Our Definition of Evolution is Illogical


The man who says there is no philosophy has made a philosophical statement. The man who says there are no metaphysics has made a metaphysical statement. In order to deny philosophy and metaphysics, one has to know something about them, and therefore take on the role of a philosopher or meta-physician. It is as if a man were to declare all hammers evil and make his point by smashing them to bits with a hammer; or condemn all war as evil and wage one gigantic war to end all wars. In the same way, the man who says there is no God has elevated himself to the position of theologian. He has made a theological statement, for he must know enough about gods to know that they do not exist.

Similarly, when one defines evolution as containing no divine purpose, he must know something about divine purpose to know that it is not there. Words like “unplanned” and “unguided” creep stealthily into the realm of theology. These are theological words. However, granting that evolution is true, humanity is in the total control of evolutionary forces right now. There is no way for a mind in the grip of purposeless forces to break free and elevate itself to the realm of purpose. A being in a universe devoid of purpose cannot possibly know anything of purpose. It does not exist in his universe. He cannot even purposely know chance when he sees it. If he knows something about chance, it is completely by chance. If he knows anything at all, it is by chance.

Let me illustrate. Think of a universe composed completely of metal. Your body and eyes are made of metal. Your brain and your very thoughts are made of metal. How could a completely metal being in a metal universe conceive of wood? They could not. Even if they came up with the word “wood” it would be a completely vacuous word because they could have no concept of what that substance is.

It comes down to the principle of proportionate causality, which states “what exists in the cause will exist in the effect in the same way.” The cause cannot give the effect what it does not have. So, if purpose does not exist in the cause, it will not exist in the effect. If chance exists in the cause, chance is all the “effect” will ever know or understand. So, how is it that we can know and understand purpose, if purpose was not involved in the universe or evolution? The answer is that we should not know it at all.

Yet, some evolutionists purposely say there is no purpose. It’s the hammer they use to smash all hammers. They think they have rid the universe of purpose, but one purposeful statement (the definition of evolution) still exists to provide evidence of purpose in the universe. If they deny that and say that what we perceive as purpose is just an illusion, one might as well ask, “Did they say that on purpose?”

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12 thoughts on “Our Definition of Evolution is Illogical

  1. Extraordinary claims such as “there is a God” require extraordinary evidence. It is the burden of proof of those making the claim to demonstrate it, rather than that of those who are skeptics of the claim.

    I very much enjoyed this post. Very articulate and thought provoking!

  2. Daniel states categorically (and quite incorrectly) that when one defines evolution as containing no divine purpose, he must know something about divine purpose to know that it is not there. From the article you link to, and please note the bold I have inserted to reveal, once again, how Daniel continues to intentionally misrepresent the positions of others:

    “So when you hear people who accept evolution nevertheless refusing to admit that it’s unguided and purposeless, you know you’re dealing with someone who is osculating the rump of faith. For it’s only evolution that elicits these disclaimers, and it’s only evolution that requires such disclaimers to satisfy religious believers.

    But evolution is, as far as we can tell, purposeless and unguided. There seems to be no direction, mutations are random, and we haven’t detected a teleological force or agent that pushes it in one direction. And it’s important to realize this: the great importance of Darwin’s theory of natural selection is that an unguided, purposeless process can nevertheless produce animals and plants that are exquisitely adapted to their environment. That’s why it’s called natural selection, not supernatural selection or simply selection.”

    Of course, Daniel can’t use reality to bring this honest point into question; he must use ancient metaphysics to be the arbiter of reality so that he can pretend that things continue to have ‘natures’ that cause effect that he can select willy nilly as relevant when modern understanding clearly and indisputably shows all natural objects are subject to natural processes that only looks like natures. By this I mean the rock does not possess the metaphysical nature of ‘heaviness’ as ancient metaphysicists would have us believe; the rock, like all natural objects, is subject to the laws of physics so that its mass is attracted to a larger mass and looks like it possesses this very human notion of ‘heaviness’. Daniel is simply incapable of appreciating the difference because if he does then he cannot justify his claims about metareality through the opaque lens of metaphysics and is left with… nothing. Nothing but the empty assertions of his religious belief untethered to the reality we share, un-moored from any reliable method to attach his supposed divine ’cause’ to his supposed divine ‘effect’. For although I can imagine a a ghostly thetan spirits that live in volcanoes and seek human hosts for ‘actualization’, my imagination does not require such a spirit to exist in reality. In the same way, just because I can point to no evidence for my disembodied thetan spirit, so too can I point to no evidence for any overarching purpose attributable to humans that cannot be assigned with identical weight and methodology to malaria and sunspots and algae, yet this absence of evidence for divine ‘purpose’ must not be allowed to impede Daniel from adding the divinity of his god to this purpose so that he alone can spot it (because he alone can imagine it). So any criticism based on reality arbitrating his claim – that as far as we can tell evolution has every indication of being purposeless and unguided – must be undermined first, and this is where he must offer us a method we know does not work to accurately describe reality – metaphysics – as well as continue to chronically misrepresent those who dare to point out what reality really has to say about his beliefs that are contrary to it.

    1. Tildeb,

      I didn’t write this post in order to talk about natures, metaphysics, and such. This post is not about laws vs. natures. You and I already talked about this on a previous post.

      As far as misrepresenting Coyne’s words, I don’t think that’s the case. Very often, I meet atheists who, not long after, claim that I don’t really grasp or understand what they’re talking about. I think something else is true. I sometimes think they don’t know what they’re talking about. Oh, they’re logical, definitely. It’s easy to be logical. But, as Albert Camus says, “It is almost impossible to be logical to the bitter end.” I try to point out where, Tildeb, your logic takes you, but you don’t live by the conclusion. That’s why I think sometimes you don’t know what you’re talking about. And your paragraphs are very hard to read because you bring virtually every issue into the discussion so that I have to filter through it and figure out where you addressed my topic (If you address it at all).

      So, after some filtering in the paragraphs above, I find only a couple sentences that actually address the topic. Here is one:

      “so too can I point to no evidence for any overarching purpose attributable to humans”

      Do you have a purpose in this statement? Don’t you say there is no purpose in the universe? How do you have a purpose in saying these things and the universe does not? Aren’t you a part of the universe? Isn’t everything you are and say and do the product of purposeless forces beyond your control or understanding? Aren’t you the prisoner of chance and have no choice in what you say? Don’t you regard me as just another bit of the universe that you (another bit of the universe) argue with? Don’t you see that the universe argues with itself and we are the puppets? Right and wrong makes no sense in your universe. There is no purpose in your universe. You cannot purpose anything. Therefore, I cannot take you seriously. You have no real answers.

      If you would like to admit that there is purpose in the universe, we can continue this discussion, and quite fruitfully I might add. Then we can actually mean what we say. Then I can know that YOU say it, a real genuine distinct YOU.

      1. You misquoted Coyne, so your comprehension is poor. Coyne does not assume there is no divine purpose; he says specifically “as far as we can tell”, meaning there is ZERO evidence from the reality he studies to back up your metaphysical notion of ‘purpose’ and ‘meaning’. You cannot use reality to back up your misunderstanding that evolution supposedly comes equipped with an a priori assumption that there is no divine purpose – and, remember please, this is factually wrong – so you use the circular reasoning of metaphysics – that you can only imagine something if it is real. This is silly, as I point out with an example to show just how silly it is.

      2. “your misunderstanding that evolution supposedly comes equipped with an a priori assumption that there is no divine purpose ”

        Ah, but I don’t think this. It is precisely because we don’t know 100% for sure if evolution was guided or not that I can present this dilemma to the naturalistic evolutionist. If he purposes to do anything (including define evolution as purposeless), his purpose is evidence that there is purpose in the universe, even if it is only found in the definition of evolution.

        The phrase, “As far as we can tell”, is the strongest intellectually honest statement anyone can make in this world. No one has 100% certain knowledge. And lets not forget that this statement comes from a man who is committed to completely naturalistic assumptions about the universe. I’m simply using his assumptions and showing a contradiction when he purposely defines evolution as without purpose. If he purposes to do anything, then there is purpose in the universe.

      3. You present no dilemma. No one is arguing that you cannot bring a purpose or supply a meaning; but we can assuredly point out that there is no evidence of some divine purpose or some exterior agency guiding evolution which was your original claim. Now you’re trying to claim that evolutionists are trying to suggest that no purpose can be shown anywhere in the universe, which is dishonest of you. You are baiting and switching your terms, changing the the description of evolution as ‘purposeless’ to a noun you call ‘purpose’ as if it exists independently of those who create it and so the universe really does contain this thing you assign to an agency of Oogity Boogity. But the purpose you bring to some task is not the same thing as a purpose you attribute to a divine agency that guides evolution, now is it?

        All you’re doing, Daniel, is playing with words not to create understanding or foster communication about what is true in reality – that there is no evidence for purpose in evolution – but to disguise your belief in a divine agency with human activity and call it evidence for the divine. It’s dishonest and intellectually bankrupt.

      4. To “bring a purpose or supply a meaning” is evidence that there is purpose in the universe. A cause cannot give an effect what it does not have. We are the effects of evolution, which is said to be without purpose. If no purpose was involved in the causes that brought us about, we can have no purposes of our own or even be aware of such a thing as purpose. But, we do indeed, and as you affirm, “bring a purpose or supply a meaning.” Therefore, purpose was inherent in the causes that produced us.

      5. Dan, you are very confused. You do not eat because the universe is carnivorous; you eat to satisfy your hunger, which is a process of metabolism for energy conversion. Your cells need fuel. But you can control this biological urge to a remarkable degree not because “the universe” causes you to have this effect but because an intention can be produced. In other words, the intention you exhibit is an emergent property of your biology working in tandem with the environment in which it is located rather than a heritable trait. If you understood evolution better, you’d understand the difference in the words we use to describe physical processes. And it’s all physical even though it appears to us as a singular and independent event. Your confusion is to attribute to the universe as a ’cause’ because it appears in the universe. But here’s the thing: unless you can link the effect of a physical process to the intention of the universe to produce it, you can’t assume causal agency. You make this fundamental mistake over and over again.

        Yes, physical processes occur in the universe, but there is no evidence that any are guided – that they are intended – which is why any proper definition of evolution must recognize this fact that the process appears to be unguided… which means, in the vernacular, purely a natural process. When in doubt, think of erosion: there is no intention behind water affected by gravity, yet we can end up with spectacular vistas from the effect moving water produces on other materials. The universe doesn’t ’cause’ the vistas in the sense of being guided, or with intention, or as evidence for agency; the vistas are merely a byproduct of a natural unguided, non-intentional, agency-less process. To assume otherwise is to be burdened with providing evidence from reality that shows erosion that in some contradicts the simple effect of gravity on water, in the same way that reality does not provide any evidence that contradicts the simple effect of biological change over time in interaction with its environment. Unless evidence can be brought forward that reveals a contradiction (like a rabbit fossil from the pre-Cambrian) then Coyne’s statement stands as true, that evolution is as far as we can tell purposeless and unguided. It’s simply a natural process.

  3. Similarly, when one defines evolution as containing no alien purpose, he must know something about alien purpose to know that it is not there.

    Similarly, when one defines evolution as containing no pixie purpose, he must know something about pixie purpose to know that it is not there.

    Similarly, when one defines evolution as containing no sweaty, magical football sock purpose, he must know something about sweaty, magic, football sock purpose to know that it is not there.

    Similarly, when one defines tidal motion as containing divine purpose, he must know something about divine purpose to know that it is not there.

    Similarly, when one defines lightning bolts coming down from the sky as containing no Thor purpose, he must know something about Thor purpose to know that it is not there.

    Similarly, when one defines gravity and the orbits of planets as containing no angel purpose, he must know something about angels purpose to know that it is not there.

    Neil DeGrasse Tyson Destroys Bill O’Reilly

      1. As tildeb explained to you in the very beginning…Daniel states categorically (and quite incorrectly) that when one defines evolution as containing no divine purpose, he must know something about divine purpose to know that it is not there. From the article you link to, and please note the bold I have inserted to reveal, once again, how Daniel continues to intentionally misrepresent the positions of others…

        Science can explain lightning perfectly well without invoking Thor. There no need to know anything about Thorian theology.

        “Je n’ai pas eu besoin de cette hypothèse.”

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