[Home] [Site map] [Updates] [Projects] [Contents; 1. Introduction; 2. Philosophy (1), (2), (3), (4) & (5); 3. Religion (1) & (2); 4. History (2) & (3); 5. Science; 6. Environment (1), (2) & (3); 7. Origin of life (1), (2) & (3); 8. Cell & Molecular (1), (2) & (3); 9. Mechanisms (1), (2) & (3); 10. Fossil Record; 11. `Fact' of Evolution; 12. Plants; 13. Animals; 14. Man (1) & (2); 15. Social; 16. Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography A-C, D-F, G-I, J-M, N-S, T-Z] [Book "Problems of Evolution"]
"PROBLEMS OF EVOLUTION": 4. HISTORY (1) 1. Evolution's historical roots 2. Ancients 1. Thales 2. Anaximander 3. Empedocles 4. Aristotle 5. Lucretius 3. Pre-Darwinians 4. Darwin 5. Darwinism 6. Eclipse of Darwinism 7. Neo-Darwinism 8. Post-Darwinism 9. Anti-Darwinism
"PROBLEMS OF EVOLUTION": 4. HISTORY (1) 1. Evolution's historical roots It is probably not generally realised that evolution has historical roots, and ancient ones at that. In fact one of the most "serious and well informed" early criticisms of Darwin's "theory that evolution took place by natural selection" that "struck Darwin more directly than the outside world was allowed to know," was "that it was not new (Darlington, 1959b, p.60). Darwin's contemporary, the poet Matthew Arnold, wrote "I cannot understand why you scientific people make such a fuss about Darwin. Why, it's all in Lucretius!" (Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10), the ancient Roman epicurean poet-philosopher. So while much has since been learned about biology, in respect of evolution, as we shall see, Dembski may not be too far wide of the mark in his claim that "no significant details have been added since the time of Empedocles and Epicurus" (Dembski, 2002a). 2. Ancients (Greeks & Romans) Evolution is based on ancient pagan Greek philosophies, with which it forms a continuous whole (Osborn 1894, p.1; Dobzhansky, et al., 1977, p.9; Futuyma, 1986, p.2; Klotz, 1972, p.25). Darwin's theory of evolution therefore owes more to the Greeks than is generally realised (Osborn, 1894, p.1; Russell, 1991, p.696). While many of these ideas were fanciful by today's standards, "if you prune away the fantastic, you are left with the ideas of evolution, perhaps even of natural selection-the evolutionary mechanism proposed by Darwin himself some 2,300 years later" (Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10)! 1. Thales (c.624-546 BC) The ancient Greek philosopher/merchant Thales (c.624-546 BC) was a citizen of the Ionian city Miletus, then the richest and most powerful city in the Greek world, located on the coast of Asia Minor (Vesey & Foulkes, 1990, p.283; Farrington, 1944, p.36; Hall & Boas-Hall, 1964, p.19; Kitto, 1957, p.177; Russell, 1991, p.44; Spangenburg & Moser, 1993, p.8). Thales, who may have been an immigrant from Phoenicia (Nordenskiold, 1928, p.11) may have been the first to bring Babylonian knowledge to the Greek world (Asimov, 1960, p.8). Thales was the first known philosopher who sought a naturalistic explanations of origins rather than attribute them to the gods (Boolootian & Stiles, 1981, p.664; Vesey & Foulkes, 1990, p.283; Farrington, 1944, p.37; Bowden, 1982, p.4; Gallant, 1975, p.52; Hall & Boas-Hall, 1964, p.19; Kitto, 1957, p.178; Sagan, 1980, p.177; Spangenburg & Moser, 1993, p.8). Thales was primarily interested in the physical world, but he was not uninterested in biological phenomena (May, 1982, p.301). He proposed the first naturalistic cosmology in which the cosmos arose from water (Farrington, 1944, p.37; Hall & Boas-Hall, 1964, p.19; Gallant, 1975, p.52; Kitto, 1957, p.178; Blackburn, 1996, p.375; Russell, 1991, p.45; Sagan, 1980, p.177; Spangenburg & Moser, 1993, p.8). Thales held that earth floated like a disk on a vast sea which surrounded it on all sides (Farrington, 1944, p.37; Hall & Boas-Hall, 1964, p.20; Gallant, 1975, p.52; Spangenburg & Moser, 1993, p.8). This was reminiscent of the story of the creation in Genesis, with its "waters which were under the firmament" and "waters which were above the firmament" (Nordenskiold, 1928, pp.10-11; Bowden, 1982, p.4) although it may have been derived from Babylonian or Egyptian mythology (McNeill, 1963, p.212; Gallant, 1975, p.52; Kitto, 1957, p.177; Sagan, 1980, p.177). Thales also theorised that all life arose in and from the water (Boolootian & Stiles, 1981, p.664; Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10; Moore, 1964, p.10, spontaneously generating from the "moist element" (mud?) (Dose, 1976, p.94; Nordenskiold, 1928, p.11; Peters & Gutmann, 1976, p.25; Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10; Vesey & Foulkes, 1990), which may have been based on fossils (Glass, et al., 1959, p.6). In common with other ancient Ionian philosophers, Thales was a hylozoist (Gk. hyle "wood" + zoos "alive"), holding that matter is alive, and there is no separate life or soul that is not inherent in matter (Farrington, 1944, p.37; Merriam-Webster, 2004; Blackburn., 1996, pp.375,182,275; Jeeves, 1969, p.11). This "panpsychism" was a form of pantheistic materialism revived in the 19th century by Darwin's German disciple Haeckel (Oldroyd, 1988, p.274; Haeckel, 1929, p.236). Thales is credited by evolutionists as being the founder of materialist philosophy (Hall & Boas-Hall, 1964, p.19; Kitto, 1957, p.178), and therefore the founder of modern materialism-naturalistic science (Asimov, 1960, p.8; Farrington, 1944, p.37; Gallant, 1975, p.52; Dose, 1976, p.94; Hall & Boas-Hall, 1964, p.19; Hummel, 1986, p.24), and therefore of materialistic-naturalistic evolution (Gallant, 1975, p.52). While Thales may not himself have proposed a theory of evolution, "evolution," in the sense of "a natural explanation of the origin of the higher forms of life ... developed from the teachings of Thales" (Osborn, 1894, p.6). 2. Anaximander (c.611-546 BC) Anaximander (c.611-546 BC) was a student of Thales (Gallant, 1975, p.52; Hall & Boas-Hall, 1964, p.20; Mayr, 1982, p.301; Peters & Gutmann, 1976, p.25; Spangenburg. & Moser, 1993, p.8). Anaximander believed in evolution, both cosmological and biological (Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10). Anaximander proposed "a complete theory of evolution," in which life arose out of a primordial mud, producing animals, plants and then human beings (Nordenskiold, 1928, p.12; Pitman, 1984, p.14). Living creatures arose from the 'moist element' as it was evaporated by the sun (Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10; Boolootian & Stiles, 1981, p.664). Mankind, like every other animal, was descended from fishes (Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10).This may have been as a result of finding fossils (Glass, et al., 1959, p.7). Anaximander theorised that humans were originally formed as fishes, lived in the water, and then cast off their fish-skin, then went up and lived on dry land (Bowden, 1982, p.5; Nordenskiold, 1928, p.12; Gallant, 1975, p.53; Russell, 1946, p.48; Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10; Ball, 1999, p.207; Farrington, 1944, p.38; Klotz, 1972, p.25; Pitman, 1984, p.14; Spangenburg. & Moser, 1993, p.9; Rusch, 1959, p.6). [top] 3. Empedocles (c.495-435 BC) Empedocles (c.495-435 BC), another ancient Greek philosopher and poet, proposed a theory of abiogenesis, or spontaneous generation, as the explanation of the origin of life (Osborn, 1894, p.37). Empedocles also theorised that plants originated first, and animals later (Klotz, 1972, p.25). Empedocles' teaching contained the germ of the theory of the survival of the fittest, or natural selection" and so was "the father of the Evolution idea" (Osborn, 1894, pp.39-40; Ross, 1949, p.78; Russell, 1991, p.72; Farrington, 1944, pp.60-61; Davidheiser, 1969, p.39; Rusch, 1959, pp.7,9; Mayr, 1982, p.302; Shapiro, 1986, p.149). Empedocles was thus the first to show the possibility of the origin of the various forms of life through chance rather than design (Osborn, 1894, p.40; Ross, 1949, p.78; Davidheiser, 1969, p.40; Rusch, 1959, p.7). Indeed, "if you prune away the fantastic, you are left with the ideas of evolution, perhaps even of natural selection-the evolutionary mechanism proposed by Darwin himself some 2,300 years later" (Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10; Davidheiser, 1969, p.40; Peters & Gutmann, 1976, p.26)! Dembski argues that, "in the case of Darwinism, no significant details have been added since the time of ... Empedocles ..." (Dembski, 2002a). Interestingly, Darwin in his Origin of Species says of an argument in Aristotle's Physics about teeth that, "Wheresoever, therefore, all things together (that is all the parts of one whole) happened like as if they were made for the sake of something, these were preserved, having been appropriately constituted by an internal spontaneity-and whatsoever things were not thus constituted, perished, and still perish," that "We here see the principle of natural selection shadowed forth" (Darwin, 1872, p.7). But Aristotle was actually stating Empedocles' argument in order to critique it (Wiker, 2002, p.60)! [top] 4. Aristotle (384-322 BC) Aristotle (384-322 BC) "Nevertheless, Aristotle's theory implies an absolute advance in the sphere of biology. Here we find enunciated for the first time a really complete theory of evolution." (Nordenskiold, 1928, p.37). "Aristotle ... created the science of Natural History" (Osborn, 1924, p.43). He "was the first to conceive of a genetic series ... a single chain of evolution from the polyps to man" (Osborn, 1924, p.44). Aristotle thus laid "the very foundation-stones of the Evolution idea" (Osborn, 1924, p.47), putting "his facts together into an Evolution system" of "a complete gradation in Nature, a progressive development ... by ... gradual transitions from the most imperfect to the most perfect" where "the lowest stage ... the inorganic ... passes into the organic by direct metamorphosis, matter being transformed into life" (Osborn, 1894, p.48). What "is of the greatest interest today" is that "where he undertakes to refute Empedocles", "Aristotle clearly states and rejects a theory of the origin of adaptive structures in animals altogether similar to that of Darwin" (Osborn, 1924, p.32). Passages in his writings show that "Aristotle had substantially the modern conception of the Evolution of life, from a primordial, soft mass of living matter to the most perfect forms" (Osborn, 1894, p.57). If he had accepted Empedocles' "hypothesis of the Survival of the Fittest," Aristotle "would have been the literal prophet of Darwinism." (Osborn, 1894, p.57). [to be continued]"Aristotle, in his Physical Auscultationes (lib. 2, cap. 8, s. 2), after remarking that rain does not fall in order to make the corn grow any more than it falls to spoil the farmer's corn when threshed out of doors, applies the same argument to organisation- and adds (as translated by Mr. Clair Grece, who first pointed out the passage to me), "So what hinders the different parts [of the body] from having this merely accidental relation in nature? as the teeth, for example, grow by necessity, the front ones sharp, adapted for dividing, and the grinders flat, and serviceable for masticating the food-since they were not made for the sake of this, but it was the result of accident. And in like manner as to the other parts in which there appears to exist an adaptation to an end. Wheresoever, therefore, all things together (that is all the parts of one whole) happened like as if they were made for the sake of something, these were preserved, having been appropriately constituted by an internal spontaneity- and whatsoever things were not thus constituted, perished, and still perish." We here see the principle of natural selection shadowed forth, but how little Aristotle fully comprehended the principle, is shown by his remarks on the formation of the teeth." (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," , 6th Edition, Everyman's Library, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 1928, reprint, p.7) [top]5. Lucretius (c.95-54 BC) "I cannot understand why you scientific people make such a fuss about Darwin. Why, it's all in Lucretius!", wrote Darwin's contemporary, the poet Matthew Arnold in 1871 (Blackmore & Page, 1989, p.10). Titus Lucretius Carus (c.95-54 BC) was a Roman poet, whose only surviving work is a major philosophical poem De Rerum Natura, "On the Nature of Things," which was an exposition of the materialistic philosophy of Epicurus" in Latin (Mautner, 2000, p.328; Gaskin, 1995, p.vii; Blackburn, 1996, pp.226-227; Vesey & Foulkes, 1990, p.177). "Lucretius ... revived the teachings of Empedocles, of Democritus, and especially of Epicurus" which "He connected with ... many observations of his own. The fact that he was an original observer of Nature must be inferred from his considerable knowledge of animals and plants." (Osborn, 1894, p.60). As "a faithful exposition of Epicureanism, Lucretius' work is a ... quest for natural explanations of the world and a rejection of religious fears" (Gaskin, 1995, p.vii). "Various natural phenomena are explained by their natural causes, in opposition to explanations of a mythical or superstitious kind" (Mautner, 2000, p.328). "Darwin" was not "the first to introduce into a biological context the ideas either of natural selection or of a struggle for existence. Both can be found in the Roman poet Lucretius in the first century B.C., in an account of how in the beginning our mother earth produced both all the kinds of living things which we now know, and many other sorts of ill-starred monstrosity. ... Lucretius, too, was a disciple, clothing in Latin verse ideas which he had himself learnt from the fourth-century Greek Epicurus, who was here in his turn drawing on such fifth- century sources as Empedocles of Acragas (Kirk and Raven, ["The Pre-Socratic Philosophers," CUP: Cambridge, 1957], pp. 336-40)" (Flew, 1984, pp.12-13). The fact is that "Modern evolutionary theory is not modern-we find it full-blown in the first century B.C. in the Roman Epicurean poet-philosopher Lucretius" (Wiker, 2002, p.25). "Lucretius briefly announces the magnificent doctrine first proposed by Empedocles, that all the adaptations to be found in the Universe, and especially in organic life, are merely special cases of the infinite possibilities of mechanical events." (Osborn, 1894, p.61). "Lucretius borrows from Epicurus, and thus probably indirectly from Empedocles, the Survival of the Fittest idea that some of these earth-born beings were unable to live, and were replaced by others." (Osborn, 1924, p.62). "Lucretius's great Epicurean poem, with its extended evolutionary passage, ensured that evolution would be in the air from the 1500s forward. ... I quote ... this amazing passage from Lucretius. `Many were the portents also that the earth then tried to make, springing up with wondrous appearance and frame: the hermaphrodite, between man and woman vet neither, different from both; some without feet, others again bereft of hands: some found dumb also without a month, some blind without eyes, some bound fast with all their limbs adhering to their bodies, so that they could do nothing and go nowhere, could neither avoid mischief nor take what they might need. So with the rest of like monsters and portents that she made, it was all in vain; since nature banned their growth, and they could not attain the desired flower of age nor find food not. join by the ways of Venus. For we see that living beings need many things in conjunction, so that they may be able by procreation to forge out the chain of the generations. .. And many species of animals must have perished at that time, unable by procreation to forge out the chain of posterity: for whatever you see feeding on the breath of life, either cunning or courage or at least quickness must have guarded and kept that kind from its earliest existence; many again still exist, entrusted to our protection, which remain, commended to us because of their usefulness.... But, those to which nature gives no such qualities, so that they could neither live by themselves at their own will, nor give us some usefulness for which we might suffer them to feed under our protection and be safe, these certainly lay at the mercy of others for prey and profit, being all hampered by their own fateful chains, until nature brought that race to destruction. [Lucretius, "De Rerum Natura," Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, 1975, 5.837.77]. We see in this passage all the fundamentals of Darwin's account: (1) random material variations that bring about modifications in the structure between generations; (2) the survival of the fittest of these variations as determined by the enhanced abilities of the animals, and by the conditions in which the animals live; and (3) the necessity of passing along the beneficial variations by heredity. " (Wiker, 2002, p.219). "Lucretius ... reminds us of Darwin in comparing the survival of animals in nature and in domestication, but he was writing nearly two thousand years earlier" (Hardy, 1965, p.42). "We go to Darwin for his incomparable collection of facts. ... but to us he speaks no more with philosophical authority. We read his scheme of evolution as we would those of Lucretius ..." (Bateson, 1914). Lucretius "held that the soul consists of ... particles" and denied its immortality, "the advantage of this" being "that man, at death, has nothing to fear for all time to come." (Vesey & Foulkes, 1990, p.177). Lucretius denied creation by God, adopting as his starting point the principle, "Nothing can ever be created by divine power out of nothing" (Gallant, 1975, p.57). Like his master Epicurus, Lucretius held that "the number of atoms in the Universe. ... must be without limit and concludes that the Universe itself is infinite" (Gallant, 1975, p.61). Also like Epicurus, "Lucretius ... in good materialist fashion," held "that the Universe and all in it have no purpose" (Gallant, 1975, p.62). Lucretius also held a modern `principle of mediocrity', denying that the Earth was "located at the center and man the most `important' of all Earthly creatures," but rather since "our world has been made by nature through the ... random and purposeless congregation and coalescence of atoms ... therefore ... there exist elsewhere other congeries of matter similar to this one. ... in other regions there are other earths and various tribes of men and breeds of beasts" (Gallant, 1975, p.63). "Lucretius, the first popularizer of science ... proposed many worlds and many alien life forms, all made of the same kinds of atoms as we" (Sagan, 1994, p.18).. Lucretius, like, Epicurus, had a "hatred of religion" and an important theme of his poem is a critique of religion (Russell, 1991, p.257; Mautner, 2000, p.328). "Lucretius ... had one major goal in life: to rid people's minds of the fears spread by superstition and the fear of death" (Gallant, 1975, p.57). "Always the rationalist, Lucretius speaks to us in terms that ring of modern thought" (Gallant, 1975, p.58). Lucretius wrote of "Knowledge both of what can and what cannot Rise into being, teaching us ... Upon what principle each thing has its powers Limited" leading to "Religion been cast down Beneath men's feet, and trampled on in turn" with "Ourselves" being "lifted heaven-high" in "victory" (Russell, 1991, p.257). "Epicureans such as Lucretius ... argued that the world, and all its forms, was a product of undirected natural processes, a random concourse of adherent `atoms' that was, in part, badly designed. Thus, no intelligent source for final cause needed to be postulated. The intrinsic characteristics of the atoms themselves would suffice. It all sounds very familiar." (Wilcox, 1994b, p.170). That ancient Epicurean materialist philosophy controls modern science is seen in Gallant's claim that "Lucretius had returned to haunt those who still made offerings to the gods: `Nature is free and uncontrolled by proud masters and runs the universe by herself without the aid of gods.'" (Gallant, 1975, p.64). In what sounds like the attitude of some modern evolutionists towards Darwin (e.g. Dawkins, 1989, p.1; Wattenberg, 1996), "Lucretius ... feels towards Epicurus as towards a saviour, and applies language of religious intensity to the man whom he regards as the destroyer of religion" (Russell, 1991, p.256; Mautner, 2000, p.328). "Lucretius ... appears to have suffered from periodic insanity" and "committed suicide" (Russell, 1991, p.256).[top]
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