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An Idea Could be the New Darwin

07/23/2013 01:04 EDT | Updated 09/18/2013 05:12 EDT

An Idea Could Be the New Darwin

The idea is a gene in biology is similar in function to a code object in computer programming.

Even though this is not quite the idea of the seminal new book by distinguished atheist professor Dr. Thomas Nagel titled "Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist, Neo Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False."

Here is a brief quote from the inside jacket cover of the book "The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues Professor Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. ... In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least being open to their possibility."

Reading all the review quotes at Amazon, makes me really optimistic that this book and others like it could help release the strangle hold of the theory of evolution on the freedom of the public mind. And this effort by Dr. Nagel is atheistically and scientifically motivated. He is looking for a completely secular solution. And that is why it will mean so much to the "nones", the general public, the majority, the people of currently no religious faith.

My own small efforts, I will have to admit, are religiously motivated. I want people to believe in God and the Bible, because the content there is good, it builds up and encourages, it teaches Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." And as Akiane would say, "The eternal road is the narrow road, where you wait for others to pass you."

And so, in my own small way, I am pleased to report a success in helping "mainstream", like Mr. Nagel, intelligent design, or as he would call it "secular teleology." Here is a screen shot of my friendly tweets with Chapters Indigo, where they kindly said "yes" to my request they that they reclassify from religion to science Dr. Stephen C. Meyer's great books "The Signature in the Cell" and "Darwin's Doubt." (Note Dr. Meyer is not a young earth creationist (although I like those guys too) and in his new book "Darwin's Doubt" he looks intently at the 530 million year old fossils of the Cambrian Explosion that remarkably have no antecedants and at other evidences from advances in microbiology for intelligent design. And now you can find the book in the science section at Chapters Indigo.)

But when I say "distinguished" professor, Dr. Thomas Nagel, let me back that up by summarizing for you some of Dr. Nagel's credits. Thomas Nagel is University Professor in the Department of Philosophy at New York University and an author of numerous books and essays. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. In 2008, he was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy and the Balzan Prize in Moral Philosophy.

However, with regard to "Neo-Darwinian Evolution's Champion" Richard Dawkins, on looking back, reasonable people will see how "buffunery and blustery" his writings really were. For example, here is a quote from Richard Dawkins, that would make any rational, open minded person, like myself, "really ticked" at the arrogance of it. Dawkins writes in Chapter 1, of "The Greatest Show..." "Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt, evolution is a fact. ... No reputable scientist disputes it....

HOLD THE PRESSES. FULL STOP. TIME TO CALL IN THE BOOK EDITORS OF THE NEXT EDITION and change the above to:

I, Richard Dawkins, believe neo-Darwinian evolution is a fact, but this is not beyond reasonable doubt, not beyond serious doubt, not beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, ... especially considering some very reputable scientists, (yes I was quite wrong in my earlier edition to say there were none) like the distinguished atheist professor Dr. Thomas Nagel disputes it, as he writes in his new book "Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False."

And so, looking back, after Thomas Nagel's book, can anyone ever really take the exaggerations of Richard Dawkins seriously again.

Here is a link to the New York Review of Books review of Thomas Nagel's new book by biologist H. Allen Orr titled "Awaiting A New Darwin", and of course it is a great read.

Here are a few short quotes from Professor Orr's review: "Nagel, University Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, is one of our most distinguished philosophers. He is perhaps best known for his 1974 paper, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?," a modern classic in the philosophy of mind. In that paper, Nagel argued that reductionist, materialist accounts of the mind leave some things unexplained. And one of those things is what it would actually"feel" like to be, say, a bat, a creature that navigates its environment via the odd (to us) sense of echolocation. To Nagel, then, reductionist attempts to ground everything in matter fail partly for a reason that couldn't be any nearer to us: subjective experience. While not denying that our conscious experiences have everything to do with brains, neurons, and matter, Nagel finds it hard to see how these experiences can be fully reduced with the conceptual tools of physical science....

 The materialist laws of nature must, he says, be supplemented by something else if we are to fold ourselves and our minds fully into our science. His leading contender for this something else is teleology, a tendency of the universe to aim for certain goals as it unfolds through time. Nagel believes that (currently unknown) teleological laws of nature might mean that life and consciousness arise with greater probability than would result from the known laws of physics, chemistry, and biology."

I can summarize the rest of the review for you, by saying, although Professor Orr might empathize with Professor Nagel on the wonder of life, and include Nagel's book in a university course syllabus, he is not going to change from teaching Neo-Darwinian evolution as fact anytime soon.

The "sticking point", it appears to me, is "not much"; Orr writes, "...Nagel's conclusion rests largely on the strength of his intuition. His intuition recoils from the claimed plausibility of neo-Darwinism and that, it seems, is that. (Richard Dawkins has called this sort of move the argument from personal incredulity.) "

However, the idea mentioned at the beginning of this essay, that a gene in biology is similar in function to a code object in computer programming, defeats the charge referred to above from Professor Orr and Dawkins and those of like-minded affinity in the university-intellectual complex, that our support for intelligent design is based on our personal incredulity, that random chance mutation and natural selection alone can produce the awesome complexity of the genome because this idea is focusing on the method of design and not focusing at all on the complexity of the design itself. If the genome exhibits object oriented programming methods, then this in itself is evidence for design, no matter whether the program is complex or simple.

And I think Professor Orr will appreciate, that if the genome uses computer programming methods, and it does, then unlike teleology, this is a new argument, not available to any of the scholars of past ages, Professor Orr has referred to, such as Darwin, Hume, Descartes, or Aristotle.

Professor Orr titled his great book review "Awaiting a New Darwin." I will send Professor Orr this essay and ask him if he agrees that "A gene in biology is similar in function to a code object in computer programming" is enough to wear down the "sticking point" and this idea could be the new Darwin.

The reason I say "could be" is because, of course, a lot would have to change for this to happen. I think a lot of average ordinary people like myself would have to support this idea and so encourage the university-intellectual complex and the media (PBS-The Nature of Things) to acknowledge this. But I think we have to appreciate how humanly difficult it will be for professors, like Richard Dawkins, who have taught neo-Darwinian evolution all their life as a fact, to change their minds.

And the university-intellectual complex would have to get over their antipathy to any thing that supports the Christian faith and have an epiphany of thought to change their minds, as if overnight, to support this evidence for intelligent design.

A snowball's chance?

Or "something" could happen and the Catholic Church could "wake up" to the fact that intelligent design is not only good science but also good "Summa" theology, and authorize it to be taught, in Catholic public schools, along side the theory of evolution as a currently accepted scientific alternative. I am sure Professors Nagel and Meyer could easily put together an appropriate curriculum. (You won't believe this, but some of my Catholic friends make me laugh when they tell me intelligent design is not only not good science, it is not good religion either.)

Better than a snowball's chance?

Or Justin Bieber and his millions of fans could decide to promote this evidence for intelligent design as part of an intellectual youth rebellion. Anyway, change is probably at least a generation away and hopefully for the better.

I don't know. In the meantime, I am just going to keep on, as my son would say, "digging holes and holding poles" and hope for the best.

P.S. If you are a Catholic School Trustee, or Deacon or Priest, or high school science teacher, I think it is important that you come as an observer to the free public lectures in Edmonton by special guest speaker Dr. Paul Nelson, on October 18 and 19, 2013. If our Edmonton Catholic Schools are not our last best hope for releasing the strangle hold of the theory of evolution on the freedom of the public mind, I don't know what is. Here is a link for more information