Michael Stuart Kelly

Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

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http://www.lewrockwe...e/reese452.html

Charly Reese:

There is nothing wrong with a person believing that a dinosaur evolved into a canary, but there is also nothing wrong with someone believing that God created the first man and woman. I've never seen any physical evidence to support either belief, and one is no more improbable than the other.

Fred Hoyle actually believed that:

The fossil Archaeopteryx was a man-made fake.[17] This assertion was definitively refuted by, among other strong reasons, the presence of microcracks extending through the fossil into the surrounding rock. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Hoyle

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<...>

THE MISSING LINK

Part II, May 21, 1973

Vol II, no. 17,

The Ayn Rand Letter

<...>

pg. 5-6, the concluding paragraphs

I am not a student of the theory of evolution and, therefore, I am neither its supporter nor its opponent. But a certain hypothesis has haunted me for years; I want to stress that it is only a hypothesis. There is an enormous breach of continuity between man and all the other living species. The difference lies in the nature of man's consciousness, in its distinctive characteristic: his conceptual faculty. It is as if, after aeons of physiological development, the evolutionary process altered its course, and the higher stages of development focused primarily on the consciousness of living species, not their bodies. But the development of a man's consciousness is volitional: no matter what the innate degree of his intelligence, he must develop it, he must learn how to use it, he must become a human being by choice. What if he does not choose to? Then he becomes a transitional phenomenon - a desperate creature that struggles frantically against his own nature, longing for the effortless "safety" of an animal's consciousness, which he cannot recapture, and rebelling against a human consciousness, which he is afraid to achieve.

For years, scientists have been looking for a "missing link" between man and animals. Perhaps that missing link is the anti-conceptual mentality.

.

Here's what emerged into central clarity for me: She did not understand what the issue of the "missing link" was all about. It was basically a past-tense issue, though lots of details were still unclear, by the time she wrote that article -- had been for more than a decade. But she didn't understand what it was. You see, she so completely believed her own theory of the difference between animal and human consciousness, she was thinking of the issue in terms of a missing consciousness link. Instead, the issue was transitional forms, the gap in the fossil record. There was the search for transitional skeletons leading to the human anatomy. The gap had started to be filled in by the early 60s.

What the passage indicates is how far she was from understanding the theory of evolution, or the problems evolutionists were considering in regard to human evolution. So I think that whatever she "picked up" on the subject from readings and conversations, she must have been mostly not interested and the details weren't registering.

<...>

But can't what Rand calls "breach of continuity between man and all the other living species" be traced back to the human brain having biologically evolved to a stage where a higher developed degree of consciousness will invariably manifest itself, i. e. its development is not volitional?

For example, every human being whose brain is not impaired and which has matured to a certain stage will have developed consciousness of all humans having a limited life span. But this consciousness is in no way 'volitional'.

I think what Rand means by [man] "must become a human being by choice" is more a personal value judgement influenced by what she believed to be the "right" kind of consciousness: A consciousness based on and reflecting the "right" philosophy: Objectivism.

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But this consciousness is in no way 'volitional'. I think what Rand means by [man] "must become a human being by choice" is more a personal value judgement influenced by what she believed to be the "right" kind of consciousness: A consciousness based on and reflecting the "right" philosophy: Objectivism.

Ouch.

There I was nodding to this (agreeing, agreeing - not falling asleep).

When AR was wrong, she didn't go half- way.

And then you have to spoil it with the conclusion. "The "right" philosophy: Objectivism."

Cheap shot, no?

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But this consciousness is in no way 'volitional'. I think what Rand means by [man] "must become a human being by choice" is more a personal value judgement influenced by what she believed to be the "right" kind of consciousness: A consciousness based on and reflecting the "right" philosophy: Objectivism.

Ouch.

There I was nodding to this (agreeing, agreeing - not falling asleep).

When AR was wrong, she didn't go half- way.

And then you have to spoil it with the conclusion. "The "right" philosophy: Objectivism."

Cheap shot, no?

i was arguing from Rand's perspective in an attempt interpret sense into what she said (again, from her perspective, for no doubt she saw the Objectivist philosophy as the via regia to developing a 'fully rational mind').

It is interesting to also study interpretations of Rand's words by others, like for example here:

From Robert Campbell's blog on SOLO about Neil Parille's article "Ayn Rand and Evolution" http://rebirthofreas...Evolution.shtml

[Parille's article caused some controversy, R. Campbell's references to Diana Hsieh and Don Watkins are in the context of this controversy].

Robert Campbell (blog entry on on SOLO, Thu, 2006-04-06 17:01) http://www.solopassion.com/node/798

"I further note that Ms. Hsieh, following Mr. Watkins, avoids mentioning a section in Mr. Parille's essay that covers Rand's (self-described) speculation to the effect that some members of species Homo sapiens are, well, not fully evolved. While outwardly normal they are not entirely human, for they have not yet ascended beyond a "preconceptual" or "missing link" stage to a fully "conceptual" stage. (The speculation can be found not just in a journal entry from the mid-1940s, but also in the 1973 essay "The Missing Link," which was later included in a 1982 anthology.) The "missing link" speculation is more than a little weird, in my opinion, as well as hard to square with what can be learned from paleoanthropology or developmental psychology. In any event, Mr. Parille was well advised to draw attention to it. Should we regard the "missing link" speculation as the work of Ayn Rand at her best? Is it an isolated speculation, or does it have connections with her views about creators and parasites, leaders and followers, or human history and social dynamics? Mr. Parille doesn't offer an answer to those questions, but they are certainly worth asking."

Imo this interpretation also addresses Rand's moral value judgements possibly factoring in.

Here R. Campbell describes a stage of his own 'philosophical journey':

Robert Campbell (blog entry on on SOLO, Thu, 2006-04-06 17:01) http://www.solopassion.com/node/798

As for why an essay like Mr. Parille’s is worth writing, let me note that as a young Objectivist, I took it for granted that Rand's philosophy would square nicely with evolutionary theories (indeed, I assumed it would have to) and was thoroughly mystified to read her disclaimer in that 1973 essay, "The Missing Link." Around that same time, I read Mortimer Adler's book The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes, which used to be recommended in the NBI days, and noted an undertow of doubt about the possibility that human cognitive capabilities are a product of evolution (indeed, Adler began his career with a book arguing for the fixity of species). So Mr. Parille's approach looks to me to be a completely legitimate one.

Here is another interesting exchange betwen Ellen Stuttle and Dragonfly:

I don't know what Rand thought about issues of biology and evolution, beyond what I've cited. I've never been able to make sense of her supposed "biological" basis, from the first time I read Atlas Shrugged, in early June 1961, when I was 18 1/2, since I was so well familiar with Darwinism by then, she seemed to me outmoded.

I've also found Rand's attitude with regard to evolution puzzling, it's as if she was uncomfortable with the idea. I think that her outlook was in essence religious, only did she replace the supernatural God by "Man", and she probably preferred to think that the existence of man was just a metaphysical given, some primary fact not to be probed deeper. One of her arguments against a God was the fact that the concept of God is insulting and degrading to man, it implies that the highest possible is not to be reached by man, that he is an inferior being who can only worship an ideal he will never achieve. This is of course not a rational argument, it is a religious argument, even if her god is not a supernatural being, but "man". On the other hand she must somehow have realized that explicit rejection of evolution would make her look bad as a proponent of rational thinking, which might explain her wishy-washy attitude with regard to evolution.

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But this consciousness is in no way 'volitional'. I think what Rand means by [man] "must become a human being by choice" is more a personal value judgement influenced by what she believed to be the "right" kind of consciousness: A consciousness based on and reflecting the "right" philosophy: Objectivism.
Ouch. There I was nodding to this (agreeing, agreeing - not falling asleep). When AR was wrong, she didn't go half- way. And then you have to spoil it with the conclusion. "The "right" philosophy: Objectivism." Cheap shot, no?
i was arguing from Rand's perspective in an attempt interpret sense into what she said (again, from her perspective, for no doubt she saw the Objectivist philosophy as the via regia to developing a 'fully rational mind'). It is interesting to also study interpretations of Rand's words by others, like for example here: From Robert Campbell's blog on SOLO about Neil Parille's article "Ayn Rand and Evolution" http://rebirthofreas...Evolution.shtml
[Parille's article caused some controversy, R. Campbell's references to Diana Hsieh and Don Watkins are in the context of this controversy]. Robert Campbell (blog entry on on SOLO, Thu, 2006-04-06 17:01) http://www.solopassion.com/node/798 "I further note that Ms. Hsieh, following Mr. Watkins, avoids mentioning a section in Mr. Parille's essay that covers Rand's (self-described) speculation to the effect that some members of species Homo sapiens are, well, not fully evolved. While outwardly normal they are not entirely human, for they have not yet ascended beyond a "preconceptual" or "missing link" stage to a fully "conceptual" stage. (The speculation can be found not just in a journal entry from the mid-1940s, but also in the 1973 essay "The Missing Link," which was later included in a 1982 anthology.) The "missing link" speculation is more than a little weird, in my opinion, as well as hard to square with what can be learned from paleoanthropology or developmental psychology. In any event, Mr. Parille was well advised to draw attention to it. Should we regard the "missing link" speculation as the work of Ayn Rand at her best? Is it an isolated speculation, or does it have connections with her views about creators and parasites, leaders and followers, or human history and social dynamics? Mr. Parille doesn't offer an answer to those questions, but they are certainly worth asking."
Imo this interpretation also addresses Rand's moral value judgements possibly factoring in.

Xray,

I really do not understand how Rand correlated Man's (qua man) emergent consciousness with

each individual's conceptual, volitional, faculty. That is a distinction she should have seen, of all people.

It appears she didn't grasp the missing link theory, and placed her own hypothesis upon it, rationalistically.

Even with the advantage of further knowledge and hindsight today, this is astonishing.

Wrong in one place, doesn't mean wrong everywhere. Your argument is a non sequitur, which you repeat now

with "for no doubt she saw the Objectivist philosophy as the via regia to developing a 'fully rational mind'.

Cart before horse. Developing a rational mind is the primary. Not Objectivism, per se. She clearly stated

and inferred this constantly.

"I think what Rand means by [man] "must become ahuman being by choice" is more a personal

value judgment influenced by what she believed to be the "right" kind of consciousness:

a consciousness based on and reflecting the "right" philosophy: Objectivism." [Xray]

-- is more non-sequitur, with strawman. You might disagree with her 'consciousness by volition' position -

or indeed, against all evidence, with her entire concept-formation epistemology - but her singular error in evolution and the missing-link, is disconnected from it, and does not prove it wrong.

"This interpretation addresses Rand's moral value judgments possibly factoring in". [Xray]

--Rationalistic, possibly rationalizing too, I'd agree with you. However, "moral value judgment"?

I think it was an epistemic and metaphysical error.

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On 5/5/2008 at 3:50 PM, Alfonso Jones said:

(Nathaniel Branden, From Benefits and Hazards):

I remember being astonished to hear her say one day, "After all, the theory of evolution is only a hypothesis." I asked her, "You mean you seriously doubt that more complex life forms — including humans — evolved from less complex life forms?" She shrugged and responded, "I'm really not prepared to say," or words to that effect. I do not mean to imply that she wanted to substitute for the theory of evolution the religious belief that we are all God's creation; but there was definitely something about the concept of evolution that made her uncomfortable.
1

It's quite possible that Rand had a more sophisticated, nuanced view of the origin of species than just "natural selection" versus "divine creation." Here's an indication of what she may have been exploring as an alternate theory of the development of life forms in our world:

12717927_552528364922439_420528245891852

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That cartoon is funny. Darwin's theories have been refined over the years. Science is knowable but just think about meteorology as an example of the complexity of the universe.

Mea Culpa. I can't remember which thread I wrote that Donner and Blitzen were thunder and lightning in German. It should have read, "DONDER and Blitzen. We spell it wrong in America.

Peter

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13 hours ago, Roger Bissell said:

It's quite possible that Rand had a more sophisticated, nuanced view of the origin of species than just "natural selection" versus "divine creation." Here's an indication of what she may have been exploring as an alternate theory of the development of life forms in our world:

12717927_552528364922439_420528245891852

I can guess what bothered Rand about  evolution.  Evolution is driven by two things:  1. variation in the genetic structure of living things.  Chromosomes cross over each other and shuffle the sequence of neucliotides G, A, T, C and random mutations occur (possible due to cosmic rays breaking open DNA strands). 2. Natural Selection (which is really an analogy or metaphor in which the actions of nature  select and cull which livings things survive or have the means to acquire sustanance to live long enough to reproduce.  This really comes down to a physical interaction between living things and the environment in which they live and die.  This is governed by physical law (mostly) and chance (to a limited extent).  I think Rand might have been disturbed by the role that chance plays in evolution.  There is no teleology at work in natural evolution.  There is no impulse to perfect various life forms.  Lack or purpose and accidental happenstance might have bothered Rand.  Humans are a happenstance,  an accident in the development of the primate order. Humans were not inevitable nor are they the purpose for which Nature acts.  That is one of the reasons why the religious folk hate the theory of evolution.  Humans are not here to realize God's purposes nor are we "created"  in the image of some deity.  The Earth was not awaiting our arrival.  We just happened. 

 

Too bad Rand never saw this:

 https://www.theguardian.com/science/the-h-word/2016/apr/19/the-tree-of-life-with-darwin-from-genesis-to-genomics#img-2

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2 hours ago, Peter said:

Mea Culpa. I can't remember which thread I wrote that Donner and Blitzen were thunder and lightning in German. It should have read, "DONDER and Blitzen. We spell it wrong in America.

Peter

Nope, the correct spelling in German is "Donner" and "Blitz", plural "Blitze". As in Bach's St Matthew passion: Sind Blitze sind Donner in Wolken verschwunden?
 

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Thanks Max. Donner and Blitz. What a  shame that Blitzen doesn't hold true. That ruins an American song. Rudolph the red nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose . . . .  Donner and Blitzen . . .

peter  

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