“Speaking at the Chatham House foreign policy think tank London, Walker was asked: "Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you believe in it?"The correct answer to the question: “Do You Believe in Evolution?” starts with clarifying questions asked of the questioner:
1. To which version of evolutionary hypotheses are you referring, Darwinian selection of variation? Or Neo Darwinism? Or the Modern Synthesis? Or the Extended Synthesis? You must pick only one, since they are mutually incompatible.There are several further, knowledge-oriented questions which must be addressed within this one, overarching issue of “belief”.
2. Within your chosen version of evolutionary hypothisization (from question 1), to which experimental, replicable empirical cause and effect data are you referring? This means actual empirical, replicated, non-falisified, open data. Which data exactly am I asked to believe?
3. Should objective experimental empiricism be considered the only valid science, or should fantasy story telling be considered science? Which type of science is objective knowledge?
1. There are two types of knowledge: subjective knowledge and objective knowledge. Enlightenment science rejects subjective knowledge, because it cannot be verified. Objective knowledge is that which is readily verifiable by more than one source who can produce valid effects by asserting a given cause. So Enlightenment science, aka empiricism, claims to produce objective knowledge by the method of demonstrating the cause and effect of natural phenomena, repeatably and without failure (replicable experiments). Within this realm of investigation, non-physical phenomena cannot be addressed.First “Belief” Question:
Am I to address subjective knowledge? Or Objective knowledge?
2. Stated slightly differently: belief that Theory X (regarding a given cause/effect physical phenomenon) is valid knowledge requires (a) belief in the several premises which underlie Theory X, and (b) that Theory of X is a robust, grounded, objectively verifiable explanation of X, where (c) the validity of the hypothesis is demonstrated by actually physically inducing a specific cause to produce an effect, X. Short of that, there is nothing to believe that would not be “blind belief”.
Which of the premises should I address? What grounding is provided that I should address? What cause and its validation should I address?
1.The Actual Question.
The real question to be answered is this: “Are any of the evolutionary theories objective knowledge?” and if not, why should I believe in any of them? First let’s look at the premises which are necessary for evolutionary theories: First Life; Common Ancestry; Emergence of Meaningful, Non-algorithmic Information; Emergence of Non-physical Characteristics From Physical, Deterministic Mineral Sources;2. Premise 1: First Life.
Evolution cannot have occurred in a vacuum; it needed life to have occurred first. So life needed to have evolved from minerals. That includes all the information required to produce the cell and to produce its metabolic (mitochondria DNA) and reproductive functions, including the mechanical sequence of splitting DNA using specialty tools for that purpose and doing the proofreading and repair function.Premise 2. Speciation
When there exists an explanation demonstrating exactly how all the correct, meaningful, non-algorithmic information got into the first DNA molecule, and how that molecule formed the first cell all by itself or how its necessary assistant molecules happened to coexist and function properly, then there is something to consider; if it is objective knowledge, then it should be demonstrable in a repeatable fashion.
It’s not a matter of asserting the subjective probabilities of fantasy story mongering; it’s a question of objective knowledge, which immutably demonstrates – objectively – how it happened.
Without that crucial bit of information, there is no coherent evolutionary story to “believe in”.
Which cause/effect data surrounding the implication of speciation should I address?3. Premise 3. Common Ancestry
Without specific cause/effect experimental, replicable, non-falsified, open data to discuss, nothing further can be said, regarding objective knowledge of the mechanism of speciation.
The Enlightenment intent of science is to provide objective knowledge regarding natural, physical causes and effects; this means that a proposed hypothesis cannot become a scientific explanation (theory) unless and until any scientist can reproduce both cause and effect at will for objective confirmation of their hypothetical relationship.Without the empirical cause/effect experimental, replicated, non-falsified, open data, and without a common ancestor for the single progenitor of the phyla emerging in the Cambrian Explosion, there is nothing of substance to discuss.
What, exactly is the objective confirmation for the concept of all phyla emerging rapidly in the Cambrian Explosion from single cell predecessors? Specifically, where is the common ancestor to all the phyla that emerged in the Cambrian era?
Second "Belief" Question:
Is any evolutionary hypothesis sufficiently robust to prove Philosophical Materialism to be categorical Truth? To eliminate the need for other types of non-empirical stories? To demonstrate the capability of physical, atomic reality to be sufficient as the sole knowledge generator?So there is nothing left to say regarding the objective knowledge of Materialism.
I.e., is scientific knowledge the only type of knowledge which applies to all conceivable existence?
If not, then not all possible causes have been, nor can be evaluated.
There is no conceivable empirical, replicable, experimental hypothesis that could prove the validity of Philosophical Materialism, because PM is internally non-coherent. If there were, it would have been submitted long ago, and it would have invalidated logic as being logical.
Third "Belief" Question:
Which Evolutionary Theory should I believe?
1. Darwin’s speciation by natural selection of variations including Lamarckian, with gradualism and common ancestry.None of the “Theories of Evolution” rise to the level of objective knowledge; they stick stubbornly to the level of unverifiable hypotheses, or worse – fantasies created to support a narrative.
2. Neo-Darwinism: Darwinism but rejecting Lamarckism.
3. Modern Synthesis: retains selection of variations, and adding the selection of mutations, with “punctuated equilibrium” replacing gradualism, and retaining common ancestry.
4. Extended Modern Synthesis: marginalizes or eliminates the Modern Synthesis; introduces epigenetics; emergent complexity; fitness landscapes; origin of replicators; some Lamarckism is reintroduced. This new approach is deemed as necessary due to the acknowledged failure of the prior three theories.
The Extended Synthesis is the response to the intellectual admission that the prior theories were not adequate to be considered even theoretical explanans, much less attaining the level of objective knowledge.
Further, the Extended Synthesis consists completely of other, albeit newer, Just So Stories (fantasies called theories) which do not even provide actual cause/effect hypotheses for actual evolution occurrences, much less empirical data from confirming experimental verifications of cause/effect for evolution. They do not rise to the level of explanations, and they do not intend to; they propose only routes for possible further exploration, without providing any of the necessary cause/effect hypotheses which could conceivably be tested empirically.
And they no longer cite fossil records as evidence for evolution, possibly because that leads to the missing link, which is the missing common progenitor of all the phyla which simultaneously came into being in the Cambrian Era, and did so in a geologic eye blink (5 -8 million years)
Since there is no objective knowledge available regarding these evolution hypotheses, there is nothing else to say about believing in them: except to do so would be blind belief.
Fourth "Belief" Question:
Should I believe in unverifiable hypotheses as “Truth”, or should I believe in the objective knowledge requirements of Enlightenment empirical science?So there is nothing else to say about the “Truth” of evolution.
If I believe in the objective knowledge requirements of Enlightenment empirical science, then I cannot believe in any of the evolution hypotheses as being valid, much less “Truth”, since they present no empirical, replicable data in support of their premises being cause/effect. In fact, Enlightenment empirical science never produces incorrigible Truth, it can produce only contingent factoids which are at risk of being overturned by newer technology or new fundamental understanding of nature. To believe that empirical hypothesis X is True, is a misunderstanding of the nature of science and its place in the generation of knowledge.
So to say that evolution is True, is logically necessarily false. It might be said that evolution is contingently proven unfalsified experimentally, if it actually were experimentally tested and found to be so, but it has not been so proven. There is no objective knowledge available to show that evolution is objectively valid.
Further, since evolution is historical in nature (ignoring micro-evolution by mere variation) there is no possible manner in which it could be retroactively observed; therefore, there is no possible path to the production of objective knowledge regarding the validity of any of the evolutionary theories.
Fifth "Belief" Question:
What about the fossil record?From the perspective of objective knowledge, there is nothing else to be said about the fossil finds.
The discovery of fossilized animal bones leads to objective knowledge only that those animals existed, died, and were usually found buried in certain layers, and in certain relation to each other. There is no other objective information contained in those finds. All other claims are subjective, created by extrapolation and interpolation (Story Telling and Fantasy Creation which inserts “meaning” which is subjectively attached), not by any objective characteristics inherent in the calcified – or uncalcified – bones.
Even the Cambrian Explosion is a story which is told about the “meaning” of the relationship of the fossil finds to each other, not actual objective information found in the fossils themselves.
Sixth "Belief" Question:
What about "Deep Time"?Time is not causal; evolution requires a demonstrable causal explanation.
Seventh "Belief" Question:
Do you have a better explanation?Trivial response; the discussion is about existing hypotheses and whether they merit belief.
Absent any objective knowledge regarding the four theories of evolution, nothing can be said which is actual objective knowledge. To claim “belief” would be unscientific, even anti-science and anti-objective knowledge. Thus it is irrational to claim a belief that evolution is true.
Charles Darwin introduced the Post-Enlightenment process of story-telling as truth, and science as a collection of stories. This was immediately adopted due to its applicability to Atheism and the rejection of morality. Thus the practice of story-telling as science became enshrined due to the narrative which it supported.
The result has been the marginalization of logic, because logic is no longer necessary for the “proof” of a scientific hypothesis which is supported by many, many stories.
If one is forced to claim a belief in evolution, say to avoid being called “anti-science” by political foes for example, then that forcing is both anti-rational and totalitarian.