[ 10/Mar/21 In response to his own post “Science is glorified magic” Vance Armor linked to a video]
I watched that video for 47 minutes, then gave it up.
The guy possibly believes what he is saying, but he is just so wrong on so many levels.
At 36:06 he claims “the progress of science has meant progressively a disenchantment with nature”. As someone who decided a long time ago that the evidence is overwhelmingly against the idea that humans were created as anything special – and has seen nothing in the sets of evidence viewed subsequently to require a change in that, and as someone who is profoundly appreciative of the complexity of nature and the value of ecological diversity, and as someone who chairs a wildlife charitable trust – I know his comments are just False.
His characterisation of evolutionary theory as “Darwin and the discovery that human beings are nothing but a continuation, squalid enough, of the animal kingdom, cousin and kin to every shambling and repulsive thing that lives; and hardly distinguished from the great apes except from the acquisition of a few adventitious characteristics of no particular significance” is just so wrong it is hard to know where to start.
The modern theory of evolution by natural selection is far from the simplistic straw man he creates. Getting a reasonable understanding of the complexities of how evolution actually works, and the multiple levels of abstraction and complexity and strategy present takes years of study, which clearly he has not done. So of necessity he is attacking a simplistic “Straw man” argument. His attachment to dogma over evidence is clear at this point – where as one could give him the “benefit of the doubt” at many of his questionable earlier claims.
At 38:28 he makes the further claim “The supposed demotion of human beings as being created in the image of God proceeds by means of the ascent of an inferential staircase that any thinking person can see is on the verge of collapse”. That certainly would appeal to those even more ignorant than himself, but is not factually correct. Way over 90% of people who do actually do enough study into evolutionary biology and do in fact do the work to be able to comprehend complexity, and strategy in uncertainty, do actually see that the “staircase” is extremely stable in all dimensions of complexity and understanding. And doing such work is not easy or common, so there is a sense in which people who are working with much simpler models will not find them as compelling; as it is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that even the simplest of life is extremely complex; and no “simple model” will be able to do it justice.
At 41:03 he claims “Even the psychological, the social, the religious attributes of the human being were introduced into the inanimate world in precisely the same way as any other biological structure, that is incrementally by a process of random variation and natural selection”, which is again wrong because it oversimplifies complexity in multiple different dimensions. Thus while it is clear to me that all of the attributes above were evolved, the process is far more complex than that characterised above, and it does have some aspects that are random, and it also has many aspects that were selected and refined at previous levels by the process of evolution. And there is always present the reality that for a fully loaded processor, the most efficient search possible is random search. So there is likely to eternally be “places” where random is conserved and selected for, particularly in times of “stress” (when processors are fully loaded). So he can make the claim that he does only from a position of ignorance and simplicity, and he seems to have plenty of both in respect to his understanding of the subject of evolution.
At 43:30 – he claims “unused gifts have no part to play in the struggle for survival.”… “This has been Wallace’s problem in the literature, and of course biologists are happy to call it Wallace’s Problem because it sounds so much safer than saying human beings were created in the image of God. That cannot be said, even though it comes to the same conclusion.” A modern understanding of evolution demands understanding the role of duplication, change, and exaptation. Sometimes an “error” can lead to a duplication of DNA. Often the metabolic costs of such things are selected against, and sometimes there is sufficient “drift” in one of the copies to “find” some function that has a benefit that is greater than the metabolic cost. Such has happened many times in the evolutionary history of humanity. Similarly, the process of exaptation has also occurred at multiple levels many times. This is where something is evolved for one purpose, then gets used for some other purpose entirely (and it works well enough to survive better than the alternatives).
When one starts to understand the strategic depths at which evolution can and does recursively use such systems to create profound levels of complexity, then one is starting to begin to understand how evolution actually works.
As said above – I just ran out of patience with both his ignorance and his arrogance at that point.
He has to sort of arrogance that can only exist in profound ignorance.
When someone starts to seriously understand the complexities of evolution and the wider reality, then a sort of humility is a necessary accompaniment, as such complexity is clearly beyond computation by any computational entity, and thus all of our perceptions and understandings are necessarily simplification of whatever reality and us actually are.
Understanding some of the many classes of mechanisms that are present in our subconscious brains that assemble the model of reality that is available to us as conscious entities as our perceptual reality is a necessary step to beginning to understand what consciousness is and how it works. Clearly his models are not sufficiently complex, so quite understandably in a sense, he reverts to the simple understandings provided by cultural defaults.