Evolution and Aristotle

The theory of the evolution of species by natural selection is one of the greatest intellectual achievements in human history.  Not only does it elegantly explain an enormous amount of data about life on Earth; it is also supported by a mass of fossil, genetic, and observational evidence.  For the purposes of this essay, I will assume that the theory is, at least in its broad outlines, true.  Since its formulation, evolution has been surrounded by passions and controversy unlike those generated by any other scientific theory.  This is because some at least of its advocates have long claimed that Darwin’s theory has ramifications far outside the realm of pure biology.  It was claimed that the theory of evolution had answered philosophical and theological questions about which humanity has argued for millennia.  It disproved the Bible and proved God doesn’t exist.  It disproved the idea that humans are different from other animals.  It proved that love and morality are really just survival and reproduction mechanisms, and their claims to objective validity are entirely without foundation.  It is inferences of these types that I wish to examine.

This essay is dedicated to my wife, to whom I have entrusted my hopes of reproductive success.  It was discussions with her that inspired this endeavor.

Part I:  Ideals and loyalties

Part II:  Human distinctiveness

Part III:  Evolution and Divine causality

Part IV: Original sin

6 Responses

  1. […] evolution, oversettelse, translation The Bonald translation marches ever onward. This week, Evolution and Aristotle. […]

  2. “It disproved the Bible and proved God doesn’t exist.”

    i’ve never understood this argument from the darwinist camp.

    i mean, i’m not religious (i’m agnostic) and i think that darwin’s theory of evolution (with a big “T”) and all the ideas that go with it seem awfully logical and correct given the evidence we see around us in nature … but i don’t see at all how evolution disproves the existence of god (or gods). sure it messes with the ideas about creation in the bible, as well as in pretty much all other religious systems and mythologies, but it doesn’t at all answer the question of whether or not there’s a god(s). doesn’t even ask the question!

    there’s something screwy in the logic of the people who think this way; but, then, that isn’t a first for humanity. (~_^)

  3. I disagree with HBDChick and Bonald on this issue. I believe that the theory of evolution does have implications outside of Biology. Every scientific theory has a set of assumptions from which it bases its propositions. It is not unbiased and without a worldview, everything possesses a philosophy no matter how simplistic it is. The theory of evolution of species by natural selection is not the greatest intellectual achievement in human history.

  4. I agree. Evolution is a stunningly successful theory, both in its internal logic and the external evidence, but it doesn’t (and isn’t supposed to) answer metaphysical, ethical, or religious questions. I even think it’s too bad that the word “darwinist” makes it sound like evolutionary biology is an ideology rather than science. A good part of the blame would have to go to people who have treated it like an ideology.

  5. Hello alcestiseshtemoa,

    Being a physicist, I’m partial to Newtonian mechanics being the greatest intellectual achievement in human history myself, but evolution by natural selection is right up there. You are of course correct that any scientific theory must make pre-scientific assumptions: that the world is orderly and rational, that the human mind is able to comprehend this order, that concepts like space, time, and causality are meaningful. Stuff like that. None if it should be particularly objectionable to us, as we make these same assumptions in our daily lives. For natural selection to work, there are other assumptions one must make: traits must be inheritable; they must have some effect on reproductive success; the time it takes a species to adapt must be shorter than the time it takes the environment to change what is adaptive. Again, nothing objectionable. As for anti-theistic assumptions, the only one made is that God doesn’t act systematically to protect maladapted organisms. I suppose He could if He wanted to, but there seems to be no reason to think God has been working this way.\

    As for implications outside biology, I think the main one is to clarify our thinking about species, human distinctiveness, and divine causality. Evolution has taken away the danger that we shall think about these things in too simplistic or mechanistic a manner.

    That’s my take, but I’d like to hear yours. What do you think the implications of evolution are, outside of biology?

  6. Its my stand and belief that evolution is not true.,.the only origin of everything is GOD….everything are made by God and exist because of God (Jesus Christ)……….
    According to John 1:1-3
    1.In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
    2. The same was in the beginning with God.
    3. ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM AND WITHOUT HIM WAS NOT ANYTHING MADE THAT WAS MADE.

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