Miscellany: Neil Thomas quote from his book on Darwin (General)

by David Turell @, Monday, August 23, 2021, 14:40 (358 days ago) @ dhw

NEIL THOMAS: "When Darwin makes the attempt to explain the crucial point of The Descent of Man, humankind’s supposed descent from ape-like ancestors, he speculates somewhat vaguely on the question of whence we as a species got our superior brains: “The mental powers of some earlier progenitor of man must have been more highly developed than in any existing ape, before even the most imperfect form of speech could have come into use; but we may confidently believe that the continued use and advancement of this power would have reacted on the mind itself, by enabling and encouraging it to carry on long trains of thought.”
A Just-So Story
"The passage has the disconcerting tone of a just-so story. How, one might legitimately ask, did one ape “happen” to get its superior cognitive capacities? What was the vera causa of its braininess? And how did this cognitive superiority trigger correlated changes in the brain? In the light of present-day scientific advances, these seem like shallow assertions, inadequate to account for what we know about those labyrinthine co-adaptive changes necessary for the process he describes to function effectively.

dhw: I can see absolutely nothing wrong with Darwin’s speculation. If you accept common descent, the rest follows on with impeccable logic. Thomas is merely complaining that Darwin doesn’t answer the questions that nobody on this planet has ever been able to answer: how did our mental powers first develop (indeed how did any mental powers first develop?), and how does thought cause changes to the brain. However, in the light of present-day scientific advances, we do know that new usages result in complexification of the brain, even though we don’t know how, so Darwin was right.

Darwin' speculation fits the facts known at his time. Present research continuous to destroy those speculations.

DAVID: the book ends and he is still a humanist and now an agnostic and a fan of Michael Denton whose 1985 book Evolution, A theory in Crisis should have everyone wakeup to the obvious, there is an intelligent agency at work. His conclusion in the end is: "The attempt to solve the mystery of speciation by positing a selection process initiated and implemented by unaided nature fails at every hurdle. It lacks explanatory force, empirical foundation, and logical coherence. It postulates the contradiction-in-terms of a metamorphosizing, species-creating dynamic issuing from a process lacking in any discernible dynamic. It is ultimately a pseudo-explanation, a way of concealing an underlying ignorance.

dhw: Of course the mystery of speciation is not solved by natural selection, which can only work on what already exists, and you and I have long since rejected the theory that random mutations are the creators of innovations. Your own books provide as strong a case for design as one could possibly wish for. It’s good to hear that Neil Thomas is now an agnostic. Between us, however, we could have saved him and his readers a lot of time and effort if only he had joined this website 13 years ago. Thank you for nobly sacrificing your time. I for one truly appreciate the thoroughness with which you continue your research and summarize your findings to keep us up-to-date with all the latest contributions to humanity’s search for truth.

Thank you for the kind comments

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