Blogging through Darwin (1)


I’m holding off on any sort of critique right now.  That will come when we deal with the fossil section.  I am currently using the Great Books edition.  In terms of prose style, it’s quite good.  Much of Darwin, himself schooled on Milton, is reminiscent of W.G.T. Shedd.  It is wordy at times, but that was a 19th century affectation.

Chapter 1: Variation under Domestication

The mechanism of evolution is natural selection.  Interestingly, Darwin is still using causal language, in noting that there must be some “efficient cause” (Darwin 9).

Key point: “A much more important rule….is that, at whatever period of life a peculiarity first appeared, it tends to reappear in the offspring at a corresponding age” (11).

Darwin gives a running commentary on different changes in microevolution.  Most of this is true, but illustrates a point left unsaid: all of these variations are evidence of design (by humans), not of random selection.

Humor: “On the other hand, cats from the nocturnal rambling habits cannot be easily matched, and, although so much valued by women and children, we rarely see a distinct breed long kept up” (22). He means that because cats are wild and mate promiscuously, you won’t find identifiable cat strains.  This, of course, is false.

Conclusion: “Changed conditions of life are of the highest importance in causing variability” and “Over all these causes of Change, the accumulative action of Selection….seems to have been predominant Power” (23).

Chapter 2: Variation Under Nature

Darwin admits no one has come up with a good definition of species (24).  This point shouldn’t be overlooked. If specieses aren’t locked in stone, then we need to acknowledge the possibility that a critter could be “80% dog.”  Or even more alarming, 75% human.

Question:  is there a universal of fishness?  If there is, then Darwininism is in an odd place.

He admits that varieties cannot be distinguished from species except only if we have the intermediate links (31).  This is the Holy Grail of Darwinism.

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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7 Responses to Blogging through Darwin (1)

  1. John Bugay says:

    Thanks Jacob, this is useful!


  2. landzek says:

    Modern evolutionary theory deals with the problems of species and things like that. For example, the idea of claves.

    I think one of the issues that people run into when I think of evolution is they think of it in terms of “belief”. And regardless of what Darwin may have thought, because I’m fairly sure he was a Christian back then and I think as he grew older he became a little bit distressed that his studies worked in him to open up the possibility that God did not exist or could not be known or something like that.

    But I think it is a non sequitur, and really just a pop fashion of argument to put evolution at odds from say Christianity. The only thing to believe about evolution has to do with a causality and then how are you defined that causality so far as extending back to what is beyond knowable scientific data. These types of thoughts are the substance of fashion and basically reflect a misunderstanding of what science actually is.

    I might be reading into your discussions but I will continue right here if that’s OK:

    It is really only from a religious perspective that people have to put at odds creationism as opposed to evolution: it is totally a figment of speculation. Science isn’t really about speculating on things and then drying some sort of overreaching metaphysical assumption. And if I may, even philosophy has this problem inherent in it; namely that people take the discussion as implicating these over arcing metaphysical structures of causality which ultimately leads them to have to conclude some sort of position about whether God exists as this particular entity of the book, God exist as a diest sort of thing, that God does not exist etc. all these basically speculations and then making and establishing a position which really says nothing more than the person has an opinion upon themselves and the world.

    Science itself does not make any sort of proclamations like this. In fact I think the ideal behind science is so alien to people who like to think within religious and metaphysical structure is that the latter types of people feel compelled to assert their logic upon science to prove it wrong.

    I don’t think that kind of overlap in that kind of linking is necessary because it really doesn’t say anything to me or prove to me anything about whether God exists where the Bible is true or whether science exists or it is true it doesn’t say anything like that, it doesn’t suggest to me it doesn’t convince me it doesn’t change my view on the world.

    Science is just an attempt to view the world openly and then explain what’s going on with in that view. That’s it. If I put my penis inside a woman’s vagina and then I move my pelvis back-and-forth and are you jack you late and then nine months later baby comes out, I merely reporting on facts that are a parent to my open view. I’m not saying anything about how it is possible except that the view opens itself to me then, as I am open to it to making such an explanation.

    To extrapolate from this ability and say that it’s missed perceiving things or that it’s extrapolating incorrect assumptions or that it says anything about God’s existence or not existence is simply personal opinion, and really utter speculation.

    I would say that if we don’t believe science if we don’t agree with evolution, it’s really because we’re not opening ourselves to the world as it is.

    It’s to say that I am keeping my closed minded view upon the world and making judgments upon things through what I think is a necessary linkage between my intelligence, logic, and the assumption of some over arcing metaphysical truth that I’m able to know.

    OK I’ll stop with that now. Maybe you might have a comment about that?


    • J. B. Aitken says:

      Right. My review was just covering aspects of what Darwin actually stated in this text. As to the other points, I”ll get into that when/if they arise in the book.

      Liked by 1 person

    • J. B. Aitken says:

      Thinking about it a bit more. Your response focused more on the conflict between evolution and religion. Yet my post had nothing to do with religion. In fact, when I do offer some criticisms of Darwin, they won’t have anything to do with God or religion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • landzek says:

        Yes. Well your blog is called blog of the words of the Lord. Lol. And you review a lot of theology type philosophy. So that’s why I made the comment I might be reading too much into what you’re talking about.

        I’m still trying to get a handle of what your blog is really. Is it from a theological religious position and using philosophical methods?


      • J. B. Aitken says:

        I won’t deny the theological bent of my blog, but that wasn’t the point of my review. The blog is more of a database of all my book reviews.


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