Thursday, April 9, 2009

Darwin’s logical errors

I reread a part of Darwin’s book on the topic of natural selection to see if he ever said that natural selection is not random. I did not find it. But I was astonished to find that his logical lapses could ever got printed for all to see.

Darwin wrote:
“Slow though the process of selection may be, if feeble man can do much by artificial selection, I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and complexity of the co adaptations between all organic beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which may have been effected in the long course of time through nature’s power of selection, that is by the survival of the fittest.”

“(Talking about human breeding, Darwin had this to say) Ultimately, after the lapse of centuries, these sub-breeds would become converted into two well-established and distinct breeds. As the differences became greater, the inferior animals with intermediate characters, being neither swift nor very strong, would not have been used for, breeding, and will thus have tended to disappear. Here, then, we see in man’s productions the action of what may be called the principle of divergence, causing differences, at first barely appreciable, steadily to increase, and the breeds to diverge in character, both from each other and from their common parent.
But how, it may be asked, can any analogous principle apply in nature? I believe it can and does apply most efficiently (though it was a long time before I saw how).”

The above is what Darwin wrote on natural selection in two separate places in his famous book. It astonishes me to see that he can equate human breeding with natural selection, without acknowledging any difference between the two. It does not follow at all logically that if human breeding can do amazing things, then natural selection over longer time can do even more amazing things. The unspoken assumption here is that time is the only variable. But it is not. Intention/intelligence/mind is the other key variable. If humans want to breed a drought resistant crop, they would not allow the crop experience cycles of drought and flood. But natural selection can do no such things. The natural cycles of drought and flood would never produce a drought resistant breed no matter how much time it is allowed to work its magical Darwinian power.

You cannot find a better proof for the kind of logical ability, or should we say illogical, that Darwin had. When he cannot do simple high school mathematics, what can you expect? What is truly amazing is this kind of logical lapses have been viewed as ‘science’ for 150 years.


Stripe said...

An excellent point!

gnomon said...

It is equally astonishing to find that today's Darwin followers are completely blind to Darwin's logical errors.

Jerry Coyne in his book 'why evolution is true' has the following to say in order to 'educate' laymen to accept Darwin's error.

"Since domestication of wild species took place only in the relatively short period since humans became civilized, Darwin knew that it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to accept that natural selection could create much greater diversity over a much longer time."

"wouldn’t be much of a stretch" ? To a person of reason/logic, it is hard to imagine any greater stretch.