Neo-Darwinian Evolution in Doubt

PSI Blog 20180411 Neo-Darwinian Evolution in Doubt

Here is an excellent Blog by PSI member Fred Frees:

The headline is provocative, and would lead one to think that no explanation exists or is forthcoming. But, such is not the case. Sherman eventually does provide an explanation (just not a univironmental one).

He begins by saying, “Evolution doesn’t start organisms. Organisms start evolution and we still have no explanation for what they are and how they emerge by chance from chemistry.”

He further states: “Unlike inanimate things, organisms engage in functional, fitted effort.”

He explains: “Effort is purposeful work, an organism trying to achieve what is functional – of value to it, fitted or representative of its circumstances. Effort value and representation only make sense with respect to organisms. Organisms try to benefit themselves given their environment. Inanimate things don’t. In the physical sciences, there’s simply no room for explanation from functionally fitted behavior. Any physical scientist who claimed that subatomic, atomic, molecular, geological or galactic phenomena as trying to benefit itself given its circumstances would be drummed out of the physical sciences. A physicist knows better than to say the moon tries to lift the tides for the moon or the tide’s benefit.” 

Sherman’s assertions are based on the theories of Terrence Deacon.

The thrust of Deacon’s (and, thus Sherman’s) argument is living beings need to “try” vs. inanimate objects lack of such need. Living beings “try” to stay alive and reproduce. Inanimate objects don’t. Living beings engage in “Self-regeneration” (i.e., Self protection, self repair, self-reproduction).  All this in the face of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which Sherman reiterates as all things deteriorating.  Sherman regards “trying” as the distinguishing factor in the beginning of life, and asks how did it start. Deacon’s theory is based on “constraints,” or the “channeling of energy into work.”  In the “non-living” universe (prior to the emergence of life), constraints eventually led to “self-organization.”  The first form of self-organization he calls “autocatalysis” (a chemical chain-reaction that creates more catalysts).  But, it alone is not self-regenerating.    What is needed is crystal-formation into organized solids similar to seeds (called “capsids”). But, both processes separately don’t last and there are still no “selves.”  But, combined, these processes create self-regeneration by means of “autogens” (chemically combining capsids and catalysts that open and close in a contained reproductive manner). The process contains the requisite self protection, self repair, and self-reproduction.

I’m not going to critique the particulars of Deacon’s thesis. There may, indeed, be “autogens” and “catalysts” that are engaged in the formation of organisms.  But, all this theory does is try to explain how life forms began, and not why.

What can be criticized about Deacon (and Sherman’s) theory is that there is no context in which to explain why these processes take place.  This is a prime example of systems philosophy, focusing only on the microcosm, while ignoring the macrocosm.  How did the “autogens” come to be in the first place?  Where did the capsids and catalysts come from?

We can agree on one thing. The “theory of evolution” doesn’t explain it.  Neither does “accident” or “chance” explain it.

The process by which life originated from inanimate matter is called “biopoesis.” (Borchardt-TSW-p. 211)  Why does this occur? “To the systems theorist, life may be the result of ‘accident’ or of ‘self-assembly,’ but to the univironmental determinist it is, like cancer, the only possible response to certain conditions.” (Borchardt-TSW-p. 216)

Are Deacon and Sherman indeterminists?  Their repeated usage of the terms “self-regeneration,”  “self-protection,” “ self-repair,” and “ self-reproduction” confirms it.

The fact that the only reference to evolution is the “theory of evolution” (which only pertains to biology) is a second confirmation of their indeterminism.  Their theory completely ignores the macrocosm, in which evolution within the infinite universe gives ultimate rise to life, given the right conditions.

And, thirdly, they regard the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics only as a law of departure, without acknowledging the complementary law of arrival.
At least they don’t credit a supernatural force for creating life. And, to say that science has yet to explain why life occurs is actually correct, since mainstream science is not univironmentally based and is still entrenched in the quagmire of indeterminism, which Deacon and Sherman have yet to dig themselves out of, either.


Bligh said...

Uneducated opinions. Anyone who understands the implications of determinism can and does accept the theory of evolution.

Bligh said...

Thermodynamics is misunderstood even by so called educated.
It is built upon CLOSED systems, not OPEN systems. It doesn't apply except to the former.

Glenn Borchardt said...

It does not fully apply to either closed or open systems, since neither actually exists. The matter and motion of matter emitted by all microcosms requires an amenable macrocosm per complementarity (All things are subject to divergence and convergence from other things). The Second Law of Thermodynamics is really just a repeat of Newton’s First Law of Motion. All submicrocosms, being in constant motion, eventually leave the confines of whatever portion of the universe that has temporarily restricted their motion.