Monday, May 08, 2006

Who said, "Animals are the most ... perfectly-designed pieces of machinery in the known universe" - Paley or Behe?

Neither. It was RICHARD DAWKINS!!:

"There is a better reason for studying zoology than its possible 'usefulness', and the general likeableness of animals. This reason is that we animals are the most complicated and perfectly-designed pieces of machinery in the known universe." (Dawkins, R., "The Selfish Gene," [1976] Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1989, New Edition, p.vi)

I found the above quote, having completely forgotten it, while compiling my `Evolution Quotes Book'.

Here are some new quotes, by the late, great, Australian philosopher David Stove on how leading Darwinists, like George C. Williams cannot help using the term "design":

"By 1960 the reputation of the design argument, and of Paley, had been in free fall for a hundred years, and everyone with the smallest tincture of education `knew' by then that the theistic argument from design is beneath contempt, and that Paley was a fool or hypocrite or both. Only someone who has tried in recent decades, as I have, to convince silly undergraduates of the merits of Paley's classic book, can appreciate the absolute impossibility of that task. Paley was a Christian and (worse) a clergyman, he was on the opposite side to Darwin, and anyway (most important of all) he lost: that is `all they know, and all they need to know' of his matter. But that attitude is really just part of the silliness of such people. And, as it happens, it has met with the punishment which it all along deserved. For in the last thirty years, Paley has had his revenge on Darwinism for more than a century of undeserved contempt. The explanation of adaptation by reference to the purposes of intelligent and powerful agents has come back into its own. And its reinstatement has turned out to require only some comparatively minor changes to the theology involved." (Stove, D.C., "Paley's Revenge, or Purpose Regained," in "Darwinian Fairytales," Encounter Books: New York NY, 1995, pp.264-265. Emphasis original)
"It is not in the least surprising that Dawkins should feel a profound intellectual sympathy with Paley's great book. It would be astounding if the opposite were the case. For he is a theist himself, as I have pointed out ... He agrees with Paley that the adaptations of organisms are due to the purposive agency (more specifically, the selfish and manipulative agency) of beings far more intelligent and powerful than humans or any other organisms. Dawkins has some disagreements with Paley, of course; but this really is a matter of course. When did two theists ever agree on all points? For example, Paley believed in the benevolence of God. ... Dawkins, on the other hand, as we saw ... ascribes to the gods of his religion a ruthlessly selfish character. Then, Paley, being a Christian, believed ... in "The Unity of God"; whereas Dawkins is a polytheist, as any adherent of the gene religion must be. But after all, the precise number of the gods is a comparatively minor point. Let it be one, or three, or 30,000 (as Hesiod computed), or a number rather larger than that (as gene religionists believe). The great, the fundamental point of religion is, rather, and always has been, the existence of purposive beings of more than human intelligence and power. And as to that, Dawkins and Paley are in agreement." (Stove, 1995, p.266. Emphasis original)
"Dawkins' enthusiasm for Paley, and for putting purpose back into the explanation of adaptation, great as it is, is thrown completely into the shade by that of his mentor, [George C.] Williams. In Adaptation and Natural Selection [Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1974], there are literally hundreds of sentences, and sentences which contain the very essence of the book too, which it would puzzle any reader to say whether they are more reminiscent of The Selfish Gene or of Paley's Natural Theology. And the reason is (as I have indicated) that in ascribing adaptation to divine purposes, those two books are one; while The Selfish Gene owes most of its intellectual substance to Williams' book. Williams has a pet aversion, which he is always returning to castigate. This is, the failure of many of his fellow Darwinians to distinguish between the function of an organ, structure, process or whatever, and mere effects which it may have. A stock example (though not one Williams uses) concerns the heart. A heart, whenever and only when it circulates blood, also makes a certain sound. But the function of the heart's beating is to circulate blood; not to make a sound, which is merely an effect of the heart's beating. A function or adaptation is something which `is produced by design, and not by happenstance.' [p.261] In particular, Williams insists, it is not enough to prove that something is an adaptation, that it is beneficial to the organisms which possess it. `The demonstration of benefit is neither necessary nor sufficient in the demonstration of function .... It is both necessary and sufficient to show that the process is designed to serve the function.' [p.209] `[T]he demonstration of effects, good or bad, proves nothing. To prove adaptation one must demonstrate a functional design.' p.212] Could Paley himself have said fairer than all this?" (Stove, 1995, pp.267-268. Emphasis Stove's)
"Here are some more passages which are fully representative of Williams' book [Williams, G.C., "Adaptation and Natural Selection," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1974], in that they point equally to the Paleyan explanation of adaptation by super-human purposeful agents, and to the present-day identification of those agents with genes. `[E]very adaptation is calculated to maximize the reproductive success of the individual, relative to other individuals ...' [p.160] An adaptation is `a mechanism designed to promote the success of the individual organism, as measured by the extent to which it contributes genes to later generations of the population of which it is a member.' [pp.96-97] `Each part of the animal is organized for some function tributary to the ultimate goal of the survival of its own genes.' [p.256]" (Stove, 1995, pp.267-268. Emphasis Stove's)
"Williams once or twice writes as though the purposes which bring about adaptation are purposes of individual organisms. For example, `the goal of the fox is to contribute as heavily as possible to the next generation of a fox population.' [Williams, G.C., "Adaptation and Natural Selection," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1974, p.68] But this is no more than an occasional fa├žon de parler. The book as a whole leaves us in no doubt that it is not organisms, but genes, which design or calculate or organize adaptations. Foxes, seals, etc., are not designers: they are designed. `[S]eals were designed to reproduce themselves, not their species.' [p.189] `[T]he real goal of development is the same as that of all other adaptations, the continuance of the dependent germ plasm.' [p.44] `[T]he organism chooses its own effective environment from a broad spectrum of possibilities. That choice is precisely calculated to enhance the reproductive prospects of the underlying genes. The succession of somatic machinery and selected niches are tools and tactics forthe strategy of genes.' [p.70] Could Dawkins himself have said fairer than all this?' " (Stove, 1995, pp.268-269. Emphasis Stove's)
"The passages I have now quoted from Adaptation and Natural Selection [Williams, G.C., "Adaptation and Natural Selection," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1974] are only a small fraction of those which could be quoted to the same effect. But they are probably enough to satisfy the reader that Williams is indeed engaged in explaining adaptation by the purposes of agents of super-human intelligence and power. Could you, or any other organism, calculate precisely how to enhance the reproductive prospects of the genes of an ancestor of the bird dropping spider, and then actually enhance them? No; but certain genes can, and they did. In short Williams, like Dawkins, differs from Paley only about the number of the gods responsible for adaptation, and about their moral quality: not about their existence, purposiveness, intelligence, or power. " (Stove, 1995, p.269. Emphasis Stove's)
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book'

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