat, John Tyndall, 1872, Cambridge University Press

2.  In 1955 Gilbert Plass claimed that a doubling of CO2 would result in a 3.6 degree temperature increase.

Quotes:  “ … average surface temperature of the earth increases 3.6o C if the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is doubled …”

 “The extra CO2, released into the atmosphere by industrial processes and other human activities may have caused the temperature rise during the present century. In contrast with other theories of climate, the CO2 theory predicts that this warming trend will continue, at least for several centuries.”

The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change by Gilbert Plass, 1956, Johns Hopkins University

This was followed by mathematical climate models, originally in climate alarmism testimony before Congress, 1988, by James Hansen at NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies that was based on calculations that worked for Venusian atmospheric gases, Sulfuric Acid clouds and a thick, heavy CO2 atmosphere.  The models exclude clouds as a factor and claim a forcing of water vapor heat retention.  The premise  only works if evaporated vapor remains as low level vapor rather that forming clouds.



Evolution: Setting the Stage, Part 2


Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels    Source:  Wikipedia, Public Domain

Socialism / Communism

Socialist thought began to be accepted in the 17th century (or even earlier) and flourished in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Socialism is actually a kind of social Darwinism or social engineering. It is based on a misunderstanding of human nature and a belief that man’s very nature could be molded and improved. This was based on the belief that the world is naturally progressive and everything, including human nature, is being continually improved throughout time.

The socialist dream sounds wonderful: everyone working for the common good and no one going without. Unfortunately, this belief has proven again and again to be wrong. Human nature is basically Self-centered, and in general man is generous and altruistic only after personal needs and desires are met. Humans are motivated by a focus on Me first, then spouse and children, then extended family, then friends, then local tribe and only then extending to local and state authority, to country and to the greater global society last.

Man naturally is very compassionate and generous toward those in need of charity, but only after his basic needs are met. Socialism requires that man’s focus be on the state (or society as a whole), while putting himself and his own interests last. This is the exact opposite of man’s true, unchanging nature. Habits and attitudes can be taught to a certain degree, but it has been demonstrated many times that man’s basic selfish and imperfect nature cannot be changed.

As the Plymouth colony learned, (see Part 1), without personal rewards for his achievements, a person’s motivation to produce is reduced or eliminated along with most of his creativity and efficiency. At the same time, his selfishness, envy, resentment and deceit grow as a result of perceived inequities. In such a society, the lazy person who hardly contributes at all gets as much as the hard working person who produces most of what is shared.

In labor unions where all members are rewarded equally whether they are cracker-jack contributors or space filling dead wood, resentment is rampant and efficiency and productivity suffer. Such unions discourage excellence and encourage minimal or status quo contributions. In the absence of an overarching internally motivated altruism, socialist societies must be tightly and thoroughly controlled by the state, ultimately resulting in totalitarian dictatorships or at best dictatorial bodies of an elite class in order to force people to behave as is required to maintain the society.

Unfortunately, socialism/communism also leads to moral degradation wherein cheating, lying and other forms of deceit are used to gain perceived or actual basic needs or an advantage over others. A prime example is the old Soviet Union, where morals and ethics have suffered greatly from real or perceived deprivations. As a general rule, needy is greedy. Everyone may be equal, but everyone, except the elite, is poorer for it.

Essentially we are back to monarchies and privileged gentry oppressing serfs or slaves “for their own good.” So much for equality as espoused by socialism, communism and their ilk. It is a very old, very bad idea that results in a return to old oppressions and a loss of basic freedoms and inalienable human rights “endowed by our Creator.”

But wait, what about the utopian dream? Marx presented his philosophy as a series of steps where, through the principles of dialectical materialism[1], society progresses from original oppression by the bourgeois[2] under capitalism[3] through struggle to a “dictatorship of the proletariat[4]” to a utopian state where governments are unnecessary and fade away on their own. Unfortunately, it never goes beyond the dictatorship stage because the utopian dream is totally unrealistic, unworkable and unsustainable in the real world due to the inherent and unchangeable nature of man and to reality in general. Marx never explained how the society would take that final step from dictatorship to utopia. People in power want to stay in power. It is totally unrealistic to expect them to voluntarily give that up.

Even if utopia were attained, how would the utopian society be organized and maintained without essentially robotic altruism to the society[5] by every individual and (again) strict control from the top to keep it all going? Like monarchies and dictatorships it is still all about control by an elite group. In recent fiction, Star Trek is a model of a utopian society. Poverty has been eliminated and altruism is the norm. No one is envious or resentful of others’ successes, and everyone gladly obeys orders from a wise and benign leader toward a common goal. However, the real world is more like Babylon 5 with all of its intrigues, envy, resentment, prejudices, hatreds and inequities. Man’s nature cannot be denied, and control through coercion and rewards is necessary for even a “utopian” society to function. Heaven on earth is impossible as long as imperfect people are involved.

Unfortunately, even today there are those who would throw away their freedom, in the form of excessive regulation and government control, to gain a (false) sense of security under the control of a supposedly wiser elite. It seems there are some who are uncomfortable with freedom, with all its risks and opportunities, and who desire a nice safe cage. (Some intellectuals and elitists who espouse the socialist philosophy assume that they will be among the elite and are only uncomfortable that others are not controlled. However, most of these people will end up being the controlled, not the controllers.)

They, who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety,  deserve neither liberty nor safety.                    —Benjamin Franklin

Christianity is built on the value and importance of the individual whereby everyone benefits freely as a result of freely practiced moral values such as duty, honor, charity, respect and equality of opportunity (not outcome, which is unrealistic)[6]. Socialism in its many forms, does not value the individual but rather sees people as groups that should (be compelled to) work for the greater good of the whole, regardless of whether it is good for any one individual. These two philosophies are diametrically opposed. Socialism can only succeed if Christianity is either eliminated or tightly controlled as a purely social ritual. That is why socialism and atheism are such good partners, and behind socialism is the ever-present progressivism.

The belief in a naturally progressive universe says that everything from the universe to molecules is evolving toward perfection, with no room for absolutes, not even moral ones.   If the entire universe is believed to be naturally progressive, then there is no need for a God to have caused or influenced it. It is its own reason for being. To those who espouse atheism or socialism in its various forms, progressivism is what gives meaning to life and their cause, essentially replacing God. It gives them a purpose and a satisfaction in furthering that assumed natural progress. That is why it has such a strong hold on its believers, especially those who wish to engineer a socialist utopia or stop evolution in its tracks to “save the planet.”

The progressive universe itself becomes their de facto god, and social change toward a dreamed-of perfect utopian paradise becomes the goal and their purpose in life. Since no cultural or social system has ever achieved the perfection envisioned, to the progressive the present system, whatever it may be, must be changed to further that perceived progress. This makes it a perfect philosophy for young radicals who wish things were better but lack the life experiences to see the broader picture or the unintended consequences of rampant social change.

However, remember the maxim: all progress is change, but all change is not progress. That is, unless you believe that progress is inevitable as do the progressives. But progress requires work while regress is the natural state of things. A boulder perched on the edge of a cliff, given enough time and erosion, will naturally roll down (regress) by necessity, but pushing it back up to the top (progress) requires work. Progress is not a natural thing; it must force its way against the regressive nature of the universe. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy always increases – that chaos or disorder always increases and usable energy always decreases. This is the opposite of the progressive philosophy. Dust, death and decay are natural results of the real world.

If the universe is naturally progressive, then everything must be interpreted as progressing or “evolving” toward perfection, whether it is molecules, life, earth, stars, galaxies or the universe.   The fixed laws and values of basic physics, such as the force of gravity or the mass of the proton, are a great mystery to those who reject all absolutes in favor of universal progress. These values are under constant attack by theorists using deductive reasoning, i.e. “pure” reason, rather than inductive reasoning based on reality, experiments and observation.

This is the case of cosmology and particle physics today. They start with an a priori[7] hypothesis, based on assumptions about how the universe must behave, and produce complex mathematical equations to model an imagined perfectly symmetrical, homogeneous and beautifully progressive universe. In areas where reality conflicts with the theory that is based on pure mathematics, the facts are either ignored as anomalies, reinterpreted to make them fit or new layers of complexity are added to their calculations. Never is the theory questioned.

Why all the expounding on progressivism and its partner socialism with its unrealistic view of human nature, and ultimately its tragic results? First of all, it is a perspective on the pseudoscientific theories discussed in this blog that are all about control of thought by an elite class of “experts” who are not to be questioned. Progressivism and Socialism have influenced or control the foundations of most of modern science and academia today.

That does not mean that real scientific achievement is not valid or does not advance our knowledge of our world; it means that real results are often interpreted to fit the prevailing progressive paradigm. For instance, if DNA of similar organisms is less different than dissimilar ones, which is expected if DNA determines form and function, it is not acceptable to just state the known facts and note the similarities and differences. The very real data must be fitted into the evolution paradigm by concluding that similar DNA means that they must have evolved from a common ancestor. While this may or may not be true, it is far from proven. It is a leap of faith and a philosophy based on existing paradigms.

Secondly, Darwinism and Eugenics[8]specifically have been used as tools and extensions of socialist philosophy throughout its history. Pre-Marx progressive socialist thought itself nurtured Darwinism. Darwin’s theory of Evolution by survival of the fittest (class struggle in socialist parlance) through natural selection arose amidst this nineteenth century pre-Marxist socialist-progressive era. In the context of the prevailing philosophies, this meant to the materialists and humanists that once and for all religion could be eliminated. It seemed to confirm their social ideas that the world was naturally progressive and did not need any outside forces to bring it about. Using the theory of Evolution, religion could be replaced by materialism, humanism and socialism as the new “religion” of the people.

[1] Dialectical materialism supposedly progresses from thesis (original idea) through antithesis (opposition) to synthesis (final form).

[2] Bourgeois (originally a resident of a town or burgh) is defined in Marxism as the (supposed oppressor) upper and middle classes as opposed to the Proletariat defined as the (supposedly oppressed) lower classes. (Proletariat is originally from the Latin proletarius, for citizens lacking property that were exempted from taxes and military service and could only contribute to the state by having children.) This assumes that there is a strict class order rather than a fluid classless society whereby individuals assume ever changing positions based on effort and ability.

[3] Capitalism was coined by early socialists from capital, which originally meant head and later meant property or money.

[4] Dictatorship of the proletariat is really a dictatorship by elites with special privileges over the masses which are tightly controlled.

[5] Only colony animals such as ants, bees and a few rare vertebrates behave like that without coercion.

[6] To be a Christian is to believe in Jesus Christ, repent of sins and rely on Him. Unlike all other religions, it is a religion of Faith, not works. The Christian does good works not to ensure his salvation, but to emulate Jesus, follow His teachings and please God, all done out of gratitude for salvation already gained through simple Faith.

[7] A priori means presumed from the beginning; self-evident; intuitively obvious.

[8] Eugenics is a “science” that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed. Systematized by Francis Galton, Charles Darwin’s half-cousin in the late 19th century in which he advocated controlled breeding to prevent mankind from falling into mediocrity by regression towards the mean. This system was later used by the Nazis (National Socialist Party) in their pursuit of the master race, and was used to justify the elimination of Jews and other “undesirables”.

Evolution: Setting the Stage, Part 1


The decline of the Holy Roman Empire in the 5th century was followed by a period of absolute power and control by monarchs and the Catholic Church known later as the Middle Ages or Dark Ages, so called by those in succeeding generations who wanted to believe theirs was a more “enlightened” age. Starting with the Italian Renaissance, in the 14th century and continuing through the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment of the 16th through the 19th centuries, the Western world was in a state of constant turmoil and social change.

The invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg in 1450 made mass printings and translations of the Bible and other books possible so that they became accessible outside of elite circles. This furthered the Protestant Reformation which had begun in the 14th century with John Wycliff in England and Czech priest Jan Hus who was burned at the stake in 1415. These departures from Catholic tradition were followed by other reformers including Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, who posted his Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg in 1517 condemning church abuses.

The Medieval Catholic Church, with its domination by rich and powerful men, had become more of a political and military force than a representation of Christ’s love and compassion as reflected by the apostles and the early church. This is not to say that the Church did not do many good things as exemplified by church run universities, hospitals, orphanages, observatories, libraries and other repositories of ancient and new knowledge.

Forced conversions, persecution of “heretics,” i.e. any form of Christianity[1], science or philosophy not sanctioned by the Church, excommunications, torture and death by burning and other means were all practiced at times by the Church. The reader should note that excommunication to the devoted Catholic of the time meant he had no chance of salvation and was doomed to hellfire forever – as opposed to Protestant belief that only God could ever decide that. (What a freeing concept!) Imprisonment, torture and even death were preferable to excommunication. Similarly, monarchies had absolute power over the people and could, almost at will, have anyone stripped of his position, his property, his freedom or his life. Only the Church had any power over monarchies.

Assisted by the rise of Protestantism, the alienation of the people by abuses and domination of the Catholic Church and the Monarchy eventually led to limitations or overthrow of monarchies and the rise of various types of social philosophies and experimentation within and outside the various churches. In this vacuum, many experimental philosophies were espoused, some of which were irreligious or openly hostile to religion. Some went so far as to throw out Christianity altogether. The Directory, set up in France after the French Revolution, is probably the best, though later, example of such an extreme view. For a period of time under this regime in the 18th century, religion, particularly Christianity, was actually outlawed in France, which led to persecution of Christians and Jews.

The Italian Renaissance, beginning in the 14th century, marked a return to classical thinking of the Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. This influenced the formation of humanist and materialist philosophies, which became popular among intellectuals. Materialist philosophy states that there is nothing beyond the material world that we can see and touch. Humanists[2] believed that man was basically good and was only corrupted by society. Materialism[3] said “down with god,” and Humanism said “up with man.”

The goodness and eventual perfection of man and society was/is an important part of the basic philosophy of Progressivism and was/is practiced by communists, socialists and their ilk. It is, in my view, a misinterpretation of human nature and a false belief in our ability to change it. This is Magical Thinking because it is contrary to experience. The unchanging nature of man is the reason that both Shakespearian and Greek plays still have relevance today. The circumstances and society are different, but the human reactions are the same. The Christian viewpoint was/is that man himself is imperfect and cannot be perfected by human endeavor, no matter how noble. If society is faulty, it is because imperfect man is its author.

Note that the word “progressive” has been corrupted from its original meaning. The progressive philosophy originally meant that progress was possible through work, learning and inspiration, built on the works of others progressively. This is contrary to today’s interpretation of progressivism as an inevitable quality of the universe, moving naturally from simpler to more complex and from imperfection to perfection and utopia, which is again Magical Thinking.

In the 19th century, socialist thought was dominated by the “man good, society bad” humanist philosophy of Rousseau, and was guided by the “scarcity and struggle” philosophy of economist Thomas Malthus[4]. The dominant theme of the day was social progress of the “noble savage” toward ultimate social perfection, once he was freed from the tyranny of governments and religion. This utopian dream was a perfect philosophy for radicals who wanted to overthrow, rather than reform, what they perceived to be the corrupt and corrupting society of the time. Many social experiments were carried out in which utopian socialist communities were formed, lived and ultimately failed.

A very early forerunner of this was the Plymouth colony in the 17th century, led by William Bradford. From the beginning they tried a form of communal living wherein all production was shared equally by everyone. When it became obvious that people would not produce well unless they were rewarded in proportion to their labors, this philosophy was quickly rejected, and was replaced by private ownership and free enterprise that quickly produced more prosperity and created wealth. Nineteenth century examples of these utopian socialist experiments include New Harmony, Indiana, Brook Farm, Massachusetts and North American Phalanx, New Jersey.

[1] Example: Waldensians were a group professing poverty, preaching, and opposed to image worship, relics, pilgrimages, intercession of the saints, etc. that were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church beginning in the 12th century.

[2] Originally from the Italian word umanista for a teacher of classical Greek and Latin beginning in the 14th century and promoted by Petrarch.

[3] Note that the word Materialism has been corrupted by the left to mean living for gain of material things, not a philosophy that denies any spiritual aspects. Reinterpretation of words is a common practice of the left that blurs real meanings.

[4] An Essay on the Principles of Population, 1798, predicted starvation because populations were increasing exponentially while food supplies were increasing arithmetically. This philosophy assumed no improvements above subsistence level farming, no development of more prolific and disease resistant crops or mechanical means to increase production, and no other factors that would limit population such as disease and war.