This blog has been more public than I expected. so I have toned down the heading to this post. Also I have deleted two posts I didn't want further responses to.

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Every so often I venture out into the public sphere to see how anti-darwinism is responded to. The last time, at the science cafe, my posts were moved from "science" to "paranormal" or some such section then I was subjected to withering personal abuse. This time the issue is raised by someone else, in the science section, and the responses have been very moderate and quite engaged. Interesting.

Yesterday I posted a provocative response here, making a case for evolution being intelligent. I expected a storm of fury. Instead, one very moderate and interesting response. I have responded to that with another provocative (though rational) response, questioning the basis for the modern synthesis.

Maybe everyone's just bored with the issue of origins.

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Comment by Luara on April 13, 2013 at 8:32am

It is not clear what you mean by a gene being intelligent.  What consequences would this have, that Darwinian natural selection provably wouldn't? 

I say "provably" because otherwise, it boils down to the same old argument from incredulity, against evolution by natural selection. 

If all you are doing is making a metaphor, Dawkins did that too, in The Selfish Gene.

Comment by Shaun Johnston on April 12, 2013 at 6:43pm

Napoleon, those are such outrageous sentiments that I am at a loss for (French) words!

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on April 12, 2013 at 6:00pm

« L'homme n'est qu'un animal plus parfait que les autres et qui raisonne mieux. »

de Napoléon Bonaparte

Comment by Luara on April 12, 2013 at 4:50pm

One of the posts on your website talks about the book Beyond Natural Selection.

Comment by Shaun Johnston on April 12, 2013 at 4:08pm

Luara, you reviewed a book titled "Beyond Natural Selection." I didn't review that book, that was just the title of a post on my website.

Comment by Shaun Johnston on April 12, 2013 at 4:05pm

Luara, thank you for pointing out that I can delete comments. I did so, also the post where you gave me that tip.

Under "Beyond Natural Selection" I carried an except from "World History And The Eonic Effect: Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution, 4th Edition." I thought the book itself confused and the thesis in it unsound. But I seem to remember finding his analysis of natural selection interesting. -- I just skimmed the excerpt, it still seems to me quite sound, omitting his mention of his own thesis at the end.

He's actually not an ID-er, in my opinion. He believes you can make deductions about evolution on the basis of human history. I don't know anyone else who believes this. It involves design only in the weak sense that he claims evolution is not random, which many scientists claim, though for different reasons.

Comment by Luara on April 12, 2013 at 3:44pm

I wrote a review of one of the books mentioned on your website, Beyond Natural Selection.

This book is a serious mess and it was thoroughly panned by the biologists who reviewed it.  It doesn't say much for ID, that it's "supported" by this kind of thing. 

Comment by Shaun Johnston on April 12, 2013 at 10:42am

I joined "Origins..." immediately, having received an invitation on joining this site. It is amazing. I am bewildered to find so tolerant a community, I've never experienced that before. I'm not sure yet what role I can play. But I am excited to be here.

My approach is razor-sharp--I am concerned to create discourse. That is, terms in which one can think about evolution to better effect. Since I believe we're several essential concepts short, I do not expect to come up with a scientific theory, only to come up with a narrative-structure in terms of which to think about what it means we evolved.

Such a discourse is hard to present in the context of a science-oriented board, because most scientists-atheists cannot tolerate a "theory" that isn't meant to resist criticism, so I address my writings to people in the humanities who are more used to using narrative-structures to think with. All our discourse for consciousness is bits of narrative like that--"will," "decision," "thoughts," "volition"--it's a mish mash from ancient narratives that has drifted loose from their original objects to become a very poor discourse today. But it's all we've got, besides physicalism. I want to replace it all, drawing on what it means we evolved.

This should be front and center for atheists. One's origin story acts as an envelope constraining what one will expect of oneself. Evolution, fine. But darwinism is very threatening. It is based on an approach to science that denies the existence of the conscious self as an agent independent of physics. That's a huge assumption, and a murderous Procrustean platform. For a lifetime we have been shrinking ourselves down to fit. How can one discuss ethics etc when one assumes so limiting an envelope for the self?

Am I making myself clear as to the relevance of mechanism-of-evolution to atheism? Should I expand on that?

My narrative-structure/theory is based on thinking of the genome as the intelligent agent of evolution. Our mental attributes, such as consciousness, free will and creativity, we get from the genome, in which they evolved first. As I said, this is intended as the basis for a narrative-structure, not as science. I am currently struggling to find a format in which to expand this into a full discourse. I can give you a link to a trial version if you wish. Well, here it is. I'm not happy with this version, I plan a version starting with one line, the first line in this paragraph, then proceeds through a series of expansions mixed in with sidebars. There are so many unfamiliar ideas in it that there's the problem of how to have people encounter them. I have put them in the form of a play where I use drama to carry people along. That's here.

As science, think of this not a hypothesis but as an attempt at brainstorming in order to generate hypotheses.

Comment by Anthony Jordan on April 12, 2013 at 1:23am

Shaun:

So, if I understand correctly, you're saying that intelligence and volition possibly played some part in whatever the mechanism of evolution is. But volition is an act of conscious, intelligent, intent. Is there  in your hypothesis a point at which this volition appeared in early life ? Can you elucidate ?

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on April 11, 2013 at 11:17pm

Shaun, 

I do not think you have an opinion of evolution which is contra-darwin. 

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