THE BLOG

Gaps in Evolutionary theory ( Part 1)

09/01/2005 01:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

My last posts on Intelligent Design were prompted not just by the recent debate over "intelligent design" but a desire to see an adequate theory emerge that will include the origin of consciousness. This is really the missing link, if there is one.

Negative response to my earlier blogs insist, sometimes vehemently, that all the gaps I point out in evolutionary theory have been solved or refuted. In this I am afraid they disagree with evolutionists themselves. The essence of the problem, I feel, is that a purely materialistic explanation of evolution is bound to fail through incompleteness. There is no molecular explanation for consciousness, only a fad for believing that molecules must be the end all and be all of science.

For anyone who hasn't already been worn down, there are further points to be made about the current state of evolution:

1. Being honest with themselves, biologists know they don't have an adequate evolutionary theory. Being equally honest, religionists know that the fossil record must be true. Trying to pretend otherwise, on either side, will only stymie progress. Religionists may be a poor representation of the notion that there are invisible realities, but to call such ideas absurd disregards the entire field of quantum physics and thousands of years of philosophy. The mind-body problem still awaits a solution as well, and since Darwin tries to explain the body, we might as well keep going and see if the mind is susceptible to explanation as well.

2. The two sides in the current public debate share the same obstacle--prejudice. The religionists must protect their preconceived idea of a God who resembles a human being. Scientists must protect materialism and its denial of consciousness (i.e., everything can be explained without bringing in consciousness at all). These prejudices are powerful, but I have tried to separate myself form both. God may be the pinnacle of a natural continuum, beginning at the subatomic level, of a pervasive organizing intelligence. The difficulty here is not that this proposition is preposterous but that it is hard to know how to test it, or even what criteria should be used.

3. Physics, mathematics, and biology mesh in the most astonishing way to produce life. What this tells us is that intelligent design looks fairly probable simply because it meshes the three fields holistically. Religion has the great advantage that it, too, is holistic. Everything comes from God. This is why science succeeds in explaining parts but has not conquered religion in explaining the whole. But if that is too much for materialists to stomach, it's undeniable that life will only be understood as part of a Theory of Everything. What we face is a wholeness--the universe--whose parts are subsumed into a hierarchy. that extends to the quantum level and beyond, that includes all time and space and beyond. Science will not arrive at a Theory of Everything without transcending those boundaries, as religion already attempts to do. True, the answers given by religion are experimentally useless to science. But the answers of science are fairly useless to religion, which is a legitimate endeavor on its own terms. I personally think that consciousness resolves more issues than either camp, and in my writings I have detailed why in careful, fair arguments.

4. Darwin was tremendously successful in conquering the tradition of teleology, which in its simpler, religious form said that God created each creature as its own kind and with its own purpose. But teleology didn't die. It is a more general theory with many implications. Teleology is the notion that purpose underlies process. Evolutionary science thinks teleology is rubbish, even though it admits that every adaptation serves a purpose. So purpose is undeniable. It will become respectable science once we ask a basic question: "How did human beings acquire purpose?" From our brains? Every process in the brain serves a purpose. The two must be linked, and to say that purpose preceded process is much more credible than to say the reverse. If process precedes purpose, then not only could a thousand monkeys typing at a thousand typewriters produce Shakespeare, but we are left with the ridiculous notion that Shakespeare himself worked that way, at the level of brain chemistry. Meaning seems to be inherent in evolution, since all creatures live out a purpose.

5. Recently cell biologists have discovered incredibly complex "molecular machines," bundles of interlocked organic chemicals that travel throughout the cell to do complex jobs. These "machines" defy randomness, since they do the same jobs, such as cell division and repairing genetic malformations, the same way over and over without breaking up into component parts. And when random molecules enter the cell wall, they immediately join a machine without wandering around the cell aimlessly. Chaos theory is fondly regarded in many circles, but the preponderance of design is just as important. What we humans perceive as chaos and randomness may be procedural stages in the creation of forms. Genesis can be seen not as a singular event but a constant in nature. Reconciling chaos and order would tell us a great deal about a something closer to home, the interrelation between life and death.

6. It appears foreseeable, if cyber theory is right, that every process in Nature will be reducible to digital information. No matter how complex it seems, everything from a neuron to a star can be decoded as zeros and ones. This submission to binary logic makes it credible that Nature developed the logic first, leaving us to discover it. Otherwise, we are left with an "accidental" correspondence between information theory and Nature's workings at the quantum level. Very unlikely, since logicians originally came up with digital theory without knowing much about the quantum level. The correspondence was there before anybody realized it. The possibility that mathematics itself may have a transcendent source is a philosophical issue of much interest.