The evolution debate has turned into a social calamity and the blame can’t be laid simply on religious resistance. The scientific establishment has always shot itself in the foot by promoting a deceptive and pseudo-scientific brand of slectionist Darwinism. Note the careful phrasing. The issue is not evolution but the statistically bogus theory of natural selection as random evolution. But this distinction is obscured both by religionists (often but not always creationists) and scientists who often accuse critics of rejecting evolution which is taken as synonymous with selections Darwinism, but the two are not the same. Creationist contribute to this confusion because it is convenient to use the flaws of selections Darwinism to reject evolution in general. The issue of science is one of observation, but evolution is confounded by the issue of failure to observe the phenomena directly. Strictly speaking the issue of evolution is beyond direct observation (as is the creationist account in the Old Testament) because it occurs in deep time and no one was there to make the observation. However, the distinction of the fact of evolution and the theory has long served to guide this ambiguity. We fail to observe many things directly (cf. electrons) but we can by experiment and indirect observation infer, produce mathematical models, and make predictive propositions that can be tested. Thus reasonable inference is the case in many instances. And this would apply to the empirical facts of evolution in deep time. We cannot observe evolution directly but we can make a reasonable inference from the fossil record of the fact of evolution in deep time. However, and this is a key point often glossed over: we cannot infer in the same way the mechanism of evolution. We see fossils and infer that evolution has occurred but we have no direct observation that this occurred due to natural selection. Here Darwin confused issue by using a comparison with selective breeding, which appears to show transformation in animals that gives the illusion of evolution, but the analogy is false because, while selective breeding in dogs, for example, produces an exotic spectrum of dog breeds it does not ever transform dogs into a new species, i.e. produce evolution. The issue of evolution as speciation is something mysterious and complex, for reasons that are not hard to find: a genome and/or a body are very complex entities and they can’t be tinkered with to produce new species. Again, there appear to be exceptions: viz. during the Covid pandemic many spoke of mutating transformations of molecular virus as if this was equivalent to evolution. But the usage is inconsistent with the usage applied on a larger scale to the speciation of large-scale animal forms which are far beyond the viral media of vaccine research. Sometimes a distinction is made between macroevolution (speciation) and miroevolution, e.g. the permutations of mutating viral forms, and/or the level of dog breeding that we mentioned. These aren’t equivalent situations. The fact is that we simply don’t know how speciation in the large occurs. And that is not surprising: the structure of an organismic body plans and/or the larger dynamics of species transformation of these body plans is a problem of great complexity which science so far has not resolved. And the problems are intractable in their complexity. There is a good chance that science can move to solve these problems but to pretend that it has done so a la Darwinism is a complete fiction. The facts of evolution are stunning in their scale and complexity: millions of species spread over a planet evolving over billions of years. This requires a future science unknown to us. And here the creationist and design confusions enter easily, that is, easily if you have a religious or creationist agenda. But these views are no more able to solve the problem than our current incomplete science. And note further that we would have to distinguish supernatural creationism, and natural creationism, the latter delineated by some philosophers like Bergson who speak of ‘cretive evolution’. The distinction is important because supernatural creationism is a religious metaphysics of dubious status while the facts of ‘creative evolution’ are clear as a set of facts: the progression of species in deep time creates novel forms and these are by definition creative evolution, but no inference about the mechanism can be made with any confidence. Here the design argument enters and this has been refined by the ID or ‘intelligent design’ groups, connected with religion in most cases, but with a new discipline to try and upgrade design arguments to a new level of rigor. Design arguments tend to the metaphysical and the philosopher Kant is key here to warn us to be wary of metaphysical limits. As he argued clearly, design arguments offer the temptation to take them as ‘proofs’ of the existence of god, but such arguments have always failed, however superficially plausible to religious believer. Given the scale and complexity of evolution in deep time it is not surprising that some throw up their hands and say that so much seemingly impossible complexity needs an intelligent designer. It’s true, let’s grant the point IF we are careful to put ‘intelligent’ in quotation marks. Evolution certainly looks ‘intelligent’ but we can’t conclude there is no natural mechanism behind this. Again, we simply don’t observe any of this at close range. And the mechanism of evolution is going to operated over the millions of years over which a new species emerges from its prior history. We could not devise a computer to even recorded that much data: the entire motion of a species over a given region over millions of years. The data set derseves the term ‘humoungus.
Scientists thus provoke their own opposition. To claim that evolution occurs is a reasonable inference, but to say this occurs by natural selection is not only not proven, but extremely unlikely, From Fred Hoyle onward, dozens of scientists, often in a sort of exile, have pointed to the statistical absurdity of natural selection as a mechanism of evolution, to no avail, as the dominance of institutional science, educational paradigm control has generally marginalized such critics, or else simply banished them completely, a threat to one’s livelihood that has is a good enforcer of conformity. This situation is a calamity for science which is already suffering an underground resistance movement. It has produced a skeptical underground that is likely to wonder if scientists are dishonest or simply stupid. It is very bad for the progress of science because an element of mistrust has entered to becloud the whole social context of science.
This situation can easily be resolved by taken the facts of evolution as a reasonable inference, and the mechanisms of evolution as unknown to current science, careful to acknowledge ‘design’ but with a Kantin discipline to not allow interlopers to take this as a proof of the existence of God. In general Kant, who is not studied by scientists, can be a useful ‘basic training’ in an extension to scientific methodology.