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From Chris Wayan's journal, 1997/12/19

I'm watching a TV debate between Creationists and Darwinists, but I soon lose my temper. Creationists are maddening, sleazy reasoners--you can dig up a hundred missing links and they always demand one more...

Slowly, though, I notice the evolutionary speakers have an odd blind spot, too: because natural selection is so solidly established, they're certain there can't be ANY other factors. One woman who was otherwise admirably clear and fair-minded suddenly gets patronizing and ad hominem when Fred Hoyle gets mentioned--won't even address his arguments for dormant bacteria in deep space--it's "mysticism" and "dragging God in, and that's religion, not science." Huh? I read Hoyle's theory--he just proposed dried-up bacteria to explain the peculiar spectral signatures of certain dust clouds! To dismiss that as mysticism shows an intolerance of cranks and odd theories--odd, that is, at this moment. Next year's orthodoxy, for all she knows. Scientists can be as conformist in their way as high fashion. I'm a bit bothered by the disengenuous evasion of the question of design--that's religion, put it over there--science over here. Who says it's religion, who says the designer has to be God? What an assumption!

Why is it necessary, to fight plainly counterfactual Creationism, to ALSO mock the notion that ANYONE could have a hand in spreading life by seeding or by designing certain hard-to-bootstrap mechanisms to speed up evolution, or by enriching biospheres, or terraforming worlds? And not just outsiders: Loren Eiseley pointed out decades ago that if individuals or species or life as a whole has the ability--by ANY means--to push themselves in some evolutionary direction, whether by

whatever... how would ANY non-Darwinian changes get noticed as such? No matter WHAT causes change, it gets attributed to natural selection and after-the-fact explanations will be concocted--you can always rationalize, make up some plausible Darwinian advantage to any trait you see, since, after all, it's survived to be seen. I have no idea if anything beyond the traditional picture of natural selection DOES happen, but the rigid orthodoxy I'm seeing these days troubles me. ANYTHING but pure natural selection is automatically mysticism and mysticism's automatically false. A fortress mentality--understandable, given the truly appalling intellectual dishonesty I see in the creationists, but still specious. And unrealistic.

Because somewhere out there are builders--and meddlers. If primitives like us can already envision life-seeding, it's almost inevitable that SOME species marginally more advanced has actually designed and spread seeds. The question is, are we entirely wild, feral, or managed?

And if you don't even ask the question...

LISTS AND LINKS: evolution - fundamentalism (sorry, scratch Intelligent Design and that's all I see underneath) - science as an ism - genetic engineering - a parallel rant on Robinson Jeffers - aliens - essays and rants - tales of the waking world

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