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Cranky Fred Reed Asks Bothersome Questions of a Darwinist

Posted on July 29, 2014

Over the years I have occasionally expressed doubts over the tenets of evolutionism which, perhaps wrongly, has seemed to me a sort of political correctness of science, or maybe a metaphysics somewhat related to science. As a consequence I have been severely reprehended. The editor of a site devoted to genetic expression furiously began deleting any mention of me from his readers. Others, to include Mr. John Derbyshire of Taki’s Magazine, have expressed disdain, though disdaining to explain just why.

In all of this, my inability to get straight answers that do not shift has frustrated me. I decided to address my questions to an expert in the field, preferably one who loathed me and thus might produce his best arguments so as to stick it to me. To this end I have settled on Mr. Derbyshire.

He has the several advantages of being highly intelligent, an excellent writer, ardent of all things evolutionary and genetic, and well versed in them. I would profit by his instruction in things in which I am only an amateur—should he be so inclined. (He may well have other things to do.) To this end, I submit a few questions which have strained my admittedly paltry understanding for some time. They are not new questions, but could use answers. I agree in advance to accept his answers (if any be given) as canonical.

(1) In evolutionary principle, traits that lead to more surviving children proliferate. In practice, when people learn how to have fewer or no children, they do. Whole industries exist to provide condoms, diaphragms, IUDs, vasectomies, and abortions, attesting to great enthusiasm for non-reproduction. Many advanced countries are declining in population. How does having fewer surviving children lead to having more surviving children? Less cutely, what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?

Two notes: (1) The answer cannot rely on contraception, which is not a force imposed from outside. Just as people invented spears because they wanted to kill food and each other, they invented condoms because they wanted not to have children. The question is how that desire evolved. (2) The non-evolutionary explanation is clear and simple. “We could have two children and a nice condo, or fifteen and live in a shack.”

(2) Morality. In evolution as I understand it, there are no absolute moral values: Morals evolved as traits allowing social cooperation, conducing to the survival of the group and therefore to the production of more surviving children. The philosophical case for this absence of absolutes usually consists in pointing out that in various societies everything currently regarded as immoral has been accepted as acceptable (e.g., burning heretics to death).

I cannot refute the argument. However, I think it intellectually disreputable to posit premises and then not accept their consequences.

Question: Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded? This would seem beneficial. We certainly don’t want them to reproduce, they use resources better invested in healthy children, and it makes no evolutionary difference whether they die quietly or screaming.

(For more cranky questions, click the link.)

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14 thoughts on “Cranky Fred Reed Asks Bothersome Questions of a Darwinist

  1. This argument has been going on since the dawn of time! We look like our family for two basic reason DNA and some environmental aspects! Frankly I bored of the subject when I was a sophomore in college. Frankly it is a sophomoric. subject

  2. AD Roberts says:

    If there were large numbers of young people, swarming around the evolutionists and accepting their arrogant positions, then I would be concerned and try to address their faulty arguments. But even college kids, after they are able to leave the cesspool that liberals have made colleges into, are able to understand the bitter, faulty selfish thinking and reject it.
    So why spend valuable time address them.
    As is true of all destructive influences, like Molly Ivans, if we were just able to IGNORE them and NOT draw attention to them, they would SOON just disappear.

  3. Grumpy Old Man says:

    We have somehow been persuaded that science supports evolution and evolution theory is science. Neither is correct. Still, it is best to avoid the word science. Like good and bad, science has become relative. Instead, I like to discuss evidence. For example, you can easily find pictures of petrified forests. If you care to travel, you can go see them in person. How do you interpret the evidence? How did those petrified tree trunks become vertical? If you can't evaluate plain evidence, how can you claim to be rational, reasonable or logical? You may have a variant opinion, but what is opinion in the face of evidence?

  4. bdcorvette says:

    I believe Fred meant "reprimanded," not "reprehended." I have read him for years, and while I do not always agree, I like the way that he always provides factual info in support of his position – unlike any liberal I can name. This particular argument will make Mr. Derbyshire squirm to provide a cogent response. Perhaps he is the Al Gore of evolutionary theory; he certainly sounds like a similar windbag. Go, Freddy!

  5. gene1357 says:

    an item of evidence is empirical proof only of it's own existence. Two vastly dissimilar apelike or humanoid skulls suggests catastrophic mutation as primary cause much more strongly than it does gradual (Darwinian) evolution.
    Our "evolved" example of Homo sapiens cannot explain exactly by what means the ancients erected the great pyramids.
    Maybe there were superior Humanoids BC2000.

  6. justjammin says:

    I don't believe in "Creation" as per the Bible. But I also don't believe that we evolved from Single Cell Organism. I believe that a smarter, greater being has had a hand in our evolution and progression. We are probably an experiment or a way of continuing this human life, this dna. So don't argue over how we got here, but live the BEST possible life you can. I also believe, if you don't do that, you will come back as someone worse and have to live it again. Learn the lessons.

  7. A simple pair of questions might enlighten you. Is it pro survival to have aunts and uncles who devote resources to protecting you? The answer seems obvious, yes. Is the effect enhanced or retarded if they themselves do not have children? I think it is also obvious that the answer will be yes.

    Given that, will children who have a genetic makeup where some but not all of their own children will bear children have a better overall fighting chance collectively to produce more successful grandchildren or not? I think that is not immediately obvious but it certainly is plausible. The experiment seems to have been run naturally and that seems to be the way things work out.

    Superficial challenges to evolution sometimes get explained nicely if you expand out the question to more generations and/or expand the survival of the fittest to the survival of family traits instead of just individual traits.

  8. gene1357 says:

    This proposition is completely plausible, and in keeping with observable nature. Is God then nature? It is, perhaps, likely so; and if so, inclusive of all that there is in the micro and macro universe.
    It is worth noting that previous inhabitants, the Egyptians, for example, accomplished lasting feats that suggest knowledge we have yet to discover.
    If evolution, in it's broadest sense, is directed as suggested by Darwinian theory, what did the pyramid builders know that we do not?
    I have accepted the evidence of repeated catastrophic mutation. Our 12th month is called 10th month, indicating our planet's year has grown longer, by two months, in historic times, it's orbit thus removed more distant from the Sun.
    Calenders have, in fact, had to be redesigned on more than one occasion. Signs of global catastrophes are abundant, from the Ivory Islands to the animal laden frozen muck of the North American arctic tundra. There, extant and extinct mammals lie crushed and dis-articulated, with no spoilage of their flesh. Thus are also the mammoths of Siberia, with grass yet in their teeth, where nothing grows today.
    More over, every ancient civilization has legends and myths that involve planets that we can scarcely see with the naked eye.
    Jonathan Swift, in 1726, knew that Mars had two moons, and knew both the periodicity of each, and their respective distances from their planet. Find this at the middle of page 137 of Gulliver's Travels. "A Voyage To Laputa, ETC".
    They were re- discovered in 1877.
    In Greek Mythology, Mars' chariot was drawn by Phobos and Diemos. Th moons were so named when "discovered" in 1877.
    Did the recorder of the myths know that our nearest neighbor has these two moons? If so, how?

  9. I would simply say that existence exists. I have faith in God and that He is the creator of the universe. That means that whatever actually is out there is His work, and whatever mechanisms we find are not a rebuke or a contradiction for Him.

    I find it much more likely that I misunderstand God's creation than God screwed up. If evolution is one of the tools that God used to create it all what, exactly is the problem? What is the conflict?

  10. Asking bothersome questions? Nah just pottering around the edges and generally playing the "just asking questions" fallacy.

  11. AD Roberts:
    Thanks you have given me some faith.

  12. I will try that next time. Argument falls apart correct!

  13. Pete0097 says:

    That is why it is called the THEORY of evolution. THere are obvious parts that work, but there are also a few things that are contrary to the theory. As a Christian, I see nothing wrong with it. I can see God starting the thing in motion, guiding it when necessary, even putting in a few oddball things when he felt like it for fun. After all, we all have genetrics that are common with other animals, even muslims. We can use cow and pig parts in our hearts, cow insulin in our blood, or estrogen from plants, and there are even diseases that can attack us and other animals. If we didn't evolve from a common ancestor, those things would not be possible. since we have found the commonality, the wonder of God's input is just beginning to be found.

  14. The reason why people are so intrigued with evolution is the thought they don’t have to obey a god after all. They are free to do their hearts desire, which usually means sinning with the belief there will be no consequences.

    A VERY tempting premise indeed!