Commonsense thoughts on evolution by a non expertSubmitted by BILL3 on Sat, 05/17/2014 - 15:08
From studying the subject of evolution as a non expert, broadly familiar with the outlines of the most up to date theory, in genetics and epi-genetics, and from interacting with the most cogent scientific objections to the neo-Darwinian model and its mechanisms, I have come to a kind of default position of skepticism that goes like this.
If we rule out any design or intelligence, I think what's most likely is not pure random and mechanistic change through variance in reproduction, cobbling life together piecemeal by one lucky stroke after another.
I think what's more likely is that there is a deeper, more systematic and fundamental pattern pervading nature, whether some mathematical pattern or something outside our understanding, which evolution conforms to, expressed through life.
I think that what we observe in life is a bit too complex, ordered, too perfect and even extravagant, it just strikes me in a very basic sense as not merely a random, mechanical thing that we can explain purely from other laws of nature, which we consider ultimate givens. It's not to say it isn't natural, it's just that when I look at the whole picture and take it in, without prior prejudice to any paradigm, and listen to what it is saying, I think there is a larger process going on that is fundamentally characteristic of nature, not merely the consequence of the other, mechanical laws.
What's probably going on is some underlying process that isn't discerned by our senses and is not grasped by our logical intuition, and so we concoct retrospective stories on how this could happen by the kinds of material cause and effect processed we are familiar with by observation and intuition. These just so stories seem plausible sometimes, and other times a stretch, and the material evidence for the kind of piecemeal, tinkering development of the whole tree of life is just absent, and isn't going to be discovered.
Maybe the most cutting edge add-ons to the neo-Darwinian synthesis are making strides in this direction, I'm no expert, but I do think a fundamental revision is going to occur and some other mechanism discovered, if discoverable, in time. It will either integrate smoothly into the reigning paradigm or disrupt it.
The patterns in nature, the perfection of natural systems, the seeming unnecessary grace and over-complexity, suggest to me that there is some ordering principle at work that is itself not explained by prior natural forces, but is just fundamental and given in the same sense as other fundamental physical forces and laws, while not necessarily created or designed by intelligence.
Despite any pretenses in popular science and the vulgar religion of "Scientism," the fundamental forces of nature aren't "explained," they just are. At most, they are described.
In the same way, it may be that there is a process that brings about life that is no more intelligent than gravity is, but also no more random. Gravity is not randomly caused by some underlying fundamental force or combination thereof (at least none that we discern), it just is there at the outset. The whole process of life then may be just fundamental and not fully understandable in bite size mechanistic variations -- the kind of evolution that appealed to a 19th century mechanical mentality, with it's clockwork processes.
As the science has progressed and the data has accumulated, it seems to me as an informed non expert that the random individual process explanation, with no overarching, encompassing pattern, is just not inadequate to account for the facts, but even more so seems to to be the wrong mentality to bring to the discussion in the first place, when you look at the overarching picture.
Are we stuck in this mode of thinking because of the rigid paradigms in academia and fears of opening a back door to creationism?