INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber



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Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, SUNY 2003Frank Visser, a psychologist of religion, founded IntegralWorld.net in 1997 (back then under the name of “The World of Ken Wilber”). He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. He is the author of the first monograph on Ken Wilber and his work: “Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion” (SUNY Press, 2003), which has been translated into 7 languages, and of many essays on this website.

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Brief Reply
to Astin

Frank Visser

Alexander W. Astin wrote:

Hi Frank,

I'd like to comment on Frisky Dirt, Why Ken Wilber's New Creationism is Pseudo-Science, David Lane. URL of the essay: http://www.integralworld.net/lane19.html

Like every other evolutionist I've talked to or read over the years, Lane finesses the greatest uncertainty in evolutionary theory: the notion of "random" mutations. "Random" is simply a fancy way of saying, "we don't know why it happened." In the field of statistics, the word implies that a great many events of a certain type (e.g., coin flips, collapsed wave functions), when viewed in the aggregate, follow a very predictable pattern (with coin flips this pattern would be something like .5 heads). The fact that we don't know why particular mutations occur leaves a gap in evolutionary theory big enough to drive a creationist's truck through, i.e., why not postulate the guiding hand of some deity? And if we put our statistician's hat on, there's no way that the aggregate result of thousands of "random" mutations ever forms any kind of predictable pattern (e.g., a dandelion, a cockroach, etc.).

This is not to say that the need for evolutionary theory to employ the concept of "random mutations" proves that the creationists are right, but simply that it leaves plenty of room for intention (or love) to operate.


Hi Alexander,

Equating the theory of evolution with a theory of chance misses the point.

You must have talked to or read the wrong guys. "Every other evolutionist"? Equating the theory of evolution with a theory of chance misses the point. "Random" in evolutionary theory also has a specific meaning: it means that favorable variations are not guided in the direction of some pre-conceived goal, whatever else might determine them. So the point is not that we may still not know what exactly causes mutations/variations, the point is that these are not goal-directed.

There's not even the beginning of a critique here. If you want to critique Darwinism, you need to criticize Dawkins, Mayr et al. head on. A hand full of quotes from books I have at hand here tell it all -- the misconception about evolution equals chance, the statistical "argument" that chance can't produce an organ or organism, etc.

"An author who says, 'I cannot believe that the eye evolved through a series of accidents,' documents that he or she simply does not understand the two-step nature of natural selection [of random variation and non-random selection/elimination]
-- Ernst Mayer, What Evolution Is, p. 269
"Creationist [and integral?] 'logic' is always the same. Some natural phenomenon is too statistically improbable, too complex, too beautiful, too awe-inspiring to have come into existence by chance. Design [Eros] is the only alternative to chance that the authors can imagine. Therefore, a designer must have done it. And science's answer to that faulty logic is also always the same. Design is not the only alternative to chance. Natural selection is a better alternative. Indeed, design is not a real alternative at all because it raises an even bigger problem than it solves: who designed the designer? [What's the probability of Eros?] Chance and design both fail as solutions to the problem of statistical improbability, because one of them is the problem, and the other one regresses to it. Natural selection is a real solution. It is the only workable solution that has ever been suggested. And it is not only a workable solution, it is a solution of stunning elegance and power. (italics added)"
-- Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 121
"It is grindingly, creakingly, crashingly obvious that, if Darwinism were really a theory of chance, it couldn't work. You don't need to be a mathematician or physicist to calculate that an eye or an hemoglobin molecule would take from here to eternity to self-assemble by sheer higgledy-piggledy luck. Far from being a difficulty peculiar to Darwinism, the astronomic improbability of eyes and knees, enzymes and elbow joints and the other living wonders is precisely the problem that any theory of life must solve, and that Darwinism uniquely does solve. It solves it by breaking the improbability up into small, manageable parts, smearing out the luck needed..."
-- Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable, p. 67
"The theory of evolution says that life originated, and evolution proceeds, by random chance." There is probably no other statement which is a better indication that the arguer doesn't understand evolution."
-- Mark Isaac, Talkorigin.org

Thanks for having taken the trouble to respond.

Frank

PS. It strikes me that you even borrow your metaphors from Wilber - hummers have become trucks now?




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