Evolution Issue of the Month 7: Must Evolutionists Believe in Eithor Determinism or Intelligent Design? Online Article Explores That Question, With Feeling!

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Does believing in evolution inevitably involve believing in determinism--that all human behavior and thinking is entirely subject to physical laws? Or can there be choice in the matter? Finding logic inadequate to resolve the issue, a new article posted on http://www.takeondarwin.com includes parables pitting feelings against logic.

"Self Improvement Through a New Approach to Evolution" cover

"Self Improvement Through a New Approach to Evolution" by Shaun Johnston

Logic appears to tell us that evolution implies determinism. But is it true? Or is our logic deficient in concepts needed for a com-plete understanding of the issue?

Two stories published at http://www.takeondarwin.com challenge the assumption that, since humans evolved through purely physical mechanisms, all their behavior is therefore entirely subject to physical determinism. The stories, conceived of and written by publisher of the Take On Darwin website, Shaun Johnston, aim to engage feelings that question the logic behind the assumption.

The narrator in the first story is a determinist determined to save endangered species from extinction. He mocks a competitor for believing he chooses consciously to save endangered species, since that would give consciousness a role in evolution. If that were possible, then other living creatures could be conscious too, and capable of influencing their own evolution. Evolution would then not be driven entirely by purely physical processes, opening the door to intelligent design.

The narrator in the second story wants to secure for his children the possibility of gaining from beneficial mutations the father could induce in himself by exposing himself to dangerous radiation. Since we evolved, he reasons, we know that beneficial mutations are more readily inherited than harmful mutations, despite harmful mutations being generated in much greater numbers. But is he free to make that decision, he wonders. If he is, and he evolved, then consciousness may be a factor in the process of evolution, and he shouldn't depend on natural selection being able to eliminate all harmful mutations.

"My mission at Take On Darwin is to lay out a third path for thinking about evolution besides neo-Darwinism and creationism. This mission is complicated by the assumption on both sides that intelligent design is inevitably associated only with creationism," Johnston says. He faults evolutionists for refusing to hold two supposedly-contradictory ideas--evolution and intelligent design--in their minds at the same time, an attribute he believes is essential for scientists.

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Shaun Johnston
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