Monday 22 February 2016

Biology without teleology excludes the possibility of knowledge

Natural selection is an inadequate metaphysical basis for biology because it lacks teleology, a goal, direction or purpose.

This means that the potential for meaning - for knowledge - is excluded. It is too small a frame - it leaves so much out that is so important that what is left is not even a coherent subject.

This is revealed in its incapability of understanding the meaning of life and it origins, major transitions and categories. Without teleology, biology is net-destructive.

Indeed - without teleology we cannot know. I mean we cannot explain how humans could have valid knowledge about anything.

If Natural Selection is regarded as the bottom-line explanation - the fundamental metaphysical reality (as it is for biology, and often is with respect to the human condition) then this has radically nihilistic consequences.

Because natural selection is at best - when correct - merely descriptive of what-happened-to-happen. There was no reason why things had to be as they actually were, there is no reason why the present situation should stay the same, there will be no reason to suppose that the future outcome is predictable.

There is no greater validity to what-happened-to-happen compared with an infinite number of possible other things that might have happened - so there is no reason to defer to what-happened-to-happen, no reason why what-happened-to-happen is good, true, just, powerful or anything else - what-happened-to-happen is just what led to greater differential reproductive success for some length of time under historical (and contingent) circumstances. Nothing more.

Therefore - if humans are nothing more or other than naturally-selected organisms - then there is zero validity to:
or science - including that there is no validity to the theory of evolution by natural selection.

In sum - Without teleology, there can be no possibility of knowledge

(This is not some kind of a clever paradox - it is an unavoidable rational conclusion.)

None of the above have any validity - because they all what-happened-to-happen.

If and only if biology includes direction and purpose, is the subject compatible with the reality of knowledge. 


Anonymous said...

Dr Charlton

Yes - I think this text would sit well within your draft piece on your directed consciousness/evolution model? A book about 'life, the universe and everything' unfolds before our eyes.

I'm feeling a child-like excitement about all this. Can you tell?


David said...

This seems sound. It leaves me wondering how it can be rejected by the scientific community therefore? If you were a mathematician and 'proved' an equation had a certain answer then the weight of the answer would presumably overturn previous conjectures that the equation or theorem was unsolvable, and if the other mathematicians didn't like it then tough, the maths would speak for itself! So why so different for biology? Why can't you take these metaphysical discoveries down the corridor to the other professors and academics and for the cry of "Eureka!Someone has finally proved we were wrong...wrong about almost everything! But it really is good news because it means the Universe is not meaningless after all!" And then the whole paradigm of understanding could shift to a sounder, more optimistic and meaningful place...Some people may stop as platonists, others may make it all the way and end up being Christians or just agnostics again...Surely all the doubts in the world (but in the right direction) can be found if one admits this post is true?

For what it's worth, I believe you, not sure what Richard Dawkins excuse would be though or just about any other high - profile biologist? Truth is though, they stand a lot to lose if they admit your truth and they wouldn't like that, fortunately Joe Public will never know that the high priests of modern science are just plain wrong, after all science is a religion of a kind and it's 'followers' are fanatically devoted to it being the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even when that can be soundly shown to be an incorrect view of reality, as you have done several times on this blog.

Imnobody said...

"It leaves me wondering how it can be rejected by the scientific community therefore?... But it really is good news because it means the Universe is not meaningless after all!"

The scientific establishment doesn't want the Universe not to be meaningless. So they hide any evidence of meaning.

Do you know about the scientific study made by a British university about near-death experiences, which contained evidence about life after death? Of course, not. The scientific establishment and the mass media have silenced it, rather than giving the publicity that it deserves.

More scientific evidence against materialism that has been suppressed? Read "Brain wars" or "The spiritual brain" from the non-materialist neuroscientist Mario Beauregard.

Thomas Nagel, maybe the most important atheist who is against reductionism and materialism, had a strange moment of sincerity:

"In speaking of the fear of religion [...] I am talking about something much deeper—namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that."

The Last Word, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 130-131.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Imn - That is a revealing quote. It probably exemplifies the Anything But Christianity mind-set to which I too was an adeherent - from where Nagel is, a person may develop an interest in, or even become an adherent of, Eastern Religions - especially Buddhism. The real animus is not against 'religion' but Christianity. That, specifically, is what Nagel is probably thinking about, when he says he does no want it to be true.

Anonymous said...

Imnobody: "Do you know about the scientific study made by a British university about near-death experiences, which contained evidence about life after death?"

No I don't - please point me in the right direction.


Anonymous said...

Dr Charlton: "The real animus is not against 'religion' but Christianity."

Judaism and Christianity are Western history and culture, which scientists believe they overturned

Buddhism, Hinduism and all Eastern spiritual thought were never part of modern science's 'struggle'. Buddhism might also appeal to some scientists - no personal God - just becoming a nothingness fits nicely with secular nihilism. Hinduism with its animal gods and goddesses can be dismissed as just plain silly, whereas an honest person would admit that they are pictorial/visual representations of aspects of God for the simple peasantry of India.

Bad scientists love to be blind.

Laeeth said...

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Max Planck

Nathaniel said...

I think the curses Moses described as consequences of disobeying God, or the blessings through obedience, are very interesting and relevant! These were given to Israel after they left Egypt and were granted the 10 commandments. God is ultimate truth and purpose, so through obeying Him we have increases in offspring, wealth, etc. - but through disobedience we will be pillaged, destroyed, have foreigners overcome us, etc.! And of course, we literally see that exact thing happening today.